Saturday 9 February 2008

Advance, Australia fair!

My friend Tricia and I have had a long Skype talk this morning, the first 15 minutes of which were about how we can only get one webcam at once to transmit our blurry and rather unflattering images. Today she couldn't see me, though I could see us both, each in our nightclothes, at opposite ends of the day and the world. After exhausting this topic, during which I was entertained by her peering in puzzlement at the blank screen, mouth open, we moved on to my forthcoming trip, and tried to finesse the plan. But we ended up feeling that, apart from the trip to Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road (doesn't that sound exciting? and like we should be doing it on motorbikes?), nothing needed to be planned too tightly, and that we could just do as we pleased as and when we chose. Phew, that's a relief. I know when Tricia comes over here, she fills her itinerary so full of visits to friends up and down England that she ends up worn out and has to spend Ovaltine evenings in my house in her dressing gown and slippers, trying not to doze off before 8 pm. Aw, bless.

She tells me that the new Government will issue its first formal apology to its 450,000 indigenous people on February 13th, in relation to the removal of aboriginal children from their families, a policy that ran from 1915 and was only abandoned in the late 1960s. This is undoubtedly a healthy step forward, but there is no mention of compensation, so it's predictable that this tragic story will run and run. Meantime, Tricia and her work colleagues in local authority employment/benefits offices have been warned to expect thousands of additional claimants following the Government's action. As she is working flat out on overtime as it is, I expect Ovaltine evenings in Oz too, and not just for jet lag. I shall take my slippers.

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