Social Distancing

We hear when the world recovers from lockdowns, it will be different. Masks and social distancing.

In this country of early adopters, I doubt masks will catch on. Even masks printed in AFL / NRL logo and colour would struggle to make a difference.

Social distancing is a different issue. But where are the new ideas to come from to excite everyone?

We’ve often looked overseas for inspiration.

So let’s see a unique solution to the worldwide problem of social distancing.

In the first pic, restaurants have taken the lead. Rules for pool noodle etiquette are not clear. Rules could include, right of way, what to do in case of collision,  correct direction colours. In this early pic of Panama hat wearers, directional colours are not established.

Disinfecting the Panama hats after each use is a problem The weave of the hat provides safe spots for the Wuhan Virus. They might be replaced with surplus ex-Army helmets.

In the second pic, a more developed version of the pool noodles is shown. Here, the need to avoid a mask is neatly side-stepped by the introduction of air/oxygen.

Good ole German know-how!

pool noodles social distancing


Food Delivery 2020-05-15 Wuhan Style!

Time to get off of my arse and volunteer. The Migrant Resource Centre started a food delivery service for elderly migrants. I gotta be there by 0900 to start my run!
All the protocols are completed. I’ve sent in my consent to have my photo taken with the other volunteers for this very first run.
Seems so facile to consent to have your pic taken, especially when you’re doing something, you’ve volunteered to do. Millions of consents must be signed the world over for this and that. There is a minuscule chance of any harm from a privacy breach. This is overkill at a nuclear level.
I’m concerned about delivering. However, there’s a set of protocols about what to do and where. I reckon it’s about delivering the meals with a smile, and kindness to folk. Folk who have probably had little to no social interaction. These are the Weeks of Wuhan virus.
The route selected is logically laid out, I make a single mistake on the ten deliveries. 80% of receivers are Chinese. At the houses, most have an array of shoes littered at the front door. The wearers are gone. Granny is home alone, awaiting the volunteer driver of the Grüber delivery.

It makes me wonder.

The other deliveries, balance to my day. Folk I feel I’ve really assisted. I am inclined to chat a little. To respect the reaching out for contact, I palpably feel. Then I recall the protocols for social distancing. Also the stark reminder, I’d seen on the news feed.

Not having brought my noodle hat, I politely handed over the meals, said bye, and leave.

pool noodles social distancing



Why the US of A is off of My Places to Visit #3

Sadly I wrote recently of Why the US of A is off of my places to Visit #2

I thought this was enough, but it wasn’t.

This American Life, the podcast, recently won a Pulitzer Prize, the first for audio journalism. It concerned the changes to US policy pushing back refugees on the southern border. An aid-worker related how the conditions in the camps on the Mexican side of the border were worse than in camps she had seen anywhere in the world. That got my attention.

The podcast is named The Out Crowd , and they are.

It’s difficult listening, very.

From the country, whose diversity I so long wanted to appreciate, the treatment being meted out to asylum seekers is beyond belief.

My Pollyanna view of America was of the quaint Amish, Negro Blues, Italian Pizza, Eastern Europeans entrepreneurs, Chinese restaurants, Nazi rocket scientists, road trips and gross upsized menus. It was of a country built on the backs of migrants.

While I recognise that this is a symptom of the leadership by mr trump, he was voted in by a complacent electorate.

The country has no heart.

I don’t wanna see that.



Podcasts – Aural Opiate – Wikipedia

Running in my earbuds might be a podcast. An explosion of all types of genres.

To name but three, cat videos, cooking, and crime.
I’ve no interest in the first two, but where does all the crime come from?

Macabre, gruesome, speculative, unsolved, serial. It’s easy listening and titillating. Drowns out the roar of the whipper snipper, distracts from writing. Presentations vary. Highly produced variants depending on presenter and producer skill. Others read from scripts monotonically, interspersed with dramatic music. Made to attract to products offered during ads. However, podcast content attraction is often prurient.

But where did all this come from? Such lurid information used to be confined to yellow papers. Those papers with little or no legitimate well-researched news. Eye-catching headlines for increased sales.
But these rags have mostly disappeared, replaced by podcasts.

While listening to such a podcast. It related to some cannibal or the other. Idly I typed his name into either Bing or its Google.
There he was. Some newspaper or book references cluttered the page. But sure enough, good old Wikipedia was right there. Scrolling through Wikipedia, all the detail from the podcast was laid out. Best of all, at the foot of Wikipedia were references. References to flesh-out, so to speak the narrative.

That’s why the explosion of podcasts!
Modern-day story-telling.
The tales are grim.






How Did It Happen?

How did it happen? I’m stretched to know.

The shattered shards of a relationship reassembled, only to find the missing fragment is the one which made everything watertight and from which all meaning flowed.
I simply can’t remember. Perhaps a stroll through where it happened will evoke the past, allow the floating tendrils of past memory to again enthral me.
There was the genteel middle class-ness of it all. The red cut brick of the one flight up to the ground floor of the six-pack apartment, spaciously garden set behind a grey-green shrub lined slightly unkempt garden. Muted pleasant voices floating through open windows while cooking dinner. No-one dared stop to eavesdrop, it wasn’t done here. Conversations blended with the dull drone of the backdrop television. The shadows of the branch overhang, the glistening droplets of the just sprayed foliage, the aroma of the decaying leaf litter takes me back there, to that place, those moments, that time.
And yet frankly I wasn’t there. I lived sixty or so miles away in Geelong, an industrial town, declining as its employees working for carmakers, wool spinners, and educational institutions watched in vain as their jobs went to cheaper countries, somewhere, anywhere but here. In a tiny cul-de-sac named Cogens Place, on the margin in a once grimy workers area of the Geelong CBD, I found a rental. The surroundings spoke of incipient gentrification. The spot was well placed twixt the beachfront, parklands and hospital. I loved that little place, one and 1/4 bedrooms with sloping back veranda covering laundry and an outside dunny, yes, so old yet sporting two dunnies, how chic I felt. I couldn’t get my hands on it fast enough. I

I’d spent two night in the car after being turfed out of the local motel when they overbooked me during a yachting regatta weekend; when I’d first arrived from the North … but that, as they say, is another story. In fact, “if memory serves me correctly,” I also spent a couple of days at Port Arlington, which now comes to mind and deserves its own zinger.
I’m unclear how we got here, the internet most likely. There was a vegan café, on second thoughts a restaurant, on the wharf at St Kilda, seafood at Mordialloc now isn’t that a name conjuring more than it is. Mordialloc, Mordy to its friends’ marks where suburbia starts broadening its acreage. Squeezed into the wedge of seaside Beach Road and its confluence with the Nepean Highway, this once seaside retreat is now absorbed into the commuter surrounds of ever-expanding metropolis Melbourne.
And over time we fell for one another. She had married well, very well, and without the chance to have kids adopted a Korean girl nineteen years earlier. She and the daughter lived together in this redbrick idyll; the divorced father well supportive of them both. The girl had matured beautifully into a gorgeous nubile young thing well-schooled at the Methodist Ladies College, gymnastics, choir and all. And of course, a dog. A house dog walked by others but still their dog. Days of the whining of Leonard Cohen, olives and OJ, lavash bread, smelly cheeses and dried tomato with roasted aubergine. The palette adjusts but not the eardrums. Leonard is, as they say, an acquired taste and the accompanying videos in smoke-filled concerts from earlier decades is truly slumber inducing. But gosh it’s romantic.
And then there were all sorts of societal things to go to. I felt outta my depth, enjoying the challenge but gulping for air, a scuba diver whose air tank has run out.
She’d been a researcher for the final leader of the Australian Democrats who were keeping bastards honest. The rage still filling loyalist hearts has been insufficient to keep Don Chipp’s vision alive, the embers, though still glowing, could not be fanned to a fire, no matter the huffing and puffing. A final swansong in Canberra marking the end of term of the last Democrat parliamentarian was planned, would I like to go?
“Why not?” I thought a chance to trade in my work dungarees and tog up.
The Hyatt Hotel restored to its former 1920’s Art Deco glory was the hotel of choice. To say the least, it was opulent. She sashayed to the events at Parliament House while I absorbed the surrounds. When called to the House, we sat up in the public gallery, watching proceedings in the Chamber below.
Hon. Peter Costello lolled on the back benches not having found the fortitude to challenge the incumbent Prime Minister for the position. I mean lolled, though his back was pressed to the rear seat cushioning, his legs crossed at an almost ninety-degree angle to his torso, such that his arse must have been nearly sliding off of the leather seat swab. He looked …. comfortable, very. His gaze casually wandered around the Chamber, up into the press gallery, then around the Chamber to the public gallery. As his eyes swept the assembled, he fixed on me. I’m sure he did. Then he waved. Not a big hearty wave but a raise of the arm with wrist flick type wave. I was taken aback.
“Why’s Costello waving at me?” I wondered, then croaked,
“Why’s Costello waving at me?”
“Don’t acknowledge him,” came back a short, sharp, under the breath response.
“He’s waving. Look!” I breathed.
“Then look away,” she said. Then the penny dropped. The Member for Higgins I didn’t have me in his sights, it was her.
“I stood against him in the last election, and I’m not here to see him! “she said.
Chastened I ignored Hon Peter Costello, though in truth it wasn’t me he was acknowledging.
We left the Chamber and wandered the corridors of power. Of course, there were more but the only person I recall now was Bob Brown [Dr].
The final Democrat Leader Lynn Allison’s farewell function was held at one of the rowing boathouses on the Yarra, on the south bank, upstream of Prince’s Bridge.
Prince’s Bridge, where when as a young tyke from Clifton Hill, Mum and Dad had taken us in to see some fair, parade, festival or something by train. As we crossed the bridge the flat bottom tour boats “called” me. Such boats are sirens to all little boys. The sturdy pillars of the bridge provide a stone balustrade, over which adults can view the scene below. But not for tiny tykes. The openings between the pillars only allow a glimpse of the activities below for little folk. So, the solution is obvious. Stick your head through the gap in the pillars for a one-eighty degree view of river life. And that’s what I did. Watching the boats glide for cruises to the Yarra mouth or upstream to Richmond and beyond was so exciting.
“Can we go on one of those Dad?” I called.
Kneeling on the pavement head secured like a cow in a milking stall slowly I realised I was stuck. I writhed this way and that. First, the head left then right, then the body right then left, even up and down. The steady stream of passers-by only added to my Dad’s embarrassment. He moved away as Mum tried to settle me and maybe even extricate me. It was no use. Though logic says if the head got in there then it must be able to get out, logic was for the moment suspended.
Shit, then a policeman arrives. Social embarrassment times twenty.
“So, what’s goin’ on here?” he says suppressing laughter. Mum states the obvious.
“He’s got his head stuck in the bridge.” She says stating what the policeman can clearly see.
The policeman tells me that we need to calm down. Though it may hurt a little he’s going to pull me out. I can’t imagine what the pain of removing the massive tonnage of Prince’s Bridge from my shoulders might feel like, but I know it can’t be anything like the pain of having to carry it around for the rest of my life. And I’m only seven.
“Ok,” I peep as bravely as I can.
“On three then,” the copper says.
He counts more quickly than the sing-song way we recite numbers at school and before I know it, I’m pulled free.
It’s difficult to find Dad in the milling crowd on the bridge. He’s moved further to the centre of the bridge where a cuffing to the back o’ my head will soothe the pain of extraction. A kind of counter-irritant. But I digress.
The family continues across the bridge and on the southern bank I can see the private school rowing sheds, where maybe if I get a scholarship, I might one day be schooled. I don’t get a scholarship but do get to the boat sheds when Lynn Allison says goodbye to public life years later.
The attendees from many Melbourne branches of the Democrats speak to the party’s demise. Mostly it’s aged hippies of Chipp’s era and even older pre-hippies, all with keeping the bastards’ honest sensibilities. The hair colour of choice is white, grey or blue rinse for ladies and grey, thinning or bald for men. There’s naught to comment on dress. Hearty congratulations for jobs well done, there’s an Auld Lang Syne feel to the hopes for the future, vague talk of mergers and pumping life back into the “Fight” but I suspect the blood to revive this body politick is red embalming fluid.
I can remember walking back to the car along the riverbank after the farewell, but that’s it.
How did this happen? Ah, there’s more to tell here!

Planning – The 2019 Japan Trip

It’s so serene, the cat lies peacefully, digesting a diet of furballs, sprawled on the top of the lounge chair. The estuary is peaceful, reflecting in my glasses the sailing boats whisk over the sea-chop in a light south-easterly.

Untitled picture
What else is there to do but write? The couch surfers left this morning for Cradle Mountain, all enthusiasm, they were to leave early to make the most of the day up there, glad of the advice to avoid changeable weather by starting early. They left at 10:07. My guess is it’s early somewhere, like Perth. The framed Hiroshima eucalyptus leaves above my head are an ever-present reminder of that time past when I was in a land said to be of the Rising Sun. Any coastline, east-facing is such a land, though one suspects so many Nihonese are located on the eastern shore of their archipelago it seemed a great branding icon for them. Sunrises and not sunsets feature in their iconography.
From the eastern shore I gaze from, rainbows have impossibly hidden their golden pot right in front of the Casino, but hundreds of meters under the frothy waves.


Yet winter has passed, its memory shrouded beneath its shoulders to stop the pulsing city’s heat rising fast to the summit. Still. It’s still till…..


evening’s fire touches the peak in a final resented shower of defiance to the end of the day, wishing good-bye to the Rising Sun.

cloud fire
Ah to publish something, to break the block curse. In fact its a double block curse. On the one hand, the written [ or is that unwritten] phenomena when there’s naught said for no good reason save there’s no good reason. Then the Block Curse, the curse of the television Block, the aspirational, implausible unrealistic renovation, all product placement-driven mixt with faux and/or concocted reality tv drama, deemed televisual. Let’s get this out there and see.
Oh, and no planning is done!

When is it Time to Go?

In a pic taken by a Melbourne photographic studio, my father strides down Flinders St towards St Paul’s Cathedral. Outside of the State Theatre an advertisement for Road to Zanzibar. It’s one of a seven “Road to” movie series. He wears a lightly checked jacket with pocket-handkerchief. His shoes and small leather brief-case shine. Its got to be cold, he’s wearing a cable knit short sleeve sweater with very formal looking collar and tie.

This is no spontaneous photo, it will be more than 60 years before anything that moves, or doesn’t, is caught in a selfie. He looks directly at the camera, almost too directly. God knows how many times he’s had to step off of the low laneway kerb to get the shot just right. Perhaps though, it’s not an action shot. The formal stride being staged, no real arm swing making the total movement appear somewhat stilted.img_20200511_195221_3

As I tidied my childhood home after he’d passed, I found that leather briefcase. It contained his photographed spectacles, and Mum’s wedding Bible. Moving from place to place the briefcase and his diaries stayed with me. I wondered when the photo had been taken. When I gained a public service job in Tasmania, the briefcase gained a display place in the lounge room of the tiny 1870’s rental terrace. In the evenings I riffled through the diaries. There it was. On Saturday 30 August 1941, Dick went to Mr ?’s place.WIN_20200513_14_41_53_Pro

and the exact entry reads :

“‘… at 5.30 pm. Home for tea went out to State Theatre to see on the Road to Zanzibar with Elise. good. home by ..”


So we can tell now the photo is from August 1941.

Seventy years his son works in public service. The role was in mental health, I took it seriously. I’d have done the job for lots less money, I was committed to making a difference. As I said, probably ad nauseam to some, “Better to be on the inside pissing out, than on the outside pissing in.” I’d worked many years in mental health advocacy, “pissing in” if you will, I felt so lucky to have the opportunity to be on the “inside pissing out.”

Over the years I was transferred from state to regional operations, from policy writing to safety and quality. Bureaucratic changes to department structure swept over me. From tri-regional to statewide then back to bi-regional structures.  There was never a reduction in the bloated managerialism. Folk always seemed to slither upwards in the grading structures.

The work-load increased. I was charged with arranging investigations into patient queries re maltreatment. These were often directed to the political realm, then farmed out to a department at its beck and call.

Learning to reframe medically written reports into layman’s language was a letter-writing art.

However, to add a political message in a letter was a bridge too far. I believed I was a Public Servant. I didn’t mind if my letters had political additions made after I’d drafted them. I just didn’t reckon I had to write the political stuff. I was a public servant, not a political staffer.

Resigning was easy.

On the last day of my working life, I carried my father’s small leather briefcase. It’s gold engraving DCP, David Cheong Poon shone. IMG_0922

I spent the morning tidying my desk arranging my work for others. I rang the contacts my role required. I slipped out and changed before lunch. That awkward stand around the office to mime platitudes. The half Banjo’s cakes, microwave heated Coles inevitable sausage rolls and party pies.


Then it was time to go. I packed the little briefcase and other miscellaneous material shopping bags with personal possessions. When the computer tech came and cleared my computer, I knew it was really time to be outta there.