Jan 09

Somewhere in the distant future humanity settles another planet and private enterprise manages to run passenger ships between the two planets.  5,000 people sign up to be transported in suspended animation for the 120 year journey.  By the time they arrive on their new home everyone they know back on Earth is probably dead.  Some days I’d like to sleep for 120 years.

The ship is fantastic, it is a big loopy thing with spinning rings and a long pointy nose that generates a protective shield or something, that pushes small objects out-of-the-way or burns them up.

Everyone is having a snooze, the 259 person crew too.  So the machine is fully automated.  For the sake of the movie the ship has lighting on for the 120 years and the computer systems continue to display vital information on big screens although there is nobody there to see it.  You’d probably trim a few years off the journey if you turned it all off and re-routed the power to propulsion, which is displayed as a lovely blue ring of burning stuff.

This is why I come to see science fiction movies.  I love to imagine the future and what it might be like.  I love the special effects and the thinking behind the devices of the future.

As you’d expect, something goes wrong on the Titanic, the iceberg hits and one of the passengers wakes up.  He’s a mechanic, James Preston, although he quickly tells the automated wake-up routine that he likes to be called Jim and every automated system throughout the ships address him as such from then on.  Clearly the original sign-up form didn’t have ‘Preferred Name’ or Jim forgot to fill it in, names can be so difficult.  Trillions of dollars on space travel, still can’t get a simple form right.

Jim is played by Hollywood heart-throb Chris Pratt.  We’d all love to spend a few years with Chris travelling the universe.  He has dreamy eyes, a cheeky smile and a body to die for.  Sexy.

For the rest of you that aren’t gay, bi or a straight woman you have to look at Aurora, played by Jennifer Lawrence.  She’s a delight to look at too, although I’m not expert on that.

Aurora, which is a wonderfully futuristic name, is also woken up.

So, Aurora and Jim wake up 90 years early, which is a problem.

Jumping to the end of the movie, Aurora the writer and Jim the mechanic manage to plug the hole in the ship using nothing but a few manuals that are printed on laminated cards and some high-tech devices.  The final part is, as you’d expect, full of impossible things and keeps you on the edge of the seat.  However, the mechanic and the writer save the Titanic from sinking.

The middle of the movie is appalling and is the reason I’m writing this review.  Jim spends a year by himself, his only company an android bartender named Arthur.  Arthur has been programmed with cheesy bartender type advice and is always polishing glasses.  The non-human becomes the confidante of Jim.  Jim tries to wake the crew, break into the bridge and send a distress call, all to no avail, and of course, goes mad.  During his many travels around the ship and presumably looking at 4,999 sleeping passengers, he discovers Aurora’s hibernation pod.  Helpfully the ship still has all its displays lit up giving full details of who is in the pod.  Not only can he gaze upon her beauty, he can glean basic information from the pod about her.

In the stalker of the future he manages to tap into her ‘Facebook’ type account, read everything she has ever written and become quite fixated on her.

In the ultimate Genesis moment of the entire history of everything, the voice of god thunders out “It is not good for the man to be alone.  I will make a helper suitable for him.”  And so Jim sets upon a plan to wake up Eve, sorry, Aurora.  That’s right.  This super sexy man is going to wake up the super sexy woman, not one of the other 4,998 passengers who may have a useful skill like hibernation pod repair or a degree in astrophysics.  No, no, Jim thinking with his waggly bits wants the woman, because she is beautiful.  It’s OK though, he struggles for months trying to decide whether or not to wake her up. He knows that she will face certain death because he also knows that there is still 89 years to go and they’ll both die.  He even talks to Arthur about it.  He knows it’s wrong, he struggles with the decision, and for a man who has spent 12 months looking at all the other options, he sets upon this as a course of action.

His waggly bits win out, he cuts his hair, removes his beard and he wakes her up and promptly lies to her and sets about spending the middle bit of the movie trying to win her heart, because she’s beautiful, he’s a man and he has needs.  She’s a woman and we have sexual tension.  We would all fall in love with him, even though he is a creep, a stalker, a murderer, a liar and a complete dickhead.  But it’s OK, he has eyes that beg forgiveness.  When Aurora finally works it all out she is, as you’d expect, very upset and yells a lot.  She even takes to breaking into his room and hitting him in the dead of night.  Predictably she then spends her time ignoring him and he spends his time trying to win her back.  He is not called to account for his actions, yet he is redeemed because he alone, the big brave man with the brown eyes puts his life on the line saves the day and Woman swoons.  Ugh.

Who writes this crap?  Who writes a really good beginning, a really good ending and stuffs up the middle bit?  There are thousands of ways to write the story.  The sexy woman could have been a mechanic that specialises in hibernation pod repairs, or an astrophysicist or an amateur astronomer or leader of the free world or a company executive able to give him access to the First Class passengers privileges.  Instead, we get a writer, nothing wrong with writers, perhaps not first choice in a crisis.  He didn’t wake her to write the story of what was happening, or to draft a stern memo to the company to give them a jolly good telling off.  He woke her because he was ‘in love’ with her.  He stalked her.  He then decided that it was a perfectly reasonable thing to do, to take the life of another human as it’s not good for the man to be alone.  Woman is swept off her feet by the bad boy who saves the day.

She forgives him, of course, and they live happily ever after.

His character is a creepy arsehole.

The writers should hang their heads in collective shame.

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Dec 22

I first donned a backpack and climbed the Major Mitchell Plateau in September 1985, I’ve climbed it a total of 4 maybe 5 times now, including the latest hike in 2016.

A lot has changed in our world since then, firstly the medium of recording the story.  I can’t find my log book for 1985 or I simply didn’t have one.  However, my second hike in 1986, dubbed the “Comet Hike” was written in my log book that was a foolscap Collins Minute book.  Written after the event.  Not long after that I started recording in a smaller log book that I carried with me and wrote every chance I had.  These days my rough notes become a word press blog and I share the story with lots of other people!  In the 80’s I would use my log books and diary to record daily life and then record letter tapes for my friends.

The invention of word processing on a typewriter and then computer also means that my spelling is checked.  I also have Michael who proof-reads for me!


Other changes.  Get a load of the car, it’s an HQ Belmont station wagon, not a Kingswood and the rear door has a roll down window and drop tray!  Click on the image, Marcelle and I both have mullets and we’re both wearing our scout uniform.  For whatever reason we thought these heavy cotton shirts were the go for hiking in.  In the other photo we’re dressed in special hiking gear, our shirts have special wicking abilities, we have decent boots and Goretex raincoats.  Marcelle’s backpack is the same one that Michael is carrying, however, check out my old one.  It has an external frame and you can see the aluminium hoop at the top.  That bloody thing use to snag on every low hanging branch I passed under.  You can still buy the sleeping mats, a single piece of pressed material, nowadays you wouldn’t use them as a yoga mat.  We travelled with lightweight self-inflating mattresses.  However, mine had a seam explosion so I would have been better off with nothing more than a sleeping mat.

We spent hours packing in the 80’s trying hard to get the packs as light as possible, these packs had about 16kg.  I carried 18kg this hike, so a little more but a lot less time to pack.

 

In the days before colour photo copiers we carried two A2 paper maps that were very detailed.  If we wanted to check where we were we needed to triangulate our position, so needed 3 landmarks within sight, and using a compass, rotate the map, draw 3 lines and basically have a guess.  The information on the maps was already 10 years old when we bought them.  In 2016 we downloaded an app onto our phones, paid $9 for 3 maps that has information that is regularly updated. The app even puts a little blue dot to show us where we were along with the full longitude and latitude.  There’s no need for wi-fi or mobile reception, just the trusty satellites overhead.  We could zoom-in for a closer look, or out for a wider look and drop a pin, here’s where we had lunch and where we camped.  We printed the maps out in colour to carry a paper copy and gave a copy to various people in case we got lost!

Cooking has changed too.  Here we are with a fire and a billy hanging over it on a structure we’ve fashioned out of sticks, compare that to our lightweight cooking pan sitting on a tripod above the flame.  No need to search for dry wood.  Still, once the matches got wet, even though they were waterproof, no fire was possible!  The menu in 1986 consisted of fresh hamburgers, dried peas and Deb potatoes, sandwiches and pikelets.  In 2016 we had fresh fruit, freeze-dried chicken and potatoes, along with packaged rice and salmon.  Luckily the taste of freeze-dried food is much better!

 

And then our sleeping accommodation.  In 1986 we wanted to go as lightweight as possible, so slept only under a tent fly.  In 2016 we carried a lightweight 2kg tent, including attached groundsheet and fly.  Lucky for us it didn’t rain back in the 80’s.  Ever.

In 1986 my log entry says:

As we descended we watched the mist blowing straight up from the bottom of the mountain.  About half way down the mountain we watched as the plateau revealed itself to us, the mist started to clear up before our eyes

This hike was the reverse, the weather was quite nice as we headed down Mt William, however, half-way up the other side we watched as the mist hid the mountains.

The significant event in 1986 was Halley’s comet, hence the black and white photos.  Marcelle lugged her big camera and tripod to the top of the mountain.  We took photos of the night sky.  I don’t have any of those images.  Michael and I took our phones and snapped many photos of the bush, the flowers and each other.  No need to have a film developed, instant delete, and much easier to manage.

The one thing that hasn’t changed in 30 years is my sheer delight and enjoyment with walking and hiking in the Grampians and sharing that with people who I love.


 

Read Part 1, Part 2 and look at the gallery of images

 

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Dec 22

Sunday 13 November 2016.

I woke up many times during the night to the wind, it was making so much noise.  There’s not much up here to stop it.  The driving rain came and went.  When it stopped the wind would continue to blow drops off the trees and so the fly of the tent was subjected to a steady stream of water falling.  In between all this I could hear the little creek burbling away.

I wanted to go pee.  How I wanted to.  The thought of gearing up to do so was way to scary.  So my bladder and I came to an understanding.

By 6.30 I had to get up.  I discovered that a lot of our gear in the tent was wet.

I climbed out to see the clouds whisking past me, every now and then a downpour would follow the clouds

It was quite magical.

The creek was up a lot.  Yesterday we could jump it to move around the campsite, that wasn’t so easy now.

I tramped through the wet undergrowth to get to the toilet.  The ‘flood waters’ had surrounded our little tent, and the tent itself was now in the middle of a huge puddle.

My hands are freezing.

I manage to make a cup of coffee, no easy task.  I enjoy sipping it, mostly because my fingers are wrapped around the hot plastic cup.  Subsequent attempts to light the stove fail.  The waterproof matches have gone to shit and even the cigarette lighter is so wet it won’t spark.

I spend the next hour and a half standing with my back to the wind, however, the rain continues to fall from all directions and there is no relief from it standing here in the clouds on top of the Major Mitchell Plateau.  Michael wakes and spends his time in the tent stowing our various gear into bags, stuffing bits into sacks.   I resort to running on the spot to keep warm.

We eat a carrot, apple and muesli bar for breakfast.

Somehow we manage to transfer our belongings from the tent to the backpacks, then we pull the tent down and shove it into its stuff-sack.

Ready to go by 9.00 a.m.

The clouds, mist, fog and rain are being pushed by a gale force wind.  With backpacks on we make a start.

Worm out for some sun

Parts of the tracks are on boardwalks, mostly however the tracks have become rivers of water.  I’m surprised at the amount of water about.  The worms have come out of the dirt for a swim too.  There are so many of them on the track, and they’re huge.

Still the wildflowers abound.

The reason for me being here is the view of the western plains from the eastern edge of the plateau.  Alas, I’m deprived of this.  Beyond the escarpment to my left is nothing but grey clouds.  A huge wall of what seems to be solid concrete all the way from the bottom of the mountain, up over our heads.    The rain turns to hail, hitting our faces and stinging.

We trudge along the boardwalk, the rocks and the sandy tracks with the water, gradually making our way towards the southern edge to begin our descent.

It’s very rocky and slippery in places, we take our time, being very careful about where we place our feet.  We arrive at a point where the path seems to stop, the drop to the next bit is quite steep and to big for us to navigate, so we go around.  This proves very difficult.  No track, big rocks, trees and undergrowth in the way.  We bash our way through to get back on the steep downward track.

Swamp wallaby.

Some two hours later we drop off the Major Mitchell Plateau and onto Stockyard Creek track.  The narrow mountain path in the closed bush opens into a grass plain with scattered trees.  The track broadens to a 4WD road.  We see a couple of swamp wallabies, the only wildlife we’d seen apart from insects and worms.

We arrive at a turning point, to the left Mafeking Picnic Ground, to the right Jimmy Creek.  6 kilometres to go.

The path now takes us up to a helipad, over the top and down into the bush.

Compared to the walk on the top this is fairly easy.  Still plenty of rain, down here, though the wind has died down.  I am now very wet.  Water has seeped into my boots and my toes squelch about in their socks.  My hands are in my gloves, keeping warm, but the gloves are soaking.  Every now and then I clench my fists and a stream of water falls onto the ground.  

 

 

 

 

 

In these mountains, away from the rest of the world, we see fields of wildflowers.  Carpets of woven colours in all their glory.  The visual of the track winding up the hill in front of us, the bush, flowers, mountains and the aroma of the flowers and the wet eucalyptus and wattle trees make this a magical experience.  The rain has somewhat abated and I’m happy to be out here in the Grampians.

 

It’s just on 2.30 p.m. we arrive at our rendezvous point and Merv and Naomi are there in the car, avoiding the weather.

I’m sore and wet and I’m very happy.


Read Part 1 of the story and Part 3 that looks at 30 years of change!

Be sure to check out Michael’s gallery of images.

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Dec 22

Friday, November 11, 2016

And so, here I find myself sitting in Halls Gap with my husband, Michael and our parents (in-laws).

Michael and I are about to embark upon a hike.  For the first time since 2002 I have opened my hike log and taken pen to paper.  This is the first overnight hike I’ve done in all those years.

We’re here to walk from the Mt William car park, down into Boundary Gap and then up the other side to the Major Mitchell Plateau.  We’ll camp at 1st Wannon Creek Camp and stop there the night.  Next morning we’ll head around the eastern edge of the plateau, drop off at Stockyard Track and down to Jimmy Creek.

I have my trusty backpack, my boots, food and water.

Ready to go.

I wanted to start at Kalymna Falls.  When I submitted the notification of intention to the National Parks, the ranger rang me and said I couldn’t.  It’d been washed out.

My heart sank.

Bomjima Picnic ground I suggested hopefully.  No, she said, it’s been closed for years.

More heart sinking.

I was a little worried that perhaps Boundary Gap was out of action.  Can I start from the Mt William car park?  Yes.

This is the launching place of so many adventures of my 20s.

Preparations have taken ages, new tent, water bottles, socks, pants, hats, stove.  My pack weighs 18kg.  Michael’s about the same.

Saturday.

Our morning started with the sound of a thousand cockatoos right outside our bedroom window.  Begging me to get out of my bed and ready to go!  There were so many other bird calls in there too, they were gently calling me to arise.  Unlike the cockatoos who seemed rather more insistent.

We all had breakfast in Halls Gap and by 9.30 a.m. we had made all the final adjustments to our back packs, including an emergency repair on Michael’s.

Dig that fancy footwork on the left 🙂

We drove to the Mt William car park.  I’m really quite excited as we drive up the windy road.  It wasn’t long before our bags are on our backs, kisses, handshakes and advice of taking care before we are heading off to start our adventure.

Slowly we start.  It’s just after 10.00 a.m., it’s overcast and a little windy.  On the top of the mountain it’s probably 10°c.  We take some time to get used to the back packs.  Pulling on the straps, make adjustments to the waist belts.  My calves are screaming at me, as they do, when I walk up here.  I remind myself that we have plenty of time and I slow down.  My legs thank me.

We got to the top of Mt William in good time, it’s only a 2km stroll on a made road.  We avoid the summit and turn off to the right before.  We’re now on a rocky 4WD road with plenty of low vegetation.   The flowers are magnificent.  Lots of small blooms, fantastic colours.

The walking was good and while being careful to put my feet in the right place, it was pretty easy.  Michael stopped to take photos along the way.  This first part of the walk is fairly short, so we had plenty of time to smell the roses, or the native flowers as it happens.  The road runs out and is replaced by the rocky path that will take us downwards.

 

By 12.15 p.m. we’d reached Boundary Gap.  It’s quite a steep walk down the side of Mt William to the gap.  I really love this little spot between the mountains.  As we walk off the top of the mountain the low shrubs give way to taller trees and less rocks.  Nestled between these two mountains, still high above sea-level, is this well-wooded area, tall thin trees, small ferns, flowers.  I’ve walked this track many times over the years, mostly with my hiking partner, Marcelle.  Michael has borrowed Marcelle’s Macpac backpack.  The same one that has travelled around the world and up and down hills.  I find myself in the same position that I’ve been in so many times with Marcelle.  Struggling along behind her, with a view of her pack.  I glance up and see the same view now, the blue backpack with the Macpac logo.  I’m transported back 25 years.  The vision is popped instantly when I see Michael’s furry face.

We stop for lunch on the valley floor.  Rice and salmon, both out of sealed foil bags.  I heat the rice on my new stove and then mixed in the salmon.  A little bland, but ok.

The next bit of our adventure beckons, from the floor of the valley, the only way out is up.  So up we went. I trace my eyes along the rocky track and can see the forest giving way again to more rocks and less trees.

Steep.

Then it began to blow a gale, followed by rain.  We stopped to put on our new over-pants and continued to head up.  The clouds hurled through the gap behind us, out past Mt William as if being ejected by a great force.  The rain set in with few breaks between squalls.

It was slow going now, the rocks are slippery as we scramble up and over them, before long though we are on the edge of the plateau.  We haul ourselves up and over huge boulders.  My memory is clearly faulty, I imagined this part of the walk to be much longer and harder.

Still, I love this.

Great wildflowers abound.  So delicate.

A howling wind is blowing the clouds that obscure my view of the world.  In what seems a blink of the eye we attain the top.  I can’t believe it was such a short distance.  The top is rocky, low trees and shrubs, plenty of grasses.  Still lots of colours from the wild flowers.

At around 2.00 p.m. we see the first sign of the camp ground, it’s the ventilation pipe from the loo!  The creek is flowing, so much water.  It’s the first time I’ve seen this.  Previously it was simply a trickle and I struggled to fill up drink bottles without a heap of silt.  Now we have an abundance of tannin stained water, and our water bottles are still full.  We need to jump the creek to get to the camping site that we’ve picked.  We quickly erect the tent and unroll our sleeping mats.  It’s difficult to keep everything dry. The mats are mostly in the tent, all they need is a couple of quick breaths to inflate them.  Michael is done in no time.  I grab the valve on mine and blow into it and there seems to be no inflation.  I keep blowing as if I’m filling the biggest balloon.  It takes a couple of minutes before I realise that I’m not having any impact and that there must be a hole.  An inspection of the mat reveals that the seam along the edge is no more and the innards exposed.  I may have muttered a bit.  There’s little else to do because of the rain so we climbed into the tent and slept for about 3 hours.

When we awoke, it was very very wet, still raining.  That didn’t stop us pulling our wet weather gear on and heading off for a walk in the rain, without our backpacks.  We saw lots of wildflowers with a rainbow of colours.

Back at camp half an hour later we had a cup of coffee and then prepared dinner.  Which wasn’t hard.  You cut the top off the foil bag and pour in boiling water to reconstitute our roast chicken, gravy and mashed potatoes.  Was pretty yummy, considering the freeze-dried nature of it.

It’s been raining the whole time since we arrived at the First Wannon Creek camping ground.  Nothing for it but to go to bed.

This is quite an elaborate dance that needs to be done.

The 2-person tent is only large enough for one person to sit up at a time .  The process begins by loosening your laces, then sitting with your bottom inside the tent, feet outside.  You take off shoes and socks, put shoes between the fly and the tent, put socks near sleeping bag to keep dry.  Slip off your coat, carefully, so as not to spray water around the tent.  Roll coat up and place at edge of tent, just on the inside.  Remove outer garments. pulling jumper over head without extending arms outside the tent, unbutton shirt and try to remove while keeping elbows bent, then slip into thermal top.  This will make your arms wave around in a confined space in a most unbecoming way.

Slip off your over-pants by raising hips slightly and trying to push them down your legs then roll up.  Try not to get water over anything.  Stow them near the raincoat.  Remove trousers by lying down, lifting hips and trying to get them over your knees without hitting the roof or having your legs protrude beyond the tent opening.  Then try and slip into your thermal pants by slipping both legs in and trying to stop the legs of the underwear from getting wet on the over-pants or coat.

Now you’re ready for bed.  Lie back on your sleeping back and search for the opening.  When found, bunch your knees up under your chin and attempt to slide your legs into the opening, work out you have to unzip the bag , do this by lying down on the bag again, locate the zip and undo.

Try to climb in again.  Twist your legs and body to make the bag straighten out.  Make sure you can get feet to appropriate corners.  Realise the bag is upside down as the hood now covers your face.

Lie down and spin the bag around to make sure the hood is on the sleeping mat.

Now, find the zip and try to pull it up.  It won’t work and will need you to contort your body to use your other hand to hold the bag material still while zipping up.  You body temperature will have risen, you’ll be puffing slightly and wishing this bag wasn’t quite so efficient in retaining body heat.

Oh, where’s my pillow?

Once settled lie really still as your partner commences the same dance.

I lay down on my flat sleeping mat that at least gave some protection from the cold wet ground underneath the tent, only to discover that my sleeping bag has a draft too!

It rained all night.  The wind rattled the tent and the rain pitter-pattered on the roof.


Read Part 2 of the story and Part 3 that looks at 30 years of change!

Be sure to check out Michael’s gallery of images.

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Dec 10

An evening walk with Michael provokes memories of a blonde hair, freckle face boy from the country.

In the cool of the evening, we’re walking along the Gardiners Creek track in Glen Iris, listening to the bird life settling down for the night, the frogs starting to croak and the insects making their noises.

The crickets in particular cast my mind back to long hot summers day in Hamilton.  The day spent in the local swimming pool with little sun protection, getting sun-burned.  We would wander home and eat our dinner of limp lettuce and fresh home-grown tomatoes with whatever cold meat was on special that week.  As the cool of the night sets in Mum would take to watering the garden and grass.  In those days a sprinkler was left on for spraying its water everywhere, every now and then she’d wander out and drag it along the grass a little by pulling on the hose.  Those were the days, plenty of water, no thought for running the reservoir  dry.   We would be wearing only our togs on those balmy evenings.  The doors and windows of the old weatherboard house would be flung wide open hoping to catch any whisper of a cool breeze.  The big old water cooler would be regularly topped up with a bucket of water, pointed to Mum and Dad.  Mum in her light dress, dad in his white singlet and shorts.  He’d be drinking beer, pouring glass after glass from his long-necked bottle, Mum taking her time with her glass.  Him smoking, she knitting.

As darkness sets in the ground comes alive with the sounds of crickets.  Not cicadas, but the chirpy sounds of black crickets buried under the wet soil.

We’d rush outside when the chorus arose and jump up and down on the soggy lawn to silence then.  As quick as one would go silent under our earth tremor another would start and we’d dart about the lawn with laughter and a sense of duty to bring silence to the world.

Pepper Daisies along the Gardiners Creek track

Tonight as I walked along I heard those crickets under the lawn, in a flashback to my childhood I was about to turn around and jump on the spot when Michael walked over them and silenced them.

We walked on, my memory of a time long ago faded and a sense of relief that I didn’t have to explain to him why I was jumping up and down.   Still, I was left with a longing for a simpler time.

 

Sep 21

It was a simple request.

Did I know of any prominent Australian’s prepared to sign their name to a letter to stop the plebiscite.

Yes.  Yes, I do know some.  I began to make a mental list.

Then I started crying.

On a day when one of Australia’s newspapers publishes a derogatory cartoon depicting Nazi SS officers in ‘gay apparel’ and a day that saw the GLBTIQ radio station, Joy 94.9, receive a bomb threat, I was about to email people I know to ask for their support.

Ask?  Beg?  Feels like begging.

This is so deeply personal while the hate war rages around me I feel compelled to make a stand for a simple, basic, human right.

I have to ask others for their support.

Sometimes I’m not at all sure I’ll last the distance.  I will, of course.  It’s hard.

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Sep 20

I’m tired at the end of a long day, and as I sit down to read my daily emails and look for what the other side is saying, I come across Lyle Shelton’s latest blog on the ACL website.

It’s titled “SSM Leaders’ Failure To Condemn Violence Endangers Everyone’s Safety”

That should be enough to ward you off the rest of the blog, however, I need to call bullshit on this.  Turn away now…

OK, you’re still here, here goes:

Australians got a glimpse this week of what the ACL team has been living with for years.

Since some whacker wrote in the bible that I was worthy of death because I’m gay people like me have endured discrimination and vilification on a daily basis, and some of us continue to be the victims of hate crimes.  Up until quite recently GLBTIQ people have been incarcerated and some hanged for simply being gay.  So pardon me while I laugh at the claim of his religious sect being a little persecuted for a few years.  This pitching of the ACL and therefore Australian Christians as victims just doesn’t ring true for me.

They also got a glimpse of what will happen to their freedom of speech and freedom of association should marriage ever be redefined in law.

There is nothing to indicate that freedom of speech or freedom of association is at risk and this is nothing more than a standard scare tactic designed to make Lyle and his team seem like the real victims.

It simply will not be possible to publicly hold a dissenting view without facing demonisation at best and legal action at worst.

You do hold a dissenting view and you will continue to hold it after we have marriage equality.  What you won’t be able to do is to use your dissenting view to break the law.  You can’t do that now, I know this because I haven’t been stoned in a legal way.

The viscous intimidation of staff at the Sydney Airport Mercure Hotel brought to light one of the long-standing and key tactics of same-sex marriage advocates for shutting down debate.

He may have meant vicious, I’m not sure.

There has been no indication about the nature of the calls, and those expressing their disgust about the hotel allowing this meeting to be held on their premises is a legitimate way to protest.  I’m certain that there were plenty of calls, and some of them over the top.  The debate is not being shutdown, we get to voice our disgust, the same as you do Lyle when you go after organisations that display ads you don’t approve of or TV shows that you find reprehensible.  I’m pretty sure your side has its ratbags too.  You can’t have it both ways.  I’d also suggest that as we don’t know the names of the activists you alleged made the calls we have no way of verifying your information.  It’s also a stretch to imply that all activists are somehow connected.  We’re a diverse group and there’s no way for you or me to control the rage and anger for some.

The Mercure Hotel said that their staff were “rattled” by the phone calls and abuse they copped when activists started targeting them for hosting a pro-marriage event.

I’m sure that hotel staff often get rattled by nasty customers.  However, this seems to mostly be hearsay, mostly Lyle and his right-wing media buddies beating it up.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney, the Anglican Diocese of Sydney, the advocacy group Marriage Alliance and ACL had booked a meeting room to hold a campaign briefing for more than 100 coalition partner groups.

The meeting was scheduled for tonight and is going ahead at a different location.

Sadly, we have to meet in secret.

The world is a big place and yet you let everyone know that you and your mates will be meeting in a Sydney hotel, you’re surprised when that attracts attention and will result in the action that you’ve seen?  Why didn’t you hold it in secret in the first place?  Are you setting this up?

I don’t think this is the sort of Australia most people want created by the push to redefine marriage in law.

These tactics are not something new, it is the way the people protest to companies when they do something they don’t like.  Try and be a chicken farmer at the end of animal activists or a company providing pregnancy termination at the end of christian activists.

Australians feel uncomfortable with the situation where fellow Australians, who hold to the Millennia-old idea that marriage is between a man and a woman and that children, wherever possible, deserve their mum and dad, are having to meet in secret because of safety concerns.

Seriously, did you just make that appeal to mass approval without evidence?  Since when did you get to decide what Australians feel?  Aren’t those who oppose you also your fellow Australian?  The current version of marriage is not millennia-old.  The scurrilous claim that children ‘deserve’ something is emotive and a dirty play on words,  you don’t have to meet in secret, you could simply not advertise.  There is nothing to indicate that your safety was at risk.

ACL has, of course, faced this may times before but we have never lost a venue.

Until now.

People have often protested your venues, you know it and it was only a matter of time before one of your venues cancelled on you. This isn’t new or unusual.

The threats of violence have escalated and we were forced to leave the Mercure out of concern for the safety of staff and guests.

They are the innocent bystanders in this debate – simply doing their job in helping a client hold a meeting. Australia is now no longer safe, even for non-combatants.

Yep, threats of violence are not nice.  What were those threats and where are the records of them?  At times regretfully hotels make decisions based on credible threats.   This is probably more about the reputation of the hotel and less about you.

What the Mercure staff faced last week is what ACL’s staff face on a regular basis.

Our receptionist regularly fields threatening calls and has even had death threats and threats of physical violence.

We report these to the police.

I have no doubt that you do get those phone calls, you seem to think that you’re the only ones.  I recently was told that gay people should be rounded up and shot.

We also reported to the police instances of our female staff being emailed homosexual pornography.

One image contained what looked like a minor. The police have not been able to action this.

I was sent some pretty disturbing photos during the week.  I found the delete button.  Of course, you should report anything you find threatening, that’s common sense.  It doesn’t matter how hard any of us try, there will always be someone who doesn’t know how to behave.  Adding this to the ‘debate’ is a straw-man addition.

Last week a same-sex marriage activist, who is on a speaking tour for a same sex marriage organisation, entered our Canberra office and bizarrely made a mess in the women’s toilet.

The activist was peering through our downstairs windows.

With the memory of Senator Cory Bernardi’s Adelaide Office trashing fresh in our memories, our team was unnerved.

Why is this even in here?  It sounds like to me that you’re making an unsubstantiated accusation and equating that to all ‘same-sex marriage activist’ which is simply untrue and quite frankly pretty low.

Yesterday, when leaders of the same-sex marriage movement were asked by the media to condemn the activists who targeted the Mercure, they declined to do so.

In fact, they implied that groups like ACL had it coming.

When leaders fail to condemn this sort of activity, it only further emboldens the extremists in their movement.

*Yawn* You really are making this a bigger issue than it really is, and you know it.

Rodney Croome is quoted in the Australian:

Veteran marriage equality ­advocate Rodney Croome indicated his sympathy for the Christian groups was limited. “Threats, discrimination and refusal of service are painful, demeaning and completely unacceptable, as most LGBTI people know all too well, so I hope having had this experience the ACL will now reconsider its demand to roll back anti-­discrimination and anti-hate laws,” he said.

“The two sides of the marriage equality debate should be talking to each other to find common ground, but instead we face a divisive and unnecessary plebiscite that will only escalate these kinds of tensions and hostilities.”

So, his sympathy is limited, but not absent, he said that it was completely unacceptable and says that we’ve been putting up with it for years.  Also, this is The Australian, right-wing and one-sided.  Not sure why we have to take it at anything other than face value.

This has made me very worried for the safety of ACL office staff who bear the brunt of vitriol on a regular basis.

If people from our side were ringing the offices of Australian Marriage Equality or trying to shut down their events with threats of violence, I would be the first to condemn this.

Uhuh.  Aren’t you just the shining light of reasonableness!

Yet politicians like Labor’s Stephen Jones smear us by saying both sides are guilty of bad behaviour.

You are.

But he and others who lump us all in together provide no evidence.

It’s a bit rich that you would lump all ‘activists’ in the same bucket.  Has Rodney Croome ever called your office and been offensive?  No, I didn’t think so.  Has a christian who supports the ACL ever called a gay person and told them that they are scum and burn in hell forever?  Yes.

ACL is used to the double standards.

Of course you are.  You think somehow you are above this behaviour, but you have a history of abuse towards GLBTI people.

The rest of the nation is now beginning to wake up to this.

What exactly is it?  That people have double standards?  I’m pretty sure we’re used to that already.  Look at the mess we’re in now.  Malcolm Turnbull wants marriage equality but is taking us through this horrible process.   You’re also the picture of double standards, you bear false witness.  The reason you don’t want marriage equality has naught to do with children and everything to do with your belief that your version of god has said that marriage is between opposite sex couples and that sex should only happen inside marriage.  Why do you hide what you’re really after?  A world where women remain silent and simply provide babies inside marriage only.  Don’t you lecture us on double standards.

We will continue to speak about the consequences of taking gender out of marriage which lead to “Safe Schools”, where our children are taught their gender is fluid.

This has nothing to do with marriage equality.

We will continue to speak about the rights of children, wherever possible, to be loved and nurtured by their own mother and father – something same-sex marriage makes impossible.

This is simply naive and emotive.  Next you’ll be showing us pictures of Bambi.

We will continue to speak about the loss of freedom that same-sex marriage law creates.

There is no loss of freedom.

The same-sex marriage debate is a proxy for a radical re-ordering of our society’s understanding of gender and freedom of speech.

It’s not a proxy for anything.  It’s really very easy, I want to get married to the person I love, just like you.  Not that I want to marry you, well, I don’t.

I mentioned legal action earlier.

Hobart Archbishop Julian Porteous recently spent six months tied up in legal action before the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Tribunal simply for distributing Christian teaching on marriage.

This is serious folks.

Context?  You make it sound too simple, which it isn’t.

It is naïve to think it will get better once the law is changed and State-based Anti-Discrimination Law stands ready to condemn as hateful bigots any of us who publicly seek to teach our view of  marriage.

It will get better.  We function as a society a whole lot better when everyone is treated with respect and dignity.  This is lacking at present.  You won’t be prosecuted for being a bigot, in fact I’m confident that this won’t change your bigotry.  What you won’t be able to do is break the law.

We must not let intimidatory tactics stop us from participating in the debate.

Yes.  You’re not being intimidated really are you? You’re still out there participating in the debate.  You’re so big and brave.

Make no mistake, tonight’s meeting is going ahead. But I look forward to the day when we don’t have to meet in secret.

You don’t have to do it in secret.  It’s not like the Catholic Church hasn’t got space to host 100 people and not receive a single call of protest.  Stop going to businesses and thinking that we won’t complain.  I like to spend my money with supportive organisations and I will call and complain if they do something that I don’t like.  Then I’ll go somewhere else.   You need to do a proper risk assesment before picking a public venue to hold your secret society meetings.

To achieve this, we must persuade our fellow Australians to preserve marriage at the plebiscite or face continued persecution.

It is as simple as that.

You’ve made a convoluted argument where you’ve attempted to scare people into thinking that something really terrible is happening, overlooking that you regularly appear in the media and have political supporters who can and do speak openly and freely.  You will always be able to do that.

As someone said to me this week, if we are not allowed to have the debate we should not be making the change.

You are having the debate.  You and the ACL are leading the charge, as someone said to me this week, get over it.

 

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Sep 13

I reflect on the last week or so and ponder the huge cost this attention on me and my fellow queers across the nation is having. I get a sense of deep anger, resentment and bewilderment.

I am angry, resentful and bewildered by the actions of all of our politicians. It’s a constant barrage of political games as the to and fro between the Government and Opposition plays out.

I’m hurting, Michael is hurting, I’ve seen and read plenty of comments from my friends to see them hurting.

I’ve read the comments from parents about the impact that this is having on their children. Its distressing. I was in tears tonight reading about the school ground antics.

I’ve also see the community rally and support each other. I’ve got the support from allies who are stepping up and calling this for what it is.

There may not be evidence of an increase in self-harm and suicide, there is however evidence of emotional stress and mental health issues, and that’s just me.

This to me is really simple. My human rights may be voted on by the rest of the nation. That’s so wrong.

All I want is to marry Michael. That’s not so hard.

Thanks friends, be you straight or queer. I need you and your support, and I know that there are plenty of others that need it too.

I’ll continue to do my bit, I’m not sure how I’ll go as its overwhelming at times.

Now the wait while the plebiscite plays out.

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Sep 03

Just recently I re-connected with a fellow student from school.  We both grew up in Hamilton and went to St. Mary’s and Monivae College – I have no idea what happened to her after that.

The re-connection came about on Facebook when I found myself in a group for former students from Year 12.  I struggle to remember my school days and I struggle to remember most of my fellow students.  School for me was not a great experience.

As I sit here on a Saturday morning I’m reading this great article by Lane Sainty.  She is reporting on how difficult it is for non-straight kids in regional Australia to find support in their schools with all the bad press around the Safe School’s program.  In Queensland and NSW real queer kids are struggling with their sexual or gender identity.  The attacks on the program by the likes of the Australian Christian Lobby have made parents weary of the program.  So much so that those that most need the support are just not getting it.

One student who left the school was so distressed by the negative media that his mother was also referred to a psychologist as she struggled to support him.

“He believes the things he hears – he says ‘I’m a freak, nobody wants me’,” the student welfare worker said.

“He’s attempted suicide several times in the past few years.”

As I read this I recall my time in a small country town in the 1970’s.  I was at school and fighting with my re-connected friend.  I don’t recall the details, but the words she used I haven’t forgotten.

schooldoor

St. Mary’s school classroom corridor.

She was standing in the class room door – I was in the corridor.  The door was wooden with a frosted glass insert at head height.  The nun who was the principal used to knock on the glass with her ring.  I assume it was the wedding ring that meant she was married to Jesus.  He had quite the harem.

As my friend stood in the class room, she was trying to keep the door closed to prevent me from getting into the room.  I was crying and quite angry.  I was lashing out at her, hitting her arm I think, because she delivered this line, “Don’t let him in he’s a poof and we don’t want him in here”.

Memory is a tricky thing.  At this point I was stopped by one of the women teachers, that’d be Mrs Phillips or Mrs Peters and I got into trouble for hitting a girl.

No amount of my protesting would cut it.  It didn’t matter that I’d just been called a poof and that was why I was upset.  Nobody wanted to address why I found that upsetting, and indeed I had been hitting a girl.  That’s what the teacher saw.  I was then the bully.

There’s a lived lifetime between then and now.  I’m not looking for an apology, that isn’t needed.  We were both young and didn’t have a much of a clue about the words.  I don’t hold her responsible now, that’d be a crazy thing to do.  We’re both 50 something adults, that would be a long time to hold a grudge!  While at the time it was quite homophobic and I was quite violent, we’ve both changed.

You know what we both needed in the 1970’s?  A program that would help us understand each other.  I lashed out and caused physical harm to a girl.  She lashed out and caused emotional distress to a boy.  Very likely we both felt vindicated for our actions.   We needed the Safe Schools program.  Even in Grade 5 I knew I liked boys.  I knew I was different.  I don’t know whether she somehow knew or was simply calling me names.

After all these years, with all that we know as a society, we still have people trying to deny the reality of growing up.  Putting obstacles in the way to prevent kids just like me from getting help.

How different my life would have been if I didn’t have to contend with the negative images around my sexuality.  So much so that when I finally got to Form 6, Year 12, all I wanted to do was get out of there.  I was isolated and in despair because I carried with me the baggage from Grade 5 of lashing out and being identified as a poofter.

Those against the Safe Schools program think that the program will somehow be harmful to the kids.  It brings the issue of sexuality up before the child can cope with it.  That’s just a load of rubbish.  What I needed was a society that didn’t care if I was gay.  I had no positive words to describe the way I was.  I was surrounded by a world that used derogatory words to describe my sexuality.  I didn’t know what sex was, I had no idea about the mechanics of attraction, what I did know was that I wasn’t like the other boys and my fellow students knew this too.  I don’t think 40 years makes any difference to those now growing up.

At least now we can and do let our young people know that it’s ok to be yourself and to protect them from the phobias that other people have.

A footnote:  I did speak with my friend about this blog.  We agree that we need Safe Schools.  It strikes me that we just did what Safe School needs to do, a free exchange of thoughts communicated with humility and respect, we both came away with a better understanding of each other.

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Aug 23

The question for the proposed plebiscite on marriage equality was leaked over the weekend.

“Do you approve of a law that would permit two people of the same-sex to get married”

FFS.  Seriously.

There’s plenty written about this out there already, feel free to go and read it.

I don’t need the approval of anyone but the person I want to marry.  I don’t need the permission of my fellow citizens.  Oh, and he’s already said yes and we already did it.

I don’t need your permission or approval.  I’m not about to ask for it.  I didn’t ask the first time and I’m not asking the second time.

Yet, here I am feeling like my relationship needs the authorisation of every single citizen in the country.

A plebiscite is not a good idea.  The question sucks, and what about the rest of the queer community?   I won’t vote for my rights and have the rights of the trans and intersex communities ignored.  I’m standing for marriage equality not for whatever this is.

Marriage is about 2 people – who cares what their gender is.

I’m not sure I have enough left in me to fight this one.

It’s one thing to fight for equality, it’s another to fight against a plebiscite that is unjust, unneeded and outright stupid.

I don’t want a long drawn out campaign where I have to listen to others telling me that my relationship isn’t equal to theirs.  Having them pretend to justify their bigotry by hiding behind questionable research.  Having the No party pretending that it has nothing to do with their religion.

Already it isn’t nice.

I’m just… oh…

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