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From the album of life

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Snapshots of inspirational people in chronological order.

Posted with gratitude.

Mum and Dad circa 1946

1. Mum and Dad; For life itself, and for showing me their sound moral and ethical raft upon which to float through life.  It was not their fault that I kept falling off it.

Walt Disney

2. Walt Disney; For inspiring a life-long interest in geography and nature, and a fascination with foreign cultures and customs.

Enid Blyton

3.  Enid Blyton; The Famous Five series of books encouraged my childhood love of reading.  Her books transported me from the dry, harsh, Central Victorian goldfields to magical places in the countryside with mountains, fog, mist, springs and babbling brooks.
The man then went on to live his boyhood imagination.

Patty Duke

4. Patty Duke; My first teenage unrequited love. She fired the starter’s gun to begin my marathon race to discover the mystery and wonders of the opposite wotsit. Has anyone seen the finishing line?

The Beatles

5.  The Beatles; Who energised, motivated and redirected an entire generation, and remembering especially the quiet and talented George Harrison (centre at back) who always remained grounded in reality.
Oh yes, and they showed me a radical new hairstyle that I retained for 30 years until all my hair started falling out.

Peter Cook (L) with Dudley Moore

6.  Peter Cook; Gifted British comic genius. I will continue to laugh at his short sketch “One leg too few” (here) until the day I die.

Sidney Poitier

7. Sidney Poitier; The former dishwasher and janitor who succeeded in life despite all the overwhelming obstacles that were placed in his path. Poitier’s character in the 1967 film “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” forced me to seriously consider racism and segregation, for the first time in my life, from the recipient’s point of view.
Now in his Autumn years, Poitier exudes with Mandela-esque gentility the qualities of dignity, wisdom, forgiveness and compassion.
If the good Fairy of Fate could arrange for me to spend a day with just one celebrity in this world, I would select Poitier.

John Denver

8.  John Denver; For his music, and contagious enthusiasm for life, the environment and the universe.

Sadly only four people from this list of twelve are still alive.

I hope all twelve found peace and contentment in their lives,
for their contributions enabled me early in life to find my own.

Some random lines from this musical meditation.

The days they pass so quickly now
Nights are seldom long
And time around me whispers when it’s cold
The changes somehow frighten me
Still I have to smile
It turns me on to think of growing old
For though my life’s been good to me
There’s still so much to do.

And talk of poems and prayers and promises
And things that we believe in
How sweet it is to love someone
How right it is to care
How long it’s been since yesterday
And what about tomorrow
And what about our dreams
And all the memories we share.

(John Denver 1943-1997)

So, disregarding lust as a driver, which celebrity would you most like to spend a day with?

The fine art of scarpering

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"Scarper" is a word not commonly used in Australia.  Its etymology may be from the Italian "scappare" (to escape), but my familiarity with it derives from U.K. television where "scarpering" means to rapidly decamp ones self from the scene of a felony and/or misdemeanor.  
The word sounds so beautiful to my ear that I would like to promulgate its usage over a much wider spectrum of human activity. Indeed, lets apply it to any situation where the present position in which we find ourselves becomes untenable, and we recognise that it is time to leave.

I have scarpered twice in my life. On neither occasion was criminal activity involved. No felony. No misdemeanor.
An ill-advised youthful marriage became terminally unsustainable and I made the decision to rapidly scarper, but (I hasten to add) as responsibly as the circumstances prevailing at the time would allow.
I also found it necessary to scarper from a job I had enjoyed for 12 years, when unnecessary petty bureaucracy seriously limited my ability to do effective work.

On both occasions I could perhaps have conducted my scarpering with considerably more panache.  In retrospect, my scarpering was an act of defiance, a refusal to become a lifelong victim of anyone who deliberately chose to make my life miserable.
It was also an intellectual acknowledgement that I was not excelling in either of these areas of my life, and that it was time for a fresh start.

I have since chosen to be self employed for the past 25 years, and have rarely had cause to complain about my employer.
My partner of the last 28 years continues to give me great happiness and an understanding that there could be no greener pasture  to which I should scarper.

Indeed, so successful were my two scarpering events that I would like to encourage others to adopt the practice.  I herewith supply some modest examples.

Elite athletes;   gymnasts who head butt the vaulting horse instead of sproinging over it, or slip off the high beam causing damage to genitalia or other body parts……DO NOT be a hero and resume your routine.  Finishing is not everything.  Seek retribution.  Abuse the equipment by all means, but, most importantly, simply walk out of the arena with a smile on your face.  Confuse the critics.  Scarper with class.

Iceskaters;   When you miscalculate your position on the surface of the Earth and propel yourself backwards into the fence at 60 kph, accept the moment of public humiliation as a necessary alternative to glory.  Acknowledge the pain you feel.  Whine, wail, howl for however long it is necessary for you to be long remembered in the annals of ice skating.  Gold medal performances will be forgotten in time.  Yours will not.  Then just scarper.  Accept the financial rewards forthcoming from the media.  Just go and do something more suited to your talents.

Current Olympic bicycle road racers;  If you run off the side of the road into a ditch so deep it probably goes all the way to China, recognise that it was an inherently unstable, two wheeled crappy velocipede which brought you to this point in your life.  Leave it where it is. The garbage truck will collect it.  Make your way on foot, directly to the nearest purveyor of alcoholic beverages.  Enjoy some rice wine, and plan what sort of FOUR wheeled machinery you will race next time.

For the remainder of us.  Never be afraid to scarper.
Walk now.  Walk with dignity and head held high, for life is too short to complete an inept routine, and then sit around waiting for sympathetic applause.

Heroism is best left for the real heroes.

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Heroes and Heroines

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GOF has an email friend on the other side of the world. He has never met her, and probably never will, and yet we have been able to share so many life events, both happy and sad, over the years.  Her heroine is her Mom, the family matriarch, who navigated her family through many difficult times.

GOF left the family nest at an early age and had parents who were distant  (in both the geographical and psychological sense), and he never ever really knew either of them well.  Like most children he never asked the relevant questions of them whilst they were alive. They have both gone to God, and it is only now that I appreciate the sacrifices made by my Mother for the 13 years she nurtured me.
Women do not immediately spring to mind as heroines for most men, and their heroism is seldom publicly recognised.
My favorite philosophy for life includes the phrase "life is full of heroism", and I suspect women are responsible for a large proportion of it.  So it is that I appreciate the role of mothers who, often receiving little support from partners continue to raise successive generations of responsible and caring human beings.

From the public arena, GOF has a very small handful of people he has admired.
Firstly I would like to include Nelson Mandela, but suspect he is almost something above and beyond human.  How can a man be incarcerated for so many years, yet emerge so forgiving to those responsible?
Returning to mere mortals.  Peter Ustinov.  My grandparents died before I was born.  If I had known my grandfather I would have liked him to be like Ustinov.  Even at my present age, I would have liked to sit by him and just listen.  He possessed so much wisdom, knowledge and the ability to communicate it with dignity and humour. R.I.P. Sir Peter.

Dick Smith, for those outside Australia is a self made entrepreneur, aviator, adventurer, and all round nice human being.  He is fiercely pro-Australian and anti the multi-national takeover and control of our small companies.  He founded the Australian Geographic magazine, and sponsors many young Australian adventurers, and heritage projects.  GOF in recent years has resolved to tell those he admires, and who have been a major influence in his life, before it is too late.  GOF does not value material possessions all that highly, but a personal response letter from Dick Smith is one that I do. Thank you Dick for giving us all something to aspire to.

John Denver.  There was so much I would have liked to say to John Denver. Then he died. Too late!  Perhaps I would have said very little to John in person, for, like Ustinov I would have preferred to just listen to him…..his oratory and his music. He was a man of great passion and eloquence, and a true friend of the planet before it became fashionable and political to do so.    GOF loves all sorts of music, but to my mind nobody wrote love song lyrics any better. He exuded a genuine sincerity in his music and conservation values, to which he devoted his life in his final years.  
His honesty extended to his autobiography, written just a few years before his untimely death, in which he confronts the shortcomings of his own flawed personal behaviour, in an almost brutal fashion,
admitting his responsibility for the failure of his personal relationships.

John has been gone for more than 10 years now.  He would end concerts wishing the audience "peace my friends".
John Denver;  peace to you my friend.  I still miss you.

If my valued reader would like to nominate a favourite hero, please leave a comment.

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