Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly*

This is my last bush trip for term 3, so it's a good time to reflect.

I'll organize these thoughts along the lines of the good, the bad and the ugly.

The good -

Watching a year 5 boy helping his mate who has muscular dystrophy. This help is generous, smart, enduring and unconditional, and provided in such a way that it preserves his mate's dignity.
Talking with a parent who lost her daughter last year. This mother is a strong woman - who is able to express gratitude despite her grief, to teachers and aides who worked with her child, for the meaning that attending school gave to her short life.
Watching an amazing teacher in a high school setting who has, through dogged persistence, taught a sixteen year old with an intellectual impairment to safely catch the bus to and from school daily. This has freed up this lad's older brother from having to walk him to school and allowed big brother to have a life.

The bad -

Leaving Toowoomba every second Monday morning in the winter. This usually involves rinsing ice from the windscreen and removing outer layers of clothing progressively as I drive west with the rising and warming sun behind me.
Eating by myself. This is an occupational hazard for the itinerant, but I detest it.
Writing reports in the evening, when I'd much rather have a beer or two before hitting the sack. I know from experience that the quality of a report is in inverse proportion to the alcohol consumed before or during its writing.

And the ugly -

Witnessing the damage being done to beautiful and productive country by coal seam gas mining out this way.
Watching the withdrawal of more and more services from the bush. This has reached a new momentum with the slash and burn practices of the new state government.
Arriving on the scene of a fatal accident. This is unfortunately a frequent occurrence, as the Warrego simply can't cope with the surge of massive mining machinery being dragged west and north in the middle of increasingly mixed traffic.

Every year I make a decision to continue or otherwise in this work. That decision can wait until the end of the semester, but as I write, it's still a "yes".

*Blogged on the road on iPad.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012


Let's suppose, that in an international Olympic competition, Australian athletes had performed so well that they were equal third on the total medal count. (03/09/12).

Let's imagine that Jacqui Freney had won 5 gold medals in these games, and Matthew Cowdrey 10 in all games.

Let's pretend that Maddison Elliott who won a silver had done so at the tender age of 13.

Let's imagine that our basket team (the Rollers) had wiped the floor with the Yanks 65- 49.

Imagine the story this would had been in all forms of media. Imagine the profiles, the endorsements and the sponsorships that would follow.

Well, you don't have to imagine any of this success. It's happened.

None of the other things (the profiles, the endorsements and the sponsorships) have followed of course.

How many of you have actually heard of Jacqui Freney and Matthew Cowdrey?

The reason that these achievements have not been recognized, and these athletes are relatively unknown is simple - they're athletes with a disability.

The fact that they have won fairly in a rigorously structured international competition seems to have been completely ignored.

This disrespect neatly summarizes this country's shameful attitude towards people with disabilities.

In the 40+ years I've been working in this field, I've seen enormous strides made, but we still have a long way to go.

On an individual level (as demonstrated in the pic below) it happens, but corporate Australia treats Aussies with disabilities with complete disregard.

*Blogged on the road on iPad.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

The Sapphires

Back in June 1970 I was in Bangkok on R & R.

I teamed up with a couple of GIs whilst staying in the Florida Hotel.

The hotel, believe it or not, is still there, but it's fallen on hard times.

These guys were southern negroes, and into Motown music. I was aware of Motown, but that was about all. It was played over American Forces Radio in country.

Back then, Bangkok had a vibrant live black music scene.

They took me (and another digger) to a soul bar in the city. We were the only white faces in the bar. They told us that Aussies were "colour blind", so we were welcome. White GIs were not.

That night was one of the best. We didn't buy a beer all night, the place was full of negro nurses who had an amazing way of saying "sheeet honey....", and I ended up playing the drums.

Despite this uncharacteristic drumming behaviour I was mostly sober, so it was a great night. However, I was high on the music, and when it comes to Motown, have been ever since.

Hence the post from the Sapphires It's a great movie, but the music makes it.

Don't miss it.

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