Posted by: jkirkby8712 | August 14, 2011

Sunday, 14th August 2011 – is a peoples’ revolt possible in Australia?

Sue Cook’s  novel,  ‘On Dangerous Ground’ was published on 6 November 2006 by Hodder Headline. Her second, Force of Nature, is published in hardback edition in July 2008, also by Headline. She is a British broadcaster and author, who lives in North London with her husband, film director Ian Sharp. She has two children, Charlie Williams, son to former husband John Williams, the classical guitarist, and Megan Macqueen, daughter to children’s television producer Billy Macqueen with whom she lived for almost fifteen years. Apparently she is, or was, working on a third novel.  As suggested yesterday, I did manage to finish her book last night, and I found it a simple but quite touching and at times, emotional book to read.  The following little précis of the storyline provides a broad outline of the plot. I think the ‘message’ which came out of the book, was that while Vietnam is a beautiful country,  as are it’s people in the main, it is still a communist country which likes to maintain a tight control on what and where visitors to the country get up to. I don’t know whether that has changed since the book was written, but it certainly hints at a certain degree of authoritarian paranoia. 


But to the story:-       ‘A gripping and dangerous voyage of discovery for a mother and daughter in Vietnam. It’s devastating enough when Pru’s husband confesses to a long term affair on their 20th wedding anniversary. Then when her daughter, Molly, announces she’s leaving for Vietnam on a Gap Year project, Pru knows her comfortable family life is over for good. Just as she’s picking up the pieces, an email brings news that Molly has become involved with political activists and could be in serious danger. Arriving in this beautiful but alien land, Pru embarks on a desperate search for her recalcitrant daughter and meets Ben, a veteran of the US war. He’s intelligent, funny, handsome, but damaged. Together they tackle corrupt police, greedy property dealers and a ruthless local party cadre; and when eventually Pru finds her daughter, she also discovers an inner strength she never knew she had.

Admittedly, this reader was content with the way the story ended, being a romantic at heart!! The descriptions of life in Vietnam, thirty years after the Vietnam War [as per the time line in the story] was an interesting insight, particularly the reasons which was leading many ex-Americans were returning there years later, almost as an act of apology for what their presence in the country previously had represented.

On Dangerous Ground

Now, with the recent London riots, etc [which hopefully are over now], the question has been raised in various quarters in Australia as to whether such a ‘people’s revolt would be possible or likely here. There have already been various scenarios set as to just what the ‘anger’ [violence, looting, burning] was all about, and I think the jury is still out on that one.  Others describe it simply as outright hooliganism., while some think it was socially motivated as a result of poverty, inequity and recent government financial cut backs in the UK.  My personal view is that in many situations, the unrest was purely an  example of opportunistic thieves taking advantage of a weakened security situation. 

When ‘National Seniors’ recently asked it’s members if it could happen in Australia, the general response seemed to be that it already had, to a smaller degree, the Cronulla riot of a few years ago in the southern Sydney area being cited as one example. The view is that it will happen again,  due to the soft reaction by government and police at the time which provided no deterrent to the lawbreakers involved,  That in fact appears to be the main criticism [justified or not] of the police in London.  One comment for eg, was that  ‘The goody goodies take away police power in the name of “privacy” and “human rights” so we can’t do anything about trouble makers until they ACTUALLY hurt people. Parents defend their children even though they KNOW they’re in the wrong. People that are too lazy to go out and get a job can quite happily live on handouts for the rest of their life. What do you expect? Of course it’ll happen here. It already has!’  Another noted that  ‘we’re too politically correct these days and too soft of crime and until the police claw back some of their eroded power, there are some areas of Sydney I wouldn’t even contemplate driving through … sad but true’.

  One concern here, as far as major cities like Melbourne and Sydney are concerned, is that while we don’t necessarily have slums, we do have a few large Dept of Housing sites in Sydney and Melbourne – I’m not sure about the other major cities, but I actually work in one of those environments in Melbourne. While I would find it difficult to imagine major problems occurring in ‘my’ estate’, there are enclaves of cultural groups in Sydney, eg Cabramatta has a large Asian population, Auburn, Bankstown, Punchbowl, Lakemba etc – there are many Arabic speaking people in those suburbs which have experienced some level of violence in the past, but not on the same scale as UK. I guess the likely long term affects of what has just happened in England will be looked at closely, and any examination or outcome of investigations as to the real causes of what occurred, will hopefully be taken careful note of, out here.

With Susan back up in Bendigo for a few days – not sure if for social, or study reasons –  things are rather quiet here today, and in some ways, I’m enjoying the solitariness of the house environment. Not really, but things have been a little tense over recent weeks, so  that aspect is missing at present. Exchanged a couple of emails over night with brother Robert, in Sydney, regarding Cadel Evan’s reception in Melbourne on Friday. I had noted to him that I had been a bit apprehensive that all the build up to the planned reception for Cadel Evans might be a bit of an ‘over play’, so was rather pleased that the eventual reception by the Melbourne crowds yesterday was so successful, with a fantastic turnout. I guess it’s the usual story, everyone loves a hero, and while you probably couldn’t describe cycling as a mainstream sport [as far as spectators are concerned] in Australia, success breeds popularity, and yesterday was proof of that in the CBD.  Rob replied that Yes, it looked like a good turnout, and from the bit I saw on news he seemed genuinely thrilled by the response. Liked his response to the inevitable question, what’s changed since your TDF win – response, “riding up hill is still hard”.
He also mentioned that he intended to be in South Australia this January, when the ‘Tour Down Under’ international cycling event would be taking place. Obviously, his fitness and bike training schedule was continue to go ahead at full power up there in Sydney!

Pleased to hear that Australia’s female tennis star, Samantha Stosur, has found her way into the Final [tonight I think] against Serena Williams in the Rogers Tournament in Toronto, a big lead up to the coming USA Open Championship. Let’s hope that this the beginning of the return to the form that had Sam in the top 10 women a few months ago, before recently dropping out. Pity I can’t see that on any kind of TV coverage here, but will be keeping an ear open for an outcome. Also representing Australia tonight, is motor cycle champion, Casey Stoner, competing in the Czechoslovakia MotoGP. If still awake at that stage, will, try and have a look at the race.


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