Posted by: jkirkby8712 | May 22, 2011

Sunday, 22nd May 2011 – family writing project continues, and I ‘meander’ into other topics of ‘interest’!!

Well, we did manage to get to the radio station on time this morning, and even managed to stay awake through some ‘sleep inducing’ but beautiful music as well – such as wind serenades by the American, Arthur Bird, or the Cuckoo in the heart of the Woods’ from Saint Saen’s ‘Carnival of the Animals’, or Isaac Stern on the violin with Rachmaninoff’s ‘Vocalise’, etc. As usual, a slight reluctance to get out in the morning of a Sunday, but once there, and ‘on deck’ I begin to enjoy myself!  Incidentally, that piece by Arthur Bird [American composer who lived between 1856 and 1923] won a prize as the best chamber work by an American  in 1901 [I assume it was a European originating award].  It went under the title of Serenade for Wind Instruments, and was written by the composer in 1898, and first performed 4 years later. The instruments it was written for were two flutes, two clarinets, two bassoons and two horns [sounds a bit like a collection for ‘Noah’s Ark’!]. It’s in four movements, the second of which, the Adagio features the beautiful sound of the English Horn.

With yesterday my son’s 27th birthday, it reminded me of a similar occasion 5 years ago – I was out of work at the time, and had decided to make an effort to get stuck into the writing of my family biography, or at least continue to do so. Unfortunately [or fortunately, depending on one’s outlook] that campaign came to another halt, when a new job came along, but as I’ve mentioned in these pages over recent months, we are back on track again, even if there are various stages when I’m not sure at what point I am at, as I try and sort out the various directions my writing is taking me!! It’s moments like that, that I would love to have my own private little secretary to help me out – couldn’t pay her of course, she would have to do it for the love of the job [or for the love of the writer, lol].

Anyway, where was I?  A little indicative of my various attempts to get this story written!!!  Writing a few days after my son’s then, 22nd birthday in 2006,  I noted that:-

‘Ironically, I got back to this document,  on Sunday the 30th May, 1999 –  the anniversary of Mum’s [Betty Kirk]’ death, on the evening of that date in 1990, at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, from the combined affects of a heart attack and stroke.  I was sitting at the computer, over at 4 Tabor Court, Sunbury, looking out to the trees & shrubs in both mine and the neighbours’ properties, through the dining room window, to a cool and overcast morning with just the hint of  a gentle breeze moving through the leaves, in contrast to the strong winds that had prevailed over  the prior 36 hours. A sobering end to a rather disappointing weekend personally, which will probably be revealed somewhere ‘down the track’ of these writings. And perhaps, by design, it is seven years later, on the same anniversary, that ‘operation Family History’ is back in full swing again, I hope and trust, as I write from 6 Fisher Court in Sunbury, where I currently share a home [owned by one of my brothers, Robert, and his wife Evelyn], with my daughter, Susan, that all readers will enjoy the story of ‘The Coachbuilder’s Notebook’  which follows from hereon.  I will in fact,  end this chapter with an analogy [or if you prefer, a comparison]. Through the generations we will see the mix of various nationalities and family ancestral origins irrespective of the apparent predominance of a Scottish or English heritage.  Australia itself, is today  a nation of many heritages and races, a cosmopolitan mix that probably encompasses most, if not all, nations of the world, so it should be little surprise that as time passes, that ‘mix’  affects and influences  our family tree. In an article written for the Age newspaper in late June 2006, as the Australian football [soccer] team prepared to meet the challenge of Italy in the 2nd round of 16 teams, Chris Johnston quoted Sydney University Professor of History, Richard Waterhouse who said:

“While it’s only a game, deep down ………it’s about nationhood and unity. Where we’ve had enormous success at an international level in sport before in team games, it’s always been in sports that have a largely Anglo-Celtic following like cricket and rugby. But football is a game in which Australians of all ethnic backgrounds support, so I think this is likely to unite Australians in ways that other sporting achievements have not done. In a sense, we’re allowing ourselves to express national pride…….it proposes a kind of national pride that’s inclusive.”

I’d like to think, that in writing this book, I can also demonstrate an element of ‘inclusiveness’ about it. Sure, I am a descendant of a particular branch of the children of William Kirk and Isabella Kennedy.  But I also have many ‘hundreds’ of ‘distant’ cousins out there who are descended from the same couple, and their forebears, hence my aim to incorporate within this document the family lines of those ‘cousins’ as well as my own.  I trust that I can go some of the way towards achieving that within the pages that follow.”

Know from whence you came. /    If you know whence you came,

there are absolutely no limitations/    to where you can go.    

[James Baldwin [1924-1987] US writer]

So there we have a brief quotation from my as yet unfinished ‘family biography’ which I will propbably still b talking about in 10 years time!!!  No, I am determined, that I will have the bulk of the document completed by the end of 2012!


Meanwhile, on this 22nd day of May, 2011, after what has been a series of beautiful Autumn days, our weather is beginning to deteriorate considerably – prediction was today, a bit cloudy, and a few showers later on, with just 19 degrees.  Well., it’s only mid morning, and those showers are already here, and instead of the temperature rising as we move into the day, I think it is ‘falling’ outside [the rain certainly is anyway]. I’m rather glad I forced myself to mow the lawns yesterday, rather than putting that task off  until ‘today’ because quite obviously, it would not have been achieved!! And as I write this, I’m also becoming a little annoyed that the font seems to keep changing on this particularly document – I’m obviously doing something wrong with Microsoft Word – just wish it would stay as I set it up at the beginning, but no, it has a mind of it’s own!!  So if this contribution ends up looking like ‘a dog’s breakfast’ that is all over the place in style, size and format, forgive me folks, the system has taken control of your ‘personal essayist’.

This is the kind of article I like to come across – about chocolate. Now I do have a weakness for quality chocolate, but in the main, I simply not really allowed to eat it these days!!  So sad!   But on website  I read recently that “Chocolate has a long history as a favoured food of many cultures, including Aztec and Mayan. These days chocolate is considered a luxury food that should be eaten sparingly as it can contribute to migraines, acne and obesity. New research, however, disputes these common beliefs and suggests that eating chocolate in moderation, as part of a nutritious well-balanced diet, may have health benefits.  New research indicates that there are components in cocoa beans [used to make chocolate] that may help prevent heart disease, cancer and other degenerative illnesses. It is worth considering this research, as the findings are very interesting,……[but]……more evidence is needed”.  There just had to be a catch to this somewhere along the pathway, and, it doesn’t actually mention any benefit to a diabetic!!  I mean I didn’t really expect it to, for obvious reasons [not the least of which is the fact that chocolate can contain as much as 50% content in the form of sugar!!!]!  All of a sudden, I’m not so excited about this article, and what it ‘promises’, and I’ve decided not to read any further into the detail! And of course, if I had read on, I would have found this little ‘proviso’ or reminder at the end  –    “While there may be some healthy things in chocolate, it does have other components that are not good for you when you have too much of them in your diet – such as fat and sugar. We should not talk about chocolate as some kind of ‘health food’.  [spoilt sports!!!!].    A well balanced diet with plenty of fruit, vegetables, nuts and wholegrain cereals is still the best way to look after your body. At the same time, the evidence so far can help take away the guilt of eating chocolate in moderation”.  [thankyou!].

And now, with the weather damp outside, I’ve decided to spend a few hours with a book – not exactly a ‘novel’, although  the author, Thomas Keneally has promoted it as such, which tends to make for a more readable ‘history’ –  apparently it’s the first volume of two he is writing, on the history of Australia from the times leading up to European settlement in January, 1788. This first volume takes us through to the gold uprisings at Eureka [in Ballarat] in the early 1850’s, around the time my original ancestor settler in this country [referred to above] arrived in Melbourne, from Scotland.  Because of it’s size, and the ‘historical’ material contained therein, this is a book that will probably take many months to get through [and no doubt from time to time, I shall stray to other books, more easily consumed in a shorter period].  However, history has always been my special fascination, so it is something to be persisted with.

The weekend has finished with another peaceful family dinner to celebrate Adam’s birthday. In line with doctor’s orders, I went easy on the ‘sweet’ things.  Stayed at the family home for a couple of hours tonight – the ‘guest of  the night’ was actually the first to leave, in fact all of the young people of the evening were still feeling the after affects of a heavy weekend of ‘partying’ etc!!  I think I’m the one who should be extra tired – I guess I will notice it more tomorrow morning, when it’s time to be on the way to the office!! Meanwhile, another interesting mini-series on the ABC tonight – wasn’t really intending to watch it, but, as Susie was going out [again], I mentioned what was on, and she intimated an interest in watching it, if I taped it for her! It was called  ‘The Kennedys’, a name which pretty well tells you immediately who the series was about.  It is a four part mini series, relating the story of the Kennedy family told through a series of flashbacks. An interesting critic’s view by Bridget McManus last week introduces it  –  “Unlike  American viewers, swayed by the enduring romance of their tragic political dynasty as the controversy surrounding the film suggests, Australians, berefit of public figures of comparative regal status [save perhaps for Dame Edna] are free to simply soak up the drama. Needless to say, there is an abundance of it. The sorrowful tale of lives destroyed in the ewake of a tyrannical patriarch’s vicarious ambitions is what emerges here…………………….engaging television that spans a fascinating period in history”.  I will tell my readers what ‘I think’ of it later!!’

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