Sunday. The Canberra Balloon Spectacular, day one. Balloons drift over Lake Burley Griffin. 8th. March 2014 Canberra Times photograph by Graham Tidy. News. The changing face of Braddon. Lonsdale Street Roasters took over the Civic Smash Repairs building in Lonsdale Street.April 29th 2015The Canberra TimesPhotograph by Graham Tidy.
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Here’s a top tip for travel writers: you don’t get columns about your list of top tourist destinations if you made it, say, a list of actual top tourist destinations.

After all, a brief survey of Australia’s most popular tea towels already gives an elegantly accurate overview of our nation’s top sightseeing spots. And let’s be frank: saying “why, the Uluru place seems like it might be worth a gander – and how about that Sydney Harbour, eh? Apparently there’s some sort of bridge there!” isn’t going to get incredulous journalists sending your destinations of the year column viral.

And that’s why Lonely Planet is enjoying all sorts of Google Alert pings thanks to multiple articles, including this one, that are all essentially variations on “Canberra? You’re recommending that the one must-see spot in Australia is Canberra?”

Yes, according to said list, Canberra is the No.3 city to visit on our great blue-green globe (after Seville in Spain and ??? um, Detroit in the US? Really?), and the No.1 spot to see in Australia. And this, obviously, is a barking mad claim to make.

This is not because Canberra is a terrible place, mind. It’s because its charms are not exactly geared toward tourists.

There’s no shortage of stuff for the keen visitor, of course. Canberra boasts amazing galleries, great museums, and at least one more NASA-run Deep Space Communications Network than any other city in Australia.

The architecture is amazing, the (artificial) Lake Burley Griffin is picturesque, and the parking is ample. And Parliament House, it has to be said, is genuinely beautiful – or at least was until the hideous fences were put up to stop people walking over the lawns above the heads of our lawmakers, as designed, and thus help eliminate any pesky implication of Australian egalitarianism.

But Canberra also has a lot of baggage. Related: Real reason Sydney’s not liveableRelated: A house or a life?Related: Should we let country towns die?

After all, while all our other cities were hewn by stalwart pioneers hacking civilisation out of the unrelenting bush, Canberra was arbitrarily invented as a national capital as a way of providing plausible cover for Sydneysiders who wanted to sneeringly tell Victorians “well, it’s the same distance from Melbourne as Sydney – what are you whining about? What do you mean it’s in NSW – it’s in the Australian Capital Territory, obviously. Sheesh, there’s no pleasing some people!”

(And depending on who you believe, it was named as a joke by the local Ngunnawal people, who assured the designers that the word for the spot meant “meeting place” and definitely not “the bit between a lady’s boobs”, since the settlement was placed between Mount Ainslie and Black Mountain.)

Canberra is also tiny. You can be in open farmland or an isolated bush vista inside of a 15-minute drive from Parliament House, which goes some way to explaining why people, such as Tasmanian senator Eric Abetz, don’t seem to understand how most Australians think and behave.

If most of your time was spent in Hobart and Canberra, suddenly being confronted with Brisbane would seem like dropping into a sci-fi wonderland what with its locomotives and ethnic foods and people walking around without scarves.

The main thing about Canberra as a tourist destination, though, is something that it shares with the other butts of the nation’s jokes such as the aforementioned Hobart and (especially) my old hometown of Adelaide: it’s a nice place to live, but you wouldn’t necessarily want to visit there.

That’s not because it’s not got stuff going on or places to go, but because those things are not necessarily obvious and easy to find. In fact, I’m prepared to bet that Canberrans are less than delighted with having their favourite haunts and secret treasures hauled out into the open, because part of the joy of living in one of the smaller cities is feeling like it’s your own special place and that it also somehow loves you back.

That doesn’t happen in the big metropolises nearly as much. I still adore Sydney like a lovestruck teenager, but I’m perfectly aware that when I die it will leave my corpse for the ibises and never look back. Conversely, I was deeply hurt to discover during a recent visit that Adelaide didn’t lovingly preserve that P my first housemate drew upon the sign for the tiny inner-city alleyway Andrew St in 1993.

Be honest, residents of Canberra. You don’t want hipster blow-ins clogging up your favourite wine bars and snug microbreweries. We got so sick of that happening in Sydney that we had to destroy our entire night-time economy with lockouts just to get them to move to Melbourne.

And obviously it’s a long time until Lonely Planet’s next list, and it’s impossible to guess if another Australian city will make the top ten. But on current form, the smart money would be on Blinman, jewel of the Flinders Ranges: the most underrated tourist destination in Australia! Come for the 50-plus daytime summer temperatures, stay for the ??? um, bit where it gets cooler at night.

Just imagine the outraged thinkpieces that’ll inspire!

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US actor Anthony Rapp has accused Kevin Spacey of making a “sexual advance” towards him when he was 14.
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Rapp, now 46, claims Spacey invited him over to his apartment in 1986 after the two met while they were working on different shows on Broadway.

At the end of the house party, Rapp alleges, Spacey – then 26 – placed him on a bed and climbed on top of him.

BuzzFeed first published the allegations, but Spacey’s representatives did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

But on Monday afternoon, Spacey released a statement saying he was “horrified” to hear Rapp’s story.

“I honestly do not remember the encounter, it would have been over 30 years ago,” he said. “But if I did behave then as he describes, I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behaviour, and I am sorry for the feelings he describes having carried with him all these years.”

It is the first time Rapp has spoken publicly about his interactions with the Oscar winner.

The star of Star Trek: Discovery, who was catapulted into the spotlight after starring in the original musical Rent, said he was going public with the allegations to try to “shine another light” on Hollywood following the Harvey Weinstein scandal.

“He picked me up like a groom picks up the bride over the threshold,” Rapp told BuzzFeed.

“But I don’t, like, squirm away initially, because I’m like, ‘What’s going on?’ And then he lays down on top of me.

“He was trying to seduce me. I don’t know if I would have used that language. But I was aware that he was trying to get with me sexually.”

Rapp said he eventually managed to push Spacey off him and to leave the apartment.

“My head was spinning,” he said. “I have a memory of turning around and [thinking to myself], ‘What was that? What am I supposed to do with that? What does it mean?’

“The older I get, and the more I know, I feel very fortunate that something worse didn’t happen.

“And at the same time, the older I get, the more I can’t believe it. I could never imagine [that] anyone else I know would do something like that to a 14-year-old boy.”

Rapp said he had never talked to Spacey about that night in 1986, and is thankful he hasn’t had anything to do with the House of Cards star since.

However, he told BuzzFeed he did walk past Spacey during a rehearsal for the 1999 Tony Awards.

“He looked at me, and I thought I saw some form of recognition, and I quickly looked away,” he said.

“I passed him and went out the door. In retrospect, I’m very grateful that I wasn’t alone with him. I don’t know what the f— I would have done.” pic.twitter南京夜网/X6ybi5atr5??? Kevin Spacey (@KevinSpacey) October 30, 2017This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Jarryd Hayne’s Facebook post about Newcastle bloke | PHOTOS Jarryd Hayne’s Facebook post about Matt and Ray Shipway.
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Matt Shipway scoring a try for the USA against Fiji. Picture: AAP/Michael Chambers.

Jarryd Hayne playing for Fiji against the USA.

Sonny Bill Williams in action for the Kiwis. Picture: AAP/Dan Peled.

TweetFacebook The Hayne Plane’s Facebook post.Jarryd Hayne has a lot of followers on Facebook.

So when the rugby league star, who’sknown as the“Hayne Plane”,reposted a message from a bloke named Ray Shipway, lots of people took notice.

Rayis the brother of Matt Shipway –a 32-year-old Merewether tilerwho plays forSouth Newcastle. At the moment, he’s playing for the USA intheRugby League World Cup.Hequalifies toplay for the USA because his mum was born there.

A few years back, Matt was nicknamed the“Red-haired Sonny”–a joking reference to Sonny Bill Williams, theKiwi footy legend.

Anyhow Ray sent a Facebookmessage to Jarryd Hayne,before Mattlined up for the USA against Hayne’sFiji side on Saturday.

The message went like this [wegenerouslycleaned up theFacebook-style punctuation and grammar]:“Hello MrHayne, congratulations on your recent selection for Fiji for the upcoming game against USA. I would like to bring to your attention a certain player nicknamed Red-haired Sonny. He is the number 12 for USA, weighs 102kg and stands at an impressive 195cm, studied engineering at UCLA, was drafted to the Cleveland Browns where he learnt some impressive agility and power skills, before making the dramatic switch to rugby league. [Ray was pulling Jarryd’s leg here. None of thisistrue, except that Mattis number 12 for the USA]”.

Ray’s message continued:“Be wary Mr Hayne, he is a destroyer and will do anything to win. Squirrelgrips [this relates to testicles], hoppas [this relates to John Hopoate] and eye-gouging are normal for this man-mountain. I would consider tearing a hammy in the warm up. Have a good day”.

The Hayne Plane reposted the message to Facebook, with this comment:“This was too funny not to post. Thanks for the tip, I appreciate you @rayshipway”.

Ray told Topics thatJarryd’srepost shows he’s a“quality bloke”.

“Guess he takes the time to look at his messages,” Ray said.

As for the message itself, Ray joked:“I just thought I’d warn him about my brother, that’s all”.

Ray watched the match in a pub at Alice Springs over a couple of beers. Fiji beat the USA 58-12 and Matt scored his side’s firsttry.

Ray willbe at Townsville Stadium on Sunday to watch his brother’snext match for theUSAagainst Italy.

“I’ll try and get a photo with the Red-haired Sonny,”he said.

Hairdressers have an eye for detail. But rarely is a hairdresser’s eye as significant as it could be for convicted murderer Sue Neill-Fraser.
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Neill-Fraser is serving a 23-year prison sentence for killing her partner, Bob Chappell, in 2009.

She faced the Tasmanian Supreme Court in Hobart on Monday in a final bid to overturn her conviction.

Her legal team must convince Justice Michael Brett there is new and significant evidence for an appeal to proceed.

A hairdresser who saw a teenage girl and two men in the area where Mr Chappell went missing on the night he disappeared provides such evidence, Thomas Percy QC, for Neill-Fraser, argues.

The hairdresser, Brent Brocklehurst, saw the trio with his neighbour.

He was told the neighbour had picked them up after they had been on a dinghy near the Marieville Esplanade foreshore.

Mr Chappell went missing from the Four Winds, a yacht he and Neill-Fraser owned which was moored 300 metres off the same esplanade in Sandy Bay.

“[The neighbour] said ‘I bumped into these guys, they’ve come out of nowhere, on a dinghy’,” Mr Brocklehurst told the court on Monday.

Neill-Fraser claims she left her partner of 20 years alone on the boat about 2pm on January 26, 2009 as he worked on repairs.

His body has never been found, and, apart from a blood sample found to belong to Mr Chappell, there was no forensic evidence relied upon for Neill-Fraser’s conviction.

But a DNA sample from Meaghan Vass was found on the Four Winds.

Mr Brocklehurst could not be sure, but believes the girl he saw the night Mr Chappell vanished was Ms Vass, who was 15 at the time.

It was about 7pm, and the girl was not wearing shoes, he said.

He is more certain that one of the men the girl was with was Stuart Russell, who committed an unrelated murder two years later.

His evidence adds weight to a theory developed by Neill-Fraser’s legal team: that locals who were known to steal from yachts in the area boarded the Four Winds with Ms Vass and killed Mr Chappell after he disturbed them.

Earlier this year, Ms Vass signed a statutory declaration that also supported this theory, but in court on Monday she withdrew it in sensational fashion.

Police could not confirm how Ms Vass’ DNA had been found on the Four Winds, and Ms Vass has also been unable to explain its presence.

Neill-Fraser was found to have bludgeoned Mr Chappell with an unknown object, used rope and a winch to lift his body from the cabin to the deck, and then weighed it down with a fire extinguisher before dumping it in the Derwent River.

She was motivated by the knowledge the relationship was over, and that Mr Chappell – a wealthy Hobart doctor – was worth more to her dead than alive.

An attempt was then made to sink the Four Winds to destroy evidence.

Neill-Fraser has maintained her innocence, despite police finding significant inconsistencies in her alibi.

She has sat quietly in court during Monday’s hearing, even during the evidence of Ms Vass, who screamed, and repeatedly stood and banged the witness box, while she was questioned by Mr Percy.

She said during Neill-Fraser’s trial that she did not know how her DNA had come to be on the yacht.

But in April, lawyers for Neill-Fraser obtained a signed statutory declaration from Ms Vass saying she was on the Four Winds on the night Mr Chappell went missing.

She also said she was with other people she would not name.

But she recanted that statement in dramatic fashion, leaving the courtroom in tears after requesting a five-minute break.

“I had been made to sign that statement out of fear,” she said.

“I was threatened to be put in the boot of a car.”

Ms Vass told the court she is still homeless, as she was when Mr Chappell disappeared.

Shortly before asking for a break, she cried out for her mother and a senior Tasmania Police officer.

She told Prosector Daryl Coates she had been offered money to make the statement, but later conceded that could have been a reference to a $40,000 reward for information offered by Neill-Fraser’s supporters.

Ms Vass said a woman who met Neill-Fraser in prison and was an associate of a Devil’s Henchmen bikie.

Victoria Police forensic scientist Maxwell Jones, said the DNA sample belonging to Ms Vass that was found on the Four Winds was far more likely to have come directly from her saliva or blood than a secondary transfer or via contact with her skin.

Another witness, who claims he was on the foreshore on the night of the disappearance also gave evidence on Monday, saying that he believed a former friend who was living on a yacht at the time had murdered Mr Chappell and three other people.

But he also claimed he was working for ASIO at the time of the disappearance and admitted he would lie to help Neill-Fraser.

The appeal before Justice Michael Brett will continue on Tuesday. iFrameResize({resizedCallback : function(messageData){}},’#pez_iframe’);

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Towards the end of Alex Miller’s new novel, The Passage of Love, there is an email sent by a woman in Paris to the French translator of the book’s leading man, Robert Crofts, a novelist. She is introducing herself as the person to whom Crofts refers on his website when writing about one of his novels.
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But eagle-eyed readers of the uncorrected proof copy would have noticed that the short burst of French doesn’t refer to the novelist as Robert, it calls him Alex, and the book the woman is writing about is titled Lovesong, one of Miller’s most popular and admired novels. “We picked that up. Jesus, nobody noticed,” Miller says.

Mind you, it wouldn’t really have mattered had the name stayed as it was because, as he says a moment later, “the whole thing is totally true”.

The Passage of Love is the story of a young man from England, Robert Crofts, who has migrated to Australia and worked as a stockman in Queensland. After three years he goes south to Melbourne and decides he wants to write. If you are vaguely familiar with Miller’s biography, this will ring a bell.

Crofts becomes involved with Wendy, a left-wing activist working as cleaner in Myer where he too is employed, who tells him: “You’re a writer if you write.”

But the relationship doesn’t last and through a man in his boarding house he is introduced to Lena Soren, the daughter of a wealthy family in a bayside suburb and “probably quite as mad and as dangerous as you are”. Lena’s widowed mother encourages both his relationship with her daughter and his desire to write although she argues the latter would be impossible without first gaining a university education.

So Lena and he marry and begin a tempestuous relationship that eventually founders, although they both acknowledge mutual love and need. Lena is trying to find some sort of meaning to her own life free from the restrictions of class and upbringing. But it is through Lena Robert meets Martin and Birte, two Germans who become crucial to his imaginative sense of the world.

Lena and Robert buy a farm in Araluen in the south of New South Wales, a world that he initially finds to be some kind of agrarian Arcadia, but where eventually he is left on his own, brooding, desperate to be published and sliding into gloom. He is pulled out of this dismal state of affairs when he begins an affair with Ann, about whom he has long entertained erotic fantasies.

For Robert Crofts, the name of the hero in Miller’s first novel, Watching the Climbers on the Mountain, read Alex Miller. For Lena, read Ann Neil, his first wife. For Martin Bloch, read Miller’s great friend Max Blatt, and for Ann the woman in Paris, read Ann the woman in France who wrote to his translator.

Yes, he says, the whole thing is totally true and although the book is called a novel, he describes it as autobiographical fiction.

“It’s the same as Virginia Woolf with To the Lighthouse. People said it isn’t a novel, it’s just you and your family on holiday. And she said it’s ‘autobiographical fiction’. It’s rather like Helen Garner’s The Spare Room and, perhaps, Drusilla Modjeska’s Poppy, although she called that a memoir.” Other recent examples might include the works of Karl Ove Knausgaard or Michael Sala’s first novel, The Last Thread.

For Miller the fiction comes in his collapsing of time, largely to suit the narrative. While stressing everything is real, he has changed some people’s names and when some things happened. “Robert makes it as a writer in the sense that he does get his first novel published but I would have had to go a bit longer – quite a bit longer than that – whereas that’s a nice moment to end it where he comes back to Australia to sell the house.”

It’s all a question of truth and Miller claims always to have written the truth in his novels. There is the material truth – as evidence he produces three pictures that have been important in his life and feature significantly in the book – but “emotional truths are the absolute grounding of any novel. Historical truth is secondary to the intimate lives of us.

“The truth of the intimate lives of us is not available to the historian or the biographer. The biographer strives to get there and can be challenged on those things. There’s always a sense in writing history or biography of being defensive to a degree in your bibliography or your note ??? Whereas as a novelist you are at liberty to plumb the depths of the human emotions. You’d better get that right though.”

He says he has wanted to write this moral accounting of his early years for a long time but it was only after his wife, Stephanie, pointed out the crucial distance old age provided that he was really able to get to grips with it.

“Steph and I have been together for 43 years. I came back to Australia to sell my house and move to Paris and buy the apartment. But I met Steph in my first week and we just knew at once and I never wrote to Ann and she didn’t know where I was so she couldn’t write to me.”

I wondered whether that had played on his mind for 43 years.

“Yes. I always felt a bit guilty about it. As you do. A number of things I’ve felt guilty about until now.”

If the book is an accounting of his early life, it is as much an account of his development as a writer. He wrote three what he calls pre-novels – “I thought you had to write socially responsible novels” – before his friend Max, the model for Martin, asked him bluntly on reading one: “Why don’t you write something you love?”

Miller had always told stories; his Glaswegian father had been a great storyteller and as a boy Miller had developed a great intimacy with his brother by making up stories for him about a little green elf. But writing was a different matter.

When he told his father that he’d written a book his response – and here he mimics his father’s accent -was “what d’you do that for?”

“I’d lost my audience as far as he was concerned. What I’d lost was the social context of storytelling. He grew up in that context. They handed their stories down when he was a boy from the old people in the Highlands.

“The idea of writing it, being alone in a room with the door closed telling a story – it wasn’t telling a story; telling a story was having the response of the people around you.”

But writing is Miller’s way and has been since well before his first published story, Comrade Pawel, appeared in Meanjin in 1975.

The distress he describes when Robert Crofts’ first novel is rejected in The Passage of Love is utterly his own experience even if the rejection letter, which is the one Miller himself received, is as generous as possible and includes a glowing reader’s report.

“Writing isn’t a complacent way of life but a way of life in which I am constantly challenged. When I’m not writing, a strange kind of loneliness comes over me and by strange I mean I can be in among my family, with my family or close friends and something in me cries out and I can’t answer that cry whatever it is.

“Writing is my way of answering this silent cry within. I’m not sure what it means or how it might be explained other than in this way, but I’m grateful for it. It lies in me like a mystery that I will never fully resolve so that I am always drawn back to it.”

Miller’s first novel was published in 1988. Since then he has won the Miles Franklin twice – for The Ancestor Game in 1993 and 10 years later for Journey to the Stone Country. He turned 80 last year, but is confident he has more books in him and time to write them. The next one will be Max Blatt’s story.

Perhaps that confidence comes from a strange encounter he had a while ago in South Melbourne when a tiny Indian man stopped him in the street. Miller offered him some money. “No, no,” said the man, “I don’t want money. I want to tell you that you will live to 94.”

“And I said, ‘oh thanks very much’. I said ‘will I be all right?’ and he said, ‘I don’t know, I can’t tell you the details, I just know that you will live to be 94. Thank you and good day’, and off he went. It was a very convincing encounter.”

The Passage of Love is published by Allen & Unwin at $32.99.

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MUSIC THE FOOD OF LOVE: Musicians and medicos Judy and Stan Chen at lunch with Scott Bevan. Picture: Simone De PeakFROM the moment he read her name badge, Stanley Chen’s heart sang. It was at a large gathering of musical medicosin 1993, and Stanley saw the young woman standing there. She was just what he had been looking for.
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Judy Kermode. North Fitzroy. Cello.

Perfect. He really needed a cellist for his ensemble. And as luck would have it, he lived just near her in Melbourne.

“We had every single instrument, but no bass player, no bass instrument,” he recounts as we sit in Hamilton’s Fortunate Son cafe. “I was desperate to find a cello player somewhere.

“So my opening line to her was, ‘Hi, my name’s Stan. Fancy playing some chamber music?’. Which is the worst pick up line of all time!”

She initially wasn’t that excited by the invitation.

“They weren’t very striking,” Judy says bluntly of her first impressions of this guy.

“Well, we’re being totally candid here!,” laughs Stanley, with nothing but a glass of water to comfort him.

“Because we basically met very briefly at this three-day event,” explains Judy, “and there were so many other people … ”

“Plus I’m a woodwind player,” offers Stanley. “String players don’t associate with woodwind players.”

“You don’t really talk to them,” concedes Judy. “But I remembered he was quite nice and I was happy to go and play chamber music.”

And they’ve been playing together ever since, on stage and in life. Both Stanley and Judy Chen have been not just feeding souls with music but helping bodies heal, with their careers as doctors.

DOCTOR DUET: Judy and Stan Chen talk of their love of medicine and music. Picture: Simone De Peak

AS the daughter of a surgeon and a nurse, Judy Kermode was born into medicine. She grew up in Perth but has connections to the earliest days of Newcastle. Aforebearon her father’s side was John Tucker, a convict who was the first government storekeeper in the settlement.

Music was prominent in Judy Kermode’schildhood. She learnt piano from about the age of six, progressing through the grades until she sat for the Associate in Music, Australia exam. She also learnt the cello, and from the age of 12 played in amateur orchestras.

Yet at the end of high school, she enrolled to study medicine.Music was to remain a hobby – and a passion.

“I was very glad I didn’t do music, because I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed life so much as a music teacher,” she muses. By her own assessment, Judy was “never professional standard” as a musician.

Once she finished her degree, Judy Kermodeworked in Perth before heading to Britain for a couple of years. She worked in a large hospital in London, tolerating the jibes about being a colonial and absorbing lessons in anaesthetics.She returned to Perth and trained as an anaesthetist.

“When the flurry of getting the patients to sleep was over and the surgery had started, often there was time to sit and chat,” Judy recalls. “And these anaesthetists were really nice people. They were grounded, they had a life outside. They had a sense of humour.”

Yet Judyalso loved the role of the anaesthetist, and still does.

“You can do so much for a patient at a really critical time of their journey in hospital,” she says. “You have to see them beforehand, you have to make them aware of what’s going to happen, you have to try and reassure them, you have to tell them what the risks are of their anaesthetic, what you’re going to do, you try to make their passage through that short time as pleasant for them as possible, you try to make them comfortable afterwards.

“It’s extremely satisfying to do that. Not many people have a job where you really are just helping people all the time. I know that sounds saccharine. But you are!”

Medicine took Judy Kermode to Melbourne, to specialise as apaediatric anaesthetist. But music led her to Stan. Or, as we’ve learnt,Stanto her.

WORK AND PLEASURE: Musical medicos Judy and Stan Chen, with Ian Wright (left).

AS STANLEYChen tells it, he had been conceived in Phnom Penh, born in Hong Kong in 1957 and migrated to Australia from Saigon in 1965. His father was a bank manager, and the family moved around the Asian cities. Yet it was the escalation of the Vietnam War that brought the family to Sydney.

At primary school, Stanstudied the recorder and stuck with it. He also went to piano lessons, but “I sent several teachers completely spare, because of my attitude or lack thereof. And I really regret that, because music is so central now, but I recognise I lack that core basic training.”

What tipped Stan Chen into a love of classical music was one wet weekend when he was a teenager, listening tohis mother’s record collection. Asthe stylus danced across the grooves, the music was etched into his soul. The piece that hooked him was Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No.1.

“I can still remember it, the tingles, ‘Wow, this is just amazing’,” he says.

But tingles don’t pay the bills. Just like Judy, Stanpursued medicine. He did surgical training in Newcastle for three years. He was in the midst of an operationat Wallsend hospital when the earthquake shook the city in 1989.

“We thought a mine had exploded underneath the hospital,” he recalls, before recounting how theyshieldedthe patient, whose abdomen was open, from fallingceiling plaster. The surgical team successfully finished the operation.

While in Newcastle, Stan and a muso-medico friend formed a baroquemusic group. Stan was playing the recorder but realised he was barely heard.

“I got sick of that and thought I’d find a real instrument, one that could hold its own and make a proper noise,” he says. Stan Chen chose the oboe.

When the ensemble scored a gig at a winery atJerrys Plains, Stan decided the group needed to be more assertive. He renamed the chamber orchestra The Barbarians.

“We wanted to break away from that nice, genteel mode and say, ‘Okay, we’re going to come at you, and come at you hard,” Stan explains. “We took our name and inspiration from the Barbarians Rugby Club.”

Stan, who played rugby as a younger bloke, says he modelled the musical group on the team’s approach –bring in outsiders, minimal practice, stare a big challenge in the face, and launch into it.

“It’s been our credo to go, ‘Alright, it’s a bit difficult this bit of music. Who cares? Let’s give it a go. Into it! Give it a go!’. Some say we ruck and maul.”

The group’s name has raised a few eyebrows and prompted concert program writers to devise alternatives more befitting a chamber orchestra, lest it scare the patrons. But the name has also attracteda different type of patron. Once, when The Barbarians’ name was plastered on a poster promotinga hospital benefit concert, a bunch of punks and heavy rockers turned up.

“So the name does get us into a spot of bother at times,” Stan laughs.

Judy and Stan Chen talk about their medical careers and musical passions. Picture: Simone De Peak

When Stan’s career led him to Melbourne for a couple of years, the Barbarians kept musically rucking and mauling. Indeed, when Stan met Judy, the group came to Melbourne for a tour –“and to check out the new Barbarian.”

“But hey, she plays the piano, she plays cello, what more could you want?,” he says.“Oh, and she makes the best rehearsal cakes.”

Judy and Stanleymarried and moved to Newcastle in late 1995. Through the course of two children –Emily, who is studying medicine in Sydney, and Christopher, who is doing his HSC – The Barbarians remain part of the Chens’lives.Stan, an upper abdominal surgeon, and Judy believemusic make them better doctors.

“Particularly in surgery, one of the areas that can be a little bit ragged is creativity and individual expression,” Stan explains. “Music is an outlet for that. I go back to work feeling energised and enthusiastic.”

“It’s really a fantastic part of your life if you can play music, because you leave your work cares totally behind you when you sit down and read music and play music,” Judy adds.

Portrait of an anaesthetist, cellist, pianist, mother and proud Barbarian: Judy Chen. Picture: Simone De Peak

The Barbarians are rehearsingfor a concert, “Mozart Does Prague”, on November 18 at Newcastle Museum. Well, kind of rehearsing. These are busy people. But music will always play a major rolefor this couple.

“We couldn’t live without it really,” says Stan.

“We might not always be able to play,” counters Judy. “When we’re in our 90s, you mightn’t be able to blow an oboe anymore.”

“Oh, it doesn’t matter,” Stan smiles. “Pick up something else!”

Trampoline gymnasts to represent Hunter on the world stage Bulgaria bound: Shaun Swadling, Brett Austine and Blake Rutherford watch Jessica Pickering in the air. Picture: Jonathan Carroll
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Bulgaria bound: Shaun Swadling, Brett Austine and Blake Rutherford watch Jessica Pickering in the air. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Bulgaria bound: Shaun Swadling, Brett Austine and Blake Rutherford watch Jessica Pickering in the air. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Bulgaria bound: Shaun Swadling, Brett Austine and Blake Rutherford watch Jessica Pickering in the air. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

TweetFacebook Up, up and away!HUNTER athletes are taking their dreams of success sky high, by preparing to soar up to eight metres into the air during the Trampoline Gymnastics WorldChampionshipsin Bulgaria.

National coach for Gymnastics Australia’s trampoline team and Belmont High physical education teacher Brett Austine left the country on Mondaywith Marks Point Public teacher Shaun Swadling and Blake Rutherford.

Mr Swadling and Mr Rutherford will participate in a four day training camp before competition begins on November 9.

Bulgaria bound: Shaun Swadling, Brett Austine and Blake Rutherford watch Jessica Pickering in the air. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Belmont High year 10 student, Jessica Pickering, will leave next week to compete in the under 17’s section of the World Age Group Competition, also to be held in Bulgaria.

“I consider trampolining to be one of the toughest sports you could enter,” Mr Austine said.

“What you do once in diving you’ve got to do 10 times in a row without a break in trampolining.

“These athletes are training six days a week and are either full time students or working to chase their dreams and have an international career.”

Mr Swadling and Mr Rutherford will each perform two routines in the qualifying rounds, in the hope of making it through to the semi finals and the top eight for the final.

“They will be marked on time aflight, how accurately they keep to the middle of the trampoline, degree of difficulty and execution,” he said.

“They will have 60 seconds to start the first rotation and will then get 10 contacts with the mat and have to show 10 different skills.”

Jessica will also perform two routines in the qualifying round in the hoping of making it straight through to the final.

“All of her 10 moves are at least a double somersault with a half twist.”

Adelaide United are one of Melbourne Victory’s biggest rivals, but Victory boss Kevin Muscat will be forgiven this week for looking over the border at them for some inspiration.
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His side’s failure to beat Central Coast Mariners on Sunday night – Victory were lucky to escape from Gosford with a point – means last season’s grand finalists have made their worst start to an A-League campaign.

Muscat’s side is winless in four games and has drawn twice, giving it a miserly two points from a possible 12.

Already Victory are in danger of falling too far off pace-setting Melbourne City and defending champions Sydney.

City have 12 points, with four wins from four matches. Sydney have 10 points.

That’s where Adelaide United come in. In season 2015-16 Adelaide failed to win until December, nine rounds into the season. Yet by the end of that campaign the Reds had topped the table, hosted the grand final and wore their first champions crown.

Adelaide had taken three points out of a possible 24 and had a goal difference of minus 10 before they scraped a 1-0 win over Perth Glory on December 6, 2015.

After that they went on an extraordinary run where they lost only once more, won 13 other games and finished a point clear at the top ahead of Western Sydney.

That said, Muscat and the Victory faithful will be wanting something to happen quickly.

So far Victory have looked stodgy through the midfield and lacking in purpose going forward.

Had it not been for two inspirational actions from Dutch import Leroy George their season would have looked far worse.

His free kick to set up Besart Berisha’s opening header in Adelaide in a 2-2 draw was a perfect example of how to deliver a threatening set-piece, while his free kick from distance on Sunday night against the Mariners rescued a point for the visitors.

Muscat will point to the opening two games – home defeats by a single goal to Sydney and Melbourne City – and argue that his side was unlucky not to get something out of either fixture.

But things will get tougher for the Melbourne Cup eve fixture against Western Sydney, as Victory will be without some of their key players through suspension and international call-ups.

Kosta Barbarouses will be away with New Zealand for their World Cup play-off against Peru, while James Troisi will be absent with the Socceroos as they try to see off Honduras, their final obstacle to a place in Russia 2018.

Berisha is still suspended, having picked up a two-game ban for putting his hands on a match official in Adelaide.

The only silver lining is that Mark Milligan will be allowed to play in the November 6 match in Melbourne even though the Socceroos captain is suspended from the first leg of the tie against Honduras, which will be played in Central America on November 10.

Victory’s main problem, as Muscat identified in the wake of Sunday’s draw, is that that they are not imposing themselves on games enough.

The lack of continuity in the forward third, with Troisi, Milligan and Barbarouses on international duty, has meant Victory are not playing with the attacking cohesion they had in previous seasons.

“We started off very sloppy in possession of the ball, going backwards, taking the easy option instead of going forwards,” Muscat said after the Mariners draw.

“We have to be honest with ourselves. There are two reasons why you do that … you are not confident in yourself to pass the ball forward or the people in front of you are not moving.

“Our quality when it counted was just a little bit lacking, it was off.”

He is taking solace from the fact that Victory have at least picked up two points on the road in their last two games but knows that there should be a lot more to come from this squad.

It’s too early to talk of a crisis, as the Adelaide example of a few years ago shows. Poor starts can be overcome.

But Victory need to get their skates on if they want to be a significant player this season, or City and Sydney may well be too far ahead for Victory to entertain thoughts of a top two position.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Beersheba: On the plains to the south-east of Be’er Sheba, a young boy’s donkey stands stubbornly in a field, as its rider whacks at its flanks.
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Behind him in a gully, a flock of camels wanders up the banks of a stream.

And in the distance, dust flies up in the wake of a horseman, galloping across the Negev desert, a tiny echo of a turning point in history.

One hundred years ago, this was the scene of an astonishing moment in the ANZAC story. It sits sandwiched between the coming-of-age tragedy of Gallipoli, and the grinding horror of the Western Front, and many only dimly remember the heroics of Beersheba, possibly the last great cavalry charge, probably Australia’s first great military victory.

Hamish Gibbons, lieutenant colonel in the New Zealand army, looks down at the plains and tries to picture how it was.

“The actual charge was quite an audacious plan,” he says. “It was not what the enemy would have thought anyone would have tried, not how the war had been fought.

“I can only imagine what would have been playing on the minds of the troops.”

The 800 light horsemen, 6km south-east of Beersheba, had ridden their Australian ‘Waler’ horses through the desert night to get into position for the charge. They would have been tired and dehydrated, and then faced a long wait for their do-or-die moment.

Their Anzac allies cleared the way, taking a Turkish machine gun emplacement on a hill that could have picked them off as they charged (this vital New Zealand contribution to Australia’s proud moment is often underplayed).

And then, mid-afternoon, they formed up and charged, first at a trot, then finally at a gallop as the Beersheba defenders woke too late to the threat, then melted away within hours in the face of the ferocious attack.

Through the machine gun fire and artillery to victory.

“It was very brave, very audacious, and ultimately successful,” says Lt-Col Gibbons. “Unlike the Western Front, they could fight the sort of battle that they wanted to fight.”

Historian Jonathan King is part of a recreation of that charge, a group of 100 men and women who wanted to honour the Anzacs by walking in their footsteps – or hoofprints.

“The whole point is to bring history to life,” said King, whose great-grandfather was among the soldiers in the original assault on the town.

“This great cavalry charge at Beersheba 100 years ago turned the tide of the war in Palestine, but very few Australians know about it. This was one of the greatest moments in Australian history and it should be a celebrated cornerstone of our culture and national identity.”

The victory also created the conditions for the foundation of the modern state of Israel – which the locals have not forgotten, King said.

King and his comrades have donned the full World War One uniform – “which I might say is really hot”, right down to the slouch hats with the emu plumes, and found local horses to play the part of the old Australian ones. They have followed the whole three-day track of the original regiment, which patiently circled the town to attack from the less-defended south.

“It is different now – we are coming in from the desert, so there hasn’t been a lot of development in a century,” says King. “But there’s the huge city of Be’er Sheva in the background.

“You’ve got to close your eyes, and in your mind just try and visualise what it would have been like.”

“We ignore the buildings and think that we’re doing what they would have loved us to do, the troopers, especially the 31 killed.”

The re-creation hasn’t been smooth sailing. The Israeli horses are frisky, and their riders not exactly battle-hardened. The 3-day journey through the desert has taken a toll.

On Tuesday afternoon, their moment will come, as part of a day of commemoration attended by the prime ministers of Australia and Israel.

“We are like the WW1 troopers thirsty, covered in dust, saddle sore and tired,” says King.

“But the morale is very high, we are all conscious that we are bringing history to life and honouring the troopers who made history with that great charge

“To me personally it will be spine-chilling.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Jordan Thompson has backed Canberra to host a Davis Cup fixture in a move that would see his Australian teammate Nick Kyrgios play at home for the first time.
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The Canberra International No. 1 seed said there was no reason the capital should be denied international tennis next year.

Australia will begin their Davis Cup campaign by hosting Germany in February and Tennis ACT boss Kim Kachel has said he would “definitely” make a play at hosting the fixture.

Thompson has enjoyed a breakout season in 2017 after defeating top-10 veteran David Ferrer and then world No.1 Andy Murray the week before Wimbledon, while also becoming an Olympian.

The 23-year-old played in all four grand slams and won his first ATP doubles title alongside Thanasi Kokkinakis at the Brisbane International.

Thompson begins his Canberra International campaign against Andrew Harris on Tuesday and the world No. 75 said he wanted to return to the capital wearing green and gold next year.

“Nick is from here and our leading player, there’s no reason why we can’t have it [Davis Cup] here, it’s a great club and I’m sure we could make the centre court bigger,” Thompson said.

Thompson could have sent Australia to its first Davis Cup final in 14 years but fell in the fifth and deciding rubber against Belgium veteran Steve Darcis last month.

“That stung quite a bit and took a little bit to get over, but I didn’t play a tournament for two weeks after so it didn’t really effect me on court,” Thompson said.

“Confidence levels are up on last year though, I’ve had some good wins beating quality some opponents this season and had a few Davis Cup wins as well.

“You really get that extra belief in your game representing your country and playing against the world’s best players, I lost a tough one but hopefully it’ll make me better for next time.”

Australia’s Jordan Thompson has backed Canberra to host a Davis Cup tie. Photo: AP

Thompson rose to a career-high world No. 63 this year and said time in the weights room was behind his breakout season.

“I’m getting bigger and stronger from working harder in the gym and running around the track trying to get fit and also just growing into my body,” Thompson said.

“I’m 23 now so I think I’m probably done filling out but that’s helped me get stronger this year and serve bigger and hit bigger, I’ve just gotten quicker and fitter.

“A few weeks ago in Shanghai I qualified for my first [ATP] Masters, so I’m feeling pretty good and playing more tour events this year, it’s nice to be playing at that level more often.”

Thompson arrived in Canberra as the top seed for the second straight year but said he’s expecting a tough week in the capital with his Australian teammate John Millman in the draw.

“Life has changed a fair bit this year … but this tournament is pretty close to home [Sydney] and I’ll never deny the opportunity to play in my own country, I love playing in Australia,” Thompson said.

“I try not to think about being top seed because seedings and rankings are just a number, I’ve still got to get out there and win, you can’t let a number effect you.

“Tennis is so strong these days and has so much depth that there are no easy tournaments and there are plenty of good players in this draw, it’s going to be a tough week.”

Canberra export Alison Bai will begin her campaign in the women’s first round on Tuesday, while ACT teenagers Annerly Poulos and Lisa Mays were knocked out in the qualifiers.

Play at the Lyneham Tennis Centre begins each day at 10am, entry is free.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

WITHall the controversy over the Nobby’s new change areas out in the open, would a person be charged with obscene exposure by the police if found to be naked in this area? Maybe we need a few nudists to drive the point home or even better still a couple of readers like Steve Barnett and Brad Hill could meet up and take a selfie for the Herald.
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Neil Meyers, Warners BayGARYEdman (Short takes, 4/1) – business is booming, half of Sydney is here. After 35 years in the trade I know what a prime carcass looks like, the rumps on some of the visitors suggest too much time at the feed lot, instead of casual grazing in a good paddock. Remember chicks dig butchers.

Steve Barnett, Fingal BayMRBath the community would like to see copy of report of the public consultation support of removal of change rooms (Nobby’s toilet trouble’, Herald, 3/1). You can provide this report no doubt.

Michael Casey, MerewetherTHEtrouble with spin is that most of it insults your intelligence. With Newcastle council, it’s either spin or Sir Joh’s “don’t you worry about that now”. A quick inspection of the ocean baths and Newcastle Beach on Thursdayrevealed separate sex, community change rooms that have been there for many decades. How many complaints are on council’s records?

Keith Parsons, NewcastleJUNEPorter (Short takes, 4/1):Joseph, Mary and Jesus were indeed refugees. The gospel of Matthew, chapter twosays that King Herod felt threatened when told that a baby, the Anointed One, was to be born in Bethlehem. He ordered all male infants under two years to be put to death. Meanwhile, an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream telling him to take the child and his mother to Egypt. The family remained in Egypt until Herod’s death.

Julie Robinson, CardiffMAYI suggest that a solution to the missing change rooms in the Nobby’s Surf Club pavilion could be achieved quickly, to reverse the current inconvenience to bathers and lessen the embarrassment to MayorNelmes, Deputy MayorClausenand new CEOMr Bath, if they dipped into the huge pot of money generated for the council by the overwhelmingly successful Supercars event andsimply put back the public change rooms that the people need.

Allan Burke, MerewetherFIRSTof all Newcastle council supported taking the train away from the beach. Then they put a racing car track through the back so we now have enough tarmac for a small airport. Now they’ve taken the change rooms away. How much did all this cost? By the way, I liked the old light posts that allowed pelicans to perch. Have any councillors ever been to the beach?

Craig Gardiner, WallsendIf lifejackets become mandatory who is going to check fisherman are wearing them?

Sue Fower, Waratah

MYER AFR 070327 PIC BY JESSICA SHAPIRO… GENERIC Myer, department store, Bourke St, Lonsdale St, consumer, customer, retail, sale, shopping, consumer, revamp… AFR FIRST USE ONLY PLEASE!!! SPECIALX 63150Myer’s incoming chairman has warned that letting billionaire rag trader Solomon Lew into the company’s boardroom would be “enormously damaging”, and is calling on shareholders to instead back an “independent” Myer.
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Returning fire after weeks of attacks from Mr Lew’s Premier Investments, Garry Hounsell sent a letter to investors on Monday saying Mr Lew’s only objective was to pursue his own interests, not those of all Myer’s shareholders.

It came as Premier ratcheted up its campaign against Myer’s board by claiming it may have failed to keep the market informed about its trading performance, and raising the prospect of legal action.

Premier is Myer’s largest shareholder with a 10.8 per cent stake and has been agitating for positions on the retailer’s board, which it says lacks retail experience and is mishandling the business.

Mr Hounsell acknowledged shareholders’ disappointment and frustration with Myer’s share price, which has fallen 74 per cent since 2013, and appreciated “the attraction of a company that promises to change Myer’s fortunes”.

However, accepting Premier’s request for board seats was a risk because the company is both a competitor and a supplier to Myer, he said.

Premier owns Peter Alexander, which has concessions in Myer stores, as well as the Just Group, Portman and Jaqcui E brands, while other companies linked to Mr Lew are major suppliers of branded and private label products to Myer and other department stores.

“It should go without saying that the potential risks in allowing a competitor into our boardroom where we discuss highly sensitive matters such as performance and strategy would be enormously damaging and against the best interests of Myer shareholders,” Mr Hounsell said.

Premier has called on shareholders to join it in voting against the election of Myer’s nominees at its annual general meeting on November 24, including Mr Hounsell, and has threatened to call its own shareholder meeting to appoint two of its own directors and an independent non-executive director to the Myer board.

Mr Hounsell’s letter said giving Premier the board seats it has asked for would result in a 10.8 per cent shareholder controlling 43 per cent of the non-executive board seats. Premier was trying to gain control of Myer without paying shareholders a takeover premium, he said.

“As your independent directors we have an obligation and duty to work in the best interests of all shareholders,” Mr Hounsell said. “Premier and Mr Lew’s objective is to pursue its self-interests which by virtue of its conflicts cannot be aligned with Myer’s.” ‘Poor disclosure’, legal threats

In its latest missive, Premier on Monday said it was concerned the market was trading Myer shares “on an uninformed basis” because of deficient disclosure.

Myer is holding an investor day on Wednesday, where it is speculated it could release information about the performance of the “New Myer” strategy and could change the targets set out in the plan.

Premier said any update Myer planned to release on Wednesday should be announced as soon as it became available to the company’s management and board.

“Until that information is released, Premier believes that the market has been, and is, trading on an uninformed basis,” Premier said in a statement.

The company said on Monday it was “carefully considering its legal and other options in order to bring about urgently needed change to ensure that Myer shares are trading in an informed market”.

A spokesperson for Premier would not detail what legal options the company had available to it.

An spokesman for the Australian Stock Exchange that it was monitoring developments as a matter of course and that “at this stage, there’s no trigger for us to enquire about disclosure”.

Premier, a publicly listed company in which Mr Lew has a controlling stake, also repeated its call for Myer to release its first-quarter sales results.

Without this information, Myer shareholders would not be able to assess the “New Myer” turnaround plan, or make an informed vote on the election of new directors to the board, Premier said.

Premier said Myer had a poor track record of market disclosure, and that it believed it had been misled into buying $100 million of shares in March. The value of those shares have since fallen by more than $30 million.

Myer is two years into its five-year turnaround strategy but has been lagging behind the plan’s targets. That includes sales growth tracking at an average of 0.1 per cent a year instead of 3 per cent, and sales per square metre growing at 3.7 per cent compared with a 20 per cent target.

Mr Hounsell also used his letter to shareholders to spruik his experience managing successful turnarounds at business such as Qantas and Treasury Wine Estates.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

PAUL Scott is spot-on with his observations about movie goers (‘Novocastrians often make for obnoxious movie goers’,Newcastle Herald,30/10).He lists the very reasons why I stopped going to the cinema some years ago, no matter how good the movie might be. People with gargantuan appetites and loud mouths, constantly checking their iPhones, eating and talking non-stop, pushing their feet into the back of your seat, coughing incessantly when they obviously should be at home nursing their contagious virus. The list goes on. Any “atmosphere” the movie might have had is ruined.
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Kevin McDonald,East SeahamI BELIEVE the people of Newcastle, Upper Hunter and Central Coast are depending on the Labor Party who have the numbers on Newcastle councilnot to rezone the heavy rail corridor. It’s vital we itkeep for the future as the green house gasses are the highest level ever recorded. Building on the corridor cannot be justified.

Maureen O’Sullivan Davidson,SwanseaI KNOW Australia is a nation of aging people, but give me a break. Are you the same as me and sick to death (pardon the pun) of funeral and life insurance ads?If there isn’t enough garbage on TV, we have to be reminded about our mortality every eight minutes.

Ray Davidson,Birmingham GardensPOKER machines, like alcohol, are not addictive. It is the individual with an addictive personality that become addicted to these things. They should realise their problem and do something about it instead of blaming the people that make them available.

Steven Busch,TorontoAS a resident of Carrington, I totally support the comments expressed so well by John Butler (Letters, 27/10). The destruction of 18 mature trees is indeed mourned by the locals. Our once shady boulevard, with an eclectic mix of heritage buildings peeping out here and there, is now a hot wasteland. How is this kind of town planning allowed?

Anne Madden, CarringtonI FIND this dual citizenship thing strange. Considering Barnaby’s father became an Australian citizen in the ’70s, his NZ citizenship claim would be very tenuous. To me he’s just a scapegoat in an attempt to bring down the government by fair means or foul. The others brought down are just expendable to make it look legitimate.

Robyn Burtinshaw, Nambucca HeadsTHE point regarding Barnaby Joyce and dual citizenship seems to be lost on some. Yes he was born in Australia. Yes he is an Australian citizen. However the Constitution states you cannot have dual cititzenship. That is where Mr Joyce fell foul. The High Court got right, let it rest there.

Dennis Petrovic, RutherfordTHE POLLSWHAT do you think about Halloween?

It’s a bit of fun for one day of the year 47.42%,Not here, no way 39.18%,Best thing, ever13.4%WOULD you see Take That in Sydney?

Yes 15.6%,No 75.23%,I had tickets for Newcastle, but I won’t travel 9.17%

REGARDING the unit plan for Adamstown (‘Unit plan for Adamstown Motel site’, Newcastle Herald, 6/1).At the moment there are numerous families living here under government emergency housing plans, some for over 12 months. Where will these people go and what becomes of social housing issue? This should be high priority on local council’sradar and not filling their own pockets.
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Michael Casey,MerewetherYOU are a very funny man Steve Barnett (Short Takes, 29/12/17). What I don’t get is how you know those “monstrous bums” are from Sydney. When I go to the beach I make a point of swimming near those big’uns in the hope any shark cruising by has already had its appetiser.

Dave McTaggart,EdgeworthSPLENDID idea Neil Meyers (Short Takes, 6/1). Not sure, however, if the public is ready for a butcher and a barman to shock the public with anatomy. That’s not for the faint-hearted. The long and short of it, indecent exposure would be given a whole new meaning.

Brad Hill,SingletonCRAIG Gardiner (Short Takes, 6/1) please do not mention that there is enough tarmac near Nobbys beach for a small airport. That may lead to tenders being called to build a small airport there. It would have to be closed each November though.

Meryl Pickles,Macquarie HillsWHAT a fabulous, brave young woman you are Kassandra Long (‘I was told I was wrong’, Herald,6/1).But how can he only get eight years and able to be reduced? Let him rot in jail, I say!

Sandra Mercer,Elermore ValeIN regards to the land and housing NSW Housing is looking to flog off to the highest bidder in Light Street: I think this puts a lower value on these people and enforces the view that they are treated differently. Considering they have been created and allowed to fester into the crime-riddled social disaster ghetto housing estates, will NSW Housing be held accountable? I’m still waiting for review regarding what I would call the fire death traps that these buildings are.

Mark Sheerin,Hamilton SouthTO Brad Hill, don’t blame Dan Kirkpatrick for his views (Short Takes, 8/1). The north Karuah-ns have become hermits since progress forced the highway to bypass North Karuah. I think people like Dan have been brainwashed into believing in the green gods and can’t come to terms with the fact mining is good for humanity.

Steve Barnett,Fingal BayDIDTony Troughear really see ants absconding with his toenail clippings (‘Tony’s toenails’, HeraldTopics,8/1), or had he been assessing some brews with a little too much enthusiasm? You can’t trust photographic evidence these days.

Reg Howes,ValentineTHE POLLSSHOULD lifejackets be mandatory for rock fishers?

Yes 72.87%,No 27.13%

NOW the crowing has subsided, it may be time to draw the attention of all genuine cricket tragicsto a little-publicised act of grace.When Mitch Marsh reached his superb hundred, English keeper Johnny Bairstow, himself a centurion, stood at his stumps and clapped his gloves together high, as long as the applause went on.That kind of camaraderie is what made the game great and one hopes this will keep it so.
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DonaldMatthews,Fennell BayIT’S actually a very simple scenario for the federal government.If the Catholic Church does not want to follow all 189 recommendations set forward by the royal commission (especially the reporting of instances of child abuse during confession and the making of celibacy optional for clergy) they should not be able to practice religion in this country,and should be stripped of all financial assets in Australia.

Karl Hogg,Warners BayI DON’T think that when the “right to freedom of religion” was put into the constitution that it was meant to encompass religions that turned into large successful billion-dollar businesses and give them a free pass on not paying their rightful share of taxation. Nor, as is happening now, being able to opt out of paying their share of compensation to victims of horrendous abuse on children in their institutions. It’s time Australia took its selective rose-colored glasses off and faced up to what is actually right and wrong, good or bad for the country and what is driven by ancient ideology or political agenda.

Allan Earl, ThorntonJUST a shout out to the good people at Hunter Valley Private Hospital, Shortland. Had to have an emergency procedure Monday night which involved an overnight stay. I cannot fault the great care I received from everyone involved. Thanks also to Dr Routley for fitting me in.

Tony Morley,WaratahPARKING problems these days have become right up there with traffic congestion as a burr under the public saddle, yet while we all blame everybody else and somebody should do something about it but nobody does, all the time we are the culprits ourselves. You and me, the whole grumpy lot of us, we don’t just have a problem, we are the problem. Good luck with that and happy motoring. Ho, ho, ho.

Ron Elphick,Buff PointOH well, summer is here again and the hypocrites are at it already, the cry goes out the hottest day since whenever I can recall. When I was a boy the same scenario the big difference being that the do-gooders and hypocrites were not yet invented, oh how things have changed. Time for a coldie, a BBQ and to enjoy the summer months. Cheers to the normal people and merry Christmas.

Brad Hill,SingletonTHE POLLSHAVE you ever had to deal with angry customers at work?

Yes 97.33%,No 2.67%SHOULD Herman Ese’ese be granted a regular starting spot with the Knights?

Wait and see 60.36%,Absolutely 35.5%,No 4.14%