Friday, 19 October 2018

What happened to the books?

It's a question I would like answered.
In  our household the Senior Cat would answer a question like that with, 
     "They've gone to look for the sheets."
That refers to the mystery of what happened to the two sets of sheets my mother bought many years ago. She had them delivered along with some other household items she bought at the same time. I actually took the delivery. I saw the sheets. (They remain firmly fixed in my memory because they were patterned - brown peacocks on one set and blue swans on the other. I would not have bought either.)
We still have the other household items. We do not have the sheets. We never used the sheets. I never saw them again. What happened to the sheets is a mystery.
I am also missing almost 300 books but I suspect that my mother gave those to the charity shop when they moved here and simply refused to admit.
But, much more seriously, I am wondering what has happened to some other books.
I was the librarian for a small but specialised library belonging to a group of which I am still a member. As I was also reviewing books in the same subject area I was putting those review copies (which was of course how I was paid to review) in the library. When I ceased being the librarian but continued to review the books I went on passing the books on. I also passed on other books given to me, some of which were new. They were always books I knew the library did not have and which I felt others could benefit from their being made available.
For several reasons I have not used that library myself since I ceased being librarian. I am no longer as familiar as I perhaps should be with what is in there. At one time I knew the location and contents of each book - easy enough when there are only hundreds rather than thousands. 
It was therefore of concern to me when a friend came to lunch on Wednesday and mentioned that she was asking the group to buy a certain book for the library. She said it wasn't there and had been told it was not part of the library. I know it should be there because, according to my records, it is a book I gave to the library. It isn't one I would have used myself but it was of sufficient quality that I felt it should be on the library shelves. I think the current librarian would have felt the same way if she had seen the book.
I am wondering what has happened to it. Inevitably I am also wondering what has happened to the other books I passed on to the library. If they have not, as intended, been placed in the library then I rather wish I had kept them for myself. I would have been quite entitled to do so and I could have ensured that others had access to them if they asked - after all my own library contains many books on the same topic and they are frequently used by others.
And, if the book in question is not there where it should be, then I will always wonder...has it gone to look for the sheets?

Thursday, 18 October 2018

If anyone happens to read this

I would ask them to consider the following.
If you are a resident of Wentworth and voting on Saturday then it is even more important.
Your local member of parliament is elected to represent you. He or she is not elected to be a Minister or Prime Minister. There is a contract between that person and you. It is not a contract which should be broken lightly. Please do not reward a dummy spit by failing to replace that person with a member from another party. It will simply encourage such behaviour in future.
I also say this to the member of parliament. If the people of your electorate are not happy with your performance they can oust you at the next election. You can offer to resign earlier but the cost of doing so should be borne by you and it is up to you to strongly support any new candidate for the sake of stability in government.
Apart from that the only reasons for a by election should be for an illness so severe you cannot carry on, death, or some misconduct  which would disqualify all members of parliament.
Losing the job of Prime Minister is no reason to not see your term in parliament to the end of that parliament. You do not need to stand for re-election but you should remain there. It is what more than one ousted Prime Minister has done in recent years. No, it isn't comfortable to go and sit on the back benches but, while there, consider what you have done to find yourself there.
Being Prime Minister is not simply about "leading" it is also about "listening".  It is not simply about bringing in your policies but the policies of the party you lead. Those policies are made by the party you lead, not by you. If you don't like something work to get it changed. Don't undermine the government of the day.
To everyone else....
can you tell I am fed up? There is a totally unnecessary by-election coming up on Saturday.  It will almost certainly cause a seismic shift in politics, one that will do the country harm as the elected government will not be able to govern effectively. It has been caused by the selfishness of one man who is sulking because what he once did to someone else has now been done to him. 
The contract between politicians and the rest of us needs to be taken much more seriously than it is. There need to be consequences for breaking it.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

The register of MPs interests

is again under scrutiny. This tends to happen when there is a change of government but it can happen at other times as well. 
There is also a tendency to more closely scrutinise the interests of those to the right than the left. Perhaps this is in the belief that those on the "right" side of politics are more likely to own property and have other pecuniary interests than those on the "left".
The reality of course is that it helps to have such interests to fall back on in the event of losing your seat at the next election.
It also means I have known people who might have entered politics if they had had the means to do so. Some of those people - and they come from all corners of political thinking - might have made excellent members of parliament. 
Some years ago I was invited to lunch by a politician. Parliament was on at the time. He didn't have a lot of time but he wanted information from me so we ate in the dining room at parliament house. He knew I didn't feel comfortable about it.
     "Cat, it's work for me...and for you."
I suppose it was. I know I met more than one of his colleagues there, two of whom (from opposite sides  but supportive of the matter) asked to join us when they discovered the purpose of the meeting. Yes, I suppose I worked for my lunch. 
Was it a legitimate expense on his part? I suppose it was
I don't doubt politicians expenses should be scrutinised. You are spending public money, money provided by the taxpayer.  You should be able to account for and justify every cent. That doesn't really happen right now. It should.
But is it any business of ours what else a politician owns unless it is likely to influence the way s/he votes? I think not. Yes, there should be a register of their interests but it should be confidential and held by an independent body with the power to advise the Governor or Governor-General if it believes that a government has voted to benefit the financial interests of its members. Only if that has then proved to be the case should someone's affairs become that public.
If that happened I believe politicians would actually be more accountable, not less. 

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

There are apparently 80,000 plus children

on drugs for ADHD in this country....and I suspect that is 80,000 too many.
Of course the piece in yesterday's paper was designed to sensationalise the issue but, if the figures were close to correct, then there is a problem out there.
Are there really that many children who need to be drugged up in order to cope with the world - or is the world not coping with them?
I am trying to remember what happened when I was a kitten. 
I can't remember any children who were so disruptive that they needed to be given something like valium to calm them down.  They were disciplined, kept in at play time or after school, told to apologise - and boys were sometimes given the cane.  Children were told to write the same sentence ten or twenty times or made to repeat work they simply had not bothered to finish. 
Even when we grumbled that it wasn't "fair" we did it. I remember being out of the classroom getting yet another set of scraped knees dealt with by someone - not the teacher. The class had played up for some reason in my absence and everyone was kept in at morning play time - and that everyone included me even though I had not been there at the time. No teacher would dare to do that now.
And perhaps that is part of the problem. There is a child I know who is "having trouble coping with school". She is said to have "mild Asperger's". This child is very bright and has no learning issues but she refuses to write anything down. She simply says, "I don't like it" and "I don't want to".  She has temper tantrums of massive  proportions. Instead of going to school some days she spends the day with her grandparents. She gets a lot of attention there. 
Her home life is chaotic. There is no regular timetable. Meals are irregular. Her diet is not balanced or varied. She is an extremely "fussy" eater.  It is one of those many households where there is "no time".
And yes, she is on a drug to make her sleep at night and another to try and make her conform during the day.
At the beginning of the recent term break another mother said to me that her child want this one to spend a day there.
   "But I'm not sure I can cope with her," she told me.
   "I don't think you will have a problem," I told her, "Tell her what the program is for the day. Tell her when things are going to happen and what you expect from her at the start. Don't "reason" or "discuss" things with her, just expect her to do it. "
    "Well, that's what I do with mine," she said.
    "Yes, I know."
And yes, the child spent a day there and told me she had a "really, really good" time. A good deal of it was apparently spent playing an imaginative game of some sort in the back garden without more than a watchful eye from the host mother.
I know it is only one example but I couldn't help wondering how many other supposedly "ADHD" and "Asperger's" children would benefit from a regular timetable, boundaries for behaviour, a proper diet and opportunities to play with only a distant watchful eye on them. Add some definite expectations in the classroom and perhaps we would have only 80 and not 80,000 plus children on drugs. It might be easier for everyone. 


Monday, 15 October 2018

If you have been born deaf

you just don't join in the conversation.
I went to a morning tea yesterday for "Loud Shirt Day". It was a fund raiser for a centre for hearing impaired children.
I was invited by someone whose now adult son was born with a profound hearing loss. She still raises funds for the centre which educated him.  
It's an oral/aural focussed centre. I was once offered a job there - and declined. I knew I needed to be trained before I could even contemplate taking on the role of teaching in such a school.  I also believed, and still believe, that all profoundly dead children have the right to learn sign language.
In my early teaching days the thought was that children should not be taught to sign. If they did it was thought they would never learn to lip read or make the effort to speak. And yes all that is an effort - a huge effort.
I worked at weekends  in a residential nursery school for profoundly deaf children. Signing was supposedly forbidden but it was impossible to eradicate it.  I sometimes see those children, now grown and with children of their own. We sign to each other. The conversation is limited, not by their abilities but by mine. I know very little sign language - more than most people perhaps but not enough to hold a conversation. Despite that I still get hugged and introduced to their families. 
But yesterday was different. M... was the only person there who had been born with a hearing loss.  He can speak but it is very difficult to understand. There were about thirty people present and M...simply couldn't communicate with any of them except on a very limited social level. He wandered around trying not to look out of place.
He was wearing a brilliantly coloured shirt of flourescent colours in keeping with his mother's request to wear a bright coloured shirt. So I looked directly at him and said, "M..." and when I had his attention I said as carefully and clearly as I could, "That shirt is almost neon bright."
He got the message. His demeanour changed for a moment. He held his arms out, twirled around and then told me,
     "I could stop traffic in this."
We laughed. It was  a good moment. Then he had to greet other people -  but not really communicate with them.
I wish we could stop the traffic more often.

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Poppy wreaths are

made from many things and by many people. 
But you need red. 
I had a 500gm ball of red wool. Yes, it was a very large ball of yarn. I had intended to use it for another purpose. Then I had one of those "middle of the night" ideas that had to be acted upon.
I belong to a knitting guild. It meets in a hall belonging to the Returned and Services League or what is commonly called "the RSL". Some guild members have made poppies and they have gone off to the War Memorial in the nation's capital and to other places. I made some for that. I made more for the local library because they put up an acknowledgment each year and needed new poppies. Last year I made each member of the guild a bookmark with a poppy to mark another anniversary.
Make more poppies? I've made more than I care to think about. I really didn't want to make any more. I wanted to get on with other things.
But, the idea niggled. It kept me awake. In the morning I mentioned it to the Senior Cat. He wasn't a lot of help but agreed that it "might be a nice gesture".  I went off to visit the local greengrocer's floristry people. If they had what I knew we would need and were prepared to sell me one then I would do something about it.
I stood there and explained what we wanted to do. It meant not buying any flowers but the base I knew they must use to make a wreath.
Wreaths are not common now and I knew they might not even have one but  yes, they had one. I bought it thinking to myself, "If the others aren't interested then I'll do it myself because I think we should."
I took the wreath base home thinking about strategies - and phoned one of the oldest and most able members of the guild. She was once the President. She used to run a school and she has not lost the capacity for "getting things done". I told her what I thought we should do and what I had already done. Yes, she thought it was a good idea and she would get up and talk about it. 
I added the wreath base and the yarn and some floristry wire to the things I was taking and hoped that some people might be interested.
E...stood up and said things. Some hands went up. Yarn was handed out.  W...., a trained florist, said she would put it together if people made the poppies.
So, I've made another 21 poppies. I ran out of yarn at that point and mentioned the project to someone I know who knits. Did she happen to have any red yarn she didn't need? This morning there was some in the letter box so I can do some more. I will because I don't know how many people will actually make poppies. W...left a message to say she has made 12 and will make some more now that she is back from a short trip away. J.... told me she had made some. I think we can do it because some people will think it is something they can do and want to do.
And I would like to  be able to see it finished and then just left quietly at the appropriate place by the railing in the little chapel area. That way those who use the hall for its primary purpose can know we are aware not just of their service but those who served before them. 
We wouldn't be here now if it wasn't for them.

Saturday, 13 October 2018

There were broken beer bottles

scattered over a nearby street again yesterday. It was done in such a way that it was obviously deliberate...broken bottles do not lie in patterns or with all their jagged edges uppermost.
It is the second time this week that this has happened. Last week I saw someone smash a bottle on the side of the street. He was with more than one other person and they looked - undesirable. 
I knew B....who lives in the house outside which that incident occurred was home and he would be out to clear up the mess when they moved on.
He was out there when I returned and he was angry. He used to be in the army until a serious medical condition forced him out. the sort of neighbour most people would like to have. He's not intrusive but he sees to things like that and other little jobs that need doing. 
     "Pity the cops can't catch them at it," he told me.
I thought the same thing yesterday. They had moved further down the same street and made it even more deliberate. 
     "Bored school kids I suppose," someone else said.
     "No, not that lot," B... told them, "Cat and I have both seen them. In their early 20's...trouble with a capital "T" too."
My guess is though that had once been bored school kids. In all likelihood nothing ever appealed to them at school. Nobody ever managed to get them excited about learning anything perhaps? They are probably unemployed. They may never have had a job and may never have one.
I thought about this as I was waiting at the pedestrian crossing. Next to me was someone I know slightly. He has Down syndrome but he has a job. His boss says he is absolutely reliable, so reliable he is permanent in a largely casual industry. He will see things that need to be done and doesn't wait to be told to do them. Yes, it is largely menial work that others wouldn't want to do but he takes pride in doing it.  His workmates like him - like him enough that he told me they "made a big cake for my birthday for thirty". 
He would no more deliberately break beer bottles an leave them on the road than he would do anything else he recognised as antisocial.  He would almost certainly get out there and clean the mess up.
I dropped the prescriptions for the elderly couple on the corner into the chemist, did some essential shopping, picked up the prescriptions and went back the way I had come. If nobody had started on clearing the glass I would ask one of the people I know if I could at least borrow a broom.
It wasn't necessary. There was a young lad sweeping the glass to the side of the road where an open bin and some heavy duty garbage bags told me what he intended to do with it. 
    "Thanks," I told him
He  looked at me and then said, "Stupid bastards aren't they?"
I could only agree.