….we’re homeless and…..

Filling, the bus is half filled and that’ll be it. Those aboard seated singularly, staring vacantly out of windows decidedly clean.

It’s time to leave but the driver can’t. Loitering at the stop and in the stairwell off the bus are two blokes. One wearing an orange tee and rumpled baggy cargo pants closest to the driver. The other grasps the entrances door rail with feet on terra firma whilst his more forward mate says  to the driver,

“…… um  we’re homeless and we got no money but can get some at Rosney and then we’ll be able to pay the fare back here to the city where we’re sleeping.”

There’s a strange logic to this argument I think.

The second of the two has darker hair and has seen the hairdresser less and is all in black, down to his cargo pants. He moves up a step higher edging  orange tee shirt to one side, possibly to let the driver know there are two of them.

“If they’d not said they were homeless, how would anyone have known”, I find myself thinking.

The driver’s caught in a dilemma. It’s time to go and he’s got to decide what to do!

 “We’re homeless and need to get to Rosny so we can get back to the city where we’re sleeping.” Orange tee says again as if repeating this will improve his chance of a charity ride.

The boarded passengers aren’t restless yet. They will be given a few more minutes delay though.

“So you need to get to Rosny mate?” says the driver, looking Orange tee up and down and Black tee down.

With a backward wave of his left hand the driver signals them into the centre aisle at the front of the bus, and then activates the door close with his right.

The bus swings into the Mall. Orange and Black tee grip the vertical chromed rails as the bus lurches through the peak hour traffic. Whilst looking like other Hobartians, the other Hobartians seems to know they’re not. On the right hand arc up onto the Tasman Bridge the centrifugal force causes Orange tee to grab at the strap hanger for steadying. It’s a telling moment. The bus slowly fills with the acrid odour of unwashed armpits and unlaundered clothes. Four seats back the waves sweep over me.

“How far to Rosny” I hear myself thinking.

The driver is oblivious, tied up with negotiating the thickening traffic at the East Derwent interchange.

Those folk who were secretly hoping the driver would let these guys on for free aren’t so sure now. Their tolerance is lower the closer they are to the front of the bus.

I wonder at these non paying passengers plight. How’d they arrive at where they are now? Whilst we see them as a couple, perhaps they are only tied by their circumstances.  How soon could any of us find ourselves in like situation?

I try hard to rationalise these ideas but the air affects my thinking. It’s the air of desperation carried on the odour. They chat about nothing and about everything and there I am trying to listen in while pretending not to.

Rosny bus station is a change of traffic light away before we are hove to at the stop.  The alighting passengers are strangely reticent to adopt their usual push and shove to the exit, until the homeless go. Then I watch the uniformed  school kids, miss representative of the commission home folk in her trackies and too short gym top, a matron from an age past, and several well heeled looking clerks or maybe like me public servants. But unlike Orange tee and his mate who I know are homeless I’ve no idea of what the living arrangements of any of these folk is.

 

The Snap

Far from the solitude of my office others worlds revolve. Folk are going about their important business, never busier than here in public service land. There are all the minutiae to be seen to. Correct template application to appropriate letter phrasing.
With a glance at the clock, not to tell the time, rather to mark the present moment for deduction from a future moment I respond to T’s call,
“Aren’t you coming over to the catch-up with M? We’re getting feedback on last week’s discussion of our ideas on the plans which she discussed with S.”
“Oh “I said with no commitment. I really hoped that maybe they could complete all the mumbo jumbo and let me know where I was gonna sit.
“Do I really need to go?”I continued.
“Well C is coming in from the city”, T replied. Decode, decode, what the heck does that mean? Might be nothing, and then again might be best to be there just in case. It’s always nicest to be at an office party with a pin to pop expectation balloons with your own pin than to see the balloons deflate pathetically over the following weeks
I cleared up what I was doing and followed T’s cigarette aroma across to the cream brick of the
Caruthers Building a minute or so later.
They were all seated already, making the small talk that always precedes such meetings.
“So did you go away at all for the break?” ”No, too busy working”. “Frank’s back was playing up” “ and then there was basketball camp”. “We used to but not this year.”
There was a cacophony of cross talk and irrelevance until the boss gains control.
The meeting droned on.
I was drowning in a sea of concern for us all and the mismanagement we had had to endure. Now another power play, infinitely more calibrated for control of our little group. What was once supported was now anathema. The structure had always been bullshit. Cobbled together from the footnotes of MBA text books and discarded assignments. It looked ok. Then again as high sounding as the words were their applicability to our organisation was irrelevant.
Around the room we went. Ring-a-ring-rosey like. What was each of us up to? Damn I was first! Always have something up your sleeve, and yesterday’s presentation on a similar topic gave me the out. But I introduced it wrong!
“Except for AYDC and RFC most areas are going well. In fact some have shown great progress in the past few weeks, is what I reported to F yesterday.” I said.
I had the excel graph folded into my note book in fact but having learnt that less is more in these situation I chose not to show it.
“Why does F need to know this?” M asked from left field, though she was sitting immediately to my right.
“Um, err, he’s my executive sponsor, I report to him fortnightly, err shouldn’t I?” I gasped.
The conversation moved on to the complexities of medication management and I sank back into a glazed reverie. Then I heard a snap! It was to be sure an elastic snap. It was quite distinct. It brought me back three levels of conscious mindfulness.
I knew my socks were wool knit Explorer blends and the ankle woven bands are overstretched soon to be replaced stretch elastic, so no cause for concern there. The sound was definitely elastic on thigh, an intriguing prospect in a meeting such as this, for ladies and a man.
M in her three and a half inch patent heels was sheer to the waist. A was in a skirt and hose less. T wore sensible slacks and anklet socks, leaving C in the three quarter length swishy skirt with half hose.
Another glance at the clock, 75 minutes!
I admit it, I was wrong! It was the snap of elastic on calf.

2016 #2 TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY

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JOHN LE CARRE

A complex tale, the start of a renowned trilogy, which pits Cold War spy masters MI6’s George Smiley against Moscow Central’s Karla. George is seconded from forced retirement to unmask Moscow’s Centre mole within its ranks. All lower level operatives in spycraft are carried along on a needs to know basis as I was for the first quarter until I was submerged in a twisted plot almost too full of characters. Just before giving up I took the bait and was willingly dragged through the labyrinth le Carre weaves.

Written during the depths of the Cold War before the Berlin Wall fell the atmosphere of the times pervades. In scenes of betrayal the writing is taut and very visual. The unresolved tension of George’s love life with wife Anne threads throughout. Numerous plot byways are taken, all with the temptation of self concluding who is the mole. The moles unmasking is managed cinematically and small details matter here in the reading. It’s exquisitely done

Poon Jere Chee 2016

2016 #1 THE ASIAN MIND GAME

CHIN-NING CHU

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Should I have enjoyed this? I thought so.

Hailed as a must read for Westerner’s doing business in China, Japan Korea. Clearly targeted at the United States business market, some glowing references however are made to the land of its publisher, Australia. As a third generation Chinese Australian perhaps I sought to much?

For insights into politically incorrect ways of thinking its an early masterpiece, though it’s a harped on theme. However, the section relating to recent Asian history provides useful insights. For this part of the world this is three or four hundred years.

The author has a mixed cultural upbringing from amongst the lands speaks of. This is clearly an advantage in dissecting the homogeneity of the dominant Asian cultures she tackles.

Putting down the book for me was a pleasure.

Written in 1988, an update for current times is overdue  

Poon Jere Chee 2016

POETRY?

Peter Porter rambles on,

 Romona Koval of the ABC plies him questions as to the meaning of poetry.

 He says

“It means what it means.

There is only meaning to the reader.”

For poetry it’s the power of the listener’s mind thru which true meaning is constructed.

 

I ponder this and moved to write,

these words of thought as where I might.

Have thought that sometimes I might sound

Some feeble rhymes, though unprofound.

Might never know the light of day

and in some files just fade away.

But is the fate of typed in words

The fate of all exulted words?

For in their writing disappear, from mind and thought and thus disdained

They rise on paper light, but pained.

To wrestle with some others thoughts,

Its what I’ve written but not caught,

The sense and substance, what he said

In fact, was it, that poetry’s dead?

 

 

The Name of the Rose?

I’d heard the book name.

It got me in. The reference to the author of the famous book must have got me in. The book is supposedly a twisting of fact into fiction.

Lying on the bed end I got up to part the drapes allowing in more light to read. Wet sunlight then bathed the pages, which fortunately didn’t soften.

I turned the pages listlessly. Somehow I couldn’t get into the metre of the writing, the characters or the places.  I wondered why? I leafed to the end. Well not the end, end. To that place somewhere near the near rear end but sufficiently short of the real end not to giveaway the plot. I read there for a few paragraphs. Hhmm nothing tweaked my interest. I tried to connect, couldn’t. So I tried nearer the front of the book. Near the front where I was already reading and where I’d been thrown off of my reading horse. Nothing there. The writing didn’t just engage me.

So I tried midway between the front where I was thrown from the saddle and the near rear end where I had tried to resolve my perplexity. I was in the middle of the book. I pressed down the book spine to force the leaves to left and right. The writing though remained impermeable, at least to me. The characters seemed disconnected, but in the few sentences I scanned I couldn’t get engaged. Perhaps between the middle and the near end was an answer, or perhaps between the middle and the front. I was starting to disengage. Neither location made any more sense than my longer sortie into the near end.

I could sense the book slipping from me. I closed the gently closed the book and slid off the bed. In the third bedroom bookcase was the pigeon hole from which the book had been taken. The space looked smaller than the book itself. Standing in front of the book case I weighed my options. Ready to throw it out as I realised I’d never read it again. A nice feeling paperback with embossed cover.  I read its front cover, the title and the author’s name, Umberto Eco. He’s the reason I bought it. And on the back cover some blurb about “The Name of the Rose”. I read that too and didn’t quite understand it though.

In the corner of the back cover blurb I see from the price tag I had paid more than a pretty penny.

It was money wasted.

Defriending

There’s a time in life when all you want to do is make amd become friends. It’s important, a mark of being popular, of growing up and differentiating from parents and families. They are rarely counted, though on Facesomething its a means of gauging one’s popularity apparently
Then there’s a time in life for stabilising friends and deepening friendships, for reflecting with one another on the vales and dales tranversed, sometimes together, often separately. The mortar of these friendships can be through children, hobbies, politics anyone of a range of shared interests
And then there’s defriending, realising friends who are no longer there.This is not the opposite of friending on Facesomething, ie unfriending,  Its the grown up process of refining whom amongst our past acquaintances or colleagues, who we wish to stay in touch. Its a discernment, an equality of interests which truly holds a relationship together.

I prefer the communication with another, and not splurge gushing’s to all, which seems the current friending phase. Unfriending in this context becomes the result of some slight, threat or embarrassment. However, unfriending is harder to achieve if your friend count goes down. All the more reason to race out and get a few more ‘friends’ to fill the void!

And so its been a process this weekend of defriending. Each time I set myself to this task I wonder at the passing of time. What will remain? What always remains are the same few. The periphery has fallen away. When an email has changed without advice its a sure sign that contact is lost. Its rarely an address, sometimes a phone number. I’m learning to be less sentimental about the process, assessing whether our best interest is served in re-stoking the cool embers of friendships past.

Defriending is recommended! The sense of who you are writing to/for is enhanced when focus  is maintained on those who appreciate what you write.