CHRISTINE M. KNIGHT

An Australian author who provides insight into the human condition.

Poetry

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

A Model for Modern Women

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

She was a role model
For modern women. 
Liberated from the labels 
That had defined earlier generations, 
She was an expert on things cosmetical
From surgical to chemical. 
She was a product of the cutting edge, 
A manufactured woman, 
Celebrated in magazines, 
Sold across the nation. 
In matters of weight, 
She knew exactly how much to weigh in. 
In the powerhouse of business, 
She was inscrutable 
(Thanks to regular Botox injections). 
A beneficiary of affirmative action, 
She traded in ideas and influence. 
A follower of fashion, 
She rode the wave 
After the second wave of the women’s movement. 
Her flawless smiling image on magazine covers 
Guaranteed sales at supermarket checkouts. 
Articles about her reassured women, 
Interested in material culture, 
That their personal fit was simple, 
A mere matter of purchase. 
“Image is all that matters,” she said, 
From her chair in Wonderland, 
Her smile lingering like the Cheshire Cat. 
Was she happy? Did her life have meaning? 
Such questions are absurd. 
She was a role model for women 
Living life through the looking glass.

©Christine M Knight

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Sunday, March 22, 2015

Window Dressing

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Bureaucracy -
Well-intentioned,
Complicated by layered protocols,
Clogged by lock-step, mandatory processes,
Weighed down by governance overhead -
Lumbers wheezily towards the stairs of progress.

Management -
Career focused,
Risk averse,
Informed by theory -
Doggedly devoted follows.

Jane and Joe Q worker,
Denied a voice,
Shake their heads.
More time,
More money
Spent on frenzied activity ...
With authentic outcomes listed
On the back of
Yet another business card.

©Christine M Knight

 Note: An Australian, Christine uses the British spelling system.

 

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Minus the Higher Power

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Emptiness consumes ...
Its hunger sated briefly
With the ch-ching of purchase:
High-end luxury goods
That break the budget;
Low-end 'buys' that
Saturate life.
Narcissism thrives as
The hollow ones
Wallow in the shallows:
The perpetual pursuit of possessions,
The attention that owning brings. 
It sees self reflected in
What has been acquired
But is blind to
Engorged being.
Emptiness:
A lightless void ...
The soul's deficit. 

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Saturday, November 16, 2013

A Working Mother

Saturday, November 16, 2013

With her eye on the evening clock
And thirty minutes until dinner time,
She paused to survey the home scene:
Kettle refilled and switched on;
Kids doing homework;
Washing under way in the laundry;
Meat under the grill and vegetables in the microwave;
Table still to be set;
Life’s daily litter covering the living area, again. 

The close of the front door and her husband’s call
Ended her momentary stillness.
He shucked off his workday dress as he entered.
A tie here,
A suit coat there, 
His briefcase where they had agreed it would not go.
They had time for a peck,
The ritual, “How was your day?”
And a routine exchange over a cuppa
Before he retreated to the bedroom,
Their haven,
(A place where the memory of passion lingered like perfume).
Safe in the ensuite,
A no-go for children
(Smell overcame their need to invade his privacy),
He took the time to mentally debrief from his workday.
She had no such time;
It was always full-on
From the second she picked up the kids from after-school care. 

Her evening with his help passed as usual:
Kids fed, bathed, TV, a story read before bed;
Table cleared, dishwasher stacked, the house restored;
Washing sorted, folded, and the next day’s clothing ordered;
An hour of companionable silence in front of the telly;
Before the night ended in petered out passion. 

Mornings were about getting away:
The kids kept calm and on course for the school day;
Her husband, already focused on work, 
Mindful that he had to get the kids into his car and keep them there;
An airbrush kiss to her in a rush. 

Left alone to dress, she did so in a blink
(Long gone were the days
When she lost touch with time in the shower
Or took hours over her appearance). 

A two car family now,
She was grateful
For the time a second car had bought.
She did her makeup whenever the traffic stopped at the lights,
Applied her lipstick in the parking lot,
And then…
Her workday began.

© Christine M Knight

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Monday, April 22, 2013

The Chatter of the Loom

Monday, April 22, 2013

Saccharine sweet ladies
-insincere smiles, dulcet tones, iced innuendo,
weave their destruction
from teacup disturbances.
Truth warps
as the shuttle threads interpretation ...
lives unravel as the fabric grows.
The distaff,
suited in respectability,
disrespect non-weavers.
The ladies,
arbiters in the culture of the covert,
savour power
through the chatter of the loom.

©Christine M Knight

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Monday, April 22, 2013

The Dispossessed

Monday, April 22, 2013


 

We are the descendants of the dispossessed.
They lived in disparate communities,
Enclaves in a vast land
Of drought, flooding rain, familiar light and primal life.
Adept at survival, 
Attuned to the timeless cycle of life, 
They hunted and gathered.
Unprepared for contact with an alien people,
Their ancient lands were acquired,
A slow, continuous process of violent dispossession.
Displaced, they were the uncounted people in colonisation.
Suffering from a clash of cultures with families torn asunder,
The survivors handed down their longing for return.

We are the descendants of the dispossessed.
They were outcasts,
Ripped from families,
Transported to a land
Of drought, flooding rain, harsh light, and rude life.
Ill prepared for settlement,
They struggled to survive in an alien world.
Dislocated, they longed for the distant climes of their homeland.
Suffering a restlessness founded on rejection and dissatisfaction,
They handed down their longing to successive generations.

We are the descendants of the dispossessed.
Their rendered records fade as does their meaning.
Their stories retold, at times in whispers,
Words changing with each generation, 
Reframe the past. 
Reality spun into an altered fabric.
We, their descendants, became Australians.

We are the descendants of the dispossessed.
Their written records, now redacted and revised, 
Reframe the past.
Their stories retold, shaped by changing agenda.
Reality spun into an altered fabric.
We, their descendants, became Australians.

We are the dispossessed,
Migrants in search of safe landfall,
Not the first, not the last.
We come by air.
We come by sea. 
We have our own strife to reconcile,
Our own demands of this lucky country,
This land of drought, flooding rain, and prosperity. 
We will be Australians.

© Christine M Knight


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Monday, April 22, 2013

Pedestrian

Monday, April 22, 2013

Walking ...
      Life at human speed
      Liberated from Internet connected lives.
Walking ...
      The rhythm of the path,
      An antidote to saturated modern life.
A chance to
      Think
      Reflect
      Consider
      The journey, its direction, changing course.
Walking ...
      A heightened sense of
      What is seen, heard, felt.

©Christine M Knight

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    Thursday, March 16, 2017

    An era, a show and a legendary album

    Thursday, March 16, 2017

    John Shortis and Moya Simpson’s playful sense of humour was evident from the moment I entered their Bungendore property. Their next-door neighbour’s gates featured a sign that read 'Ironing done here'. The wall plaque near Shortis and Simpson’s front door read 'Irony done here'.

    Over a steaming mug of coffee, we discussed the inspiration behind their current cabaret show Fifty Years Ago Today.

    Cobargo Folk Festival commissioned the cabaret after Shortis and Simpson’s acclaimed festival performance about Eurovision and the context out of which it evolved.

    John said, ‘That show was really an entertaining look at the history of Europe post World War 2 linked by bad songs.’

    Fifty Years Ago Today
    marks the anniversary of the launch of the Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album in June 1967 in the northern hemisphere.

    Apparently, the album’s release date in Australia was delayed until July 1967 because the British producers did not trust Australian printers to faithfully reproduce the elaborate artwork of the Sgt Peppers album cover. The covers were produced and printed in England and shipped here via the Suez Canal. Regrettably, the six-day Arab Israeli war broke out and so the shipment was detoured around the South African cape. The album was launched in Australia at the end of July.

    The cabaret’s story line positions the Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album in the context of what was happening globally at the time. It also provides fascinating insights into the backstory of the album’s creation, dating back to the early 1960s when the Beatles were mop tops, in the heyday of swinging London.

    John said, ‘You can’t tell the story of the Sgt Peppers album without showing the Beatles’ evolution from catchy pop rock songs to complex artful experiments in music.’

    Sgt Peppers
    is the first Beatles’ album after they gave up touring.  The album marks The Beatles’ arrival as recording artists instead or touring musicians. For instance, ‘Ringo’s drumming is more orchestral in its approach. McCartney’s bass work transitioned from simple bass lines that filled out the pop rock sound to complex, intricate bass countermelodies that actually featured on the Sgt Peppers album rather than being fill.’

    Shortis and Simpson’s Fifty Years Ago Today incorporates humour and poignant stories as well as songs of different tempos and styles from that Beatles’ milestone album as well as songs by other famous musicians from that era.

    I was fascinated to learn that the Beatles’ celebrated producer, George Martin, used his background in producing Peter Sellers’ Indian characters on comedy records to bring together Indian and orchestral musicians to produce George Harrison’s Within You Without You.

    John said, ‘While the lyrics are hippy trippy, the music is quite extraordinary because it follows the traditional rhythms and scales of Indian music.’ 

    Moya said, ‘It was a nightmare to learn!’

    John admits to scoring the music into a computer software program and practicing to it every day for ages so that he could synchronize his keyboard part with the rhythms.

    Another interesting aside is that, in celebration of the link between the Beatles and Peter Sellers, Moya sings the Sophia Loren and Peter Sellers’ hit Goodness Gracious Me in the cabaret as part of the side story to the Sgt Peppers album.

    Fifty Years Ago Today was not designed as a nostalgic trip down memory lane, although people who lived through that era may relish the show as such. It provides insight into a seminal moment in music and world history when world music influenced the Beatles music not only in composition but also in performance.

    As we talked, it struck me that the show was very much like a great meal: lavish, prepared with great care, nutritious and good for the soul, and an experience not easily forgotten. The cabaret utilises the rich harmonies of a large choir, the vocal skills of its musicians, and the rocking talent of a hot backing band. It has appeal for all ages.  I also realised that Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album prepared audiences for the emergence of another musical phenomenon, Queen, masters of pomp-rock with its diverse rock styles and intricate vocal harmonies.

    This cabaret should not be missed when the show comes to  your part of the country.

    © Christine M Knight

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    Friday, November 25, 2016

    Acknowledging Indigenous Heritage in the Palerang region

    Friday, November 25, 2016

    Recently, I wrote a blog about the restoration of The Carrington Inn. My article about the inn also appears in the District Bulletin's December issue. The District Bulletin reports on country living in the Palerang region. I feel it would be remiss if I did not also acknowledge the importance of Indigenous heritage as a side bar to the Carrington article.

    Heritage places are a visible reminder of Australia’s history and identity. If they are neglected or demolished, then part of our history and identity is lost. When they are protected and restored, they add value and dimension to our community. This applies equally to the heritage represented by the traditional owners of the land. It is important to acknowledge that Indigenous heritage when promoting awareness of colonial heritage as it shows respect for Indigenous culture.

    Before European settlement, Indigenous people represented an unbroken culture that was inextricably linked to the land and history of the continent. That relationship and life as Indigenous people knew it changed drastically as a consequence of Dr Charles Throsby and Hamilton Hume's exploration of the region in 1820.

    By the end of 1821, Europeans had settled the region. The provision of a mail service in 1837 formally made the settlement a town while the arrival of train services in 1885 resulted in the town becoming the hub of the region. Cobb and Co coaches transported travellers to far flung settlements. 

    During this period and into the twentieth century, Indigenous people experienced a history of exclusion, denial, and were silenced. Many Indigenous people many died as a result of white settlement (disease and conflict). Indigenous heritage is in the land, in sacred places, lore and values. By contrast, colonial heritage is in buildings and property and its laws.

    To better appreciate the impact of the European arrival in Australia and related issues, click on  The Dispossessed.

     

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    Sunday, November 20, 2016

    The Restoration of the Carrington Inn, Bungendore

    Sunday, November 20, 2016

    Late October, I met Innkeeper, Richard Graham in the motel carpark of The Carrington Inn a few weeks after it had reopened.

    Originally known as The Lord Carrington Hotel, the property was built between 1884-85. It was named after the newly appointed governor of NSW. When the governor retired, the inn became The Carrington Hotel.

    In the 20th century, descendants of the Winters sold the property to Toni Dale who reverted the property to its original function from a domestic residence. It later changed hands until Richard bought it eight years ago.

    As we walked through the half acre of man-made gardens' entrance to the Wintergarden complex, I was struck by their intrinsic naturalness and the patterns of dappled light. Richard said they are ‘one of the largest publicly accessible private gardens in the region.’ He credits the illusion of a much larger space to the use of meandering sinuous paths.

    There are three distinct themed locations within the Wintergarden complex: The Tom Wills Tavern, The Empire Hall and Salons – fine dining, and Myee’s Tearoom. Myee is pronounced my. The tavern’s namesake and a local, Tom Wills was a leading Australian cricketer from 1856 and is said to be the founder of Australian Rules football. Heavy drinking was apparently part of the sport's culture at that time and purportedly played a role in his tragic death in 1880.


     

    Maria Myee Gallagher, 1889-1967, was the granddaughter of the original owner, William Daniel Winter. ‘An educated woman of many talents, Maria Myee never married and lived in the hotel throughout her life.’ She was a skilled pianist and taught the piano as well as the sewing arts and painting to locals. She was also well-known for her charitable work in the town.

    The interview and tour began in Myee’s tearoom. Its décor, like the rest of the complex, ‘pays deference to the 19th century colonial Victorian nature of the Carrington Inn.’ An airy and serene space, the tearoom’s authentic hand-painted stencilled wallpaper, pale green wainscoting, slate floor, furnishings, and hanging baskets suggest a Victorian garden conservatory.

    When I asked about the ideas underpinning the renovation process, Richard explained the choice before him. Restore the inn to look like the property as it had been in 1885 or restore it to reflect the Victorian era from 1885 but have modern restaurant equipment. For commercial reasons, he opted for the latter.

    After much research, Richard and his team distilled the Victorian period to a single restoration intention: ‘allow modern-day patrons to appreciate the aspirational nature of the Victorian era’ and witness a different lifestyle.

    The aspirational mood of the period is clearly visible in the style of ceilings in the tavern and the Empire Hall and Salons. The tavern’s patterned copper ceiling is reminiscent of Tudor ceilings and represents the revival of British styles during the Victorian era. The decorative tin ceiling in one of the salons is another popular architectural element from that period as are the subtly lit, rounded vaulted plaster ceilings in the Empire Hall.


     

    The Victorian theme is evident in the use of decoratively etched glass mirrors, beautiful period-styled drapery, luxurious furnishings, dining settings, and décor accents. Thirty-three hand-painted artwork reproductions tell the colonial story, including artwork by Tom Roberts. In the tradition of the time, a picture of Queen Victoria dominates the Empire Hall.

    The attention to authentic detail is also seen in the use of deeply embossed wall covering (Lincrusta) in  the Empire Hall. Lincrusta was invented in Britain in 1877 by the same man who invented linoleum floor covering some years before.

     

     Having visited many famous historic sites, I found The Carrington Inn as striking as places like Chatsworth House and Hampton Court in UK. Of course, The Carrington's pristine interior décor  and the inn are much smaller in scale than those other historic UK properties.

    As Richard told the stories behind each room’s décor, I realised that he is more than the owner and operator of an enterprise that happens to exist in a heritage property. He is keenly aware of his custodial role in restoring, documenting, and protecting heritage.

    As I left that afternoon, I realised that heritage places not only add dimension to the character of a community and its diversity but to its unique features of streetscapes as well.

     

    Left to right: Mark Summers, General Manager; Edwina Fitzgerald, Accommodation Manager; Me, Innkeeper; Merili Pihlamäe, Venues Manager; and Andrew Stansbie, Executive Chef.

     

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