I'm back, it's hot, and I'm raring for another year
Well, the Christmas silly season has well and truly passed, and the brown and brittle pine tree has been stripped of its shiny baubles, hand-painted paper angels, coloured lights and tinsel, and dragged outside to the driveway until I decide how we'll convince the garbos to take it with the usual rubbish collection.
And boy is it hot! Bush fires are raging once again in Victoria, threatening various towns in Gippsland and the Northwest, while Melbourne gets used to the idea of getting through summer like Manila, Kuala Lumpur or Bangkok – with a permanent haze from burning forests.
While much was happening around the world, my family and I were blissfully unaware (or unconcerned) in our post-Christmas summer holiday – first on the beach at Philip Island, with of some friends of ours, where we enjoyed the sun, surf and sand – albeit with the usual UV protections.
Then, on our return to the city, enjoying Melbourne's favourite summer pursuits, including visits to the Museum (air-conditioning and stuffed animals. Hmm), gelati on Lygon Street, Carlton, a dip in the local pool, a visit to the Howard Arkley exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria (at Federation Square) and spending time with family and friends.
Oh, and remembering how much I love jacarandas when they flower in summer! (See above.) They remind me of lush tropical hot weather – perhaps because I associate them with Brisbane, where I have family – until Victoria's dry heat withers all their flowers to a yucky indigo-brown.
All the same, no holiday can shelter us so completely from the world (nor should it). I couldn't help noticing, of course, how US President Bush is pushing to increase US troop deployments to Iraq (despite huge opposition from experts and the US public). Sheer idiocy.
Fear and Loathing
Nor could I ignore the fact that Australia is witnessing another resurgence of its ugly white racism and xenophobia – not so deeply buried in the redneck isolationist interior, after all. The community of Tamworth, in New South Wales, is rejecting federal government plans to increase the number of South Sudanese refugees it wants to resettle in the town and region as part of the Fed's programme of settling newly arriving refugee communities in regional towns and centres where they can become fodder for the factory farms, abattoirs and other regional industries.
With this issue, I found myself commenting on it as I was drawn into another fascinating conversation at Sarsaparilla about what Australia (and Australians) fear, and I said:
This issue is one that is still fraught for me – the city is still, to me, the place where migrants, refugees, and assorted ‘others’ and those of the peripheries find safe heaven from the racism of the redneck interior (can you guess I had unhappy experiences in rural and regional Australia?) – the centre is where, paradoxically, the decentred can secure safety, cultural autonomy and continuity and community.
Forcing newly arriving refugee communities, as the Australian govt is doing with the Sudanese, to settle in regional towns so that they are fodder for the factory farms and abattoirs is an anathema to me for that reason. Yet, it galls me that redneck Australia wants to still demand its purity and isolation be protected against black migrants…What else am I afraid of? Bad drivers – especially now that I've started riding my bicycle regularly to work and I take my life in my hands whenever I have to move off the bike track or when drivers turn across the track ahead of me without looking for oncoming bikes – i.e me!!
Oh, and the Japanese whaling fleet is on its way to Antarctica to start butchering more whales. Again. Once again, I do hope that the the activists from Greenpeace and Sea Sheppard manage to curtail the hunt numbers again.
As you can see, I'm fired up and raring to go. Happy New Year, everyone, and thank you for all your support and kind words for my blogging last year. I hope you keep coming back to visit my blog and share your insights with me and ideas for future posts. It's fun.