Tag Archives: Dancing Man

Weekend Coffee Share!

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

How are you? I hope you are doing well. This week, I’m able to offer you a slice of yellow sponge cake complete with jam, cream and fresh strawberries and blueberries. It’s all rather delectable, even if I did make it myself. Meanwhile, no doubt you’re wondering why it’s yellow. Well, I’d run out of cornflour and my husband had already does a lengthy trip to the shops, and so I used custard powder. It made a slightly difference to the taste, but it rose perfectly and the texture was fine, although with a few minutes less in the oven, it would’ve been perfect.

Well, yesterday marked three months in lockdown, and I’m pretty sure this week marked a turning point for people’s sanity. I won’t get into the details. Let’s just say there was tension in the air and it wasn’t just at our place. I sat in on a webinar with Sydney University and they’re saying that people have been feeling more tired during lockdown. That certain describes us. I’m feeling like a bear curled up snugly in its cave.

However, fortunately hope is in sight – what’s been heralded as “Freedom Day”. That’s set for the 11th of October – three weeks away. It’s going to be bigger than the end of WWII when the Dancing Man was photographed celebrating in Sydney’s Martin Place. Well, our beloved NSW State Premier Gladys is thankfully warning people no to go crazy, and the unvaccinated are in a league of their own unless they have medical exemption and the requirements for that are pretty stringent. The other thing our happy would be revellers might not have heard is that covid cases in our hospitals are still increasing and they’re expecting to reach capacity around the time we break out. It’s been challenging in the reporting of the covid crisis, but now more than ever we need to listen out to the small, quiet voice that’s asking questions and challenging the status quo. This could well be our scientific community. Someone with a more educated and informed opinion.

Anyway, I launched anew blog last week and I was actually intending to write a post from there this week, but I’ve had a major distraction which I’ll get onto shortly.

For a few weeks now, I’ve been mentioning my emerging obsession with English-Australian author, Ethel Turner, who is best known for her 1894 novel – Seven Little Australians. Well, I’ve been thinking about what to do with my research and how to progress it, and I decided to start off with a blog: Tea With Ethel Turner. Aside from having written these coffee share posts for about eight years, cups. f my grandmother’s had special, much treasured cupboards where they lovingly kept their “old ladies” as I think of them. Visitors were asked to choose a cup and family generally had their favourites and my dad’s mum used to point out who drank from what while I was choosing mine out. It was in its own way our own variation on the tea ceremony.

Anyway, having tea with Ethel Turner seems like a good idea. I can’t actually have tea at home with anyone outside the family atm unless there are compassionate circumstances, or I’m part of their singles bubble (which does apply to my 76 year of buddy, Roland). So, having tea with Ethel Turner at the moment isn’t quite as crazy as it sounds and at east it’s “allowed” within tightest interpretation of our covid restrictions.

So far, I’ve had two posts and a third is almost done. Here are the links and I’d really appreciate your support. It’s a bit daunting starting a new blog, when Beyond the Flow is up and running and it took quite a lot for it to start kicking over. However, I’m not starting from scratch in a way because hopefully it will attract some of my readers here.

So, here are the links:

As if I wasn’t researching enough with all of that, received a message which has taken me off to WWII and the escape of the Polish pilots into Romania, into France and into Britain. Four years ago, I met a Polish-English gentleman, Roland Chorazy, whose father Edward Chorazy, had been a bomber pilot during WWII. Roland and I met in our local independent bookshop where he was enquiring about books to research his father. As you know, I’m right into history research and have been researching WWI and we started to chat and agreed to meet for coffee. We’ve been having coffee once a week now virtually ever since.

Researching Roland’s father’s wartime service has been incredibly difficult. Firstly, there’s the usual thing of parents saying very little or not quite knowing how all the threads come together. In this instance, Poland was closed off for so many years and Roland wasn’t aught Polish growing up for this reason, and it was probably something that grieved his father deeply. There was obviously a point of no return under communism and finding a new home was the only option for a very long time.

So, already you have a research rift between Poland and Australia both in terms of language and communication. Then, it turns out that the Polish pilots service records in England are in Polish so future generations growing up in English-speaking countries can’t understand them. When you think about the outstanding contribution the Polish pilots made to the British war effort, this is obviously quite an oversight and a slap in the face.

However, thanks to the Internet, connections are being made. I have been contacted by a family who met Roland’s father while they were staying at a hotel in Blackpool, along with the best man at his wedding, Alojzy Dreja. He’s sent through a photo. Meanwhile, I found a post by an English woman whose mother had been friends with Alojzy Dreja and she posted a letter he’d written and two beautiful hand-painted cards. You can read her posts here:

Anyway, this has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share is hosted by Natalie the Explorer https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/

Best wishes,

Rowena

Walking Through Martin Place: 6 Weeks After the Sydney Siege.

Yesterday, I walked through Sydney’s Martin Place for the very first time since the terrorist siege in December. It’s been 6 weeks. Experiencing something of a swirling vortex of emotion within, I felt unnerved, strange and just sad. Yet, with all the historic buildings still pretty much the same and the usual contingent of penguins in business attire, Martin Place was strangely business as usual.

Well…not quite!

“I am forever walking upon these shores,

Betwixt the sand and the foam,

The high tide will erase my food prints,

And the wind will blow away the foam,

But the sea and the shore will remain forever.”

― Kahlil Gibran, Sand and Foam

I wasn’t there as a voyeur but as someone trying to make sense of a horror which could never make sense. I had wanted to get in there earlier to pay my respects and leave some flowers. However, with my broken foot, I couldn’t get into the city. Now, leaving flowers no longer seemed appropriate and there was no means to express a grief which runs inexplicably deep, almost as deep as the historic Tank Stream, which lies buried beneath Martin Place’s  landmark GPO where most don’t even know it still exists.

Tank Stream. Photo: courtesy Sydney Water.

Tank Stream. Photo: courtesy Sydney Water.

A lot of tears have flowed into that stream lately and it’s been bursting its subterranean banks…or should I say through the pipes. Yet, now as time  passes, those tears are ever so slowly leaking through the cracks.

Above ground, everything appears almost, almost “normal” even though it isn’t. Not yet, anyway. We’re human…not machines. You can’t just press a stopwatch and your grief instantly goes away… along with your fear or at least a little reticence. After all, it could just as easily have been you, me, someone else we know and love and we know it. We’re no longer naive. It’s no longer “over there”. As I’ve said before, Australia has lost its innocence.

After a personally draining but positive day of medical tests topped off with a filling at the dentist, why did I feel the need to go to Martin Place? I really should have been unwinding and Luna Park or even a ferry trip would have been better options.

Yet, there was something stirring and resonating in my heart…a very strong, deep sense of grief..even a sense of anguish for all those who had been taken hostage and their families but mostly for Tori Johnson and Katrina Dawson, who lost their lives. I needed to let that out.

I naturally feel a strong identification with Katrina Dawson, not only because she is also a Mum but because our family has been living with my tenuous health for almost 9 years and we have had some very, very anguished close calls. I have felt my children being torn away from me like having my heart ripped out of my chest and it is agonisingly painful. To know that her family is actually living that hell, that grief, makes my heart ache and there’s also anger because it didn’t have to be. Tori Johnson and Katrina Dawson did not have to die that day.  This is probably some kind of survivor’s guilt. After all, it is hard to understand how I’m still here when my body has been ravaged by so much disease: my muscles, lungs, skin, bones. I doubt there’s a part of this body which isn’t being held together by safety pins. Yet, somehow I’m still breathing and even walking. Katrina Dawson and Tori Johnson were fit, healthy good people who had done nothing wrong. They just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time and through some absolute miracle, my kids still have their Mum.

Mister and I reading during my 7 week hospital stint in 2007 when I was diagnosed with dermatomyositis.

Mister and I reading during my 7 week hospital stint in 2007 when I was diagnosed with dermatomyositis.

The kids and I taken during my 7 week stint in hospital 2007. Mister was 3.5 and Miss was 18 months old.

The kids and I. Mister was 3.5 and Miss was 18 months old.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It doesn’t make any sense but I’m incredibly grateful and also incredibly conscious of other families who are living this grief.

I have walked through Martin Place countless times before. The clock tower still looms over the top of the historic GPO almost like the moon, even in daylight. I pass by the Cenotaph honoring those who gave their lives during a different type of war where we seemed to know the rules. None of that has changed, although some extensive renovations are underway.

Then, as I’m making my way through Martin Place, I starting thinking. Nobody knows where I am. That I’m here. I started wondering whether I should just possibly call my husband and let him know that I’m in Martin Place. If something happens, not that it’s going to happen because it can’t, nobody knows that I’m here. Lightening doesn’t strike the same place twice although all the reasons why Martin Place was hit last time, are still there. That hasn’t changed. I feel like I’m walking through a minefield and I need to report in. That something could happen and nobody would even know that I’m here. That a confession is in order. Yes, instead of catching the train straight home from the dentist at Milson’s Point, I’ve caught the train into the city, traversing the imposing span of the Sydney Harbour Bridge alighting at Wynyard  Station. Despite my broken foot, I have managed to hobble up George Street to Martin Place and even up the hill. I can already hear them saying: “What was she thinking?!!!”

I’d already had a very emotionally charged, exhausting day what with medical tests and having a tooth filled at the dentist and I still had violin ensemble ahead. Yet, I felt drawn to Martin Place, needing to pay my respects and also to try to fathom the unfathomable.

I am walking up through Martin Place, which has a bit of a hill. Up, up, up. I’m not entirely sure where the Lindt Cafe is located but my foot is now starting to tire and I’m wondering if it’s all too much. I’m slowly putting the pieces of the puzzle together.

This iconic photo known as "Dancing Man" was taken in Elizabeth Street,  Martin Place celebrating the end of WWII on 15 August, 1945.

This iconic photo known as “Dancing Man” was taken in Elizabeth Street, Martin Place celebrating the end of WWII on 15 August, 1945.

A famous photo called: “The Dancing Man” was taken in Martin Place at the end of WWII of a man jubilantly dancing in Martin Place near the corner of Elizabeth Street. This photo has come to represent joy and celebration and yet it was almost taken right at the location of the Lindt Cafe…a scene where chocolate indulgence has turned into horror and tragedy. This paradox intrigues me. No one else seems to have made this connection.

Amidst all these questions, I wonder if place has a sense of memory? Does the soil buried beneath metres of concrete also wonder why all this has happened? Why it happened here? Who knows?

Slowly but surely I am nearing the Channel 7 TV Studios, which I know from the news broadcasts, are directly opposite the Lindt Cafe. This, it turns out, was no coincidence.

St James Church, Sydney. 1836, lithograph. Robert Russell, printed by John Gardiner Austin.

St James Church, Sydney. 1836, lithograph. Robert Russell, printed by John Gardiner Austin.

This is the Lindt Cafe.  It’s located on the corner of Phillip Street, metres away from the NSW Supreme Court and the Reserve Bank. At least in Australian terms, this area is steeped in history. It is also metres away from St James Church. St James, with its simple almost austere Georgian lines, was designed by former convict Francis Greenway, consecrated in February 1824 and became a parish church in 1835.

Breakfast At Tiffany's

A Very Different Breakfast…

A block away, there’s Tiffany’s jewelery store and I can’t help but think of the movie and see Audrey Hepburn in all her elegance. Moon River  flows through my heart like a stream https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7SI7N22k_A but then there’s this dreadful discordance…a Monday morning and a hot chocolate at the Lindt Cafe…

That certainly wasn’t Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

The Lindt Cafe is empty. Indeed, it hasn’t reopened since the siege. The entrance has been boarded up and there’s a slide bolt stuck on the front. It’s sort of bolt you usually see on a side gate in your backyard, not on the front of a cafe. It looks very weird and out of place like the can opener my grandfather used to shut his garage door in later life.

Lindt Cafe, Martin Place: a close-up of the slide bolt on the front door.

Lindt Cafe, Martin Place: a close-up of the slide bolt on the front door.

The future of the Lindt Cafe is seemingly coming out of limbo. Apparently, it’s being renovated and a memorial will be set up in the new cafe. As much as I’d always wanted to go there in the past, I don’t know if I could go there. Although I’m a serious chocoholic, there are so many other places to go where there are no memories…just coffee and cake. That’s what I’m looking for. I don’t need to be a hero. I don’t need to take such chances. I don’t even need to be brave. With more than enough adventure on my own journey, I don’t need to take on fresh, unnecessary challenges.

Phillip Street, looking towards the Lindt Cafe, which is on the corner on the left hand side.

Phillip Street, looking towards the Lindt Cafe, which is on the corner on the left hand side.

That said, I can’t just stay at home either. There’s that yin and yang…the tension where carpe diem seize the day becomes rather blurry. We know the world has changed…especially after events in Paris only served the reinforce the warning yet while need to be vigilant but not afraid.

There is a difference but the challenge is to find it and to stick with it.

XX Rowena

This is the fourth post I’ve written about the siege at the Lindt Cafe, Martin Place, Sydney. Here are some links to previous posts:

During the Siege: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2014/12/15/terror-in-australis-the-siege-in-sydneys-martin-place/

At the end of the Siege: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2014/12/16/only-9-sleeps-before-christmas/

This is Our Sydney: Originally posted on kazblah: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2014/12/24/this-is-still-our-sydney/  

Recovering From Trauma: Petrea King https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2014/12/24/recovering-from-trauma-petrea-king-a-must-read/

Send Christmas Cards to Katrina Dawson’s Kids: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2014/12/19/lindt-cafe-siege-sydney-please-send-christmas-cards-to-katrina-dawsons-kids/

Should We Have A Happy Christmas? https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2014/12/21/should-we-have-a-happy-christmas/

A New Year’s Wish: Ask What You Can Do for Your World: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2014/12/29/a-new-years-wish-ask-what-you-can-do-for-your-world/