Sorry still no photos, but at least you have the titles!

November 26, 2013 at 7:57 am (Commentary)

Colonel Nicholson: I’ve been thinking. Tomorrow it will be twenty-eight years to the day that I’ve been in the service. Twenty-eight years in peace and war. I don’t suppose I’ve been at home more than ten months in all that time. Still, it’s been a good life. I loved India. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. But there are times when suddenly you realise you’re nearer the end than the beginning. And you wonder, you ask yourself, what the sum total of your life represents. What difference your being there at any time made to anything. Hardly made any difference at all, really, particularly in comparison with other men’s careers. I don’t know whether that kind of thinking’s very healthy; but I must admit I’ve had some thoughts on those lines from time to time.”

Source:The Bridge on the River Kwai


For those familiar with the movie and its theme it might be considered strange to acclaim Nicholson’s words as reflecting so much of my present feelings.

I’m now very much nearer the end than the beginning and ask myself what the sum total of my life represents.

When one is two years or so from eighty, what is the meaning of it all?

In the Colonel’s words: What difference… being there at any time made to anything.

The things that stand out in my life are doings that have made a botch of things.

Now in old age one is left with a variety of medical diagnostic possibilities. What’s it to be surgery or leave it alone?

HENRY V: Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour’d rage;
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect; ….

Inspiring perhaps to the young and fit, but to close the wall up with dead bodies is what the sick and old are doing!

One suspects that this battle cry would not have appealed to the good Colonel Nicholson given the plot and theme of The Bridge on the River Kwai.

I asked one of the attendants at the swimming pool if she knew of a cure for old age. She told me that if she heard of one I would be the first one to hear of it.

A response from someone in PNG went along these lines:

“Thanks for sending your pictures, sadly I had to dump them as at 24 MB they would take 10 hours to download here – this really is world # 3.   Everything now is mauswara; no action at all and great heaps of verbal vomit…it seems the parliament has just discovered that population growth produces mouths to eat up any economic gains.   They have overspent and over-borrowed causing the kina to depreciate and prices of subsistence commodities to rise. Any action now will be closing the door after the horse has bolted!

Now I read in The Sun-Herald that clients in illegal brothels have been receiving payments from their health funds by claiming the services received were therapeutic remedial massages.

It just goes to show the need to know all the angles, but a reasonable person would be tempted to ask what is the world is coming to. How can it be expected that the public purse should pay for those gentlemen who are cutting off a slice?

In a sense it justifies the old Tourism Australia slogan: Where the bloody hell are you? I must ask the former chief executive and now Immigration Minister, Scott Morrison, what he thinks.

Early/preliminary references in the Catholic Church’s survey/questionnaire might be rather challenging to some would be correspondents: Humanae vitae, Gaudium et spes, Familiaris consortio, and other documents. However, if you can get through this maze and answer directly, the church powers to be might learn something useful. Only time will tell!

Does W H AUDEN say it all in the following, maybe not?

Funeral Blues

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,

Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,

Silence the pianos and with muffled drum

Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead

Scribbling on the sky the message He is Dead.

Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,

Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,

My working week and my Sunday rest,

My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;

I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,

Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,

Pour away the ocean and sweep up the woods;

For nothing now can ever come to any good.

My estimated and brilliant academic friend, Shirlita Africa Espinosa, ends her PhD thesis: Sexualised citizenship in print culture: an ethnography of Filipinos in Australia with the following words:

“While cultural productions of migrants are attempts to overcome the unhappiness of difference, more specifically of the ‘unremittable’ mail order bride, this overcoming stands on the coming over of gendered bodies that does not seem to be letting up any time soon.”

In another PhD in the making: Development, governance and Indigenous people: foregrounding the LNG precinct case in the Kimberley by Deborah Ruiz Wall In this work we are made witnesses to a complex mix of anthropological, ethical, legal and political factors that elude anything but most skilful analysis.

My blog is in a hell of a mess now – can’t upload media, with the result that my readers are unable to see the many interesting photos I have.

Oh, I’ve just found a way! Below are some photos:

Bob Beeke (Daru, 1960?)

Jock McIntrye, Daru, April 1960

Don Maund gives us a rendition of Gough Whitlam – brilliant to say the least!

Angoram Hotel houseboat and the hotel 1960s

Don Pybus, my neighbour in Angoram 48 years ago

A poem by Deborah Ruiz Wall:

Symphony of Life and death

Obsessed with the spectacle of death,
you seem to feel your space
on earth closing in,
the symphony of life fading, faltering…
what good would it do to sing psalms of regrets
of what life could or should have been.
Your faith in certainty disintegrating.
‘Is there a life after’
bubbles up on the surface.
Memories are all we have
to treasure or endure,
but memories too turn to dust.
I see the laugh in the twinkle of your eyes
at the senselessness
of your own morbidity.

I’ll end with a comment I made on an Eureka Street article today:  “No copping out of abuse blame”

The whole issue of sexual abuse within the Church makes me realise how human the institution is. There may be aspects of the divine,, but unfortunately they are few and far between. As I get older and my faith becomes weaker and weaker. I’m left with many regrets for the doctrinaire religion I was brought up with.

David Wall 26 November 2013


  1. Antony Ruhan said,

    A friend, who had left a profitable business in Australia and joined the Jesuits, gone to India and worked as a missionary for many years and then founded his own religious order of men strictly devoted to the homeless and abandoned anywhere in the world, later left the order he had founded over a personal difference with its council. He told me that the first year after leaving his order, he had no money, no community and no place to live. He found that year hard. but he told me that after having lived with the Indian poor for more than fifty years, he found that the Hindu view of life helped him.

    According to Hindu tradition, life has four stages. First, you live as a child at home, subject to your parents. Second, you put yourself under a guru to acquire the wisdom you need for life. Third, you leave home, begin your life’s work; marry and start a family; and see your children married and settled down. You finish your life’s work. The fourth and last stage is when you leave your home, your family and all things and go to the forest to devote yourself to God alone.

    My friend said that he found himself in the fourth stage, having lost or left all that he had been and had. When I came to Redfern and finally retired from my work and got a room in public housing, I looked out the window. Outside I saw lots of trees and thought: ‘ This is my forest. Now I have only to attend to God.’

    Lao Tzu (or the Old Man) begins his book with these words: “The way you can go isn’t the real way. The name you can say isn’t the real name. Heaven and earth begin in the unnamed: name’s the mother of the ten thousand things. So the unwanting soul sees what’s hidden, and the ever-wanting soul sees only what it wants. Two things, one origin, but different in name, whose identity is mystery. Mystery of all mysteries! The door to the hidden.”

    Ceaseless repetition of one’s imagined achievements or failures, ceaseless focussing on our ego or what the Hindus call our monkey mind merely prolongs our captivity in the prison of our ego. The release comes with renunciation and facing the darkness when one tries to confront the Divine, the Spirit. This is what the mystics called ‘the dark night of the soul’. The trouble is, we say the word ‘mystic’ dismissively, as not applying to ourselves but only to special people, when it ought to mean our true, hidden self naked before the Divine.

    • deberigny said,

      Antony, as always you give me plenty to think about, thanks. David

  2. Anonymous said,

    Oh David, you are becoming very melancholic,aren’t you? Go out and smell the roses, and thank your blessings.

    • deberigny said,

      Ella, good advice! Don Pybus visited a couple of days ago. David

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