Monthly Archives: April 2019

French songstress Edith Piaf props up in bed in 1959 after an undisclosed illness. Piaf died in 1963 from exhaustion and liver disease, aged of 47. Photo: Matty ZimmermanHe loved music, my grandfather. He’d always played the piano. A family gathering wasn’t worth the name until he approached the lovely old piano in the corner of what was always called the front room, spread his fingers across the keys and summoned the magic, my grandmother at his side. Waltzes, Irish tunes, everyone singing; classical, a smattering of old-time swing, songs and tunes from a century ago. Often, his eyes would close as he delved into his repertoire.
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He spoke French, too. It had been useful on the Western Front where he’d fought in World War I and even handier in Paris when he’d taken leave.

There’d be a ghost of a smile when he’d speak occasionally about Paris. But he left much in the air. You had to imagine for yourself the cafes and the music of that city of light and love, a tall, thin farm boy who spoke French and played the piano, savouring the mercy of a few days away from the artillery and bayonets and machineguns. He had been, after all, just 21 when he sailed across the world to war.

I lived next door to my grandfather when he was old and faltering, and sometimes I’d play him a record of some song or tune that had taken my fancy and which I thought might quicken his heart.

Like a fair proportion of the world, I found myself in the 1960s transported by the voice of the French chanteuse Edith Piaf.

She had, of course, captured audiences for decades, but after she died in 1963, broken down by her addictions to morphine and alcohol and life, her music became more popular than ever.

As a boy, I felt I’d discovered a shining alternative universe of song when I first listened to Piaf. I bought a record of her best-known music and almost wore it out transporting myself to a place that existed only in my imagination: a smoky, black and white Paris, romantic to the point of heartbreak.

One wintry day I played my record to my grandfather. I thought Piaf’s La Vie En Rose, surely one of the loveliest songs of love ever sung, might take him back to the rosy hues of his youth. If there is an evocative song of all things French, this is surely it.

My grandfather closed his eyes and sighed.

But it was another song on that record that stirred him. He sat up in his easy chair and moved a hand to the stirring rhythm of it. His eyes were open and he was clearly seeing something beyond the room in which he sat.

The song was Non, Je ne regrette rien.

“No, I regret nothing,” my grandfather translated, and he sounded as defiant as Piaf’s rendering of it.

I already knew the bones of the story that had shaped his life, and that of all my family.

Twice he was wounded within the hellfire of the Western Front, only to be patched up in British hospitals and sent back to the trenches. In a hospital in Birmingham, he was nursed by a young softly spoken woman named Cecilia. They fell in love.

My grandfather’s military papers listed him as Presbyterian. Cecilia was Irish Catholic.

It is hard now, a century later, to imagine what depths of religious bigotry governed social and family behaviour.

When the war was done, and the delights of Paris had released their spell on my grandfather, he and Cecilia quietly married. My grandfather wrote to his parents, omitting to mention his bride was Catholic.

When, back in Australia, the family eventually discovered the woman who would become my grandmother was a “papist”, no mercy was shown. My grandfather, the twice-wounded war hero and farm boy who spoke French (and Latin), played the piano and had a deep sensitivity about him, was frozen out. He had chosen a wife from the wrong religion.

The newlyweds left the family property and my grandfather went schoolteaching. He had to save hard, because when his father died, the will, which he’d been assured left him the family farm, “went missing”. He was forced to bid at a trustee’s auction for his own property with a Depression only a few years ahead. Much hardship was to follow.

The family wound never healed properly, but my grandfather and grandmother cleaved to each other and had six children. In time, their own family gatherings became immense, grandchildren and great-grandchildren finding themselves stilled by my grandfather’s music, his Cecilia at his side.

“I regret nothing,” he said that day as Edith Piaf’s voice died away.

He meant it. You could hear it. Words to live by.

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RISING STAR: Talented New City cricketer Maddi Baird is the ninth nomination for the Norske Skog Young Achiever of the Year award. Picture: MARK JESSER
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MADDI Baird often wonders how different her life would beif she hadn’t accepted an offer to fill in for her brother Nick’s under-11 cricket side in 2009-10.

With New City looking for players one Friday night, Baird was given a call by club official Andrew Kilby to make up the numbers.

Baird has shown her class for New City’s under-16 side this season under the coaching of John McDonald.

She’s been making numbers, impressive ones, on the cricket field ever since.

Baird, 17,has gone on to represent the North East Knights and Victoria and is hopeful of one day playing for the Melbourne Renegades.

State honours … Baird has put some good results on the board playing for Victoria.

“My life would be completelydifferent if I didn’t play that night,” Baird said.

“I don’t know what I would be doing to be honest.

While Baird is best known for her bowling, she is also more than handy with the bat.

“I remember batting and bowling but I don’tthink I did too much.

“After that I played every week and that’s how I got right into it.”

The Xavier High School student’s impressive progress has earned her the ninth nomination for the Norske Skog Young Achiever of the Year award.

Although the young all-rounder is presently on the comeback trail after injuring her calf at the national under-18 championships in December, she has still had a season to remember.

She opened the bowling in every match and took seven wickets including 3-12 off three overs against Tasmania.

Baird is presently playing for New City’s under-16 side and hopes to return to the Phoenix second grade line-up in coming weeks.

The youngster has been encouraged by the introduction of Cricket Albury-Wodonga’s Thunder-Stars Girls Under-14 Cricket League this season.

“It’s a lot different to when I started,” she said.

“It’s gone ahead in leaps and bounds.

“I don’t think there were any other girls playing around Albury back when I started and nowthere is a competition which is greatfor the localgirls.”

Baird is an avid watcher of the Women’s Big Bash League, particularly when the Renegades are in action.

Several of her Victorian under-18 teammates –Georgia Wareham, Amy Yates and Nicole Fulton –play for the Renegades..

“They were top-age players at the nationals and got contracts with the Renegades which is really good,” she said.

Junior coach John McDonald said Baird was ticking all the boxes in her development.

“She has an excellent attitude and excellent approach to her preparation,” McDonald said.

“Her training is good and she tries to train well so she can play well.

“She’s a very handy swing bowler and played a very important innings in the under-16s last week.

“Maddi’s doing really well.”

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The Bordertown Chinese Restrarant arecelebrating 20 years in the Tatiara on this weekends Chinese New year that sees the year of the rooster begin.
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Tim and Helen Wei first came to Bordertown 20 years ago on Chinese New year with their eight month old daughter and opened the popular restaurant on Woolshed street a couple of months later.

The couple have since had another child and both kids, Jenny who is now 21 and Jake who is 8 love the country lifestyle.

The kids both went to Bordertown Schools and Jenny is now in Adelaide studying teaching and would like to return tothe country some day.

Tim who moved here when he was 25 bringing Helen across two years later said the the double occasion this year is‘double happiness’

Tim said it was very difficult when he first came over, and despite having learned englishat school he said when he came to Australia, it was totally different.

“I came here for new life, a different lifestyle and a new way to live.”

Before coming to Bordertown, Tim and Helen hada restaurant in Victoria for four years in Bunyip, which was just a little too small and did not allow room for progression.

They searched at many places across four states before checking out Bordertown last and falling in love with the community straight away.

Tim said it was their first impression that made them decide to come.

“People say hello to you on the street, and that’s very important to us.” Tim said.

“When people come to a town,the first thing they notice is the people, and how they make them feel, if they make them welcome or not.”

“Right from the start, the town has been really supportive.” Helen said.

Tim and Helen now enjoy the country lifestyle for many reasons with the Tatiara community being a huge contributor.

Their business has had ups and downs which they said fall in line with all other businesses who have been affected by issues such as the drought and the meatworks.

“The businesses all support each other. That’s how a small community works. We support each other and that is very important.”

There have been a lot of businesses come and go throughout their time here, and Helen believes that the main reasons are for personal issues, and changing locationsrather then slow business.

The couple attribute their 20 years of success to the support from the community, and the quality of their product.

“We appreciate people’ssupport in the last 20 years. Without that, we can’t survive,” said Helen.

Tim said 95 percent of their customers were regulars, which come from beyond the Tatiara, from Tintinara all the way out to Nhill.

Helen said“They come from so far away, I really hope they enjoy their meal. 80Kms is very far.”

Tim who is the chef at the restaurant said that he will never drop his standard and continuesto better his product.

“Some people get slack after a few years, and how that’s some businesses fail. But for me I’m always improving and keeping that high standard. You cant be slack, or people wont come in.”

“When I finish cooking, I come out and talk to people. That is my job. Its important to ask them how they enjoyed the meal.”

This is especially true as they saida lot of their customers are still having the same dish after 20 years.

As well as locals, Tim and Helenhave regular tourists stopping in for the food, and they use the opportunity topromote the district with their main suggestions for tourists being Poochers swamp, the white kangaroos and Claytons Farm.

“There is so much to offer, there is always something to say. I think Bordertown has a lot to offer,” Helen said.

The couple are certainly giving back to the community and havehired a lot of students from the area.

“It’s good for them to have that practice and learn something and it helps us as well. We try to teach them a lot of things, and after a couple of years they are very confident.

“We always give a good reference, and it makes it much easier for therm to find jobs if they leave the area,” Tim said.

They have family in Victoria and China, with Helen’s mum and sister coming out to visit numerous times to see them doing what they love.

“”We are very lucky that we enjoy what we are doing. If you don’t enjoy what you are doing you would find the job pretty hard,” Helen said.

For tomorrow night and throughout the weekend,there will be a number of specials at the restaurant for dine in and take away.

The couple will also be trialing some new items on the menu and have arranged complimentary dumplings and a glass of soft drink or bubbles(dine in only)and are offering 10 percent off all take away orders.

“I’ve tried to cook more traditional meals,” said Tim.

The couple said that their ‘Bordertown Deluxe’ is the most common dish and one that Tim has made up himself and is very proud of.

“We want to thank all customers for ongoing support. We couldn’t have done it without you,” they said.

To make a booking for this weekend, call8752 0494

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FRESH FACES: Front row L to R – Lithgow High School Principal Ann Caro with new teachers Marnie Peters (TAS) and James Taylor (Science), Back row L to R – Nicole Thompson (English), Erika Marlin (English) and Amanda Saladine (PDHPE).
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Lithgow school students will notice a few new teachersas theyreturn to class in 2017.

Erika Marlin is a first year English and History teacher starting at Lithgow High School.

Ms Marlin comes from family of teachers with her mother being a deputy and both her grandmothers having careers in theclassroom.

She appreciates the warm welcome she has received from Lithgow High School community and wants to make a difference in the lives of her students.

“I hope at the very least, if not content, they learn some study skills. In History, I don’t like to give them the facts, Ilike to teach them how to discern the facts themselves by giving them primary sources,” MsMarlin said.

“I like to teach them how we analyse them and how they are contextual to their time and teach them to make a judgement themselves.”

Ms Marlin believes that being a teacher is often so much more than academic results.

“I’ve just come from teaching in Mt Druitt which is a really hard area to teach in.

“Most of the time the kids aren’t there to learn, they’re there to feel safe or they’re there to talk to someone or they’re there to get their basic needs met and I find that more validating than a student getting any band 6.

“So forming relationships with these students that don’t have safety or role models or stability in their lives is really rewarding. Just giving them something for them to be familiar with and safe with, it’s really good, I don’t know how else to say it.”

Local primary school students will also notice a difference with maintenance work being conductedover the summer holidays. In total $67,000 of funds from the NSW government wasused for minor works in primary schools across the area.

Cooerwull Public School$14,000Cullen Bullen Public School$33,000Zig Zag Public School$10,000Lithgow Public School $10,000This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net. Continue reading

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