Adding water to plastic flowers in a vase
Putting the TV remote in your handbag
Storing cutlery under the pillow
Folding undies and carefully placing them in the fridge
Dementia is my mum’s gift to me. She can’t remember what my children are doing this week, but I’m hearing loads of stories of her long ago boyfriends before my dad.
Dementia is my mum in tears when she can’t remember how to listen to phone messages
Dementia is 4am phone calls when she can’t remember if it’s my sister’s birthday or her wedding anniversary today
Dementia is finding pleasure in patting a kitten for hours at a time
Dementia is not knowing about Facebook or Snapchat or being contactable 24/7
Dementia is driving to the favourite places of my mum’s childhood
Dementia is sitting quietly doing puzzles that aren’t challenging
Dementia is telling all the staff in her nursing home that she is Polish, when her grandmothers were Irish and Welsh and her parents were born in Australia
Dementia is keeping her here long enough to value and appreciate and say thank you and goodbye
We have been gay
Going our way
Life has been beautiful
We have been young
After you’ve gone
Life will go on
Like an old song we have sung
When I grow too old to dream
I’ll have you to remember
When I grow too old to dream
Your love will live in my heart
So kiss me my sweet
And so let us part
And when I grow too old to dream
That kiss will live in my heart
Last night as I stood on the land of the Gadigal clan of the Eora nation cheering AB Original on stage as the opening act for Midnight Oil’s homecoming, I realised that we’ve come quite a way from the 1980s. I first saw Midnight Oil live when I was 16 years old and they changed the way I viewed the world.
They may be white boys from the white bread northern beaches of Sydney but in the early 80s for many of us white bread teens from the suburbs they were our introduction to what was actually happening to indigenous Australians. I learnt nothing of Aboriginal culture at school, I was only taught about the white invaders. So many of us had no idea of the atrocities and abuse committed by white governments and their White Australia policy; Midnight Oil opened our eyes to what was actually happening. The Oils were writing Australian songs and telling our stories and I’d never heard anything like it.
And those biceps. I will never forget standing near the stage at the Sydney Entertainment Centre and watching Rob Hirst drumming. Uh oh! My first musician crush, setting myself up for a lifetime of being attracted to players. Sigh.
Last night, as we waited for Midnight Oil in the shadow of the glowing Deutsche Bank sign, I thought of how the Oils have sung about many big companies that have raped our planet, and how we need protest music more than ever. When they played Blue Sky Mine I thought of the hideous she-devil Bishop defending James Hardie and making a dying Bernie Banton wait for compensation. This year she was briefly our Acting Prime Minister.
As the crowd roared from the opening bars of Armistice Day, I thought there is nowhere else I’d rather be right now. When Peter Garrett spoke of stopping the giant Carmichael mine and the carnage that Adani could bring to the Great Barrier Reef, one idiot in the crowd behind said,
“Shut up and play the music.” Only a moron comes to a Midnight Oil gig and demands that politics aren’t mentioned. Before I had a chance to tell him to go home and listen to Kylie Minogue, the band came back with more raw, punching rawk:
I see buildings, clothing the sky, in paradise
Sydney, nights are warm
Daytime telly, blue rinse dawn
Dad’s so bad he lives in the pub, it’s underarms and football clubs
Flat chat, Pine Gap, in every home a Big Mac
And no one goes outback, that’s that
You take what you get and get what you please
It’s better to die on your feet than to live on your knees
I love that Midnight Oil are a band with strong political opinions, and musically, they were simply brilliant. They’ve done so many shows this year the band is tighter than ever. And they were backed by the incredible Hunters and Collectors horn section. I don’t know what painkillers the injured Jim Moginie was taking but his guitar playing was inspired. I’d forgotten how good they are live. The waves of screaming energy and excitement kept coming as my hips reminded me how their music made me feel in my teens.
Today my body aches, but my heart is filled with the thought that perhaps I’m not the only one who cares about changing our world.
Not much time, but time to try
Jenny McGregor makes me cry. She sings like an angel, has perfect skin and a gorgeous husband. Her children are so cute it is revolting. Jen’s beautiful smile could fool anyone into thinking that life has been easy for her. But when Jen’s adorable first-born son died suddenly at the age of 18 months she was broken. I still can’t believe that she could go through that kind of loss, and now she is so strong she can walk into children’s hospitals every week to cheer up sick and dying kids.
Jen and her husband have been through the kind of spiritual growth no one wants to experience in their lifetime. Music helped with Jenny’s healing, but she found that no one was writing songs that dealt with the death of a child in a profound way.
My beautiful colleague has been through every parent’s worst nightmare and now wants to help other grieving families. Jen is going to record an album of songs for bereaved parents but she needs money to employ professional musicians. Love and Let Go will be an album of great music with the proceeds going to the charity Red Nose, who provide free counselling for parents who have lost a child.
Jenny McGregor is very close to her fundraising target, but we need to help her get over the line. This woman is a shining star. Please donate if you can. Even $10 will help Jen realise her dream of supporting families who are suffering.
On her 11th birthday, my baby girl put on a sparkly dress, her sister’s makeup and a floppy hat, and went to see her first concert. Her ticket was paid for by her best friend. He wanted to make her happy. She was cross with me as she sauntered off because I told her that 11-year-olds don’t need to wear foundation. She told me I didn’t understand how much she needed to look lovely at the show. She was busting to scream, sing and be carried away with her friends by the music of Taylor Swift.
Whatever adults think of Tay-Tay or One Direction or Take That or Bay City Rollers or the Spice Girls or Metallica is not the point. At your first concert, you get to feel the live magic of your hero, your crush, your superstar; the artist whose tunes helped you through your heartache, with other people who feel the same devotion. For 90 minutes we forget that life can be shitty, that people disappoint, that friends let us down. We sway and dance in the dark and hear our music. Sinead O’Connor is my woman, I spent my grocery money on buying a ticket to her show two years ago, because I knew I had to hear that voice live once in my life.
This week young adults and kids in Manchester said goodbye to their mums and dads to head off for the night of their young lives, seeing their girl Ariana Grande sing songs for them. Some of them were just old enough to leave their parents at home. Those innocent kids won’t be coming back to tell their families how happy Ariana made them on the last night of their brief lives.
22 white Westerners die and the world is outraged, but more than 55,000 children have died in Syria, 7% of Catholic priests in Australia have been accused of child abuse and 200,000 aboriginal people massacred by ‘Christian’ settlers. This week I’ve had enough, I’m blaming righteous god botherers for the world’s problems, and the hypocritical males who run these archaic institutions. I can’t see what is attractive about your religion, what you believe in is bullshit if your beliefs dictate that you hide people who bomb babies, cover for men who sexually abuse children then deny it, and steal land from indigenous peoples in the name of an imaginary god. Your books preach love and your actions show that you hate your fellow humans, particularly the smaller ones. No wonder people are losing faith.
In 1986 I was living in London and I had a flatmate who modelled her hair on George Michael’s fluffy bouffy do. She scored tickets to see Wham at Wembley Stadium that summer. I didn’t speak to her for a while because she went to the gig and I didn’t. It was never about Andrew, it was always about George. I loved George but I was too afraid to admit it. For a while there it wasn’t cool to like George Michael’s music, it wasn’t grungey or dark or rock enough. I’ve never liked cool obscure underground bands that nobody has heard of, with male singers who can’t hold a tune, I’m a huge fan of bright, shiny commercial pop. So George was the shiz.
I love George’s lyrics, I love his melodies and his voice. When I was 14, he wrote songs in the key of teenage angst. George understood me and my worries. Christmas doesn’t begin for me until I hear Last Christmas on the radio.
I can’t believe he’s gone at the age of 53. In the 90s his music kept my heart alive. I hope the dope didn’t kill him.
“Do you enjoy what you do? If not, just stop, don’t stay there and rot.”
Thank you George, I hope you’re blazing a trail with some gorgeous angelic backing vocalists in heaven
How do we live in a world without Prince, David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Victoria Wood and Merle Haggard? Age shall not weary them, but 2016 has been a cruel year, robbing the world of my favourite artists.
The genius artist known as Prince brought my teen years alive with his sexy funk groove.
“All good things that say, never last. And love, it isn’t love until it’s passed.”
Please Stevie Wonder, stay healthy and strong.
Thank you Prince Rogers Nelson, your music, generosity of spirit and philanthropy will live forever
Thank you for the grooves Mr White, hope you are lighting up the sky with your moves