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Today's quote:

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Push here, dummy; pull here, dummy


One day an Englishman, an American, and a Newfie walked into a pub together. They proceeded to each buy a pint of Molson Canadian. Just as they were about to enjoy their beverage three flies landed in each of their pints. The Englishman pushed his beer away from him in disgust. The American fished the offending fly out of his beer and continued drinking it as if nothing had happened. The Newfie picked the fly out of his drink and started shaking it over the pint, yelling, “SPIT IT OUT, SPIT IT OUT, YOU BASTARD!!!”

I was reminded of this Newfie joke after I had placed an order for button accordion music with good ol' Billy of Accordions4U.com in Newfoundland. Being a very substantial order, I had asked for a special deal to compensate for the rather expensive postage but instead of a discount was given the fly treatment.

Still, I'm not complaining as there's no one else selling Billy's unique musical notations for button accordion. They call me the Van Gogh of the button accordion - meaning I have no ear for it - and without those notations I wouldn't be able to play any of those favourites I've just ordered from Billy:

The Wild Colonial Boy
Sweet Forget Me Not
Sweet Rosie O’Grady
It’s A Long Way To Tipperary
Tennessee Waltz
Bicycle Built For Two
On The Sidewalks Of New York
I belong To Glasglow
My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean
When Irish Eyes Are Smiling
All Things Bright And Beautiful
In the Sweet By And By
Amazing Grace
What A Friend We Have In Jesus
Nearer My God To Thee
The Old Rugged Cross
Stand Up Stand Up For Jesus
Auld Lang Syne
Danny Boy
Galway Bay
I Know Where I’m Going
My Wild Irish Rose
The Spinning Wheel
The Rose Of Tralee
When Irish Eyes Are Smiling

Which reminds me: do you know the definition of a gentleman? Somebody who knows how to play the accordion, but doesn't.

P.S. And while I was in a spending mood (which doesn't happen often ☺ ), I also lashed out on a second second-hand HOHNER Erica button accordion in the keys of G and C.

It's advertised as "Looks, plays and sound very good" on ebay and will come all the way from Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty. I hope it will give me plenty of good tunes. I'm still wondering how I might recover its cost. Here's one idea:


Sunday, April 27, 2014

To my Canadian friend Chris near the Arctic Circle:


While we promised to come to each other's funeral, this may not be for some time, so to indulge your longing for another visit to Australia, I am busy copying Billy Connolly's World Tour of Australia.

(Sorry, I stand corrected: you only promised to send a Get-Well card but since you wouldn't miss an opportunity to tell jokes about me, I'm sure you'll be there to put the FUN back into funeral ☺ )

Anyway, I have Billy's World Tour of Australia on video tape, so before sending it to you I have to copy it onto DVD. As there's a whole 320 minutes of this shit, it means I have to sit here for a whole 320 minutes copying it. As Billy Connolly would've said, "F%^&in great!"

By the way, the video clip at the top is a "f***'in brilliant" send-up of Billy Connolly by Australia's very own Shaun Micallef. Thanks to all sorts of copyright bullshit, the only real World Tour of Australia on YouTube is this ending theme song in the last episode. Enjoy!


Sunday Morning Coming Down


Sunday morning and Johnny Cash just about sums it up "'Cause there's something in a Sunday that makes a body feel alone". And even though there's no smell of someone fryin' chicken, I'm taken back to somethin' that I'd lost somewhere, somehow along the way.

That the morning is grey and overcast and the temperature a mere 15 degrees doesn't help to fight off those supercharged memories that crowd in on me. Strangely, they all go back to the years before 1985 and are neatly compartmentalised: 1965 arrival in Australia and working in Melbourne and Canberra; 1967 return to Germany and working in Hamburg and Frankfurt; 1968 Lüderitz in South-West Africa; 1969 Cape Town, then back to Canberra and leaving for Papua New Guinea; 1970 working in Rabaul and on Bougainville; 1972 Sydney; 1973 Honiara in the British Solomon Islands; 1974 back on Bougainville in New Guinea again, then Port Moresby and Lae; 1975 Rangoon in Burma; 1976 Tehran in Iran; 1977 back to New Guinea, then Thursday Island; 1978 Apia in Western Samoa; 1979 Penang in Malaysia; 1980 up and down the east coast of Australia: Mt Isa, Mackay, Brisbane; 1981 Townsville; 1982 Port Moresby again, then off to Saudi Arabia; 1984 Athens in Greece.

Then, in 1985, I'm back to Australia and everything becomes one big fudge and the big questions in life are reduced to "What's for dinner and what's on TV?" Is that the kind of memories people have who've stayed in one place all their lives?

To quote W. Somerset Maugham, 'What makes old age hard to bear is not the failing of one's faculties, mental and physical, but the burden of one's memories.'


Friday, April 25, 2014

Sombre viewing for ANZAC Day


Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front (Im Westen nichts Neues) breaks from the traditional romanticizing of warfare and instead examines the harsh realities that young men face when they are sent to fight old men’s wars. It is Erich Maria Remarque's most famous book - read it here - and was banned by the Nazis in 1933.

Remarque had already left Germany for Switzerland in 1932. In 1938 he lost his German citizenship. In 1939 he went to the United States where he was naturalized in 1947. After World War II he settled in Porto Ronco, Switzerland, on Lake Maggiore, where he lived with his second wife, the American film star Paulette Goddard, until his death. He wrote several other novels, most of them dealing with victims of the political upheavels of Europe during World Wars I and II but none achieved the critical prestige of his first book.

All Quiet on the Western Front in its original Im Westen nichts Neues was required reading in my primary school years in Germany and has made me a pacifist for life.




Thursday, April 24, 2014

I've been to Bali too - but not this year!


Bali to me is the small village of Tegehe in the foothills south of Lovina. Denpasar and Kuta have become such congested, noisy hellholes that it is hard to image anybody staying there of their own free will.

Kuta comes as a culture shock - or more like a lack-of-culture shock: it's a jungle of pumping bars, nightclubs, restaurants, tattoo and piercing parlours, surfwear and novelty T-short and junky art shops. And it is full of seriously inebriated Aussies of both, or possibly several, sexes in Bintang singlets, staggering from the Aussie Koala Bar to the Aussie Kangaroo Bar.

(If you Google "lockley hijacked virgin flight", you can read all about this chap who was so skyhigh even before he got to Bali that he mistook the flight deck for the toilet and put a whole airport on hijack alert.)

On a much earlier visit I thought it would be nice to see the famous sunset, and so I headed down to the famous, or infamous depending on which way you look at it, Kuta Beach. In all my travels, I'd never seen such a jam-packed beach. Walls and walls of bodies walked, sat, laid and squished together on the sand, with smiling locals handing out small envelopes containing letters that read, "CONGRATULATIONS you have won a video camera. And one week's accommodation." Ah yes, timeshares are alive and well in Bali.

As I said, for me Bali is a small village in the foothills south of Lovina but there won't be any jalan jalan (literally 'walk, walk') this year. Maybe the next.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Nelligen real estate update


There are two types of people in our little lane: those with swimming pools and those who can't keep their heads above water. Of the former, this one just had an OPEN HOUSE.

I was hoping for a big turn-out which might spill down to the end of the lane where Riverbend offers so much more for so much less: 30,000 instead of a mere 1759 square metres, several hundred metres of waterfront instead of a mere twenty, and a solid brick house which has stood the test of time.

Nobody turned up on our doorstep. Perhaps our sign needs some fine-tuning:


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Just hanging in


Once Easter is gone, it's all downhill to Christmas! It's been a quiet Easter; even our cottage was empty this year. To think that I used to spend a fortune on deodorants before I realised that people don't like me anyway! see footnote

I kept busy trying to repair my HUSQVARNA ride-on mower which has given me so much trouble that I come to the conclusion never to buy anything whose name I can't spell.

Of course, nothing is the way it used to be. I mean, even mirrors aren't the same anymore: I used to look like a telegraph pole on which a stork had made its nest. Now, when I stand in front of a mirror, naked, I think, 'How the bloody hell can a telegraph pole with a stork's nest on top get pregnant?' I suspect it has something to do with global warming. Everything else does.

My wife keeps fit by going to the gym. My only exercise, apart from blinking, is jumping to conclusions and wrestling with my conscience. Sometimes it seems the only thing my wife and I have in common is that we were married on the same day.

Footnote: It seems I used deodorants the wrong way. According to a newsflash, Rexona deodorants have been pulled from supermarket shelves in Alice Springs in response to a spiralling rate of inhalant abuse by the town's children. Supermarkets have voluntarily agreed to sell Rexona from behind the counter because of its popularity among children trying to get high. The Central Australian Youth Link Up Service (CAYUS) has collected almost 500 used cans of deodorant from public places in Alice Springs in the last fortnight. CAYLUS manager Blair McFarland says the situation is out of control and a large number of young children are involved. "[There are] lots - like more than 50 kids under 12 - who have been referred to welfare because of their sniffing," he said. "[Police] went to Billy Goat Hill one night and there were 100 kids up there. Maybe not all of them were sniffing, but that's where we've found 460 cans so far.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Wake in Fright


Here's another chunk of Australian "culture" for my Canadian friend Chris: the 1971 drama Wake in Fright, Australia's great "lost film" because of its unavailability on VHS or DVD, as well as its absence from television broadcasts. In mid-2009, however, a thoroughly restored digital re-release was shown in Australian theatres to considerable acclaim.

“Sweat, dust and beer … there’s nothing else out here mate!” The movie lifts the lid on outback Australia, where boredom breeds obscenity, and it still packs a hell of an atmospheric punch. “What’s the matter with you people?” John the teacher hollers. “I can burn your house down, murder your wife, rape your child. But if I don’t have a drink with you – if I don’t have a flaming bloody drink with you – that’s a criminal offence! That’s the end of the bloody world!”

So grab some popcorn (or a beer), sit back, switch to full-screen (to the right of YouTube button), and enjoy, Chris! It may bring back some unwelcome memories of Meekatharra. Happy Easter!

(These full-length clips tend to suddenly "disappear" because of copyright infringement or whatever, so watch it while you can)


Aboard T/V FLAVIA in July 1965



No one ever emigrates because of the success they've enjoyed at home. No one ever says, "Well, I have a happy home life, I'm rich and I have many friends - so I'm off." The only reason anyone has for going to live in another country is because they've cocked everything up in their own.

Being just nineteen years old, my opportunities for cocking things up had been rather limited by the time I left; in fact, my only - and certainly biggest - cock-up until then had been that I allowed myself to be born to parents who were so dirt-poor that they packed me off to work as soon as I had reached the minimum school-leaving age of fourteen.

If I had become what I was intended to be, I would probably have been desperate, because I would have had regrets. You know, like you work in an office and you say, "One day I will go to see the world." Instead, I went to see the world and I said, "Maybe one day I will be obliged to work in an office."

Some people see and some people don't see; much the same way they hear music or they hear noise, they only use their vision so as not to bump into trees or fall into a ditch. My vision was more than that and it led me to emigrate to Australia of which I wrote in this article.

Some 229 German "assisted migrants" (as well as a similar number of Dutch and a lesser number of Poms) were on board the ship FLAVIA with me and I have sometimes wondered how their lives turned out. Well, one person, now residing on the Gold Coast, read my article and sent me this email:

"Hello Peter,

I haven't finished reading your webpage yet as I'm too emotional. My parents and I were on the Flavia with you. I was only 4 but still have many memories of that voyage. Mum is sitting here with me, also quite teary. I came across your webpage when I googled 'Flavia'. Thank you for the memories. Yes, we are still in Australia, living on the Gold Coast. Mum sends her regards, unfortunately dad has dementia.

I do have photos, including a group photo the day King Neptune came on board. I'll scan them and email them to you, perhaps there's one with you.

Regards Anja"

Thank you for the photos, Anja! Unfortunately, I am in none of them - I was probably sitting in my cabin below the waterline, trying to learn English ☺ - but I publish them anyway as someone else may recognise him- or herself in one of the photos and email me.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Where you no longer count how many shirts you wear a week but how many weeks you wear a shirt


My trip up the Hawkesbury River is not far away - see here. It has many small and isolated communities along its banks which can only be reached by boat.

Have a look at this little beauty on Hawkesbury River Real Estate's website. The sort of place you can lose yourself in, just 50 kilometres away from Sydney.

Flick through the Image Gallery to whet your appetite! (No, I am not on a commission; I just love this place! ☺ )

Until you receive my full reportage on the trip, here's the full-length video clip of the movie Oyster Farmer which was filmed on the Hawkesbury River:

Part 1

Part 2

I love the scene with Jack Thompson as a Vietnam War veteran. I've watched it so often the DVD's got a hole in it.


Saturday, April 19, 2014

How wrong can you be?


These days you can find anything on the Internet. If you go to the National Archives of Australia's website, you'll even find my 'Auswanderungsantrag nach Australien mit Fahrtunterstützung'.

The interviewing officer got it right when he wrote that I would settle without difficulties.

And, of course, he also got it right when he wrote "Appears good type" (and so say all of us!) ☺ - ... and here's another one from my multi-cultural keyboard: ☻

But, boy, did he get it wrong when he put me down as factory fodder!


Friday, April 18, 2014

Thinking of Ewe


Every man and his dog has come down from Canberra and the Bay is no place to be over Easter. Anyway, why get eggcited over Easter? Every day is a holiday at "Riverbend" and a good way to start the day is having breakfast in the treehouse.

I made another cup of tea - just for Ewe! Care to join me?


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Happy Easter!

The shops are full of chocolate eggs and bunnies which is a clear indicator that Easter is anywhere from three months to three days away. But why eggs and bunnies?

Apparently, the Easter bunny dates back to the 13th-century when people prayed to multiple gods and goddesses. Eostra, the goddess of fertility and spring, was symbolized with the rabbit and is believed to have crossed over. Which leaves the eggs which first became associated with Easter in Medieval Europe. The Church forbade people to consume eggs during Lent and as such, the eggs laid during the 40 days would be preserved and stored. With an abundance of eggs, they would be consumed on Easter.

Of course, all you good little Catholics out there already knew this, so I move on: we have been invited for more 'drinkies' and an Easter lunch on Sunday. It's by the same people who invited us last Christmas and were so taken by my rendition of 'Silent Night' that they have asked me to bring along my button accordion again. Little do they know that this the only number in my repertoire!

Anyway, to all of you who don't have to listen to 'Silent Night' on Easter Sunday, have a Happy Easter and remember: it's the only time of the year when you can put all your eggs in one basket and get away with it! I hope I will!


Remember those nodding toy dogs?


They used to be everywhere in 1970s traffic, those toy dogs that would nod their heads in some sort of mock approval of their owners' driving, before they were superseded by the fluffy dice hanging from the windscreen mirror.

But the fluffy dice and nodding dogs were inanimate objects, playful things. These political noddies, who look a bit like those plastic toy dogs, only not as cute, intelligent or useful, are supposed to be people ... dare I say, human beings. Where is their dignity? I can just see them heading home after a long day's campaigning behind the leader to be greeted by their kids: "Hello Daddy, I saw you on TV. You looked like you were watching the yo-yo championships".

Who the hell came up with the idea that having a group of people standing behind a politician, incessantly nodding their heads as the politician raves on, would somehow trick the viewer into believing that what they are saying has widespread support?

I for one am sick to death of the "noddies".