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The Middle Aged Spectator makes a road trip

I recently had the opportunity to take a road trip, visiting family and friends along the way. All up I was away from home for 11 nights, and covered more than 4000km in the car. Plenty of music, plenty of podcasts, and plenty of time to think.
The main purpose of the trip when I set out was to catch up and spend a little time with family (and extended family) members, and a few friends. As far as that goes, mission accomplished. I missed one friend along the way as the timing didn’t work out.
But on retrospect, this trip covered a few more profound moments, apart from the pleasure of meeting and eating and drinking with loved ones. 
I was in Ballarat just before All Souls Day and Dia de los Muertos, which both fall on 2nd of November. In the Catholic tradition of All Souls Day, deceased family members are remembered and prayers are said for them. Unless, that is,  they have been officially declared “saints” in which case their day is 1st November, All Saints Day. The Latin tradition of …
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The Middle Aged Spectator considers the "Sheesus!" controversy

On 2nd June 2019, Brisbane’s Sunday Mail splashed this on the front page as their lead story:

What followed was a breathless take by the journalist about “elite schools” changing the wording of prayers to promote a gender-neutral concept of God. Apparently this is the work of the PC-crazy leftists in our schools!

I have a few thoughts about this, but first a disclaimer. I consider myself a “poor Catholic”. I attended state schools for my primary education, and then a Catholic boys’ secondary school. My initial teacher-training was taken at a Catholic institution, and I worked in Catholic schools from 1978 to 2016. I have studied theology, sacramental theology and moral theology. I state this not to claim authority, but to simply give background to my opinion.

I have a feeling that the lead article, the editorial (on p.62), and many of the more than 200 comments online, are nothing more than confected outrage. There are a number of reasons for this belief. Firstly, the Courier-M…

The Middle-Aged spectator considers the state of Horse Racing

I have followed horse racing since I was a little kid. I inherited the love of the sport from my father, who like me was a (generally) unlucky small punter, who just liked the atmosphere of the races and the excitement achieved when your knowledge and understanding of the form resulted in a winning bet.
I remember being taken to the races at Bendigo and Ballarat years before I was old enough to bet. At Dad’s funeral I learned that my cousins, all a few years older than me, had also learned to love the horses and a bet from him.
As with most people who try to follow racing somewhat seriously, I have steeped myself in reading histories, watching old films and videos, collecting various memorabilia, and studying the complexities of it all. If you want me to, I can bore you silly for an hour or more with a discussion of the class system as it used in Australian racing, and how it doesn’t always appear to be what it seems at the surface. Anyway.
As with any sport, it’s easy to become a fan o…

The Middle-Aged Spectator wonders what to do with a record collection

I started collecting records when I was 11 years old. My parents had a lovely cabinet stereogram, had been members of the World Record Club, and had quite a number of classic and jazz LPs, so I knew about records, sort of. My first purchase was a single by Doug Parkinson in Focus, “Dear Prudence”, the Lennon/McCartney song. The first LP I bought, a year or so later, was Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water’. Many, many followed over the years, both singles and LPs, then cassettes and later CDs.

Here’s the problem. I haven’t had a stereo player for records and cassettes for years. My CD player is actually a CD/DVD/Blu-ray player attached to the television and its speakers. I cannot play a record or a cassette. Our new car doesn’t even have a CD player!

I now have an Apple Music subscription and a Spotify account. I have access to more music now than I have ever had before. I just don’t need these records and cassettes! So, what am I to do with them?

My first thought was to se…

The Middle Aged Spectator considers the AFL's proposed rule changes

The Middle Aged Spectator considers the AFL’s proposed rule changes
As the Coodabeen Champions’ character, Digger, was known to say, “I’ve been following football for a very long time.” While never having played the game at anything but a very minor level, I have coached and managed teams, and been a club administrator, over many years. I do know a bit about the game.
And I’m going to sound like an old reactionary – but rules shouldn’t be changed without good reason. The AFL’s Competition Committee will present to the Commission a number of suggested rule changes to be implemented in 2019. I fear that each of the rule changes could have serious, unintended consequences, and I am puzzled as to why there seems to be the need to implement them so soon, and without adequate trialling.
Quite frankly, the game is in pretty good shape, but certain people in the AFL fold believe the game has become too congested. This leads to lower scoring, and consequently, the fans are losing interest. Or…

The Middle Aged Spectator considers the Liberal Party’s Leadership Spill

Before I begin, I am not now, and never have been, a member of a political party.
The last couple of weeks has been an exciting, and somewhat baffling, time in Australian politics.
The governing Liberal Party spent a week in turmoil, cancelled Parliament for an afternoon, and replaced its leader – at the same time changing the Prime Minister of Australia, the nation’s highest political office.
As in many western nations, politics here has become increasingly polarised in recent years. In Australia, the far right of the Liberal Party (a centre-right party which governs as the major partner of a coalition with the National Party and the Liberal National Party – yes it’s weird, and not to be confused with the Liberal Democrats) has become increasingly loud. This has happened for a number of reasons, not least of which is the rise of minor rightist parties such as Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, Australian Conservatives and Katter’s Australian Party among others. Over a series of state and f…

The Middle Aged Spectator goes to the Commonwealth Games

Having entered the lottery for tickets during 2017, we were fortunate enough to secure tickets to five sessions of three different sports over a seven-day period, and had wonderful experiences. We went twice to the Netball, including the opening match of the tournament (Jamaica v Fiji) in the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre, attended two evening sessions of Athletics at Carrara Stadium, and enjoyed a session of Beach Volleyball on the Coolangatta Beachfront.

At each event we were greeted by friendly (and sometimes amusing) ‘Game Shapers’, or volunteers. There were professional ‘comperes’, for lack of a more suitable word, at each event who explained what was going on, entertained us between games, and generally ensured the crowd was involved. We thoroughly enjoyed it all.
Before they had even begun, there was a great deal of cynical criticism about the Commonwealth Games. This took several forms, but a few in particular came up regularly: 1.The Commonwealth itself is an an…