The narrow view

Yesterday I was a tourist in my own city. I blame Laura Ingalls Wilder.


Narrow boards, girders and gaps: Sydney Harbour Bridge, seen from below.

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Hadji Murad

Khadzhi-MuratUntil a few days ago, I had never heard of Hadji Murad. I now know that he was a Chechen leader in the mid 19th century, during a period when the Russians, under Tsar Nicholas I, were expanding their empire into the Caucasus.

Hadji Murad (or Murat) surrendered to the Russians in 1851 in the hope that they would help him gain ascendance over another Chechen leader: his former ally and current enemy Shamil (who was holding his family hostage). When the Russian army failed to rescue his family, Hadji Murad escaped from house arrest in a desperate effort to do it himself. Continue reading


Early one morning after a big storm in Sydney, I discovered this car on the footpath beside the river.

2014-10-15 -car

For a few moments I imagined it dredged from the river bed by the wild storm surge and surfing the waves over the fence. What an achievement! Continue reading

Monday music: Sorrows and resilience

I have few words to describe the waves of grief and anger that have been washing over me over the past few days. I’m in Melbourne at the International AIDS conference, where we are mourning the loss of members of the global HIV community in Malaysian flight MH17.

Perhaps from Monday Music this week you would prefer a moment’s silence. Instead, I’m sharing music that for me, has a particular resonance at this time.

Memoirs of an AIDS Activist was born of the AIDS crisis in Australia. It’s composed by Lyle Chan, who was activist in the early 1990s. He helped Australians with HIV get access to experimental drugs, both through activism and lobbying, and by importing meds from the US that had not yet been approved for use in Australia.

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Monday music: Garifuna

Last week I had a housewarming party, & this post is a big thank you to a friend who couldn’t make it due to the flu, but sent me a CD.

The album is Umalali, a collection of songs from the Garifuna Women’s Project. Here’s another, because I’m unable to be decisive and just choose one.  Continue reading

Farm life

My Dad as a young man. I have no idea what this farm equipment is that he's pushing.

My Dad as a young man. I have no idea what this farm equipment is that he’s pushing.

My dad died in 2011 just a couple of months short of turning 98. If he were still alive, he’d be turning 100 today. So it seems fitting to celebrate the anniversary of his extraordinarily long life by sharing some of his photos. Continue reading

Invoking the Anzacs

Dad in uniform, and as an old man. Two of his great loves are also pictured - my Mum, and flowering twig.

Dad in uniform, and as an old man. Two of his great loves are also pictured – my Mum, and plants – he’s looking at a flowering twig. This lovely montage was created by a friend for his funeral service.

There have been several media reports recently of people on buses and trains launching into racist tirades against Black/Asian/Arabic people who’ve had the misfortune to catch their eye.

In one that was captured on video only a couple of weeks ago, the gist of the white woman’s rant seemed to be that her grandfather hadn’t fought in the second World War so that ‘people like you’ (i.e. non-whites) could come to Australia.

Today being Anzac Day I want to put it firmly on record that I believe that my Dad, who also fought in WWII, did not fight for anyone’s right to make racist attacks on others. Continue reading