Monthly Archives: September 2012

FOOTY FINALS POSTSCRIPT – where’s the handshake?

It wouldn’t take much, guys.

I enjoy a game of tennis every week.

At the end of each set the four players meet at the net, try to say something witty to partner and opponents, and we shake hands.

Of course it’s only social – just a few old blokes hitting a ball around. There’s nothing at stake, no money involved and no months of hard training required. But we try our best to win each set and even get angry and frustrated when we don’t play as well as we think we should. Heated words are sometimes directed at ourselves, never at partners or opponents.

This weekend most of us watched two football Grand Finals, the Australian Rules ‘AFL’ final won by Sydney Swans and the rugby league ‘NRL’final won by Melbourne Storm. As the final siren sounded in each game, we TV viewers were treated to scenes of the jubilant winners hugging each other while the losers were left slumped on the ground. Not once did we see the simple gesture of the losers and winners exchanging a handshake. If it happened, the TV director didn’t consider it worth showing. Continue reading

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Filed under Sport

FOOTY FINALS – why do I care?

Sydney plays Hawthorn at the SCG a few weeks ago. Another heartstopper of a match – Sydney ahead until the second last minute, then the Hawks snatching the win.

Naturally I have to blog about footy today. It’s the only game in town this weekend.

I blame Robbie Cameron, the boy who lived up the hill from us in Boyanda Rd, Glen Iris, Melbourne. When I was an impressionable seven year old he made me a tragic follower of Australian Rules and a lifelong devotee of the Essendon Bombers.

The Bombers have enjoyed some good years during the decades that I’ve supported them, and started 2012 in fine style, winning 9 of the first 10 games and leading the competition halfway through the season. Sadly they lost the last seven games and finished out of the finals.

That left me supporting my number 2 team, Sydney Swans. A good choice, since the Swans are playing the Melbourne-based Hawthorn for the 2012 AFL premiership. But it took a long time for the Swans to grow on me. Continue reading


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The barge, ‘Holland’, and its intrepid crew getting ready for a great day’s riding.

As I’m going to be chained to a desk and a computer for the next few weeks, I’ll take the chance to look back on some of the highlights of the travel year to date.

Our time in Holland started with a great little trip by barge and bike though the classic Dutch countryside…

For forty years, the grimy little barge Germa carried sand around Dutch canals. Then someone decided that carrying tourists would be more fun, and perhaps more lucrative too. So in the 1960s Germa was given a total makeover, with guest cabins built inside and a coat of cheerful paint outside. They changed Germa’s name too, to the more appealing Holland.

Now proud skipper John and cycling guide Marcel lead people on leisurely canal cruises, along the way taking their guests on bikes, to pedal round those Dutch icons – tulips, clogs, windmills and cheese. Continue reading


Filed under Cycle touring, Cycling, Holland


Distance runner Craig Mottram gets cycling tips from Simon Gerrans.

I try not to let Facebook know everything about me, but somehow it has found out about my interest in cycling.

So every time I visit I get a sponsored pop-up ad telling me about the ‘Alpine Ascent Challenge’. It intrigued me enough to click on it. I was inspired.

I have keen cycling friends in Holland who challenge themselves by riding the mountain stages of the Tour de France. Mont Ventoux, Col de Madeleine and ‘the assassin’, the climb up the Col de Tourmalet in the Pyrenees, attract thousands of amateurs every year. They’re not for the faint-hearted or weak-kneed, but I cherish the hope that some time in the not-too-distant future I’ll put in the training hours/days/weeks and have a crack at one of them.

I didn’t know there were rides in Australia as tough as the European classics for those who want to give their legs and lungs a serious workout. Continue reading


Filed under Cycle touring, Cycling, Travel-Australia


A protester in Brazil presents a birthday cake to the general assigned to control the demonstration.

We have seen some very depressing images in Australia this week; children at a Sydney protest against the film Innocence of Muslims holding up signs reading ‘Behead all those who insult the prophet’.

Worse things have happened in other parts of the world as people who haven’t seen the pathetic amateurish film (yes, I watched some of it on YouTube until I was too bored to continue) try to convince each other of their righteous anger by violently rioting, hurting and killing themselves, other demonstrators and total strangers – fellow human beings about whom they know nothing.

For a sane, measured explanation of this senselessness, I highly recommend you read the article by Waleed Aly published in the Fairfax press.

Meanwhile, my thanks to my correspondent Theo for sending me the link to these more uplifting images of people being nice to each other. If you haven’t already seen them, click on the link:

I see that 9,882,857 people have already visited them. That’s more than clicked on Innocence of Muslims. They should be compulsory viewing for everyone who feels a little holy outrage coming on.


Filed under Uncategorized


Part of Judith Wright’s ‘A journey’. Vaguely disturbing.

It was our first visit to the newly-renovated Museum of Contemporary Art, and we were impressed. By and large.

I confess that we usually go to the MCA and other modern art institutions more in hope than in expectation. We feel we ought to take an interest in cutting-edge contemporary art, though more often than not we emerge baffled rather than entertained. ‘What did you think?’ we ask each other. ‘Oh, sort of interesting. Um, different.’ And that’s all we have to say about it. Perhaps that says more about us than about the art. Continue reading


Filed under Art, Travel-Australia