A unwelcome Guest

We have a pet fly. Perhaps I did not express myself properly. 

What I meant was, we have a fly living with us and who, for unknown reasons, has adopted us as her pets.

She follows us everywhere. But I have the feeling she is more attached to me than to my wife.

At first she appeared at our dinner table.  Every time food was put on the table there was a buzz in the air. This, no doubt, comes naturally to a fly. I tried to catch her many times and I thought I did so. I felt her in my closed hand. On opening my hand to release her outside, I could not see her. On walking inside, I saw her flying directly into my face to welcome me back.

After the meals and doing the dishes, she would be flying happily around my head assured I could not harm her with my hands in the water. Honestly, I do not want any of her caresses. She is a nuisance.

When I carry out the rubbish she follows me too. She flies around my head and shows off her acrobatic tricks. She never flies too far away afraid I could sneak inside without her. I can tell you, she is a smart cookie. As soon as I turn to walk back in, she settles down on my back.

Once inside she flies ahead, makes somersaults in the air and would laugh her multi-eyed head off if she could. 

After the evening meal and doing the dishes we usually settle down in front of the TV to watch the unfolding horror of the daily news. At first I can hear her buzzing around my head. Then she flies in front of the TV set as if to shout,  “Here I am. I’m here!”

When the Minister for Immigration comes on to announce, to my displeasure, that his Borderforce has stopped another boat loaded with desperate asylum seekers, our fly delights me by trying to crawl into the minister’s nose. Of course, she gets frustrated and instead attacks my ear.

Today we did go  by train to Sydney. We were hoping to get some relief from our fly. You won’t believe this  when we entered the train carriage she was already sitting on the windowsill looking at us expectantly with her beady  eyes.

I was  hoping to  take a picture of her. But she did not settle down long enough for me to do this. By refusing to be photographed,  she wanted to show the whole world how paranoid I am. I have no proof!

Once in Sydney I expected her to get lost. The smells of so many people would surely confuse her as she is just an innocent little house fly from the country.

It seemed to work and we were not bothered by her while in the city.

But as soon as we stepped onto the train for the return journey there she was again.  She was flying happily around our heads indicating that she was pleased to have found us again.

“Alright,” I said, “let’s go home together.”

“Bridge of Spies” – Glienicke Bridge

Today, 26 years ago ( on the morning of the 10 November, Australian time) the Berlin Wall was opened. Next day, Berlin Time, the old border between West-Berlin and the GDR (East-Germany) was opened at the border to between Berlin and Potsdam.

Sign on Glienike Bridge, today

Sign on Glienike Bridge, today

The sign reads, “Here was Germany and Europe until the 10th of November 1989 at 1800 hour divided”.

So it was astonishingly appropriate that we, my wife Uta and I, saw a film today that had that bridge as a dramatic backdrop. It was another story, from the time of the Cold War, that was told in the film “Bridge of Spies“.  Here is a trailer of the film.

As a former resident of Berlin, I’m not unfamiliar with the bridge. I visited her many times and the bridge was once before the background for a movie. “Under the Bridges” was the last German film made before the end of the war but only shown after the end of the war.

This particular construction of the Glienicke Bridge was only completed in 1907.

In 1986, three years before it re-opening we were visiting her.

View across the River Havel towards Potsdam

View across the River Havel towards Potsdam (1986)

The bridger with boadersign and guard's hut 1986

The bridge with border sign and guard’s hut (1986)

This really was the border of the Western world. Whereever you were in West-Berlin, you always faced the East.

This really was the border of the Western world. Wherever you were in West-Berlin, you always faced the East. (1986)

Today, you should take a walk across the bridge and let the full impact grab you.  In the middle is a line marking the former border.

This masrks the old East / West borderline.

This marks the old East / West borderline.

This the approach to bridge from the Potsdam end of the border. Today the bridge is the border beweteen the City of Berlin and the Federal State of Brandenburg.

This is the approach to the bridge from the Potsdam end of the border. Today the bridge is the border between the City of Berlin and the Federal State of Brandenburg.

And if you have made it to this spot, you are right in front of the beautiful cafe “Garage Du Pont”.

You can sit and ponder the history of the bridge while you indulge yourself.

 Garage Du Pont

Garage Du Pont

Here you can enjoy a coffee, an apple tart or a brandy  or all three of them.

Bon appetite!

Bon appetite!

The film is not only based on a true event, but it is also a stark portrayal of the American justice system. Justice is not always been done but depends often on people  like James B. Donovan  100 out of 100 for Tom Hanks too. The scenes at the border, in August 1961 when the wall went up, were just frightening to watch.

A few times I had to fight back tears as I saw how Berlin suffered.

Ron Bates

Two weeks ago would have been the 102nd birthday of our late friend Ronald (Ron) Hamilton Bates. We got to know him during the sixties when he gave speech lessons to our daughter Gaby while she was in the Prince Henry Hospital, Sydney, Little Bay. after contracting poliomyelitis.

Ron became a dear friend of our family and stayed many a weekend with us. We even got to know his mother and his sister Jean,  a well-known piano player, in Sydney.

I don’t want to write his biography  here but would like to mention, that he was the grandson Australia’s icon, Daisy Bates. He grew up in Goulburn and was able to tell us a lot about early Australia.

Why I’m writing about him. Well, today I looked at some photos from 1986 when he and his sister came to the airport in Sydney to see us off  for one off our trips to Germany.

You see the late Ron Bates in the centre besides my wife Uta. on the left is sitting me and behind us my son Martin with his son Tristan.

You see the late Ron Bates in the centre besides my wife Uta.I’m sitting on the left and behind us is our son Martin with his baby son Tristan.

He gave us a self-made bon-voyage card and six post-card-sized drawings. I think they are all worth showing to the world.

This drawing is not bigger than a postage stamp. The is a little cottage he always dreamt about once owning.

This drawing is not bigger than a postage stamp. There  is a little cottage he was always dreaming about he could be owning one day.

The next drawing shows a minimalistic  landscape. It shows how with a few strokes he was able to create  a landscape in which the observer finds a lot to interpret.


The next drawing shows a jumble of items and I have the feeling he wanted to show the creation and life on Earth, culminating in the Dollar. It is not very optimistic but then, he was not very optimistic about mankind. But he understood people well and had a good attitude towards them.



If people were the pinnacle of creation he shows us on his next drawing that he had his doubts. There is a pair of lovers, but they are outweighed by others arguing.

People being people, loving, arguing and discussing

People being people, loving, arguing and discussing

In the next picture, we see an  elderly woman contemplating the world. She is not in the centre but at periphery looking at a white canvas, so to speak. She tries to understand but can’t see head or tail.

Elderly woman can not see much

An elderly woman cannot see much!

In the next picture, I think, Ron gives us his own interpretation what he thought of the Dollar: he waves it ‘Good Bye’. I don’t think the person in the drawing wants to grab the Dollar, even so it is hovering like a Fata Morgana in the distance.

Good Bye, Dollar!

Good Bye, Dollar!

The last drawing is similar to the first one. It shows the cottage again, but this time surrounded by some trees. Perhaps he meant it for us to come back to, after  our trip.

The dream cottage in the bush

The dream cottage in the bush

Ron became a good friend over the years. Growing up after WW 1 and during the great Depression he missed out on a good education, as so many of his generation did. We had many discussions on a wide range  of subjects with him. Australia needed people like him but could not care less. Australia was the real loser.

The next generation of intellectuals left Australia in droves for the home country, Mother England.  During  the Menzies years, Australia became a white canvas for people to stare at or seek other outlets for their imagination.

Where are my Things?


The day came to an end. Jack, ever so reluctantly, was ready to go to bed. He hated  getting ready for bed. Normally, it took him  about thirty minutes, and by the time he was hitting the sack, his wife was fast asleep.

He should have got ready earlier while his wife Betty was asleep in front of the TV, not watching the  show she  was  desperate not to miss. Jack  did not like the show, but he watched it anyway  to be with his wife. When it was over and he switched off the TV,  the sudden silence  brought Betty back to life. She announced it was time to go to bed, and she disappeared into the back of the house.

Jack knew that the window of opportunity, to use the bathroom, had passed. Betty had overtaken him in the race to the bed. Well, he cleaned up a few things and trundled to the bathroom when he noticed Betty entering the bedroom.

The look into the bathroom mirror confirmed to him that his face looked drawn and tired. He wanted to remove his bottom denture to clean it but found it wasn’t there. Where was his denture? Jack had completely forgotten, when and where he had taken it out.

“Betty, do you know where my dentures are?” he shouted to the bedroom.

Betty answered from the bedroom, “Do I have to look after your choppers, too?”

Jack could not hear what Betty was saying. and shouted back, “What did you say?”

“It seems to me, that  you are not using your hearing aid either?”

Jack had gone into the bedroom to be able to understand better what Betty was saying, “No, no, I mislaid them earlier and can’t find it. I need my glasses to look for the hearing aid.”

After a pause, in which he looked for his glasses, he said, “The bloody glasses are not where they are supposed to be.  – I’m sick of getting old and constantly searching for the things I need to be a full human being.”

Betty grabbed a book and told  him, to hurry up as she would not stay awake forever. Jack went back into the living room and searched for his hearing aid. It was not that he wanted to use it, but he wanted to put it into its proper place where he would be sure to find it in the morning. Order and consistency were important to him to find his way through the daily life. Everything has to be in the right place. Then he would be able to cope.  Everything else would be chaotic and create only stress for him.

He found his denture near his computer, his glasses were on top of the coffee machine.

What Jack found!

                                                  What Jack found!

After he finished, what he called his body maintenance, he came back into the bedroom where Betty was fast asleep with a book still in her hand. He carefully took the book out of her hands, switched off the lights. But sleep would not come easily. Thoughts were still racing in his head. He dreaded the morning when his creaking body would have difficulties getting into gear again.

At his age, every day was a bonus day, even if the bonus  was mixed  with the difficulties of  advanced age.


The survival value of a just Society

In a comment to a recent blog of mine, “The Crime of Poverty” I was asked the question, “…does justice have a survival value?”. I tried to answer it and my answer became rather long. I thought, I could just as well make a post for my  blog out of it. And here is my answer:

An interesting question! I would say there are different answers within a society and among societies.

Within a society, justice is important, as injustice, in the end, leads to revolution (as in France 1789 and the Russian Empire 1917). Those particular societies went under in a bloodbath. The governing elite could have prioritized justice, but the greedy, property owning elite did not want to know. The “let them eat cake” mentality led to their demise.

You can ask yourself, which are so most stable societies? The answer is the Scandinavian countries! They have created societies, through the redistribution of wealth, that are relatively more just than other societies.

The human race lives in densely packed societies today. Justice is an important part of keeping the inner peace. The hunter-gathering societies lived in clans and love among its members was sufficient justice for survival.

The storm clouds in the Western-orientated societies are already gathering. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the property owning class has become bolder and bolder. People are not happy taking note of this development.

Populous movements are springing up in many countries. They might not be the solution, but they are the expression of their frustration with the daily injustice they experience.

I learned today, that there at present 3.5 million unoccupied apartments in Spain. Yet many people have no place of abode. People are being evicted from their flats, as they can’t serve their mortgages. The system has failed them and that is perceived as injustice.

There is no social Darwinism. The Nazis believed in the survival of the fittest. The more just (not perfect) societies won the war. Darwin advocated a biological evolution only. Western societies invented enlightenment to create a better and just society. It is a work in progress and at this stage we witness a struggle of the enlightened people and the Ayan Rands of this world.

There is no guarantee that the former will win because Arthur Schopenhauer said, in a conflict between “Will and Reason” “Will” will win anytime. Still I think a just society has more chances to survive longer.

My Brain – my Master or an imperfect Tool?


Spring is in the air - an Australian Wattle in full bloom

Spring is in the air – an Australian Wattle in full bloom


Sometimes I wonder whether my brain is in charge or I am.

I have come to the conclusion that there is  a difference. My brain is a bit of a bully. It likes to tell me what to do and how to do it. And this independently from my wishes.

It starts already in the morning. While I definitely want  to sleep another wink, my brain has no compunction giving  me signals to get up. The first signal arrives via the bladder of course. I try to ignore this signal by calling on the god of dreams, Morpheus. But he has gone to where the night has gone to and can’t hear my prayers anymore. I have to get up.

All day, my brain is urging me on, even when my body can’t go on anymore. We would assume, that the brain knows the condition of the body, but this is not so. I like to jog and I get ready and go out and  hit the road. My brain encourages me instead of warning me. At my age, a step in time could mean  a step in pain.

My mind is not my brain. It uses the brain too, but then, the brain does its own thinking and tries to influence me. The brain ages too, but it does not know it! The memory is shrinking but still, the brain does think with a reduced capacity.

A quiet place for contamplation

A quiet place for contemplation

Even uneducated people  do a lot of thinking, but mostly,  they come to the wrong conclusions. Having an old brain is like being uneducated as the knowledge to know better has dissolved. Wasn’t it Albert Einstein, who said we are using only 1% of our brain. But what if we lose the good 1% first? Wouldn’t that create havoc with our lives?

This happens a lot to me, because of my failing memory. I try to get by with my feelings and how I perceive the world at a certain moment in time. But my brain has not a bar of it. It urges me on, bullies me, to do things that are dangerous.

My hearing and my vision are impaired, but my brain takes no notice of it. When we were children we had problems estimating the speed of oncoming traffic. I had a childhood friend who ended up under a tram. For Christ’s sake, one cannot overlook a big monster like a tram.

Now that I am old, I experience the same problems. I might be able to estimate the speed of a car, but not the time that has passed between looking right and left. My own actions are much slower and by the time I have checked in both directions a car might be approaching which was nowhere to be seen a moment  earlier. Still, my brain gives me the okay to cross the road. If I hear the screech of the brakes, I’m okay.

Two creatures listen to their inner feelings

Two creatures listen to their inner feelings

After the age of forty the brain shrinks by 5% each decade. That means, in my case, 20% of my brain is gone. Surely, my cognitive ability must be suffering. But I’m sure my brain has no idea and thinks all is fine and dandy.  How often we have heard from people, who clearly look aged beyond their years. “I still feel young!” they pronounce, unaware  that their brain is playing tricks on them. Perhaps not on purpose, but out of sheer ignorance. It seems ridiculous, but the brain can’t even estimate its own age.

If there is a repair to be done around the house my brain urges me to do it. I’m the man, I have to do it! When I get the ladder out, there is no warning, just the instruction, “Do it!”

On wobbly legs, I climb up and put myself in mortal danger. My wife can see that, but my brain has no idea. Is it, that the brain has a death wish? That would explain why so many elderly people have  accidents. It is almost like the brain wants to get rid of me.

Strong roots are a strong foundation

Strong roots are a strong foundation


Perhaps, I am old enough to recognise, that I can’t do anything about my brain. It is the one I developed myself in the womb. I’m stuck with it. Now, I have to control it instead it controlling me.

At the Bell of Gratitude overlooking the Illawarra region of NSW towards Mt Kembla

At the Bell of Gratitude overlooking the Illawarra region of NSW towards Mt Kembla






Last evening this message from my daughter Caroline came up on my FB site:

Work for the day and the week done. Social media for the day done. Time for some dinner and a glass of red to start a rejuvenating weekend. Have a good one everyone”

What did the message say? That she was happy with her achievements of the week? It almost sounded like the Bible and that the Lord was happy when he “saw it  was good” and now it was time for the Sabbath. She hoped to rejuvenate when she would  face the tasks in  the next week.

That is how it should be; work and rest in the right proportions.

As an aged pensioner, I do a lot of rejuvenating already and I can tell you,  it is not easy. I’m using a lot of energy just doing the rejuvenating. But actually, I’m not rejuvenating att all. I’m aging whatever I do.

When I was a youngster and just starting out with my working life I too looked forward to the weekends. It was time to meet up with friends and chasing girls. On Sundays, we dressed up in our finest.

A trench coat was compulsory on a rainy day. Three friends at a local festival (I'm the one on the right)

A trench coat was compulsory on a rainy day. Three friends at a local festival (I’m the one on the right)

Cinema was the big thing and they just invented CinemaScope. The big picture really hit us when the curtain opened. The first film of this type I saw was “The Robe” with Victor Mature. In those days, I loved historical films. Even if they were not entirely true depictions of the events, they nevertheless fired our imagination.

Now, Sundays are like any other day  we try to rejuvenate. There is one exception, I refuse to go shopping on a Sunday! Still, we have to adjust some of our activities to the work life of others.

In two weeks time, we will take the (slow) train to Melbourne. There is no fast train as our governments don’t like working for the future  and the joke is, that they call the train, “Interstate Express”.

Next Saturday we will go to the theatre in Sydney. We will see “The Bleeding Tree” by Angus Cirini. I will write a blog about it, but here is one sentence Angus Cirini says, The primary role of government is not to manage the economy it is to allow for a healthy society to flourish.”  Well, I think governments have forgotten this lesson or they just ignore it.

Here is what the Griffin Theatre writes about the play:

In a dirt-dry town in rural Australia, a shot shatters the still night. A mother and her daughters have just welcomed home the man of the house – with a crack in the shins and a bullet in the neck. The only issue now is disposing of the body.

Triggered into thrilling motion by an act of revenge, The Bleeding Tree is rude, rhythmical and irreverently funny. Imagine a murder ballad blown up for the stage, set against a deceptively deadly Aussie backdrop, with three fierce females fighting back.”

We have our next two weekends  covered and they are “footy-free”.