One of my colleagues (my boss) travelled down to my home and started what I could not; cleaning up the mess left by the vandal thieves. He also spoke to the community about why I was not returning yet.

He came back last night with my grandfather’s fob watch (smashed) and my vintage 1978 dive watch that is unharmed and still going. They had not been stolen with everything else, but had been tossed into the trample pile along with my cds, DVDs, books, and other things that the thieves had no use for, so did their best to smash.

The dive watch was robust enough to survive that treatment.

In my mind that dive watch had become a symbol of all I have loved and lost, and all I have done in my travels round the world. Losing it had brought about a despair I could not overcome. Regaining it gave me a new resolve to deal with the other losses and get on with it again. I had not consciously focussed on that one thing in the midst of overwhelming loss of valuables and collected memories but having done so has actually in the end proved beneficial to my mental state. Because I have it again.

I think I can get back on the horse now. I am not sure if there is a life lesson to be drawn from this, and I truly don’t know why, of all things, it was the watch that was the focus of my angst, but having recovered it has made me feel so much better. Since the incident, I have been very ambivalent about returning in spite of my confidence that it was not a community member who had desecrated my home. Now, once the Shire have improved the security there, I am happy to go back and once more try to help the youngsters find their way into the future.

I have to add that I work with awesome people.

Fighting in the Streets

I am staying in Halls Creek over the holidays, house sitting for a friend who is visiting family in Queensland.

Today I drove 368 kilometres from Halls Creek to Kununurra – and the same distance back, of course – to do a little shopping for Christmas supplies.  I was after things I can’t get cheaply locally, like asparagus, ham and turkey, or can’t get at all, like Jameson Irish Whiskey, which I planned to enjoy while on my holiday.  I have been living in a totally dry community for the last eight months.

The liquor ordinances in Kununurra are just a little kinder than those here in Halls Creek.  Here, only low alcohol beverages are available, whereas in Kunners one can buy a very limited amount of spirit (one bottle) OR a carton of full strength beer.


The Police have the final say, it seems.  When I arrived at the liquor store today I was advised that due to some naughty behaviour by drunken people last night, the Police have declared that only limited quantities  of low alcohol beverages may be sold.  I had to come home empty handed.

I do understand that liquor is a problem for those who cannot handle it.  Believe me, I know.

I just don’t think that denying me my nightcap is going to do anything to prevent fighting in the streets.

Hey! I think the time is right for a policy revolution
Cos where I live the liquor law is compromise solution
Well, then what can a poor boy do
When there’s no liquor on hand?
‘Cause in Kununurra town there’s just no grog for a peaceful man

With apologies to Messrs. Jagger and Richards.



Two news items today, seemingly unrelated, got me thinking.

Firstly the awful news from Paris.  The dead now number 153, according to official reports.  I have two friends, that I know of, in Paris at present.  I am very glad to know they are both safe and well.

Secondly the news that Ireland has grave concerns that the Irish language is in danger of extinction.  This news is months old, but came to my notice only today.  Coincidence – that made me think.

Pádraig Pearse is famously quoted as saying “Tír gan teanga, tír gan anam” – “A country without a language is a country without a soul.”

This is perhaps true, but all countries have a language, even if it is someone else’s.  What I have observed in my travels is that a different language implies a different culture.  Perhaps what Pearse means by soul.

Having lived in a tiny country with over 80 languages in use and 20 more that are dead or dying,  and living now in a huge country with many more than 150 languages in daily use, I know that there is great diversity in culture between language groups.  We say we celebrate diversity, but in many cases I see, not diversity, but differences.  Some of us enjoy those differences, some clearly feel threatened by them.  Some see them as a cause for enmity.  Witness the tribal warfare in PNG, the troubles in Solomon Islands, the factions in Australian Aboriginal communities.

Tribal, ethnic and cultural differences. Dietary differences.  Sporting preferences.  Sexual preferences. And then there are religious differences and intolerance, all over whose imaginary friend is superior. Whose rules of righteousness are obligatory.

It seems to be human nature for a proportion of any population to be opposed to acceptance of the differences of another group.  It seems to be human nature for a small proportion to be disposed  towards violently eliminating or excluding those who are different in any way.

If we cannot universally celebrate diversity, which as a species we clearly cannot, maybe we need to find some way to eliminate difference.  I don’t know how. It appears to be impossible.  One way may be to let languages die.  Encourage them to.  All speak the same.

On reflection, however, that would be another impossibility.  We are growing new languages all the time.  Put a Scot, a New Yorker and an Australian together and you will hear three distinct dialects of English with very different pronunciations and vocabulary.  Eventually they will be as diverse as other languages that stemmed from a common root.  Perhaps TV will prevent this.  If TV survives the apocalypse.

One thing is for sure. There will never be universal peace, because human nature. Sad.

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