Bad Planning

Hey Kayla

Somehow, I could never get the timing right when it came to telling you about myself, the HIV diagnosis was no different.

Mum, I and the two elder girls had all agreed you should not be told before your HSC at the end of 2000.

Ah, the best laid plans!

Towards the end of winter in 2000, you, Jassie and I went to Bowral for a weekend away.

I had hired a house for two or three nights, we were all looking forward to this time away. Just Dad and two of his daughters having special together time, it was also a great opportunity to give you a break before the hard slog of study was to begin.

The trip down on Saturday afternoon was a cacophony of hair brush microphones with Springsteen trying vainly to compete with his own songs.

We wandered out for dinner and bought some food to make a big breakfast in the morning, before coming back to our little cottage for a movie night. We hadn’t planned on the weather turning wet and icy cold but it didn’t matter, we were determined to make the best of this precious time.

The soundproofing of the house was not great and the 2.00 am pills and spew session obviously filtered through from the bathroom.

There was nothing said next morning or over the rest of the trip, but Jassie told me later you had been asking questions.

There was no room in our family for secrecy anymore and I knew I had to bite the bullet and tell you. The worry and suspicion would be worse than the facts.

I went down one afternoon to pick you up after school and we drove out to the Audley Weir for an ice cream and some time together.

You were prim and proper in your crisp uniform complete with Prefects Badge and I was dressed for work in shirt and tie. We must have looked an odd sight, sitting on rocks above the water licking ice creams and deep in conversation.

You have never been a pushover darling, and this day was no different. You searched for the right questions and I told you about the combination drug regime and the hope for this new treatment.

It was hoped this regime would have the effect, of reducing the impact of HIV from a death sentence, to a treatable chronic disease. We spoke about the trial and the impact this level of poison was having on me.

We hugged and didn’t speak much afterwards, as I drove you home to Mums.

I didn’t come in this day, I wanted you to be free to speak to Mum on your own if you wished to.

I drove the hour home to my place, deep in refection and sadness that I had been so stupid as to have brought this on our family.

This was just one of the times in my life when I seriously wondered if the journey to honesty was worth the pain.

I have spoken about Jassie and Annie being two ends of the see saw or; the Ying and Yang of my life. You darling, are the slippery slide, there is always fear and trepidation at the top of the ride, but usually; we end up with joy and laughter at the bottom of the slide.

I sometimes dread the fear and trepidation involved in our “deep and meaningfuls”, but I would never swap them if it meant losing the love and closeness we share afterwards.

Love Ya Heaps

Dad

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An Atrocity Impossible to Comprehend

Whilst at the time of writing, there is still no attribution to any organization responsible for the horror of Manchester, it now appears certain it was a bomb, placed in the foyer of the Manchester Arena designed to kill people, specifically young fans of Ariana Grande as they left the concert.

The gross heartlessness and callousness of this action is simply impossible to imagine, these were kids probably, at least some of them, attending their first ever concert.

Stories of nuts and bolts strewn across the ground after the explosion, seem to undermine the absolute evil intent of the bombers.

Somebody had to pack this bomb, most likely in the full knowledge as to who was the intended target.

What sort of an animal sets out deliberately to kill Kids?

The horror of parents of young children, having allowed their kids out for a big night and then, having to face this dreadful aftermath, is almost inconceivable to comprehend.

I have a young, almost ten-year-old granddaughter who spends hours trying out outfits, before deciding what to wear when she is heading out to a friend’s birthday party.

We can imagine the joy and excitement these kids must have invested in their preparation for this night with their pop idol.

Surely our children still have the right to their innocent enjoyment?

We can only begin to touch the surface of the grief; some parents must now be feeling and indeed some of the surviving kids if their parents were killed or hurt in this inexplicable act of horror.

I don’t think I would be the only person who feels this attack has crossed the Rubicon of horror, but before we start to lay the blame on the entire Muslim population, we must consider that at least some of the victims were actually young Muslims themselves.

If ever there has been a time when the moderates of all faiths and beliefs must come together, to try even harder to delve into the depths of depravity displayed in this atrocity, that time has certainly arrived.

Adults can take their own risks in this volatile world but it would be an absolute horror if as a result of Manchester, parents now try to protect their children by not allowing them to have their special nights.

My heart goes out to all the people who have been hurt or killed by this latest act of evil

Thoughts of Leaving

It has been a day of fun, reflection and some tears. I had breakfast with my old mate Mark H where as usual, at these semi regular get togethers we solve all the problems in the world. If only it was that simple.

Billy joined us after he had been to Hot Yoga and he proceeded to demolish all our carefully crafted arguments with a solid dose of Chinese pragmatism.

I came home and caught up with Insiders on IView, there seems to be no escaping the shadow of Donald Trump, the news that he is doing a $150 Billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia did nothing to allay my unease with this man.

The leaders of Saudi Arabia appear to have the world on a string as they pay public homage to the ideals of peace and yet, have been shown to covertly foster terrorism. Any country where women are not allowed to drive, where gays are publicly stoned and adultery by a woman is treated as a capital offence, surely, is not a country the West should be calling an ally.

My enemy’s enemy is my friend as a reason for aiding and abetting a brutal regime, is only as good as the current threat lasts and until a new enemy who may or may not be a mutual enemy, emerges.

It will not be the first-time American military might is used against a new friend of the West, and in the muddy, fluid alliances of the Middle East, this is likely to be sooner rather than later.

A world, where the struggle for peace is reliant on propping up despotic regimes, is a world which will be constantly be at war with itself.

The apparent flight by several Saudi Families from the USA in the wake of 9/11 still haunts me and the questions raised by these departures have never been properly answered.

The reliance on Saudi money makes for very strange bedfellows, the thought of Donald Trump dealing with these people raises even more troubling questions given the Trump business presence in this region.

Billy is out for the day with friends and I am having a very quiet day at home, I chanced on old episodes of “I am the Ambassador” on Netflix. I have never seen this show before and in many ways, it encapsulates the recent time when America really started to look itself in the eye and there was at least some commitment to human rights and personal freedom.

Surely, I am not the only person who yearns for the quiet decency of Obama, he may not have been perfect and there are things he could have and should have done better, but at least you felt the world was in steady hands.

The bitter partisanship of American Politics, the legacy of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and, the fallout from the GFC haunted Obama’s terms in office. One can only guess at how much more he may have achieved had he not had to contend with the toxic legacy George W. Bush left behind.

I know, I for one did not go to bed every night wondering what new shit storm I was going to wake up to in the morning, as I do every night now.

My tears today came in the silence of self, as I sat on the balcony in glorious autumn sunshine watching the sail boats on the Harbor and wondering for how much longer I would be able to enjoy this simplest and greatest of pleasures.

Maybe, it is not such a great idea for me to have a day to myself.

 

Trumping the Fool

Two articles in Saturday’s SMH played perfectly into my post-apocalyptic fantasy world.

Firstly, there was Richard Glover’s fanciful take on life without the internet and the important role the older brigade will play in teaching our younger friends how to survive without Google, GPS, Snapchat etc.

We will dig into the recesses of our memory and remember what it was like to put a key in the door of our car or house, we will dredge the darkness and try to recall how we used to send a letter and we will trawl the archives as we search for that old solar powered calculator that was “oh so modern” in the 1980’s.

We will be the living history, the human encyclopedia our children and grandchildren will turn to in their hour of need.

The article was a timely reminder of just how fragile our world has become, as our reliance on the internet becomes more and more consuming.

The thought of something as basic as the running of our trains and traffic lights haunts me, as I approach the time when it will be no longer of any concern to me.

Does this mean I will I have to actually carry the hard copy scans of my withering brain, instead of walking out of St Vincents straight after the MRI, content in the knowledge they will be on the Professors desktop in time for my next appointment.

Oops, I forgot; the damn MRI Machine probably will not work anyway and I will miss the dubious pleasure of being able to compare the growth of the white spots at the base of my brain against how big and how many there were six months ago.

Drugs and pigheadedness have slowed the deterioration to a fraction of the speed it was just few short years ago, my Plateau has bought untold benefits in terms of the love and time I can lavish on those precious grandchildren.

This brings me to the second piece in Saturday’s Herald; the interview with Roger Waters of Pink Floyd; now that’s a name that will challenge anyone under thirty.

I used to hope that by the time of my demise, Science may have trumped ignorance and there was a future for the world I would be leaving behind, now I am not so sure my pigheadedness has been worth the effort.

Waters uses that wonderfully old fashioned word, “Nincompoop” to describe the current occupant of the White House, what a delightfully humbling description of the narcissistic fool who now leads the free world.

Waters goes on to say, he now fears World War Three, Roger that makes at least two of us!

The thought of the future of the world being controlled by a man who believes in himself so fervently, a man to whom science and politeness are just mere words to be brushed aside in his rapacious race to power, and a man who has made “Fake News” and a disregard for the constraints of a legal system the hallmarks of his dirty administration.

I was never a fan of the Kardashians or the Apprentice, but I also never dreamed they would be anything other than a ridiculous sideshow to a world which was starting to take science seriously and was looking at ways we could contain the damage we had done to the planet.

They are no longer a sideshow, ignorance has trumped science and they are now the main event.

There is hope though. That hope has kept me going, way past the time when dribbling and death should have overtaken me.

That hope is family and the simple goodness and intelligence, I still believe resides deep in the souls of most people.

Richard, before the internet breaks, can we at least try to use it for the promotion of family, intelligence and goodness.

If we all work at that, Roger, we may be able to avoid the horrors of the apocalypse we fear.

 

The Boss and me

To The Opinions Editor SMH

Bernard Zuel’s article, “Bruce Springsteen live: a trust exercise in the age of Trump” SMH 8 February was a wonderful tribute to an ageless, troubadour. I was prompted to write the following personal account of my history with the Boss

The concert on Tuesday night was brilliant.

Of the three Springsteen concerts, I have seen over the past five years, each one is better than the last. Perhaps, because there is the thought, that this one; may well be the last.

That Bruce is getting older and this Bruce is running out of time, a withering brain disease is slowly catching up with me

I didn’t feel all that well before last night’s concert, I was tired and everything was just a bit sore, I felt even worse on the way home in the crowded train.

After almost three hours of the Boss, it didn’t seem to matter anymore.

I had just spent a night with a hero, a humble hero in many ways.

For a guy who has achieved what he has, he carries success like an old comfort blanket, he still has fun with the old team and Patti is always there.

He is quite ordinary, but he is also extraordinary, he is a hero I have lived with and believed in, for over thirty years and he has never let me down.

He has infiltrated my family to the extent, that even when my two youngest daughters were half a world away, they went to see him in London in 2010. There was no prompting from me, they just wanted to, and they told me about it afterwards.

My youngest daughter Kate tells of her big sister, surging to near the front of 100,000 people in Hyde Park.

“It was like she owned him, Dad” 

Every road trip, when the kids were kids, was accompanied by one or other of his CDs.

The “Jersey Girl” track died from overuse and was replaced, it was the hairbrush anthem of choice.

“Redheaded Woman” became our guilty secret to be kept from their mother. She, not unreasonably, may had some problems with two teenage daughters and one preteen listening too closely of the lyrics of that song.

In 2012, while I was fading faster than I have been over the past few years, I went to see The Boss at Homebush with my eldest daughter. It was a reunion for both of us, the last time we had seen Bruce was in the Capitol Theatre on his small scale “Ghost of Tom Joad” acoustic tour, a few years earlier.

I first saw Springsteen in North Carolina in the late eighties, I think. I can’t remember the year, but I remember that concert like it was yesterday, it was my awakening to just how powerfully this guy and the E Street band could perform.

He sings to Trump’s lost Americans but he warns about easy solutions and false prophets, he sings the praises of Migrants and rehashes the old Woody Guthrie classic “This Land Is your Land” to embrace the world as it is today.

My partner and I saw him the last time he toured, I was stagnating then, not getting any worse but not getting any better, the tiredness and the pain was forgotten then, just as it was on Tuesday night when the two of us, struggled back home.

My Grandkids know immediately when a Springsteen song comes on the radio.

The thought of one more concert is enough to keep me going, but if it doesn’t, so be it.

I have shared my love and faith in this man with family and lovers and they will never listen to a song of his, without thinking of me.

His legacy has become my legacy.

Bruce Ingrey

 

Puff -The Australian 7 January 2017

 

Dear Brian

I was alerted early this morning by an SMS from an old friend,  insisting I buy a copy of the Weekend Australian,  I jokingly replied by saying, I had better things to do than spend my Saturday morning reading a Murdoch rag.

They were insistent, telling me I would have to go no further than the front page, on that basis, I thought it must be something earth shattering.

The front page was dominated by a photo of Rosie and you, sitting at home, perfectly poised behind large vases of blue and purple flowers, with a background of abstract art and a Grecian urn.

“From tin shed to harbourside mansion, family values never lost at the White house”

The headline and the photo almost said it all, but; I was heartened to read your three-level home came complete with its own lift, private jetty, pool and stunning views of the Harbor Bridge.

The rest of the article was pure hagiography and I don’t understand the purpose.

You and I used to joke about pieces like this, I would call and tell you what business was likely to crash and burn in the next few months. This was based purely on the printing of articles such as this one, more often than not, I was proved correct.

We would laugh at the accuracy of the “bullshit factor”

You though, are in no need of the publicity, but at least, you got the front page of the major National paper!

Brian, you have worked, planned and executed your triumph to a level very few people achieve and I am proud to have played my part in your success.

What was missing from the article was any acknowledgement of the work of so many people who were not family. Not necessarily myself; but people like Myffy and Andrew who have been with you for the very long haul.

Your belief in family and the development of your sons is something you can truly be proud of but the lack of recognition of those other people was a glaring omission.

I think I know you well enough, to know that you do nothing without a purpose, I look forward to the passing of time to understand the reason behind this very un- Brian like  piece of puff.

Anyway, you don’t need the griping of an ex to tell you how to suck eggs, so I will close with simple words.

Well done and I wish you well.

Bruce