Posted by: jkirkby8712 | January 19, 2011

Tuesday, 17th January 2011 – the flood drama continues as I take refuge in a TV chat session and some late night tennis

After a restless night, not feeling well again, and waking this morning feeling mentally & physically tired,  the idea of a drive into the city was far from appealing. However, couldn’t be avoided due to a couple of commitments at the office.  Despite that, would probably remain  in that ‘frame of mind or health’ for most of the day.  With a couple of quite ‘talkative’ committee members in the office for a large part of the day, my mood probably degenerated into a form of irritation and annoyance!  Of course, none of this not helped by a few other minor matters of concern  currently on one’s mind, but we won’t go into those area at this point in time.

Suffice to say,  the flood situation in Victoria was still a major concern in the broad sense, though not to me personally.  Although, in reality, the situation was getting ‘closer to home’ actually – my wife’s brother has a cattle farm a few kilometres south of one of the towns [Kerang, about 200 kms northwest of here] which was going to be partially evacuated tonight because of floodwaters threatening to engulf that area. He is quite concerned about the welfare of his cattle stock – with most of his property on very flat land, there are no hills or higher areas that he can move his cows to, and if the worst case scenario eventuates, as seems quite possible, he is likely to lose all of his livestock. Similarly, his son who lives within Kerang, is likely to have his home flooded within the next few hours. So when I suggest that the floods have had no direct affect on myself,  it seems that no families are completely immune in some indirect way.

One place I would have liked to have been today was at the Melbourne Tennis Centre –  this relatively cool Summer weather would have been ideal for tennis viewing on some of the outside courts, where typically, in the first week of the Australian Open, one can see some wonderful tennis matches and many of the top players. However, at this stage, I’m thinking of giving a visit to the tennis a miss this year, while I am still working – there is plenty of coverage on the TV both in the evening and throughout the day. In fact, part of my time tonight, after returning from the radio station, was to watch part of Lleyton Hewitt’s 1st round game tonight, against his long time rival, the Argentinean player, David Nalbandian. But prior to that, I had spent a pleasant couple of hours on my Tuesday evening program – tonight featured some of the great artists who over the years had recorded and performed the songs of Cole Porter. My only ‘annoyance’ of the evening arose from the fact that neither of the radio presenters who were supposed to be on air both before and after my time slot, turned up tonight!!  As volunteers, we all have our normal lives to live, but sometimes the commitment of some of our people leaves a lot to be desired [especially the gent who normally follows me!!].  But then I suppose my expectations of what a volunteer means are a little more stringent than the attitudes of many in the community! I recall that after working 8 days straight at the Sydney Olympic Games as a volunteer, that I was becoming totally exhausted – my brother, at whose home I was staying, suggested I take a day off – ‘they can’t sack you, as you are just a volunteer’!!! Needless to say, I could not bring myself to take his advice!

As for the tennis, well it was another long gruelling 5 set game for Australia’s Lleyton Hewitt – which actually finished about 1.10 am, Wednesday morning – by then, I would be in bed, taking in parts of the action whilst partially asleep. But I do know, that in the closing minutes of the match, Hewitt squandered two match points, which would be his undoing, because a few minutes later, he had lost yet another attempt to win his first home based Grand Slam event. As his age approaches 30 years, I fear that Lleyton Hewitt may have squandered his last genuine opportunity to win the Australian Open. The man was genuinely severely disappointed afterwards but there is little doubt that he will return to try again, on a future occasion!

Today was Day2 of the Australian Open Tennis, and the results of matches involving Australian players were as follows in some mixed results.

Mens Singles:  we saw Marinko Matosevic [Australia] lost to Ricardas Berankis [LTU] 6/4,4/6,7/5;  Matthew Ebden [Australia] lost to Michael Russsell [USA] 6/3,6/2,5/7,7/6; Bernard Tomic [Aust] defeated Jeremy Chardy [France] 6/3,6/2,7/6; Carsten Ball [Aust] lost to Pere Riba [Spain] 1/6,7/6,6/2,2/6,6/4 and late tonight, Lleyton Hewitt lost to David Nalbandian [Argentina] 3/6,6/4,3/6,7/6,9/7

 Womens’ Singles: we saw Samantha Stosur [Aust] defeat Lauren Davis [USA] 6/1,6/1; Alicia Molik [Aust] defeat Roberta Vinci [Italy] 1/6,6/3,8/6;  Sophie Ferguson [Aust] lost to Petra Martic [Croatia] 7/6, 0/6,6/3;  Sally Peers [Aust] lost to Petra Kvitova [CZE] 6/2,6/4; and Anastasia Rodionova [Aust] lost to Flavia Pennetta [Italy] 6/2,6/1.

Today was also Stage 1 of the Tour Down Under [cycling raced], in a race which Australian riders finish in two of the top three positions after the first day. Matthew Goss took out the honours, ahead of last year’s overall winner, Andre Greipel, with Aussie Robbie McEwan in 3rd place [McEwan was one of the cyclists that my brother Robert managed to get a photo with, at an official function on Sunday night – the other was Stuart O’Grady, who finished the 1st Stage in 14th position. The two principal international competitors, finished well down the list – Lance Armstrong [81st] and Mark Cavendish [62nd] – no doubt, as the days go by, they will begin to make their presence felt!!  In the other major sporting contest that featured Australia later on tonight, the Socceroos, in the 3rd match of the tournament,  managed to get a 1-0 win against Bahrain in the Asian Cup. The win put Australia into top position in Group C of the Cup, and into the Asian Cup quarterfinals, with their opponents to come from either Iraq, Korea DPR or the UAE, next Sunday.

Anyway, as I hinted earlier in this contribution, I put floods, tennis and other concerns aside for an hour later tonight, to have a look at the third program of ‘/The Late Session’ – an innovative ‘chat session’ on SBS television, under host Waleed Aly, a program which brings a range of ideas, and some provoking and entertaining conversation [with some music thrown in, and food & drinks shared around the discussion table] when he has five guests [generally prominent Australian personalities, especially chosen for the topic of the night.

Tonight’s subject was based around the idea of ‘What is an identity, or who do we think we are?’ An interesting line up of  guests to discuss that idea, or predicament. We , had Akmal Saleh, an Australian comedian and actor, who was born in Egypt, and came to Australia in 1975 with his family at age 11. He has been  performing stand-up comedy since the early 1990s, toured Australia and internationally for many years, and appeared on various TV shows. I think he also claimed to be a writer of sorts, as well.. His identity crisis – acceptance as an Arabic comedian in a culture so foreign to his own. Then there was Dr Anita Heiss, a writer and publisher of non-fiction, historical fiction, poetry, social commentary, travel articles, etc, a regular guest at writer’s festivals, and an advocate for Indigenous studies and culture. Her identity – is she black enough? The daughter of an Aboriginal mother, and a European father, she proudly claims her Indigenous heritage.

The third guest, was Israeli born Australian singer and songwriter, who goes by the single name of Lior [born Loir Attar, of a Polish mother and Iraqi father, who came to Australia at the age of 10 years. With the release of a number of fine albums, Loir has earned a reputation as one of Australia’s finest live artists for his highly celebrated pure vocals and diverse musical arrangements. That ‘pure’ description came out very clearly in the two songs he sang tonight – one of them in, what I think was a Jewish language, a beautiful voice, really touched the soul despite not understanding what he was singing. He has an extensive ‘resume’ of a singing and musical career, too extensive to mention here, but along with that side of his life, he is an outspoken supporter of the Israeli Palestinian peace process, and is an active member of various peace movements promoting co-existence between those two peoples. His identity ‘crisis’ seems to be connected to a conflict between whether he is a Jew or Israeli, and is much tied up in the above ‘support’ mechanisms.

Thomas Keneally needs little introduction – born in Sydney in 1935, he has become one of Australia’s most successful writers. After his schooling, he commenced theological studies for the Catholic priesthood, but apparently due to various personal issues, and bouts of depression, etc, abandoned that vocation in 1960 and turned to clerical work, then school teaching, before publishing his first novel in 1964. His conflicts of identity have obviously followed him throughout his various careers.

The 5th guest on ‘The Late Session’ tonight was Josephine [Josie] Emery,  who began life as John Emery, and began writing books, etc at a very young age in his teens. John’s work included, Summer Ends Now, (1980), The Sky People, (1984) and Savage Triangle, (1994). Later he developed stories into feature movie screen plays, working with such directors as Philip Noyce and Scott Hicks. John became a sought-after management consultant, and ran the screenwriting department at Australia’s national film school and the literature unit of the Australia Council for the Arts. The questions of identity, and who do you think you are were very real and confronting – in 2005 he/she commenced gender transition. Her memoir, The Real Possibility of Joy, was published in Australia and New Zealand by Murdoch Books in September 2009.

While many people find this program a rather ‘boring’ sample of late night television, I’ve been finding the conversations and the people who have been invited along as guests to be a fascinating combination of learning, entertainment, and in many cases, a rare opportunity to witness major personalities in our cultural, artistic, community and business environments in a natural and relaxed environment – something which appears to be the aim of this program.

With all that, a late finish to the tennis, and another restless night, it would be little surprise to arise Wednesday morning, still feeling somewhat ‘under the weather’!!



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