Tuesday, November 07, 2006


The great thing about being a rapidly aging Baby Boomer is that according to the statistics I am loaded with more money than I know what to do with and I intend spending it all before I die, leaving absolutely nothing for the next generation.
Each morning I wake up I turn on my computer, logon to my bank, and eagerly peruse my account details looking to see if the money has turned up.
It hasn't.
It won't.
And the reason is, of course, that statistics are averages and averages are distorted by extremes.
This brings me to my life, which has had both, extremes and averages.
It all began way back in the late 1940s when Stan and Betty Doust of Bridgetown (Western Australia) decided to get married and produce children.
The first one arrived as the Second World War ended and the next, me, arrived in the same year as the birth of the state of Israel, 1948.
Who would have thought that the feisty, wiry little freckle would find himself in Israel, get married, divorced, and marry again, all to partners he met in that tiny state?
Certainly not his parents, who were both shocked and horrified at the turn of events.
They were hoping their second son would join a bank, learn as much as he could about the world of finance, then go home and help build the family retail empire.
Well, he did, but not quite like that.
He failed school, joined a bank, got the sack, arrived home very tired and emotional, made a good go of it, then left to grow long hair, a beard, and to follow a trail that crisscrossed the globe and involved speaking very slowly, giggling at random and dreaming of an impossible world.
And then, in an exhausted state, he arrived in Israel to experience the truth of socialism in a kibbutz setting, to work in the fields, to love and be loved and to find his soul.
For those of you not as old as those of us who are, a kibbutz was once a communal farm where people worked according to their abilities and took from the collective according to their requirements.
These days it still has a collective heart, but each community, from the outside, looks just like any other capitalist unit fighting for survival in a global economy.
This, surprisingly, brings me back to my local community, Kalamunda (in the humps, or hills, just east of Perth, West Australia) for if I learnt one thing during my three years on a kibbutz, it was that it had much in common with community life in Australia.
Healthy communities thrive on volunteer labour and their unhealthy cousins decline for the lack of it.
Without the enthusiasts who inhabit our shire, who regularly give according to their abilities, for no financial reward, there would be no Kalamunda Community Matters, no Zig Zag Festival and no Meals on Wheels.
And where would we be then?
Vive la communaute!

(The above was printed in a Kalamunda newspaper - Kalamunda Community Matters - a newspaper written and produced by young folk, folk much younger than the writer of this blog. They asked him to write something because they felt sorry for him as he sat alone on a park bench reminiscing about a life that wasn't his.)

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Global warming? Not sure what to do?

The Stern Review, the report commissioned by the British, Blair, Labor Government, has forecast "global suffering greater than two world wars and one depression if nothing is done to cut emissions". [Weekend Inquirer, The Weekend Australian, November 4-5, 2006]
Unbelievable, that that the greatest threat to the planet is not war, but peace and prosperity!
The more peace we have, the more we produce; the longer the peace, the more we want; the more we want, the more we consume; the more we consume, the greater, the faster the madder the lemming-like spiralling growth; and the more we grow, the more we, well, you get the picture and so on and on until it all ends.

Ok, what to do: A Mind Map to remind us
The above mind map was created by Jane Genovese and her mother, Sharon.
Jane is a student and professional speaker.
And she lives what she speaks.
You can check out the map in all its glory, and other maps by the dedicated mappers, by heading for Jane' s website:
And clicking on "resources".
For a full reading of the Stern Review, go ahead:

Friday, October 27, 2006

Getting up!

I don't know about you, but I get fired up about stuff.
Being a fifth generation Australian, with a strong connection to place, and an acute awareness of how much damage the DDT, dieldrin and other noxious crap we spilt around our home has impacted on the environment, I now feel the urge to correct and recover.
It's a tough assignment, but everyone has to do their best if we are to leave this place in a fit condition for the next gens and the poor creatures trying to eke a living in the fast declining bushland.
There's much to be done.
Some of it's personal.
Some of it's spiritual.
Some of it's political.
Some of it's communal.
The first two are very personal.
The second two are public.
If the third is of interest but you don't want to march in the street, then a petition might be the way to go.
Get Up, Action for Australia is a body I have some respect for.
Check it out.
There's a link on the right.
(I have marched in the street but find it disconcerting. All the yelling and the sloganeering unnerves me. Unless there are drums. If the march can be danced, I'm in.)
Have a look.
Take the time.
We all need all the help we can get.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Start laughing things are getting serious

Some days I wake up and I wonder where I've been, not because I have a heavy hangover, or I got so doped up the night before I have no idea who I am or the other details of my immediate life.
No, it's because I am an old baby booming bastard who came through the sixties and revolted and smoked dope and dreamt of changing the world and did my best to scream and rant at the established and controlling order and in some small way I believed that I had, along with Danny the Red, Richard Neville, Germane Greer, Carole King, Richard Pryor and who knows who else.
But it seems I haven't.
We all failed.
Ok, a few lucky women in the Western World have a better rate of pay.
And in some areas they get respect.
A lot of men got confused and remain so and can't imagine what it is they are supposed to be doing in a world which now seems run by women on better rates of pay then their mothers.
It's crap, of course.
But it's not the only place of confusion.
What about North Korea?
And India?
And Pakistan?
And Israel?
All members of the club with the ability to blow the shit and all other bodily fluids out of the entire planet.
What's the point of that?
Why do we need the ability more than once?
And why is it that the most powerful nation the fully rounded planet has ever seen seems to think that it is the only one with the right to destroy us all and why is it that it continues to drive around in four-wheel drives past electronic signage pointing the way to vacuous, soulless, nothingness while so many of the rest of us can't find a decent glass of water, or a handful of fresh fruit?
So what about global warming?
What's the point of that?
Ok, it all looks pretty miserable.
Tell you what, if you didn't have a sense of humour, bugger, where would you be?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

What a bloody waste!

Can you believe what we waste in the West?
And when I say West, I mean the entire western world, as well as the entire West of this vast continent we call Australia.
Rampant consumerism brings with it random debris. Enough to sink continents.
I'm a walker and when I go walking, on a beach, along a road, I spend an amount of time picking up rubbish left by others who went that way before me.
It's happened in Israel, in New Zealand, in Holland, in England, in, yes, even, in Switzerland.
The picture on the left is Anzac Cove, Turkey, the scene for a disgraceful dumping by Aussies in 2005 while there to celebrate a glorious defeat. This year those gathered were much better behaved, but I'll bet many of them managed to dump stuff elsewhere.
In Western Australia recently a major recycling plant closed down. Why? Because it was making money? No, economic rationalism.
And already this western third of Australia is a slack third when it comes to recycling, but a champion third when it comes to dumping.
It's not just that we're different to the other two thirds, or that we think we're Texan, we just don't think enough about the consequences of our obsessive consumerism, coupled with our rampant economic growth, it's debris and our responsibility to the folk we're leaving it all to.
My view is that if taxpayers, individually or collectively, are not prepared to take responsibility for their rubbish, then the government must, which means taxpayers will.
Either way, it's gotta be done.
I once stood for election to the Australian Federal Parliament on a deep sewerage platform: the dismantling of it.
Voters laughed at me and rightly so, I was a bloody idiot, but like all fools I had a point: society's problems multiplied when people were relieved of responsibility for their own shit!

Global Caring

It's time, I think, to take full responsibility.
If we don't, Kilimanjaro will melt, Iceland will melt, oceans will heat up (doing away with whatever whales Iceland and Japan have left behind in their madness), the Maldives will sink and Manjimup, West Australia, will be too warm to grow cherries.
This is a disaster.
You cannot have a Cherry Festival in a town that does not grow cherries.
Please, for the sake of the folk who have worked their guts to the bone to create a magnificent festival that already equals major cherry festivals around the world, please, sign a petition.
You can find it on this web site.
Lot's of fabulous, gorgeous, darling, media type celebrity airheads have already signed, but don't let that put you off.
Go on, sign.
I dare you.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Garlic Warrior

Let me make the point: Local Garlic is NOW available!
Well, for those of us in the southern hemisphere and particularly in West Australia.
And if you don't have any wherever you are then find yourself a supplier on Australia's fabulous west coast and place an order.
At Sal and Phil's, my local fruit and veg retailers, they have two boxes brimming with the delight.
That's Sal wearing a garlic necklace.
Not only has Sal got plenty of locally grown garlic, his entire shop is brimming with local fruit and veg.
Am I in the pay of the garlic munchers?
Why then am I into garlic and cherries and other such fruit and veg?
Because, dear blog fancier, I am a fanatical, locally-grown fruit and veg person who grew up on a fruit and veg farm in the lower south west of this magnificent fast disappearing state called West Australia.
Indeed, I grow my own garlic and eat it every day.
Not mine, it's not ready yet, but right now I'm eating some I bought from Misters Fruit and Veg, Sal and Phil, two Australian-Italian dudes who not only know garlic when they sniff it, they stick it where folk can see it.
It's purple in colour, not white, and is full of all the necessaries you expect to find in a knob of the genre.
Just so you know I'm not alone, International Garlic Research recently held an international conference at The Free University of Berlin.
It was the 6th International Congress on Phytotherapy, in conjunction with the European Scientific Co-operative for Phytotherapy.
Phytotherapy, by the way, is all about the study of plants and herbs for medicinal purposes.
So there.
Go get it.
Eat it.
And keep it cool and dark.
You might want to take a look at this book.

Oh, you might be thinking: "Garlic stink not for me."
Well, check out his site for good info: http://www.garlic.mistral.co.uk/
Take a look at the above book.
Some ancients once prayed to garlic.
Must have been something in it.

Monday, June 19, 2006

You ever ever feel like driving heavy objects into thick skulls?

There is no doubt whatsoever that shopping is where it’s at. You only have to spend five minutes in your local and see the dudes hanging loose with their skate boards, the old folk gathering for a chat, the house-people hovering over milk not yet spilt and the young and fashionable preening over coffee.

It’s not surprising, of course, given the steady drop off in church, cinema and sporting attendance, service club membership, pub crawling and the over-the-fence meet of near neighbours.

This is exciting for me, because I come from a long line of retailers: my dad, my dad’s mum, my dad’s mum’s dad, all my brothers, some of their wives and most of their kids.

By “it” I mean, of course, the buzz of community interaction: where we all meet, rub up against each other, learn how to resolve everyday conflict and where we pay homage to higher beings.

If you’re in retail and you know this, understand it, can move from concept to implementation, then you are ahead of the game and poised to make some serious money.

If you don’t, then it’s going to be an uphill battle, between you and the clientele, you and your staff and suppliers, you and your accountant, you and the ATO, you and your partner, you and yourself and you.

We’ve all seen the folks who don’t get it. You can spot them as soon as you walk in their shops. They look about as happy as a pig in a tuxedo and they look at you like you are a space invader, a thief, a competitor, an ex-partner, a tax collector, a deranged lunatic, a bull in their china shop.

These days I’m still in the people business, spending much of my time working with groups using Jungian-based psychological models like the Myers Briggs Personality type Indicator. There are, however, aspects of human behaviour that these don’t read, like a irrational inability to get on with anyone, any-type, at any time.

Recently I spotted an item in a shop and wanted to make sure it contained locally born and bred ingredients, proceeded to write down the phone number on the label and was accosted by the proprietor and told: “We don’t allow people to write things down in our shop. This is a shop in which writing things down is unacceptable behaviour.”

The funny thing about having retail in your blood is that often when you meet someone who hasn’t, you feel sorry for them and want to help, rather than leaning back, grabbing the nearest heavy item and driving it into what many would assume is thick skull.

In the old days, when I had my own shop, people often wrote things down. Sometimes they were crossing items off a list, sometimes they were writing a letter to their mum, and sometimes they were competitors noting down prices.

So what? They were not going to be competitors for ever and a day and, more than likely, they would eventually be clients.

That’s the thing about age and experience: you learn that what goes around often comes around.

In other words, if you live by the driving-of-heavy-objects-into-thick-skulls method, then one day you are likely to die from a heavy object imbedded in your thick skull.

But let’s not carp. This is Australia, one of the few nations the Gods have blessed, and home to a magnificent collection of shopping cathedrals.

So, in order to assist, inform, and educate those ready and willing to read on, I will now provide a few tips to help you survive both sides of the counter.

First and foremost, if you are a regular shopper, remember that retailers have lives too and must be allowed, like us, to have bad days.

If, however, you have noticed that someone’s bad day has stretched beyond a decade, then it might be time to consider shopping elsewhere.

If you are a retailer and have already bought the small shop, yet now realise you hate people who want you to be nice to them, or who smile for no apparent reason, or people who, well, in short, come into your place of business, then get out, now, sell up, move on.

For some of you this might prove difficult, because you’ve just singed a new lease, or because of bank loans, or partners, or because you like the things in your shop.

Liking things in your shop, by the way, is good, but you have to learn to let things go.

Anyway, if these few words have clanged a bell and you are opening the doors next week, then by all means finish setting up, hanging the curtains, pricing all items, but when all that’s done, for your own sake and ours, don’t stand at the counter, stay out the back.

Better still, don’t appear during normal business hours and leave the people business to people who like people.

Start laughing, the pain is getting serious

Some mornings I wake up, which is a good start. And most mornings everything hurts, but, before I move on, let me stress, this is not all negative.

For example, one advantage is that I learn about the bits of me that I never knew I had. And some of those bits are quite interesting and when I know I have them I begin to nurture them and use them appropriately.

The shame is, of course, that I didn’t know I had them earlier and perhaps if I had known, I would have used them wisely and wouldn’t have got arthritis.

But who can tell. Because we are never who are now, or even then, if you follow me. (If you do, please email me because I got lost just after the first paragraph.)

Given I wake up with everything hurting, the very first thing I do is lie there, on my back, still as can be, and hope the hurt will go away. Sometimes it does, usually because I was lying in a particular way, on a particular bit, and when I changed position, removing the discomfort, the bit felt okay and stopped hurting.

However, most of the hurting bits keep right on hurting and sometimes they hurt even more because they don’t like that change I made from foetal to full-length back-lie.

The next thing to do is get the hell out of the bed and move, baby, move.

This is my big secret, movement. I keep telling myself that if I keep moving I will be able to keep moving.

It is probably important at this stage that I mention I am a scrawn. Come from along line of them. My father was a scrawn, as were his father before him and the one before that. Indeed, if you ever visit The Cidery in Bridgetown, ask to be shown the Doust Family photo. It’s on the back wall and shows, very clearly, Great Grandfather Alfred Doust with his scrawny wife and eight of his ten scrawny children.

That’s where it all started and it isn’t finished yet, because I gave birth to a scrawny, lanky lad who is well into his late teens.

But I think I’m missing the point, if there is a point, and the point is, if it exists, that the best way to cope with arthritis is to laugh at it and keep moving. I employ both strategies with gay abandon. And when I say “gay” I mean in the wild and happy sense of the word.

When I was kid in the fifties, hands always got my attention. There was something about the hand. Let’s be honest, after the face, the hand is the next most expressive part of the body.

And the hands that interested me most were the old blokes’ hands, the gnarled, bent, twisted, mangled hands and the hands with those big arthritic lumps on them.

I always reckoned my hands would finish up like that. And they seem to be well on their way.

Right now I have a lump on my left thumb and two lumps on my right thumb knuckle. Then there is the big lump on my shoulders. Well, it’s not really a lump, more of a head with a face on it, but my dad always said to me, usually after I’d messed something up, like poured petrol in the radiator: “Use your lump, son.” And then he’d point to my head, which is why I have always thought of it as a lump.

That hurts too, sometimes, the head, but only because there’s too much stuff in there and the stuff that has lived there for years and years keeps trying to push the new stuff out, or not let it in, and this results in terrible battles and violent headaches.

But I’m getting away from the heart of this piece, which is how to survive with achy bits all over the body. Which brings me back to the thumbs.

One thing I do most days is exercise both thumbs. I also do finger exercises and toe exercises. Indeed, I try to exercise all those little bits that most people seem to forget. It saddens me when I meet people who no longer have any use of their toes, their eyebrows, kneecaps, or lips.

It’s important to keep moving every possible bit. One of the proudest moments of my life was when my father, Stan Doust, turned seventy, and we stood before one hundred and thirty people gathered in celebration and rolled our stomachs. It was a skill he revealed to me when I was a grasshopper and if my son had not considered it a freaky manifestation of a deranged mind, I would have taught him too.

Apart from exercising the stomach, the normal bits, like arms and legs, and the little bits, I freely show them to others. As in the following conversation.

“Jon, gidday. How are you?”
“Fine, apart from this bloody great lump on my thumb.”
“What is it?”
“All right for you to say.”
“Does it hurt?”
“Only if I poke you in the eye with it, so there’s a good chance.”

He laughs. I laugh. And, as everyone knows, when you laugh, you don’t feel any pain. Until it stops. So the trick is to keep laughing as long as you can.

In addition, of course, I swim, well I did, until I got caught in a flood in Bunbury this winter, jumped up on a fence, collapsed with it into the mud and struck a brick letterbox with my shoulder. I felt so stupid I lay there for three minutes laughing my lump off and I didn’t fee the pain until the next morning.

And this, by the way, was the shoulder I broke a few years ago when I took a dive off my skateboard going down a hill at fifty kilometres per hour. At the age of thirty seven, so I was still a young man.

All right, it’s probably clear to you by now that I’ve thrown my body around a bit over the years and set myself up for a healthy slap of arthritis. It’s true and, you know what, I regret nothing, because someone told me once: Life is for living, and if you’re going to live, you might as well throw your body around a bit.

To be honest, I’m not sure anyone said that to me, but from where I’m sitting, I need all the excuses and laughs I can get.

To blog, or not to blog? Is it a question?

A blog? What’s in a blog?

That’s what I asked when she challenged me on the stairs. She looked at me as though I was a newly completed idiot.

‘You need one. But first find out what one is, then get one.”

If she hadn’t had that look about her, you know the one that makes you want to look and listen and hope you will see her again, that look, then I might have ignored her words, but the look combined with the words unsettled me.

The words, in fact, took over from the look and now, when I try to think of her, I only have the words. No look.

A blog? I’m thinking: Sounds like something that blocks, or blogs. It’s got that feel.

So what could it be and why would I need something that blocks? Blocks what? Spam? Telemarketers? Phone calls from the inlaws?
On the net I’ve learnt if I don’t know, go to www.google.com and seek a definition. So I did. And now I know what a blog is, so what? What’s the point? To blog, or not to blog, is that the question?
And, if I decide to blog, to start a “web-based publication”, I’ll then have to supply content.

Do I need this extra work? And who will pay me? Me?

What if I don’t pay, refuse to pay?

Can I take me to court and sue me? What if I don’t turn up, or declare myself bankrupt, who will pay then?

All that extra work for what, so I can make a mess of things for me?

You would not believe how many times I have turned against me when all I was trying to do was help me improve my income base, my lifestyle, my life.

Did I get any thanks? None. Not a word. (Thank you Jackie Mason - http://www.jackiemason.com)

Right, then I met that woman again, the stairs-woman, same place, same time. Was she waiting for me?

“You idiot. Don’t you know anything?” she said.

I looked at her. She still had that look, the one that makes you look, but this time she looked different.

Before I could look long enough to retain the look, she was gone. And she took her look with her. Who is she anyway? Will I ever see her again?

I’m left standing on the stairs, trying desperately to think, of something, anything.

Then my son came home, slinking around, looking for money, or love, or crockery. He left home 18 months ago and only visits when he has run out of clean utensils. But this time he had a job to do: he was trying to sell me a new range of household products.

And he said: Blogging? Easy. Go to wordpress.org. So I did.

Generally speaking (though there are exceptions), blogs tend to have a few things in common:
•A main content area with articles listed chronologically, newest on top. Often, the articles are organized into categories.
•An archive of older articles.
•A way for people to leave comments about the articles.
•A list of links to other related sites, sometimes called a "blogroll".
•One or more "feeds" like RSS, Atom or RDF files.

I’m still not sure I need one, but the idea of other people supplying content is good and time saving and, who knows, I might meet someone.

Right, I’m going to do something about it. (I think.) Watch this space.