Posted by: jkirkby8712 | April 22, 2012

AN APRIL CORRESPONDENCE – 8th April to 19th April 2012

Once again, I seemed to have slipped behind in my actual postings on these pages, so here we go once more resorting to a combination entry covering a week or so – I guess it makes the initial read a somewhat lengthy process, but to some, may be preferable to that entry popping up in one’s ‘Inbox’ everyday or two!!  Whatever, this is what comes from a relatively ‘busy’ lifestyle as a retiree on limited income but lots of interests. I think that what has come out of the last few days is the beautiful realisation that I have found a ‘friend’ from half a century ago, and to some extent, that fact has added a new ‘zest’ to my life, and the way in which I am trying to approach things. Perhaps more on that, as time progresses. Meanwhile, let’s go back to Easter Sunday, and the closing stages of what would prove to be a very tiring weekend for this mid 60s’s essayist!!

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Sunday 8th April 2012 – the gathering of the siblings and others, and a final night of cycling!!

 

In bed shortly after 1 am, back out again before 5.30 am, and on my way to the radio station 30 minutes later. I think I surprised myself that I felt as fresh as I did, on air this morning! No rest after that time however – followed the program with some late minute shopping, and back home for some final clean-ups in preparation for the family visits this afternoon.

 

The main purpose of today’s gathering was to give Colin & Jean the opportunity to catch up with Robert & Evelyn, and to get at least four of the Kirk siblings together for a brief time. Apart from the group now up in Queensland, this was becoming a rare occurrence.  I think Susie had gone off to work by the time I returned home, I sincerely hoped she would get back before everyone left! First to arrive were the Skilbecks from Enfield [near Ballarat] – I’d expected just Ross & Jean, but the party included Rosie & Alwyn, and Rosie’s boyfriend, Marc.  Elder son Vincent remained behind. Soon afterwards, the rest of the ‘team’ arrived –  my ‘kids’ – Jodie [and boyfriend, Ash], James, and Adam –  soon followed by Colin and Angela who had driven Robert & Evelyn out to Sunbury from the latter’s hotel in Southbank. Shirley and Mrs Seipolt arrived soon after, her car laden with food, not asked for, but not unexpected!!  This was my idea to hold this gathering but Shirley and her mother had put together most of the food, or had told me what to purchase!! My idea had been a light afternoon tea, but it all ended up as a well catered for late lunch, which seemed to please everyone. Of course the Skilbecks had not seen Robert & Evelyn for many years, while R & E had not seen my kids for over a decade – when ‘tall’ Adam turned up, they thought he was somebody’s boyfriend!! Meanwhile Mrs Seipolt [Shirley’s mother] whom all had hoped to catch up with was the centre of attention for much of the afternoon.

 

Pleasingly, Susan turned up from work mid-afternoon, so she became a major part of the ‘celebrations’ as well. Susie was in fact a god-daughter to Robert & Evelyn.

 

I was pleased with the way the afternoon proceeded – plenty of conversation – some of the ‘younger’ members present got involved in a game of darts on Susie’s dart board [hasn’t been used for a while] –  thanks mainly to photographer Rosie, and others, a nice collection of photos were taken in the back garden [despite the temperature dropping from earlier this morning, it turned out a lovely Autumn afternoon, and the back garden looked rather good for photos – in much better condition than a few weeks ago, thankfully] – Colin was even persuaded [with some reluctance] to display his talents on the set up drums that had been left behind here when the breakup with Jimmy occurred [not sure what the elderly neighbours thought of that sudden outburst from the normally placid Kirk household?

 

I guess my disappointment was that until I pointed them out, nobody seemed to take any interest or notice in my Australian painting print collection in the lounge/dining area  – I imagine that for most of my family that side of the art world is just taken for granted, pictures on the wall, so what!!!  Oh well, I’m rather proud of my display even if nobody was much impressed.  I was also surprised that Evelyn didn’t ‘appear’ to take much interest in the shrubs, etc in the front garden – there had been nothing of note there when they bought this house 8 years ago, and having paid for the initial landscaping, I thought she might have being more interested –  she commented to Robert later that she didn’t remember what had been there!

 

It was also a pity in some ways that we had another cycling commitment tonight, as I think some of our visitors would have been happy to have stayed a little longer.  However, by around 5pm, or a bit earlier, the ‘party’ was over, and I prepared to leave with Robert & Evelyn – I had decided to drive into the city tonight, and park near their hotel at Southbank, and walk to the Cycling from there. While I was admittedly not overkeen on driving into the city, it would be  welcome change from the drive/train/bus/tram cycle of the past two nights.  Susan was home alone when we left, although she was apparently also driving into the city to go to a concert at Festival Hall.  Before we left Sunbury, I drove R & E up to the radio station, and gave them  brief tour of the establishment, my second home some suggest!! I think they appreciated that little gesture!

 

I’ve forgotten the name of the Hotel Robert & Evelyn were staying in, but as would be expected with those two, it looked rather glamorous, and no doubt was with all services laid on, both inside and externally to the establishment. A short wait while Evelyn went upstairs to change her shoes, then the three of us set off for the walk across St Kilda Road, and down alongside the Yarra River, to the Tennis Centre and the Hisense Arena.  As tonight was the final session of the cycling, it was a night of finals, and if I enjoyed last night, tonight also promised a treat, particularly as we had second row seats again, but this time, no view obstructions, and just opposite the finishing line. The only drawback for me tonight, was the pain from my knees – the opportunity to stand at the cycling events is limited unless you are walking in and out constantly [as many people frustratingly do] as the program is continuous and ongoing with little time allowed between events – time wise, very well organised. And with someone sitting in front of us this time, there was also little chance of my  being able to ‘stretch’ the legs in any manner. So while I loved the events going on, I did feel somewhat uncomfortable throughout the evening, through quite a bit of pain around the knee area – something I face at all spectator occasions these days.

 

What can I say about the night –  New Zealand won the first medal of the night [the Womens’ Individual Pursuit], which was in Australia’s favour because we were trying to stay in front of England on the medal tally, while an Aussie girl gained the Bronze. Then we witnessed a  wonderful win to our own Anna Meares in the 500 metre time trial  – as the reports would indicate ‘Anna Meares broke the world record in the 500 metre time trial, claiming her 10th career World Title, and finishing the world championships [for her] on a high after a disappointing performance in the Sprint. Though the event is no longer on the Olympic program, it remains Meare’s sentimental favourite after she won Gold in the discipline as a 20 year old, and set the World Record for the time, at the 2004 Athens Games’. Anna was the 7th of 23 riders to go around the track, and therefore had an anxious wait before having her victory verified. One had to be optimistic that her World Record ride  of 33.010 seconds at Hisense Arena would be good enough – it would take another world record to defeat her. The Australian head cycling coach, Kevin Tabotta, believes that Anna ‘will take great strength from this competition. She knows she can win a world title, she knows she has produced the fastest first lap in the world in history and that she’s got the world record over 200. So she knows she’s the fastest sprinter in the world. If the game plan is put together right on the day, she can win any one of her three events [the sprint, the keirin and the team sprint]. The key is being able to do it on the day’.  Interestingly, with England’s Victoria Pendleton planning to retire after the London Olympics this year, Anna Meares also indicated – after peeling off her world record, then a prolonged victory lap in front of a receptive crowd [which gave me the opportunity to stand for a few min utes] – that she might walk away from the sport after London. But first, she has unfinished business in London!

England champion, and cycling hero of the Beijing Olympics, Sir Chris Hoy, took out the Mens’ Keirin Final, a brilliant flashing finish over the last 70 metres to gain that gold, while the program finished with a magnificent Mens’ 50 Kilometre Madison – 200 laps. As with so much professional cycling, a race full of tactics, and I again found it difficult at times to know who was leading, etc. The Madison [or Americaine] is derived from  6 day races which began in 1899 in New Yortk’s Madison Square Garden.  Teams comprising two riders work together to amass sprint points or try to take a lap. Sprints are held every 20 laps with points awarded for sprints – 1st – 5 pts, 2nd p- 3 pts, 3rd – 2 pts, and 4th 1 pt – only one member of the team is racing at any one time while his team-mate rides around the top of the track banking until it is his time to race. The race is conducted as a ‘tag team’ format whewre the racing rider must touch his in-coming team-mate to effect the changeover.  This procedure resulted in one serious crash early the race with one of the European teams, and there was a bit of a delay briefly while it was determined if they could take any further part in the race, which they did.  All in all, an exciting, if not confusing, event to be able to witness. Leigh Howard and Cameron Myer, who were probably favourites for the race were ‘out played’ and  had cleverer tactics employed against them, particularly by a great duo from Belgium, who gained a  prominent position early in the race, and eventually put up a brilliant performance to take out the Gold. The Australians finished in third place.  Detailed results of the night were:

Day Five Finals of the World Indoor Cycling Championships from Melbourne

 

Womens Individual Pursuit Finals

Gold:Alison Shanks [New Zealand]

Silver: Wendy Houvenaghel [Northern Ireland]

Bronze: Ashlee Ankudiboff [Australia]

 

Womens 500 m Time Trial Final

GOLD: Anna Meares [Australia]

Silver: Miriam Welte [Germany]

Bronze: Jessica Varnish [Great Britain]

 

Mens Keirin Final

Gold: Sir Chris Hoy [Great Britain]

Silver: Maximilian Levy [Germany]

Bronze: Jason Kenny [Great Britain]

 

Mens Madison 50 km Final – [200 laps – 50 kms –

Gold: Belgium [Kenny De Ketele and Gijs Vanhoecke]

Silver: Great Britain n[Ben Swift and Geraint Thomas]

Bronze: AUSTRALIA [Leigh Howard and Cameron Myer]

 

While Australia finished on top overall,  the British team were superior in the 10 Olympic events to be contested at London. The Australian team for London will be finalised in June – a quota of 14 riders to be selected.

Final 2012 World Cycling Track Table results

Australia …………….. 6 6 3 [15]

Great Britain…………. 6 4 3 [13]

Germany………………2 2 1 [5]

New Zealand………….1 0 4 [5]

France…………………1 2 0 [3]

Russia…………………1 1 0 [2]

Belgium……………….1 0 2 [3]

Poland…………………1 0 0 [1]

 

 

I was starting to feel it a bit, on that walk back to the carpark nearby to the hotel that Robert & Evelyn were staying in – the walk to the velodrome had seemed quite easy, but despite the beautiful balmy evening [though in actual fact, now quite cool], and the view of the Yarra River on our right for part of the way, I was really at the end, counting my steps, taking me closer to the car!!  Anyway, got there eventually, escorted right to my car in fact, before we said our farewells. R & E would be returning to Sydney early in the morning.

At least tonight, there was no ‘hazzling’ for seats on trains and buses –  after I eventually found my way out of the South Melbourne area, it was an uneventful drive back to Sunbury via the Calder. Called in at the  McDonald’s complex for a ‘nature’ break, but made no purchases anywhere.  I was home ‘before’ midnight this time, just behind Susie who had passed me on the Calder Highway, near McDonalds [as she was returning from a concert at Festival Hall].  Didn’t go to bed straight away – watched the closing stages of yet another bike race – from France – the 110th Paris-Roubaix classic which Robert had been referring to. In fact, knowing that he would still be awake watching that, I sent him a brief message to advise that I had arrived home safely, not gone to sleep as they had feared I might! It was appropriate, after the brilliant riding by the Belgium pair in tonight’s final race, that the winner of the French race was another Belgium – Tom Boonen, who won it quite comfortably in the end, though over cobblestones for most of the race, I can’t imagine it being a very comfortable ride!!

 

Monday, 9th April 2012 – the Stawell Gift, and a conclusion to some wearying but exciting days

After the previous three days, I really had no desire to do anything of an energetic nature today!! Tidied up a few things in the house, following yesterday’s party, and spent some time preparing for tonight’s radio program [which by this evening, I was wishing I’d decided to take a night off], and then settled down to watch the coverage of the 2012 Stawell Gift [professional foot running], and a bit of Monday afternoon football.

I think the highlight of the Stawell Gift meeting, was that one of Win Seipolt’s relations on the Domaschenz side of the family, won an event –  Tara Domaschenz was the winner of the Women’s 400 metres race.  I rang Shirley’s mother soon after, to ask her if the name meant anything – it eventually did, one of the grandchildren of one of Win’s siblings was a recognised runner. Of course, if I’d known that was coming up, I would have had the tape running because Tara was interviewed during the coverage after the race. Win switched over to the Gift coverage, hoping for a replay but that was a forlorne hope!

If I felt weary today, it was likely to get even worse by tomorrow, and I must admit that tonight’s radio shows was one I was eventually pleased to see reach the end of my 3 hours on air. It was a bit of a struggle, but hopefully, that was not evident in the actual broadcast. From memory, I was in bed about 5 minutes after I returned home, some time after midnight.

Meanwhile, an extended Round 2 of AFL football came to the end following today’s game, which left the top eight teams in the AFL competition looking as follows:-

AFL Ladder after Round 2 [top 8 teams]

Team                                  Points                                               Percentage

  1. 1.        West Coast Eagles                             8                                                        208.28
  2. 2.        Carlton Blues                                     8                                                        193.75
  3. 3.        Adelaide Crows                                  8                                                        165.91
  4. 4.        Sydney Swans                                     8                                                        164.41
  5. 5.        Essendon Bombers                             8                                                        114.46
  6. 6.        North Melbourne Kangaroos            4                                                        180.38
  7. 7.        St Kilda Saints                                    4                                                         164.71
  8. 8.        Hawthorn Hawks                                4                                                        109.66

Tuesday, 10th April 2012 – message from the coach

Would have happily slept all day, had my conscience and ability to do so, allowed me that luxury. Awoke to find myself physically drained and exhausted, despite managing to achieve the best part of an 8 hour sleep. I think it was getting close to 9am when I went down to the other end of the house – a rare timing for me!!

 

Midday visit from  3NRG’s station manager, Mike Cherriman – he spent about 40 minutes trying to get my printer into operation – he did get it working, but apparently I need new colour cartridges in addition to the black one I recently purchased!! But at least now, it was properly loaded onto my computer again!

 

Other than that visit, the most exciting moment!!! came through my email inbox consisting of a generic message from the coach of the Carlton team, reflecting on the team’s situation after the first two rounds of the 2012 season.

 

Dear Bill

With the preparations and planning now fully on Friday night’s match against Collingwood at the MCG, there’s barely a moment to reflect on the events of last Thursday night. However, it’s worth making mention of one of the procedural arrangements in the lead-up to the Gabba contest. Around half the senior playing group jetted in to Brisbane two days before the game, with the remaining half flying in 24 hours later. Timing decisions were very much left to the individual, as some preferred two night’s sleep before the event whereas others (most notably those with young families) opted to stay at home a little longer.  The Gabba game allowed us to trial these staggered fly-in arrangements and we gained great results in doing so. The thinking came on the end of the Maroochydore experience last month, when everyone completed the same flight on the same day (which wasn’t ideal for some) as we endeavoured to keep costs down through the NAB Cup.

The scheduling of the Brisbane match also impacted on our selection not to call on players returning from injury such as Michael Jamison or Nick Duigan, who had only five days to back up from a Northern Blues fixture. That’s hardly the best preparation and it was resolved almost a month ago that if players weren’t fit for round one then they wouldn’t be considered for senior selection until the third round to ensure they were fully prepared.
Significantly, Jamison, Duigan, David Ellard and Robbie Warnock all took part in an intra-club match at Visy Park on the same Thursday as the Gabba contest, to ensure their schedules were in synch with those senior players who took to the field against the Lions.  As for the Brisbane contest itself, the manner in which the players worked when they didn’t have the ball in their hands was very encouraging. With the exception of a five-minute period of the first quarter, when we conceded some soft goals for various reasons, we were very good with the pressure we applied and our capacity to defend.  Much has been mentioned of Eddie Betts’ memorable high marks on the night. As a consequence, he now throws something more at the opposition in that not only can he cause damage at ground level but clearly he can also fly. On the flip side, Eddie also knows that he doesn’t need to take ‘mark of year’ each week. His value at ground level, alongside the likes of Jeff Garlett is incredibly damaging and a major factor in our ongoing success.

On a personal level, in what was the lead-up to my 100th game as Carlton coach, I was grateful to have received a pre-match phone call from Ken Hands who also achieved the 100-game Carlton playing/coaching milestone. It was nice of Ken to call and I’m quite proud to share that honour with him.

In closing, if you ask me what I’ve learned from these past 100 games I’d say “Less is best”. In an era where the game is constantly evolving and so closely scrutinised, there’s still much to be said about keeping the message simple for the players.

Kind Regards

Brett Ratten
Member #1018372

 

Wednesday, 11th April 2012 – slow recovery, quiet but active day

I guess I averaged about 7 hours sleep overall through the night, but when the alarm went off at 6.15am, I certainly didn’t feel bright and breezy. However, I was up for a while – made the weekly phone call to Ron Bourke at the radio station with a bit of a sports report, including some commentary on the weekend’s cycling. Meanwhile, for us sports fans without the benefit of Pay TV, the Australian cricket team was currently engaged in the First Test Match over in the Caribbean, against the West Indies. I think the game began on Saturday night, our time, and after the first three days, Australia’s position was looking precarious.  The West Indies had declared their 1st Innings closed at 9 wickets for 449 runs.  At the start of play for Day 4 [which began at midnight this morning our time], Australia had lost 5 wickets for 248.  When I logged onto the website this morning, the Aussie bowlers have helped to make a good recovery, having moved their score onto 9 wickets declared for 406 runs with Ryan Harris not out 68, and  Lyon not out 40 [two of our bowlers creating a respectable score with a 10th wicket partnership of 77 undefeated]. The bowlers then continued their good work, and by Stumps on Day 4, the West Indies team were  5 wickets for  71 runs, and an overall lead of  114 runs, one day’s play remaining.

Another quietish day at home, apart from a brief trip into town during the afternoon to purchase some coloured ink cartridges for my printer which 3NRG’s Mike had got working for me yesterday. Also caught up on a bit of computer work, and found a couple of accounts waiting for me in the post box!!  Meanwhile, Susie had the niece of her former boyfriend around to visit and entertain this afternoon – apparently the girl was missing Susie since the relationship breakup.

Later, while Susie [and Jodie] were over in Footscray playing volleyball, their usual Wednesday night activity, I went over to Ron Smith’s home in Elizabeth Drive for a Family History Society committee meeting. Though it was not a new sentiment, there seemed to be a renewed general desire and urgency for the Society to obtain a permanent ‘home base’ where we could store our assets, records, etc, in a manner and place where access to those records would be much more freely available than is currently the case. A need for a ‘friendly millionaire’ was the agreed desire!! We would all like to meet one of those!

 

Thursday, 12th April 2012 – annual  visit to my cardiologist

I didn’t really feel like getting up this morning, despite waking at 5am, and really only dozed occasionally afterwards. Susie went out for an early shift at the bakery just before 7.30, at which time I arose myself. I was a bit disappointed at the lack of coverage, even on the radio/ABC of the final sessions of the cricket match over in the West Indies.  I did gather at one stage, that Australia were in a reasonable position to win the game, although the threat of bad light was hanging over them. I would like to have Foxtel TV but for the amount of time that I would not be watching anything, I’m disinclined to want to pay the monthly fees, and the rest! Anyway, I did eventually discover, through the ‘Cricket Australia’ website, that Australia had won a thrilling 1st Test against the West Indies by 3 wickets. It was suggested that it was fitting, that the two ‘bowling’ heroes of Australia’s 1st Innings [Ryan Harris and Ben Hilfenhaus] should be there at the batting crease, steering Australia home in the fading light at the end.  I think the match finished around 8am, our time [Wednesday afternoon in the West Indies].  Final scores revealed that Australia won the 1st Test at Kensington Oval, Bridgetown by 3 wickets.

Australia:  9 for 406, and 7 for 192

West Indies: 9 for 449, and 148

I went back to the gymnasium this morning – hadn’t been there since this time last week

Annual appointment with my cardiologist this afternoon, 2.45pm down in Moreland, at the Moreland Hospitala warmish afternoon, and quite a pleasant drive, although the return trip, in much heavier traffic was a little more daunting. [Dr] Roderic Warren [an Asssociate Professor] is quite a personable chap, concise and to the point, but someone who instils confidence from his patients, and if he thinks action needs to be taken, won’t hesitate to do so. He was outwardly pleased with my current level of tests re cholesterol, ECG results, blood pressure, as well as the diabetes results. And of course the pleasing response – come back in 12 months, although I noticed that he was wanting to do some additional tests for that visit. Fair enough!

Meeting of the radio station general members tonight – held this time in the upstairs function room of the Olive Tree Hotel – quite nice surroundings, no disturbance from patrons, or staff, and a reasonable turn up of  members. Meeting lasted about an hour – not a great deal of ‘general’ business generated from members, which is always a pity, though one generally finds that the people who do the most grumbling and complaining, are seldom those who turn up at meetings and/or other activities of the organisation!

 

Friday, 13th April 2012  –  a night at the football

It was a coolish morning followed by another beautiful Autumn day – annoyed to wake before 5am again, and while I did get back to sleep an hour or so later, this is good sleeping time disturbed and/or wasted. Once one’s mind gets onto something or an issue of some kind, sleep is usually difficult to return to. I noticed that the ABC were showing one of their regular early morning weekday replays of the interstate football league matches – you would have to be a keen/loyal fan of those competitions to want to watch their matches at that time of morning [from around 4am I believe, usually in front of sparse crowds],

Another nice long email from friend Bev this morning  –  obviously she has still not recovered from the health issues that she has been fighting since I last saw her, 14 months ago, and while she is at least a little more independent, her physical capabilities remain very limited.  Seems as though, because of her age [about the same as me], that is going to be an ongoing situation. Good that she is at least still able to enjoy her violin, garden, and her backyard chooks and other birds. But in commenting on my little family reunion over Easter, that was something she just couldn’t contemplate these days.

A slow start to my early after that earlier awakening – but enjoyed the opportunity to spend a bit of time in a sunny back garden. Meanwhile, thoughts were turning towards tonight’s trip to the city and my first visit to the Blues’ 2012 official football season in the round 3 game against traditional rivals, Collingwood.

This was the Blues report pre-match, for tonight’s game – ‘CARLTON will be boosted by the return of Michael Jamison to the backline for the Blues’ blockbuster clash with Collingwood at the MCG on Friday night.  Jamison has struggled to overcome a stress reaction in his back since mid-February, but Brett Ratten confirmed on Thursday that the full-back has been passed fit to play after two games in the reserves.  While Jamison is a definite inclusion this week, fellow defender Nick Duigan (knee) will need to impress selectors at the final training at Visy Park to earn a call-up.  Jamison’s return is a major positive for Carlton ahead of the big game, but he will not be given the crucial job on Pies’ danger man Travis Cloke in his first game of the season. “Lachie [Henderson] will play on Cloke,” Ratten said.  “He’s done a great job in the first two weeks and his form last year was really good. so that will be a great battle.  “I think Michael will have times where he’ll play on Travis as well, but Lachie will play on [Cloke].”  Forward Andrew Walker hasn’t overcome a quad tendon injury and will not play, but Ratten said he would be a strong chance’.

And from today’s ‘Australian’ newspaper, reporter Courtney Walsh writes:

‘During decorated playing careers, it was often the biggest stage that induced the finest football from Nathan Buckley and Brett Ratten.  It is perhaps why both men, former captains who have become coaches of two of Melbourne’s most famous clubs, had little desire to downplay the significance of tonight’s game between Carlton and Collingwood at the MCG. Neither resorted to that tired cliche about this clash being no more important than any other regular season match, for no match between Carlton and Collingwood is ever that simple. For Ratten, the Carlton coach, it will give an insight as to whether the Blues have truly taken the step from pretender to contender. Buckley, still in the infancy of his coaching career, said such games defined a footballer. “Absolutely. Look, these are the games that you get judged as a footballer,” Buckley said. “We talk about finals and finals clearly are where players make their names and maybe their reputations.’

Joining me at the Melbourne Cricket Ground tonight, would be oldest son, James, youngest daughter Jodie, and her boyfriend, Ash –  Susie would have come too, had I been aware of it, but as I discovered this afternoon, you have to find her in the right mood to ask such questions. For example, if she and Jodie were intending to go to Ballarat tomorrow for Alwyn’s party, it might be possible to pitch their tent on the Skilbeck’s property – response, I’ve already told you we are going, and we will be coming back tomorrow evening!!  Almost sorry I asked, or perhaps asked the wrong person, should have checked with Jodie first!!  Such is life as a ‘generally no longer needed Dad’!! ‘

Before tonight – Carlton vs Collingwood.  Played 243 times. Carlton has won 123. Collingwood has won 116. Drawn four times.  Played 58 times at the MCG. Carlton has won 33, Collingwood 25. Largest home & away crowd – 88,181 in Round 3, 2011. [Over 121,000 in 1970 for the Grand Final between these two teams – I was there that day!!]   It’s THE rivalry.

 

My digestive system playing up again today – thought a light lunch at a ‘noisy’ Brook Street restaurant might ease things, but not really. Anyway, a bit of shopping, mainly for tonight, so that I didn’t need to waste money on expensive ‘football’ food, then back home to relax for a few hours before catching the evening train into the city.

Travelled into the city with James – Jodie & Ash were in the next train! In trouble with both may daughters tonight – Susan because I omitted to ask her if she wanted to come to the football [I thought she was working], and Jodie, because we didn’t wait to catch the same train as she & Ash, and then further at my decision to proceed straight to the MCG, rather than wait for them at Southern Cross, and complete the journey as a foursome. At the time, I felt it wise to get to the ground early, in order to pick up the tickets rather than have to queue in a crush – well, when we got there, things were already pretty hectic, so I hated to think what an extra 30 minutes would have meant!

It is some years since I have been to the MCG to watch a football match. While the seats I’d purchased were way up in the Great Southern Stand [a difficult climb for me these days], they were quite good seats in a convenient location at the end of a row as far as I was concerned, and afforded a spectacular view of this magnificent sporting arena, looking down over the area just to the right of the goals at the Southern Stand end of the MCG. A comfortable spot, great overhead view, though my glasses were still handy to pick out the player numbers, etc, and as the scores below indicate, it would be a very enjoyable evening if you were a Carlton supporter. Before the game began, I sent my usual text messages to Jill, and Ian up in Brisbane [the family traitors who barracked for Collingwood, one to Colin [whom I’m didn’t realise at the time, but was already with Angela, down in Ballarat, where they were watching the match on TV with the Skilbecks]. Also sent a message to Heather, telling her where I was, and reminding her that I would be seeing her tomorrow afternoon.  Received responses from all concerned – non-committal from Jill [may the best team win], from Ian [wishing he was at the game also, though he would be glad afterwards that hadn’t been possible], Colin – [beer all lined up ready to go] , while dear Heather, not really interested in the football, just commented that she was looking forward to seeing me tomorrow!!

Well, it’s an understatement to say that Carlton dominated the match [apart from a bit of a fightback from Collingwood in the 2nd quarter which gave us Blues supporters some cause for alarm] – in the other three quarters, there was little apparent fight by the opposition, certainly not what we would have expected in such a match of traditional rivals, and from the 2010 Premiers, and Runners-up last year.  The Blues simply put, thrashed the opposition, and we were not going to complain about that. Best players for Carlton – the usual stars – captain Chris Judd, Andrew Carazzo, Mark Murphy, Matthew Kreuzer, Eddie Betts and Heath Scotland. I’m sure that the coach, in his email later in the week will have plenty to say. The crowd was just under 86,.000, a bit disappointing when you consider that we were forced to buy reserved seats, and that all tickets were supposedly sold for a ground that these days can take up to 100,000 spectators!!  Bit annoyed about that process, with the fear that the same insistence will take place next week. My Member’s ticket is costing me additional money, as it is, anyone who wishes to come with me. Tonight however, it was worthwhile!!! For the frecord, the quarter by quarter scores were:-

Carlton Blues:                 7.1.43                 9.7.61                 15.11.101                      FINAL:   18.14.122

Collingwood Magpies:    3.2.20                6.3.39                   8.6.54                           Final:         9.8.62

Entertaining trips home  – at Jolimont station, hundreds of noisy and exuberant Carlton supporters, rubbing it in to the thousands of Collingwood supporters on the other side of the railway track on the opposite platform, where there was a deafening silence, as they waited for a train to take them in the opposite direction to the city – out to Collingwood and beyond!!! Quite entertaining, and James of course, after a night of beers, was making the most of it all. In fact between them, James, Jodie and Ash went through a bit of beer and coca cola during the game – I drank nothing, seldom do at these public events! I feel that Jodie perhaps overdid it a bit – by later tonight, she was feeling unwell, and deciding that she would be unable to join Susan in the drive to Ballarat tomorrow.  Listening to the phone conversation later between James, Susan and Jodie, where this fact was being relayed, and with James suggesting that he would go down to Ballarat with Susan, I got the impression that was not Susie’s best option, but a good alternative, because I doubt she would have gone alone. Yes, I was going down also [this is for Alwyn Skilbeck’s 18th birthday party] but I was staying overnight in a motel, so would not be returning.

A long wait at Southern Cross for the last train to Sunbury – I gather that the Hungry Jack’s store in the station complex had been about to close when it was suddenly invaded by hundreds of football fans [including us], although this traveller purchased only a drink!!  The 11.45pm to Sunbury already fairly crowded by the time we got on board, for another  ‘interesting; trip back home. Plenty of passengers sitting around the passageways and door entrances and/or standing, which made me glad we had got onto the train quickly enough to at least get seats.

 

Saturday, 14 April 2012  –  weekend to Ballarat

Well after a glorious night’s football at the Melbourne Cricket Ground [anytime the Blues thrash Collingwood, it’s ‘glorious’], and before I head off to Ballarat for a couple of days, here’s my little ‘Saturday’ piece of verse, this time from Wordsworth: –

I’ve watched you now a full half hour,

Self poised upon that yellow flower;

And, little Butterfly! Indeed

I know not if you sleep or feed.

How motionless! – not frozen seas

More motionless! and then

What joy awaits you, when the breeze

Hath found you out among the trees,

And calls you forth again!

[from ‘To a Butterfly’ by William Wordsworth, composed April 20th 1802]

Well, I went to the gym, gained a bit of extra advice from Lisa, one of the trainers, and was back home soon after 10am, for a quick shower and change of clothes, before hitting the road for the drive to  Ballarat.

Beautiful morning, nice day for a drive, and was at the motel in Eureka Street just after 12 noon. I was a little annoyed that there was no-one at reception – busy cleaning units somewhere. While I’d not expected to have been able to check in at that point, I did want to confirm that I would be going ahead with the reservation! Decided to ring later.   Meantime drove up to a little cafe near the corner of Drummond and Mair Streets [which I eventually found] and found Heather waiting for me, having offered to shout me a coffee before I drove out to Enfield [the Skilbeck’s house]. Unfortunately, as I was already late for that occasion [Alwyn’s midday party] our coffee break was a short one of around 30 minutes.

I’d also been concerned about Susie and James finding their way to the Skilbecks. A text from James, to confirm the address of their destination did not seem to want any more information, and I should have realised later, that Susie, as she would remind me, could ‘read directions’!!  Anyway, said my farewells to Heather [and the cafe proprietors – she obviously frequents these places regularly, as seems to know everyone] –  we would hopefully meet up later tonight.  The Enfield party would probably see me out there until around 6/7 pm, while Heather herself was going to another 18th party [her granddaughter] out at Buninyong which started about 7pm. She only wanted to stay for an hour or so, planning for us to catch up afterwards.  In fact, she had asked me if I would like to come to Buninyong with her, but because I was unsure about the timing of Alwyn’s event – and admittedly, because I was a little uncomfortable about turning up at Heather’s family party & looking for all intents and purposes as her partner for the night [just didn’t seem good timing, although as it turned out, she would be asked by a number of people present ‘where was Bill?’] – anyway, declined that offer as a timing clash or something.

Meanwhile, as I drove out to Enfield, I received message from James – he and Susie were at the Skilbeck’s place. I arrived there about 15 minutes later, to find all present were well in to their luncheon – I’d wrongly assumed this would be a slow starting process as on previous occasions. Not to worry, most of the meat was gone, but that didn’t really concern me, was happy to concentrate on salads, etc. It was interesting driving out to Enfield – in the distance I could see a major stream of smoke, and I wondered it was possible that Ross and Alwyn [as members of the local CFA] might have been called out to that particular fire. Would have been a bit rough, on today of all days, and I think Jean might have put her foot down, and stopped them going. Of course, when I got out there, I had to come up with the suggestion that [like a few years ago out here] Ross had set fire to the barbeque again!  I wasn’t alone in that thought – one of his brothers who was present, also made that suggestion, in jest!

I enjoyed the afternoon – made a bit more pleasant for me this time, because there were a number on the Kirk side of the family present – usually, it is all friends and family of Ross, with myself the only visiting representative of Jean’s Kirk side of the family. And with James there, he had the proverbial football with him, and was quick to encourage anyone who was interested to join him out in the ‘paddock’ for a kick to kick session. I do believe that I even managed two stubbies of beer this afternoon, well spaced apart naturally! Susan also seemed to be enjoying herself, although by late afternoon, she was beginning to get anxious to be on the road, and I wanted to see her and James on the way before it got dark. In fact, the three of us left at the same time – James & Susan heading back to Sunbury, myself to the motel, via a Safeway store where I purchased a few items for a bit of an eat-in meal tonight, etc.

At the motel [the Miner’s Retreat] I was not too impressed by the reception I’d been receiving via a couple of phone calls, and then upon checking in. The woman in charge insisted that I had booked for ‘last’ Saturday night, and there was no way she was going to allow me to argue otherwise. I don’t make mistakes of that sort, and had the details written down as I’d made the phone booking. It was definitely her mistake, but she quickly overlooked that possibility that we’re found you a room anyway – which happened to be the same large family room I’d been booked into [as the last Available room] when I made the reservation. We could have provided for the whole family – Queen size bed, large single bed, and three bunk beds  –  think there is enough room for me!!

In some ways tonight, I was regretting not taking up Heather on her offer to join her at Buninyong – she had intended to get away from her granddaughter’s party after an hour, but it would be twice that long before speeches, etc, took place, and I think it was about 8.30 when she let me know that she was held up.  I really didn’t want to visit her at her unit too late tonight, but I don’t think she was going to allow me to reneg on that too!!  Another phone call around 9.30 – I’m home now, would you like to come around for a drink!! Admittedly, it was a much more pleasant way to spend the rest of Saturday night, in preference to sitting alone in the motel room. Think I stayed until around 11pm, before returning to the motel. While Heather drank a mini bottle of while wine, I un wisely had two coffees – probably the wine would have been a better choice, as sleep would be rather difficult for the rest of the night. Meanwhile, up until my return, the company was pleasant, we get on well together, in view of the fact that we last really knew each other over half a century ago – at primary school. I learnt that it was about 12 years ago that she left her second ‘abusive’ husband, and had been in this unit for most of the time since. For the past 12 months of course, she had devoted almost her entire waking hours to caring for her ill mother who died 3 weeks ago. Bow, as Heather put it, was ‘her time’!

We parted tonight with plans to spend most of tomorrow together – I’d decided to stay in Ballarat a second night, though not in the same motel, where that woman at reception had made up my mind on that score.  Meanwhile, as indicated, loaded up with caffeine, etc, I did not sleep well – the room, bed, etc was quite clean and comfortable…………………….

 

Sunday, 15th April 2012 – a visit to historic and tourist mecca,  Daylesford

Awake far earlier than I needed to be of course – various vehicles outside my unit coming and going, though that didn’t really worry me. This is a very rare Sunday morning, to find me not at the radio stations – would only occur from 2 to 4 times a year, if that, so I guess it was a refreshing change.  I did wonder how my replacement presenter – Happy Jack  – was managing; I’d offered him a loan of some classical music but he had felt he had enough to complete the program!

While I was thinking on that, a message from Heather – if I’d not already had breakfast, she would like to ‘shout’ me breakfast at another of the cafes she regularly patronises. Quite a nice little establishment it turned out to be, as it was –  in Doveton Street, just up from Sturt St, was where we ended up, after I picked her up at around 9.15am. Sure enough, the cafe staff all knew Heather, and obviously had not seen her since her mother died, so commiserations and expressions of sympathy, etc, dominated proceedings for a few moments.  I gathered that this was a kind of regular routine for my friend – ‘breakfast’ as such was usually more of a combination of breakfast and lunch, and certainly the meals which we both  had this morning [a beautiful omelette for myself, eggs benedicte for Heather]] was sufficient to keep us going for a large part of the day to follow.

Whilst we were enjoying breakfast, I received a phone call – from the radio station President in Sunbury  – wondering why the station was off air after my supposed program [he had obviously not been tuned in, so wasn’t aware that I’d not done the show this morning – Happy Jack sat in for me – we both assumed, that with the normal presenters who follow me, not on air again, that Jack had not switched the system over properly to the automatic play [ we would both discover retrospectively, that Jack in fact, had stayed on to play some country music as would normally be on after I left – he stepped outside briefly for a spot of fresh air, and the main door shut behind him – he couldn’t get back into the studio, and couldn’t raise anybody on the phone – as he would note later in the week, if he had known which motel I was at, he would have rung me!!!]. Meanwhile, it seems that I can never escape that radio station!!!  Even for one Sunday!!

Heather and I decided to drive up to Daylesford – the temptation was a couple of great second hand book shops in the town!! But first, a brief visit to the Art Gallery of Ballarat. I wanted to see if there was another framed print of an Australian painting for sale, as per the painting I purchased a few weeks ago. There was –  a copy of the oil on canvas painting by E Phillips Fox called ‘The Love Story’, painted in 1903. For the price being asked, I was almost prepared to buy it, until Heather, who has a much better knowledge of these things, convinced me that while it was a wonderful picture, the frame that had been put around [a whitish colour] did not suit the picture, and I had to agree with that observation. For the time being, I will have to satisfy myself with the framed postcard size version, I currently have of that painting.

We drove up Humffray Street North, and I pointed out the old ‘Kirk’ home, at 317, until Mum sold it in the mid-1980s before she came down to live with myself and Shirley in Sunbury. The place was looking quite run down, externally, and most of the garden area that we had established at the front and side of the house seemed to be pretty well non-existent.  From there, it was the drive of about 40 kilometres I think, northeast to the town of Daylesford, where a number of my ancestors on the Jenkin side of the family [Gran Kirk] had settled in the late 1800s.  I don’t recall the last time I made this particular trip  – not sure why Daylesford was chosen, but it was a motel in this town that Shirley and myself spent the first night of our marriage at, then headed off in the opposite direction next morning. It would have seemed, in retrospect, to have started off in the intended direction in the first place!! Anyway, the only other major memories I have of the Ballarat to Daylesford Road were in my pre- Melbourne days, as a teenager, and participating in the Daylesford Relay – an annual athletic event, although I can’t recall whether I actually ran in any of the relays, but was instead part of the support teams, probably helping Dad in his official roles with the local athletics association.  Certainly, Robert and Ian probably competed on various occasions at that time, and in later years, after I’d gone down to Melbourne to work.  I also vaguely recalled coming down this road on the odd occasion with Dad, when he was during a spot of lay preaching at the little country Methodist churches in the district, most of which I think have long since closed.

It was a beautiful day in Daylesford, quite warm in the sunshine, and as what was now a popular tourist town, the place was very busy and crowded in some places. It’s a former gold mining town about 115 kilometres northwest of Melbourne, in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range, so the area itself is quite hilly. The town’s population was just over 3,000 in 2006.  The broader area around the town, including Hepburn Springs, to the north [we didn’t go there today], is renowned for its natural spring mineral spas, where visitors can sample the mineral water [have travelled from Sunbury with the family on at least one occasion to do that] . That aspect, a great little shopping and restaurant/café area, a range of accommodation,  and a beautiful lake to the south of the town, make Daylesford a popular destination spot for tourist, for either day trips or overnight stops.

A gold rush occurred in the area when alluvial gold was found in 1851, with the town of Daylesford being surveyed in 1854. While Daylesford’s initial growth was due to the thousands of workers looking for gold, the town is much more famous for the bubbling mineral waters which flow from its many springs, as mentioned above.  Coupled with its beautiful mountain scenery, forests, gardens and lakes, Daylesford and neighbouring Hepburn Springs have become major tourist, holiday and alternative lifestyle towns. There is a thriving industry built around physical and spiritual wellness including spa treatments, massages and acupuncture. The commercial centre of Daylesford is located along Albert Street and Vincent Street. It features a generous collection of historic buildings including the post office (built in 1867), town hall (1882), and several hotels and shops.  Many of Daylesford’s streets are lined with deciduous trees that erupt into a blaze of colour during the autumn season.

For Heather and myself, our first stop was a coffee lounge for precisely that –  a drink of coffee, though mine was a little less healthy, in the form of an iced coffee!  Then it was back across the busy road [traffic and tourists] to the first of the book shops that Heather felt I needed to be ‘introduced’ to – she already knows me so well!!!  What a place to get lost in, with plenty of spare cash [which I didn’t really have with me]  – I think we indulged in there for around 40 minutes, and yes, I did make a couple of small purchases –  Charles Dickins’ novel ‘The Old Curiosity Shop’ [bought that for Susie while having no real idea if Dickins interested her – tried to ring, but my old fashioned Vodaphone mobile had no reception, apparently Daylesford was not considered important enough for that with this company!!]. Also purchased a 2 CD package of jazz music by Dave Brubeck – he was a jazz performer that Heather liked, yet strangely I could not recall ever playing any of his music on the radio – not even ‘Take Five’ which was included on this set [I would of course remedy that situation, first thing tomorrow night in my Monday program!].

A bit more wandering around the busy town centre – in one arcade centre, there was a shop selling mainly Turkish glassware and other like articles – though fairly expensive, some of sale items were quite beautiful and would have made magnificent gifts for family members and others.  Mind you, I just thought ‘that idea’ didn’t do anything  about it, just kept on walking!!

Drive around to another very popular spot just outside o the main town area – the Daylesford Lake. Parking quite restricted, and large crowds enjoying the sunshine afternoon with family picnics, etc, or partaking of the numerous eating places near the facility.  The Lake was I read somewhere – ‘water so beautiful, they built a village around it’!! Lake Daylesford covers land upon which gold was first discovered, and was created in 1929 and  located in the beautiful Central Springs Reserve, just a few minutes walk south of the town centre. There is a cafe built right beside the lake, picnic spots, walking tracks and several mineral springs. Jetties are provided for fishing and for those wishing to hire rowboats or other pleasure craft, although I think swimming in the lake is prohibited.  Of course, the big attraction was the bookshop/coffee lounge building on the shore of the lake, where we spent the best part of an hour –  a large part of that time browsing the books. What I did find was a small booklet written by a 3rd cousin up in Donald [Lilian Kirk, who came to the ceremony at Charlton last September] on the gold mining in the Donald area. It wasn’t really expensive, and was signed by Lilian herself – I should have bought it on the spot, but not been a person who tends to buy things of that nature on the spur of the moment, I decided to leave it until another visit. Probably an unwise move, but I was gambling on the unlikelihood of anybody else coming across it in the meantime and wanting it!  We shall see how wise that decision was!! I plan to return in a few weeks. Anyway, after our book perusing, we sat out in on the balcony of the adjoining café, in a spot of sunshine available there overlooking the lake, and chatted over ‘another’ coffee!!

Earlier, Heather had stopped briefly while we were walking around the lake area to say hello to an elderly couple [older than us!!] who were sitting under a shady tree enjoying a picnic and a glass of wine – Heather just commented to them what a lovely afternoon it was for them to enjoying [she didn’t know them, just another aspect of nature, to talk to someone, in passing]. Sadly, when we came out of the bookshop about an hour later,  the lady of that couple was sitting on the nearby grass being attended to by ambulance officers!  She had tripped and fallen, breaking her arm!  For myself on my own, I would probably have just noted this with some pity, and walked on. But Heather walked over to the husband of this unfortunate lady, and asked him if his wife was all right, and it was from that enquiry that we learnt the nature of her mishap!  My respect for this ‘old school friend’ of mine was growing by the hour!

It was getting on to the latter part of the afternoon, when we decided that was enough sight-seeing and ‘window shopping’ for the day – time to head back to Ballarat, where prior to taking Heather back to her unit, I called in at ‘my’ Eureka Motel’ [where I have stayed on numerous occasions previously] and booked myself a room for the night, having decided to stay until the morning. After a short delay, it was back to Heather’s unit, where I stopped in for a few minutes – long enough for one of her neighbours [and a friend] to knock on the door a couple of minutes later – with a life size cardboard cut-out of former Carlton captain and full forward, and now Club President, Stephen Kernahan. It seems that my name and interest in the Carlton team had been shared with this neighbour, who as soon as she saw my car drive in, rushed over to show off her ‘cardboard’ hero!! I think she said she had taken it overseas with her, at one stage!!  Unusual lady!  Anyway, I guess the prime purpose in her coming over was to meet Heather’s new ‘friend’!!

Shortly thereafter, I departed and returned to the motel, where I formally ‘moved’ in, had a shower, relaxed for a while, before driving back to Heather’s place. We went out to the Western Hotel in Sturt Street, up near the City Oval area, for an evening meal. Quite a large dining/bistro area, but not very many people eating there tonight, although there was quite a noisy and large crowd out in the public bar. We both had fish dishes – different meals, and certainly mine was just what I needed –  fresh trout with scalloped potatoes and salads. I think Heather ate the fish & chip meal of the night, while I even indulged in one beer, which tends to be all I want when out for a meal these days.!  Anyway, the meal was enjoyable, the environment comfortable, and the company very pleasant, and there was no need for any rush to move on.  But move on we did, back to Heather’s place again for a couple of hours of sampling her cd collection, coffee, and even a wine. And I had the opportunity to admire once again, the magnificent original painting she had up on the lounge-room wall, a legacy from her mother’s passing, and the artist of whose name, I cannot recall. But it was obviously a major insurance  item!!  Whilst I was there, her son, Brad rang from Melbourne – had been trying to get her all day, and Heather was happy to tell him she had been with Bill, who was there with her now, drinking coffee and listening to the music of  the composer, Philip Glass.

Eventually time to say farewell to my friend for the weekend,  but we would stay in touch. I recall driving very quietly and slowly out of that complex – quietly so as not to disturb the neighbours [especially the lady with the cardboard footballer!!], and slowly, because of the rather  deep culvert that forms part  of the exit or entrance to this complex, a trap for unwary drivers! I think there were six units in this small complex, and most of them occupied by unattached women, although there was a retired male musician [ drummer] and artist in one of the units, I believe.

Back to ‘important’ matters of state!!!  The final matches in this weekend’s Round 3 of AFL football were played today, and while I only caught snatches of the results this evening, the following little table shows where ‘my’ team and the other seven currently best performing teams are situated on the AFL ladder.

AFL Top 8 teams after Round 3 of the 2012 season:[with last year’s Grand Finalist teams – Geelong, 11th, and Collingwood, 13th, with one win each!!]

West Coast Eagles……………………………………………12   [211.2]

Carlton Blues…………………………………………………..12   [194.7]

Sydney Swans…………………………………………………12   [148.8]

Essendon Bombers…………………………………………..12   [115.9]

St Kilda Saints………………………………………………..  8    [185.8]

North Melbourne Kangaroos…………………………… . 8    [152.9]

Hawthorn Hawks……………………………………………..  8   [126.1]

Adelaide Crows……………………………………………….  8   [111.4].

Couldn’t get to sleep tonight – turned TV on late – ended up watching [with little enthusiasm] the very late closing stages of the annual TV Week Logies – not particularly impressed with the major winner, but then I generally have little interest in so-called modern Australian comedy type shows, and have little time for the ‘kind of humour’ that people like Adam Hills, Hamish & Andy, etc. Oddly enough, the most enjoyable part of what I saw was the finale of the whole thing –  the teenage sensation group at the moment whom I would never consider being interested in – currently during Australia and driving thousands of teenage girls to distraction, and causing major headaches for security personnel – ‘One Direction’  – I rather enjoyed the song they performed, maybe it was their big hit, but I didn’t mind listening to them.

Meanwhile in China, the Formula 1 Grand Prix was run tonight – in the motel, I had trouble finding the channel on the TV set that was televising [delayed] the raced, and I only found it quite late, when I just couldn’t be bothered watching any more, despite the fact that it was still a while before I got to sleep!!

 

Monday, 16th April 2012 – back home and the Monday routine!

Woke up around 7am, but my plans to be on the way by 8am, I put aside, just couldn’t be bothered rushing, though I still intended to be back in Sunbury well before the 11am gymnasium session time. A brief ‘safe journey’ text from Heather before I left the motel, and I let her know later when I was on my way.

The usual ‘miserable’ patch of weather about 20 kms out of Ballarat, but things fined up quite nicely after that, as our beautiful Autumn weather continued. I returned via Melton, but this time, didn’t stop for my usual iced coffee, decided that would not be appropriate prior to visiting the gym!!

Despite another ‘busy’ weekend combined with poor sleeps, this morning’s session at the gym was reasonably ‘refreshing’, and perhaps a good move to immediately follow up the weekend in such a manner rather than defer until later in the week!  Although I noticed that as the day progressed, my ‘digestive’ problems of the past few months began to rear it’s head again, so that by the time I got to the radio station at 8.30pm tonight, I was facing another Monday night with a stomach ’playing up’  – rather disappointed and annoyed  that this ‘digestive’ problem of mine so often spoils my Monday night on air to some degree. Hopefully though, it doesn’t come over in that manner!

Meanwhile, another weekly message from the ‘Coach’ in this morning’s emails –  Brett Ratten, coach of the Carlton team.

Dear Bill

After the Collingwood game on Friday night, when most of the people had filed out of the Carlton rooms, I took the opportunity to speak to the players about the magnitude of the journey at hand. I wanted to remind each and every one of them that this was only round three, that circumstances can fluctuate very quickly and that along the way there’ll be a lot of battles to fight and hills to climb. The players know and understand that. They’re a mature group and they’re ready for the challenges that surely lay ahead.

Take nothing away from Friday night’s performance though. We were +18 for clearances, which was a real positive, and full credit to Matthew Kreuzer’s and Shaun Hampson’s ability to give us first use of the footy – it was sensational. When ‘Kreuze’ and ‘Hammer’ are playing that way it obviously makes Andy Carrazzo’s role that little bit easier because the ball’s not getting palmed to the likes of Scott Pendlebury. In turn, Mark Murphy’s and Chris Judd’s confidence levels rise because they’re getting plenty of access to the footy – and that’s a big momentum shift for us when you consider the game begins with a 50/50 contest.

It’s true we’re now no longer flying under the radar, but that’s fine – we’ve never shied away from that. At the start of the year we publicly declared we wanted to raise the bar, which doubled as an internal proclamation along the lines of ‘Come on, we need to lift and if we want success we’re going to have to drive each other’.
To a man we played pretty good team football against Collingwood. We had a good win against an arch rival which has got everybody talking.
But that is over now and it is time to shift our focus to our next tough assignment, Essendon this Saturday.

Kind Regards

Brett Ratten
Member #1018372

Admittedly, those messages don’t mean much to many readers, but their inclusion on these pages are all a part of my thought practices of the things that interest this essayist, and the Carlton Football team and it’s fortunes and misfortunes from year to year [certainly since the mid 1960s when I began to take an ‘active’ interest] form of major aspects of those thoughts.

Another pleasant Monday night on air – quite an extensive range of mainly Australian folk singers included in tonight’s program, which also saw the inclusion of a lengthy recent Australian jazz release by a group from Sydney [I think] called the Sam Keevers Nonet [nine musicians]. Earlier, I played a couple of tracks from someone I’ve oddly enough never featured on any of my shows – Dave Brubeck and his ‘Take Five’ performance. I’ve no idea why I’ve never played Brubeck previously, no conscience reason, as his music is well worth listening to.  But I found a 2 CD album in one of the Daylesford bookshops yesterday, so decided it was time I had a copy!  Unfortunately, the second of those two cds wouldn’t play for me on the studio Cd player, which was both annoying and disappointing!!

 

Tuesday, 17th April 2012 – heater service, and a couple of sporting related notations…

I had the evaporative heater in the roof serviced today – something I intended to have done before the Winter set in, but my action was prompted by the recall notice received in the mail yesterday  –  and while that applied to the Cooler part of the system, and did not appear to apply to the particular model in our home, I did confirm that fact nevertheless with Brivas, the manufacturers. And then decided to have the service to the heater undertaken in any case.

He came mid afternoon, just after Susie returned from work – I used his arrival as the excuse to forego the gardening maintenance job I’d being attending to in the front garden The ‘Air It Is’ man noted that the heating unit was looking very clean, and the burners etc were working efficiently – unlikely to need  to call him back for a couple of years. It was while he was writing me out an invoice, that I received a text from Heather – she and her girl-friend [the ‘MG’ driver] had just had lunch and wine during their day at Lorne – if nothing else, just that fact made me envious when compared to my little serve of cheese and biscuits!! It was good to hear her sounding happy, after the recent loss of her mother.

A bright little note from one of the newspaper editorials the other day – ‘Cycling champion Cadel Evans is to be congratulated for opening his heart to adopted Ethiopian son, Robel. We encourage the Australian Government to grant appropriate visas for the toddler to move here with his hero dad and Italian mum Chiara Passerini [apparently there are hiccups in gaining that visa] later this year, so they may be with their extended family. Tour de France winner Evans, who is preparing for the London Olympics [and hopefully this year’s Tour] says fatherhood beats any of his racing wins. “It is the most beautiful experience of my life,” Evans gushes’.

Meanwhile, I think I made mention somewhere about this past weekend’s Aintree 7,200 metre Steeplechase, a race famous around the world, but which on this occasion , as no doubt many times in the past, resulted in the death of two of the competing horses. I’ve referred to this topic both recently, and over past years, and the weekend’s incidents, and a letter which appears in this week’s Weekly Times newspaper, reminded me of my attitude to the question of ‘jumps racing’  – an event I like to watch, but generally do so with a great deal of apprehension and concern. The writer on this occasion is obviously a member of the ongoing campaign to end jumps racing in Victoria, so presumably, he can only see one side of the issue. Nevertheless, most of his points are poignant, and shouldn’t really be ignored. He writes “Eleven horses died last year while jumps racing, and the 2012 season looks set to be just as lethal, with three horses dead in a month. How many more must suffer and die before Victorian officials join the rest of the civilised world and put an end to this deadly pastime? In jumps racing,  horses are forced to clear metre-high obstacles while running at breakneck speeds. The public consensus is overwhelming; a recent poll found 75  per cent of respondents want jumps racing banned. People who care about horses don’t want to see them break their necks, suffer heart attacks, crash through fences and collapse to the ground. Jumps racing was supposed to be banned in Victoria in 2010, but the Government caved in to pressure from those who profit from exploiting horses. The Government of Victoria must put an end to the carnage without delay. Until these races are stopped, horses will continue to die’. [Ashley Fruno, PETA]

Ended up getting to bed quite early tonight, but it didn’t do me much good – a disrupted sleep, woken at 3am [by Susie just going to bed I think!!!] and then it was a couple of hours before I could dose off again – at 4am, I was sitting up in bed, drinking a cup of green tea, and watching an ABC replay of last weekend’s VFL football match between North Ballarat [a much weakened team in 2012 from the past few years] and a powerful Williamstown team –  didn’t wait for the finish, eventually got back to sleep, fort a short time anyway!

 

Wednesday, 18th April 2012 – talking about communications!\

After  this morning’s sport report, felt I needed some more sleep, and for a change, actually got some! Sleep patterns over the past few nights have not been very beneficial or successful, and at this time of day, early morning, I seem to feel it the most!

Into town around lunchtime, for a drink and a bit of shopping. Ran into Jack Harris and partner Orr, from Diggers Rest, and the radio station. Jack had sat in for me on Sunday morning early, while I was in Ballarat. He was returning to Thailand next week for his usual 6 months away from the Victorian winters, but this time, he was going alone. Orr [his Thai wife] had a job in Gisborne at a Thai Restaurant up there that she did not want to lose, so in preference to that happening, she had decided to forego returning to Thailand this year. Personally, I thought Jack should have remained here with her, but that was his decision – I think he was beginning to realise that despite being with Orr’s Thai family, he would find himself a little lonely, and was likely to return to Diggers Rest earlier than normal!! An interesting couple, and I was pleased that they regarded me as a friend. I told Jack to make sure that Orr had my number, in case she had any problems while Jack was away.

From the most recent edition of the University of Melbourne’s ‘Insights’ publication  [which arrived in the mail this week]-  ‘What are often labelled as ‘soft’ skills – people and communication skills for example – are at least as important as the hard-core technical skills. Indeed the further you progress the more important they become. As a young accountant I thought the answers to problems were most often to be found in accounting theory and standards. As I became a manager and then a partner I realised this was only half the battle – the real challenge was communicating to clients who didn’t want to know and needed to be convinced. In 2007 as a senior partner leading the 120 partners in our Audit Division,  I learnt that knowing the right destination was only part of the problem – taking people on the journey with you, so that you all reached the destination intact and at the same time was what took the real skill. So when you get opportunities to develop broader skills sets, make sure you take them’………………………[Peter Nash, Chairman of KPMG Australia from an Address at a Melbourne University Graduation Ceremony, 14 Dec 2011]

I placed the above little quotation on Face Book, and received a range of interesting responses, a couple of which I replied to, here’s a sample:

Christine – Wise man Bill, communications seems key in any field J Have you ever seen ‘The Big Bang Theory’ on TV? I think the humor about Sheldon is from his skills: all being only in one field J

Bill –  when I read this, it sounded so obvious, and personal experience has proved it so [though not to the level that the speaker has reached,.

Rosie: I’ve always believed these are important skills, but the point has been really driven home now that i work with people who can’t tell you with words and who’s attempts at communication are mistranslated as bad behaviour.

Bill – Good point Rosie, but I guess my quotation was directed at economic and business graduates about to go ‘out into the work force’ after finishing their studies. Obviously people in areas such as yourself, have your specific understanding and means of communication with those who can’t communicate adequately themselves, and in many ways, you have to be more admired on a personal level for the way you do that – I’m sure people like Peter Nash and all his theoretical knowledge could simply not cope in your environment.

Rosie –  On a client level you need to remember to keep it simple but not patronising but then on the paper work side everything must be done with 0 emotion or personal input and sometimes that’s really hard. I do think though new doctors and nurses need more bed side training, I’ve seen some district nurse come through work with zip all manners.

Bill – Like the old story, the brilliant scientist who can’t communicate with his/her fellow man/woman No good all practical skills, in the absence of the human side to one’s achievements!! I was talking to a friend the other day who had a medical procedure planned to be done by a renowned surgeon, but the expert’s ‘bedside manner’ was non-existant, and made his patients uncomfortable and more apprehensive than they need be. She has managed to change to a lesser known, though equally efficient surgeon who has an excellent human relations side to his skills. Of course most people don’t have the means to make such a choice as to whom they deal with!

Christine – communication is a funny thing – I don’t recall all the poster now but went something like…Was what you thought you heard the thought I thought I said or perhaps the thought you heard wasn’t the thought I thought I said – or something like that.  Somewhere between sending and receiving a verbal message so many other things come into play that can change the message sent! eg. Tonight at work a customer asked did we have a magazine rack?  2 of 3 of us who heard that request, thought the customer wished to see racks to hold magazines…somehow 1 understood as was meant: is there a rack someplace holding magazines for sale? As the customer wished to purchase a magazine. Language never ceases to amaze me!

Bill – Well said Christine, not much I can add to that, except to reiterate what was said right at the beginning – we want everyone to reach the same destination, at the same time – though I guess we should ensure there is room for everyone at that destination, lol!!!

Reading from today’s Weekly Times, there was quite a bit of mention of the new leader of the Green’s Party, after last week’s resignation as leader by Bob Brown, and the accession of Christine Milne to take his place. I’ve never been over keen on either of those two – often felt their ideas and the kind of policies they push were too extreme in many examples. Certainly Bob Brown has the personal charisma at times, although his pushing of the gay issue also annoyed me at times – a very personal agenda for himself as a confessed gay. As for his replacement, Christine Milne comes over as a tough, and intelligent advocate for her Party, although that doesn’t mean I particularly like her. But I see in the Weekly Times, that she is obviously trying to ‘build bridges’ with the rural sector – important as the Greens and organisations such as the National Farmers Federation have seldom seen eye to eye. So today, she was beginning a ‘rural tour’, her aim being to get the Greens and the rural sector and regional Australia working together. As she stated, the Greens had shared common issues with farmers, things like tighter controls on foreign investment [I’m all for that myself], better food labelling, and a tax on junk food advertising to pay for the promotion of Australian farm produce. Her aim was to put right past misunderstandings between the Greens and the bush. And in particular I imagine with reference to the investment question –  ‘if farmers are to produce food, we need to ensure they can stay on their farms’.  It wiull be interesting to see how this all pans out – of course, getting the support of the bush, helps the Greens to take more votes from the other parties, particularly the Nationals. In a major article in today’s rural newspaper, Christine Milne has headed her comments with ‘We are not bush bashers’ – not a green-eyed monster!!  Well that remains to be seen.

Meanwhile the Weekly Times editorial, in referring to the question of foreign investment, and specifically within the farm sector says ‘Foreign governments and companies should pay the same taxes and levies as Australian producers……..The issue illustrates Australia’s lack of planning and preparedness for a wave of foreign investments, which other countries have openly flagged. It’s like being told we’re going to have a scorching hot summer and installing a pool instead of preparing a fire plan and reducing the fuel load around the house.  China has talked of its multi-billion dollar raid on Australian farms worth less than the ridiculous $244 million threshold which triggers a ‘national interest’ test. The test itself remains a joke because no purchase has ever failed it. And the Qatar Government openly informs us it intends to buy Australian farmland for the purposes of feeding its people…………………………………….our laws around foreign investment and the taxation and levy treatment of foreign companies and governments are obsolete. We’re hurtling towards a brick wall at breakneck speed and have never bothered to check our breaking system’.  As I’ve noted in these pages before, the speed at which Australian companies, and farmlands are been sold to overseas interests, has always been a real concern to the extent that one has to wonder just how much of Australia will actually belong to Australia in four decades?

One area which is wholly Australian is Tobin Brothers Funerals  –  at the Family History Society meeting to night [which had a great attendance of listeners and members], a representative from the local branch of that organisation, which was established back in 1934, noted that it remained a completely Australian owned family organisation. Despite the nature of the subject matter, that was quite an interesting talk tonight, and a large portion of it was in the form of responses to questions posed by us, the audience. As the introduction to their little history book says –  ‘It could have been said that a man would need the luck of the Irish to launch a successful new business venture in the early 1930s.  But in the wake of the Great Depression, the Tobin brothers, from Irish stock, drew on their reserves of inventiveness and determination, and their willingness to try something new, and started a business that now operates from twenty-seven locations in three states, employing 160 staff and turning over $26 million a year’.  As well as taking away a copy of that ‘story’, I also gained a copy of a little booklet titled ‘Statement of Wishes’ which virtually allows the reader to list in some detail the kinds of issues and wishes they would like to have included when their funeral is eventually held  – the kind of things that a family will be asked in any case, prior to the funeral of a loved one. In the introduction, the ‘Statement of Wishes planning tool’ as the booklet is referred to, is aimed at giving the opportunity to capture the decisions and choices you wish to specify,  to enable the funeral director [Tobin Brothers in this case] to help you plan a funeral that truly reflects your life, or the life of your loved one.  I guess, as the years pass, this something I have thought about, and it provides a good opportunity to write down those thoughts, so that my family don’t have to be so bothered to chase up details.  I think I will take advantage of it.

For a change, I think I had a better sleep tonight, woke once, but drifted off again, a change from recent nights. Earlier in the evening, a pleasant exchange of texts plus a phone call with Heather, who was busy planning the little ‘holiday’ she is wanting to have down the coast prior to her planned knee operation in May. I hope to do a brief trip to join her for a few hours during that week, although in my ‘retirement’ state, free days seem to be difficult to find!! Hopefully ‘life’ and various activities will start to settle down – perhaps at the end of the football season [which has actually only just started!!].

 

Thursday, 19th April 2012 – weather change, and a Thursday night at home

Early morning visit to the gymnasium this morning – I am finding that this current program [the second level] is leaving this essayist rather exhausted by the end of the hour, and certainly ready to stop!! To be honest, I don’t always feel ready for the session as I prepare to go, but afterwards, despite the feeling of exhaustion, glad I’d made the effort!  Linda, the ‘trainer’ who was on duty this morning, is the best of the bunch, and is always ready to adjust my program or exercises, where I communicate that a particular exercise is causing me problems.  As she says, without that communication from me, she has no way of knowing that something I’m doing, is creating pains of the sort that the activity shouldn’t be leading to.

Home for a bit of computer work, before a quick trip into town for a couple of items for Susie who was coming down with a cold, then back home again, for an afternoon of reading and writing, while outside, the weather, while still warmish, became overcast with rain threatening.

Peter Mitchell, Treasurer of the Uniting Church Council called around this evening, laden with the Church accounts which I had agreed to audit, again. When I asked him when the annual meeting was due  – this Sunday, but thankfully, he didn’t expect me to have the audit finished before then!! I would see what could be done!

As a genealogist of some time, this was a little article I had to find interesting – not about human genealogy however, but of cattle. Scientists have come up with this theory. ‘Modern cattle are descended from a single herd of wild ox, that lived 10,500 years ago, according to a new study. Scientists from the National Museum of Natural History in France, the University of Mainz in Germany and the University College of London excavated the bones of domestic cattle on archaeological sites in Iran and compared them with modern cows, wired.co.uk reports. Using computer modelling, the scientists found the differences between the two populations could only have arisen if a relatively small number of animals – about 80 – had been domesticated from a now-extinct species of wild ox, known as aurochs, that roamed Europe and Asia’. Well, I guess I have to believe them in the absence of more detail – it’s amazing the kind of research that goes on in various parts of the scientific world!

Meanwhile, in the wonderful world of cricket, the Second Test Match between Australia and the West Indies is well into the game – in fact, early this morning our time, stumps was drawn on Day 4. In fact heavy rain brought the 4th day’s play to an early finish, with Australia not in a good position, though saved to some extent by a rescuing by Ricky Ponting, who was not out 32, in an Australian 2nd innings score of 3 for 73. The scores at that stage revealed the following.   Australia 331 and 3 for 73; West Indies: 257. The Australian lead overall has been extended to just 127 runs with 7 wickets in hand, and one day to play. It would have to be a very brave declaration by captain Michael Clarke and a similar batting collapse by the West Indies, for Australia to have any real hope of winning this game.  A drawn match seems the most likely outcome. I would love to have a TV coverage available to enable me to watch at least part of the final day’s play, which I think is on during our hours of around 12 midnight until 8am approximately. Guess I will have depend on an occasional radio score through the night!

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