Monthly Archives: October 2018

Olympic Woes

In 1960 the Olympic Games were held in Rome and as a nine year old, I was engrossed in the small black and white screen of our Healing television as I watched our athletes competing. Some even stood on the winners’ dais to be presented with medals. We were proud of them and of our great sporting nation. Every four years it was the same – Tokyo, Mexico City, Munich and on. Back then I had no real notion of where we were on the medals table, but I became very excited when Norman May screamed ‘Gold! Gold! Gold!’ It was a given that the USA and USSR would win the most gongs, but it seemed very special that, during those Cold War years, they were sharing the same sporting fields, despite their major differences. Then it changed. At one of the games one of the big two failed to put in an an appearance in protest at the other and we, following on the US’s coattails, as we always did, gave our athletes the choice. Then, another time, we hardly featured on the medals tally board. National disaster! There was so much angst that we weren’t great anymore the athletes were made to feel ashamed. Money had to be poured in to lift standards. Money meant medals right? That, to me, didn’t seem to be in the spirit of the Games. Then came the drugs. I had gradually lost interest in the event but the final nail in the coffin for me came when the AOC started setting targets for the number of medals that had to be attained before the team could be considered successful – inevitably heaping extra pressure on our young and often vulnerable representatives. That’s a heavy weight to carry – letting the country down.



As a teacher, therefore, every four years I largely avoided the seemingly almost compulsory module on the Olympics. If I was asked by my colleagues why not, I gave my reasons.

But now, common sense and dare I say it, a little of that spirit may be returning. I doubt that ever the sports(wo)manship will ever reach the levels of the recent Invictus Games in Sydney, but a newly made decision is a start. Read all about it in the accompanying Greg Baum article. Maybe some time in the future

I’ll return to the fold.


Greg Baum’s Article =

Cést la Vie It’s Juliet Naked

There’s no nudity to be had here – just letting you know.

A French offering at the State, ‘Cést la Vie’ has an impressive pedigree coming, as it does, from the makers of ‘The Intouchables’. Their new product isn’t, sadly, in the same league, but it’s still a feel good attraction, popular in its homeland and a worth a look-see from those of us enamoured of the film industry from the nation that has been a major innovator. Max, played by audience favourite Jean-Pierre Baci, is a wedding wrangler. When he takes charge of the nuptials, with his motley crew in a massive chateau, well then a disaster or two can be expected. His cause isn’t help by his off-sider (Suzanne Clément) also being his love interest. She’s none to happy that she cannot disentangle him from his missus. Then, as the wedding progresses, to add another element to the mix, the bride decides that one of said crew is a much better prospect than hubby to be. How will Max steer the ship through these very dangerous waters?


This movie does keep you entertained enough for you to remain in your seat as everything goes pear-shaped. We expect, though, that someone will eventually step up to the plate and save the day, but it is hard to imagine just who is capable of doing so from the wedding party or its servants. JeanPaul Rouve does an engaging turn as the exasperating official photographer and Benjamin Lavernhe stands out from the other supports revelling in his role the obnoxious groom. No wonder she preferred the other fellow. But the overall package is slight, doesn’t really gel and certainly will not linger.

Now, from across the Channel, ‘Juliet Naked’ has had a bit of a rough time with the critics but, for me, anything with Nick Hornby’s imprint on it is worth a gander. I enjoyed the novel and to my mind the film does do it justice. Rose Byrne is quite luminous as Annie, a woman frustrated beyond belief with her middle aged dick of a boyfriend, Duncan. Played by Chris O’Dowd (so brilliant in roles such as ‘The IT Crowd’, ‘The Sapphires’ and more recently, the superb ‘Get Shorty’ on Stan), here he’s obsessed with reclusive (in a Rodriguez sort of way) American warbler Tucker Crowe (Ethan Hawke). Through a series of unlikely events Annie is mysteriously sent a tape of his, in Duncan’s view, classic album ‘Juliet’- in unplugged format, thus the ‘Naked’ of the title. The fallout from this, and the singer’s resultant visit, virtually means their tenuous relationship is all but over.


With both the Easybeats and the Kinks in the soundtrack, there is much to like from this Jesse Peretz helmed UK effort. Perhaps it is a tad predictable, mining the stereotypes associated with small town England without shame. Byrne is definitely the star turn in all of that. With O’Dowd we have have seen it all before and he does become somewhat wearing, but Hawke is okay as the woebegone singer. The long line of progeny he has already produced would make him, you would think, a no go area, but Annie is unfazed. This offering lacks the spark to set it apart, but it was a comfortable’, cruisy way to spend part of a winter’s afternoon. I came away humming ‘Waterloo Sunset’. That’s no bad thing.

Trailer for ‘Cést la Vie’ =

Trailer for ‘Juliet Naked’=

A Sand Archive by Gregory Day

I’ve had a life-long love of sand – beach sand that is. For most of this life I’ve loved disporting myself on it, soaking up the sun half-naked till scare campaigns and age put an end to all that hedonism on my part. These days I perambulate along strands rather than being supine. My island is blessed by stunning beaches – and right now I am close to two of the best – Boat Harbour and Sisters. But there’s wilder sand too. Dune Sand. Coastal dune sand, at places such as Henty on the West Coast and Boobyalla up the North-east, is formed by wind into ever-moving nature-built monoliths. The latter was a favourite of my father as he explored, foraged and hunted around those parts, entranced by its wildness.


Now we have a novel about a fellow who himself spent a life time in studying such dunes. He concentrated on how to control their steady march to prevent valuable land and infrastructure being submerged. Now this may seem dry fare, to say the least, as the basis for an engaging read, but in the hands of Gregory Day it becomes enthralling. His talent as a wordsmith first came to my attention in his previous tome, ‘Archipelago of Souls’, set on another wild place, King Island. So I knew he could make this arid subject matter come alive. I was not let down. I loved it. It will no doubt be one of my reads for the year.

FB Herschell was a minor engineering functionary for the Victorian Country Roads Board of Works, operating out of Geelong in the 1960s. He was tasked to stablise the sand dunes on a section of the Great Ocean Road. To garner the best knowledge possible, as to how to go about this, he successfully applies to go to Paris to consult a leading expert on sand shifting, as well as to visit a major project in the south west of France. The year he embarks on his fact finding mission is significant – 1968. As fate would have it, in the City of Love, he meets and falls under the spell of Mathilde, a student revolutionary. She just happens to hail from Arcachon. It’s in the heart of the dune country he is about to visit, near the ginormous Grande Dune du Pyla, the most massive in Europe. Of course marram grass is the answer there, as he expects it to be back home. Its suitability in Australian conditions becomes a bone of contention later in the book.

But what happens to his love affair with his captivating, but conflicted, young lady? I’ll only say she is not the woman he spends his later years with back in Oz. In his dotage he realizes his life work has had only minimal impact on the planet for he had, ‘… sat, year after year, in the McKillop Street (Geelong) office, attempting to widen the parameters of sand. He well understood the public purpose of these activities, but there was a private universe in them as well. And in that private universe was a city of his imagination, where the tall elegant gates of the Jardin des Plantes slowly opened onto a humid darkness.’


Paris played large in his remaining days as FB composed a summation of his endeavours, ‘The Great Ocean Road: Dune Stabilisation and Other Engineering Difficulties’. But, in the between the lines of the parched sentences he wrote on the topic, in this rarely read small publication, are the clues that provide the basis for this sad, joyous, poetic and erudite rendering from another mind capable of ‘…bravura work’. It is lovely, just lovely.

The Sydney Morning Herald’s review of the novel =

Sydney Vignettes – Avoiding (or Not) Harry

Let me just make it clear from the get-go – I am not, never have been nor ever will be anything but a republican. Fervently anti-royalist me. I couldn’t care less about them. But during my time in Harbour City, they were difficult to avoid.

Day three of my stay would be the only one, according to the local forecasters, that would be suitable to travel from Coogee with my genial, accommodating host Chris, to view the wonders of Sculpture by the Sea, stretching from Bondi to Tamarama Beach. I was excited. I’d crossed that first iconic strand off my bucket list on my previous trip to stay with the ebullient Dutchman, but this occasion saw me time it to coincide with the artistic event. On a good day, with the blue Pacific behind the installations, it should be marvellous. We planned to be up and off early, but on overnight radio I heard the shattering news – a certain prince had also obviously spoken with the weather gods and was due to be pottering around Bondi on that very same morn. Imagine the crowds! Imagine the transport crush getting there! Sadly a planning reset was called for.


I’d read in the in-flight magazine, travelling over, that the State Library had some excellent new exhibitions available to the viewing public and it was decided to replace the Bondi experience with those. I was a tad down at the mouth that Bondi with Harry was a no go zone, but my demeanour improved once we reached our Macquarie Street destination. The two showings viewed were superbly interesting. Firstly there was the UNESCO Six with it’s first hand accounts of some seminal events in our nation’s history. The second, the one that really entranced me, was an intimate account, in snapshots, of a Sydney family, the Macphersons. entitled ‘Memories on Glass’. It featured images of everyday life, mainly from around the turn of last century. Just lovely, lovely evocative images of another time and place. The one that really caught my eye was of a young lass of the family on a crowded beach. She was looking up at the photographer, gifting him with a glorious smile, seemingly of recognition. Maybe there’s a story there, as there may also be with one of the recorders of our first settlement at Port Jackson I found in the first showcase. Imagine a first-fleeter born in Yankeeland, growing up to fight the British in the Revolutionary Wars who then finds himself on an enemy boat as a soldier bound for Botany Bay. Now that’s a tale! On my last morning in the Emerald City I was back at the Library to see what else it had behind its sandstone facade as I killed time waiting for the appointed hour to head off back to my home. ‘The Paintings from the Collection’, spread thickly around three rooms, was pure enchantment, especially the portrait section. It was so well organised and I found an extraordinarily poignant rendering of a colonial lady that entranced me. She had a connection with our island too – another source for a tale perhaps. Also, at this library, they were celebrating 100 years since the publication of Norman Lindsay’s ‘The Magic Pudding’. It was magic too seeing the artist’s original sketches. This august facility, like its Melbourne counterpart, will be a must on future trips.


All good things come to an end and after three nights it was time to leave Chris’ plush house-sit and move into my hotel accommodation in the city. I soon discovered Harry wasn’t finished with his disruptions yet. The Travelodge is opposite Hyde Park and he was due at some ceremony or other at the War Memorial. Policemen and women galore were in attendance, blocking off the street between me and my destination. There was a young mother standing on the path watching proceedings and I enquired how long it would be before the ranga prince’s arrival. ‘Not for another hour and a half’, was her response. Considering she had a babe in arms and a toddler by her side I thought to myself, ‘Goodluck with that.’ No way would I give that much time to such a frivolous event. No way in the wide world would I be sucked in by all the hype to do with Harry and Meagan. As it turned out, I found a way to my room on the seventh floor and was soon settling in, ready for more of what Sydney had to offer.


The first on my list of ‘to do in Sydney’ was a visit to the Art Gallery of NSW to see ‘Masters of Modern Art from the Hermitage’ and ‘John Russell, Australia’s French Impressionist’. I’ve always been fascinated with the latter – born and raised here, but spending much of his adulthood in Europe becoming good mates with Van Gogh and Rodin. His story is just as fascinating as his array of works on display. And to think his name and paintings were almost lost to history. Of course, I am well-versed in the life-history of Brett Whiteley, but didn’t realise there was another collection of artists living close by his home at Lavender Bay on the North Shore. As you could imagine, it was party central at the Whiteley’s back in the day and the artist paid a heavy price for that in the long run. The Museum of Sydney’s exhibition, another destination, reminding us of it all was quite outstanding.

And it wouldn’t be a trip away if I didn’t encounter random people who, through a brief connection with me, gave it all extra lustre. Two lovely ladies walked up to me as I was strolling back to my hotel one morning asking if I knew of a cafe offering good coffee. Indeed I did, so I guided them to the Joe Black Cafe (27 Commonwealth Street and the best scrambled eggs in town). On entering they invited me to join them. It turns out, would you believe, that they were both originally from Tassie’s Sheffield, Ilse still living there. Even more unlikely was the fact that Ilse knew Leigh’s daughter Ilsa and hubby Keith, even having worked with the latter. Then, at a bus stop I got to talking to a rotund chap who, on discovering that I was Hobartian, happened to mention that he once worked in an Elizabeth Street tea-house in my city. That started bells ringing. The only one I knew of, now no longer there, was the one operated by Brian Ritchie, of Violent Femmes fame, together with Japanese wife Varuni. These days he is Mona’s David Walsh’s chief side-kick. Seems this guy is best mates with the renowned identity. Sadly my bus arrived before I could find out more. Two degrees of separation and all that.

But the chance encounter that I relished most was arranged for me by Virgin Airlines, for they placed me next to the gorgeous Cass. We started chatting about our respective books and soon she was telling me how she and her Brazilian partner were embarking on a new life down the Peninsula at Nubeena. He is employed as a diver and she plans to start a mushroom farm. They were now a couple of months into their sea change away from the hustle and bustle of Sydney. Why, Cass had even discovered one of my favourite hangouts, the State Cinema. We had much to talk about, but all too soon the plane landed and that was that. I wished her the best of luck on her new adventure on parting. Look out for Three Capes Mushrooms.

Yep, despite Harry, I eventually made it to Bondi and the sculptures on the afternoon of our intended day. And it was a glorious day too. With the azure sea behind them, I’m hoping my images of the pieces of artistic endeavour come up a treat. I was proud of myself for walking the distance to Tamarama and return (then back to Coogee) with out too much puffing.


Since his passing last year I’ve had the desire to track down old mates who were once, in our pomp, closely associated with both Nev and myself. One such was Ike – Andrew Ikin, now a resident of the Northern Beaches. And it was wonderful seeing him again. He took me on a ferry ride to Kirribilli, to the Fish Markets and to some upscale retail outlets around Westfield that were mind-blowingly over the top. I hasten to add he’s not a regular there. But the best part was the yarn-spinning we engaged in. We quickly discovered we both had an ear for the quirky, the unusual and the obscure, particularly to do with history. And if all that wasn’t enough, we were joined for part of the day by Anthony with whom I re-connected earlier in the year. Together they gave me a great, great day. Thank you fellas.

And the smiles. Sydney-siders are terrific smilers. Memorable were the two ladies who helped me out with my Opal card at Service NSW and Transport NSW. Both were a beautiful advertisement as to how to go about friendly customer service. Then Chris and I were lucky to be served by just the sweetest waitress at the State Library’s in-house cafe, right next to the repository of books’ shop where I was tempted to part with a goodly number of dollars. This girl went beyond the call of duty – again another whose cheeriness I’ll remember.

And it was on our way to that venue, I am sad to report, that it happened. A motorcycle cop came roaring up to the intersection we were about to cross, pulling to a sudden stop plumb in the middle. He was quickly followed by several others who followed his example. I was perplexed and looked at Chris. ‘Prince Harry?’ he offered. Then I spotted a flash car speedily approaching – and here it is, dear reader, here it is that it gets very, very hard to continue. You see I started waving like a mad thing. A mad thing! I glanced at the rear seat of the limousine as it passed and there he was, or at least his balding, ginger noggin was. He didn’t spot me so I received nothing in return. He was probably too busy whispering sweet nothings to Meagan or nibbling on her ear. But me, me – oh dear. I was behaving like an excitable teenage girl on the way to a boy band concert, you know the ad. I know, I know. I’m totally ashamed. My republican credentials are wrecked forever.

Leather Soul: A Half-Back Flanker’s Rhythm and Blues by Bob Murphy

In this year’s Herald Sun popularity poll for most popular AFL player, Adelaide’s indigenous, buzzing goal-sneak, Eddie Betts, was the clear and expected winner. He is a ‘character’ in what some (not me) claim is becoming a characterless robotic game. It’s hard not being drawn to Eddie’s big smile, the passion with which he plays and his delight in scoring a major. But, for several years on the trot, the Sun’s accolade went to a Western Bulldog’s player. Just as the Doggies were most people’s second favourite team, so Bob Murphy was the player all and sundry admired – me included. He was always second on my list behind Luke Hodge, just above Cyril.

He was rated highly for his loyalty to his guernsey for a team that had a long history of occasionally challenging for, but never making, the big dance – that is, until the fairy tale that was 2016. Mostly, though, they were cellar dwellers. Their previous premiership was way back in the fifties. They were the team from the oft struggle towns that formed the western suburbs. And arguably the heart and soul of the ‘Sons of the West’ was Captain Bob. But he has another string to his bow that earns equal kudos from me. He can write.
Mentored by Martin Flanagan and other doyens at the Age, he developed his own voice and style. Fingers crossed, he looks set to take on Flanagan’s mantle. So, unlike most from the world of footy,

bobRobert Daniel Murphy would need no ghost writer for the saga of his career. He has hung up his boots, involved himself in the media, is more often than not sporting a flannie and now has ‘Leather Soul – a Half-back Flanker’s Rhythm and Blues’ on his CV. He has written with great aplomb to produce a page-turner. There’s candour, tales to tickle the funny bone and poignancy. What we sense from it all is Bob’s love of team, history, family, humanity and Aussie Rules. I urge all footy-lovers to purchase a copy, kick back and enjoy, as I did.Reading ‘Leather Soul’ I found that I had a couple of very tenuous connections to the great Bulldog, nonetheless of which is the fact that a few weeks ago my Hawks-loving daughter actually got to meet him at a book signing. But there were also other cases of the two degrees of separation thing. Back in the eighties I was teaching in the north-western Tasmanian town of Wynyard. I was reasonably able in the classroom and had a handle on most aspects of the art of teaching. But, over the years, there was one skill I never mastered – the ability to tell identical twins apart. My colleagues always managed to do it, carefully explaining their subtle differences, but it was beyond me. So when the Atkins twins came along during those years I was all at sea – and they knew it. They milked my hopelessness for all they were worth too. Their talent lay more outside of the classroom though – revolving around the leather ball. Both, the experts predicted, would make the big league and soon after leaving school both Paul and Simon headed to VFL central – Melbourne. In the end only one climbed the mountain to the top.


Simon Atkins appears on page 47 of the book, but by the time he met the scrawny young lad turning out for Werribee, his own playing days at the pinnacle were over. The team was coached by Alistair Clarkson and Simon’s job was to make sure the young buck made it to training on time. My ex-pupil later became a runner for Footscray after contributing 127 games to their cause. He has a spot in the folklore of another team as well. He kicked the last goal for the Fitzroy Football Club. These days he manages a firm supplying cranes to construction sites.

The other link comes much later on in the memoir when the author relates a tale, in turn told to him by another ex-Taswegian in Butch Gale. It starred legendary bush coach, Frog Newman, who once used a dead (or alive depending on who’s telling) possum in an address to lacklustre players to spur them on to use more guts. Need I say more? Anyway, for a long time I taught in a school in a little village in the hills behind Wynyard and had the pleasure of instructing Frog’s two offspring in my classes – and lovely kids they were too.

Simon Atkins’ nickname, in his football days, was Axe and a highlight of this publication is Murphy’s list of the best monikers given out to often unwilling recipients during his time in the game. You’ll have to make a transaction of money to find out why certain identities were labeled ‘Lacka’, ‘Harvey Norman’ ‘The Mailman’, ‘The Lantern’ and best of all, ‘Clock’.


Bob’s adoration of his last coach Luke Beveridge resonates throughout the volume. LB is a bit of an eccentric in his own right, but certainly no Frog Newman. And the wordsmith also dishes out quite a deal of love to his teammates, particularly Matty Boyd and Ben (the Beard) Hudson. He fails to mention another noted eccentric, Brian Lake – perhaps because of his defection to my team – and is scathing with his assessment of Jason Akermanis. The latter seemed to have managed, during his time with the team, to get everyone completely offside.


Like Murphy himself as a footballing wizard, this is a lithe and immensely likeable read. The hero was known for his ‘…astounding performances on and off the field’ according to Beveridge. To my mind, in his action, Bob was a ‘glider’. He always seems to have eons of time on his side, despite the commotion going on around him, to glide away from packs, scanning upfield for options, hitting leading forwards with pinpoint accuracy.
And I glided through this product in print in a couple of sittings and I relished doing so. The writer now has his own show on Fox but it is my hope that the future will lead him to concentrate on his writing for, as Martin Flanagan tells us, ‘…there is only one Bob Murphy’.

Book details here =

Red et al

I’m seeing red for Red. And even if I’m not Melburnian, I am offended for them. Offended for all those who loved Red – for now they’ve been accused of something else entirely. Something more sinister. And it’s come at the very time when, out of decency, she should have left it well alone. Instead she reopens the Pandora’s Box. Her timing was appalling. Let’s just hope, perish the thought, it wasn’t deliberate on her part.

You know, I’m old enough to remember the days of yore pre-television. Days when the radio was one’s only instant link to the outside world. Our family’s dial was either adjusted to the local station, 7BU, or the ABCs 7NT out of Launceston. It was the great era of the radio serial – ‘Blue Hills’ and ‘Life with Dexter’. Us kids’ favourite was, of course, ‘Dad and Dave’. Nationally Jack Davey ruled the airwaves, but it was the local voices that were mainly heard. There was, for the farmer, the daily country hour and on Saturday arvos we were tuned in to see how Cooee, my Father’s team, was faring at West Park. Yes, local footy was beamed into our homes to those who couldn’t make it to the game. Ratings went through the roof when an intra- or inter-state game was broadcast. Another must were the test matches, especially Alan McGilvray calling in the Ashes through the night from Mother England.

Then, in my early teenage years, I discovered that we could also pick up radio stations from across Bass Strait. It was how the big city across the briny first impacted on my synapses. I soon became a follower of 3UZ – it played the latest music and the patter from its announcers was far more professional than that of the local identities. They now sounded, to me, like country bumpkins. I still recall some of their names on UZ – Ken Sparkes, Alan Lappin, Don Lunn and John Vertigan. They were slick and they were metro as opposed to hicksville.

But it was Stan the Man who stood out for me. When he came on the world slowed down as I listened intently. This guy had something possessed by none of the others – gravitas.


Stan Rofe (1933-2003) loved his music. He just didn’t present it – he lived it and the listener knew it. He had his finger on the pulse of the Melbourne scene, being as he was also a correspondent for the rock Bible of the time, Go-Set magazine. And there was also a Tassie link, although I didn’t know it at the time. He had his start at Devonport’s 7AD. After he had mastered the craft here he moved to the big smoke – first to 3AK before doing a stint at UZ’s major competitor for the youth audience, 3XY. By the time I was fixated on pop-music he operated out of my preferred station. His deep, considered voice was so unique and he played the very latest, not only from the local talent, but tunes from the US and UK that couldn’t be heard anywhere else. He learnt from the approach of Sydney-sider John Laws. He first had the notion to commission Qantas staff to bring over the latest singles from London and LA. Rofe was the first to give JO’K airtime, recommending to the rocker that he record a cover of the Islay Brothers ‘Shout’. He introduced Ronnie Burns, Russell Morris and Normie Rowe to an audience crying out for local replicas of the overseas stars. But perhaps his greatest contribution to rock infamy was to give fellow Go-Set reporter Ian Meldrum the moniker ‘Molly’. I just loved him, avidly staying awake for his late night time slot and tuning in for his earlier Sunday night show when he concentrated on the rock legends.

Later on, when, as a young teacher, life became more serious, I discovered 3LO (774 ABC Melbourne) and it became my new station of choice. I became, along with hundreds of thousands of others, addicted to its breakfast announcer, Peter Evans. I’d just about swear he was the man Red Symons modelled himself on, radio wise. At the time, back in the day, he was unique, ruling that time slot from 1965 until his untimely death in 1985. He was a grump and very curmudgeonly. And he slowed life down. He was akin to a cup of chamomile tea rather than kickstarter coffee. He took his time about stuff. There was no rush so if there were seconds of complete silence while he gathered his thoughts – well, no problems. After all, silence is golden. It was par for the course that he would stuff something up each and every morning and he took it in his stride. The listener saw it as part of the joy of the man. For Evans the daily news gave him much to grumble about, or if a promo or last night’s tele didn’t take his fancy, we’d know all about it. After his passing there was sadly nothing like him on the wireless until the advent of Red.


As with Evans, Red’s audience was rusted on. I relished catching him on my trips to Melbourne or to the north of the island. And then an accident set him back. He’d only just recovered when the ABC, in their infinite wisdom, decided not to renew his contract. After all, there’s no future continuing to appeal to us oldies as this announcer did. A younger demographic was Auntie’s target and evidently the younger generation loves bland commercial types. So, not one but two young things were called in to take Red’s place on breakfast. Firstly there had to be a female and secondly someone of ethnic background. All bases covered, right? Wrong. The ratings plummeted as the Red-lovers voted by switching off. Sami Shah and Jacinta Parsons floundered in the spot.

For his fans, most of them over 60, Red was irreplaceable. Months on from his dismissal the letters to the editor regarding their outrage keep on coming – these people being not so handy with social media. But just when the furore was starting to die down and the pair was starting to make some headway with their morning show, in weighs Wendy Tuohy.

Did she time it for maximum impact, coming hot on the heels of Red’s son Samuel’s death? She upped the ante by claiming that part of the problem for the new presenters was Melbourne’s underlying racism, Sami being a coloured fellow possessing an accent. You can read the attached article for yourself and make your own judgement.


Perhaps Shah and Parsons have not been afforded the ‘Aussie fair go’, but upping the stakes by claiming this is racially based! Well, balls to that!

It was resentment – it’s just that simple. Once again the ABC had forsaken what works to compete with commercial sector, just as it tries to in the tele arena, forgetting all about their charter. And it does so where it hurts its major audience by taking away what they adore. Trying to appeal to the multi-platformed younger brigade remains an obsession that continues to hurt the brand. Future proof by all means, but don’t forget where your bread and butter is found. And now we have lost another true original. As one listener recently rote in to the Age, ‘Gender and skin colour have no bearing on quality and talent.’ Shame on you Wendy Tuohy. Shame on you ABC.


Wendy Tuohy’s column =

Michael Lallo on the subject =

Teacher: One woman’s struggle to keep the heart in teaching by Gabbie Stroud

It’s simple. For thirty-five plus years I loved teaching. I loved teaching kids.

And then ’…, under the guise of equity and excellence standardised NAPLAN testing and the My School website infiltrated classrooms around Australia. Infiltrated the profession I loved. Infiltrated the classroom my baby would one day attend.’ So wrote Gabby Stroud. In my case, though, it’s my beloved granddaughters. I live in hope it will soon be consigned to the dustbin, along with the many other previously misguided notions inflicted on our nation’s kids by the ‘experts’ and the dullards in the higher, rarefied echelons of Education Departments all over Australia. I live in hope of that happening before its damage gets to be inflicted on those precious, unique and tender minds so close to my heart.


Now I could spend the rest of this review railing against other travesties such as National Curriculums, IWBs, A-E assessments, rubrics that came on-stream in the later years of my career, alongside my by now obvious abhorrence of NAPLAN. Instead, I’ll urge every interested parent and practitioner I can influence to simply read Ms Stroud’s ‘Teacher’. With a slow death NAPLAN killed off her career as far as a classroom teaching was concerned. Fortunately she has found success in other fields and has delivered this tome as a wake-up call. I suspect it will strike a chord with many front line educators in schools across our wide brown land. It’s well reported the frustration that exists with a system it has encouraged that focuses on student failure as opposed to strengths, on conformity rather than difference and which, in its wake, is destructive to the art of teaching.
After I finished the final page I reported to my beloved that I could write a book on Gabbie Stroud’s tale of her short-lived stint as a drillmaster when all she wanted to be was a teacher. My lovely lady’s response was ‘Why don’t you?’ Well, it would make me too angry to start with. And, besides, those who need to read her plea for common sense, those who put and keep NAPLAN in place, have not listened to date. We know those who impose their politically motivated, self-serving notions on the wonderful kids of our country will be deaf to any plea. That would take something they lack, something most out front of a classroom have in spades – empathy. As much as I look back with fondness I am far happier and less stressed as a retired person.

There are differences between the author and myself. An ocean cruise made me see the light. Apart from in my first year I never struggled as a teacher, but I largely operated in more benign times. I was, I realized on that Pacific sojourn, mentally on my way out and as the full negative impact of NAPLAN hadn’t really affected me, it was only a minor consideration in my decision. I really struggled after that cruise. I only lasted one more term. I didn’t want to be in the classroom anymore. It was time. I was done.

NAPLAN didn’t kill me off. There are other contrasts as well. I had no tickets on myself that I was inspirational in front of a cohort of students, but I was competent, in control and had a good knowledge base. I ran, generally speaking, a tight and comfortable ship. I lasted far longer than she did, although that’s in no way her fault – just luck and timing. Hers was an excruciating burn-out to resignation, the impositions from on high grinding her down. I did not have the significantly profound relationships with my students she claims she had, but the student/teacher relationship was at the core of my practice. Nothing, I would think, could be more central than that – but then, my confrontation with NAPLAN was not up close and personal. Like the best in her field Gabrielle Stroud possessed a soft soul encased by a brittle shell. And, as she states, to be a teacher who truly engages you need to possess a little crazy too. The best I worked with had that – or at least they put on a convincing act. They had the ability to keep the troops guessing, to produce the unexpected. The art of it should never be undersold as novices quickly discover. You either have it or you don’t. ‘Teacher’ is infused with the type of humanity so lacking in those pulling the strings in Canberra and to a lesser degree on this island. It makes me sad that it seems their view is that a teacher’s main role is to test and produce data on what they already are fully aware of. With NAPLAN in operation young esteem and self worth is crushed for many, with parent and teacher left to pick up the pieces. The role of a teacher as a nurturer is fundamentally impeded.

On a recent trip back to Burnie I had the need to visit a real estate office. At reception I vaguely recognised the beautiful face looking back at me as I requested time with the agent. She took me to his office and said to her boss, ‘I expect you to really look after this gentleman. He taught me. He was one of the good ones.’ Bugger profound relationships. ‘Good’ will do me just fine. If my career is defined by that, I’m chuffed.


Ms Stroud writes with heart about some of the students, colleagues, places and schools she worked with and in. Please read this book.

Ms Stroud’s website =