Archive for January, 2018

Don’t bring your difference to my table: a poem.

January 27, 2018

Perhaps something suitable for Australia Day, but for many other days and places too. A poem to help us consider and reflect on much of the nonsense of our world.

Don’t bring your difference to my table

Don’t bring your otherness into my room, don’t bring it to my door, into my home, my country

Don’t bring your arrogant aged, patronising wisdom

Don’t bring your cocky youthful ignorance

Don’t bring your God of war and hate and intolerance

Don’t bring your colour, your gender, your fatness, your beauty, your out-dated misogyny, your vitriolic feminism

Don’t bring your pointless, damaging shit to me

Be silent when I speak

Listen with your heart

So you hear the sameness


Look into my eyes, beyond the blue, the brown

Peer beyond my skin, whatever hue

Ignore my hair – whatever colour or texture it be

Ignore my external appearance, the distracting packaging


Gaze deep inside, into my soul, my heart

Is it not the same as yours?


Don’t look for differences

Don’t proclaim your otherness before all else

Don’t make enemies where there are none


Wherever we come from

Whatever we believe in

Whatever we eat

Whomever we pray to

Whomever we love

Whatever we speak


We are the same

We are human

We are sisters and brothers

We originate from the same one mother

Stop judging

Stop hating

The old, the young, the fat, the rich, the poor, the stupid, the black, the clever, the informed, the wise, the dumb, the hopeless, the sick, the homeless, the immigrant, the refugee, the victim, the lesbian, the homosexual, the transsexual, the foolish



Don’t bring your differences to me

I only want to know how we are the same

How we care about the same things


How together we can make a difference (Images from Private Collection)

Life is Precious: Honouring Ferida.

January 14, 2018

Life is Precious: Honouring Ferida Tasholi.

This is not the blog I had prepared for today but I need to honour one of my friends, one of my former students; someone who was responsible for keeping me writing my blog, to whom I felt honour bound to write something for her to read on a Saturday morning as she had her coffee. I’ve let her down over the last few months and now she’ll not be there to keep me honest in my renewed quest to post regularly again.

Vale Ferida Tasholi, whom I taught in the very first year of my teaching career, who latterly became a dear friend. I am saddened beyond belief. My heart breaks for your family, for your beloved boys and husband. I am angry with a world that takes the likes of you and leaves behind so much rubbish, so many people who do no good, who cause so much damage and pain, who do not add to the planet. You added to the planet: you did that, as a mother, wife, teacher and friend: you were a force for good, you had a positive effect on many people, you made our world a better place. Your death is one of the cruel ironies of life – where once there was joy and sunshine, now there is pain and loss.

I will miss your responses to my blogs, the interactions that ensued; your intelligence, humour and engagement; our recent FB chat about the loveliness of flowers, my orchids that I am managing not to kill! I will miss you nagging me when I miss a week or month. But most of all I will miss having you in my head, as I write, wondering: what will Ferida think of this, will she find this interesting, will she like this? I feel quite bereft and can only imagine how those who were so much closer to you feel. Yes, I have some inkling how your boys are: my mother died too soon as well. You were the same age.

It is cruel. A death like this – sudden, unexpected, unnatural – is hard to take. I sometimes think a lingering death, the struggle with disease, with the likes of cancer is somehow easier: you have the chance to get used to the passing of your loved one. You are preparing for it and when there is a great deal of suffering, as there often is at the end of such diseases, there is also relief at their passing: the suffering is over.

But the death of those before their time is always hard, no matter the cause. Death stalks us all. It is the single common denominator of everything – we are born and we die.


So, here’s the thing, the thing we need to remember as we travel through this life. Some things matter more than others. Let Ferida’s death cause us to pause and remember the things in life that are most important:

*Family matters more than work.

*Friends matter more than money.

*Love matters more than anything.

So, take the time to be with those you love, to tell them how much they mean to you, to be kind and patient, to answer that text, to keep in touch, to forgive and make up before it’s too late.

Make sure you look after your own health. Have the check up; lose that bit of weight, keep moving, stay active; don’t ignore that nagging cough, that lump, that persistent pain. Look after yourself in the world – drive carefully, walk carefully, get off your phone, be alert to the dangers of others; keep your mind active: don’t die when you don’t need to. Don’t die before your time. Don’t leave a hole that will never be filled.

And don’t forget that those who are gone, those we really love, are always with us. They live in our hearts, we see them in our children; we remember them when a song is played; when a smell unlocks a memory; when we hear ourselves speaking their words, intoning their wisdom, wondering what they might have done in this situation. And if we’re lucky, they’re watching over us, loving us still.

While we should ‘show our friendship for a man when he is alive’, as Meyer Wolfshiem advised Nick in The Great Gatsby, we should also honour the dead, as the ancient story tellers like Homer did, through stories and songs told over and over again at the fireside, repeated and retold forever. Tell your own stories of those you have loved and lost so others know them too, so they are not forgotten, like Achilles and Hector and Odysseus, the heroes of Troy.

So tell your stories of Ferida; mourn her, honour her and do not forget her. My orchids are for you, Ferida, one last time. (Images from Private Collection)