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5 November, 2020

Recently I came across a pair of Wood Ducks with chicks at Towradgi Creek, New South Wales, Australia. As it turned out the male was not keen on me getting too close to the chicks. I was told in no uncertain terms to back off which I did. I suppose you can’t blame a father for being protective.

Nowadays Fairy Meadow train station, south coast New South Wales celebrates the Fairy Wrens that can be found in the area with wonderful street art.

In Christmas 2017 there was a Dalek at Wollongong library, south coast, New South Wales.

It seems that every year on Facebook and elsewhere there are Christmas naysayers lurking in wait for those who would celebrate the festive season. As much as I would like to see them exterminated by a Christmas Dalek, that sadly is simply not to be.

The date for Jesus’ birthday is wrong! Cries out some demented soul. Actually, no one really knows exactly when he was born. Some theologians try to work out both the year and the month by the star seen in the sky. That’s all beyond me.

December the Twenty-fifth, however, is ideal for those living in the northern hemisphere. For them it is cold outside and they could do with something special going on to cheer themselves up with.

Christmas where I grew up in Australia was different from the UK or the USA but just as festive. It included presents, barbeques and trips to the beach. The weather always hot and I recall myself and my eldest sister, when we were very young, dancing into and out of the family lawn sprinklers in our swimming costumes. There was also family get-togethers and cricket played just for fun.

Getting back to the naysayers, there will be someone on the net equating Santa with Satan. Does this have something to do with the red suit? Well the red suit with the white fur was an American invention. In Germany, and indeed in the USA during much of the 19th Century, Santa was in green and brown. Just because Santa is in red nowadays, doesn’t mean he has gone over to the dark side. He has just become more American. Sorry to disappoint. Besides, in Australia of late he has been depicted dressed in a red T-shirt and board shorts.

Is everyone in Western society a Christian? Boy do the naysayers have fun with that! Yes we are multicultural. No this does not mean we should cancel Christmas or do away with Carols in the Park.

If I and a lot of others demanded we should do away with Muslim Ramadan there would be great protests to save it and quite right too. If I and others called for an end to people of the Jewish faith celebrating Hanukkah there would be a hue and cry to keep it. Okay then let non-Christians who have their own religious celebrations have them in peace and let there be Christmas for those who want it. There you go! All sorted!

Giving people presents in December started in Rome with the followers of the god Saturn hence the practice is non-Christian and shouldn’t take place. Oh but it should! Let people have fun. You will find pagan elements in Judaism and Christianity and that is fine with me.

Remember, remember the fifth of November, the gunpowder, treason and plot, I see no reason why gunpowder, treason should ever be forgot. Guy Fawkes ’twas his intent to blow up king and parliament. Three score barrels were laid below to prove old England’s overthrow. By God’s mercy he was catched with dark lantern and lighted match. Holler boys, holler boys, let the bells ring. Holler boys, holler boys, God save the King.

Yes, this is Guy Fawkes Night in England. It’s on the 5th of November celebrating the failure of the gunpowder plot of 1605. Those who wanted to blow up parliament in London with James the first of England who was also James the Six of Scotland in attendance could not possibly have succeeded. The plot was known well in advance. Nevertheless it was audacious and made life worse for Catholics living in England, many of which had nothing to do with the plot.

It began with the hope that James when he became king of both Scotland and England would make life easier for Catholics living in England because his mother was a Catholic. This did not happen and so a band of young frustrated men decided the new king had to go. It did not end well for them.

In recent literature there is Albus Dumblesdore’s phoenix named Fawkes who appears in some of the now famous Harry Potter books and movies.

The 1980s was a busy time for me. I managed to come out of it with a B.A in Liberal Studies and a Graduate Diploma in Education, both from Mitchell College of Advanced Education in Bathurst which is now Charles Sturt University.

I remember the local radio station in Bathurst playing episodes of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

I spent years in Bathurst getting both degrees, Bathurst being in the country. When I came out a qualified teacher there were few teaching positions available so I did casual teaching and tutoring for a while.

I enjoyed the tutoring but not so much the casual teaching. You would find yourself beside the phone of a morning half hoping for a phone call that would mean employment as a teacher that day and also half dreading that phone call. It was not the best way to live.

One of my short stories was published in an English magazine and another in a Russian magazine. I was also published in Australia and the USA.

The popular sounds of the 1980s included bands such as Siouxsie and the Banshees, Blondie, Devo and Joy Division.

The lyrics to Devo’s Girl U Want reminded me of an old English ballad with the line ’If she be not for me, what care I for whom she be.”

Of the books that came out in the 1980s the ones worth reading include: The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco (1980), The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams (1980), A Fortunate Life by Albert Facey (1981), Maus by Art Spiegelman, The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett (1983), Misery by Stephen King (1987), and The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet (1989).

Of the movies that came out in the 1980s these are still worth watching: The Man from Snowy River starring Sigrid Thornton (1982), War Games starring Ally Sheedy (1983), Gandhi starring Ben Kingsley (1983), Never Say Never Again with Sean Connery back as 007 (1983), The Jewel of the Nile starring Kathleen Turner (1985), The Princess Bride starring Robin Wright (1987), The Untouchables starring Sean Connery (1987), and Batman starring Michael Keaton (1989).

I didn’t like the 1987 Untouchables movie at first because I had such fond memories of the black and white TV series which starred Robert Stack as Elliott Ness. The movie, however, has grown on me and I can see why the critics loved it.

The 1980s was slightly better for me than the 1970s but there were still pitfalls. In the end we have to concede that every decade has it great moments and also it’s not so great times. Cheers!

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