Posted by: jkirkby8712 | October 21, 2011

Friday, 21st October 2011 [continued] – I made a difference to that one!

The drizzling rain conditions continued throughout most of the day – very light, but persistent. I should have gone for a walk but decided to wait until later in the day. A lot of sorting of ‘paperwork’ took place today, trying to get myself feeling organised in my new ‘life environment’.  Went out and did a bit of grocery shopping early afternoon – still not 100% happy with the way I am handling the manual gears in the car, but like most things I’ve not done for a while, I’m sure I will eventually be more confident with the change.

Read an interesting little story a couple of weeks back, in relation to an accompanying article about the famine in East Africa, which is still of major concern. It’s been described as the worst drought in 60 years that has put the lives of millions of people in the Horn of Africa at risk. A few weeks ago, and I assume it hasn’t changed much, up to 1,300 people a day, are arriving at the Dadaab Refugee Camp in Kenya, probably now ‘home’ to over 400,000 people, while many thousands are overflowing into the Kakuma Refugee Camp, and no doubt other like venues.  Many families have walked up to 1,000 kms, and arrive in terrible physical condition, and children are suffering severe malnutrition. We are seeing more children at risk of starvation and various deadly diseases than have been seen in a long time in that part of the world. All of this leads to many calls for help and assistance from the voluntary organisations, etc, for urgent donations in order to provide life-saving care [food, water, basic essentials, logistical support, and so on. We continually have these huge numbers and horrifying statistics drummed into us through the media, and because of the magnitude of help needed,  the thought generally occurs that from an individual point of view, it’s difficult to think we can be of any help. With that kind of thinking, it’s useful to be reminded of a story that I read in a newsletter recently.

“One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a boy picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean.  Approaching the boy, he asked, ‘What are you doing?’  The youth replied, ‘Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die’. ‘son,’ the man said, ‘don’t you realise there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can’t make a difference!’  After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it back intro the surf. Then, smiling at the man, he said ‘I made a difference for that one’. 

As the newsletter in which that story was contained noted – ‘This story illustrates how we mustn’t become complacent in the face of overwhelming suffering. We can have a huge impact, even though smaller, insignificant efforts proportionate to the situation’ while in the Christian Bible, we have the story of Jesus, who left the flock to find the one sheep that had gone missing, illustrating the importance of just one life. An interesting contemporary anomaly with that  – the recent release of just one Israeli soldier in exchange for hundreds of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons. That decision certainly aroused much debate and anguish amongst some of the Israeli people, and I’m not sure that I really play them, opens up many possibilities – with thousands still imprisoned,  it seems to send a message or two  – capture more Israeli soldiers in order to get our people out, or, worse, send the released Palestinians back into attack!!!  A difficult choice to make that swap, I would imagine!!

A late phone call this afternoon from a representative of Centrelink – my claim for a ‘Aged Pension’ [I shudder at that description] had been received and was under consideration, a few more details and documents were required.  Not yet sure what entitlements I will have, but at least I knew things were on the move. Also a bit of communication from Jackie at the VPTA today  –  a few tasks in hand for me to deal with online next week. Still a little bit of extra cash to come in!!

Referring back to the Queen’s visit, and yesterday’s greeting by our Prime Minister – mixed opinions on how Ms Gillard should have greeted the Queen! One view –  “At the age of 85, Queen Elizabeth II has landed in Australia for her 16th official trip, accompanied by her 90-year-old husband, Prince Phillip. Surely after travelling all this way she could have expected a curtsy from our Prime Minister Julia Gillard, or was Ms Gillard right to simply offer a handshake?”   My friend Maureen, over in England, had this reaction –  “Hey what about your prime minster?she got a cheek not curtsy to the boss our queen ,there up in arms about it here in uk bill,the palce thought she got snubbed by her”.  I must admit that my immediate reaction when I read/saw it was ‘couldn’t she have made a bit of an effort to stick with protocol’ not that I particularly expected anything like that from Ms Gillard.  The kind of response in support of the PM was like this  –  ‘I think our PM did right in not curtsying the Queen. Why? Because it’s old fashioned and is not what our PM believes in. Shouldn’t we be asking ourselves what is the need for this and if our PM doesn’t follow such old fashioned tradition, shouldn’t we be supporting her rather than a foreign monarch’  or  ‘I was born in England but I do not believe our PM should be expected to curtsey. I think in this day and age it is demoralising, reminisent of the days when a monarchs word was law. I respect the Queen as a person but I think to shake hands and perhaps a nod of the head, as male PM’s have always done, is enough’

Anyway, it all didn’t seem to particularly worry the Queen, but at least our Governor General [another woman] did the ‘right thing’.  On that point, the Queen upon arrival, was in fact greeted by three women, with their male spouses/partners in the background.  On past visits, Her Majesty had generally found herself surrounded by a ‘bevy’ of official males to welcome. How the power of the sexes has changed in this country, to some extent!!!

My attention this evening was back to New Zealand  – the Rugby World Cup playoff for third position, or the Bronze Medal in the championships – Australia versus Wales. Following last weekend’s disappointing semi final loss to New Zealand,  in what was a very highly physical defeat,  there are a number of  different faces for ton ight’s game, with the selectors opting to freshen up the team, taking in account the toll from the semi final clash, and the five day turnaround.  This will be the 31st meeting between the two countries, with Australia having won 19 of the previous Tests, Wales 10, and a 29-29 draw at the Millennium Stadium in 2006.   The other big challenge for the Wallabies is that they have not won a game at Eden Park [in Auckland] since 1986, a rather disturbing record.

I enjoyed the match tonight between two relatively young sides, both with bright prospects for the future.  I received my usual greeting and wish of ‘good luck’ from Dawn in New Zealand – though two hours ahead of us, Dawn & Tony were settling down to watch the coverage also.  Australia got away to a  bright start, but Wales drew them back a bit as the half went on, and had the Welsh not missed a couple of penalty chances, could have been much closer. The score at Halftime was Australia 7 Wales 3.  The second half again saw various opportunities by the Welsh go astray, but then at one stage, briefly took the lead over the Australians.  However the latter part of the half saw the Wallabies begin to dominate the play, and with just minutes remaining, skip away to a  21-11 lead.  Wales didn’t give up however, and virtually had possession of the ball for those last few min utes, and no doubt earned the Converted Try they were able to score after the 80 m inute mark had passed.  However, it was too late  –  the Australians won the playoff for 3rd place in the Rugby World Cup 21-18. The Final will be played this Sunday between New Zealand and France.




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