Posted by: jkirkby8712 | October 28, 2011

Friday, 28th October 2011 – approaches to ‘Centrelink’, a visit to the Cemetery and Bart’s book!!

My day began, doing a bit of online work for the VPTA, who were still depending on me [from a distance] to process and record payments etc, while arrangements were still being made to get a replacement person for me. I didn’t mind doing that, as I would be paid for it, and hopefully would only be for a short period. I will probably have to go into the office on one or two occasions, but in the meantime, things are working satisfactorily from the home base connection.

I paid my first post-retirement visit to Centrelink where I think I am going to have to relearn the art of ‘patient waiting’ for one to be attended to.  Centrelink is the trading name of the Commonwealth Service Delivery Agency, a statutory authority responsible for delivering human services on behalf of agencies of the Commonwealth of Australia. The majority of Centrelink’s services are the disbursement of social security payments, and it’s client agencies provide funding for payments and are responsible for policy development, including development of social security entitlement and payment policies, and generally provides a range of health, social and welfare payments and services throughout Australia.  I’ve dealt with them on two or three previous occasions in-between jobs and periods of unemployment. Like it or not, my purpose of utilizing their services now is in order to acquire the ‘old age’ pension  – in some ways, a depressing thought, but on the other hand, a fact of my life I can no longer avoid or ignore.  So overall, this morning I was tied up with visiting banks, chemists, etc, seeking out copies of statements, current balances, etc prior to visiting the Centrelink office.


Meanwhile, this afternoon, I drove over to the Sunbury Cemetery, where the special dedication service was being held for the opening of a new rotunda, and the unveiling of the large set of memorial plagues which had been established in memory of the almost 1900 individuals, who had died, whilst patients and/or  residents of the various mental institutions that had been a large part of Sunbury’s history, and to which I referred in yesterday’s contribution on these pages.  Quite a large turn up of local and other interested persons together with all of the official party etc, with proceedings conducted by local councillor and chairman of the Cemetery Trust, Jack Ogilvie, who I spoke to on the phone during Wednesday morning’s radio program. In another part of this cemetery, is an additional plague, created as the creation of the Sunbury Family History Society [of which there were a number of us present today] for some 72 children who had been buried in unmarked graves between 1864 and 1879 from those same institutions [as the Industrial School as it then was]. An enormous degree of research had led to the creation of that monument also.

Shortly before I left my place of employment, I was given a rather unexpected ‘retirement’ gift by one of the public tenants, a nice enough guy, but one who had given [and continues to do so] a lot of ‘grief’ to the organisation. However, that aggro never was applied to me personally, and as with most of those I was involved with, I always had a good working relationship with Bob. Presumably, by the gift gesture, he felt the same way. Well chosen, it was Bart Cumming’s story, in a book written just prior to the 2009 Melbourne Cup [at which point Cummings had already trained 12 Melbourne Cup winners].  Simply titled ‘BART’ my life by J B Cummings and first published in 2009, I completed the reading of that book late this afternoon. My comment upon completion – a ‘very good read’ and an interesting insight into the life of one of Australia’s most successful racehorse trainers, who continues to this day, in his early 80’s [he will turn 84 this November] – particularly relevant, when for most of us, he has a real mystery of a persona, or as one writer put it  – ‘In the pantheon of Australian sporting icons, James Bartholomew Bart Cummings AM stands alongside Sir Donald Bradman. Known to his tens of thousands of fans as the Cups King, Bart is arguably Australia’s greatest ever horse trainer. For over five decades he’s been at the very top of his profession, yet the man himself remains a fascinating and intriguing mystery’.

Bart: My Life by J B Cummings
In the book, Cummings recounts his early years as his father’s apprentice, leading to his first Group One win in 1958. He never looked back. In over half a century as a trainer Bart had won 254 Group One races [at the time the book was published, but the achievement that will almost certainly never be matched is his incredible tally of twelve Melbourne Cup wins from his first triumph with Light Fingers in 1965 to View’s stunning victory in 2008.  Because of his Melbourne Cup successes, he is generally known as the ‘Cups King’.  As suggested, I enjoyed his book, and I think the following quotations from the closing pages sum up the man himself and his attitude to race horses. From pps 352-353:-

“My training methods have always put the horse first. I am a gentle person by nature, and thoroughbreds seem to respond to that. They are not machines, and they do not exist for the purpose of makming money out of racing for their owners. Sometimes they have that innate will to win, it’s just part of their make-up, the same as with humans; and sometimes it needs some gentle coaxing to bring it out. But there’s no point overdoing it – force it and you get the opposite result. Once I saw one of my strappers nagging a horse, and I said, ‘You keep growling and you’ll be growling out the gate.’ If a fellow is going to kick the Khyber out of a horse because it treads on his toes, you end up with a horse shrivelling up in a corner. The horse is thinking right, which means he is not thinking about winning, he’s thinking about what is frightening him. He doesn’t sleep well and he doesn’t travel well. You can walk in on some of ours when they are lying down in the boxes and they won’t even get up, because they know you aren’t going to hurt them. Being a horse can be just like going to hospital. A fellow won’t go to hospital if he thinks the matron is going to belt him up……………….Valmae [his wife and lifetime companion] says I love the horses more than I love people because the horses don’t answer back. But they do answer back, in their own language, and my eyes and ears are open to what they are saying. They are continually sending us messages. The ability to listen –p to horses, and to humans – is something I learnt from my father, but also it is something I have refined through my own efforts. I am known as a man of few words because I am much more interested in what I can learn from others than in extolling my own so-called genius……I don’t like talking myself up, or my horses. I prefer to listen to others and let my results do the talking for me”.



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