When I think of these words I immediately think of the famous scene in the movie of the same name where Gene Kelly dances in pouring rain. It’s a catchy song but I have to say that on the few occasions I’ve been caught in a rainstorm and soaked to the skin I did not feel in the least like singing and dancing. Squelching along with sodden shoes and wet clothes sticking to you is no fun, especially if you know you have an hour long bus ride home to endure before you can get out of them.I can remember two or three occasions when it has happened to me and most of them seem to involve rained out sporting events.
However, I do enjoy listening to the rain when I’m snug and cosy at home. It feels good to be in a warm room listening to the rain thundering on the galvanised iron roof . “It’s really coming down out there.” my husband and I say to each other. “I’m glad we’re not out in it.” Of course there is more than just being grateful for our good fortune in having a roof over our heads. After a hot dry summer it is wonderful to see how everything turns green again after a good rain.
Many people think that it rains all the time in Tasmania and parts of it are quite wet at times, but Hobart itself is the second driest capital city in Australia. Adelaide, where we used to live, is the driest.
There were drought conditions here for some years in the mid 2000’s and the midlands and east coast of Tasmania really suffered. Farmers had to put stock down because there was no feed. Lake Dulverton at Oatlands dried up completely. I was told that years ago they used to have sailing and even speed boat racing on Lake Dulverton, I walked around the lake and saw the remains of moorings and there was the sailing club but the lake itself reminded me of the cover of the Midnight Oil album “Red Sails In The Sunset” which showed Sydney Harbour with no water.
It would have made a great dirt bike track at that time.
Finally, there came a wet winter, it rained and rained. Gradually the lake filled and finally in spring of 2009 it was full for the first time in many years. I remember visiting the lake around this time and seeing people rowing and fishing on the lake. That did make me feel like singing.
So even though I curse it when I get caught in it or when my husband spatters the washing with mud with his car I really do love the rain because it brings new life.
The other night I watched a movie called Main Street. I picked it at random because the blurb made it sound interesting and it had Colin Firth in it.
The blurb said that it was about a town that had fallen on to hard times and a stranger who had arrived in town with a proposition that could change everything.
Well, the proposition turned out to be the storage of hazardous waste and while the characters in the film all had happy endings it was not certain if the town would take this route to prosperity.
That was the real story for me. Is the risk of bringing hazardous waste into your town worth the financial gain?
I can see both sides of the arguement. On the one hand nobody wants to see their town die, their shops closed and their young people move away to look for work elsewhere. The people in my area where have lived through this. Apples, farming and timber were the industries that the Huon Valley depended on for many years but gradually they have all declined. Locals tell me that in the early 1990s so many people were leaving that houses were almost being given away. There are towns like ours all over Australia and it’s understandable that when a large company wants to build, say a pulp mill, there are many people who think it’s a good thing for the district even if it’s environmentally questionable.
I know that I would have no problem in saying no to a hazardous waste dump in my town no matter how much money it would bring I just feel that it would not be worth the risk.However, the issues we have here in Tasmania are more difficult.
When I first came here over ten years ago I realised that forestry was something that people were very passionate about. I worked with women whose husbands income depended directly or indirectly on it. I saw cars with stickers that said “Greens Tell Lies” which I found very disturbing. It is very much a personal matter to many people. The very strong dislike that many people here have for green politics has probably pushed me in that direction out of sheer contrariness.
I’m a moderate myself, I hate confrontation and always look for compromise. I wouldn’t want to ban all logging but in my heart of hearts I feel that cutting down old growth forests to make woodchips is just wrong. If we must do this I’d prefer to see the timber used for something that people can appreciate like some of the lovely timber furniture that is made here. I know that forests that are logged are replanted but will they be allowed to live to over a hundred years without being disturbed.? I’m not sure. Once you cut down an old tree it’s gone forever. You can put another tree there but it won’t be the same. I know there are a lot of people like me and others more extreme who will go to any lengths to stop timber processing. I don’t always agree with their methods.It’s not a problem we’re going to solve very easily.
So if a town decides to take the moral high ground and say no to industry there has to be something else. I like the idea of making communities more self sufficient with things such as community gardens and co-ops to help people feed themselves and survive the hard times. I like the idea of farmers diversifying to other products and manufactureres finding niche markets, maybe a lot of little things are better for the community than one big one.
I have also read of many rural towns in Australia who have encouraged new residents to move there by offering cheap rents. It seems to work well for some.
Thinking about all this led me to discover the website of Renew Australia, This is an organisation that works with communities and property owners to take otherwise empty shops, offices, commercial and public buildings and make them available to incubate short term use by artists, creative projects and community initiatives.
I think these sorts of ideas can work. Recently I went to a meeting about the demolition of buildings at the local school. It was reassuring to see that the hall was full of a diverse group of people, from elderly residents who had gone to the school themselves, former teachers, young parents and people like myself who have come here in past few years and care about the community as a whole.I do believe that if communities can come together things can change for the better and we won’t need to compromise our ideals.
Links to organisations and businesses in Geeveston.
Reality television really annoys me. Yes I know it’s all fake and I guess the participants must have some idea what they are getting into, they apply to go on the programs after all. Some of it is so preposterous you couldn’t possibly take it seriously. The biggest mystery to me is why people watch it anyway.
Take the Jerry Springer Show for example. My husband watches it regularly. He claims that most of the guests are real people. I think they are actors. I hope they are actors. I’d hate to think that there are so many bad mannered, foul mouthed, uncontrolled people in the USA. They seem stereotypical characters to me. The show certainly has a predictable pattern.Most of the women seem to be strippers. Everyone sleeps with their partners cousin, sister, brother or best friend. Some guests who look like women turn out to be men and the audience is always disgusted by this. Nobody meant to do what they did but they were drunk at the time. The guys fight and their shirts get ripped off, the gals fight and their wigs come off . I might add that these are not usually attractive people. I find the shouting and constant repetition of the same sentence irritating but my husband finds the show funny. Go figure.
Then there are the Storage Wars/Pawn Stars/American Pickers type of shows. I see quite a few of these because my husband enjoys some of them although even he finds the personalties of some of the people a bit much. The thing that always gets me about these is the way the storage hunters casually throw out values of items, “This is a hundred dollars, that’s fifty, that will be two hundred.” as if they already know. Well perhaps they do. http://darrenarcher.name/ftv/PDF%27s/Reality%20Television.pdf
I always imagine them taking their goodies to Rick Harrison‘s store and being told, “It’s old, it’s rough. I’ll have a hard time selling it. I’ll give you fifty bucks for it.” While I don’t mind these shows as much as the other reality offerings because I like seeing the interesting stuff people find I get tired of the emphasis on money. That’s just me I know. I don’t really care if Rick and co. can make “a ton of money”, a favourite expression on A&E shows. What I dislike about Rick Harrison in particular is that he always comes across as being very smug. He laughs at customers when he tells them he won’t be giving them what they want even though you’ve just heard him saying what a great item it is and how much he wants it. I am sure he is a nice man really and I know it’s business but every time I see him on TV I want to punch him. I really prefer the (British) “Antiques Road Show” style of program where you get a history of the object and often an interesting story about how the person got it.
Cooking shows, another pet hate. Cooking shows used to be about someone showing you how to make a dish, usually one you might actually prepare in your own home. I never found them particularly interesting but I didn’t mind them. Then along came Gordon Ramsey, Jamie Oliver and all the rest of the so called Celebrity Chefs. What I hate about these guys is their language and their manners. Not Jamie so much although his swearing, especially when he was younger, really annoyed me. At least he seems to be trying to do some good in the world. Gordon is just plain rude. I don’t subscribe to the idea that chefs are allowed to abuse their staff because they are creative people. The kitchen is a workplace and while constructive criticism and even a good telling off of a lazy or incompetent worker is one thing I don’t think they should be abused and humiliated in front of the rest of the staff let alone a TV audience. If this sort of things really goes on in commercial kitchens there needs to be some workplace reform right away and if it doesn’t’ then Gordon it’s not funny, stop doing it!
Then there are shows like Master Chef. I haven’t watched it but as far as I can tell it’s not so much about good cooking as about ridiculous challenges and drama between contestants. The soap opera element is one that nearly all genres have in common. Whether it’s Big Brother which was unashamedly about the people and the relationships to fashion and dating shows where all the girls bitch about each other constantly; or the renovating shows with all the contestants arguing with their opponents and often with each other as well.
I guess because I don’t like confrontation and arguments myself I find these shows especially annoying. Take Survivor, shouldn’t it really be about teamwork and the winner the person who had shown him or herself to be the best leader? Instead it’s full of alliances being broken, backstabbing and lies. Seriously, if they were really stranded they would not survive if they didn’t cooperate. Even The Amazing Race, a show that I have always liked, focuses a lot on the personality clashes of the contestants. I don’t watch it as much as I used to because of that.
Finally I would like to mention the shows that make me the most angry. I will call them “Improvement” shows. In this group would be the weight loss shows, programs like Hoarders and even some of the renovating ones. I find the weight loss shows like Biggest Loser very disturbing because to me it doesn’t seem very safe to take obese people and put them in a boot camp situation. If you are obese you are putting a lot of strain on your joints doing these work outs and it’s unrealistic to have them do that right from the start. I also hate to see contestants in pain and saying they have had enough while a sadistic looking trainer yells at them. I am overweight but I would not be grateful to a person who treated me like that. I don’t care if they did agree to be on the show. It’s humiliating. It’s also not real life, they should be teaching them how to cope in their own homes in the real world not in the beloved of reality TV group house.
I’ve never watched Hoarders but my sister has and she said she feels sure it is staged as every episode starts with the presenter climbing over a huge pile of rubbish. How are the hoarders themselves always so clean and well groomed living in houses where you can’t use the bathroom she asks? Both of us agree that we feel that the way this issue is handled for television is cruel. Forcing people to give up treasured possessions is a lot different from cleaning out dirt and rubbish. Hoarding is an addiction for some people and needs a real cure not a TV quick fix by a know it all “expert”. There was a show on here in Australia called “Your Life on the Lawn” . The premise of this show seemed to be that the victim’s (yes, I used that word on purpose) possessions would be spread all over the back lawn and they would be then forced throw most of it out. Just the idea of that made me so angry I couldn’t watch. The same goes for decorating shows and real estate shows where the experts tell you that your house looks daggy and you have too much stuff but not to worry because they will fix it. I would never want experts, or for that matter total strangers taking it on themselves to decorate my house! Even if it was being paid for by the station.
During the property boom a few years ago shows about selling homes were very popular. They gave me a permanent dislike of most real estate agents and distrust of auctions. Sometimes the sellers did well but I can recall other episodes where the auction stalled and the agent practically bullied the seller into dropping the reserve to stimulate bidding, needless to say as soon as they did the house sold for way less than they had originally hoped for and in most cases been told by the agent they would get. Sadly that is not TV fantasy, it actually does happen. We were very careful when we sold our own home at around this time and totally refused to have anything to do with auctions. But that may be a subject for another rant.
I could go on, I could have mentioned talent shows where they expect all the contestants to be good in every genre and where the judges personalities overshadow the contestants. I wonder how the Rolling Stones for instance, would have done on Britain’s Got Talent or American Idol? However I think you get the picture. I don’t watch any of these shows myself so you could argue that I should watch them before I make judgements. I’ve seen the odd episode of some of them, others I just knew I wouldn’t like without having to see them so I think I’ll just read thanks.
People often comment on my first name, Vanda, because it is not a common name. Europeans I’ve met tell me that it is a variant of Wanda. I’ve been told it is a Polish name. However when I googled it just now to see if I could find out a bit more another website (http://www.ourbabynamer.com/meaning-of-Vanda.html) says it is of Italian origin. That is a new one on me! Funnily enough as a child I was sometimes taken for Italian because of my dark hair and eyes. What both versions seem to agree on is that it means “Wanderer” and originally referred to Slavic migrants.
I am sure my mother knew little of this when she chose it although it was from her that I first learned it was a Polish name. We have no Polish blood that I’m aware of. Both my parents were born in England and so were my grandparents except for my paternal grandmother who was born in Canada.
My mother had a particular reason for calling me Vanda though. On her mother’s side of the family girls names were often passed down through the generations there were several Annie’s, May’s, Rosemary’s etc. Mum didn’t want to do that. She didn’t want me to have one of the girls names that were popular at the time either so names such as Susan, Mary and Debbie were ruled out. Finally she wanted a name that could not be shortened.
She decided to look to fiction for a name as she was fond of reading. Her first choice for a daughter’s name was Bramble. She chose this before she was married but thankfully for me she married a man whose surname started with a “B” so she decided that it would sound odd and the child would be teased. When she was pregnant with me she read a novel in which one of the characters was called Vanda. She liked that so that was the name I was given.
Mum’s first objective worked out. I have never personally met another Vanda which meant that I have spent most of my life explaining how to spell it and where it came from. Her second one was not so easy, especially after we moved to Australia where all names are shortened, or if they are already short, lengthened, as a matter of course. My school years were spent saying “No, I would rather you did not call me Van or Vandy.” I was sometimes called “Verandah” which was considered very amusing even though most kids couldn’t spell that either.
I like my name though. I like being a bit different and I have the spelling routine down to a fine art now. “Think of panda but with a “V”. Did I mention that “Vanda the Panda” was another school nickname?