Another Hectic Week

With Seniors’ Week co-inciding with International Women’s Day its been another hectic seven days in my world. I kicked off with attending the Illawarra function. Here’s what a room prepared for 800 people – mostly women – looks like at 11am.  A choir was performing on stage as we all found our places and settled in.

Illawarra International Women’s Day, WIN Stadium, March 2017

This event awards five scholarships of $2,000 each, raises money for charity, and generally focuses our attention on issues of relevance to women. This year’s theme was Be Bold for Change and comes off the back of the World Economic Forum predicting the gender gap won’t close entirely until 2186. The day included various talks, a panel discussion, and the keynote speech from Magda Szubanski, a popular entertainment personality, whose book, Reckoning, came out around the same time as mine. I recommend that memoir to you. It is not a celebrity “tell-all”; it is a very human story of her parents – Polish resistance father and working-class Scottish mother – and Magda’s struggle to find her identity, make it as a female comic, and ultimately, to “come out”.

A much smaller event was held at the local Buddhist temple, the Nan Tien, with the theme “Women in Leadership”. We often bring the grand-children here when they are visiting on school holidays, and it is a beautiful place that I can highly recommend for a visit. There were around 100 people to this half-day session, including many high school students, male and female, from several different schools in the area. Four of those read out essays they had written for a competition being run in conjunction with this event. Beforehand, there were eight speakers on a panel discussion, who spoke of what “unexpected” event had happened to demonstrate their leadership.

Very interesting discussion. Ranging from the seventeen-year-old schoolgirl who had learnt that introverts could be leaders too; the young woman who had a stroke at 26 and is now a campaigner for disability access at a nearby railway station; the middle-aged Liberian refugee, mother of five children, who was denied education because of her sex and is now at university; the Buddhist monk who turned her back on a finance career in Singapore; through to the eighty-six year old who heads up the Older Women’s Network and their drumming team (who had already entertained us).

There were hundreds of events on offer to celebrate Senior’s Week, and I was tempted by many, but the only one we attended was a comedy debate in Sydney on the topic, “Age is Just a Number“. Just as well it is all in good fun, because they were practically arguing the same point: – it’s not the number that’s important, it’s how you live your life. Anyway, with seven comedians on stage, three each for negative and affirmative, plus the MC, you can imagine it was a riot. Add in the two Auslan interpreters, each representing a side, who, while being very professional, also managed to be entertaining too. One of the speakers asked one of the interpreters to repeat “breeding like rabbits” for example. In a strong field of entertainers, the final speaker – or speakers, should I say, had us in hysterics throughout. Darren Carr is a ventriloquist, and his “partner” for the event was a grandpa doll.

Later that week, Bill and I were also part of a contingent who received certificates in the local Seniors Award for our participation in the cruise ship volunteer programme. Presented by our local politician. That makes three pollies I saw this week (another two at the Nan Tien function). They do lead busy lives; our afternoon gig was his third event for the day.

Somewhere during that week I also managed to squeeze in 4000 words on the current manuscript, and, I went along to a book club group and shared wine and cheese with them while we talked about my published book.

But you do have to remember to stop and smell the roses, and yesterday we caught up with friends we hadn’t seen for some months. The weather was perfect. We went to a cafe perched high on the escarpment, with views up and down the coastline, and then went to a place called Bald Hill, overlooking Stanwell Park. This is where the aviation pioneer, Lawrence Hargreaves (1850-1915) developed the box kite and went on to experiment with various rotary airplane engines.

On such a beautiful day as this, with gentle steady updraughts and no sign of rain, the skies were littered with hang gliders and paragliders. They are even offering tandem joy flights (joy-glides?) now.

Then we drove down to the Sea Cliff Bridge, and walked a short way along it. This balanced cantilever bridge, opened about ten years ago, replaced the previous road which was slipping into the ocean. The bridge has since become a tourist destination and featured in many ads.

Its total length is 455.6 metres (1495 ft) and is 41 metres (135 ft) at its highest point. The seas below can be very rough, with many rocky patches. We saw one properly equipped rock fisherman, and several who had little regard for their own safety.

So now it is Sunday, and we will be off to the Illawarra Film Society tonight to see Between the Land and the Sea – a rather apt title given the previous comment. It is from Colombia and is in Spanish (sub-titled). This is the fourth film for this season, and so far I have only blogged about the first. (Note to self: must do better.)

First though, a few photos from  my morning walk. I know you can’t see them in these mobile phone snaps, but I saw skydivers, yachts, a vessel coming into port, blue skies, amazing clouds, choppy waves and many people enjoying the sunshine.

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Now, to grab a cup of coffee and get back to the manuscript. It’s currently 10th November 1918 and one of my central characters is dying to the sound of bells ringing the truce (too early – particularly in Australia – but true according to newspaper reports).

16 thoughts on “Another Hectic Week

  1. I completely forgot Senior’s Week while I only had Internal Women’s Day on my calendar. You have some terrific photos, but I’m anxious to see a new manuscript from you!! Have a great day, Gwen!!

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    • Negatory my good man. Jump on Trove, look up the digitised newspapers, then filter to any of the dates immediately prior. Sydney was going “off its face” to use a current expression. At 10pm on the 10th Nov, a Major Hunt had to climb on the “War Loan Destroyer” outside Commonwealth Bank to say “there is absolutely no news of the armistice having been signed”. That didn’t stop the crowds. The confirmation (remember the underground sea cable to Darwin?) reached here in the evening of the 11th. “By 9pm the crowds in Martin Place, Pitt Street, and George Street were so dense that movement was almost impossible”, necessitating that public transport services in the city centre be suspended because they couldn’t keep the tramlines clear. 12th November was declared a public holiday. The bell in the GPO rang for ten minutes at 9am and for five minutes every half hour thereafter until noon (source:Celebrating the end of WWI, Dictionary of Sydney Neil Radford 2016).

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        • Yeah, yeah, yeah – cheap shot. Seriously though, from a population of 5 million we had 60,000 dead – all lying in a part of the world that the average Aussie could never dream of visiting. Add to that the 156,000 officially wounded. Then the countless others whose wounds showed up later, both physical and mental. And the wives/mothers/sisters who ended up in mental hospitals (just been reading a thesis on the subject); the children who would be raised by men with broken attitudes to life, assuming they stayed around long enough to raise them. Wouldn’t you be hoping and celebrating that the fighting was finally over?

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