Tag Archives: Monty Python

University Antics!

As the years pass by and a spirit of creative rebellion fades away and the realities of work, mortgage, kids and life take over, it’s easy to feel that person was someone else. Perhaps you, like me, felt you belonged in Dead Poet’s Society going  out in the woods reciting Whitman, or indeed your own poetry, by candle or torch light or perhaps you really did fit into one of those Hollywood coming of age films…a cheerleader, the jock..or indeed the jerk.

Dead Poet's Society.

Dead Poet’s Society.

Yes, indeed there was also “The Revenge of the Nerds”. That was released while I was still at school.

University of Sydney 1870s

University of Sydney 1870s

When you first enter the University of Sydney through the iron gate into the Main Quadrangle, you can’t but be impressed by the years of conservative tradition and the incredible minds who have walked these hallowed corridors. As Australia’s first university, there is and always has been a lot of prestige, pride and a real sense of academic achievement, which is encapsulated in my graduation photo with the tradition black gown with ermine trim.

The historic sandstone building in the Main Quadrangle featuring the iconic Jacaranda tree which was planted in 1927 by EG Waterhouse. The tree is an unfortunate harbinger of bad news. As it's branches start to bud, exam time is looming.

The historic sandstone building in the Main Quadrangle featuring the iconic Jacaranda tree which was planted in 1927 by EG Waterhouse. The tree is an unfortunate harbinger of bad news. As it’s branches start to bud, exam time is looming.

However, when it comes to getting that all-important university education, what you learn outside the books is just as important that those set texts which will ultimately earn you that all-important piece of paper and the job of your dreams…a career.

As far as my education at Sydney University was concerned, it was all focused on “Manning”. Manning was a three-story student haven. The bottom floor was for the early birds and where you could get a morning coffee and veg out while skipping lectures. The second floor had the cafeteria and the all important “Manning Bar” scene of much philosophical musing, pursuit of the flesh and the annual band comp. The third floor of Manning was where the private school people hung out and in retrospect was rather elitist. While I might have qualified for the prestigious selection criteria, I felt much more at home among the bar flies, although all I used to drink was a single West Coast Cooler, which, by the way was rated as one of the daggiest drinks along with Passion Pop.Brentonb

The crew I mingled with at the bar, were often living out of home in one of the rundown terrace hovels around campus and unlike the folk upstairs who were flaunting their designer labels, there was something greater at stake at Manning Bar…street cred. UNfortunately, I had no street cred whatsoever and not even a pair of Doc Martin’s to pretend. My “colleagues” would indulge in bottles of McWilliams Royal Reserve Port, which had doubled in age by the time you’d walked home. It was raw stuff which, again damaging to my street cred, I used to drink with coke or lemonade.

Orientation Week Stalls.

Of course, the big event each year on Campus was Orientation Week where, in addition to taking care of all the business of enrollment, the clubs and societies held stalls out on the front lawn. These clubs and socs promised everything but a debauched feast straight out of the Middle Ages. I belong and even ran the university’s writer’s group Inkpot and was involved in poetry performances and jam sessions of sorts. Another hit was S.U.C.R.O.S.E (Sydney Uni Chocolate Revellers Opposed to Sensible Eating). I remember one event held in winter and we were all wearing coats with very deep and multiple pockets and in addition to shoveling all I could eat into my gob, I also loaded up my coat for a midnight snack.Of course, there was also the Sydney Python Appreciation Movement (SPAM). I wasn’t so into Monty Python myself but I loved all the spectacle and theatre…and the way out costumes. There was the Grim Reaper and also Erik the Viking. I think we ended up singing the SPAM song on MTV although I couldn’t be sure. University days are filled with myths and legends.

Image result for monty python spam song

Monty Python’s Spam Sketch: www.youtube.com/watch?v=anwy2MPT5RE

I’m sure you won’t be surprised to find out that I ran for editorship of the university newspaper, Honi Soit. Our team was called The Antonyms and we did a whole lot of promotional posters using ant words such as “brilliant”. Like all political campaigns, the competition was fierce. Our main promotional strategy, aside from posters around campus, was writing slogans in chalk around campus.Our opponents, the Newshounds, got hold of some super-bright fluorescent chalk, which I’m sure, could have been seen from space. We also made a huge blank ant (pictured), which we drove around. A friend of mine who got behind our campaign, had an idea to turn the tunnel between Manning and the Holme Buildings into an ant tunnel so there we were about 4.00 AM in the bitter freezing cold turning the tunnel poo brown and painting black ants throughout. It wasn’t even surprise when we ran into the Newshounds who’d set up at the other end of the tunnel. The battle was on. Unfortunately, our more nature-inspired ant tunnel was no match for their bright paint. Needless to say, the Newshounds won the election and I think our team had fallen apart before the election was even done. But it was great fun!

Here I am posing in front of the Ant-Mobile running for editorship of Honi Soit in 1991.

Here I am posing in front of the Ant-Mobile running for editorship of Honi Soit in 1991.

University also provided me with my first opportunity to get published. I had a letter to the editor published, which protested the introduction of fees. However, I really made a bit of a name for myself as a bit of a roving Germaine Greer writing about sexuality and in particular double-standards on campus. The first article was called: “Damned if you do, Damned if you don’t: Attitudes towards Female Sexuality” and the sequel was about the Sensitive New Age Man (SNAG). I also had a poem about a guy who had an affair with his computer published. I’ll have to post that once this A-Z Blogging Challenge is over. I’m in survival mode at the moment. Tomorrow being ANZAC here commemorating 100 years since the landing at Gallipoli, I’m needing to get onto that as well as wake up at 4.00am as the kids are marching in the Dawn Service with Scouts. Geoff’s Great Uncle served in Gallipoli and I’m desperately trying to put details together while writing this and baking ANZAC Biscuits, which are bound to burn with all this multi-tasking!

Just like what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, the rest of what happened at university stays at university.

This has been U for University Antics for the Blogging A-Z April Challenge.

Anyone game to cough up any of their university or college antics? Don’t be shy!

xx Rowena

Compassion Fatigue: A Light Bulb Moment!

For so many with a passion for compassion, there can come a point where we need to reassess our vision. Admit that we have over-extended our scope or perceived list of responsibilities beyond our sphere and have actually gone too far. Moreover, although we not be thinking about compassion fatigue or burnout, we need to pull our heads in before we implode. Otherwise, instead of being able to help and support others, we risk needing help ourselves!

I would suggest that if you are watching ants lugging heavy loads with more than just a casual eye and indeed considering learning ant language so you can help them more effectively: “Hey, can I give you a lift?” Then, perhaps you have taken compassion just that little bit too far.

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There comes a time when especially the most compassionate souls need to re-visit their priorities before it’s too late.

 

I have been putting a lot of thought into compassion since I signed up for the 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion Movement where on this day Friday 20th February over 1000 bloggers worldwide have signed up to write a post about compassion on their blogs.

Here is a link to the project: http://new.inlinkz.com/luwpview.php?id=497564&fb_ref=Default

Today, is the United Nations Day of Social Justice. Thanks to my husband and has his particular way of challenging “stuff”, I would just like to stress that “social justice” has nothing to do with society taking justice into its own hands, mob rule or the formation of such abhorrent organisations as the Klu Klux Klan. Rather, it’s about giving everyone, as we Australians put it: “a fair go” and fighting against all forms of discrimination…even the insidious, invisible ones!!

Bloggers Around the World Unite: 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion.

Bloggers Around the World Unite: 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion.

Writing one post about compassion for me is impossibly difficult. It’s like taking me to the most sumpuous smorgasbord restaurant (all you can eat)  and being told: “You can only eat one thing!”

WHAT THE???!!

My husband would tell you that’s impossible. That I could never, ever go into a smorgasbord restaurant with all those tempting tables of every kind of Chinese, Thai, Italian, Mexican etc etc food each piled up as high as Mt Everest and all those tantilising aromas ticklooing my senses coaxing me to completely pig out: “Eat me! Eat me! I know you want to eat me.” THat’s before we even get to dessert and I can’t even think about chocolate without salivating, even in extreme heat when most mortals find the concept of molten chocolate abhorrent.  They want something cool.

THerefore, you won’t be surprised when I tell you that I’ve never left a smorgasbord restaurant without feeling incredibly ill and being reminded of that infamous restaurant scene where Mr Creosote explodes in Monty Python’s: The Meaning of Life:

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aczPDGC3f8U

Unfortunately, my poor brain just can’t cope with sooo much choice and its default mode is:

“I’ll take the lot, thanks!!”

So with that graphic image of over-eating firmly etched in your brains, you’ll understand just how hard it is for me to write about just one aspect of compassion. There are literally limitless possibilities out there and a bit like Mr Creote, I could spew all those fabulous anecdotes and reflections out in the post, which would just be counter-productive….not to mention messy and very, very smelly, stinky and downright repulsive!!

MY instructor helping me up the magic carpet on my first ski lesson in 2013.

Giving me a helping hand: my ski instructor helping me up the magic carpet on my first ski lesson in 2013.

Just a few of the anecdotes I’ve considered revisiting today include address the love of a stranger and the compassionate support I received from my ski instructors who skied back down the mountain lugging my skis, boots and poles so I could take the chair lift back and conserve my small reserves of energy. Their compassion and using their physical strength for good, enabled me to ski down the best slope for my ability and give me the experience of a life time. It would not have happened otherwise and I would never have left the “magic carpet” or beginner’s area. Moreover, my testimony of skiing down the mountain for a second time after overcoming a flare up of my auto-immune disease, pneumonia and chemotherapy would not have happened.

Skiing down the mountain at Perisher in August 2013.

Skiing down the mountain at Perisher in August 2013.

I also wanted to write about some of the ways people actually treat people with disabilities with anything but compassion. Things like parking in disabled car spaces without a permit, crashing into people using a walking stick and how there is the completely inadequate social support to allow people with disabilities to live with dignity. For example, despite have a muscle-wasting life-threatening disease, it took me five years to get any domestic assistance and that is completely inadequate. There are also no long term supports for parents of young children who might be dying or living with severe, disabling illness and who require ongoing child care but lack the second income to pay for it.

Just to compound this sense of paralysis through analysis and compassion overload, I started looking up inspirational quotes about compassion.

Some were beautifully poetic:

“Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom.”

Rumi

“The dew of compassion is a tear”.

Lord Byron

However, reading through compassion quotes became quite challenging and rather than concentrating my compassion into some kind of manageable, bite-sized portion, it expanded the scope exponentially:

“Compassion, in which all ethics must take root, can only attain its full breadth and depth if it embraces all living creatures and does not limit itself to mankind.”

Albert Schweitzer

“Let us fill our hearts with our own compassion – towards ourselves and towards all living beings.”

Thich Nhat Hanh

“If we’re destroying our trees and destroying our environment and hurting animals and hurting one another and all that stuff, there’s got to be a very powerful energy to fight that. I think we need more love in the world. We need more kindness, more compassion, more joy, more laughter. I definitely want to contribute to that.”

Ellen DeGeneres

Okay. So after reading all of these quotes, I’m starting to think i should go back to the ant I saw this morning lugging that mighty big crumb and offer it a lift. After all, an ant is one of these living creatures we’re been calling on to assist!!

Ouch! Double ouch!! My brain hurts. Really hurts. This compassion fatigue seems terminal!!

But to add further salt to the wound:

“Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph.”

Haile Selassie

That’s why I decided to write about compassion fatigue. Not the clinical version but just the garden variety which anybody with even just the smallest social conscience can experience. After all, each of us only has so many gold coins we can put in the collection tin and some of us, especially those living with any form of severe chronic illness, can feel like we could warrant some charitable donations ourselves. That’s particularly after paying for prescriptions, a medical specialist or about ten or when all our household appliances decide to breakdown at the same time. Moreover, if you have kids, you are the charitable institution. I remember my Dad telling us that: “Money doesn’t grow on trees”. “Kids, I don’t have a money tree, you know.” I don’t know whether we ever believed him. However, I still kind of believe in Santa, the Easter Bunny and the tooth fairy and given their generosity to kids worldwide, there has to be a money tree or at least a magic wishing tree out there somewhere!!

However, all this takes me back to what has almost become a cliche:

Think global: Act Local.

We can not help or save everyone but the chances are that we can help our neighbours in small, little ways that don’t really cost much such as giving people a lift, mowing their lawn and you know what I value the most: a smile and a hug. They are absolutely free and we could keep on passing them on. Well, we would be able to send and smiles and hugs right around the world if Australia, as our national anthem so ridiculously put it, wasn’t “girt by sea”. Gee, that ocean can get in the way at times!!

That’s been my modus operandi for awhile and while blogging and recent world events have extended my scope, I will still focus on the home front. After all, “charity begins at home”.

” I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”

Mother Theresa

I almost forgot to mention this but unlike Atlas,  we  don’t have to carry the weight of the world on our shoulders. The state of the world, the environment and all the people and animals in it are not our responsibiity alone. While as individuals we might be ineffective on our own, when we collaborate we can move mountains. Moreover, through the power of prayer, we can also call on divine intervention. Never under-estimate the power of prayer!! Miracles can and do happen although I must also admit that sometimes for whatever reason God seems to be deaf…just like our kids.

Here are some of the other posts I have written about compassion and tomorrow I will post a selection of posts which were part of 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion.

Brain Plasticity & Saving Two Australians on Indonesia’s Death Row: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/02/19/brain-plasticity-two-australians-on-death-row/

The Aftermath of the MH17 Tragedy: Compassion in Action!! Sowing those precious sunflower seeds: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/?s=sunflower

Emotional versus Physical healing: The Struggle To Heal The Broken Foot & the Sydney Siege: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/02/09/the-struggle-to-heal-the-broken-foot-and-the-sydney-siege/

Love of a Stranger: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/?s=love+of+a+stranger

Skiing: Back to the Mountain Almost: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2014/08/17/back-to-the-mountain-almost/

Have a wonderful International Day of Social Justice and I’ll start the ball rolling by sending a smile and a hug to you!

If you have participated in 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion, please leave a link and even a brief intro to your post in the comments here for inclusion in a follow-up post.

Love & blessings,

Rowena

Ain’t No Way to Treat a Lady!

Indigant! She was absolutely indignant. There were no smiles for the camera and certainly no smoochy kisses as we gave Lady her first bath and I started recording the moment for posterity. Just the deeply wounded downwards glare which concealed an inner growl: “That ain’t no way to treat a Lady!”

Lady had to have an instant, immediate bath. It was a definite case of do not pass go. Do not collect $200. I couldn’t risk her running into the house and sharing her joy. We’d never get rid of the stench! There was no time to take her off to the Palm Beach dog salon for the full shampoo, blowdry and pedicure! If Lady snuck into the house, my father would metamorphose into John Cleese and I could already hear him now: “Sybille!”

As my Dad looks like Basil Faulty, I’m careful not to press all his buttons at once! Dad has a very sensitive sense of smell and with the dogs not being allowed in the house, I really didn’t want to stretch the friendship. I have learned my lesson. You can’t get anything passed Dad’s very acute sense of smell.

Many, many moons ago, there had been the Schnapps Incident. As a fairly mature twenty something, I’d invited a group of single friends around for a Valentine’s Day dinner party at home while Mum and Dad were out. Two of my friends were drowning their sorrows with shots of Schnapps which all ended very badly when the bloke exceeded an elegant sufficiency and in his disoriented and inebriated state had managed to relieve his agony beside my parents’ bed, all over the fine cane lattice furniture. Although my friend, not the one who’d been sick, cleaned the muck off with an old toothbruth and we’d doused the place with industrial strength chemical cleaners, my Dad still walked in the front door and it was like the tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears: somebody’s been sick beside my bed.

No! I couldn’t take any chances with Lady. After all, we’re lucky that Mum and Dad let us bring the dogs with us at all!

Lady having a bath. Clearly, she's far far from impressed!

Lady having a bath. Clearly, she’s far far from impressed!

This, of course, meant that Lady’s dignity was mortally wounded as we tied her to the flag pole. With the Australian flag flapping overhead, she received the hose treatment. While this might sound a bit cruel, the same dog had just been running through seawater and I doubt there much difference in temperature. Besides, it was a bright sunny day and Lady was until recently, a farm dog. Surely, she wasn’t used to the salon treatment in between rabbit hunts?!! As much as Lady was a cute little dog who would fit in very nicely with the local designer dogs the Avalon Café set, she was made of much tougher stuff! She more than knew how to look after herself!

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That said, I knew she wouldn’t like the smell of Dad’s shower gel.

Being on holidays, we didn’t have any pooch shampoo so I sent our daughter upstairs to get my Dad’s shower gel. It was a strange choice because we had our own Pantene shampoo but this was a crisis and my poor humble brain was very much in survival mode and I wasn’t thinking clearly.

I don't think washing dead fish smells out of stinky dogs was quite what the manufacturers of Dove had in mind!

I don’t think washing dead fish smells out of stinky dogs was quite what the manufacturers of Dove had in mind!

If you have already read about Lady’s handling of the dead rabbit, you won’t be surprised about the dead fish incident. In fact, you’ll probably blame me: “Really, Ro! What did you expect?” The dog is a veteran hunter. You can take the dog out of the farm but you can’t take the farm out of the dog. She is who she is, after all!

I guess you could just call me naïve. The last time I ventured onto a sheep property, I asked my friend if the sheep bite. That story circulated like wildfire. I was living in Geraldton in Western Australia at the time and they were in fits of hysterics about the girl from Sydney. It had been said that you could take the girl out of the North Shore but you can’t take the North Shore out of the girl. I’d actually thought I’d done a pretty thorough cleansing at the time and had well and truly moved on but apparently not.

Anyway, all this drama which resulted in Lady having a bath was all over a fish…a very simple fish.

You see, when my daughter and I were out walking the dogs today, Lady found a dead fish floating in the water. After the rabbit encounter which I mentioned in my last post, I had simply assumed Lady wanted to eat the fish. I thought it was species known as Leather Jacket which was safe to eat and so I helped her get it out of the water. I couldn’t see any harm in her eating the fish.

So I guess you could say that by providing assistance, that ipso facto makes me an accessory but I plead ignorance. I strongly deny any sinister involvement. As I said, I thought Lady was going to eat the fish. I never thought for a moment that Lady would use the dead fish as a kind of roll-on deodorant or eau de cologne.

As it turned out, that fish was also deader than I’d thought. It had already begun its deadly metamorphosis…especially as it had been drifting along baking in the hot, midday sun. So by the time Lady found it, that dead fish was so dead that it was starting to come back to life again.

You could just imagine the smell!

A very cheeky, stink dog posing as a dead fish...Lady before her bath.

A very cheeky, stinky dog posing as a dead fish…Lady before her bath.

Even after what must have been half a bottle of shower gel, Lady still reeks of dead fish. Somehow, I hope it filters out somehow before the long drive home. Two adults, two kids, two dogs in an overloaded car, there’s no room for the stench of dead fish!

Otherwise, I might just have to pinch a bit of my mother’s Chanel!

Surely, that’s how you really treat a Lady!