Daily prompt: Thinking


Someone commented here some time ago now, that I am grainy bread, not white. Not to everyone’s taste. Not ‘normal’, you might say.

I sometimes wonder what it would be like to be normal. A lot easier, I think.


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Daily prompt: Definitely nilly


Russian oligarch Aleksey Shapovalov has bought his wife a 70 carat diamond ring estimated to be worth 13.5 million AUD.

I have a few hobbyhorses as you may have noticed, and this is one of them. How billionaires’ money could contribute to the greater good.

Not my business, you might argue (as you might about other hobbyhorses of mine like D. Trump, which I try to spare you – despite having composed a whole post on the topic just today). And strictly speaking, no it’s not. But think about it and ask yourself whether it’s one of those things that should perhaps be everyone’s business given the state of the world.

According to Child Africa, 13.5 million AUD would feed and educate 902 African children for 13 years each.

According to charity: water, that 13.5 million would, on average, complete around 770 water projects, each project providing clean water to (on average) 300 people who otherwise get by (or don’t) on dirty and contaminated water.

According to Save the Children, you can help improve one child’s nutrition, health, childhood development and education for less than $1 a day, so 13.5 million would help one child for 13.5 million days, or 2,054 children for 18 years each.

Not bad, eh?

See, what I don’t get – and I admit this gap in my understanding quite freely – is why Aleksey Shapovalov’s wife needs – or even wants – a diamond ring of this calibre. Me, I think it’s quite ugly and not at all user-friendly. Far too big for her hand, and not something you could glance at in moments of stress for a warm and fuzzy reminder of spousal affection. I mean, you could hardly wear it to the supermarket, could you. Not that I suppose Mrs Shapovalov goes to the supermarket, but still.

Of course I’m just being silly now, aren’t I. Everyone knows why she needs it. And wants it. It puts her way ahead in the International Diamond Stakes.

But it does make me sad – and cross – that all that potential good will by now be sitting in a safe somewhere achieving bugger all.



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Daily prompt: One delivery I’d prefer to avoid


I can’t say it’s fun, but it certainly adds an extra something to the start of the day: that first check of the news to see if one of the Mad Bastards has delivered us all into the jaws of chaos, mayhem and death while half of us were sleeping.

Doesn’t seem fair, really, does it. Whichever one of them loses the last vestiges of sanity first and lets rip, both of them will scurry off to their nuclear-proof bunkers amidst clouds of glorious self-righteousness while the rest of stagger around amidst clouds of radio-active fallout still wondering with our dying breaths what it was all about. Not a question I can even attempt to answer, although I must say that as with most conflicts, it seems highly unlikely that either side is entirely blameless when you get down to tin tacks.

But two things are undeniably true and quite urgently relevant: the Kim family is a law unto itself, and no good ever came from poking the bear.

It’s the bear-poking that really gets to me: the fact that the most powerful man in the world is too narcissistic to keep his little orange spaghetti-o mouth shut in the interests of averting global disaster, and opts instead for provocative bluster to flaunt that power for his own personal gratification.

Nobody else thinks it’s a good idea. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov have both suggested (very diplomatically) that he should back off. History doesn’t relate his response to Lavrov, but in reply to Angela Merkel, Trump said, “Perhaps she is referring to Germany. She’s certainly not referring to the United States, that I can tell you.”

Which rather implies that Americans are all gagging to get in there and show those North Koreans what’s what.

I hope that’s not true. Whatever the official outcome, we would all lose.



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Daily prompt: How I came to love Beethoven


In 1940, my father and several of his colleagues drafted an adult education scheme for the Australian Army. Its purpose was to combat illiteracy among recruits, to educate them in the political history of Australia (thus explaining why we were involved in this war), to improve morale, foster civic responsibility, provide diversion from the tedium of military life and prepare servicemen and women to enter the workforce after demobilisation.

The scheme was accepted in 1941 and the Australian Army Education Service was established with my father as its Commander. It was so successful that it expanded its remit to include culture and the arts, which led to the moment that’s relevant to this post: the moment when Bert met Beethoven (Bert being my dad).

Not only did Bert meet Beethoven, he became a Beethoven groupie, and as a result I (born in 1943) absorbed Beethoven symphonies and concertos subliminally as I slept peacefully in my cradle and have never got over it. I can still tell you where each 78 record came to end in Beethoven’s 5th symphony, and there was a pause while the next one dropped into place.

But that aside, this is why Beethoven is indelibly etched on my soul and a Beethoven symphony can still bring that incredible burst of joy not equalled by the music of any other composer, although a few have come close. And why I really, really cannot love the atonal, discordant what-some-regard-as brilliance of modern ‘classical’ music. I like melody. I like a TUNE for goodness sake! Is that so terrible?

Judging by the number of ‘old’ classical pieces that have been commandeered for films – and even, heaven help us, for TV commercials – the answer is no. Melody is what gets us in. They want you come away humming the music from their ad or their movie, and brilliant though he may be, it would be hard to get your hum around the music of Phillip Glass. Or, indeed, the latest rap sensation.

I could get philosophical here and say ‘discordant music = discordant society’. And even ‘which came first?’

But I won’t.


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Daily prompt: Have I lived too long?


Seems most of us are substandard according to that Great Table of Standards in the Sky. Nobody knows who drew up the Table, who has access or when the standards will be subject to variation, but at the moment (and after a variation regarding Size of Bum) it would appear that the Kardashian/Jenners meet the secret criteria for perfection, and that’s about it.

For the rest of us? Put ‘too’ in front of any human attribute you can think of – physical, mental or psychological – and somewhere in the list, you’ll find the one that rules you out.

Me, I am too grey, too careless of my appearance, too outspoken (to those who know me here), too retiring (to those who know me in person)… Luckily for me, I don’t care (too…something) but imagine how gutting it must be for those who do, particularly if they’re media fodder.

The current world is very silly, in my opinion, although I know that saying that guarantees me a permanent big black mark on the Table of Standards. But really, only a silly world could come up with someone as silly as Trump as No.1 Leader.

But then I am severely substandard in the category marked ‘Age’. I am clearly too old. I was brought up with standards that no longer apply: never tell a lie, never break a promise, and if you’re in strife, come home – all ridiculous in an age when lying starts at the top, promises are the playthings of expedience (particularly in politics) and home is now a place that many can’t wait to leave, probably due to overexposure to lies and broken promises.

Sometimes I think it’s worth hanging around to keep saying things like ‘honesty’ and ‘integrity’, and sometimes I think ‘shoot me now’.


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Daily prompt: Does it really matter?


Until I was about 17, I appeared to have a purpose in life. Academic achievement.

Since that’s been off the board – chiefly, in retrospect, because I had minus zero interest in academic achievement and managed to shoot myself in the foot every time it looked possible – I have bumbled about doing things I never imagined I’d do, until here I am in old age with nothing noteworthy to show for it (unless you count four adult children).

This used to bother me, back when I was still of an age to agonise over ‘achievement’ and the meaning of life. Now it doesn’t. Life is what it is. You do your best, and in the final analysis, who’s going to care what I did as long as it was harmless?

A lot of people will disagree with me there, of course: those desperate to have their name in lights, real or metaphorical; those desperate to change the course of the world; those desperate to have lots and lots of lovely money. But the way I see it, we’re all links in the chain, and everyone changes the world in ways we may never know, simply by being in it.

So maybe in my bumble through life I actually did some good, or maybe I was just human filler.

But even filler has its uses, doesn’t it.


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Daily prompt: Bury the chaplain?


Now there’s a cheery little word! And here was me all set to be a veritable ray of sunshine only to be stymied by the WP moving finger, which having writ, has no doubt moved on to have its brekkie, supper or whatever, depending on what time of day it is in WP land.

I am reminded of a divinity class conducted by the school chaplain when I was about 14. Being an Anglican boarding school, we had a divinity class each week, but this is the only one that really sticks in my mind. For reasons best known to himself (or knowing the chaplain, perhaps it was Himself) he spent the lesson discussing the pros and cons of burial versus cremation in relation to the inevitable death of our parents.

Even 60 years later, I can feel the gobsmack. Here we were, young, vulnerable, impressionable and far from home. What was he thinking!

The conclusion I’ve come to since is that he wasn’t. Thinking. He was man of deep conviction, chiefly regarding his own unassailable worth and virtue. He had no need to think of others’ feelings. He was by definition right, and if he caused discomfort, it was all part of the learning process for the less enlightened.

It must be nice to have that sort of conviction of your own rightness. Peaceful, you know? No agonising, no doubting, no retrospective cringing. What’s more there’s a lot of it about, which proves my point: it’s a great way to live.

Sadly for me, it’s completely at odds with the way I was raised.


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