Thursday, April 30, 2015


                                               (Moir's cartoon from today's Sydney Morning Herald)

My opposition to the Death Penalty is absolute.

No one will soon forget that the Australian Federal Police under Mick Keelty AO APM were told, by the father of one of the mules in attempt to shelter his son, about the planned drug run and that the AFP tipped off the Indonesians, fully cognisant that Indonesia had the death penalty for such a drug crime whereas Australia, should their apprehension be delayed till their return here, did not. What political sanction, if any, was involved is something I can't stop thinking about.

John Howard was the then Prime Minister. Philip Ruddock was then attorney general. Today's SMH reminds us that the subsequent Labor government, with Brendan O'Connor as Minster for Home Affairs, in 2010 included Australia's opposition to the death penalty in his ministerial directive to the AFP. Mr Ruddock, now in opposition - you remember Mr Ruddock, he who called a boy in asylum detection "it" - found this instruction "very problematic".

What the Herald draws our attention to is that in 2014 the Conservatives (now back in power under Mr Abbott after the most deceitful campaign I can remember, and I'm no spring chicken, and the most partisan stance from Murdoch I can remember, and neither is he) Justice Minister Michael Keenan issued a new ministerial directive (to the AFP) which removed that instruction.

To the debate at hand - the DEATH PENALTY - there is a wonderful essay by James Hogan in John Menadue's blog, Pearls and Irritations.

Hogan references George Orwell's essay A Hanging, his witnessing of the hanging in Burma of a Hindu prisoner sentenced to death.

It is curious, but till that moment I had never realized what it means to
destroy a healthy, conscious man. When I saw the prisoner step aside to
avoid the puddle, I saw the mystery, the unspeakable wrongness, of
cutting a life short when it is in full tide. This man was not dying; he
was alive just as we were alive. All the organs of his body were working
– bowels digesting food, skin renewing itself, nails growing, tissues
forming – all toiling away in solemn foolery. His nails would still be
growing when he stood on the drop, when he was falling through the air
with a tenth of a second to live. His eyes saw the yellow gravel and the
grey walls, and his brain still remembered, foresaw, reasoned – reasoned
even about puddles. He and we were a party of men walking together,
seeing, hearing, feeling, understanding the same world; and in two
minutes, with a sudden snap, one of us would be gone – one mind less, one
world less. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


I'm eight now and considerably grown up, most of the time.

And I live here, most of the time:

Not doing too badly really.


There was a lull in the weather early this morning, just after light, so a chance to check around. Being just on the southern edge of the whirl, the winds haven't been too bad and the rain light to moderate with breaks. There's drama and deaths up north and a cruise boat, full of green people who go on cruise boats, swaying around stranded outside the heads because of the high seas. Imagine.

Under a stringy bark which just popped up years ago and now is this enormous gum probably too close to the house - stay winds, stay - is this big pile of bark, enough to build a humpy. The colours enriched by the wet.

And not too far away the Blue Satin Bower Bird is off and running on his courtship. I somehow thought this was a spring thing and though I'd heard his lovely call recently I wasn't expecting his bedroom to be ready so soon. Same place as last year. He's tidied it up, refashioned the bower, padded out the surrounds, and started decorating. God knows how or from where (because it's not from anywhere round here) he's excelled himself with this long strand of blue cord.

I hope she's impressed. I certainly am.

Monday, April 13, 2015


Last week we went to Belvoir for their Elektra / Orestes.

I am interested in the story and for whatever reasons the Strauss opera is near the top, if not topping, my most seen operas list (excluding Ring Cycles). The tickets were offered as a promo discount via Sydney Theatre Company - hmmm, not selling I thought.  I'd read some critics which while generally sounding a bit underwhelmed had tweaked my interest in what was a jointly written (Jada Alberts and Anne-Luoise Sarks, also the director) update in a contemporary setting in the midst of our current national debate about domestic violence. So, with the show just over an hour long, Linda Cropper as Klytemnestra, and liking the Belvoir vibe, off we went.

By the way, amongst Linda Cropper's long career list is Melba (Yvonne Kenny providing vocals).

With expectations on hold, and only one glass of wine, I went in for interest's sake and came out a mess.

Ralph Myers set was a stark cold white wall with Elektra in red neon in a top corner and a door into what was glimpsed as a kitchen. One table in front; chairs. The writing I liked. Punchy, angry, colloquial.

Katherine Tonkin's Elektra was nicely dishevelled but not completely deranged. She played, as written, unloved. Unloved. Cropper's Mother was cold, detached and unloving. She rationalised her husband's murder, to herself at least. Ursula Mills had a difficult task with Khrysothemis I thought. Her dialogue seemed awkward, though she was playing a double game as we were about to find out. Moreover, she was in a ridiculously silly costume dress which I just couldn't get past. Aegisthus, Ben Winspear, also struggled with costume (dressing gown, eye mask and slippers) looking like he'd walked in from some sitcom comedy.

They persisted in using their formal Greek Names, which worked as an introduction to character but I kept wishing they would let them slip into the vernacular, with Elektra becoming (say) Elle, and Chrissy, etc. Anyway.

Anyway, Orestes arrives, and things change quickly. Hunter Page-Lockhard has enormous presence. Strong and upright he is. And young. His character is a young man still a boy. He's scared, scared of himself I think. And unloved. His confrontation with his mother, studded with repeated declamations of "I come in the name of my father" was about his abandonment. I was tearing up, a lot.

Action was both out front, and unseen in the kitchen behind the wall. At midpoint, the set revolves. We are in the kitchen and see the first half, replayed, from the other side. From Orestes side. Spoiler alert: that Aegisthus and Chrissy were in the midst of a sleazy relationship was interesting but way beyond the scope of this short piece. A minor blip for me and I suppose while it did add to the general dysfunction I felt it really detracted from the main drama.

The great confrontation was between mother and son. It was pitifully sad. I cried, quietly, even K didn't know and I think I was the only one. This revolved less around revenge, and more about being unloved. Unloved. Spoiler alert: as he cradled the head of the mother he's just murdered, weeping, his cuddly toy his only support, I was as moved as I can remember being for a long time. An hour felt like a week.

Throughout all this, Linda Cropper gave an absolutely brilliant performance up to and especially in death.

(pics from Belvoir website)