SOME MEMOIRS -- by John Ray
Some occasional personal notes from a quiet life...
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Old folk at lunch
As Oscar Wilde may have said: "Life is too important to be taken seriously". But the Hagakure had the idea too: "Matters of great concern should be treated lightly"
18 March, 2020
An erudite dinner
I have just had lunch at "The Sunny Doll" (Japanese) with old friends Henningham and Croucher. For nearly two hours the very lively conversation ranged widely over the Western intellectual tradition -- from Aristotle, though Aquinas to Wittgenstein. All three of us take an interest in such arcana.
The depth of our knowledge on each varies but we all knew enough about them to find them interesting and discussable I did a major in philosophy in my student days so I was at something of an advantage.
There were even discursions into theology, with one of my favorite doctrines -- the Trinity -- coming under critical scrutiny. I guess it would all be impossibly obscure to many but we enjoyed it
5 March, 2020
In the hostable
I have just got out of Brisbane Private hospital after some cancer surgery on my neck. The surgery at no point put me into pain and the hospital staff were at all times obliging so I should not be too grumpy. They even gave me some good porridge for breakfast, which I always enjoy
But I still hated it. It was the boredom that got to me. I was able to get up and walk around but that was the best of the available entertainment. Otherwise I had to lie in bed and watch TV -- something I almost never do. Some programs were mildly interesting but the news was the only program I took any real interest in. I was pleased to hear that Netanyahu had got back in as Prime Minister of Israel
So why was I so bored? I know it sounds pompous but my life is a life of the mind. My life could be taken as extremely uneventful but to me all sorts of things are happening all the time -- in my head. So while in hospital I missed being actively involved with the debate about all the big questions
I did take along a famous book to read -- "Dr Zhivago" by Boris Pasternak. I had read in when it first come out in 1957 but had forgotten the story totally so it should have been new to me. It was but I somehow could not get interested in it for long. It was a good yarn but I just could not concentrate on it.
The book is about pre-revolutionary Russia (c. 1905) so the political scenes were of interest to me. I did gather that they were realistic. One passage which told me that revolutionary politics had not changed much was a description of the conversation of two Leftists of the day. Their remarks were described (on p. 49 of the first edition) as: "So imbued with contempt for everything in the world that they could quite safely have been replaced by a growling noise". The politics of hate again. Quite reminiscent of current Leftist remarks about Mr Trump. CNN on Trump is mostly a just a growling noise
I did make one useful discovery in hospital. The staff always elevate the head of the bed. That is useful for sitting up in bed and watching TV but I found it no good for sleeping. I didn't get a good sleep until I had the bed completely flat -- as at home
29 February, 2020
Another great Russian lady
I have just come across Aida Emilevna Garifullina (born 30 September 1987). She is a Russian (Tatar) operatic lyric soprano with a powerful voice. She has sung at the Wiener Staatsoper so it is slack of me that I have only just heard of her. She sings an utterly charming duet with Andrea Bocelli here:
Not only her singing but her visual presentation is gorgeous: A most attractive lady. Note the hair for a start. With a given name of Aida she was obviously meant to sing. Her mother was a musical lady
21 February 2020
Ghastly events to be followed by more ghast
When I had my big operation to remove a tumor under my jaw last August, I was told to have 6 monthly PET scans as a follow-up. The tumor was a metastasis from one of my skin cancers (SCCs) so further metastases had to be allowed for.
A PET scan is a form of nuclear medicine. They inject you with a radioactive dye that clings to cancers. So it is a first line of defence to detect cancers before they get out of hand.
I had the scan on 12th but was in any case aware of a new lump in my neck so was prepared for bad news. The bad news led to more scans. On 13th I saw the ENT specialist, and was booked in for the extra scans.
On 17th I went to Qld. Xray at Greenslopes hospital. The chief event was an MRI scan, which is much more detailed than a PET scan. MRI scans are a horror which I tolerate badly. I have refused them in times past but Greenslopes had a new and larger machine which was slightly more civilized. Even so, I had to arrive in a pretty bombed-out state in order to go through with it. I arrived with 20mg of benzodiazepines in me, which is a lot.
As I could not drive in that state, Jenny very kindly drove me in and saw me to the front desk of the clinic. She then waited through my various ordeals to drive me home. She wisely brought a book. I was there for the whole morning, 9 to 12. She also helped a lot with all the paperwork before and after.
Thanks to the benzos, I survived the MRI without distress and then went on to a dental Xray, which seemed pointless but was mandated by someone. I then had a fine-needle biopsy to check what cells were actually in the tumor -- SCCs again it turned out.
On Tues 18th I went to the regular ENT conference at PA hospital and got the news that the tumor was malignant.
On 19th I saw my ENT man again and was booked in for the next round of ghast, a visit to hospital to get the tumor excised.
13 February, 2020
That saint again
Anne had a surgical procedure booked for 14th so we could not celebrate Valentine's day on the due date. So we celebrated it a day early.
I normally observe correct ritual for the day, which consists of giving flowers, chocolate, a card and a dinner. I varied it a bit this time, however. I gave a card, chocolate and a dinner plus a hand-held Kambrook vacuum cleaner. I use my own hand-held rather a lot. A bit eccentric as a Valentine present but Anne was very appreciative of it. She had been having problems with dust on her venetian blinds (Surely an iconic First World problem!) and she thought that the Kambrook would be just the thing to clean them
We dined at an old favorite, the Bollywood. We both had medium Vindaloo, which was excellent. They are no longer a Sikh restaurant. They have been taken over by a Muslim. But his menu is still as good as ever -- perhaps even better. They didn't jib when Anne asked for an ice bucket for our Henkel Trocken champagne. So they are not strict Muslims.
23 January, 2020
Mice: You win some, you lose some
My computer mouse was playing up so I stopped in at Officeworks to buy a new one. As expected, they had a large display of them, of many different types and at a large range of prices
BUT they were all cordless mice. Cordless mice are an old idea and I had one way back. But you have to keep putting batteries in them so I always use wired mice these days. So I was losing on that score.
I did however find a solitary wired mouse half hidden away among the cordless mice so grabbed it and took it to the counter. It cost me? Just $4. So it was virtually being given away. Suits me! It works very well. So I won in the end.
Wired mice became unpopular because the cord sometimes ran out. But there's an easy solution to that. Use a longer cord! The cord on my new mouse is plenty long enough and you can get extra usable length by plugging it into one of the USB ports on the front of your computer. Most computers seem to have those these days
21 January, 2020
As I am a conservative writer it was sort of inevitable that I would be censored on social media. And I am. Facebook bans all mention of my Greenie Watch blog and Imgur has erased quite a few of my pictures that have conservative relevance,
But now Flickr.com have joined the party. I put the picture below up on my Flickr site ( https://www.flickr.com/photos/67016676@N04/ ) recently. They have removed it. I wonder why?
Hmmm ... I see it is back up
19 January, 2020
Another Army dinner
Once again a few of us got together to remember our time in the CMF unit 21 Psych. Present were Rod, two Peters, myself and significant others with the two Peters.
There were two minor glitches. The restaurant we were going to was closed! They are now not open at night until Wednesdays. That took me by surprise as I have been there on Sundays in the past.
The odd thing is that one of our previous dinners had suffered a similar fate. On that occasion, however, I had a bit of advance warning so was able to redirect people to the nearby Zambreros. In Brisbane, Zambreros is mostly a takeaway joint but they do have plenty of tables. So we were able to get some of their good Mexican food and take it to a table to eat. So we did exactly the same again tonight.
A wrinkle this time however is that Zambreros no longer has any drinking glasses -- not even for water. As a few of us had brought along wine, that was a bit embarrassing. As Von Clausewitz tells us, however, army men are supposed to be good at improvising and Rod, our former Sergeant Major, rose to the task. He went out into the kitchen and found some small but deep dessert bowls that we could at a pinch use in lieu of wine glasses. So we had refreshment after all.
Church affiliations are common among us so quite a lot of the conversation was about church matters past and present.
So the food was good and so was the evening generally
16 January, 2020
In the early 70s, I shared a Glebe terrace house in Wentworth Pk Rd with JPH and AWC, both clever young men a little younger than me
We had quite a few parties at Wentworth Pk Rd. If ever we got sick of our guests, however, we would put on Janacek's Sinfonietta. We all liked classical music but not very many other people do and Janacek is a bit much for even some classical music lovers. The Sinfonietta would clear the house within minutes. They would even leave their beer behind!
It didn't work for Denis Ryan, however. I think he introduced us to Janacek in the first place. He would say "This is good" and settle in. Not that we minded. Denis was always good fun. He had that Irish roguishness and was a great raconteur. He had been a shearer for most of his life and later moved to Sydney to manufacture shearer's clothing.
For quite a while he used to drop in at our place after work for a few beers with us: The real Australian male thing (except for the classical music in the background). We enjoyed it greatly. He liked Resch's D.A. but we drank Flag. We used to buy D.A. especially for him. We called it Denis's Ale, though D.A. really means Dinner Ale.
All four of us were quite Right-wing. Denis had been a Communist in his youth (not uncommon among shearers, I believe) and knew an awful lot about politics. He had not had much education but was quite intellectual and cultured for all that. Apparently you do sometimes find that among shearers, according to Denis.
He was in his late 30's at the time.
Another venue where I saw Denis was at the Baroque Music Club. I founded the club shortly after I moved to Sydney. It was a very informal thing that consisted of Sunday afternoon meetings at somebody's place where we would drink cheap flagon wine and listen to recorded Baroque (pre 1750) music.
Denis was our most frequent host and his wife, Fay, used to put on a whopper afternoon tea to aid the deliberations. It was a good way to meet musically-inclined single women and I did meet a few there.
Denis is now deceased. He lived in Abergeldie St, Dulwich Hill.
15 January, 2020
It has occurred to me that I have never put up here any mention of my first real girlfriend. So here is a bowdlerized version
I was about 20 when I first really began to take out girls. The puritanical influence of my religious teenage years made me a bit of a late starter in that respect but I soon caught up.
My first real girlfriend was Janet, 5'2", quite bright, with red hair (flaming red) and a talented classical pianist. We both liked Bach. Her eyes were blue-green. She was a clerk with National Mutual Insurance at the time. I met her at the Folk Centre in Ann St., where she sang occasionally. She had just turned 16 when we became lovers
We used to see one-another often even though she continued living at home. We had a lot of fun of all sorts together and I still think of her as a first class person. She and I had similar personalities and similar attitudes to a quite unusual degree. I remember that she liked Ayn Rand.
The thing that split us up may seem a bit silly but what I had reservations about was her being too short. I didn't want to have runty sons. I was also unpopular with her father.
At one stage she and I used to meet at my place at Birley St during lunch hour. Both of us worked only about five to ten minutes walk away. That way we could make love as part of our lunch together. An excellent menu!
Janet's father was an accountant who had done well enough to retire at age 40. He seemed to own most of Brisbane's jukeboxes. Apparently they give a good return. He did not like me because I had a beard. Part of the reason why Janet did like me however was because I had a beard!
Her mother was very nice to me, however. The thing that Janet liked best about me appeared to be my very confident personality. No woman likes a wimp. Janet and I became very close in the year or so we were together so it was in fact many years before we got to the point of no longer seeing one-another at all. Even after we had split up we would still sneak in the occasional meeting.
I was rather lucky in having her as my first girlfriend as we got on well in all sorts of ways. I guess we really were "soul-mates". A year or two after we split up I remember sending her a telegram to mark either her or my birthday. It was in Italian and read: "Ogn' anno divengono piu chiaro le fiamme inestinguibile di amore per te". Something that romantic needs to be said in Italian.
I remember sending the telegram from Glebe Post Office in Sydney. The postal clerk who took it looked very dubious about the whole thing.
13 Januar 2020
A busy weekend -- not always in a good way
As I do most Fridays, I attended my usual skin clinic to get one of my skin cancers zapped. This time there was one on my forehead that was feeling pesky so I requested a shave biopsy. Because it looked ungood my obliging surgeon went a bit deep with the cut, which gave a greater bleeding problem. She sizzled the wound well with diathermy, however so I went home just with a big dressing on my forehead
That night the wound bled. Fortunately the dressing contained most of the blood but I did get enough leakage to give me a gory forehead. I looked a fright. So I had to find a doctor to at least refresh the dressings and clean up dried blood.
Finding a doctor who works on Saturday morning is not easy but luckily the nearest practice from me did have a doctor working. I got an appointment for 8:45am. She had a very Greek surname so I expected someone who looked Greek. She did not. She was actually a dream walking: A trim figure including bosom, looked good in jeans and had a nice dusting of freckles on her fair skin. She assured me however that she is in fact Greek. I have come across fair Greeks before but it is unusual.
Anyway, she cleaned me up a bit and put a big new dressing on so I felt able to carry on. I was down to host a men's dinner the next evening so that was important.
So next morning Joe and I had our usual Sunday breakfast with me still looking rather bad. Later that day, however, the dressing fell off, leaving just a little patch right over the wound. So later that morning I went to my usual medical practice -- which actually had two doctors working on a Sunday. I was seen by a very brown Indian who was friendly and very obliging. He allowed me to wash my face in a sink and stood by for the last of the dressings to come off. He then put on a new and rather small dressing. From that point on I had a clean face and a civilized looking dressing on so I was confident of carrying out my hostly duties.
I cooked up one of my standbys, a chili con carne, using a whole kilo of mince plus a couple of tins of beans. It worked well as usual -- assisted by certain sachets. We had it in my verandah, which always gets breezes. We had tinned fruit and icecream for dessert. JPH was rather amazed at our custom of cutting icecream.
There were five of us at the dinner -- our usual four plus JPH, a learned man but one with a lively sense of humor. We all had good things to say about Mr Trump and deplored the antics of his critics. We all know that Mr Trump has some rough edges but he probably needs that, considering the vast reforms he is tackling. He has virtually the whole of the Washington establishment criticizing and abusing him so you have to be very certain of yourself to remain undaunted by that.
Graham always brings something up from Victoria to add to the dinner and one of the things he brought this time was a box of of Coles assorted cracker biscuits. It was a really good selection. Recommendable. He also brought some "Timboon" craft whisky from near where he lives. And that was really good too. It is actually a single malt
For show and tell, Graham brought a long a nightlatch cylinder which he had partially disassembled to show us how it works. He is a qualified locksmith amid a myriad of other accomplishments so was also able to use it to show us how to pick a lock. Joe took a considerable interest in that. I have been doing amateur locksmithing since I was a kid so it's probably another example of like father, like son.
The conversation was wide ranging and vigorous. Graham and Chris had a lot to say and JPH had plenty of humorous interjections. Joe and I were the quiet ones, relatively speaking. I retired from the fray at about 9pm but Chris, Graham and JPH kicked on for about another hour.
11 January, 2020
Some recent pix
A sweet little soul patiently waiting
First day at a new school
Happiness with new presents
A good looking gal with a fat guy
8 January, 2020
The great sock chuckout
I am not quite sure how it happened but over the years I had accumulated 4 drawers full of sox. People used to give me sox for birthdays and Christmases so that is part of the explanation but I guess I must have bought the rest of them myself for various now-forgotten reasons. I don't wear sox at all these days
Anyway, there were about 100 of them cluttering up my drawers so I resolved to get them down to one drawer, So I spread them out on a table and picked out about a dozen to keep. So what to do with the rest?
I tried to interest Joe in them but he walked right past them. But Aristides came to the rescue, as he often does. He is a regular sock wearer so picked out about half of them for HIS sock drawer. The remainder are on the coffee table downstairs for any passer-by to take
5 January, 2020
An old friend reminded me recently that I had never put anything up about my time as a soapbox orator. It was only ever an amusing pastime but here goes anyway:
In both Brisbane and Sydney I was during my student days a "soapbox orator". Soap is rather heavy stuff so boxes in which soap was once sold must have been sturdy wooden ones -- solid enough for people to stand on.
The term "soapbox orator" means a public speaker on eccentric subjects holding forth at a place set aside for that purpose to whatever audience he can attract -- generally on a Sunday afternoon. Centennial park used to be such a place in Brisbane and the Domain in Sydney has long been such a place. cf. Hyde Park Corner in London.
I started to go to Centennial Park on Sunday afternoons in Brisbane to listen, heckle and argue as there was so little else to do in Brisbane at that time in those days.
Doing some heckling on my way home from Army parade
As I had a loud voice and was verbally fluent I decided eventually to do a bit of speaking myself from time to time and I generally had a lot of fun with it for a couple of years. I spoke on a variety of subjects -- not usually seriously.
Speaking at Centennial prk
Webster was the soapbox star in those days but older Brisbane people might remember soapbox orator Ted Wixted (1927-2001) and his arguments against the Virgin Birth. Ted had a good day job as a museum curator -- mainly concerned with Early aviators -- but did admit that angels appeared to him. He used to call me "Jeremy".
When I moved to Sydney I also spoke a few times at the Domain but that was only in my first year in Sydney and was mostly in the company of Martyn Harper
2 January, 2020
Just online: Ingeborg Hallstein goes to the dentist
With assistance of that natural born comic Ivan Rebroff
An hilarious operatic pastiche with quite a medley of favorite operatic arias. Hallstein is as usual the ultimate female.
1 January, 2020
New year's day
After all the excitement of the Christmas season, today reverted to routine
Anne and I went to the Gold Leaf for brekky about 8:30. Anne had the vegan brekky and I had my usual cheese burger
There was however a little drama when I went to the Buranda chemist to pick up some Firmagon. I use it to control my prostate cancer. The shop assistant was a pleasant little Chinese girl named Grace. She spent anbout 20 minutes looking high and low for the product. Eventually it was found exactly where it should have been -- among the dispensed prescriptions waiting to be collected. Much embarrassment! I was in no hurry so I was merely amused
Anne went home about 10am bearing lots of leftovers from our various meals
For posts on this blog in 2019, see here
What would I like to be remembered about me long after I am dead and gone?
I would like it to be remembered that I too often experienced one of life's greatest pleasures: The first mouthful of cold beer on a warm day.
That pleasure will last as long as human beings are human beings, I believe
I am less certain about Bach. The last thing that people will remember about me long after I have gone will probably be: "He liked Bach". Will J.S. Bach continue to inspire people for a thousand years more? I think so. But beyond that I am not sure.
As Oscar Wilde might have said: Life is too important to be taken seriously
My full name is Dr. John Joseph RAY. I am a former university teacher aged 74 at the time of writing in early 2018. I was born of Australian pioneer stock in 1943 at Innisfail in the State of Queensland in Australia. After an early education at Innisfail State Rural School and Cairns State High School, I taught myself for matriculation. I took my B.A. in Psychology from the University of Queensland in Brisbane. I then moved to Sydney (in New South Wales, Australia) and took my M.A. in psychology from the University of Sydney in 1969 and my Ph.D. from the School of Behavioural Sciences at Macquarie University in 1974. I first tutored in psychology at Macquarie University and then taught sociology at the University of NSW. I am Australian born of working class origins and British ancestry. My doctorate is in psychology but I taught mainly sociology in my 14 years as a university teacher. In High Schools I taught economics. I have taught in both traditional and "progressive" (low discipline) High Schools.
Jenny is the first wife of Ken and the third wife of John
Maureen is the second wife of Ken
Paul and the twins (Vonnie and Suzy) are the children of Jenny and Ken
Joe is the child of Jenny and John
Timmy and Davey are the children of Ken and Maureen
Paul is married to Susan
Matthew is the son of Paul and Susan and is now going to a Scottish Prep school
Twinny Suzy is married to Russell
Von is married to Simon
Tracy is Ken's sister
Tracy is married to Simon (another Simon)
Hannah is the daughter of Von and Simon
Sahara and Dusty are the children of Twinny Suzy and Russell
George came out on the boat to Australia with Ken
George had a son named Simon (The 3rd. Simon). Now deceased
Jill and Lewis are old friends of John
Anne is the lady in John's life these days
Anne had sisters named Merle and June. Merle was married to Ralph but is now deceased. June is carrying on
Anne's sons are Byron, Nigel and Warren
Byron has two sons named Koen and Ethan and a wife named Bonnie
My brother is Christopher (married to Kim) and my surviving sister is Roxanne (married to Stefan)
Quite simple really!
DETAILS OF REGULARLY UPDATED BLOGS BY JOHN RAY:
"Education Watch International"
"Political Correctness Watch"
"A Western Heart" (A summary blog)