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Duty – a late post by Justyna

5 Mar

Having finished all the seasons of Breaking Bad recently (I tend to watch nothing for months, then when I have an essay due or work to be done or a kid to be boobed, I boot up the laptop and sit glued to it, watching three episodes in one day, devouring seasons like reheated dinners), I asked around for recommendations of what to watch next. Because I have little idea of what goes on in good TV land, I turn to my trusted friends and cousin Kukuś for worthy telly viewing. Juliette this time suggested I get into Downton Abbey. And I did. Wholeheartedly. Apart from being good viewing it got me thinking about the aristocracy and their purpose and my public law lecturer, Drew Fraser, whom I loved dearly for his conservative and yet very convincing views in a totally lefty public law student world. Okay, he did have a tendency to shock his listeners who repeated the minorities mantra ad nauseam, with his viewpoints that were probably last publicly voiced in the 70s without reprimand. Yet the whole picture that he provided us with, my gut totally agreed with him.

As a third year uni student you tended to stand firmly by the idea that the aristocracy was bad, bad, bad. A wasteland of idle pleasures and lack of hard work. Yet Drew reminded us all that when you are deeply rooted into a local community and your wealth is inherited relying upon that community, you have a duty and a responsibility to the past, to the present and to the future, as the aristocrats did (and unlike short term investors do today). A duty to the past, the present and the future. The idea had a huge impact on me then (even only if in abstract terms), probably tied in to the fact that my family was uprooted thereby shedding all duty to the past (like the aging grandparents we left behind).

Anyway, Lord Grantham totally embodies this ideology and I love him for it. He is the type of aristocrat that I always associated with Drew’s concept. The perfect master whose duty to his subordinates, is just as important as to his family, to his village and to his land and title and to what he passes on to his heir.

Now that season two is finished, anyone got any ideas of what I should watch next?

And yes, I think Mischa should do a guest post. In fact Lady Cora looks like an older version of Mischa. In my book that is enough reason why Misch should write a post.

Duty – by Tabitha

1 Mar

Right at the moment, “duty” makes me think of tax and levies.

This morning I had to call the ATO to ask them a very boring and complicated question regarding ABNs for non-residents for tax purposes. Quite unnervingly, a real, live, human answered the phone straight away. This probably only happens when you ring the special number designated for “overseas callers”, which I will always do from now on, no matter where I’m calling from. Ha!

The nice man told me that indeed I needed an ABN, which could be easily acquired online. This last part isn’t true. The only web browsers you can use to fill out the online form are Internet Explorer 5 and 6 or Netscape. Did you know that Netscape still exists? I didn’t. And its default home page is AOL, which I also didn’t know still exists. It’s been an educational morning. Thank you, ATO.

The reason I apparently need an ABN is because I am, for the first time, earning Australian money as a writer. “Hark”, you say. “Have you written a cover story for The Monthly, Tabitha?” No, dear friend, it’s much better than that.

My blog post about going to the local market is going to feature in a textbook called “English is… Year 10”. It is… The height of literary glory.

The publisher wrote to request copyright permission, and I wrote back saying I’m a real, live, writer and it says so on my marriage certificate and everything, so I demand payment, which, according to the Australian Society of Authors’ website, is $267. And then they wrote back saying  “Sure thing” and now I have to get an ABN and pretend like I had one all along because I’m a real, live, writer.

And then 20,000 Year 10 students will have to answer questions about my blog post like “How is the theme of ‘journeys’ evident in this piece of writing?” And they will probably wonder how a blog post ends up in a textbook anyway, which is a source of great wonder to me, also.

In other duty-related news, did you know that poets get paid $3 per line for published work? Do not become poets, people. Or if you do, make sure to spread the words over many lines.

Duty – by Karen

27 Feb

I failed in my duty to post last week so I thought I’d better get in early for this one. All I had for “heightened” anyway was yet another rumination on my obsession with the tallness of the Dutch, and I’m not sure I’ve got any new material on the matter.

Duty of course makes me think of the army, which brings to mind a conversation I had at boot camp the other day (fitness boot camp, not active duty boot camp). Apropos of something, one of my fellow exercisers declared that she hates “that” back in Australia, “how people just bludge on the dole”.

Discussions of dole-bludging are par for the course in Australia, and normally I’d just back away quietly with a bad taste in my mouth. But the way she raised it had a freshness, the freshness of a practice now foreign and remembered with disdain. Because no one bludges on the dole in Singapore. It’s something she remembers people doing back home. So I failed to tune out. Within less than a minute all Australians present (self-excepted) had concurred that anyone on the dole for more than six months should be put into the army. This was still quite fresh and astonishing to me, because with all my inner-west living friends I only heard such talk coming out of a television or radio. So again, I failed to tune out. And when the time came for me to say something, I didn’t respond with anything I might have expected to, such as the lack of empathy this stance suggested, the difficulty of finding employment. I just said that I didn’t think I would make a very good soldier, and nor would quite a lot of people I knew. I would be of much more use to my country in some kind of office job.

This pragmatic response was accepted, and it was pointed out that national service wouldn’t have to mean active duty (the discussion had moved on from dole-bludgers to encompass the idea that everyone might do a year of national service after high school), and at my prompting it was reluctantly but fully acknowledged that society had pressing non-military needs, such as support for mental health, childcare and other community services.

No policies were developed, and no action was taken, but I left the conversation feeling more aligned with my bludger-hating compatriots than before, and wondering if more of our problems could be sidled up to and scooted around on practical hobbit feet. Asylum-seeking springs to mind.

Duty calls by Beth

27 Feb

Is “duty” the word for something that you do because of either perceived or real need, that you’d rather not have to do?

There are some massive undertakings we can see as anything but a burden, and other small, infrequent tasks that are looked upon with loathing and only done under sufferance. Surely a fair bit of the distinction between duty and privilege is down to our own perception.  Funny creatures aren’t we?

Speaking of creatures…. Today Leo and I ate lunch next to the gorilla enclosure at Taronga Zoo (we have a pass so I take him every week or two). They really know where it’s at. Just being. A pregnant gorilla sat there looking hot and pissed off, eating sugar cane and everyone else just let her be. The young males wrestled one another and beat their chests in jest almost – just a hint of the aggressive power evident in the crew-cut silverbacks. Those guys are scary mo-fos. A female sat with her infant staring off into space – keeping an eye out but also dreaming of something. A woman turned to me and remarked how the young ones were so like our young ones, to which I replied that we’re all of us like them. It’s just that kids are in touch with that.

Leo had a fever this weekend and we didn’t do much or get much sleep. While he slept I managed to fold and put away the washing, tidy the house a bit and prep dinner. Just as I typed that first thought he awoke, but when I went and got him he just fell back asleep in my arms, so I could type this (he must still be poorly). Today those chores felt welcome, like clearing the air, but I know sometimes I want to scream at the mounds of washing – “vamoose!”

Here’s us:

Hugs to you all in your outposts ladies. P.S. I think we should get Mischa to do a guest post!