Thursday, July 20, 2017

More Remembering . . .


Getting the cane:

Back when I was in high school, giving students the cane was commonplace, but only for boys, girls weren’t caned. Getting the cane meant receiving from one to six blows on the open palm from a bamboo rod. Some recollections, from my share of being caned:
  • A stroke (believe me, it wasn't a "stroke") was known as a “cut”.
  • More than one cut was usually done in multiples of 2, using both hands: 1, 2, 4, 6.
  • Cuts were extremely painful, usually you put your hand(s) under running cold water in the toilets after being caned.
  • The sound of the cane coming down from a raised height – fffftttt – added to the thedatre of pain.
These days corporal punishment is opposed on grounds that:
it is medically and psychologically damaging;
it is ineffective in the long term;
it interferes with learning;
it leads to antisocial behavior;
it causes mental distress;
it is a form of violence that breaches the rights of children.

The use of the cane in NSW schools was first banned in 1987. This ban was repealed in 1989 but most schools refused to reintroduce its use. It was banned again in 1995 by the then Minister for Education, John Aqulilina, a friend and Blacktown boy like myself.

A digression (another memory):

My mother knew John Aquilina quite well from the days when my father would often pick us up at the railway station and give us both a lift home and from the many nights of playing cards in my parents’ kitchen as we made hamburgers and other food items. 

John Aquilina

She saw John graduate and become a high school teacher in Blacktown at the same time as he became a councilor on Blacktown Council and then Mayor. She would send congratulations and personal messages to him through the Council and he invited her to functions and ceremonies. If she needed something done, such as fixing her footpath. He would always follow it up and get it done. He was then elected to State Parliament and eventually became Minister for Education. On one occasion I visited her, after my father had passed away, and commented that her driveway entrance needed fixing. She said that she had spoken to John Aquilina about it. I said “Mum, John is in State Parliament and a Minister, this is a Council matter, you can’t call him to fix it.” Her reply was “I don’t care, I call him if I need something done and he always gets it done. He said that he would look after this.” And sure enough he did. A lovely guy.

God Save The Queen:

God Save the Queen was the Australia national anthem and it was played everywhere and on all formal occasions. We even started school assemblies with it and had to stand for it in movie theatres. I was once told off by an adult woman for remaining seated during its playing before the movie started.

God save our gracious Queen!
Long live our noble Queen!
God save the Queen!
Send her victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us:
God save the Queen!

God Save the Queen was officially replaced in the 1980’s as Australia’s national anthem by Advance Australia Fair, a song that has been described as dull and as out of touch in its reference to “fair”. National Party senator, Sandy Macdonald, said in 2001 that "Advance Australia Fair" is so boring that the nation risks singing itself to sleep, with boring music and words impossible to understand. Add to that that that no one remembers the words . . .

Australians all let us rejoice,
For we are young and free;
We've golden soil and wealth for toil;
Our home is girt by sea;
Our land abounds in nature's gifts
Of beauty rich and rare;
In history's page, let every stage
Advance Australia Fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing,
Advance Australia Fair.

Beneath our radiant Southern Cross
We'll toil with hearts and hands;
To make this Commonwealth of ours
Renowned of all the lands;
For those who've come across the seas
We've boundless plains to share;
With courage let us all combine
To Advance Australia Fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing,
Adavance Australia Fair.

The comedy show Fast Forward once did a skit where they had the bouncing ball with lyrics onscreen for the anthem. After the first couple of lines it was da da da da da etc until the last line when a rousing “Advance Australia Fair” was sung.

And don’t get me started on “girt by sea”. . . cringeworthy. One website comments as follows on “girt”:
If there is any word that vaguely Australian-ness more than the word 'mateship' it would have to be the 'girt'. No single word has done more to unite us all than this in-joke identifier of Australian identity. Whether it is Seinfeld style rants along the lines of "What is the deal with the word 'girt'" to imagining police informing criminals through a megaphone "Come out with your hands up. We have you completely girted!" it is a word guaranteed to always be good for a laugh, even at its mere mention... hehe, 'girt'.
When I was a kid, it wasn’t “Australians all let us rejoice, it was “Australia’s sons let us rejoice . . .”. Totally politically incorrect, and how.

Maybe the anthem should be more line the Australian cricket team victory song:

Under the Southern Cross I Stand
A sprig of wattle in my hand,
A native of my native land,
Australia you fucking beauty.

Or, as it was painted on a wall in Western Australia . . .


This is the problem with remembering, you never know where it is going to lead you.

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