Wednesday, April 25, 2012


It's Anzac Day here in Australia, a day to commemorate not only the anniversary of the first major military insurgence by Australian and NZ soldiers during WWI, but also a day to commemorate all those other Australian and NZ soldiers who have gone out to battle to fight for us, our freedom and for the political, economic and social freedom of others.

I'm not going to bang on about this at all. I'm going to let the echoes of Paul Keating (former PM) do it for me. He gave this incredibly moving speech in 1993 (actually on Remembrance Day) at the gravesite of the Unknown Australian Soldier in Canberra (at the War Memorial) . I often come back to this (and other PK speeches - I adore him)... So. Here it is!

We do not know this Australian's name and we never will.
We do not know his rank or his battalion. We do not know where he was born, nor precisely how and when he died. We do not know where in Australia he had made his home or when he left it for the battlefields of Europe. We do not know his age or his circumstances – whether he was from the city or the bush; what occupation he left to become a soldier; what religion, if he had a religion; if he was married or single. We do not know who loved him or whom he loved. If he had children we do not know who they are. His family is lost to us as he was lost to them. We will never know who this Australian was.
Yet he has always been among those whom we have honoured. We know that he was one of the 45,000 Australians who died on the Western Front. One of the 416,000 Australians who volunteered for service in the First World War. One of the 324,000 Australians who served overseas in that war and one of the 60,000 Australians who died on foreign soil. One of the 100,000 Australians who have died in wars this century.
He is all of them. And he is one of us.
This Australia and the Australia he knew are like foreign countries. The tide of events since he died has been so dramatic, so vast and all – consuming, a world has been created beyond the reach of his imagination.
He may have been one of those who believed that the Great War would be an adventure too grand to miss. He may have felt that he would never live down the shame of not going. But the chances are he went for no other reason than that he believed it was the duty he owed his country and his King.
Because the Great War was a mad, brutal, awful struggle, distinguished more often than not by military and political incompetence; because the waste of human life was so terrible that some said victory was scarcely discernible from defeat; and because the war which was supposed to end all wars in fact sowed the seeds of a second even more terrible war – we might think this Unknown Soldier died in vain.
But, in honouring our war dead, as we always have and as we do today, we declare that this is not true. For out of the war came a lesson which transcended the horror and tragedy and the inexcusable folly. It was a lesson about ordinary people – and the lesson was that they were not ordinary. On all sides they were the heroes of that war; not the generals and the politicians but the soldiers and sailors and nurses – those who taught us to endure hardship, to show courage, to be bold as well as resilient, to believe in ourselves, to stick together.
The Unknown Australian Soldier whom we are interring today was one of those who, by his deeds, proved that real nobility and grandeur belongs, not to empires and nations, but to the people on whom they, in the last resort, always depend.
That is surely at the heart of the ANZAC story, the Australian legend which emerged from the war. It is a legend not of sweeping military victories so much as triumphs against the odds, of courage and ingenuity in adversity. It is a legend of free and independent spirits whose discipline derived less from military formalities and customs than from the bonds of mateship and the demands of necessity. It is a democratic tradition, the tradition in which Australians have gone to war ever since.
This Unknown Australian is not interred here to glorify war over peace; or to assert a soldier's character above a civilian's; or one race or one nation or one religion above another; or men above women; or the war in which he fought and died above any other war; or one generation above any that has been or will come later.
The Unknown Soldier honours the memory of all those men and women who laid down their lives for Australia. His tomb is a reminder of what we have lost in war and what we have gained.
We have lost more than 100,000 lives, and with them all their love of this country and all their hope and energy.
We have gained a legend: a story of bravery and sacrifice and, with it, a deeper faith in ourselves and our democracy, and a deeper understanding of what it means to be Australian.
It is not too much to hope, therefore, that this Unknown Australian Soldier might continue to serve his country - he might enshrine a nation's love of peace and remind us that, in the sacrifice of the men and women whose names are recorded here, there is faith enough for all of us.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Wish You Were Here

At last! A film I enjoyed!

Being a slightly pretentious film buff who fancies herself as a bit of a young Margaret Pomeranz, I was a little disappointed to discover that I didn't enjoy many of her recent film picks. Where she was jubilantly proclaiming the artistic wonders of films such as Marcy Mary whatever her name is, I was feeling inconsolably empty. While Margaret basked in the acting glory of George Clooney, I could only raise a half-hearted meh. Maybe it was an age thing...

I'm not sure of Margaret's views on this film, but I can tell you that I loved Australia's latest great film offering, Wish You Were Here.

Wish You Were Here is every young Australian holiday-maker's worst nightmare. Set in beautiful Cambodia, the seedy underbelly of the cheap south east Asian destinations we Aussies love to make our holiday playground is never far away. Images of ratty dogs, children living in poverty, pigs travelling live on their way to market are spliced with typical holiday images that I'm sure are familiar to all of us. The frenetic energy of night markets, steaming bowls of pho, elephant souvenirs, tanned skin and wild parties.

Disaster strikes though, when one of the group disappears after a full moon-type party.

The story of what happens is slowly unravelled, as we dive ever deeper in to this tightly wound psychological drama. Joel Edgerton plays Dave, an ordinarily easy-going bloke who has returned from his Cambodian get-away more stressed than ever. With the Australian Federal Police asking tricky questions, strange cars following him at night, and the women in his life at war, Dave isn't having a good week.

Described as an unfunny version of The Hangover Part II,  I love the way this film shows the layers of lies we weave in our daily lives. Often to protect the feelings of others, and sometimes simply because the truth is too ugly to say out loud. Cambodia and Sydney are lusciously filmed (where did they film that from in Sydney??) - with the juiciness of each location juxtaposed by their menacing sides - and the dangerous situations we willingly embrace for reasons of fun or deception.

I really hope you get to see this one. A beautiful cast (Teresa Palmer = gorgeous; Joel Edgerton in glasses = hot), stunning locations and a great story. 4 stars.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Happy Friday: Sayonara Summer

It has been a pretty crazy couple of weeks at work. I guess that always happens when deadlines combine with public holidays. Plus, it is sadly the end of summer (well... technically that was a few weekends ago, but I'm just now saying adieu this weekend). The nights are starting to crisp up, and the mornings are definitely waking up later... *sigh*

This weekend I'm sneaking away for an island break...

Hoping to recharge some batteries and relocate  my sense of humour. Yep. It's been that bad.

Happy weekend wonderful people.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

News Wrap

Gossip magazine editors everywhere are celebrating in droves as Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt announce their engagement via an enormous, one-year in the making diamond ring.

Reportedly costing $1 million (eat your heart out Dr Evil), this baguette-laden ring is sure to do for engagement rings what Kate Middleton's dress did for wedding dresses: plenty of cheap imitations.

The only thing likely to get gossip mag editors more excited than the pending Brangelina nuptials would be a Kate Middleton/Prince William baby. Think of all those official baby booties for the occasion.

Speaking of booties, Hillary Clinton has been raising her public image by getting down with the people in a number of highly amusing ways. First there was tumblr, featuring the Hill-ster responding to texts in her dead-pan Secretary of State manner (whether she realised it or not)....

... and then she was "sighted" boozing and shaking her booty in the wee hours of a Sunday morning in Colombia.

Anyone for President?