IT WAS THE DAY PATRICK DIED – and no doubt went straight to Heaven to be with the One God which became the Bishop’s Feast Day. The pagan folk may have seen him as another kind of Druid. Patrick had an understanding of the customs and language of the Irish people because he had been kidnapped as a boy by Niall of the Nine Hostages.
The War Lord and High King from Ulster had a big litter – resulting in half of Dublin being direct descendents of him and my husband! He’d always thought he was Scottish – from Rob Roy, but the science proves his great grandaddy had many roots…
Patrick eventually escaped guided by Godly visions. My Grandmother gave my mother a very Irish name as the Birmingham Blitz of bombs fell from the Nazgull. JRR Tolkien went to the Oratory Church in Ladywood where new-born Kathleen Patricia was taken to be baptised.
Patrick had established the early Celtic Church in Ireland, though I don’t think the leprachauns and fairy folk were allowed in, and there would have been some who resisted.
If I have any worth, it is to live my life for God so as to teach these peoples; even though some of them still look down on me.” -Saint Patrick
4000BC – the sacred site of the ancient rulers of Ireland was the Hill of Tara.
THE PAGAN PHALLIC STONE OF DESTINY is said to have been touched by the 100
High Kings of Ireland (before the revels), guided by Druids.
Adjacent to this hill-top on the hill of Thane in 433AD Patrick lit an Easter fire to challenge the power of the old religion.
1970’s Birmingham UK. What do the Irish mean to me? During my Brummy childhood most of my neighbours were Irish Catholics who migrated in the early 1950’s. Mum’s Avon Lady would turn up with talcum powders and little bottles of holy water from her trips to Lourdes.
‘I’m not Catholic, ‘said my mother. ‘I’m not Irish, my mother was Scottish, ‘she said. Well now we know she is both Scots and Irish = Celtic
I knew my friends went to a different school and learned Latin, were proud of their communion dresses and accessories, plus I walked to St. Edward’s RC Church on Raddlebarn Rd as she had to confess to the priest every week. The kind of things she said, like not eating chocolate at Lent didn’t sound like a sin to me. It was alien to me.
I also accompanied my friend Pauline from across the road to Irish dancing class and taking down the numbers for a lottery fund-raiser at St Edward’s hall. Like my Mum’s mum who married a Polish post-war Catholic, Pauline’s mother Mary met and married a Polish Catholic man too…but mine married a Brummy Protestant which is why I was christened at St Wulstan’s Church of England conveniently on the corner of Exeter Rd.
I don’t remember any St. Patrick’s day parades or celebrations – probably because there was a lot of I.R.A. activity. For more info link to:
My Mum, Kathleen enjoyed any time with an Irish whiskey and a sing-song somewhere in a Birmingham club or pub! Always she would sing her sentimental favourite:
BUT SHE WASN’T IRISH, even though she had red hair and was dragged up by Nuns…and then recently she met Patrick her adopted brother who had been kept secret. He was born on St. Patrick’s Day 1944 in Ladywood or what the locals called “Little Rome”.
my brain-wave was Tory Tony getting kicked out, replaced by Malcolm Turnbull and a bi-partisan agreement to create a solar – geo thermal – beautiful Utopia…I want the best of all possible worlds for my grandchildren.
Australia is on track for up to 1.7C of warming this century if the world curbs its greenhouse emissions, but under a worst-case scenario could see anything from 2.8C to 5.1C of warming by 2090, according to new climate change projections released by the CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology.
The projections are the most comprehensive ever released for Australia. They are similar to those published in 2007, but based on stronger evidence, with more regional detail. These projections have been undertaken primarily to inform the natural resources management sector, although the information will be useful for planning and managing the impacts of climate change in other sectors.
The new report draws on climate model data used by the…
As society is transformed by our technological advancements it is important to not forget the foundations forged by our ancestors.
PURE BRED IN THE CRADLE OF THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION were my Dad’s Granny Hannah’s ‘Black Country’ folks:
Southall, English (chiefly West Midlands): habitational name from any of the various places so called, from Old English suð ‘south’ + halh ‘nook’, ‘recess’. The distribution of the surname in Britain makes a Midlands origin likely: places called Southall in Doverdale, Worcestershire, and Billingsley, Shropshire, are possible sources.(ancestry.com)
DUDLEY – HOME OF THE SWEATED LABOUR OF THE SOUTHALL/MARTIN CLAN – WHERE THE LONGEVITY GENES APPROVED OF THE HOME FORGE & FURNACES BURNING, KEEPING WARM and FIT IN THE BLACK COUNTRY CLIMATE – LOTS OF SOUPS AND STEWS PROVIDED ENOUGH NUTRITION, FOR A LONG LIFE, OR AM I ROMANTICISING WHAT IT WAS LIKE TO BE BORN AND BRED IN THE CRADLE OF THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION?
MY 4TH GREAT GRANDPARENTS; in the 1851 Census RICHARD SOUTHALL was a retired Iron Master on King Street, Dudley, with his wife ELIZABETH (born WHITEHOUSE ).
Richard died age 75years and Elizabeth age 81years.
THE TERM IRON MASTER SUGGESTS HE WAS A ‘MIDDLE MAN’ TRADING BETWEEN NAILERS AND IRON SUPPLIERS. I’m guessing he was a fair business man and not unjustly exploitative as the reputations of many were. Why? They were Quakers, members at the Dudley Meeting of Religious Society of Friends.
I have Quaker kin on my Londoners branch, they too being ‘the Middling sort’ or what we today call the ‘aspirational’ classes.George Fox, the founder appealed to their independent Spirit. http://www.cockneyclarkclan.blogspot.com.au
5th Great Grandparents RICHARD SOUTHALL & MARY GRANGER of Netherton, Dudley were Nail Ironmongers.
Iron Monger of Netherton
Horse Nail makers SOUTHALLS OF DUDLEY 1600-1900
Like working-class homing pigeons and with the aid of Long Service Leave of 3 months, (thanks to the Australian Workers Union), my husband and I travelled back to our Mother and Father country to see where our Anglo-Celtic DNA travelled to.
In June 2010 we two ‘poms’ now Australian citizens appreciated the benefits of collective bargaining in our Queensland worker’s paradise. With internet tools and the world wide web we worked back from from our birth places in Birmingham and Leeds, discovering we both had ancestors from the Black Country-West Midlands!
The coal-dust must be in our blood and smell like pheromones!
IN THE THE EARLDOM OF DUDLEY My Grt Great Joseph William Southall and Agnes Martin lived and worked: ‘Josh’ was 5years old in
1861 Salop Street, Eve Hill, Dudley.
St. James Terrace, Dudley Nailmakers – 3rd Grt Grandparents Richard and Elizabeth Southall(neeChambers) 2nd GF Joseph age 5yrs
“Nailmaking was described as the most God forsaken trade in the country and nailmakers lived in abject poverty. Throughout the 19th century there were strikes as the nailmakers tried to obtain a living wage whilst the employers constantly looked to reduce wages.
How successful the employers were can be demonstrated by the fact that by 1887 weekly wages had fallen from a peak of around 30s (£1.50) to between 9s (45p) and 13s (65p). It was reported that hobnail makers could not earn more than 6s (30p)per week.
One of the later most damaging strikes was in 1893. Dudley nailmakers went on strike around May 1893 when some masters again tried to reduce wages. By December the nailmakers were still on strike. The strikers had been supported by the Midland Counties Trades Federation but by December the Federation had come to the conclusion that the strikers were not going to be able to achieve their aims and that the only way they were going to achieve a living wage was through legislation. The strike payments were having an adverse impact on other parts of the Federation and they believed that the strike money would be better spent on trying to influence legislation. They therefore voted to discontinue strike payments. Therefore after seven months on strike the nailmakers had achieved nothing. By this time many nailmakers had either left the area or taken up other employment (many nailmakers became chainmakers). “(Thanks Paul, WDYTYAforum)
Down the direct line 8th Great Grandfather Thomas Southall a “NAYLOR”, was born during the English Republic, baptised on July 28th 1655, married Anne Hancox Sept.1685 and buried on 4th January 1708 at ST.THOMAS,’TOP’ CHURCH, DUDLEY.
1841 census for Josh’s parents and my 3rd Great Grandparents at Shavers End.
Brave Dudley Boys http://youtu.be/PwMsINT4yaA
In the days of good queen Bess Yah boys, ho In the days of good queen Bess Yah boys, ho In the days of good queen Bess Coventry out done their best Yah boys, ho boys, oh the brave Dudley boys
But in the times a be, We’ve outdone Coventry
Tipp’n lads, they did us join And we fought the strong combine
We marched into town Resolved to burn the ‘ousen down
Times, they was mighty queer Vittles, they was powerful dear
So we fought to make corn cheap We burned them all, of a heap
But the work was scarce begun When the soldiers came and spoilt the fun
We all run down our pits Scared almost out of our wits
God bless Lord Dudley Ward He knowed the times been hard
He called back the sodgermen, Ya, boys, O! He called back the sodgermen, Ya, boys, O! He called back the sodgermen, And we’ll never riot again.
Na boys, no boys, no the brave Dudley boys!
This song is said to have come from William Ryland of West Bromwich in the 1840’s. It originated in the Corn Laws and the Reform Bill of the early 18th century, though other researchers believe it is later.
Good Queen Bess: Elizabeth I of England (1533 – 1603).
Dudley is a town between Birmingham and Wolverhampton, part of the Black Country. Its boundaries are now indistinguishable from the other parts of the West Midlands conurbation.
sodgers = soldiers
Lord Dudley Ward: Ward is the family name of Lord Dudley. The then Lord Dudley was able to calm the rioters and prevent the soldiers from firing on them. Roy Palmer, Songs of the Midlands (1972)
CIVIL UNREST IN THE BLACK COUNTRY 1750 – 1837 (Part One: The ‘Bread And Butter Riots’ of 1766) by David Cox http://www.blackcountrysociety.co.uk/… Pre-industrialised England is often represented as a golden age of prosperity and plenty, with well-fed peasants happy with their lot in life, knowing their place in a benevolent and paternalistic society. Reality, as is so often the case, was somewhat different from the myth. This is the first of two articles looking at civil unrest in the Black Country during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
With half of a man’s wage and no vote, women laboured long and hard at the hearth and having babies, grieving regularly.
Among the nailers and their children – The Guardian archive 4 Jan 1865
Hales Owen, says J. E. White, reporting to the Royal Commission on the Employment of Children and Young Persons the evidence collected by him, as assistant commissioner, on the metal manufactures of the Birmingham district – “Hales Owen is the only town on the direct road from Birmingham to Stourbridge.
“The principal employment of the place is the wrought-nail manufacture, carried on in small forges adjoining the homes of the greater part of the cottagers, and to a great extent by women and children.
“While I was in a cottage where I found a boy with a bare foot bandaged up, lamed by a burn, a sound of many voices singing swelled gradually near.
“The boy, limping on his stick to the door, cried, ‘Oh, mother! there’s the nailers coming.’ And there passed by a crowd of several hundred men, women, and children.
“They were coming from the villages near Dudley to hold a meeting in Hales Owen, to see if they could get out the nailers who were working against them there, their strike having already lasted eleven weeks.
” ‘It’s heartbreaking work,’ said the woman. Among the many children in the crowd were two little boys, apparently six years old or not much more, dragged along by the hand by a woman, probably their mother, footsore and lame from their march.
“A nailer at Hales Owen said to me, ‘The parents carry them on into the night as long as their strength lasts when the work is wanted quick; it’s no use beyond, but, as far as they can, they are partly obligated to work.
” ‘I should not like my little boy there, now five, to begin before nine, and he shan’t if I can help it, but if I am any ways obligated he must. He is but a little mossel [sic], and if I were to get that little creature to work I should have to get a scaffold for him to stand on to reach, and with that it would be like murder-work, as you may say.
” ‘It don’t agree with children at first, the work being always hot. In summer the little ones, being afore the fire all the time, sweat so till it runs down their faces like anything. Then the young ones often burn themselves. My boy got two wounds big as a crown piece.
” ‘My son, now 14, has to work hard from six am to eight pm to make 8½ to 9d. It’s many hours to be stiving up [stewing] in a hot shop’.
“The son can read. His sister, aged 17, who works as a nailer, can read but little.
This picture could be Great Great Gran Agnes at the “Oliver” so called because it was tough and hard like Cromwell! It was an ideal mate who could be useful in the nailing business and delivering babies and keep them alive in perilous, starving times.
9 MILES SOUTH TO SELLY OAK 1900
The new century arrived. It must have seemed like luxury in their new terrace house in Exeter Road. It only took 9 miles migrating south to Selly Oak to have their lives transformed! Did they keep in touch with the Cradley chain makers industrial campaign in 1910? Send money to support the women ‘sweat’ workers in solidarity?
The cause of the Cradley Heath chain makers was championed by the influential George Cadbury(who also owned a newspaper), and prominent feminist women like Mary MacArthur, a Union activist who worked to attract funds so the women chain-makers could keep up the strike for a living wage.
Mary Macarthur 13 August 1880 – 1 January 1921
British trade unionist and feminist.
Women are badly paid and badly treated because they are not organised and they are not organised because they are badly paid and badly treated.
Quoted in Soldon, Women in British Trade Unions AND WITH EVERY RESISTANCE BY THE EMPLOYERS THEY WON THE FIRST MINIMUM WAGE FOR WOMEN IN BRITAIN.
A different and more learned Higgins had become a hero in the new Federation of former colony:Melbourne, Australia, 1907 High Court. Judge Higgins made a famous judgement. The case involved one of Australia’s largest employers, Hugh McKay, a manufacturer of agricultural machinery.
Higgins ruled that McKay was obliged to pay his employees a wage that guaranteed them a standard of living that was reasonable for “a human being in a civilised community,” regardless of his capacity to pay. This gave rise to the legal requirement for a basic wage, which dominated Australian economic life for the next 80 years.
DAWLISH RD SELLY OAK 1910 Part of the Developer/Builder, Dibble’s Estate.
NO MORE NAIL MAKING! The turn of the 20th century. I wonder if when they settled into their new terraced houses in Selly Oak, they wished they had left sooner?
Dirty, heavy labour was what they had been born and bred for…but at least families could now make themselves clean at the Public Baths.
Fortune and Municipal responsibility smiled on Selly Oak labourers and their children. The Southall’s would have witnessed the opening of many a community investment, like learn to swim, learn to read and write, and of course go to Church on Sundays(expected but not compulsory anymore).
George Cadbury provided free passes to the Tiverton pool to local children – so they could work off the chocolate!
“These baths were erected by the Kings Norton and Northfield District Council and opened on the 29th September 1906. It contained two swimming baths, one with a gallery for spectators and one designed for the use of children. Taken over by the Baths Committee on 3rd June 1911 following Royal Assent when Handsworth, Aston Manor, Erdington, Yardley, Moseley, Kings Heath and Selly Oak became part of Greater Birmingham.”
There were jobs for all the family and regular wages at the Ariel Cycles factory a walk away from home in Exeter Rd. Then there was a wider pool of eligible spinsters and bachelors! This is how I imagine the Southall-Higgins alliance came about:
In the 1901 Census Joseph and Agnes rented 76 Exeter Rd. and were employed at the Ariel Cycles Works as labourers and saddle spring makers. It didn’t take long for daughter Hannah to meet Albert Edward Higgins who lived around the corner in Hubert Road with his brother Ernest’s family.
I suggest they made eye contact at the corner shop on the way to work…
ON HIS DEATH CERTIFICATE Great Grandfather Albert Edward Higgins worked as a bicycle sand blaster.
ALBERT & HANNAH married at the Church of England, St.Mary’s Church in 1901 (St.Wulstan’s on Exeter Rd wasn’t quite finished).
In common with his wife Hannah was the fact both of their parents had been Nailers from Worcestershire and had to migrate due to the death of the ancient industry to machinery and loss of overseas markets.
Albert’s family had migrated from Belbroughton in the district of Bromsgrove, first stopping at Harborne where the death of his mother Fanny, from childbirth gave impetus to travel further down the Bristol Rd to Selly Oak thriving with manufacturing and bricky’s labouring.
ALBERT HIGGINS would have a shortened life too, dying of TB (tuberculosis), aged 28yrs. Hannah was widowed with 2 sons under 5years so moved back home to her parents now at 33 Exeter Rd…
The Edwardian generation was my Grandad’s, who received a decent secular primary education for the first time. Nobody seemed concerned to educate the plebeians before then, but when the factory owners realised they would need a more literate workforce their lobbying made the dictum ‘knowledge is power’ bear fruit and became Tiverton Rd Primary school’s motto – tres revolutionary!
Being a man in a man’s world of boxing, snooker, horse racing and beeret suited Grandad’s style and skill. He worked a tram ride away for the visionary Herbert Austin at Longbridge factory.
Somehow this distilled itself into him becoming a paid up, active member of the Conservative Party in the Selly Oak electoral ward.
Winning a scholarship to King Edward Grammar may have distorted his political sense! Either way brothers Albert and Harold Southall/Higgins were the first to sign birth, marriage, and death certificates with their name and not an X
Equality of the sexes was part of the creed of the Quakers from the 1600’s… but British women had to really push the limits before they would be given an equal vote to men. Thanks to the Suffragette’s, inch by inch and a few smashed windows and imprisonment later Hannah age 43yr could vote next to her sons.
The first begrudging concession was to allow women the vote if they were over 30, and owners of property! Thus Hannah and her mother Agnes age 70, were the first women to vote.
All women over 21yrs could vote in 1927. As the Tories feared, the electorate trebled, bringing in the first government under the Labour party to represent the views of the working class.
1920 Electoral register – Hannah & Agnes
Consistent philanthropy of the Quaker Cadbury’s with their principles of social justice, supported progressive early childhood learning in Selly Oak.
Hannah remarried Thomas Prime a metal worker at Brass Casting. The newly built Church of St. Wulstan was on the street corner. Albert and Harold Higgins would gain two half-sisters.
As first home owners in the family, Hannah and Thomas Prime of no.26 must have felt satisfied with their lot and labours in life and leaving an Inheritance – unheard of!
Great Nan Hannah was a widow for the second time in 1928. Oldest son Albert married Elsie Brothwood in 1935. It seems there was an agreement for Hannah and her daughters to buy a house somewhere else and Harold moved to 18 Exeter Rd – giving room for the newly weds to start a new family of Higgins. CALL THE MIDWIFE!
Notes for further reflection: a family thrives – improved labour and living conditions – Dad tells me Grandad used to get the kids to put Tory pamphlets in the letterboxes! My Grandad was a paid-up member of the Conservative Party! – Revelation – I am the black sheep of the family!
Julie, Secretary of Wivenhoe ALP branch with Premier Anna Bligh and MP Ipswich West Wayne Wendt
Do what you’re good at for the good old cause.
Ipswich Labor Day – my sparkling banner – showing the naysayers we’re dedicated.
Local wine maker and Labor member Craig Johnston(mt england estate, Fernvale) hosts Wivenhoe branch meeting with guest neighbours Bill and Dallas Hayden 2013.
Bill Shorten leader of ALP launches Shayne Neumann for Blair campaign at Ipswich Trades Hall.
I’m very slowly recuperating from active service in the QLD A.L.P branch (including Secretary). Like the tributaries of a river it should never get clogged up so it can keep moving and evolving. The movement from Wivenoe to the Somerset branch at Esk ends my personal labours, and a creeping resurgence of mental illness.
I sensed growing resistance about my ideas from branch members; I didn’t understand why a branch face book page was being criticised apart only I was being censored. The dynamics within the branch were changing. It happens. I’m just too out there for some.
I reared up and hissed like a snake in Spring. Frayed nerves, and the Big Canberra Picture of ongoing partisanship in offshore indefinite detendtion for refugees from my own Party reached it’s intolerable zenith.
I knew the black dogs of despair and the rabid distress of losing one’s sanity so I certainly don’t believe the persecuted have to be persecuted again and again. I voted for Bill Shorten in the Labor leadership. I was under an illusion he could be the next Ben Chifley type, but Machievelli rules career politicians – Cruel means to a cruel end.
For my own sake I retreat or like Voltaire said in Candide – in the end we must cultivate the garden.
The main purpose of any local branch is to support an endorsed candidate for your electorate and naturally the wider Labor cause, but most of our meetings were spent in lively discussion of policies and passing motions to contribute to the processes within the Party.
It was very satisfying to have regular attendance and get to know your Members of Parliament at monthly meetings, community stalls and campaigning.
I had tried a couple of Ipswich branches to start with, as there was nothing closer to home – 20-30mins drive away.
Trying to present a civil, rational debate on decriminilising abortion caused a stir apparently. It was a no go area!
It was then I learned the majority of members were not only from our senior citizenry but also Roman Catholics, and working class, country town folk. The Secretary and I stood in the doorway and directed my gaze to the membership, ‘look at them’…
The DLP/ALP split legacy from the 1950’s still resonates.
The ghost of B.A. Santamaria permeates the present corridors of Power in Australia. Old world religion, misogyny, exclusion, anti-science, is the order and control of the day.
My idea to set up a Brisbane Valley branch as a place to wake any hibernating Labor voters along the Brisbane Valley Highway to Esk was met by pessimism and derision; Don’t get involved with them, they’re all mad!
This was just the incentive I needed…
I was naieve then to political factions and historical histrionics.
I grew up in a consciousness raising feminist era of the big smoke in the UK and Melbourne, so I went along to the Labor Women’s Conference in Brisbane and enjoyed my sister comrades zeal in reinforcing social justice issues.
I shared my dissatisfaction with an organiser and it occurred to her the Wivenhoe branch had been formed in
the wake of the Pauline Hanson assault on our senses by Virginia Clarke who was endorsed to run against her.
Wivenhoe members were passionate about the same issues so it suited us for me to take on the role of Secretary and hold meetings at my home and along the Highway.A regular pitch at the popular Fernvale Markets increased our profile and helped us to hear what locals were thinking, and gently persuade people of our values and policies!
Former Labor leader and Governor General Bill Hayden and his wife Dallas lived locally so I invited him(even though he’d changed his mind about an Australian Republic!). He gave it some thought, he said, but he had long and loyal ties to his Ipswich branch and remarked he had been interested to hear how I had managed to activate a branch which wasn’t supposed to exist.
For the present I continue with my research and writing of a historical fiction set in 17th century London – there are many parallels to today, though I feel safe being an omnipresent narrator! I’ll be archiving my political labor blog soon, until then,
“Perhaps one did not want to be loved so much as to be understood.”
― George Orwell, 1984
Labor governments and oppositions often squander 2/3 of their time, by misunderstanding the role of marginal seat campaigning.
Instead of spending the years immediately post-election persuading the community Labor’s values and vision reflect community interests, and Labor’s policies reflect the best of Australia, too many in the ALP machines and parliamentary leadership say their focus must be to mirror the views of persuadable voters in marginal seats.
Yes, Prime Ministers
They fail the leadership test: like Jim Hacker, they seem to think “I am their leader – I must follow them”.
They fail to understand the key job of a leader, the thing that makes them a leader – or not – is identifying what needs to be done that isn’t, and generating support.
Where Labor spends a whole term focused on marginal seat perspectives, they’re not articulating a vision to the community, not…
1995-2014 is how long since we migrated to Queensland. My husband is close to retirement and contemplating a revival of his Puppetry passion. We are attempting to fix the house up before our income is reduced. At least Roy will be secure from the absolutist welfare policies of the present day Abbott Government(CONSERVATIVES).
I am not looking forward to being called a ‘job snob’ when I explain the mainstream workforce makes me mentally ill(literally) to the instruments of this Lib/Nat Coalition Governments ideology. Can I claim my arts practise as working for the dole?
Cultural policy? Nah… moving everything onto the verandah to polish the floor boards I stopped to peruse the photo albums and archival magasines of our Puppetry chapters in our life. Scanned a couple of pages to my earlier stock-taking, from the Victorian Education Department which funded the Theatre In Education section with an enthusiastic teacher/administrator, Sue Galley.
THOSE WERE THE DAYS – when the Arts were valued in every child’s education and the Commonwealth was re-distributed wider.
I met my husband Roy when he was making “The Adventures of Platypus Phil” – to get to the kitchen one had to go under the blue shimmering creek across the loungeroom and his dead-line was the annual preview of shows for school teachers who could book in eary….It also provided free postage for a mail-out to every school in Victoria.
I was a a Co-director and Youth Arts co-ordinator at Fringe Network in Brunswick St. Fitzroy(former Flying Trapeze cafe). The rest of the Melbourne Fringe Arts Festival planners were being funded by a combination of arts and employment schemes. My full-time wage was for 6months thanks to Labor’s Commonwealth Employment Scheme. I was sent off to learn how to touch type.
Very useful for our future inspired and original puppetry and poetry enterprises.
Typical of most artsworkers on $8-$20,000 a year it was necessary to supplement living with unemployment benefits even though we were writing, building, rehearsing, collaborating and submitting arts grant applications to the Australia Council – cultural arts body set up under Labor Prime Minister Gough Whitlam.
The last time the Arts were championed was when Paul Keating was Prime Minister: Creative Nation.
We auditioned the original and innovative Platypus Phil in front of the representative of the Queensland Arts Council. Unlike the rest of Australia they had a tight control on what was seen and censored. You can read in this older post how we experienced our first experiences of censorship and barriers to take our show to Queensland audiences.
I was anxiously awaiting an audience for Jika Jika Puppets from North Fitzroy, Melbourne. They were part of my Youth Arts program for the first Melbourne Fringe Festival(1983) that I was a founding member of, and hardly anybody had turned up!Summoning courage I went up to the puppeteer, Roy McNeill, who was dressed in black clothes. He eased my feelings of incompetence by saying it was okay, because he was training a puppeteer(Maeve Vella) into the show of The Four Chinese Brothers and they would look at it as a rehearsal.
A group of young unemployed performers and musicians who had hitched their way up the Nepean Highway from Frankston sat with me, cross-legged on the floor. We were enthralled by the Japanese style Bunraku rod puppets and the way they came to life. The sets were original, incorporating musical instruments within them, like the giant triangle used as a gong.
When a writer like my mate Liz is confronted by careless neighbours who are making magpies fall from the sky due to pesticide poisoning with the cozy permits of local councils the pen must become the sword in the battle of protection for the environment and all creatures great and small.
As many environmental activists know, the most frustrating thing is our public servants who are getting a full-time wage and maybe a car are not acting on what we expect. Thus the ancient Davids have to use whatever is to hand, to write press stories, blog, organise placards, attend meetings, fundraise because what is common sense is mystifyingly suspect.
Praises to all the good folks around Greenbank who persevered against toxins in their home environment. It shouldn’t have been necessary to have to embark on such a long, drawn-out campaign which caused unnecessary stressors on relationships and between neighbours and the officials of their local government who should have the wellbeing of their residents as first concern.
The corruption of values doesn’t seem to go away. The interests of capital over people and the natural environment is real and ongoing all over the country and the world.
As Germaine Greer rehabilitated her land, a Gold Coast hinterland farmer had told her any organic agriculture was pointless on their properties after the Queensland authorities bought all the excess chemicals like DDT from the USA at the end of the Vietnam War, and sprayed it along every roadside and park for council weed-killing…….
They wouldn’t do this sort of thing in this day and age would they? It seems our elected representatives are willing to kill the Great Barrier Reef for short-term material gain, so we have to let the grand-kids know, sorry you can’t trust them to do more good than harm.
Good on ya Liz and Kim – you survived to tell the tale of the Aussie battlers of Greenbank, and now more time to sing and write and rehabilitate.