Monday 31 December 2012


some poems to remind you
of the bush fire season
they were written for the daylesford bush fire memorial
two of the poems were chosen
the memorial was recently installed at the skate park

A black charcoal drawing
carelessly scribbled
into the landscape
with a burning match.
The brutal beauty
of the wild flames,
like a weaving,
meanders through trees.

Leaving behind a trail
of black landscapes.
Exquisite beauty
Fire drawings in the sky,
colouring in the density
of towers of smoky clouds.

Billowing like sails
of ancient viking ships,
having razed the land,
Leave their charcoal signature
in the landscape
Controlled fire,
a friend.
Uncontrolled fire,
worse than an enemy.
destroys without a thought
whole ways of life.
Never ever to be renewed
Masterpiece in red.

Concerto of flames.
Opus of rolling fire.
Symphony of blistering screams.
Disharmony of sounds.
sonata of silence….
A careless match,
roadside summer dry.
A run of fire,
turns wild.
Chaos, madness, panic,
terror, fear, horror
the stillness of a charcoal night black.

View without the emotion,
The burned foot print
of the fire
is beautiful.
Like a black and white
photographic print
of the last century
A thrown match,
like an artist's brush,
paints a mural across the sky.
An image of intense red,
of devastation,
build in hope.
The sun's eye
with tears of sadness,
at the destructive burning below.
everything conspired,
to review by fire,
the sum of
all of men's efforts.

The yellow heart of the fire
licks at the orange edge,
turning into red
the print against the sky
by a new expressionist.
Title: Destruction 
"During the Second World War, Winston Churchill’s finance minister said Britain should cut arts funding to support the war effort. Churchill’s response: “Then what are we fighting for?”"

Saturday 29 December 2012


summer in the new cool burned forest
ash grey burned ground
stark pillars of black
penetrating a bright blue sky
the forest is darkly quiet
accepted in its dawn/dusk light
the gift of white snow flakes

'Cosmic energy orchestrates the body'

Thursday 20 December 2012


Instead of the usual image 
on top of the blog
this time use your imagination

Dear Readers, this is my last blog this year, it seems a good time to write you with a thought of Christmas in mind. That celebration when we wish each other peace and goodwill. That celebration where we indulge in the love of our family and friends and generally eat and drink a little too much.

Peace on Earth

Maybe a good place to start is where this all began for me. Remembering strongly the place and time when I was a child in Holland. Usually there would be snow, frost, cold, short days and much warmth inside. There would be special things to eat, Christmas decorations and soft snow on the windowsill. There may have been a snowman in the miniscule garden but there was definitely a warming fire in the hearth. The Christmas tree would arrive, bringing with it the perfume of nature and the forest. A fresh wood smell mingled with the smell of sweet spicy Christmas cooking. Then, on Christmas eve, the very old and beautifully painted statues of the Christmas story would appear. A highlight. Carefully, they would be taken, one by one, out of an old cardboard box and out of their soft paper wrappings. Some animals, I recall an gentle bovine and a scattering of soft sheep, there would be a baby Jesus, a Mary and Joseph, a few shepherds and the magnificent three kings. All would appear from the their year in storage. As new. The whole scene would be set around an old wooden stable made, by my dad, from bits and pieces. Lastly, and to give the whole scene an ambiance of a stable, there would be a few handfuls of fragrant straw, another special effect for a city kid.

The whole scene used to be placed on a side board (I recall this specifically because it allowed me, when I was small and this event was at its most potent, to view the scene from eye level. As a result it appeared most realistic, as if I was part of it). The tall white candles would be lit and with that action the magic of Christmas arrived. I could stand for hours looking and dreaming at this most wonderful and intimate scene.

Christmas eve would be very special, not because of presents because we did not exchange presents and gifts during Christmas. This was a family event with the emphasis of sharing the family experience rather than things. (How I still long for the feeling of that time, gift and hassle free). This was also the time for the story of the nativity scene to be told and the questions, as to why a child had to be born in a stable, which was beyond my imagination, to be answered. Here in the warmth of a my family’s Christmas home I always found it hard to understand that when a man and his pregnant wife, riding a donkey, trying to find a place of comfort they had to be banished to a stable. Although on the sideboard of our house this all looked good, the real story, and the way it was told with colour and imagination by my dad, changed all that. I used to be puzzled and horrified. I still am.

I still am because now I once more have to relive this Christmas story in my own home. Only now the nativity story of old has become all to real. The people seeking a place of comfort this time aren’t named Mary and Joseph, and their child about to be born isn’t called Jesus, but those people seeking a place of comfort are still people and in many ways exactly the same as those seeking a place of comfort some two thousand years ago. They are people in need who come to our door and knock on it in hope… Although the story is similar, there are a few differences. The donkey is replaced by a old donkey-like boat, the stable is now a place of detention. The straw, of some comfort, is replaced by razor wire and the candles lighting that scene centuries ago are now white searchlights. The animals of the nativity scene, which gave at least a sense of warmth and comfort such as the donkey, oxen and sheep, have been replaced by growling guard dogs. There are still the good shepherds and even an expression of the three kings in the form of the many concerned citizens and refugee advocates. However, they are not allowed to enter the stable to bring their simple offerings. Nor some human warmth.

After the event in Bethlehem we were going to make sure this would not ever happen again. We even called our commitment after Jesus Christ, that is ‘Christian’ so we would be sure to behave as Christ, or Christians. We even build many churches to make sure we would be reminded of our Christian behaviour each and every Sunday. Good Christians. Today’s innkeepers the politicians of both sides Heartofstone apparently are also Christians and go to church to prove it. By making this comparison I think I am being unfair to the original inn-keeper. What I remember from the story was that he did not have room, while our contemporary innkeepers have more than plenty.

One of the strongest images from the original nativity scene on the sideboard, lit by candles and perfumed by real straw was the peacefulness of the swaddled baby Jesus. Still now, many years later, when I look at a newborn baby that feeling of an all pervading peace and sense of wonder overwhelms me. It maybe the total innocence of that new life, it maybe the promise of the future, it maybe the total helplessness of the being. Whatever it is, it is very special. Looking at newborn babies, and not only the baby Jesus, seems to bring out the best in people. Most people.

Just as it was inconceivable for me to understand, as a child, how a baby could possibly be banished to a stable to be born, it is now totally inconceivable for me to understand, even as an adult, how my government, and we as a nation, could banish children of all ages to a detention stable. Not for a night but for years on end. Some of them have been there all their lives. For some it is their fifth Christmas. Why I wonder. How, in 2012, can we as fellow human beings possibly allow this to happen. Christians? What sort of Christians are they?

Look at the children around you now, look at those children again at Christmas and wonder, as I do, at the terribleness of this situation and the absolute heartlessness of the politicians responsible.     

I have long since given up on being a Christian and on Christian politicians. I have had a bit of trouble with the examples I am continuously being supplied with. I even feel that Christmas is now without real meaning and just a commercial fake. However, all the same, I would like to wish you all a lovely and safe holiday season, whatever your believes. Till next year when I hope the sun may shine for all children.

Tuesday 4 December 2012


here in a nutshell was the history of the famous rolls royce car
rolling in front our amazed eyes up the street in daylesford

many ohhss and ahhsss.....
and well deserved
many unlived private memories
of elegance
of beautiful design
of walnut interiors
of expensive cigar smoke
of a whiskey in the back seat
of immaculately dressed people
of more
and more

i loved everyone of them

'what is now proved, was only once imagined'



The annual highland gathering in daylesford

On the first saturday in december,
stout men dress up in skirts,
stick a knife in their sock,
hang a sporin from their belt and,
blowing their pipes
banging their drums
march, in strict unison, up Vincent street

the emotionally laden music, 
which tears at your heart strings
which calls up unlived memories
which transports you into otherness
is a daylesford institution at this time of year

locals and visitors line the street and are momentarily
transformed into another place
they meet old friends and talk together
and just for a moment there is a village atmosphere

and then as a bonus for this year....... an unexpected surprise.
but for that you need to go to the next blog

' Reality is for people who can't handle drugs'

Wednesday 28 November 2012


The Art of Confronting the Beasty

Last Sunday morning, a soft gentle sunny day, so typical of this time of year around here, I was confronted by a snake.

"Was it a big one"? You may ask. Every snake who surprises you is big. This one was.

Stepping outside my studio for a breath of fresh air, there it was, basking its magical geometry in the mid-morning sun only just outside my door.

First reaction. "Kill". I didn't though.

Why, I wondered, is our first reaction always to kill this magnificent beast. This symbol of the  creative spirit. This unfairly cast character in Adam and Eve's  play. This most exquisitely  patterned primordial piece of living rope. This silent slitherer.

Is this reaction built into our genes, is it the aggressive side of my male nature or is it fear. Blind fear. As in not being able to see. Not being able to understand.

The Adam and Eve sneaky seducer comes to mind, but only as a childhood story. However, as that, it may even be stronger than fiction.

I am not by nature aggressive and there was nothing to defend. I wasn't afraid of it in any way. A  little weary maybe, but not afraid.
In my case 'Fear' would have to apply to the meeting with the snake. Fear in relation to failing to understand. I don't know the particular ways of this marvellous mover. All I know about snakes are the indoctrinated and scary stories, whether they are from the biblical times of my childhood and therefore very strong, or more recent from anyone else, real or made up.

That is another consideration. Most stories based on fear are not only exaggerated, but also largely  made up. In relation to snake stories, that would have to be the case.

I slowly stepped back inside my studio to consider all this and, after considering, decided to try  and understand. To try and learn about the snake. After all, it is only early spring and I had a long snake time to come yet.

I have stated that 'Learning is the best healer' in my blog before.

First I re-looked at my 'snake history'. I started my life in Australia at Bonegilla, where the  authorities scared us with horror stories about snakes and spiders. Following this my first job was on a farm in N.S.W. It was hot and there were many snakes. I was taught how to  kill them. Effectively. Next I moved to the city of churches, Adelaide. The only snakes I had to watch
out for there were of an entirely different kind. After a short stint in the city, for my education, I  returned to the country, the Flinder's Ranges in fact. There on the very day I moved into an old farm house I found a snake moving in at the same address. I didn't ask its name, nor did I introduce  myself. I killed it. Afterwards I wondered why that made me feel awful.

Many years  have past and a lot has happened. I have learned a great deal and one aspect of this learning has been 'tolerance'. Since moving into the forest, locally, I have hardly ever seen any snakes. Yet there are plenty around. Maybe I don't give them any attention.

What I have been giving  attention is the idea of Man/Animal relations in a place such as this forest.   There is an animal, it doesn't suit me, BANG. Kill it. It begs the question. Doesn't  any animal has as much right to live on this patch as we have. Probably more so. It has been here much, much longer.

What is it with this white man attitude? I know, the problem with most animals is that they don't understand that they need to claim their bit of real estate by going to the Council and obtain their claim with a proper document, like us, superior beings. Then they would be able to do what they liked. Shoot things, poison stuff,  take wood, the whole catas-trophy. Trophy?

After these thoughts ran through my head I still had to deal with the snake. My 'concept' of snake,  which is different to a real one. I took off my glasses labelled 'Fear' and sat down near the snake. I  talked to it. I explained that we could live together but that there were certain rules. Easy. I sat and talked to it quietly for a long time. I was able to get quite close. There was no reason for it  to attack me nor for me to  kill it. In reality there hardly ever is. I have shown it the respect it deserves and now we will work on sharing this space, on living together.

"Silly Bugger" a neighbour said. 'Blind fear' I answered.

Snake Charmer

Tuesday 20 November 2012


i have been spring gardening over the last while
filling my veggie patch with colour, 
creating an annual edible artwork.
this was followed by a dream.....

While walking in Vincent Street recently....., 

which reminds me. my dream was set in Vincent Street. 
Someone, overnight and with great care, 
had removed the bitumen and rubble 
from exactly one car parking spot 
and replaced it with a vegetable and flower plot. 
A spot of bright fresh greens and many strong flower colours. 
A life mini painting as it were, sitting in the middle of Daylesford. 
So much colour in such a drab monotone area. 
People were amusedandannoyed,  delightedandangry, excitedandupset. 

However, in the main most seem to love it. 
A little investigation discovered that this act of random beauty 
was perpetrated against the community by a  local family. 
They had lost their garden and, 
since they had been paying rates in the shire all their  lives 
and did not own a car they figured they also had a right to a parking spot. 

Not being able to interpret dreams I am open to suggestions.

'reality is the invention of unimaginative people' 

Monday 5 November 2012


running and getting nowhere

below a letter I wrote to the local paper 
as a member of the committee 
for the re-vitalisation of Vincent street

Dear Editor

in last week's paper, one of the wannabe councillors mentioned the need 
for 'a greater recognition for the key stake holders' 
in the streetscape debate. 
Who, I wonder, are these key stake holders? 
Are they the same people, mentioned on the front page who, 
when councillor Barrell who did not agree with their point of view, 
asked him to leave a meeting.
 Are they the same people, running what is fast becoming 
a somewhat scary authoritarian outfit, who label fellow citizens 'the enemy'. 
Where is the community spirit and respect in that?
These 'key stake holders', which I assume are the members of the association, 
seems to conveniently have forgotten that 
the street is a 'PUBLIC DOMAIN'. 
This, in my vocabulary, means that the street belongs to the public. 
Belongs to all and sundry, 
which makes the same public the key stakeholders as far as I can see. 
We are all key stake holders.
It seems to me that the traders' part of any street ownership 
finishes at the front door of their shops. 
The fact that they are the beneficiaries of this 'public domain' 
doesn't mean that they can claim ownership of it 
and then labelling people who have some new and refreshing ideas
 for what is also their street, 
the enemy.

and for those who continuously undermine the process of change: 
                                'Reality is the invention of unimaginative people' 


Monday 22 October 2012


If you are excited by the idea of losing money on fees while banking there are other means of getting rid of cash. The easy way. Grab your savings and follow me…

1 + 1 is nothing

From the moment you enter the Crow Casino, that curious cash register on the Yarra, that dimlit, dimwit, Hall of Hope, the emphasis seems to be on expressions of getting lost in opulence. This is to be my first ever visit deeper then a frontal look. I am about to enter the guts of the beastie. The place of money machinations. The glimmering dark where folk like to think they get rich. And unseen folk do...

The enticing entrance hall, three long black gleaming limos casually parked out front, is all glass, polished black granite, diffused lighting, Chandeliers, reflections, reflections of reflections, soothing yet energetic sounds of running water, lines of lights emphasising forms and blurring reality and sheets of light emphasising the expense of the architecture. To the ordinary punter all this is very impressive, to the throng it is the start to an Alice in Wonderland type of getting lost experience, down the black hole, down the black hole… goes the cash...

In the second hall, a little deeper into the dragon, we come upon the main portal of income doom. The sound of water, to silence the warnings of the immanent purse attack, increases. This space is darker, larger, is all reflections.

Off to the side of this Hallowed Hall of Loss, the godlike brand names of the retard retail industry strut their stuff. Here, anything from a humble pair of undies to the black shiny business case, aided by clever glass case presentations and state of the art lighting, is elevated to the level of High Art. That and the increased overlay of mirrors are there to remind us how ordinary we really look, and are. Better go and get some of that easy winning cash...

I move further into the monster and soon arrive at its heartless centre, the place where, in the main, my age group play havoc with their savings and food budgets. Having been fooled all their lives to toil for little they are now fooled, once again, out of the little they have left. This central space is huge and buzzes with a weird ambience. In its generosity this tribute to Jeff Kennett’s creative spirit has designed plenty of space for the income challenged. More then plenty of space. Here everything is based on the magic concept of ‘More’. Here also the concept of ‘Mirage’ replaces the expected concept of ‘oasis’. Now you see it, now you don’t. Now you have it, now you won’t…

In all this noise and coloured confusion the absolute calm and immaculate appearance of the croupiers mesmerises. Their hand movements beautiful and ballet like. Cards and coins tumble and slide with great precision. A almost Zen like feeling, next to which the mindless banging away on the slot machines is decidedly ugly...

I wander about in wonder. Where am I?  It is both fascinating and depressing, this central gaming room for everyone where it is neither day nor night, but where I experience the twilight zone of questionable comfort. Where am I? While hundreds are having fun loosing money I already experience despair. Here where many lights flash, where the sounds of water has now been replaced by that of cascading coins, where every surface is reflective, where a confusing soundtrack penetrates everything, a feeling of not knowing exactly where you are is cleverly created. Where am I? Anywhere, but definitely not in my own reality...

A black ceiling filled with starlike lights creates a heavy type heaven set amongst the sounds of hell. In all we, the public, are in a totally confusing and overbearing mind-numbing place which gets under your skin, into your bloodstream, takes over your nervous system so that, not long after arrival every possibility of rational thought has been banished by the keep-sane delete button.  An ambience of both stressed relaxation and hurried calm reaches into every corner of this cosmic cash space…

Well beyond the sounds of win and loss a hardly noticeable, but insistent, frantic modern jazz track adds to the feeling of general mental disorder, entices us along the seams of our purse into it, melts the credit cards, becomes careless with our coins and turns our notes into nothing. Trying to block out this maddening all-around sound, the small voice of reason has no chance in (this) hell…

Walking about this losers paradise I do not notice shame or any other expressions of emotion, such as frustration, anger, despair, annoyance, but a more an atmosphere of passive acceptance. After living life you die, after living gambling you loose, same damn thing, no? The addicted are all in the same boat, not up, but down that proverbial stinking creek, are all among family, though little familiar interaction or conversation takes place. The only exchange which seems to take place is solitary, the exchange of cash for the dubious fun of losing…

In this inner sanctum of madness there are of course the occasional winners, the coins rattle loudly into their metal containers for all to hear, there to be swept up and deposited right back in the false hope of more, more, more. The deadly chant of the gambler. But here more turns out to be definitely less, unless you mean the real winners, which are there, hidden behind the dark reflective glass of this feast of feral fun and parlour games…

However, there are positives, the food is cheap, there is totally comfortable seating everywhere, stewardess-like game flight attendants serve complimentary drinks to the reality disabled and, just like the size of the winnings, the drinks are miniscule. Quick refreshment, get on with the real stuff of the game, the two cent game…

Most of the machines attended are those of one and two cent games, there are others, but these seem to be the most popular. Just imagine, five games for only ten cents, FIFTY GAMES FOR JUST ONE DOLLAR. And, here you don’t need coins, those annoying reminders of your real earnings, of the hard work you had to perform to earn these coins. No, here we use play money, make-believe money, and just like the make believe money there are only make believe winnings, because you better not believe that you get out of there with more then you entered. Additionally, and as a real plus, the time it takes to play a game is about the time it takes to push a button. Two cents…two cents, an inventive way for the government to get its pensioner cheques back…

There are no clocks, but for me it is definitely time to leave. Now, where was it I entered, everything looks the same, there are no hints of where you are, everything is reflected,  same people, same loss ration, same hellish sound track…Arghhhh…

When I finally walk out into a glorious Melbourne spring evening, it is the outside which appears unreal. An unreal winner…

and I? I am the loser, I came I to the casino with my wallet and when I got to the train station I was san wallet. Lifted from my pocket. I didn't play a game but still lost, that is the true magic of the money munching machine……