Sunday, 23 September 2018

Chapter 104 :Return to not work

Sometimes when you retire you return to your place of previous employment.
Well this is the way it went for me.
In 1994 I started a dental surgery in the middle of Hobart.  I worked there for about twenty years. It was my practice.  The practice I created. I put my life into it. It resonated with my personality. When I was awake I spent more time there than anywhere else. 
Today I am taking one of my grandchildren to the dentist. To see a dentist working were I used to work.  In the same room with the same chair.
The waiting room has changed. A new screen for the computer. That’s new and better. They had to change that. Gertrude, my grandchild starts arranging the toys on the floor. I aim for the pile of magazines.
There is another man waiting. I greet him.  Things used to be different. I used to work here and he would occasionally visit me.   Now we sit side by side. We have to find something to talk about. We can’t talk about his teeth. That topic has gone. It’s now forbidden.
Another patient arrives. She greets me cheerfully and says, “When are you going to come back?”
I say, “I am never coming back. I enjoyed my time here. But now it’s time for someone else to work here and time for me to do something else.”
Gertrude is called into the surgery. I follow. The much wiped chair is central to the room.  The ceiling is just the way I arranged it. Replete with pictures that I placed there.  Wow I remember that picture of Dexter. That dog is dead now.
What’s that machine over there? That’s new.  What have they done with this room? They have altered it.  They did that without asking me. They are treating it like they own the place.
When working as a dentist you often see and inherit the work of another dentist. Broken fillings. Failed crowns or rampant decay. I wonder what they are seeing. They are seeing all my old work. What are they thinking of it.  How is my work coping?
After selling the practice there was the first time I returned.  I spent the whole visit thinking about what they should do. They must look out for that autoclave. It can be unpredictable. You can tell by the noise it makes. I must tell them about the air-conditioner. How to control the apparently uncontrollable air-conditioner.  And that drawer is a perfect spot for the bibs. 
I felt like a retired cricketer commentating on the cricket. He should be standing slightly more upright. That would help him counter the bounce.
Today I no longer have the urge to tell them what to do. I have gone past being an expert commentator. I no longer feel I should tell them anything. I sit back and think, “Do whatever you want. It’s your practice - do it your way. You will make mistakes and you will learn from them.”
The dentist seeing Gertrude has the nightmare of working with me watching her. Gertrude sits on the chair and the chair changes shape. She wears sunglasses and a bib.  She is very happy as she gets her teeth polished and cleaned and then she receives some stickers.
I am not sure how much the dentist working here knows about me. Does she realise her job and this place depends on me. Does she know that without me that chair would not be there? She would be working elsewhere.
Well I know this practice would be nothing without her.  The current owners and staff have taken the tree I planted, watered it, fed it and nurtured it. Without them it would be dead. They have given the practice life. New enthusiastic ways of doing things.
This practice needs us both. And one day it may need someone else.
Walking down the stairs I am very happy to see the practice functioning so well. I am happy to see so many patients who have moved on. They are now seeing somebody else and are happy with their new dentist. I am happy not to be missed.
Writing this my thoughts turn to my grandfather, Clarrie Carlton. His life was the newspaper he started.  In 1965 he sold the newspaper to a man called Rupert Murdoch. Somehow he had to find a way of living after his precious baby went in new directions.  The paper he gave birth to is still going strong more than 50 years after he sold it. He would be happy with that.

Monday, 17 September 2018

Chapter 103: the Domain

With my grandchildren I walk on a hill on the Domain. This is an opportunity for me to pretend I know more than them. I say, “This hill is the place were radio masts were erected in 1911 in order to communicate with the Antarctic.”
I ask them, “Imagine you are at the other end of this radio in the Antarctic. What are you going to say?”

Gertrude says, “I would upload a picture of the penguins.”

I say, “Well you have a good point there. Because Mawson they went their largely for scientific reasons. They did go there to look at the penguins.”

My grandchildren know the name Mawson because of the huts on the docks. After much talking we agree Mawson went to the Antarctic in 1912 and erected huts in the Antarctic (which are now on our docks in Hobart) and spoke to Australia via the Domain.

Moving on we head towards some concrete slabs on the east side of the hill.  I say, “Do you have any idea what was built here.”

They are mute so I inform them, “A number of defense force installations were built on the Domain.”

Bruce says, “Where’s the big gun?”

“Bruce you’re thinking of a different place.  That gun (Bellerive) was built a long time before the buildings over here. The concrete placed here was for the war against the Japanese between 1939 and 1945.”

Bruce hears the word war which excites him.
“Wow I can use my light sword.” says Bruce.

 Bruce swings a branch around as a light sword. His favourite films include light swords, goodies and baddies. To think this could have happened up here on the Domain.

I pretend I am a responsible adult and tell him, “We would prefer to be friends with Japan. To eat sushi and drive Toyota cars. We both win if we work together.”

Bruce continues hitting plants and de-heading grass with his stick. He says, “We will defeat them.”

I say to Bruce, “Imagine you are in class and the teacher ask you to draw a picture. You can fight with the person on the next table. Break his pencils and rip up his paper. To stop him drawing a better picture than you.  Another option is that you can work together. Help each other. Which way are you going to go?”

Bruce keeps waving his stick around wishing it was a light saver. He pauses slightly. 

He is torn. He loves drawing with his classmates.  And he loves films involving fighting between goodies and badies.  
I tell Bruce, “There was no war on the Domain. The Japanese never came anywhere near Hobart.”

The political correct angel is sitting on my shoulder telling me to tell them the full story. 

“Bruce and Gertrude. The Japanese did not fight a war here. Can you tell me of any war fought anywhere near here?”

That is a rhetorical question because I know they will not answer it.

My answer is that in 1803 Britain decided to come here and start another colony of the British Empire. When they arrived there were already aborigines living here.  There were many differences and clashes between the two groups of people. Many of these clashes involved violence. The aboriginal people living on the Domain were invaded and fought to protect their way of life.

Gertrude says, “So that’s why we have the Cenotaph.”

“No you are not correct. The Cenotaph is a memorial to other brave and courageous Tasmanians.” 
Bruce throws his stick away and says, “Everybody should have drawn pictures together. They should have worked together.”

They both find the idea of aborigines living on the Domain difficult to comprehend.

Gertrude says “Where did they live? There are no houses up here.”

I have to agree. There are no houses on the Domain.  I decide there is only one thing I can show them that might prove that at one time aboriginals did lived up here.

We head down towards the river. I show them piles of shells in the banks below the path running beside the Derwent River.  They look at the shells. I say, “What are these shells telling you.”

We discuss the shells but I am distracted. The name of the Queens Domain should be changed.  Prior to 1803 it was managed by the Mouheneenner aboriginal people. In 1860 the Governor handed the Queens Domain to the people of Hobart. 

Either give the Queens Domain a name that recognizes the aboriginals who lived there or do what everybody does call it.  Call it the Domain. Let’s get rid of the Queen from Queens Domain. The present Queen doesn’t own it. She rarely visits. And has no direct interest in managing  the Domain.

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Chapter 102 : parkrun Singapore

My life involves a trip to Europe and being a parkrun fanatic.
Can I combine the two?     

I go to parkrun global. I look up places I will be on Saturday and possible parkrun options. Nuremberg is a near miss. They do parkrun but the dry weather is leading to a low river and a change to my trip means I will miss out on this parkrun.  Singapore emerges as an option but I will be transferring via Singapore on a Friday.

We add a day to our transfer in Singapore and we will now be in Singapore on Saturday and they have three parkruns to choose from.

Further goggling tells me the East Coast parkrun is the closest. About 5 kms from my hotel. It starts at 7:30 a.m.

To get there we will need a taxi. Should be easy to get a taxi from the hotel.

In Singapore the weather on Friday tells me tomorrow is going to be warm. Before going to bed I lay out my running clothes, my bar code and a water bottle.

Saturday is parkrun day. We head downstairs looking for a taxi. The driver knows exactly where to go and drops us off at the spot Mr Goggle tells us. It is before 7 and immediately a couple of runners are obvious. They are waiting in a shelter. We approach them. They are parkrunners but it is their first time at this parkrun. We all think we are in the right spot.

The park is busy with people. More runners appear and eventually one says the magic words, “I have done this parkrun before and it starts here.”

As he is saying this a man hammers a parkrun banner into the ground and starts placing witches hats in lines. His confirmation relaxes and pleases us. 

More people start appearing out of nothing. Either singularly or in groups. They wear tops advertising local services, local runs or local clubs. They begin stretching, jogging or greeting other runners.
The race director gives a talk to the gathered crowd. I keenly listen to his comments on the proposed course.  All us visitors (a lot) get to put up our hands and say where we are from. Most are from the UK or Australia.

We walk to the start and the race director unleashes us. I start to run and start to think about important things. My time.  It will not be in range of a PB. Due to jetlag and the heat.

We run along a very wide path by the bay. On our right are many anchored ships. Too many to count. The park is well maintained, neat and tidy with big trees and lawns.  Singapore is full of many spectacular well maintained and cared for plants. The plants in the built up areas are fantastic.

This park is not absolute best one for garden displays.  It is more a recreational park full of active people.  As we run down the path we encounter other runners, cyclists, walkers, a couple of monks and a walking tai chi phalanx. I wipe the sweat from my eyes as I approach the turn around point.
The course is straight up and back. Back down the same path. There are even more people in the park.

I can sense the finish. And then I see it, charge throw it, receive a token and get scanned. All very obviously laid out and done.

Job now done. I talk to a few people. One person says, “Lucky it wasn’t humid today.”
Now I can’t complain about the heat.

Back at our hotel the results mysteriously appear on our I-phone. I’m amazed at new technology when used appropriately. And then I get another drink of water.

Parkrun enhances my travel experiences. As well as queuing to see the local tourist attractions I get to do something with the locals.

Everybody running was wearing different clothes, was a different shape, had a unique running style and had a different back story.  The course was different. The country was different.
I now realise that on a Saturday there are people in Singapore doing exactly what I am doing in Hobart. We are united by 5 kms and have a lot in common. The people in Singapore are just like the people in Hobart. All different.

Europe : 20.8.18 Prague words

We arrive at the train station. This will be simple. All we have to do is get a cab. 

We search outside; find nothing and decide to ask a policeman. He groans and forces himself to point at something. We have no idea what. We follow his suggested direction and then ask a shop assistant. He doesn’t like being disturbed by people asking stupid questions. He waves an answer. We try and follow up with more info which is a step too far. Two questions is way beyond...we’ve really wrecked his day now.

Eventually we jump into the first cab we encounter.  The driver thinks it’s time to prove to us he should have raced professionally. He weaves cars and jumps lanes then races down some narrow cobblestone lanes while dodging pedestrians. 

Arriving at our hotel my stressed, anxious demeanour contrasts with his relaxed, joyful manner. He has enjoyed himself.  His happiness is about to increase. He gives us a bill he has just thought up.

Later that day we meet the reason we came to Prague. A couple of young guys who live here. They say, “Everybody who comes to Prague says the Czech people are rude. They are not really like that when you get to know them.”

They do a very good job of proving the people in Prague are not rude. They are both well-behaved, hospitable and friendly. 

Next Day in Prague 

We do a self-guided tour of Prague. Every building has an interesting story. 

We randomly choose a cafe for lunch. We sit thinking it’s our fate to occasionally glimpse the cruising waiter. We then make the cardinal mistake of signaling to him for the menu. He then decides that we are rude, arrogant foreigners who always complain about shoddy service and don’t deserve to be treated. We eventually leave searching for anyone to serve us anything.

At the next cafe we get to place our order and then wait. Nothing happens but we feel committed. We have placed an order and I catch occasional glimpses of the waiter so we may eventually...

The afternoon involves touring more old buildings with modern uses. Our accommodation was originally built 800 years ago and now provides Wi-Fi.

In the evening we go out with our Prague friends.
5 of us order. Two meals, including mine, come in pretty normal time. The food is good and I finish my food and then we wait for the other meals. Eventually we ask the waiter for our other food. Two meals come after about ten more minutes; they are eaten and then we don’t know what to say to the one who has still not received her meal.
It turns out they had forgotten about her. She didn’t starve. She eventually got something to eat.

Our Prague friends shake their shoulders and one says his Czech is not good enough to complain and if you complain in English you are just reinforcing stereotypes.

I see this as a legacy of communism. Many of the people can’t remember the communist days but a lot of the work practices have endured. 

I can’t conclude much else except that our countries are very different. Though we both have pretty strong tennis cultures in common.

Europe : 20.8.18 Prague photos

Europe : 20.8.18 Budapest to Prague photos

Europe : 19.8.18 Budapest photos 3

Europe : 19.8.18 Budapest words

We cruise down the Danube. The bridges and old buildings of Budapest are very attractive. At night the city becomes even more attractive.

Our first guide talks non-stop for 3 hours. Not one attempt at a joke, question aimed at us or friendly comment. All her facts are indisputable.

She mentions her national heroes: a long list of scientists and their discoveries. Rubik doesn’t make the list. His work is trivial and light.

A guy who took a different tour said his guide was the perfect cure for insomnia. I told him about our guide and we both thought...

Another guide says, “Everybody thinks we Hungarians are depressed and sad. Well that’s because we’ve been controlled by other countries for over 500 years.”

He then said, “It’s not our national character to always be grumpy. One day a week we actually get depressed. Don’t take our grumpiness personally. It’s not aimed at you.”

I managed to ask a guide about the legacy of Communism. He said Communism created a lazy, dependent people who expected other people to solve any issue. We saw this in a small corner shop. I’m sure I was an extra in a comedy show they were filming.

The national ethos seems to be: Eventually our country found true liberty and true freedom but the country is much smaller than it was. In 1920 65 percent of the country was taken away. This seems to grate more than the Communist years.

We were in Budapest on a public holiday. There was a festival by the river. One guide said, “Don’t go there it will be crowded.”

We go. The stalls selling food are fantastic. I’m beginning to love Hungarian food. Lots of casseroles and stews and one pot food.

The atmosphere was also fantastic. Crowds of well-behaved people; a rock singer on a stage; no hoons or larrikins showing off; no drunken chorus; a few boats on the river; a few scattered violinists. No possibility of a local being openly friendly or extroverted and welcoming but the food is good and we feel very safe so life is good.

Europe : 18.8.18 Budapest photos 2

Europe : 17.8.18 Budapest photos 1

Europe : 16.8.18 Vienna more words

No kangaroos in Austria.

Viennese see themselves as famous for their music, buildings and cafes.

Music: Their claim that Vienna was the epicenter for classical music is pretty sound. At one time Vienna was the best place in the world for composing and playing music. Today it is the best place in the world for telling people what used to be composed and played. It even puts on concerts which are direct copies of past concerts.

The “Sound of Music “is full of well known and loved pop songs. 

In Austria the film says Austria is a beautiful, mountainous country full of happy, singing children. We heard the song “Edelweiss” introduced as the unofficial Nature Anthem. We also heard “Blue Danube” introduced as the unofficial National Anthem so take your pick.

Today the people of Austria are not more musical than others. They don’t sing joyfully as they work. The Zulus were a much more musical people. The Zulus used to often sing or dance spontaneously in public as they worked or waited. In Austria music is more about history and tourism.

Cafes: From what I have seen the cafes/cakes in Vienna are not better or worse than Hobart. We do not have a famous traditional cake to restrain us. In this area we are going pretty well.

Red Bull: Austrians seem to lead us in scary, risky behaviour. They have a team in F1 racing. I can’t imagine an Aussie F1 team.

Beaches: We saw multiple fantastic beaches on the Danube River. The weather has been warm and sunny ideal and conducive for swimming.
Some of the locals have tried to make water fun. They have tried to swim or sunbath or play in the water but they never quite get it right.
Their sporting heroes don’t surf or swim. They win gold medals at the Winter Olympics and their stories involve alps. 
The result is I see so many fantastic swimming opportunities evaporate.

The War: The national psych is dramatically affected by one event. The ten years from 1945-1955 involved the country under the control of 4 other countries.  These ten years have been mentioned often. No mention of how to prevent a recurrence.

Europe : 16.8.18 Vienna words

Vienna guided tour

A guided bus tour where the guide attempts to cram info into our brains.
I’m expecting an exam to follow with questions such as:
When was this building built?
Who built it?
What style is it?
I’m expecting to know nothing and hear him say, “I told you that.”

We then become pedestrians in the centre of Vienna.
The centre is full of international tourists. I don’t want to complain about people doing exactly what I am doing but there are a lot of them.
According to what we are told there is one group not complaining. The pickpockets. They are most prevalent around churches. What does that say?

Vienna unguided walk

We head towards a ferris wheel. Surrounding it is a fun fair replete with locals. And some pretty scary rides. It looks like some of the rides would not pass Health and Safety in Aus. This country is the origin and home of Red Bull. Either they are a nation of thrill seekers or we are very cautious.

Vienna concert

In a room with gold leaf, an enormous chandelier and high ceilings we listen to a small orchestra play Strauss and Mozart.

Vienna Schoenbrunn Palace

I wander the palace and hear comments about people who cover their breakfast plate with bacon and hash browns then sit in the pool drinking.
I’d rather talk about some of the residents of this palace.
Maria Theresa: Mother of 16 (including Marie Antoinette) turned a few feudal kingdoms into the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Franz Ferdinand: Achieved both fame (smash hit song) and immortality (managed to trigger WW1 by getting himself shot).

On the return bus the guide says, “When you eat one of our cakes always have it with whipped cream. Go the full Vienna experience. Don’t count the calories.”
That reminds me of Maria Theresa. Regarded as a good “king” she abolished capital punishment and introduced compulsory education while weighing 20 stone.
Austria is a country where their most loved monarch weighed 20 stone and is a country where “don’t count the calories” is a common mantra. You would conclude that they are a fat country.
But looking around me I would say on average us Aussies are fatter. And I am pretty sure that is what the statistics say. Too much bacon and too many hash browns.

Europe : 16.8.18 Vienna photos 2

Europe : 15.8.18 Vienna photos 1

Europe : 14..8.18 Melk photos

Europe : 13.8.18 Salzburg words


Our guide is an Aussie living here. She says, “We are a small group and I prefer to talk to you face to face. I will not use a mike and earphones.
She then takes us on a beautiful walk through a wooded forest.

Back on the bus she tells us about the local beer, the local sausage and the local cake. All unique to the town. She gives us copious   information about the local sausage and then drops us at the local market. The first stall is selling “the sausage “and has a long queue of tourists. It tastes nice.

A crowd is gathering. A lady says to me, “My daughter can’t see the clock. Can you please move?” 
The clock strikes 12 and then disgorges tiny animals. Multiple cameras capture the moment.

The bus makes a fuel stop. I decide to photograph a long line of buses. A man winds down a window, gesticulates and shouts. I approach him and he says, “Are you Jewish?”
I say, “No.”
He says, “0kay go ahead.”
I walk away thinking nobody will believe that and what was he thinking. 


The guide shows us the local cathedral. A real live service is occurring. Us tourists stand at the back behind a roped off area. We are not allowed to take photos or wear hats. In front of us the priest preaches to his congregation.


The guide’s enamour is divided. 

He says, “This is where Mozart was born. This is the house he lived in for 8 years. This is where his parents were married.” 
His name or music is included in almost the name of every cafe in town except there is another famous name.

The guide says, “This is where the scene at the fountain was filmed. This is the lane where... This house was used in the film.”
“Not the house the Von Trapps lived in. That was too small. You will see that unlike in the film there is no lake behind the house.”
“Those scenes were filmed at a lake over there and edited in.”
“And that’s the Monastery where the real Maria trained.”

The guide’s job is to meet tourists. Anything used in the making of “The Sound of Music” is a sacred sight worthy of showing such pilgrims.  He ignores the bit where the Von Trapps find true happiness by leaving Austria. 

We travel from Salzburg in a train. Opera singers suddenly appear in our carriage and sing Mozart. Stunning. Later they reappear singing the “The sounds of Austria.  The songs that celebrate Austria.” 

Edelweiss, Doh Ray Me and others are sung with pride and joy. Their enthusiasm and the songs create a magic moment.


Walk down a country lane. Two local teenagers pass us carrying a music machine emitting loud music. I know that song. It’s “Highway to Hell” by ACDC. We all bopped together.

Europe : 12.8.18 Salzburg pictures

Europe : 12.8.18 Regensburg pictures

Europe : 11.8.18 Nuremberg pictures