Wednesday, 26 November 2014

It seems cricket is becoming a violent

and dangerous game.
As any regular reader of my witterings is aware I am not very interested in sport. Not in the least interested might be a more accurate description - apart from the faintest interest in the psychology of cricket. (It seems to me that cricket is quite unlike any other sport in its individual/team focus.)
However, the news that yet another cricketer had been critically injured by a hard ball bowled at massive speed does disturb me. It should disturb any right-minded person.
Cricket used to be seen as a sort of gentleman's game. There is still a lingering suggestion that cricket should be played on the village green. Afternoon tea - with cucumber sandwiches - should be served. The weather should be fine. The teams should be evenly matched. I am sure you know the sort of thing I mean.
Or perhaps cricket should be what is played in summer in the back streets and alleys of suburbia. There should be long afternoons of arguing about whether someone was "out" - and who was going to climb the fence to rescue the ball from the garden of the house with the dog.
Perhaps cricket is still played on the village green in England. I don't know. It was never really played like that here. The cricket pitches of Downunder tend to be dry and dusty and surrounded by scrubby gum trees and bull ants. It tends to be hot and the coolers tend to be filled with beer rather than tea.
Children rarely play cricket in the back streets and alleys now. If they play cricket at all it is done "properly" under adult supervision. They are "taught" to bat and to bowl and to catch - and made to "practice". I suspect that a lot, if not most, of the fun has been taken out of it. Negotiating skills are not needed either because an adult decides who is doing what and how they will do it.
So, is it any wonder that adult cricket has also changed. Winning is more important than playing now.
And, at the very top level, it is big business. Enormous sums of money are involved in all sorts of ways. Cricket has to be entertaining. Performance is everything. Winning matters. The balls have to be bowled faster and harder than ever.
A cricket ball weighs about 160gms. It has the potential to be bowled with lethal force. Cricketers now use protective helmets - something once not thought necessary. But those helmets are not a guarantee of full protection. The cricketer hit yesterday was wearing a helmet but was apparently not using the most up to date and technologically advanced helmet - would it have made a difference?
I don't know the answer to that but I wonder why it has been necessary for cricket to become such a dangerous game - and I feel deeply concerned for the cricketer who was hit and the cricketer who bowled the ball which hit him.
Perhaps we all need to think of them next time we settle down to be "entertained".

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

I have just written

a letter, a very cross letter. I have been very polite. I have made sure I have checked my facts. I am still cross so bear with me.
The Senior Cat came home from church on Sunday and waved the pew bulletin under my twitching nose. (My nose was twitching because it was clear he was cross about something too.)
I had thought it was a little odd that I had not heard anything from the organiser of the Christmas Bowl Appeal's local collection point. Now I knew why.
The local shopping centre management has refused permission for the collection to take place. If people want to collect for the Christmas Bowl they can, they have been told, do it at some other time of the year - and pay the shopping centre management for permission to be there.
Our shopping centre is over run with charity collectors. It is rare to walk into the shopping centre and not find a charity collector. They pay to be there. The majority of them come from an organisation which pays to be in shopping centres, pays the collectors and takes a cut for itself before any money goes to the charity. I don't give that way.
The Christmas Bowl Appeal is different. It is run in December with the idea that Christmas is also, or should be, about giving to others - especially those in need. Nobody gets paid to collect. The local organiser puts in many unpaid hours at multiple collection points. It is done on just one day of the year and the proceeds go directly to a project in Africa.
On a number of occasions I have stood there for an hour or more to collect. I don't like doing that sort of thing but the Senior Cat is too old to do it and - well, I can. I know, from my own experience, that it is seen as multi-faith by some. I have seen Muslims and Sikhs give - and give generously. It is, they have told me, "that time of the year for everyone".
Everyone it seems but the shopping centre management. So, I have written a letter to our state newspaper. If they publish it I hope it will cause the management to think again - something the shopkeepers will be happy to support.
After all, it is almost Christmas - isn't it?

Monday, 24 November 2014

There is a story in

our news services about a baby boy found after being deliberately dropped down a drain. It is one of those horrific and incomprehensible stories that cause people to ask "How could anyone do that?" 
I don't know the answer to that. I don't think anyone knows the answer to that. I don't even think the person who does such a thing knows how they managed to do it.
Like most students of behavioural psychology I was taught about the theories of John Bowlby concerning "Attachment and Loss" - the notion that children are born with an innate need to attach to one individual  and that they should receive almost all their care from this individual for the first two years of their life.
Bowlby believed that the consequences of maternal deprivation were possible increased risk of delinquency, depression, aggressive behaviours and reduced intelligence. Even short term separation is seen as leading to anxiety.
Bowlby's theories led to the belief that mothers and babies should be kept together. It led to a reduction in the number of babies available for adoption. It makes assumptions about mothering.
I wonder about this.
I don't have any children of my own. I have two godchildren, one is now an "adult" but the other is still at school and will be for some years. I also try to be there for the Whirlwind who is growing up without a mother but does have a very strong attachment to her father - and yes, she had normal mothering for the first two years of her life.
Am I protective of those children? Yes. I'd be the same for the Little Drummer Boy who lives next door - and for his brother. I think I would be protective of any child - whether I knew them or not. For me, it is just something I'd do because it would be the right thing to do.
But I wonder about Bowlby's theories and the way we allow babies to be put into extended day care from as young as six weeks and certainly after three or six months - long before the two years which Bowlby claimed were the formative period. I also wonder at the way in which women who want to give up a child for adoption or say they don't want a child are encouraged, indeed told, they must keep the child. They are told it is "better" for the child. Is it really?
I know people who have children who did not want them. They never intended to have children. The precautions they took did not work - or they failed to take them. Yes, some of them have learned to love their children and the bonds are close. Others have resented the presence of children in their lives and pushed them from the nest at the earliest possible moment. They have never managed to learn to love their children even while making sure they are well cared for and providing for all their physical needs.
I wonder what will happen to the mother who has, allegedly, dropped her child down the drown. She is, if the media is to be believed, to be charged with attempted murder. It's a serious charge and her mental state will be the deciding factor. Quite likely she will be found to have a serious form of post-natal depression. She will be treated for it and the child will be returned to her care in the belief that, because they share some of the same genes, there is strong biological bond between them.
People will say this is the best thing for the mother and the baby. But, I wonder about this. Is it really the best thing for the baby? Is it possible that some people simply don't love the children they have brought into this world? What's best, to be brought up by a natural parent who does not love you or to be brought up by adoptive parents who wanted you?
I know that every relationship is different and that there is no single answer. But, in a case like this, I worry about the baby. It seems to be such a complete case of rejection - and I suspect a baby can sense that.
I hope I'm wrong.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

No power at the library

There was knitting class at the library yesterday. I didn't want to go but I had to be there.
I didn't want to go because of the weather. We had already had thunder, lightning and a nice amount of rain. As we desperately needed the latter I had no objections to that - even if it meant trying to get two loads of washing dry indoors.
I managed to pedal to the library in between the showers. Only five people came to knitting. There are usually eleven or more - crammed into a small room intended for ten people. I don't blame the others for staying home. The weather was not kind.
Knitters, as long as they can see, can manage without power. The book group, which meets next door, can manage without power - just.
The rest of the library? Well, yes and no.
Nobody can return a book or borrow a book. Nobody can use the catalogue. Nobody can work at the bank of computers. The free Wi-Fi was down. The automatic doors didn't work - fortunately the old swing door on the other side did. All the other things depend on power.
One of the staff thought about making tea. No, that meant putting the electric kettle on.
The books had all been put away. The workroom is internal and it is impossible to see in there without the light on. There was nothing else that could be done by the Saturday staff - unless they had power.
So, people did what people should do in a library. It was light enough to see near the windows. People read. The staff talked to the readers. I went on teaching someone to knit.
Eventually of course power was restored and the library went back to being the way it usually is. But, just for a short while, without power it was a very different place.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

"You've lived on an island?"

someone asked me yesterday evening.
The answer to that is, "Yes, my father was posted to a school on an island. We lived there for four years."
Living on an island is different. Downunder (Australia) is the largest island on the planet - or the smallest continent. Take your pick.
The island we lived on was much smaller - but still a large one as islands go. If you have a look at a map of Downunder you will see a leg in the centre of the lower coastline. If it is a big enough map you will see an island close to that which looks rather like a piece of jigsaw puzzle. We lived on that.
It is called "Kangaroo Island" and, in old measurements, it is about 120 miles long and 80 miles across at the widest point. Yes, a good size.
The capital of the state was nearly put on the island. If there had been a good supply of fresh water that would have happened. When discovered by the early explorers there were no human inhabitants, just the kangaroos which give the island its name - along with a great variety of other wildlife.
There is a strip of water between the island and the mainland which is called "Backstairs Passage". It has the reputation for being one of the roughest stretches of water in the world. The island itself rises steeply out of the water on the southern side - and there is nothing between it and the Antarctic winds. It can be very cold in winter. My brother once broke a sheet in two. He went out, at my mother's request, to take the sheet from the line. It was frozen there and just snapped in two. My mother was not impressed. Clothes on the line would often fly out horizontally.
When we lived there the population was about 3000 in two main groups. There were the old settlers who lived and worked in a community around the coast. There were the soldier settlers who lived in the centre and who had been there for only a few (by island standards) years. The two groups had very little to do with one another. Other, very small communities also existed.
The school in the centre, the one my father was in charge of, was the largest. It had over 600 students, almost all of whom came on one of the big yellow buses lined up at the gates. The school had the most buses and the longest bus runs in the state. Some children travelled a 76km to school and another 76km home. The school buses were driven by the teachers - often driving into the sun in the morning and into the sun in the evening. There was a spare bus if one broke down - which they did occasionally. It was the job of the deputy principal to keep the buses running. The teachers lived in small caravans at the end of each route. The caravans were parked near the house of a farmer and most teachers ate with the farmer and his family.
All this was discussed last evening because someone else had said she thought she was too gregarious to live on an island.
Yes, it was isolated. I know 3000 people sound like rather a lot - and most people knew each other and certainly knew us - but many were on farms a considerable distance from each other. Living there was expensive because most food and all other services were imported from the mainland. Electricity had to be generated on an individual basis. (The school had a big diesel unit. If it failed there was no electricity. We had a tiny 32v unit which was only set to run when absolutely necessary.)
Medical services were limited. Accidents were common and it was often faster for the local "crop duster" (a tiny plane that sprayed the crops) to be used to transport a patient out. The plane only had room for the pilot and the patient. (One night the pilot flew five times between the mainland and the island.)
Was the community close knit? In the area we lived in it was not. The people were too new to island life. It takes generations for that sort of closeness to be achieved.
It was interesting but I have no desire to go back there. I am not particularly gregarious and, if you were, it would not be a comfortable place to live.
All the same the beaches, when we got to them, were magnificent!

Friday, 21 November 2014

There are apparently going to be some cuts

to our ABC and SBS. For those of you in the northern hemisphere the first is the approximate equivalent of the BBC and the second is the so-called "multi-cultural" channel which provides a more ethnically diverse content than other television stations.
There is, of course, a wailing and gnashing of teeth about these cuts - and claims of broken election promises. I know a lot of people love their television programmes too.
But, I am less concerned than I might have been. First, there are now multiple other stations - all competing with each other for an audience. There is also a duplication of services. The ABC set up a 24 hour news channel but Sky already had one. Did they need to do it or was it to try and compete with Sky? Who watches it? What's the content really like? I am told it is highly repetitious. I suppose there is only so much news at any one time.
There is also a tremendous amount of sport on television. It is sometimes impossible to find a major network not showing some sort of sports programme on a Saturday afternoon. That's fine if you like sport - and television channels seem to assume that everyone is interested in sport. (The Senior Cat and I have no interest in it and I know others who feel the same way but, clearly, we are in the minority.)
And there seem to be a great many "repeat" shows. Television stations sometimes claim there has been a demand for a certain programme to be repeated. There has been one shown in the last few days which will be repeated. We will be told that there has been a demand for it. The reality is that (a) it was expensive to make and (b) it is giving a message about how people can change racist attitudes. 
If the latter is true then yes, it will be worth repeating - but the real reason for the repeat will be the expense of making it and the complex politics of the message.
Oh yes, politics. The ABC has been accused of a "left" bias. SBS has also been accused of the same thing. The "commercial" stations are apparently more inclined to pander to public opinion. I don't watch enough television to make an informed comment now.
Yes, I have pretty much ceased watching television. I have too many other things I want to do. I know I am missing out on some experiences, that my "cultural literacy" probably needs to be improved. I have never seen Game of Thrones or any similar programme.
So I am not too concerned about the cuts to the ABC and SBS. If they can cut some of the sport and bring on some decent documentaries or something genuinely funny then - mmm....I might be interested.
The only thing that bothers me is that they might cut the wonderful Global Village programme. Those short multi-national documentaries about people, places, animals, festivals and other things have taught me so much. I have been to places I will never get to in real life and experienced so many things I will never experience in real life. That is television worth watching.
Could we have some more of that please?

Thursday, 20 November 2014

There is currently one of those thrilling

family sagas being played out in the courts in this country. It has been going on for some time. The media has been making much of it. I suspect most Australians are aware of it - and many of them are taking an interest in it.
I am aware of it. I have taken little interest in it. I am just aware that the ultra-rich are not necessarily happy.
I am with the mother on this occasion. She has worked hard, very hard. She has amassed a fortune. Yes, she inherited money from her father - although not nearly as much as people often believe - but she went on to use it and make a great deal more.
I don't think I would particularly like her if I met her. Her business methods may or may not be good but they are successful. I know very little about her.
What does interest me however is her comments about "sense of entitlement" and her older children. They are also wealthy but they have not worked for it. Rather like the American woman who has claimed a billion dollars from the mega-rich man she is divorcing they claim their inheritance from their grandfather is not enough and they want even more. The younger child does work for her mother - although the older children claim she isn't really working. I suspect she does work. Her mother is not the sort of person to pay idle people.
But, should the older children be paid to be idle? Are we better off without having them in the workforce? The son at least claims lost business opportunities because of a lack of finance. Really? Many people start without anything. They work hard instead. It is clear that his mother does not think he would have succeeded even with money behind him. She apparently looked at the "business opportunities" and concluded they were no more than "get rich quick" schemes. She offered them opportunities to work inside the business - from the bottom up. They refused.
I know other people, often in my generation, who say they are "spending it now" and that their children won't be left with much. All too often however those same children do expect to be left a substantial amount - on top of the "loans" they have already received and the child-care services now being provided.
My sister and my brother each have two children. They have given their children most of their inheritance already - in the form of supporting them through school and university. It is a sort of family tradition I suppose. My paternal great-grandparents had almost nothing when they came here but they worked hard and gave their children an education. In turn my grandfather's generation gave their children a chance to educate themselves and so it has gone on.
My sister married a man whose parents were Cypriot-Greek peasants. They worked hard too. They didn't have much of an education themselves but they saw to it that their children did and now their grandchildren are also getting an education.
It is, I think, a magnificent inheritance - and one we are all entitled to if it is at all possible. It is perhaps the best sort of inheritance as well because it is one for which we need to work.