2017 the year that was

2017 has been a year of changes: endings, beginnings and in some cases, total restarts. In March, I relocated from Mount Tamborine Queensland to Sydney, the city of my childhood and adolescence. Moving to Sydney I discovered a cousin I’d never even heard of living just around the corner. He introduced himself as a composer and asked me if I would listen to his latest CD. I hate it when people ask me to listen to, look at or evaluate their creative work because I am as harsh a critic of their work as I am of mine. The bar is set very high and I won’t give false praise. It’s insulting to say the least and I assume that every artist is like me and wants to produce his/her very best work. Fortunately, Frank Seckold’s music turned out to be superb. He is a master musician and a sensitive, clever composer and arranger. I had already co-written a play based on my novel Catch the Moon, Mary with a very talented playwright Jemina Macedo and the piece needed a musical score. Frank had composed a 14 minute symphonic piece titled Moon Suite which was a perfect fit for the play. Within weeks Frank and I had the piece carved up into tracks to compliment the scenes.

Next big change was my second visit to London in September where I had a reading of the play and my latest musical FRED at the Tristan Bates Theatre Covent Garden. The cast was largely drawn from Amanda Redman’s ATS graduates led by Suzy Davenport and Lawrence Ellis with the addition of the superbly gifted Aidan O’Callaghan and the singers in FRED were Rachel Hynes, Lucy Aley-Parker, Emma Duke and Dom Rogan. It was an incredibly thrilling day and worth all the angst and pent-up hopes it took to get there. I now have a London agent, Ian Taylor, and a London marketing guru, Hayley Hemingway-Hare and some fabulous friends in the UK.

Back home again and Frank Seckold and I completed a new musical, MIRIAM. So that’s my news. Now my take on the global news, fake or otherwise. How did the world become so misled by fools? How did people become so disconnected from reality that Tweeting can be considered political diplomacy? I think our value system has become so distorted because money gives people a disproportionate competency, for instance just because Trump inherited a fortune and went on to scam a whole lot of people into investing in his shonky companies does not mean he is mentally competent to govern America. Money in and of itself means nothing and does not qualify its possessors for anything other than purchase ability. Possessing a fortune is not a great accomplishment. How you earned your fortune very well might be, but probably not. One can supply pegs to the masses and make a fortune but that doesn’t make you a genius or a visionary. All it makes you is rich. The greatest minds this earth has ever known have not always been remunerated accordingly during their lifetimes. It is only the rich who perceive themselves as high achievers because ego demands gratification and the soul demands purpose. But must we be misled into appending unearned attributes to the obscenely wealthy few? Having a great deal of money whether inherited, stolen or earned is simply the reflection of someone’s achievement, not necessarily your own.

Closer to home, another change, an ending. The lady who owns the house I live in died on New Year’s Eve. She was a wealthy lady and at times, a very kind one, but as she lay dying, her only concern was the cost of the hospital car park where she had left her car the day she came in for a routine check-up and never came home. I assured her I’d take care of it but she wouldn’t let it go, she complained that the car park fees were daylight robbery, the hospital itself full of potential thieves. She worried her handbag might be stolen and with it, all her cash and credit cards. Two days away from death she softened and allowed that after all perhaps it didn’t matter, she couldn’t take her money or her possessions with her. Her mind then returned to a family picnic her mother had arranged for her eleventh birthday, the kindness of a former lover, the generosity of friends including my mother, even my kindness in being there at her grim deathbed in that ghastly hospital that smelled of disinfectant and formaldehyde (or so it seemed to me, the morgue was at the end of the hall). But the other thing she began to notice was the angelic ministry of the night nurses, the gentle decency of the tea lady and the sweetness of the Muslim woman who came each day to massage her feet – a woman who spoke little English but had, as my landlady said, the loveliest smile on earth and incredibly, to my landlady anyway, the woman wasn’t being paid to massage her feet, she did it voluntarily. Such kindness for no apparent gain amazed my landlady. Kindness has more currency than money and is only of value when given away.

Over this past year I have become even more convinced that money has no value until it is used to help others and for those of us who possess it to any degree, it offers us an opportunity for kindness when given away, with or without discernment. Money is to be shared like kindness and love and its sole purpose is to improve the  quality of life. Money hoarded is kindness withheld. And when a pair of mentally impoverished morons boast about the size of their buttons rather than utilizing their power and money to enhance and improve the lives of the people in their care I am more than ever convinced that the world is tragically dazzled by inanimate objects like weapons, bank accounts and bits of coin and paper with numbers on them. Attributing value to such things is a form of insanity. Ask yourself if they would be of any use to you on a desert island.

Ask yourself if money would feed you on Mars.

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