Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Seeing into the future

On the news this morning, there was talk of stripping citizenship from bastard Islamists as well as  talk of tightening citizenship requirements... I saw nicely into the future when I wrote the fourth and final book of the Shuki Series.

One of the relevant quotes. 
This part of the book was written in 2013, before the rise of Daesh or  ISIS. 

On Australia Day, January, 2015, the women and girls of Shuki's family became Australian citizens. Laleh was already an Australian citizen as she'd been born in Australia. Separately, and unknown to Shuki and his family, Meriam also became an Australian citizen.   

For Meriam it had not been as easy as it had been for the others. Her past connections to a radical Islamic group, some of them Jihadists, counted against her. She'd had to show that she no longer had contact with them, and she'd been closely examined as to her current loyalties. Dual citizenship was no longer allowed. Like other countries, Australia had been experiencing the consequences of conflicting loyalties. Nearly seventy people were refused citizenship that year, mostly because the requirement that an applicant had to be 'of good character' had been strengthened and was now being enforced. They were no longer allowing appeals, and Legal Aid was only available to citizens.

There were more changes pending. Not just in Australia, but almost all Western countries were toughening their requirements for citizenship. Radical Muslims no longer openly stated that Sharia Law had to be imposed on their host nations and any immigrant suspected of acting illegally, whether by importing contraband or by supporting terrorism, was far more likely to be deported. Refugees could still be granted provisional asylum in some countries, but were a lot less likely to be granted citizenship. Some called it xenophobia, while others pointed to the poor record of refugees from certain countries, and called it sense.

In other parts of the book, Shuki advocates removing religion from schools - all religions from all schools.  In the book, I had the process starting in around 2012 in Australia, earlier in other parts of the world. With the influence of the highly respected Shuki Bolkiah,  Daesh (or ISIS) did not happen. What a shame it is only fiction. 

On the other hand, a problem much more serious had to be faced - the pandemics, inevitable because of the much too high population and the ease of travel.

Where the first pandemic started

                                              Is this part seeing into the future?  I hope not. 

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Scientology - taking your money, pretending to be a religion.

For a time, the 'Church' of Scientology was illegal in various states of Australia. Unfortunately, it is now not only legal, but has the tax exempt status of other religions, both true religions and other pretend religions.

Its chief reason for being appears to take as much money as possible from credulous people.  I could never understand how anyone could be so foolish as to be drawn in. Below is one person's account, and it is no longer so hard to understand. It is a direct copy of a post from the informative blog of Rob Robinson, who has kindly given me permission to reproduce it. 

To read in its full original version (complete with relevant graph)  go to:


The Making of a Cult Member

Posted on by RobRobinson

 It is really very simple.  And there are Universal laws that apply. Do you remember the old stories about Vampires and Demons?  You know whether your windows and doors are opened or closed, they can’t come in unless you give them permission. So you say, “Fine, I’ll never give them permission”.  The thing that you don’t know is that they don’t play fair.  If you even give them a moment to talk to you, you are doomed.

That is sort of the way it is in the Church of Scientology. Make no mistake,  once you have let them in, (which means walked into an Org, took the Personality Test, and bought your first service), they have you and they will suck you dry.  They will steal your life, your will, and if you let them, your soul.

Now I don’t know anyone who ever woke up in the morning and said, “Hey!  I think I will go out and join a cult today”.  But, they might say, “Hey!  I got this offer to take a free personalty test. It’s a $500.00 value!  I think I will do that today”.  If you were watching this on T.V.  You would be yelling at this guy, trying to tell him  about the Vampire, but like all movies on T.V. they can’t hear you. How do I know this?  For 7 years I was the Vampire that would sucker you into the cave with promises all of of your desire fulfilled and riches beyond your imagination (yeah I know, mea culpa). And if you did find out that I had not told you the truth, it was too late.  You have already joined the undead.

I was in charge of the division that is responsible for bringing new people into Scientology and getting them signed up on their first services.  Usually they were Life Improvement courses that sold for anywhere from $55.00 to $75.00 including course materials.  Here is the way it would go.

You walk into the Org. (short for Organization).  The receptionist meets you and you say that you are here to take the free personality test.  (Originally the American Personalty test, the name was later changed to the Oxford Capacity Analysis, to lend it some authenticity.  Not because it comes from Oxford). The receptionist leads you back to a quiet place and sits you down at a desk.  She gives you the test booklet and an answer sheet.  It has two hundred multiple choice questions.  You are done in about an hour, and then she takes your materials from you and leads you back out to the lobby to wait for your results.  The lobby is usually either part of the Book store, or right next to it so you can gaze at all of the pretty books by Hubbard.

I would come out shortly and escort you back to my office and sit you down in a chair across the desk from me.  I would then place the graph down in front of you and raise my eyes to heaven and say, “Oh my, this is not good at all”.

(graph not shown) 

You are sitting there thinking that it doesn’t look all that bad to you.  After all, almost half of it is above the line.  It is not like it was all on the bottom.  That is what you tell me.  And that is what I was waiting for.  I tell you those good points are part of the problem.  That I would rather have all of your points under the line.  And I go one to explain why.  By the time I am done you have a tear or two and you ask me what you can do about it.  I tell you that Scientology has just the right course for your problem.  I sign you up and take you and your money to someone who takes your money and prints up your receipt.  Then I take you to the course room and introduce you to your course supervisor.

These are very short courses, usually 3 to 5 nights, and they are designed to help you solve specific problems.  And surprisingly, the data in them makes sense.  At the end of the course, you actually see that not only do you have this problem but there are steps you can take to solve this problem.  You start to feel good about it, maybe for the first time in years.

You have finished the check sheet  and have been signed off by the supervisor.  Then you are asked if you would like to write up your success on this course.  You say sure and tell just a little about what you learned and how you feel.  The Supervisor then calls a halt to everyone and tells all that you have just finished your course.  Everyone applauds and congratulates you.  You then go down to qual and they ask you if you liked the course, you say yes.  Then they ask you if you would like others to feel the way you do right now.  Of course, you say.

Feeling pretty good about yourself now aren’t you?  Good.  Let’s go over and see the registrar. (Scientology sales person).  Their job is to take you down a peg and make you see that although you have solved this problem (temporarily), it is not a permanent fix.  To make it permanent you will really need to take this series of courses.  Yeah, they cost more, but you really do want to feel this way all the time, forever, don’t you.  Of course you do.  Good just sign here.  You go back out and pay for your course and then you go to the book store and buy your course materials.  Then you go to a real course room.  This supervisor is nice also but she/he gives you a list of rules that you are expected to follow.

You see how it goes.  Ruin you, build you up.  Ruin you, build you up again.  What you have not learned and hopefully will never learn is that we have all been trained and drilled on doing this, with only one thing in mind.  Getting you on to your next service.

The very first thing you see when you open your course pack is a policy letter written by L. Ron Hubbard. It is called Keeping Scientology Working, Series 1.  Every course pack you will ever open for the rest of your Scientology life will start with these words.  If you wish to read the whole thing, you can click here.  Basically what it is telling you is that you are now a Scientologist.  Here is the pertinent excerpt:

When somebody enrolls, consider he or she has joined up for the duration of
the universe-never permit an “open-minded” approach.  If they’re going to
quit let them quit fast.  If they enrolled, they’re aboard; and if they’re
aboard, they’re here on the same terms as the rest of us-win or die in the
attempt.  Never let them be half-minded about being Scientologists.  The finest
organizations in history have been tough, dedicated organizations.  Not one
namby-pamby bunch of pantywaist dilettantes have ever made anything.  It’s a
tough universe.  The social veneer makes it seem mild.  But only the tigers
survive-and even they have a hard time. We’ll survive because we are tough and
are dedicated.  When we do instruct somebody properly, he becomes more and more
a tiger.  When we instruct half-mindedly and are afraid to offend, scared to
enforce, we don’t make students into good Scientologists and that lets everybody
down.  When Mrs. Pattycake comes to us to be taught, turn that wandering doubt
in her eye into a fixed, dedicated glare and she’ll win and we’ll all win.  Humor
her and we all die a little.  The proper instruction attitude is, “You’re here so
you are a Scientologist.  Now we’re going to make you into an expert auditor no
matter what.  We’d rather have you dead than incapable.”

We’re not playing some minor game in Scientology.  It isn’t cute or something to
do for lack of something better.

The whole agonized future of this planet, every man, woman and child on it, and
your own destiny for the next trillions of years depend on what you do here and
now with and in Scientology.
This is a deadly serious activity.  And if we miss getting out of the trap now,
we may never again have another chance.

Pretty tough words huh?  You, like all Scientologists will come to live, and maybe die by these words. Yes, it has happened.

If you do not fully agree with this policy letter.  You did not understand it.  There is a word or words that you do not understand.  So you need to read this policy while being word cleared.  This is a process where in you read this policy out load to someone else while they watch you for indicators of the word you don’t fully understand.  It will not take too long before you get it that you will understand and agree with this or you will never get through your course.  Why do you want to get through the course?  First, you actually felt good after the last one, and second because you actually liked it when everyone applauded you.

All of this, and more.  The continual tearing down, building up, applauding, cheering at events, the “friends” that you will make, yelling “hip hip hooray” and clapping for Ron (long dead).  It is all designed to do only two things.  To take your mind farther into the cult and to take more and even more of your money.

Hey you!  Yes you.  Do you hear me yelling at my T.V.?  “Don’t go in there!”

Thank you so much for reading this.  If you have not yet read my previous post, Why I Left Scientology, please click here. If you like this please share it with your friends, and subscribe to this blog so you can be alerted when the next post comes out.  As always, I welcome your comments.  Thank you again.

 There are other posts on Robinson's blog, equally absorbing. I recommend it.

The 'Church' of Scientology




Sunday, 24 May 2015

Stay at home mums.

It is such a precious time when your children are small. Each day is a new adventure. Each day you watch them learning something new. And each day, you learn something new yourself. Such a precious time.

And yet, it has become the norm for young mothers to resume work as soon as possible. Tiny babies are in childcare while the mother works.

When Women's Lib was becoming big in the 60s, we fought for the right to have a paid job as well as children. I don't think any of us imagined that we'd wind up almost being compelled to return to work just weeks after a baby was born.

But so many are compelled, and some only feel as if they are compelled.

Money. It almost always takes two wages to pay off a mortgage or simply to pay the rent. And even if there is a maternity allowance, it usually ends after six months. This is unfair. This is how it is.

Career. A  new mother learns so much in the years she stays home and looks after children - from time management to researching schools. And yet potential employers are reluctant to employ someone who's been out of the workforce for a period of years. It's as if they think they do nothing in those years, while they probably learn more than their colleagues who stayed at work. Taking several years out of developing a career almost always  limits that career. This is unfair. This is how it is.

Prestige. Stay at home mothers are looked down upon. Every now and then, there will be a condescending article about the value of their work, maybe how much the equivalent work would be worth in the market, but no-one quite believes it.  This, too, is unfair. This is how it is.

Boredom. Some new mothers swear they'd be bored out of their minds if they stayed home with their baby. I wonder if they would. Work is not the only stimulation available to a person, and a lot of jobs are not at all stimulating.  If a women truly wants to work, then, of course, she has the right. But sometimes, I think she might be only saying that, the same as people say they watch mainly documentaries on the ABC and not 'The Bold and the Beautiful'  on Channel 10.


So what is bad about returning to work when your child is still very small?

1. The mother. It is far too precious a time to waste. It is so fleeting, and all the rest of your life, you are likely to regret missing too much of these precious years.

2. The mother again. It is too much to expect every women to be 'superwoman.'  To work a full day and come home to do another few hours work, and then be kept up half the night by a crotchety baby - and then to get up, get the baby ready for childcare and go back to work... It makes me tired just typing it. It is not fair to expect a mother to work so hard. It is not fair on the mother and it is not fair on the child or children, who have the right to an unstressed mother.

3. The baby. Small babies in childcare tend to get sick far too often  - seven or eight colds a year, conjunctivitis, stomach upsets, in short, anything infectious. They are exposed to so much more sickness than a child who is home with their mother.

4. The child. Workers in childcare have little investment in trying to ensure a child learns reasonable behaviour. They also have fewer options to discipline - usually only whatever is the latest ineffective fad devised by some psychologist somewhere who once knew a child. But a parent will live with that child until he grows up. They have an investment in that child, and it is a lot easier to live with a reasonably behaved child. And you know what? A sharp smack to a child who bites is very effective. At childcare, they are not permitted to smack. A biter stays a biter, while other children get bitten.

What is good about childcare when your child is very small?

Full-time childcare?  Almost nothing.

Occasional childcare?  A mother needs a break now and then, a day every week maybe, or two half-days in a week. Just time to do something for herself. It is important, though if there's a willing grandmother around, that is probably a better option than formal childcare.


What is good about childcare when your child is beginning to grow up?

By the age of three or four, a child is looking for new experiences and will benefit from being with other children, and from the activities the carers provide. And yet, even then, a couple of days a week, and maybe not all day, is preferable.


No, I really do not want to go back a hundred years or so when women had a dozen children, worked very hard, and only rarely earned money outside the home.
But women should have a choice, and not one dictated by economic necessity.
And if you are thinking of returning to work merely in order to gain a few luxuries, think again.  You are missing too much, and so are your children. 






Saturday, 23 May 2015

Becoming 'radicalised.'

Becoming  'radicalised'.

I am talking, of course, about the extremist Muslim organisations, especially ISIS, ISIL, IS, Daesh, or 'the death cult,' as our own Prime Minister refers to it.

I am annoyed every time I hear this expression, as if the poor little victim of the 'radicalisation process' has no say in the matter. Like a cabbage that gets cooked - the cabbage does not make that choice. But people are not cabbages. They choose to be what they are. These people who they say have 'become radicalised'  made a choice - to abandon civilised values and become part of an evil, evil movement, a movement that wants to take us back to a time of barbarity when slavery was normal, terrible cruelty was condoned, and women and children were chattels. A time when a girl child of nine can be married. Without the option, without any chance at an education, and with no avenue of defence if the husband chooses to be brutal.

It always surprises me that women sometimes turn to extreme Islam.  Surely they can see how utterly, utterly stupid they are being. Who voluntarily steps forward to become a slave?  For Allah, of course. But why would they think that an Allah, who is supposed to be so 'merciful,'  would think it fine for them to be slaves. No. Young women who decide to be brides of ISIS are just fools.

Young men who decide they want to be ISIS fighters are not only fools, but are showing the evil side of themselves. It appears that what they really want is to be allowed to torture other people, to be allowed to have up to four wives, including little girls if they want, to be allowed to have slaves, as many as they want. And for all of this to be condoned. So do they really, truly believe that Allah will reward them?  Or is it simply that they want to be the most wicked of criminals in a place where that is approved.

Whatever, they do not 'become radicalised.' They are not victims. They are the ones who want to make the rest of us victims.



Thursday, 2 April 2015

Remember the 2011 London riots?

I am currently writing the fifth Penwinnard story, probably to be called 'Season of Storms.'

Today, I did some research  into the 2011 London riots - they have a (probably small)  part to play in the novel I am writing. Remember the event?   Londoners must have been horrified. I am far away from London. I was utterly shocked.  Civilised England, and this happens! 

While most articles about it emphasised that the rioters were of all races, a few had the audacity to point out that the rioters were overwhelmingly of ethnic descent, some blatantly said 'black.'

One article that  I read with interest was this one -


Daily Archives: August 12, 2011
Not as white as they are painted

Robert  Henderson
His article highlighted the way that reports twisted themselves inside out trying to pretend that the riots had nothing to do with race. Political correctness does not like it when the facts are unpalatable.
The vast majority of those involved were recent immigrants, some, the children of immigrants. It is said that the police were so frightened of being called racist that they were reluctant to interfere when (mostly) blacks started looting shops and burning the cars of strangers.

But as Robert Henderson points out - no problem can be solved by refusing to properly and truthfully describe it.  In particular, race relations are not improved by fostering a sense of grievance in those who consider themselves the underdogs. There is no need for whites to crawl to those we are trying to help, and there is no point in emphasising and exaggerating past crimes, often 'crimes' that were committed with the best of intentions.

The following words are his.

'What should be done? I suggest this. All attempts by government to appease ethnic minority groups should stop. No more money for community leaders, ethnic based charities or public projects which promote the interests only of minority ethnic groups.  All the laws such as the Race Relations Act and the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000  which give de facto privileges to ethnic minorities and prevent honest objections to immigration and its consequences should be repealed.  The police should be banned from playing the role of political commissars and get back to honest coppering; catching villains  and maintaining order. Institutionalised political correctness should be stripped from public service  and any organisation which receives public money.  Most importantly, politicians and the mainstream media should  stop incontinently  promoting the liberal fantasy of multicultural heaven and recognise that it is not heaven but at best purgatory.'
I would add that reporting should be accurate. It is not up to journalists to filter the facts to the current mania for being politically correct.

Note that I do not agree with everything that Henderson said. Some were, if not flatly wrong, at the very least with little evidence to back the claims.  And yet he has some very good points.
 Obviously, the suggestions of Henderson (above) were ignored. Four years later, and we are still trying to solve problems without ever defining the problems - and being 'racist' if we do.
So now we have the massive problem of widespread Islamic terrorism - Muslims who take their religion to extremes. It is almost obligatory to hastily add that this is 'only a tiny majority.' But for a 'tiny majority,' they seem to be remarkably effective, and worse, more flock to them every day. If only those Muslins were a little more selective about which tenets of their faith to follow.  (Oh, yes, I said Muslim. It is not a mere coincidence that 100% of Islamic terrorists are Muslim.) 
The Koran says:

'He that fights for God's cause fights for himself. God needs no man's help.'
but also, 3:156 - 'If you should die or be slain in the cause of God, His forgiveness and His mercy would surely be better than all the riches they amass.'
and: 4:93   'he that leaves his dwelling to fight for God and His apostle and is then overtaken by death shall be recompensed by God. Surely God is forgiving and merciful.' 
and even:  2:216, p32
'FIGHTING is obligatory for you, much as you dislike it. But you may hate a thing although it is good for you, and love a thing although it is bad for you. God knows, but you know not.' 
 The Koran frequently contradicts itself, but there do seem to be more clauses in favour of violent jihad than there are against it.
But what if you would like to convert, and then you would no longer be an infidel.  Unfortunately, it appears that for some of us, it is not possible.

p191,  16:37 - Strive as you may to guide them, God will not guide those whom He confounds. There shall be none to help them.
32:13  Had it been Our will, We could have given every soul its guidance. But My word will be fulfilled: 'I will surely fill Hell with jinn and with humans all.'
2:1  As for the unbelievers, it is the same whether or not you forewarn them; they will not have faith. God has set a seal upon their hearts and ears;  their sight is dimmed  and grievous punishment awaits them.
and: 2:10  There is a sickness in their hearts which God has aggravated:  they shall be sternly punished for the lies they ever told.
So this 'god' has aggravated sickness and confounds hearts, so for some of us, there can be no turning to Allah. We are doomed to remain unbelievers who will ultimately face tremendous punishment.
Just a tad unfair, you might say?
4:56  Those that deny Our revelations We will burn in fire. No sooner will their skins be consumed than We shall give them other skins, so that they may truly taste the scourge. Surely God is mighty and wise.
'God is mighty and wise.' It's a tremendous irony in that context, don't you think? 
In short, I am with Ayaan Hirsi Ali in thinking there is something fundamentally wrong with Islam. 
(Ayaan Hirsi Ali is author of the book 'Infidel' among others.)
And yet, there are similar things in the Christian bible, probably similar in the holy books of the Jewish faith (some, of course, they hold in common.)  The difference is that a miniscule number of Christian and Jews decide to wage war on civilisation. I would say none, but I suppose there could be a madman here or there. 
Quotes taken from 'The Koran' translated with notes by N. J. Dawood, Penguin Books, 2006 edition.
My message is this: 
* Shun political correctness when it gets in the way of facing facts.
* Facts should never be deemed unsayable.
and, in fact:
* Political correctness run mad has set the scene for religious extremists to run mad.

One of the main characters in my fifth Penwinnard Story is Mutty.  His full name is Mutana Wirta, and he is described as 'black as coal with an impish grin.'
Expected publication date, November, 2015.

The cover shown is not final, though maybe something like it will be.

And thank you to Elijah for allowing me to use his image.   
Meantime, there are four other Penwinnard Stories to enjoy. They are set in a Boys' Home close to the imaginary village of Ryalston in Cornwall. 
To find my books, check your favourite online bookseller, or try either of these links.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

'The War Within,' by Don Tate.

Note: this review contains spoilers - though not, I think, anything that will make the read any the less worthwhile.

I have sometimes thought that young men think of nothing but fightin’, drinkin’ and rootin’. One things I gathered from Don Tate’s autobiography is that I was more right than I could ever have believed. It is unusual to find an autobiography that shows all the worst aspects of a person, rather than the best aspects, but this one does.

He was raised rough, the eldest of a large family and his father a criminal, though rather a stupid one as he regularly spent time in prison. And his father encouraged fighting, hitting his sons so that they become accustomed to being knocked down and then getting up again.  Learning how to use your fists seemed natural in that environment. A chipped tooth or a bloodied lip or nose was part of the ritual, a quick way to learn how to defend yourself. ‘Keep your guard up,’ our father would say, giving me a clout on the chin, then when I did defend myself, he’d put one into my breadbasket and knock the wind out of me. That brought the second part of the lesson: ‘Keep your elbows together when you’re defending.’

It is the story of Don Tate’s life – he gets knocked down and he gets up again.

But as he writes it, Don Tate is not an admirable character. Women are for sex, and men are for fighting, usually with little reason.

Indeed, by the time he is in the army, he appears to be  a perfectly despicable man, violent and unpredictable, with little regard for any civilised values - this view is from his own story in his own words.  There was an incident in which he and a mate threw a ‘Chink’ off a train, didn’t know whether he was dead, injured, or unharmed, but their only thought was that they should ‘create an alibi’ so they would run less risk of being charged with a possible murder.  And  about that mate – Doug Peterson.  Tate saw him as  a good mate.  He admired him.  I’d seen him beat the living daylights out of a woman once in a back alley outside a club in George Street, and when I’d gone to intervene, he’d threatened to bash me as well.’  And later: Peterson was talking:  ‘Ah, me and a mate of mine from Rottnest picked up this abo whore,’ he said, ‘and we took her about twenty bloody miles out of Perth for a good rootin’. We bought her a bottle of gin, and she reckoned we could have whatever we wanted in return. But the bloody bitch drank the whole bottle by the time we got there, and was pissed as a fart and raving like a lunatic, and started jackin’ up about it all. Big bird she was too, a real fuckin’ heifer. Anyway, we gave her a bit of hurry-up and she came across for both of us eventually, and we roughed her up a bit for the fun of it afterwards because she was a slut.’

As I said, despicable.
Tate at Kapooka training camp.

And yet, there are hints that there was always another side to his character, which he barely mentions. Early on, there was something about writing competitions and doing well at English.  It was so buried in other things that it was easy to miss. And while in Vietnam,  ‘He’d put me out as an early-warning sentry in a bamboo thicket while the rest of the blokes were digging their shell-scrapes for the night, and I’d taken the opportunity to whip out a notebook. I was working on a poem to my mother when he crept up behind me.’  A poem for his mother? It doesn’t fit with the tough, uncaring, semi-criminal he depicts himself as.  He also took photographs, including film, another example of a creative streak.  

Does Tate have a deep self-hatred that he prefers to show the worst aspects of himself?  I think he may be judging himself as worse than he is.  But what do I know?  It is so very far from my life experience.

The Vietnam War, and Tate was heavily involved in action from the very first patrol. He sees battles, he sees injustice, he sees incompetence, and he sees the wrong men getting the medals. It is ugly. And the 'R & R'  breaks could also be ugly. He and a mate went into a rough neighbourhood,  'ficky fick'  is offered, and they are happy to take advantage. But the woman his mate was using started to bleed - a miscarriage.  ‘I didn’t know the ins and outs of what he’d done. But what I saw in that bowl, that night, swimming in the pool of blood, wasn’t just a dead baby, but a measure of their lives when it was all added up. The sum total of all of them, the people of that war-torn country, with us and the Americans going berserk in it. Their lives were just a bloody mess.’

Tate was very badly wounded, and his war ended - at least that particular war. He spent around two years in hospital including twelve months in a full body plaster. For a formerly active man, it's a wonder he was able to remain sane. He has a real resilience. In spite of everything, he battles on.

It was when he was in hospital that he met Carole, the woman who was to be his wife. Carole sounds a wonderful woman, understanding and forgiving. And there was a lot to forgive at times, as he still liked fighting and he still liked women. 

Even when handicapped by a permanently ruined hip,  Tate still thinks it’s a good thing to have a fight – ‘manly’ or something.  A large part of this attitude was his stupid father, no doubt. Tate's father was not much of a man;  it didn't stop his oldest son loving and admiring him. A comment from his father that very much pleased him - ‘Jesus, you can blue these days. I didn’t think you could go that well. Good onya!’

The years passed, jobs, children, fights, infidelities, but also in this time, Donald Tate went back to school, and eventually qualified as an English teacher. And again he makes little of this at the same time as he details those things he is not proud of.  Or is he proud of them?  Most people hide away their more stupid actions, but Tate displays them defiantly - like 'Judge me if you dare.' 

Tate was always a battler. He battled other men, he battled circumstances, and he battled the histories -  his unit had been wiped from history. It was largely because of Don Tate that it was corrected. 

And still he battles. There are people who deny what has been officially acknowledged, and people who call him a fraud - he calls them 'gutless bastards.' But he has had official acknowledgement that all he has claimed is fact. That is quite enough for me; I would not dream of calling this man a fraud.

He battles himself as well. He has lived a life with a sort of aggression that is foreign to most of us. After he made an attempt at suicide, he found himself with a therapist. After many, many sessions, the therapist points out a few things for him - ‘You survived a harsh upbringing, and helped raise your brothers and sisters in a difficult time. You risked your life and fought for your country. Only a small percentage of men ever get to do that. I know you saved some schoolgirls from something terrible one time too, and never got any recognition or reward for it. I know you were bashed on other  occasions, while you were a teacher, which you haven’t even told me about. I’ve done some research of my own on you, Don Tate. I know more about you than you think. Yet, despite all that, you kept at it. You gained a university degree. You’ve received community honours, even a medal, I understand. I heard you played representative sport at one time, despite your leg problems. And you’ve stayed married to your wife Carole all this time when many, many veterans haven’t. And you’ve raised a family you can be rightly proud of. What more can you ask of yourself?’

Any man or woman who sees war action is scarred by it.  Tate says that the images would last a lifetime - ‘the impact of that bullet smashing through the bones of my hip joint; of straining to run through that mud into the storm of machine-gun fire; of the bodies at Thua Tich, sprawled in the dust, broken and bloodied, and again, on the way into Xuyen Moc, shredded; of the shattered leg of ‘Doc’ Dann; of the hatred and despair in the eyes of the mother of that dead fetus, and the stink of it, and the blood, drip, drip, dripping; and of those first dead bodies on my very first patrol an eternity ago, torn asunder, the eyes open, yet unseeing; and the weight of a dead mate, carried out on my shoulder on bamboo poles.’

Tate has had a great deal of ill luck in his life, he has lived with pain ever since that bullet ripped apart his hip joint, but in one thing, he was very lucky - his wife.

'My greatest treasure had been the wife and children I’d been blessed with, and to a large extent I’d failed to fully appreciate them. While each of my children had grown into a fine adult with a professional career, with not a single black mark against them, mostly they’d forged their own way. I’d been too concerned with figuring out my own path, making excuses, looking for answers. Sure, I took pride in them, and in their successes, but it was all their own doing, nothing to do with me. In that alone, I realised, the cycle had been broken. The sins of the father had been appeased.'

It has been a privilege to read this book. It has opened  my eyes to a life and a character so far removed from my own experience. There are not many books that make a change to a reader's world view. This one does.

The sad reality of a war.

Some of Tate's film - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-8uhDJSYSE

ADDED 2nd  APRIL, 2015:

Another review- as a comparison:

Has there ever been a memoir in Australian literature like Don Tate’s “The War Within” (Murdoch Books)? It is a complex, virtuoso analysis of his world- an utterly compelling and profoundly unsettling mosaic.
On the one hand, it is an acidic dissection of the role environment and family have in developing a person’s character, and on the other, it is a sauntering chronicle of social analysis and injustice. Either way, it is told brilliantly. At times, one is almost left breathless.
Let me say, Tate spares neither himself, nor the reader in this tome. He is unabashed, and unrepentant. His is the voice of a generation past, delivered with scant regard for political or sexual correctness. There are astonishing sequences- from sexual and physical abuse; sexual awakening and deviation; teenage delinquency; violence; the clamour of jungle warfare and gut-wrenching descriptions of the aftermath; war atrocities; the corruptions of history (and the human cost); love- pure and simple, and lust; and the simple joys and tragedies of life. And underpinning it all, the pervasive fear that there is a spiritual force manipulating it all.
At its simplest, “The War Within” is about the evolution of a man’s mind and character, and of those events and characters that influence those processes. Thus, we grow with him as he struggles to make sense of the most intriguing series of apparently, unrelated events ─ a life, criss-crossed with drama, trauma, and controversy.
We first meet Don Tate at age ten ─ a shy, yet capricious ingénue living in the dystopian Brisbane suburb of Ellen Grove, and then grow up and old with him in turn, as he comes to terms with being a disaffected youth; a patriotic, but naïve infantryman fighting in the Vietnam War; an alienated, disabled, returned serviceman battling to readjust to a new world; and a man struggling with male status anxiety - a condition apparently inexhaustible in its capacity to cause suffering. Along the way, Tate examines the dark crevices of the male psyche as the morally bankrupt adult is forced to confront and battle both his inner demons and the dazzling decency of his long-suffering Christian wife, Carole. Ironically, although she enters late in the narrative, it is his wife- physically and spiritually beautiful, whose goodness under fire provides the most striking counterpoint to the author’s roguishness. It is her unconditional love that provides the social and psychological safety net that keeps the author sane in the face of incredible adversity.
Part of this memoir’s richness lies in the fact that although there is a simmering anger beneath the text, Tate can find hope and colour in the worst of the greyness in his life. Yet, above all, this memoir is a celebration of the human condition, of a man with a can-do, cavalier attitude to life and his desire to rise above mediocrity.
“The War Within” deserves to stand apart as an outstanding contribution to this country’s rich heritage of memoir. As at least one other viewer has commented ─ a must read for every Australian.




Sunday, 9 November 2014

The Berlin Wall in 1976

From an old Travel Diary.

 September, 1976.

West Berlin was a bright, sparkling modern city, neon signs flashing. We had a very short time in Berlin, two hours' sightseeing, and one hour's shopping. During the sightseeing, we saw the usual statues and large buildings, also the Soviet War Memorial (well guarded) and the Olympic Stadium. An incredible feeling - that that was where Hitler actually was.

And then of course, THE WALL.  Quite a low wall, unimpressive, with no extra markers or anything on the West Berlin side to show that if you climbed over, you would be shot dead. There were signs to warn you that you would be leaving West Berlin, and many slogans painted on the wall (about ten feet high, I suppose)  and when you could see over, there was a wide bare strip, with soldiers in pill-boxes here and there, and barbed wire, and alert-looking Alsatian dogs. And another fence further into East Germany. It did look utterly impossible to get across undetected. So many people killed there, trying to cross that narrow strip of land!

And just over the wall, too, was a little rise under which was Hitler's Bunker. The scene of so much history, Berlin,  and now how strange it would be in that bustling city - a city in the middle of a foreign and hostile country.

At 11.00 am, we left Berlin, though the Checkpoint, which took quite some time, and then the long drive through East Germany. Almost immediately after crossing the Border, we were in country-side. We didn't really see East Berlin at all - except a little over the Wall. A few small towns, but mostly emptiness, so depopulated does East Germany seem in spite of her wall.


 'Freiheit für alle' means 'Freedom for all.' 
25 years ago, the wall came down.