Archive for April, 2009


Heads You Win!

25 April 2009

For the last 200 years, or pretty much since European migration, Australians have been playing Two Up.  I’ve never played but it seems to involve placing two coins on a ‘kip’ (a flat piece of wood), tossing them in the air and betting on how they come down. 

It’s very much associated now with the “Diggers” of the 1st World War but was played for many years in pubs and on street corners around the country.  It’s illegal (well, it’s public gambling without a licence) EXCEPT for one day of the year. 

Today.  ANZAC Day (25th April).

I was reminded of this as I was in the City today and everywhere I went there was an incredible amount of noise coming from the beer gardens of the pubs around town as large numbers gathered for their traditional ANZAC Day afternoon of betting on the fall of two coins. 

I love the tradition of it, though I’m not a lover of gambling in general, but as Bob Carr, the then-Premier of New South Wales, reported in Parliament in 2004:

“One of the charities most involved in problem gambling, the Wesley Community Legal Service, a body dealing with problem gamblers, has confirmed that it has never encountered a problem gambler addicted to two up.  That is an interesting bit of trivia for everyone to take home with them.”

I would imagine the drinking that accompanies it causes far more problems.


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My Jerry Springer Moment

22 April 2009

We’d been hearing about the show for the last 3 years or so  –  religious fundies demonstrating in the UK and USA, and the BBC receiving the largest number of complaints (50,000+) in its history after it was aired on British television.

So when we heard it was coming to Sydney, David and I both agreed:  “Yep, that’s the one for us”.   And therefore last night found us at the first night of Jerry Springer – The Opera at Sydney Opera House. 

And we weren’t disappointed.  It was wonderful.  Superb performances – the singing was excellent.  Though I can only imagine the look on the faces of these highly proficient, experienced singers when they received their first manuscript.  “You want me to sing WHAT?”

The only downside for us was that we weren’t able to hear all the words very well – everyone was laughing in the stalls but in the circle it wasn’t always very distinct (we think the amplification was perhaps a bit too loud).  AND the people behind us talked through the entire first half.  But when they started again after the interval, David quite politely told them to shut up. 

This show ran in London for 2 years before touring for a year and is the only show to win all of the 4 New Musical Awards in one year in Britain.    Why it only gets 7 performances at the SOH I’ve no idea, but it’s a great pity. 


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Show And Tell

18 April 2009

I’ve realised that I’m probably the only knitting blogger in Sydney who hasn’t mentioned the Easter Show.  And my cardigan was in a cabinet.

 Easter Show Cardi

Last year there was a lot of moaning because although so many of the entries were beautifully made, they were rather BORING.  This year was so much better.  Entries from really good younger knitters (and of course I don’t include myself in that description) made it much more interesting.  AND these good younger knitters won ribbons.

We’re supposed to be inspiring people to knit –  not making them wonder why anyone would bother.  Now if we could just get the Easter Show people to display them a little more lovingly (bent paper clips and fishing line just doesn’t do it for me  – though I was lucky; mine’s on a hanger with only one edge dragged up with wire).  And encourage more knitters to give it a go.  And persuade the Guild to get the Show to widen and change the categories a little.  Well, we’d be home and dry.

And now on to the crocheting!   The categories are very limiting and although most of the work was excellent, it belonged to a different generation even from mine.  As a teenager I crocheted a lot (mini dresses being my speciality!).  I may pick up a hook again and see if I can produce something worth entering next year.  So if you’re a crocheter, do think about joining me.  And maybe we can update that section a bit as well.

To those of my friends who won ribbons, congratulations!  They were all well-deserved (though some of you were robbed!). 

And a big thank you to all who joined our group at the Preview Night.  Over on the cake-decoration section, there were tears and tantrums, believe it or not.  The knitters, on the other hand, were supportive of each other’s work and genuinely pleased for those who were going home with a ribbon.  I think we’re just a nicer class of people! 

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The Last Word

16 April 2009

As much as I’ve enjoyed a number of you having learned discussions about the teaching of religion in schools, it’s obvious from your comments that I’m never going to be able to explain my position on the subject in a way that will be easily understood.

Far more erudite people than I have written about atheism.  Bertrand Russell’s “Why I’m Not A Christian” (now available online), an essay written in 1927, is a great starting point.  He was one of the foremost philosophers of his time but this is written in a very simple and logical fashion.   And then take a big jump to Richard Dawkins “The God Delusion” written in 2006.

I’m not offended by people who’ve disagreed with me but I don’t intend to dissect my atheism or justify it on my blog.  So I’m going to return to less weighty subjects.  And, for the first time since I’ve been writing here, I’m not allowing comments on this post.  I think I’m entitled to the last word.

Tomorrow, I think I’ll return to a bit of knitting. 


You’ve Come Here To BUY Something?

12 April 2009

I’m finding lately that the people who work in/own yarn shops fall into two categories – those you just want to take home and knit with,   And those you definitely don’t.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve experienced some really weird service in (what we used to call) wool shops.   I was thinking about this after I’d experienced another bout of rather bizarre service last week.

I was buying yarn in a shop that also sells sewing and embroidery stuff. I was being ‘served’ (if that’s the right word) by an assistant.  The owner wasn’t around.  I saw a packet of safety pins and that reminded me that I needed some small gold ones.  But I couldn’t see those.  So I asked.  The reply?  “We don’t sell safety pins” in a manner that suggested that the selling of safety pins was somehow beneath contempt.  I pointed out that I’d seen some on the stand – silver/chrome ones.  “No, they’re for quilting”.  So I went and had a look.  Bog-standard safety pins in a bog-standard packet.  No mention that they were for anything specific.  They were safety pins.   And I didn’t give a damn what purpose people used them for.  I left.

Then there’s the shop that not only doesn’t price their yarn but seems to want to keep that important information quite secret.  After the third trip to the counter to ask how much something was, and getting raised eyebrows from the assistant, I left.  Empty-handed.  Never returned.  Most of my knitting friends apparently have done the same.  I know there are shops where if you have to ask the price, you obviously can’t afford the goods so no prices are shown.  But a WOOL shop?

I’m really doing my best to keep yarn shop owners in business but sometimes it’s just too hard. 



Let’s Put It Another Way

10 April 2009

Well I certainly woke you all up talking about the teaching of religion in schools.  But I apparently didn’t state my views very clearly as there seems to be a bit of confusion about what I was actually saying.

So let’s start again:

1.     I believe that all children should be taught about religion – as many religions as possible – their history and culture.

2.    They should be taught ABOUT religion – not taught to BE religious.  That is not the place of schools in society.  Religious faith is being taught in churches, mosques, temples and family homes across the country and that’s where it should stay.

3.    They should be taught ABOUT religion by properly qualified professionals, ie teachers (that’s what they’re there for).    Not by amateurs, however well-intentioned, who have a particular story to sell. 

4.    Any teacher who can’t teach a subject without personal prejudices affecting their classes shouldn’t be teaching.

5.    There ARE other subjects on which people are passionate but we don’t insist that because we’re, for instance, socialists that politics classes can only be taught by paid-up members of the Labor party.  In history classes covering the Second World War, do we insist that a member of the Nazi party be brought in so that the children don’t get a lop-sided view?  We rely on qualified, experienced teachers to give our children the facts, from all angles.

6.    As has been discussed many times in the Sydney Morning Herald, it is actually ILLEGAL  in NSW to offer children alternative classes if they’re excluded from the religious classes on offer, though I believe some schools do it.  So, for instance, if you don’t want your child to attend the Christianity classes that are the only ones available to the children in that school, you can’t ask the school to provide alternative religious education to those excluded children.  All the children can do while this lesson is taking place is play, or do private study/homework.

7.    I HAVE  been on both sides of the fence here.  I converted to atheism (from Christianity) when I was in my 20’s – the road to Damascus isn’t a one-way street.  I’ve read the Bible from cover to cover (and have a certificate to prove it!)   Like most converts, I’m probably more vehement about my beliefs than those brought up in that culture. I do feel very strongly that atheists should be accorded the same respect that we’re constantly being told to give to those with religious beliefs. 

8    I don’t think that my beliefs are more valid than others, although I obviously believe they’re right, otherwise I’d change them. 


Where Have All The Girls Gone?

8 April 2009

I thought I was imagining this so did a bit of a count-up recently.   Why is just about everyone I know giving birth to boys?  Among my friends/colleagues/knitting groups, the birth of a girl is a rare event – in fact it’s about 80/20 boys/girls.

Would any of you who have contact with kindergartens and child care facilities be able to tell me whether the ratios are a bit strange at the moment.   (Or is it just my friends?)