Fostering Bad Relations…

Back in 1999, I think it was, there was a book launch by an Aunt of mine, of a piece of genealogy called Fostering Good Relations. It even goes into a little biography on my family nucleus (odd, considering I was never interviewed about the details), and I contributed an illustration.

There’s a particularly deceptive piece of photography in the book, of me with my family, smiling the family smile. You wouldn’t realise that my late father and I had had a dust-up just prior. My mother has this recurrent false-memory that the dust-up was after the photo. I suspect the cognitive dissonance caused, is just a little much.

A dust-up after the photo would merely make it ironic, whereas before – this would call family history into question, by implication. But of course, this is the truth; we were all smiling faces right after the fight. Happy families.

Oh the kinds of things in my life that never made it into the book.

In 1992, after a hellish 1991 in Port Lincoln, South Australia, I escaped to Adelaide, into the company of the Buckland clan. The Bucklands, being the family between the Fosters (of Fostering Good Relations fame) and I.

Or at least, I thought it was an escape.

***

If there’s one thing anyone needs to know about The Bucklands, it’s about how they gossip; if the gossip isn’t true, it’ll still persist without anyone checking the facts, and if it is true, nobody will act on it because nobody’s checked the facts. Gossip, gossip, gossip. I’m sick of it.

The thing of it is, where there should be a historicity of The Bucklands, there’s just more gossip …and agendas …and grudges. In fact, it’s hard to make a contribution, or a criticism, without it being seen through the prism of a grudge.

If you try to help, you’re either attacking, or trying to upstage someone, yet you needn’t even know who, or what for. Others will make that part of the story up for you. And the slightest infelicity is always blown completely out of proportion, even before its permutations, from gossiper to gossiper.

***

As you’d expect, with so little inclination towards finding the truth, and acting on it, problems don’t get dealt with, and they accumulate.

I was informed, recently, or at least late last year, that a certain Buckland who for the sake of the peace, will go unnamed, was a dirty, dirty, man. As in, sexually harasses underage girls, dirty. Dirty by today’s standards at least – this dirty man was dirty back in the dirty seventies.

I don’t have standing to press charges, obviously, and I don’t want to prejudice anything like that, but I’m pretty sure I could name the guy without fear of an accusation defamation. There are enough witnesses to the truth, and enough things said over the years that are tantamount to a confession.

On the one hand, this is risky. Why let this kind of situation fester in secrecy? How does this get managed in a family if nobody admits it happens?

On the other hand, it’s not fair to the dirty old man himself. People are free to embellish the story, in even a damaging manner, if they are sufficiently discrete in the way they deploy their rumours.

A funny thing happens when you allude to things like this, amongst The Buckland’s; people either think you’re talking about someone else, from a different incident, or you’ll discover they’re talking about someone else. ‘You mean there’s more than one of them?’

The Bucklands are, it seems, safe hosts for dirty old men.

***

It’s not that there’s been no change over the years. The patriarch of the clan, the late George Buckland, was the archetypal image of male privilege. He wouldn’t even have men serve salad in his house, if he’d had his way; that’s what women were for (apparently).

‘NO GRAMPS! IT DOESN’T WORK LIKE THAT ANYMORE!’

The thing is, nobody keeps secrets about salad issues, so it’s easy to get this stuff out in the air. But if it’s dirty old men, or child beating, then The Bucklands, cowards that they are, couch their queries in equivocal, inoffensive terms, if they air them to the offender at all.

With exceptions… Dissidents.

Try being a dissident in The Bucklands, I dare you. You’ll be punished. As if to re-enforce each other’s self-respect in the face of their own moral turpitude, dissidents, if they dare speak plainly and truly about an awkward truth, will be rounded upon, and lied about.

‘Nicely’, at first, with the pretence of sympathy, when the family consensus becomes clear, enough courage will be mustered by the herd to charge. The lies become bolder and bolder, and more and more public.

I was told a few bold lies, about a dissident Buckland (who is outspoken about being abused as a child), recently. Utterly ridiculous lies, actually, I had to double-check the facts just because I could believe how bad the lies were.

But there you had it; the lies were as bad as they were, which was very, very bad, concerning who had made what demand in respect of the estate of a deceased loved one. It served as a warning – ‘speak out, and it can happen to you.’

With as much respect as it deserves, as I can muster – I don’t care!

***

Of course, I got my dose of the venom early on in 1992. You see, I’m an Everett, not fully naturalised as a Buckland, or of the wrong generation, or something like that; whatever I am I’m not family-politic. If a Buckland walks in on a heated conversation between myself, and someone who is family politic, well…

Bucklands gossip, and gossip goes around, and eventually, if you’re gossiped about, you’ll hear it; usually from someone with a grudge about the person doing the gossiping (they don’t necessarily give a rat’s arse about you).

Gossip can be fact checked, of course, so you can get a lay of the land – which I needed to do, being new in Adelaide back in the day. But now I don’t give a shit about the details, and I know the lay of the land, and it’s the lay of the land I don’t like.

Between the mentioned dissident being lied about at great lengths over the years, my own track-record of being lied about in-family, my own family-history supressed, and now, the passive-aggression in a recent saga that’s come to an end (a whole story in itself), I’m really quite fed up with The Bucklands.

The lengths people will go to, just to prevent you from rocking the boat… Self-defeating, cowardly, dishonest lengths.

Dissidence starts in your head, at home, and if you want to write as any kind of dissident, with sincerity, your writing environment and family should reflect this. This is pretty much the something that’s been eating away behind my eyes for the better part of the last two years, making it harder to write. This is what I need to get over.

So I’m getting over bad relations with The Bucklands by leaving them behind. I can honestly say, they’ve been given more than a few good, unprejudiced chances. No more chances. Goodbye.

With all but a couple of exceptions, I disown them.

Maybe I’ll write about it in detail some day (dibs on ‘Fostering Bad Relations’)!

~ Bruce

Last of the ’90s dogs…

Back in the late 1990s, a mate of mine gave a home to a poor abandoned little girl, who’d been left alone in a suburban Adelaide backyard after her family of droogs migrated elsewhere. A kelpie cross-something that frankly, was a bit insane. She was named Jessie.

Jess, plotting mischief.

Jess loved baths, sprinklers, showers, water, water, WATER! *snap* *snap* *bite* *bite*

…that and ‘walkies’, and damn, she could pick up on more than just the keywords, sneaky girl.

She wasn’t so fond of other dogs, at least not until she’d had time to acclimatise. Cats weren’t an issue though, Jess having grown up with black cat Clive and her bastard half-brother, son of a cat. (Clive was a nice old mother cat, but her son was a capricious little furball of selfishness, claws and inbreeding).

Normally, Jess was a gentle, kind, caring creature, capable quite untrained and quite unprompted, of sookish concern for members of other species normally designated the role of potential food source. Winded pigeons? Poor little things, you gotta help ’em! Awww! Awww! Sniff! *Whimper*

This altruism didn’t extend to sharing a bed with humans, which she’d beg for in fits of separation anxiety. If you ever let this girl onto your bed, you’d roll away from being pinioned, only to find yourself pinioned again, eventually either to the point of being pinned to the wall with a snoring dog rolled up against your back, or your being pushed off, out onto the floor.

And all the times she used to try sitting on people! She was pestering me while I was laying down on the floor once, in my mate’s place back at Dernancourt, so I told her to sit. She tried sitting on my face, and she wore this damned proud, knowing grin after the thankfully failed attempt.

Jess is the last of a generation of dogs, which includes my own late buddy Joe, who spent time with us then angsty youth, putting up with mild drunkenness, pizza nights, late night movies played off of VHS, patiently chewing plastic lids from the humans’ bottles of mixer drinks, leaving them spent and gnarled all over the lounge room rug. The last of a generation of dogs taken on long, long walks on long, long post-recession days.

I suspect the last BBQ I went to with Jessie’s family was back in the day.  Jessie, last of the youthful BBQ dogs, last dog of our youth.

Jess passed away this year, fighting an illness made easier by nice meds and a supportive family. Near the end, she was still happy and able enough to jump up on a visitor, which I was more than privileged to experience during our last day together.

More than a couple of lives were made better by Jessie being around, and she’ll be missed. Goodbye, crazy little girl.

~ Bruce

Names changed to protect the innocent… And the guilty.

I’ve never blogged under a pseudonym. The closest I’ve come has been to help set up a blog for another blogger, blogging under a pseudonym.

It’s been a bit topical of late, what with Google being forced to out a blogger for defamation. Can’t say that I disapprove entirely.

On the one hand, I’ve been on the “protect the blogger” side of the argument, wherein the blogger hasn’t to my mind, used their anonymity to make false allegations about others without come-back. On the other hand, bloggers using anonymity to slag off at others, I think is cowardly and I’ve called people on it (e.g. colourful trolls like “LaVallette” and “Bourbon Boy”).

I’ve been in a bit of a bind about my own blogging practices being associated with my identity. Especially on the odd occasion when I write autobiographically.

I write under my own name and I’ve disclosed before, that I’ve…

  • Had two attempts on my life, hospitalising one of the perpetrators in the process (drug related).
  • Been 1 degree of separation from a murderer, his victim and their antics (drug related).
  • Been the recipient of oral sex in a church and not from the clergy (fun related).
  • A bunch of other stuff that I won’t bore you with.

It’s pretty candid stuff, although I’ve had to weigh it against the possibility that by knowing of my involvement (which I don’t so much mind about), possessed of certain contextual details, others may be able to find out more. Possibly dredging up things for other people who have either reformed and moved on, or who were entirely innocent to begin with but otherwise vulnerable.

With this in mind, consider that I haven’t as yet told you squat. I know a bunch of things that at the time, probably would have been of interest to the AFP. Quite some time ago that is.

No, I don’t have a criminal record. No, I wouldn’t get one if the police knew what I knew, nor would I if the activities of interest had no statute of limitations. I’m still one of the good guys, okay? And I’m not a beneficiary of course – just close enough to the action.

A number of the people of interest at the time, in as far as I know, have either reformed and moved on, or died. As for those that I don’t know about, aside from the initial bad behaviour, I’m going with the presumption of them being innocent. If they are still in the game, I don’t know anything about it. If they aren’t, I still don’t want to know – it’d mean knowing the circumstances under which they left and those may not be legal, nor particularly nice.

I don’t want to inadvertently involve myself in the solving of a potentially nasty crime, which (pun intended) was otherwise dead and buried. If I did know something like that had happened, I wouldn’t be writing about it or even this post – I’d be doing what any responsible citizen would do and contact the police myself.

On the other hand, some of my previous acquaintances that were guilty, may have already been dealt justice and wouldn’t appreciate the salt in the wound.

And that’s part of the risk when using your name. You don’t have all the facts and presenting them along with your name potentially allows another to connect your facts to theirs. Indeed, it may not even be the police, or the garden variety voyeur that you are inadvertently helping. What if I put someone in danger?

At any rate, to my estimation I know the secrets behind precisely zero unsolved murders. Sorry, I hope I didn’t excite you too much.

It’s becoming increasingly the case that I think I’d like to get some (or all) of this stuff off my chest. You have no idea what some of this shit is like – which perhaps provides justification for its publication. Alternatively, perhaps you do know and like me, you don’t find it easy to talk about – which perhaps also provides justification for its publication.

I’ve never appreciated the biographical very until recently, thinking it too self-obsessed (hah hah! look at this post!) and pointless – best to get on to what they did in life rather than them. I think perhaps I was wrong. It’s about connecting – between people of similar experience who don’t get much time to talk, and between people who just don’t get to talk.

Perhaps someone in the middle class would take their privilege just a little less for granted, stop looking at it like some kind of entitlement, if they saw just how nasty things could be for people no less deserving than them. A cynical, perhaps a tad sadistic side of myself, thinks that if my innocence was taken away as a child, it’s not entirely unfair that I rob a few grown adults of theirs.

How much weed have you seen in your life? Ever broken a bone in someone else’s body and for an instant, not been able to tell if the crack happened in your body or in theirs? How much of that meat you eat, have you had to kill for yourself? Ever had someone lay into you with a cricket bat? How many times have you had to protect a family member from violence? Times – just once in a dark alley you’ll never visit again doesn’t count.

How old were you when you killed your first vertebrate? Have you ever been tortured just to see if you would or wouldn’t crack? To see if you could be trusted? To see if you hadn’t already betrayed a secret?

This isn’t about self-pity and repressed emotions opening up to a 1990s, drum-beating-in-the-woods, new-age feelgood experience. Even if only very privately, I was confrontational about these things at the time – I didn’t exactly bottle them up.

This is about deliberate, if not very practical secrecy, possibly opening up to a rationale for discussion with safety afforded by the passage of time. Safety for yours truly, other innocents, and some of the (then) guilty.

Like a lot of Australians, I’m at odds with most of the rest of Australia. Or out-of-synch at any rate. I don’t know you the way I could and you sure as hell (doesn’t exist), don’t know me.

The not-so-secret, but not-that-great a joy I’d get out watching your blood curdle isn’t my imperative. The prospect of teasing you that I’ll eat your family, and knowing that you aren’t sure that I wouldn’t, isn’t that enticing (Dexter is Delicious – sorry). The idea of knowing that neither you nor I have even seen anything close to the worst horrors on Earth, and that laughably, some of you are still afraid, is an aside. A trivial peccadillo.

People have had it worse than me, than us. Much, much worse.

It wasn’t so long ago that the West said “Never Again”, in response to a massive failure of understanding and of will towards people who had seen the hardest times. Yet here we are, sixty odd years later and we’ve just seen a decade of to paraphrase Bill Maher, “AGAIN!” – Don’t let the refugees in! It may possibly, just possibly, threaten the privilege I enjoy to the extent that I’m going to claim it as an entitlement! How dare my entitlements be threatened! Waaaa!

Oh, the angst! Boo-fucking-hoo! Xenophobic Australia, the obscenity of your lack of empathy and sense of proportion is almost matched by that of your weakness and cowardice. And don’t get started on how great your culture is – you’re so low an “Untermensch” couldn’t use your arse as a slipper.

Frightened of refugees and you talk about greatness? Conceit!

I use invective to describe what I think of this type of frailty, because frankly I don’t have the words to curse the associated inhumanity as much as I’d like.  Take it that I’d say much worse of it. I’d like my barbs to be more articulate if only to be reserved for this one purpose.

Like most of you, I’m no refugee. I’ve never seen a war zone. But I don’t take my relative safety for granted and I’ve got less to be thankful for than a lot of you. What are you complaining about?

Like you, I can’t possibly relay the horrors of a war zone the way a refugee can. Even a well versed foreign correspondent can’t do that. What would I have to be thinking?

But is it too ambitious to think that some horror stories from Australia’s own working-class backyard couldn’t act as a kind of a thin-edge-of-the-wedge – to cut into the dense sense of entitlement of at least someone’s privilege-addled mind? To reach someone not too far gone down the road from humanity, toward delusions of self-sustaining importance?

And would that make it worth it?

But then I’ve gone and blogged in my own name now haven’t I? And for just over four years now at that. Could I truly remain pseudonymous? I suspect that writing anonymously at any great length at another blog would leave my fingerprints all over it.

Can you see my dilemma?

I want to let loose. I want to challenge comforting and dangerous (dare I say it?) bourgeoisie (there, I said it) notions, not like some beret-wearing, class-tourist, undergrad snot, but as someone who’s seen a bit of sex and violence. And drugs and a few corpses (please note that I separated the sex from the corpses precisely because it didn’t happen). Someone who couldn’t call their Dad to stop it all (although upon reflection, pending justification*, I possibly could have called my Dad to have your kneecaps smashed).

On the other hand, I’ve got vulnerable people I want to and should protect. Scruitiny isn’t welcome or needed. Seriously. Can you safe people empathise with that?

So unless I get a nom-de-plume, a book deal and a good editor that can compensate for my fingerprints, I’m screwed. I’d better shut-up.

Naturally, you can see how I don’t see the issue of Internet anonymity in terms of black and white. I think I can safely say that under my own name.

~ Bruce

* I’m really just a big softy and so was my Dad.

Photo: Frome Road

I like to walk a lot, which given a rather permanent injury to my foot, can be a bit difficult at times. I’ve got a 17k course that I like to walk very early mornings, weather, time and foot permitting, that I’ll have to take some photos from.

When I moved to Adelaide as a teenager back in 1992, I had a different route which ran down from the north-eastern suburbs into the city. Frome Road was a welcome part of the walk, especially in early autumn when the leaves on the trees had just started to brown.

fromeroad

Frome Road in winter (2009)

It’s a bit barren now with all the leaves fallen and cleared away, but when things liven up, especially in early summer, it’s quite nice. It’s a bit haunting like this.

The Royal Adelaide Hospital is off to the left, which has a few unpleasant memories attached to it. My Aunt passed away there the other week, as did my Father in April 2003.

Up until my father’s passing, the sunny weather managed to hold out. The last night I spent with him, we snuck him out of his bed for a smoke and the skies were crystal clear. He’d spent a good part of his last years planting trees and if I was prone to woolly spiritual thinking, I probably would have made something of the leaves suddenly falling in large numbers the day after, along with the first heavy rains of the year.

I spent part of April 2006 off to the right, studying biology. Specifically, on the anniversary of my Dad’s passing that year, I was working on a cell biology practical in a lab that faced across the street, which naturally had to raise the topic of cancer.

I’m here doing my one and final subject of my science degree, which is only going to entangle and reinforce the memories further. Still, I guess I’ll be leaving on an upper, with fresh new leaves growing in the sunshine.

~ Bruce

My mate the drongo

I’ve made vague reference to some of the less socially acceptable aspects of my youth a couple of times on this blog. Not that everything about my past around that time is rotten – I did good things as well – but a lot will have to remain unspoken. It wouldn’t do any good to raise it and possibly some harm (there are interested parties other than myself.)

I’m probably going to have a sleepless night tonight. The old grapevine has brought me some news.

Occasional rude word and drug reference over the fold (naughty words permitted in the comments of this post)…

Continue reading “My mate the drongo”

Machiavellianism, slave morality and Australian Rules Football

Foreword

This is possibly my longest post, ever. So if you aren’t turned away yet, grab a coffee or a tea or something.

If I were to write a chapter in an autobiography, it would probably look similar to this. It’s somewhat personal, so much so that I’m revealing things about my past that most of my family aren’t even aware of.

I didn’t intend for this to be so close to the chest, but I probably would have had to have gone out of my way to contrive it otherwise. I’m being candid for an ends, not so that people can engage in voyeurism. I’m really quite a private person by nature.

My point isn’t to write about myself, I simply serve as an example and I hope my experiences resonate. I doubt my experiences are entirely similar to what most people have had, but in the essential detail, I think, or rather I hope, there will be commonality.

The following narrative is quite real, and involves real people. That being said, out of charity, the names of a couple of people haven’t been mentioned. Those that would be shamed the most are the ones that I’m protecting, including a minor football celebrity I had a run-in with and a guy I knew as a kid who was later charged with murder.

Others who brazenly flaunt their stupidity in public remain named, although they aren’t really a part of the autobiographical side of things. Others still are named, who are out there in the public arena, who have had some influence on this tale, but who’s mention should cause them no harm.

I do use strong language in parts, feeling that if this was to be unavoidably personal, I should remain true to my own language (swearing will be tolerated in the comments thread of this post, if not abusive). I discuss unpleasant topics, including violence but there isn’t any gore depicted. The really visceral details, not that there are that many in this case, just don’t help me the message get across.

Read on over the fold for ‘Machiavellianism, slave morality and Australian Rules Football‘.

Continue reading “Machiavellianism, slave morality and Australian Rules Football”