Satan bills the Vatican for construction of new facilities.

Satan has sent an enormous bill to the Vatican to cover the cost of constructing a new facility in the underworld to accommodate priests and brothers guilty of molesting children. The devil was forced to expand the overflowing facility set aside for paedophiles after countless ordained minsters were sent to hell upon their deaths.

“Too many priests and brothers are arriving in hell,” declared Satan. “We weren’t able to accommodate them all in our existing facilities after God refused to let them into heaven, and the new facility cost a fortune to build. It is only fair that the Vatican meet the cost of the renovations, because the priests belonged to the church.”

“Plus, we know the Vatican can afford it”

The construction of new facilities in hell is normally provided free of charge by property developers, who represent a large percentage of residents. If construction does incur a cost, that is normally met with the proceeds of crime, which always find their way to hell. In the case of paedophile priests and brothers, however, none of the residents of hell were willing to build their accommodation for free, such is the contempt in which they are held.

“Don’t forget, continued Satan, “that hell also takes the people who protected the paedophiles by covering up the crimes or moving priests to a different parish, so this adds substantially to the number of people we are forced to accommodate.”

Satan also explained that members of the church are accustomed to a certain standard of accommodation, especially the more senior members, and this added significantly to the size and cost of the new buildings.

The Vatican has refused to comment on the invoice, but anonymous sources inside the holy city revealed that the bill poses a significant problem for an organisation already embroiled in a financial controversy involving the misuse of millions of dollars. The sources also conceded that paying Satan would leave little money left to pay expensive lawyers to defend child molesters.

Thousands of NSW teachers issued with fines.

Thousands of NSW school teachers have been issued with fines on the eve of the summer holidays after being caught committing heinous acts of treason.

Every registered primary and secondary school teacher has received a fine of at least $100 from the NSW government, which must be paid in order for teachers to keep their jobs in 2021. It is believed similar fines have been issued to teachers throughout the country.

The penalty must be paid to a branch of the NSW government calling itself the New South Wales Education Standards Authority (NESA), which then issues teachers with something called Accreditation. Without Accreditation, teachers cannot work in any recognised educational institution in the state.

NESA stated the fines were issued in retaliation for teachers committing crimes against the nation.

“Teachers are being punished for educating the next generation of Australians,” announced a spokesperson.

“They have done so willingly and ceaselessly, and against the wishes of the current state and federal governments. An educated population is harder to control. An educated population would never have elected a failed marketing man as prime minister. An educated population would never fall for Scott Morrison’s marketing spin. An educated population would not swallow Murdoch propaganda, and an educated population would never excuse the corruption of ‘poor Gladys’. For their continued insistence on educating the populace, teachers have been issued with fines.”

The punishment does not end with fines, however.

Once the fines are paid, teachers must then participate in mandated professional development sessions throughout the year. Most of these sessions will take place during teachers’ free time, and while some of the sessions are free, many also incur a charge. Thus, on top of their annual fine, lowly paid teachers are also forced to spend their hard earned money on work-related training with little or no tangible benefit to them or the children they teach.

NESA rejected claims that Accreditation simply adds another layer of paperwork to an already over beauracratised occupation.

“Without the processing of mandated fees and professional development sessions, our staff would not have any boxes to tick, and without boxes to tick, they would be at a loss.”

NESA also argues that Accreditation brings the teaching profession in line with other occupations such as law, medicine, and finance, which all have membership organisations upholding professional standards. Excited teachers then asked if teaching salaries would now be commensurate with those professions, but the government replied,

“No, that would be UnAustralian.”

Image: Element5Digital

Earn your turns at The Oaks flow trail.

Jump, hop, drop and flow on The Oaks flow trail. Rail the berms and float over rock features at the end of the Woodford to Glenbrook fire trail in the NSW Blue Mountains National Park.

Treat yourself to some fun and frivolity on a well-constructed single track trail after the journey down from Woodford. Take the black line and pop off every jump and drop, or opt for the blue line and just feel the flow. You can even do both. The trip from the end of the flow trail back to the start is only about 2k on a sealed road.

The flow trail runs parallel to the last section of the fire trail in the national park and is a reward for enduring the undulating trek from Woodford, kind of like the fun you add on to the end of a workout. The Oaks Trail is a moderate workout, and the beginning of the MTB trail can be reached from Woodford in about one hour without too much effort – it is essentially downhill, so

‘keep your hands off the brakes and your eyes upon the trail’

You can warm up for the flow trail at certain parts of the fire trail. You could read the following signs as a warning, or an invitation. With enough speed, you can get good air off the humps.

The signs are great for your confidence too, as they tell you you’re going so fast you need to be alerted to the presence of speed humps.

Upon arrival at the first boom gate, you’ll see a short single track off to the right, and while this has no designated features, it is still fun and more interesting than following the fire trail. It’s also a walking trail, so keep your eyes open for hikers.

Cheat

You could cheat. You could get yourself to Glenbrook, then ride or drive to the start of the MTB flow trail, without doing the hard work from Woodford. The start of the flow trail lies a few kilometres from town and it is even possible to drive all the way to the carpark before enjoying the jumps, drops and berms.

That said, the climb out of the gully from the creek crossing back to Glenbrook is quite steep, and almost as arduous as riding from Glenbrook all the way back to Woodford on the fire trail.

Still hungry?

If you’re still hungry for single track and MTB features, cross the highway to Knapsack Reserve and enjoy the trails in this small section of bushland. There’s enough to keep you entertained for a good while, and the downhill track is steep and rocky.

Image: Nick Rickert

Australian teachers are respectable, but not respected.

The occupation of teaching is respectable but not respected in Australia. The nation’s teachers are considered to be law abiding, trustworthy, patient, kind, reliable, dedicated and altruistic, but their profession is not afforded the same status as other professions.

Australians collectively adhere to the adage,

If you can, do, if you can’t, teach.

There is an underlying assumption that English teachers are all failed writers, Maths teachers are failed engineers and Art teachers are failed artists. PE Teachers are failed athletes, and none of the teachers could ‘hack it in the real world’. Teaching as a profession, especially at primary or high school level, is perceived to be well below other professions such as medicine, law, finance and IT.

Academia and intellect have never been highly valued in Australia. The country’s national heroes are athletes, farmers, soldiers and lifeguards, despite the fact that Australians have been behind inventions such as WiFi technology, the cochlear implant, the black box fight recorder, spray-on skin, the electronic pacemaker and permaculture…

Better you than me…

Australians constantly remind teachers of the challenges of their profession with remarks such as these. Aussies tell teachers, ‘I don’t know how you do it’, or ‘what you do is so wonderful’ – but underneath all of these statements is the message,

I’m glad you work as a teacher, so that I don’t have to.

Parents themselves will tell teachers,

you must have the patience of a saint‘ to put up with teenagers, even when it is their own teenager who most tests the teacher’s patience. These are all nice things to say, but none of them convey any sense of respect.

The land Down Under also has a famous disrespect for authority, including teachers. Secondary school teachers understand this and know that earning the respect of their pupils in the early stages of the school year is imperative. This is forgivable – students are children. A lack of respect from adults indicates underlying cultural issues in Australia, in which a profession so vital to the prosperity of the nation is severely undervalued. It is, however, possible to transform the respectable profession into a respected profession, in order to benefit teachers and the nation as a whole.

Pay the teachers or pay the price

Australian teachers need to be altruistic, because they earn so little. In NSW, the average, experienced teacher earns about $80,000 per year. This is a decent wage when compared to other occupations, but not when compared to other professions such as law, medicine and IT, and not when considering that a public bus driver in Sydney can earn the same amount.

Salaries must increase in order to attract the best and brightest graduates to the profession. Society complains that many young teachers lack basic numeracy and literacy skills, and that criticism is often justified. The best way to attract more capable graduates to the profession is to raise salaries. Don’t forget, Australia is an expensive country, and a capitalist country in which income determines the worth of an occupation, and in which income determines a person’s ability to enjoy a decent standard of living.

The country is already paying the price for a lack of respect for teachers. Literacy and numeracy rates among children continue to fall, and the country trails other comparable nations on standardised education outcomes. University undergraduates display poor command of literacy and numeracy, and Australia’s youth will be competing with young people from all over the world for employment in a globalised world.

What’s wrong with a country in which those educating the next generation will struggle to buy their own house?

If Australia is to compete as a nation at international level, it must give more money and more respect to teachers.

Parents

Parents used to support teachers, now they attack them. This paradigm shift has been great, but recent. Modern parents will almost always side with their children and will blame teachers for their child’s poor behaviour, poor work ethic and poor grades. Some of the treatment of teachers is shocking, and it points to a diminishing respect for the teaching profession.

Data collection

Data collection is the new fad in education. Politicians and bureaucrats demand more and more data collection from teachers. It is mostly unnecessary and adds more paperwork to overworked teachers, who then can’t concentrate on teaching their students.

Data collection implies a lack of respect for teachers. It implies that teachers don’t know the individual and collective strengths and weaknesses of their students. NAPLAN is a classic example. It is a very time consuming task designed to show teachers and schools where their students are succeeding and failing. The bureaucrats ignored the fact that teachers already know this. Furthermore, excessive data collection provides no educational benefits, and exists primarily to provide politicians with statistics for their press releases. Most other professions would have an administrative assistant to carry out the same administrative tasks.

Ironically, Australian society shows little respect for teachers, but charges them with enormous responsibility. The curriculum encompasses everything from English and Maths to driver education, drug and alcohol education, cyber safety, anti-bullying, and so much more. On the one hand, it is natural to deliver these lessons in a place where young people are assembled en-masse, but how much of this can, and should, be taught by parents? To understand the enormous scope of the modern curriculum, look at the topics covered in the PD/H/PE subject.

Politicians and bureaucrats must take blame for this also. When a teenager dies of ecstasy, a new drug education program is demanded. If a child drowns in a backyard pool, a new water safety program is demanded. When a new educational program is demanded, it is implied that existing education programs are insufficient, and that teachers are not doing their job.

Bleeding heart lefties

Another criticism of teachers is that they are now all bleeding heart lefties, and that a left wing ideology has taken over Australian schools. Conservative voices love to make this claim.

If you want less left wing influence in schools, pay teachers more. People enter teaching mainly through a sense of altruism – to serve children, to serve society and to make the world a better place. Altruistic people are not motivated by money or wealth and their world view is thus likely to favour the common good and the health of the society, and not the individual. If conservatives want less left wing influence in schools, they could pay teachers what they are worth, and perhaps attract graduates who are currently chasing money in other professions and have a different world view.

That said, most secondary teachers would be very surprised if any of their students listened to them long enough to become ‘bleeding heart lefties’.

Australia now belongs to a global community. It must compete with other nations like it never has before and it’s prosperity depends greatly on the health of its education system. A strong education system is comprised of teachers who are not only respectable, but respected.

Image: Element5Digital

Preparing to greet the dead.

They will commune with the dead. They will welcome the unliving into their lives, for one night only.

The people of Guanajuato join their compatriots in creating elaborate artworks and displays to honour their ancestors who will share the earth with them on this one night of the year. Mexicans young and old will hang ofrendas in homes and public places which carry images of skeletons and other macabre images. For on Dia de los Muertos, the deceased return to the earth and walk among us.

Mexicans will bring forth the dead so as to never forget them. To remember the relatives who were once part of their lives. To pay their respects again and again and not just at that person’s funeral. The annual tribute to their ‘antepasados’ allows families to honour the dead without the overwhelming emotions of a funeral immediately following a passing, when grief releases a torrent of sadness. They will honour all of the dead in colourful and striking public installations, over which they have laboured for hours and hours.

In a land all too familiar with drug wars, gang violence and death, perhaps Dia de los Muertos helps local people come to terms with death.

Mexico is colour. Vibrant colour. Bold colour, and this is true of the installations which welcome the deceased.

Mexicans will celebrate. They will laugh and smile and sing. They will eat and drink and be merry, even when surrounded by death and the unliving. Because even in death, Mexicans will find joy and fun and happiness. There is always an excuse to socialise and to party. Deceased Mexicans wouldn’t expect it to be any different.

The families preparing the public and private installations do so with pride and joy. They smile at the striking images of skulls and gore. They revel in their distinct indigenous customs which survived the Christian influence of All Souls Day and the cultural colonisation of Halloween, which fall on the same day. Yes, they celebrate both of these traditions, but they have never strayed from the expression of Mexican culture which is Dia de los Muertos.

Which is your favourite national anthem?

National anthems stir emotions in us all. They evoke national pride and a sense of belonging. They can inspire international athletes, and persuade patriots to lay down their lives. Anthems can make grown men cry and create incomparable life-long memories.

So which is your favourite anthem? Is it the anthem of your nation of birth, or the nation you now call home? Does your country have an anthem, and what does it mean to you? Perhaps your favourite anthem belongs to a foreign country.

I have heard a number of national anthems during my travels and I’ve listed the songs which created the strongest impression on me.

Multilingual anthems

I like multilingual anthems. I like the interchange between the languages and the recognition of the multicultural composition of the country. Multilingual anthems acknowledge the indigenous inhabitants of the country and attempt to unite every citizen, at least symbolically.

South Africa – Nkosi Sikelel iAfrica

Nkosi Sikelel iAfrica translates as God Bless Africa. The anthem features Zulu, which is the most commonly spoken language in South Africa, as well as Xhosa, Sesotho, Afrikaans and English. The anthem moves seamlessly from one language to another and encompasses the contrasting cultures which make up the rainbow nation, which actually has 11 official languages.

New Zealand – God Defend New Zealand

God Defend New Zealand is another bilingual anthem, which is sung in English and Maori. Now, as an Australian, I’m not supposed to like the New Zealand anthem, nor their Rugby Union team, nor their cricket team. I’m also not supposed to admit that anything from Aotearoa is better than anything in Australia, but NZ gave women the vote before Australia, signed a treaty with their indigenous population, and gave us Sir Edmund Hillary, the All Blacks…

A national song featuring Maori lyrics is also a perfect precursor to the Haka, performed by many New Zealand sporting teams. Needless to say, I enjoy watching rubgy games between the Springboks and the All Blacks.

Ireland – Ireland’s Call – Amhran na bhFiann

Ireland does not have a bilingual anthem, it has two. Amhran na bhFiann is the official anthem, with Irish Gaelic lyrics, while Ireland’s Call is sung for the Irish Rugby Union team, because the team is comprised of players from the Republic of Ireland and from Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom. Ireland’s Call is said to promote a greater sense of unity.

Scandal

Spain – La Marcha Real

The Spanish national anthem, La Marcha Real, sparked a social media meltdown during the FIFA World Cup in 2018. The Spanish players did not sing to their anthem before their first game against Portugal, and people blasted them for being unpatriotic, pampered, unworthy and disloyal, and demanded the entire team be dropped before the next game. People unleashed their own fury on La Furia Roja until one informed user explained;

The Spanish national anthem has no words.

Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and San Marino also have no words to their anthems.

Sport, religion and war

A pattern exists in national anthems. Most of them reference war and religion, and they provide an effective backdrop to sporting contests. Most anthems pay tribute to the country’s most prominent deity, and encourage loyal citizens to give their heart, their soul or their lives for their country. Anthems of colonised peoples honour battles against oppression, and anthems of the colonisers praise the might of the nation, normally referred to as the Fatherland.

Was any national anthem written by a woman?

Sporting competitions are obviously the most visible expressions of nationalism, and anthems are central to that expression.

Australia – Advance Australia Fair

You’ve already realised that I’m not very patriotic; after all, I extolled the virtues of New Zealand. And no, I don’t love my own anthem. The tune is boring and uninspiring, and the words are equally tepid, as well as being problematic.

I’m not the only Aussie who doesn’t love their anthem. In fact, custom dictates that any Australian who knows all the words to the anthem is UnAustralian. Anyone who sings with their hand on heir heart is pretentious and trying to be American. The phrase ‘girt by sea’ confuses most citizens and even the most patriotic locals sing ‘let us ring Joyce’ instead of ‘let us rejoice’. No one knows who Joyce is and why we should call her – maybe she knows what girt means.

Advance Australia Fair is problematic. The opening lyrics tell us that ‘we are young and free’. Calling Australia young ignores the indigenous history of the country. Aboriginal Australians are the world’s oldest living civilisation, having occupied this land for about 60,000 years. Calling Australia young recognises only the history of the country since colonisation in the late 1700s – i.e. White Australia.

Using the word ‘free’ also ignores Australian history, and the fact that Aboriginal people were enslaved (yes, slavery existed in Australia) were stolen from their families, were denied the right to vote and were not even counted as people until 1967. For these reasons, and the ongoing disparity between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people, many indigenous people disapprove of the anthem, and many indigenous athletes refuse to sing it while representing their country.

Many Australians find little inspiration in Advance Australia Fair, and often look to pop songs for patriotic stimulus. I am Australian by The Seekers is a popular substitute.

I’m also not a fan of God Save the Queen, because England is ‘The Old Enemy’, and because I despise royalty. I also dislike the Star Spangled Banner because the only thing worse than losing to England is losing to The United States of America, and because the anthem usually accompanies chants of “USA!!, USA!!…” I found the national anthem of Brunei so uninspiring that after three years of living and teaching in the ‘Abode of Peace’, I don’t remember a single word.

Cyprus

I’ve never heard the national anthem of Cyprus, but not because I’ve never been there. Cyprus has no official national anthem.

Mexico – Himno Nacional Mexicano

Invoking war and warriors is a common theme in anthems, and this is true of Himno Nacional Mexicano. The stirring tune begins with:

“Mexicanos al grito de guerra…” which translates as “Mexicans to the cry of war”. It ends with “un soldado en cada hijo te dio,”, a promise that every son or daughter is a soldier for Mexico. It is one of the more passionate anthems, expect when mumbled by a bunch of teenagers at 7am on a Monday morning.

A legend also accompanies the creation of the hymn. According to historical accounts, Francisco Gonzalez Bocanegra wrote the lyrics after being locked in a room. His girlfriend encouraged him to enter the competition to devise the lyrics and when he refused, she locked him in a room full of patriotic images and only released him once he slid the ten-verse piece under the door.

France – La Marseillaise

I nominate La Marseillaise as my favourite national anthem. I know I’m not alone in this choice. I’m not French, I wouldn’t call myself a Francophile and I don’t speak French, but I was moved most by this national anthem.

I experienced a rousing rendition of the anthem on two occasions at the Stade de France in Paris in 2003. After Eunice Barber won the long jump, and her compatriots won the Women’s 4 x 100m relay at the World Championships in Athletics, I witnessed a stadium full of French patriots belting out their anthem with unbridled passion and raw emotion. I felt goose bumps and the hairs stood on my neck. It was so moving that I stopped working. Most reporters at international Athletics competitions don’t stop working during medal presentations because they’re too busy. When the French filled the stadium with their patriotic fervour, however, we all savoured the sound of thousands of patriots singing one of the world’s most inspirational anthems.

Image: Anders Kelto

It’s Australia, so speak English.

You’ve heard this phrase before. You might even agree with it. But before you admonish someone in Australia for speaking a language other than English, consider this – English is not the official language of Australia.

That’s right. Australia has no official language, despite the fact that English has been the language of government, education and communication in the country since colonisation about 250 years ago.

This might surprise a lot of people – including Australians. It might also disappoint a lot of Australians, especially the bigots. Intolerant Australians love to remind migrants, international students, tourists and anyone else speaking a language other than English that everyone must speak English – or leave.

These people launch into verbal, or even physical, attacks on public transport when they overhear someone speaking a language other than English. They flood social media and internet forums with posts demanding the use of English to the exclusion of any other language. They even get elected to parliament. They forget, however, that they themselves have failed to master the Queen’s English.

We could remind them that English is only the lingua franca – but lingua franca is a ‘foreign’ phrase. We could remind them that English is the de facto language, but de facto is also a ‘foreign’ phrase.

Please explain…

We could explain why English is not the official language. In most part because one of the 200 or so indigenous languages would also have to be installed as an official language, and that is far too many to choose from. Aussie racists wouldn’t stand for an Aboriginal language being an official language, because their racism is directed most vehemently at Aboriginal people.

Ironically, English is also not the official language of the United Kingdom, which includes England. Thus, English is not the official language in the land of its birth. It does not hold this status because Welsh is the official language of Wales, which is part of the UK. How would Brits feel about Welsh being installed as the official language of the UK?

Furthermore, English is not the official language of the United States. If one country does bigotry well, it’s the US of A. They elected a serial racist to the White House because he promised to build a wall to keep out Spanish speakers and to ban Muslims from entering the country. How would they react if they knew that English is not their official language? How would they grapple with terms like lingua franca and de facto?

Staunch nationalists from Australia, as well as their counterparts in the USA and the UK, might also frown at the news that English itself is a mongrel language, which blends Anglo-Saxon, Norman, Germanic, Latin, Gaelic and Scandinavian influences into one lingua franca.

Image: http://www.worldatlas.com

Bondi Needs a Private Beach Club.

The famous sands of Bondi Beach could soon enjoy an injection of culture if the Amalfi Beach Club is approved. The private club would cordon off 2% of the beach and deliver desperately needed joie de vivre to the beach and the region.

La Gente Bonita

La Gente Bonita are ‘Beautiful People’. They are attractive, effortlessly sophisticated, wealthy and popular, and need a private club in order to socially distance themselves from the great unwashed. They carry an exclusive strain of the COVID-19 virus, which can improve one’s career prospects if transmitted from one high net worth individual to another. Beautiful People pine for the gender stereotypes of the 1950s, as the Amalfi males are doctors, surgeons, business owners and entrepreneurs, while the women can aspire to success only in fashion, advertising, beauty and modelling.

High Disposable Income

Beautiful People with high disposable income will fill the sun loungers and cabanas because they hold a BPass, or Bondi Passport. Lower middle-class Sydneysiders are also known to enjoy spending their disposable income, but they do not qualify for a BPass.

O’Brien Estate

The exclusive club would be established on a patch of sand called O’Brien Estate, named in honour of Francis O’Brien. He previously owned the land surrounding Bondi Beach and attempted to block public access in the 1880’s after the beach became too popular.

It’s Black and White

While the masses will jostle for clean waves between the red and yellow flags, Beautiful People can swim in serenity between the black and white flags which mark the boundaries of O’Brien’s Estate.

Backpacker’s Rip

Backpacker’s Rip will be re-engineered to constantly tow the great unwashed away from the Amalfi Club, and backpackers will have to drown at another part of the beach if they want a cameo on Bondi Rescue.

Lifeguard recruitment

Waverley Council will form a special unit of lifeguards plucked from the pages of social media, and the aesthetically gifted lifeguards will patrol the sands and the surf around the private club. Only bronzed, buffed, bedazzling beings need apply.

Unfounded criticism

Locals and Sydneysiders argue that it is UnAustralian to pay to enjoy the beach. They claim it is an attack on Australian values to pay for what has always been an egalitarian space, while others are denied this right. They argue that this would be akin to having to pay exorbitant fees to ensure a strong education for your child, or having to pay a fortune to secure reliable home internet access.

Proponents of the private club refute these claims.

“Gazing longingly at 100 beautiful people sipping on cocktails while marauding teenagers kick sand in your face is sure to lift community morale.”

Image: http://www.timeout.com

First published in The Beast magazine, December 2020

Do you have grandchildren?

Do you have grandchildren?

Do you love your grandchildren?

Would you do anything for your grandchildren, and do you care about the world they will inherit?

Protect the planet which will provide your grandchildren with a long and healthy life.

Make your vote count.

If you live in a democratic country with open elections, the way you vote could determine the planet your grandchildren inherit.

If you are offered a genuine choice between candidates, vote according to which candidate will protect the planet. Many conservative parties claim they are better at managing the economy, but supporting old industries such as fossil fuels is bad economic policy. Renewable energy is the future, and countries which fail to embrace this will be left behind financially.

Remember, your grandchildren cannot vote until they are at least 18, so you are making a decision about the future of the planet on their behalf.

Where is your super?

Superannuation funds are all the same aren’t they? Not quite. Some funds invest in the fossil fuel industry, others don’t. More and more superannuation providers are divesting from fossil fuels and from other unsustainable business, and are offering what is known commonly as ‘ethical super’.

Do some research and find out if your current super fund invests in environmentally destructive businesses. If it does, find another super fund which does not. Destructive businesses cannot operate without financial support from companies such as super funds.

What about my savings?

You worked hard to earn and save your money, and it should work for you in retirement. Ethical super funds offer strong returns, which is why many people are switching.

Energy

Speaking of energy, what powers your home; solar, fossil fuels?

Could you install solar panels? Yes, they’re expensive, but they save money in the long run and they are a much cleaner form of energy. With efficient battery storage, they also work when the sun doesn’t shine. Even if you can’t install solar panels where you live, you can normally choose greener options through your energy provider.

What about water tanks?

If you have space in the garden, install a water tank to catch rain water for use in the garden and inside the house.

Grow your own food.

The water from the water tank can nourish your plants, and reduce your water bill.

Grow a few tomatoes and herbs, or create a large organic garden with enough fruit and vegetables for an entire meal. It’s fresh, it’s healthy and it’s free.

Locally grown food also protects the planet and the health of your grandchildren. It protects the soil and the entire ecosystem which is used to grow food. If the environment is damaged, growing food becomes more difficult. As a consequence, basic food stuffs will become more expensive.

How much do you want your grandkids to pay for food in the future?

Media consumption.

A cup of tea, toast and the morning paper. An age-old tradition, and one that’s easier to enjoy in retirement. The media you consume, including newspaper, radio, television and internet content, determines the way you think about the world.

Most tabloid and conservative newspapers report negatively on environmental issues, and many blatantly deny climate change because this bias appeals to their audience.

If you live in countries such as Australia, The UK and The USA, it’s hard to avoid NewsCorp media, owned by Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch has been described as a cancer on democracy due to the content of his media networks, which run blatant propaganda.

Do you let Rupert Murdoch tell you what to think?

Incidentally, most tabloid newspapers are written at a literacy level of a 9th-grade student. It’s a long time since you were in the 9th grade. Furthermore, a study by the The University of London’s Institute of Education found that people who read tabloid newspapers have smaller vocabularies than people who do not read newspapers

Presents

I want your presence, not your presents.

It’s a great Dad joke, but it’s also a worthy sentiment. Spending time with your grandkids is better than any random toy, and there are other ways to spoil the little ones in a sustainable way.

Consider buying ethical gifts for the next special celebration. Give the children an endangered animal to adopt through a wildlife organisation. Give them a tree or plant for the garden which grows as they grow. Make something for the kids, or even make it with them, instead of buying a random gift from a shop.

Spend money on experiences for your grandchildren. Pay for a healthy, fun holiday activity which gets the kids outdoors and active. The more time they spend in nature, the more likely they are to protect it.

How long before this gift ends up in landfill?

If you buy your children a plastic toy based on the latest fad, you can be sure that toy will be discarded as soon as the next fad arrives.

Kids have too much these days.

Very true. So don’t add to this clutter by buying disposable presents. Instead, choose a more sustainable gift.

Travel

Travel is one of the great advantages of retirement. Even if you’re still working, it’s a great way to get away from work and enjoy life. If you fly, offset your flight when you buy the ticket. Most airlines offer carbon offsets. Think also about the method of transport you use to reach your holiday destination, and find ways to make all of your holidays more environmentally sustainable.

A healthy, clean planet, with fresh air and clean water, with lush forests and abundant wildlife is better for your health as well. The longer you stay healthy, the longer you can enjoy quality time with your grandkids.

Image: Katrina Knapp, Baby qb

One world record that will never be broken.

It is the most enduring world record in the history of sport. It will never be broken and will be taken to the grave by the select few athletes who were fortunate to have achieved the momentous feat.

The world record was set on a sultry evening at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Delhi, India, just moments after the conclusion of the Commonwealth Games in 2010.

Yes, the world record was set after the completion of the officially sanctioned events and was thus shrouded in secrecy…until now.

Beyond the gaze of the crowd and the glare of the TV cameras, and far removed from the world’s media, a special world record performance took place which will remain in the hearts and minds of the small band of heroes who were privileged to have taken part.

The hand-picked athletes snuck out onto the Athletics track before its closure. They heard hastily prepared instructions before assembling into their teams at the top of the 100m track.

No starting blocks. No starters gun. No spikes to be seen and no official race numbers. The covert nature of the record attempt necessitated such measures.

Go!

They were off, 4 finely-tuned athletes leapt from the starting line and strained every sinew to propel themselves at break neck speed down the track. After 25 metres they passed a biro to their team mate and yelled furiously into their ear to Run, Run, Run…and this they did.

One team established a small lead and left the third and fourth place teams in their wake, but a flying second leg charge from team two drew them level by the time the biros were passed into the hands of the third runners at the 50 metre mark.

The team in third then sailed into second with a silky smooth baton change and the third leg runner of the team which had changed in first place appeared to stumble. Was it a fall a hamstring, a calf strain? It appeared to be a simple cramp, and their hopes were dashed.

The remaining three teams continued to battle for supremacy in what was now a tightly-contested race worthy of a world record and eternal glory. A neck and neck tussle had ensued before the final biro change just 25 metres from the finish line.

The small band of onlookers were now cheering themselves hoarse and their cries merged with the shouts from the teammates of the final leg runners. They inched closer and closer to the finish line. Despite the closeness of the race and the monumental efforts of every competitor, only one team could win and claim this auspicious and unbeatable world record.

Two teams now edged stride by stride to the line and barely a whisker separated the two champion athletes striving to etch their names into history forever more.

5 metres, 4, 3, 2, 1 and a final desparate lunge delivered one team to victory just a breath ahead of another team in second and a different team in third.

The victors rejoiced and celebrated in unison, sending their cheers into the night sky and up to the heavens. They had won. They had conquered. They were giants of the sport.

They were heroes.

There’s nothing worse than fourth place at a major championship, and so it was on this sultry night in Delhi.

The 4 x 25 metre relay had been run and won.

What is the world record?

Actually, I have no idea. No one had a stopwatch on the race and even if they had I doubt they could have recorded an accurate finishing time, let alone have it ratified by the IAAF. The event was such a crazy blur of activity that capturing a reliable finishing time was impossible.

The names of the record holders have been lost to history as well, such was the manic energy and sheer delerium which engulfed the participants.

The medal ceremony did take place, as did drug testing. Traces of caffeine were certainly found in the majority of competitors, and traces of alcohol would certainly have been found in the competitors if the testing had taken place a few hours later.

While the finishing time and the names of the athletes passed into the night sky, it is fair in this instance to say that sport was the winner.

Image: Charles Deluvio