xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' The Font of Noelage

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

FDR and The Pursuit of Happiness.

The Royal commission into Australian banks and other financial institutions has already revealed a deep seam of corruption running through the top echelons of our largely unregulated Australian money industry. 
No doubt much more corruption and outright daylight robbery will be revealed as the Royal Commission continues probing. It is ordinary citizens who suffer most from the extravagances and unlawful activities of unregulated financial institutions.

The dangers to the ordinary citizens of unregulated financial institutions was foreseen nearly seventy five years ago by President Franklin Roosevelt. Unfortunately, Roosevelt’s great Human Rights plan of 1944 to provide economic security for all, died with him in 1945.

What has happened in Australian banking is the same as the situation in the USA, where a largely unregulated financial system caused the global financial crisis of 2008. The banks of Wall Street virtually control the US legislature and have always firmly resisted any attempts at regulation. They claim that government interference in the banking system smacks of Socialism which is anathema to free enterprise and the free operation of market forces.

Well, in August 2008 we all saw how that ended up. Greed and avarice in the Sub Prime Mortgage markets led to the collapse of Goldman Sachs, Lehmann Brothers, Freddy Mac and the Fanny Mae banks. The crisis quickly escalated to other US banks, eventually sending a tidal wave of financial destruction around the world. The whole world isre still recovering from the effects of that great Global Financial Crisis.

When the crisis of 2008 came, what did those great anti-Socialist protagonists of Free Enterprise, all strongly opposed to any government interference, do?  When all their banking walls came tumbling down, why, of course, they rushed to the government demanding help.

And what a lot of help they called for? $700 million dollars’ worth of help. It was a classic case of what free marketeers are so prone to do. They capitalise their profits and then, when hard times hit, they get the government to socialise their losses.

When the Bill went to congress to give $700 000 000 to the banks, the American people railed and rallied against it. They flooded their congressmen’s offices with protest letters and the bill failed. Undeterred, the powerful bankers went to work on those congressmen, mainly Democrats, who had voted against the bill. Sweeteners were offered and eventually the $700 000 000 bill was passed…with no requirements for accountability as to how the money was to be spent. It was an unregulated gift to the banks of $700 000 000.
So, it was not surprising that many CEOs and board members of these failed banks awarded themselves payouts of $12 000 000 or so. Lesser ranked bankers also got large payouts for presiding over the destruction of their own banks.

Many of these bankers made themselves out to be the poor victims of the whole financial mess which they themselves had created. Nobel economist, Joseph Stiglitz, commented at the time, “Indeed, some American financiers were especially harshly criticized for seeming to take the position that they, too, were victims … and it seemed particularly galling that they were continuing to hold a gun to the heads of governments, demanding massive bailouts and threatening economic collapse otherwise. Money was flowing to those who had caused the problem, rather than to the victims.
Worse still, much of the money flowing into the banks to recapitalize them so that they could resume lending, has been flowing out in the form of bonus payments and dividends.
Joseph Stiglitz, Fear and loathing in Davos, The Guardian, February 6, 2009.

Someone who was not afraid to strengthen the role of government in regulating banks and other industries was Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States of America. Roosevelt had witnessed the terrible ravages caused by the Wall Street stock market crash of 1929 and the misery of the Great Depression of the 1930s. When he came to power in 1933 he successfully introduced his New Deal, which placed government action central to expediting public works and welfare programmes to overcome rampant unemployment and poverty.

Unlike many modern politicians, who never look further than the next election for a quick, cosmetic fix to any problems, Roosevelt was a statesman who thought and acted for the long term greater good of society. In 1944, Roosevelt was burdened down, waging all-out war against Germany, Italy and Japan. However, even amid that great human upheaval, he cast his mind to the problems that would face Americans when the war was over.

In a radio speech to the American people on January 11, 1944, six months before the D-Day landings, Roosevelt delivered what became know as his “Bill of Human Rights” speech. It was a speech that said that the US Constitution guaranteed all citizens the rights to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. He said that the US Bill of Rights gave individuals certain rights of free speech, free press, trial by jury, etc., which provided for Life and Liberty, but that the citizens’ Pursuit of Happiness was constrained by their lack of economic security.

“It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth—is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.
This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.
As our nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.
We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. "Necessitous men are not free men." People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.
In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed.
Among these are:
All these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.
America's own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for all our citizens. For unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world.

Roosevelt died in 1945, before the war was won. His second Bill of Rights was never introduced to the Congress. The rights he wanted enshrined to provide protection for Americans against economic forces obstructing their Pursuit of Happiness were never enacted. The financial institutions continued to influence Congress and, in their unregulated way, to curtail the rights of the American citizens to economic security.

Ironically, America’s World War 2 enemies, Germany, Italy, Japan, all finished up with constitutions that upheld Roosevelt’s Human Rights manifesto. The United States, in nobly assisting these defeated enemy nations to form stable governments in peacetime after 1945, ensured that the citizens of those countries would have the economic security to live their lives in the pursuit of happiness. As did the citizens of the Scandinavian countries, which also modelled their governments according to Roosevelt’s Human rights principles.  The United Nations incorporated Roosevelt’s plan into its Charter of Human Rights in 1948.

Meanwhile, since 1945, the US Economic-Industrial complex has argued strenuously against any government regulation. It continued to promote the theory that trickle down economic was good for everyone. This theory holds that if the rich are making money and profits, wealth will trickle down to the rest of society.  Of course, “trickle down” proved especially good for the rich but there is no evidence of wealth trickling down to the poor.

Sadly, these days, our political leaders are far, far below the stature and lack the political vision of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. What a world tragedy that has proved to be. Roosevelt knew the way to economic security for all. The US example and now our own banking  Royal Commission show just how far unregulated financial institutions have led us astray.

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Cricket cheats and an Easter cheat.

Hello Dear Blog Reader
So sorry that it almost two  months since I posted anything, but the days just seems to fill up with things to do and they are going past so rapidly that it is confronting to realise the sun is now in the Northern Hemisphere and we are less than ninety days away from the shortest day of the year.
I did intend to write about the disgraceful behaviour of some of our test cricketers. Appalling!
However, and I can't say we don't deserve it,  a lot of people, mainly non Australians, are now a saying that everyone in the team is guilty and that they all should be sacked.
Please remember that Fav du Plessy was found guilty of ball tampering twice. He is the captain of the South African Test team.
Vernon Philander was found guilty of ball tampering once. He opens the bowling for South Africa.
What the Australians did was deplorable and inexcusable but they owned up straight away. Du Plessy has never admitted either of his offences and has never apologised.
To those who say other Australian players must have been in the know, do they also believe no other South Africans knew what Du Plessy or Philander were doing. Or the England players when Mike Atherton was caught tampering with the ball. Or the Pakistanis when Imran Khan and later on Afridi were tampering with the ball?
Anyhow, I will stop there and comer back to cricket cheats another time, when I am less emotionally fragile about my favourite sport.
Now I will do some blog cheating of my own and post a story about Easter that I just wrtote on Facebook.
It is the only was I will get a blog post completed before the end of March.
It is about FAKE EASTER. That is when Easter comes a day before it actually happens.

Two months ago I noticed that my Collins 2018 Diary has designated Saturday, March 29, as Easter Sunday. I immediately e-mailed the publisher of the Collins Diary to point out that Easter starts on Easter Sunday, which is the start of Easter Week. Easter Saturday comes seven days later, at the end of Easter week, which this year is on April 7.

Within an hour, I received a reply from some responsible responder at the publishing company to say that they referenced the website of the Federal Government's Department of Home Affairs for all dates pertaining the Public Holidays in Australia.

So there!

I checked the link and it was correct. The Australian government is telling us that Easter Saturday falls on the day before Easter actually begins on Easter Sunday.
I replied that just because the Federal Government got it wrong there was no need for their respected company to fall into the same error.

Two months later I am still awaiting their reply. Of course I could have provided them with my mother's irrefutable logic when in my boyhood I claimed immunity for my misdeeds because, "My friend did it, too."

"If your friend chopped his hand off with a tomahawk would you do it, too?" would be her devastating retort.

So now I have written to the Minister for Homeland Affairs, Mr Peter Dutton, telling him to get his public holidays sorted out correctly. After all, how long has Easter Saturday been a public holiday? Answer. Never, ever! And it cannot possibly come BEFORE Easter begins on Easter Sunday.

The 2016 Census, flawed as it may have been, told us that more that 50% of Australians have no religious beliefs. As this percentage will probably continue to increase, until we are all scared to death by a major world conflict, it is possible that one day we will no longer use Christian Feast Days to designate public holidays. Remembering of course that all of our holidays originally started out as Holy Days.

Christmas is already under threat. More and more people refer to it as the Holiday Season.
Perhaps, Easter will one day dress down to become Fruit Bun Friday and Chocolate Egg Sunday.
However, until that sad day arrives, as we are using Christian terminology, we should get it right.

Easter starts on Easter Sunday and Easter Week finishes seven days later on Easter Saturday.
The week before Easter Week is Holy Week, so those blockbuster Easter Thursday and Easter Saturday football matches that Bruce McAvaney and his commentating mates gush over are really on Holy Thursday and Holy Saturday.

I know a lot of people could not care less about this matter, but it seems rather ridiculous to be naming days as Easter days before Easter has even started. It would be ike having New Year's Eve the day after Boxing day.

The only people who are into an earlier arrival of Easter are Coles, Woolworths and other retailers who started selling hot cross buns and Easter eggs one week after New year's Day.

Happy Easter to all family and friends. And remember that chocolate eggs consumed on Easter Sunday contain no calories, no fat and are very high in fibre.

Monday, 5 February 2018

My great friend Tony Jones.


Sailing up the Red Sea to Port Suez, mid February, 1962
My great friend, Tony Jones, died on November 27. It was exactly four months after he had been diagnosed with leukaemia. When tony died I knew I would miss him. I just did not realise how much I would miss him.

Tony had a lot of very good friends. My wife, Lesley, and I treasured a friendship with Tony which stretched over sixty years.

Lesley actually met Tony before I did. She entered Claremont Teachers College in 1956, the same year as Tony. 

I was a First Year at Graylands in 1956, Being at different campuses it was unlikely that Tony and I would ever meet. After all, nine years elapsed before I came face to face with Lesley Young.
But Tony and I did meet in 1956 and it was God who brought us together. Tony was a in a Catholic student group, The Newman Society. I was in a similar group at Graylands, The Aquinas Society.
Once a term these two groups would meet, mainly for social reasons.

I met Tony at a joint meeting in April 1956. Our friendship developed at these meetings in 1956 and 1957. In 1958 we were brought even closer together. This time not by God but by Prime Minister Menzies’ National Service Programme. Unlike our fellow teacher graduates in 1958, who went into classrooms learning to be teachers, we were required to present ourselves at Campbell Barracks, Swanbourne at 0800 hours on January 4.

Tony and I were Gunners in the Third Field Regiment of the Royal Australian Artillery. We valiantly fought off the Phantasian Navy by firing 25 pounder shells into Gage Roads. Fortunately, the authorities had cleared all shipping out of the area, including the Phantasian Navy. Our only real worry was that a misdirected shell would sink Rottnest Island.

Tony and I were in Number Six Platoon and bunked down in Hut 28.  There were thirty young men in Six Platoon and there were fifteen beds on either side of the hut. Tony’s bed was directly opposite mine. Being thrust into the close company of complete strangers from a variety of educational and socio-economic backgrounds was a bit hairy at first. In the first few weeks there were tensions as we all tested the boundaries and sorted each other out. However, after awhile we all learned to be accepting of each and Hut 28 was basically a happy place. Des Sheahan, a very good college friend of Tony’s was also in Hut 28.

After discharge from Nashos in early April, Tony and I were kept in close contact, this time by the Department of Education. We both took up our first teaching positions in Bunbury. Tony was at Carey Park and I was at Bunbury Central School.

We both spent three very enjoyable years in Bunbury and made many friends there, including David Ashcroft and Michael Maher. Another lifelong friend, Murray Paddick, a Bunbury boy, started his teaching career there in 1959.

The first time I went to Tony’s house in Goldsmith Road I was amazed to find that he was building a wooden dingy in his back yard. It revealed another side to Tony. Not only was a he a gifted teacher and an accomplished artist, he was also a great outdoors man and a very skilful fisherman. We caught a lot of fish off Meelup beach in that little dingy. In August of each year, from 1959 to 1961, we would spend a week fishing and camping along the Murchison River about twelve kilometres out of Kalbarri.
Three or four times each year we would do go down to the Rooney Farm at Glen Warren, a beautiful spot on the Warren River between Pemberton and Manjimup. Rooney was Tony’s mother’s maiden name.
. August 1958. breakfast at our first bush camp, about 12 kilometres up the Murchison from Kalbarri.

Here I met Tony’s remarkable Aunty Sheila and her husband Dick Gravitt and their three children. Tony’s cousins. Also, on the farm were three of Shelia’s brothers, Will, Syd and Peter who lived in outbuildings on the farm.

Tony had quite a few Rooney relatives in Bunbury. His Uncle Syd Rooney, a cousin, Lenore, her brother John Rooney, who possessed a fine operatic tenor voice and was in much demand at local concerts. At various times Lenore‘s children were in my class at Bunbury Central.

A few weeks after we first arrived in Bunbury, Tony came around one Saturday morning and said he was going to visit his uncle and aunty and did I want to come. Well, visiting someone’s uncle and aunty was not high up on my To Do list. Actually, I did not have as too do list. I was more like a Nothing to Do list, so I tagged along.

I met Tony’s Uncle, Dick Rooney and his wife, Phyllis. They were lovely people and very welcoming and kind to me. More importantly I met their children…more of Tony’s cousins. There were five beautiful daughters and their very young brother, John. The girls were Ronnie/Veronica, Anne, Kath/Kathy, Maureen and Carmel.

Maureen and Carmel were still attending the Sisters of Mercy convent school in Wittenoom Street, but Ronnie and Anne taught at South Bunbury PS and Kath was teaching at Bridgetown and was home for the weekend.

Well, the five Rooney girls were all beautiful, bright eyed, smiling faced and happy. They sang like angels in beautiful harmonies and all seemed to play the piano and/or the violin. Maureen played the cello. The Rooney Sisters were sought after to entertain at Bunbury community musical events.
Well, after that initial visit, Tony did not have to ask if I wanted to go and visit his Uncle Dick and Aunty Phyllis in Doris Street, South Bunbury. I was usually the one suggesting perhaps it was time to pay a visit.

 Before we left Bunbury, Tony, and I finished with a flourish in Show Business. Together with Murray Paddick, we all appeared in the Bunbury Musical Comedy Group’s inaugural production of “The Desert Song”. We were kept busy, because there was a shortage of male performers and we each appeared as the Moroccan Riffs who were rebelling against their French Colonial masters, French Legionnaires and Harem Guards. In 2010 the three of us travelled back to Bunbury as part of the Musical Comedy Group’s fiftieth birthday celebration.

In January, 1962, Tony, Murray, David Ashcroft, Mike Maher, Bob Birch and I set sail for Europe. We had resigned from the Education Department and set off on the adventure of a lifetime. It cost us eighty pounds each to sail off in the SS Strathnaver as far as Naples. From there we made it overland via Rome, Genoa and Paris to London.We shared a six berth cabin "two decks below the propellor shaft."
Noel, Tony, Murray.January 24, 2012. Dining in Fremantle to celebrate the 50th anniversary of our departure on SS Strathnaver.

We enjoyed teaching in England, but the pay was terrible. My monthly pay was not much more than my fortnightly pay in WA. Tony’s brother, Mike, had gone to Canada in 1959, so Tony, Mike Maher and I decided to migrate to Canada. We sailed from Southampton to Montreal on the SS Homeric. This was a Greek ship with an Italian crew who thought every day was a great day for a party.

We arrived in Toronto in late August, 1962. Teaching in Canada was like going to heaven, smaller classes and much better pay and conditions. We convinced Murray to come over the following April.

Tony in a drinking contest with a US College Boy on the SS Homeric en route to Montreal. Mike Maher is staring at
the camera while I check for any spillage.
Read more about this trip at this link HERE.

We had many wonderful adventures in Canada, including several trips to Niagara, Buffalo, New York Boston, Cape Cod and Montreal. We lived in a huge house in Willowdale and had many visitors. Kath Rooney even paid us a visit.
The Three musketeers at Gettysburg. July 3, 1963. The 99th anniversary of the battle.

June 26, 1963.Setting off on the grand car tour USA and Mexico
In the summer of 1963, Tony, brother Mike, Murray and I set off for a grand car tour of the USA. Unfortunately, Mike only had two weeks holiday, so he had to return to Toronto when we were in Miami. Fortunately, he generously left his brand-new Dodge sedan car with us and we continued a ten-thousand-mile journey that took us on to New Orleans, San Antonio, Mexico City, San Diego and Los Angeles, Disneyland, Las Vegas, The Grand Canyon and then along the old Route 66 back through Oklahoma City, St Louis, Chicago, Detroit and home to Toronto.

Tony did not want to face another freezing cold Canadian winter and returned to Australia in November, 1963. Murray and I taught another year and came back to Perth a year later in November 1964.

Sending a package back home. 1963.
In 1965 I was teaching at Tranby Primary School. A life changing experience for me for it was there that I eventually met the beautiful Lesley Young. In that same year, Tony was teaching at Belmont High School, so we used to all catch up on a Friday at the Ascot Inne, The Sandringham or the Rivervale Hotel.

Tony also used to visit my classroom in Tranby and give wonderful art lessons to my students. The copleted art work disp[layed around the classroom made me look good when the District Inspector came on his annual visits.
Tony was best man at my wedding to Lesley in 1968 and I was his best man when he married Liz in 1970. Tony was Godfather to our daughters Jane and Emily and I was Godfather to his first-born son, Matthew.

We kept in close touch over the years and Lesley and I have, in more recent years, enjoyed happy times with Tony at his delightful rural property in Denmark.We particularly enjoyed the fine Merlot that his grapes produced.
Enjoying the Merlot. April, 2003

In the mid to late 1990s, I started meeting Murray and our late good friend, Sean Walsh, at the Celtic Club on the last Friday of every month.  Sean Walsh and his lovely wife Sue, had been on the staff at Mt Lawley Teachers College with Tony in the early to mid-1970s.

I rang Tony and told him of this arrangement and said if ever he had business in Perth to try and make it for the Last Friday of the month. Well, Tony came to every one of our Friday meetings which continued till just before Murray and I retired in 2002.

When I first met Tony, he was a rather quiet person. Not shy, by any means, but rather reserved.
He always said that it was his time in National Service that gave him self-confidence. Gave him a voice. We had to sort ourselves out quickly. We were yelled at by experts and had to think fast and act quickly. You needed a lot of self-confidence and resilience if you were going to survive in Nashos.
Tony had suffered from asthma very badly as a boy and he was always the youngest person in the class and in his year group at Teachers College. When we started Nashos, I had turned 20 about a fortnight before. Tony was still only 18. He did not turn 19 until June 23rd of 1958. He was by far the youngest Nasho in Hut 28.

One of the problems we did have in Hut 28 was that certain people were very loud snorers. This was especially true when people came back worse for wear after a long alcoholic weekend leave. Lights out was at 10-00pm, but on a Long Leave we left the barracks at 5-00pm on Friday and did not have to be back at the Barrack Gate until one minute to midnight, 2359hours in army time.

Our way of dealing with snorers was quite simple. If we could not turn them onto their sides, four people would get on each end of their bed and we would take them out of the back door of the hut and deposit them in the middle of the parade ground. It was a very good system.

We used to have a weekly parade on Friday mornings. At one of these parades, Regimental Sergeant Major, Reg Bandy, told us that he was disgusted to hear about soldiers being deposited in their beds on the parade ground.

Sergeant Major Bandy said this practice had to stop immediately. Any soldier found guilty of such an offence in future would be severely punished, placed in the guard house for the duration, with hard labour, and would probably receive a Dishonourable Discharge. He did not actually say he would pull out our fingernails one by one, but we all got that message very loud and clear.

 So, the practice stopped. Until, about two weeks later, when, after a long weekend leave, our friend Don came lurching into Hut 28 at about five past midnight. He stumbled down the aisle between the beds and crashed on to his bunk, which was next to Tony’s. Within thirty seconds Don was fast asleep. We knew this because he was snoring like a 747-jet powering up before take-off.

Between each of the thunderous snores, there was a five second period of perfect silence. We endured the snoring for about five minutes when, during a period of silence, somebody said, it may have been me, “Sergeant Major Bandy will never know who put Don out on the parade ground.”
In a flash, Tony and I and two others had the ends of Don’s bed and we made straight for the back door. We had just moved clear of the back steps of Hut 28 when we heard a dreaded scrunch, scrunch, scrunch on the gravel. Around the corner of Hut 28 came the Officer of the Watch, followed by the Sergeant at Arms, carrying a huge silver sabre and four regular army soldiers with their rifles at the slope and their bayonets gleaming in the moonlight.

“Well, Well. What’s going on here, then?” barked the Officer of the Watch. Oh, no, I thought. My life is ruined. Sergeant Major Bandy is going to hurt me badly, lock me up, treat me like a slave and give me a Dishonourable Discharge. The Education Department will be informed, and my teaching career will be over before it even began.

I decided I would throw myself at the feet of the Office of the Watch and beg for mercy. It was blatant cowardice in the face of the enemy, but I had no other choice.Well, those thoughts flashed through my mind in a nano second. What happened in real time was the Officer of the Watch said, “Very well. What’s going on here, then?” Before he had finished his enquiry, Tony said, “Sir, some rotten sods have put our friend Don out on the parade ground. We are just taking him back inside.”
“Very well. Carry on,” said the Officer of the Watch as he marched the Night Guard further along the row of huts.

That was probably the only time in his life that Tony told an outright lie.As far as I was concerned, Tony deserved a medal. He had just won the Gold Logie, Academy Award, Guinness Book of Records, Olympic Gold Medal for the fastest, most effective response in the history of repartee.

Yes, National Service gave Tony his voice. It was the old cliché. He went in as a boy and came out as a man. And what a man he was. He was a great teacher, artist, wine maker, fisherman and outdoorsman.

In a Facebook tribute after Tony died, our friend Murray wrote, “I always thought that Tony was the embodiment of decency.”

The embodiment of decency! Says it all about Tony. He was a thoroughly decent man. We all loved him, and we miss him terribly.

Now he has left us. I am glad that when Lesley, Sue and I last saw Tony on the Tuesday before he died, he was in very good spirits, eagerly looking forward to going back to Denmark for a brief visit.

His rather sudden death from an infection came as a terrible shock. However, we take comfort that he died in a place that he loved and where he had such good friends.

Yes, Tony has left us. But he has left us with a lifetime of wonderful memories. Farewell, Tony, my friend. Thank you for your friendship.
Rest in Peace.

I remember when Tony, Murray and I were walking down Bourbon Street in New Orleans one hot August night. We came upon three young negro boys busking on the footpath.

“Hey mister, “called the oldest boy, “I bet you fifty cents I can tell you where you got your shoes.”

“Yes, he can, mister.  Yes, he can”, piped up another of the boys. “He can even tell you what street you got your shoes, what city you got your shoes and even what state you got your shoes.”

We smiled, and I said to Tony and Murray that there was no way the boy could tell that I bought my shoes at Betts and Betts in Hay Street, Perth, Western Australia. “OK, Here’s fifty cents. You tell me where I got my shoes.”

The older boy grinned as he leaned in, grasped the coin and said, “Why, mister, you got your shoes on your feet, in Bourbon Street in the grand and glorious state of Louisiana, USA.”  Gotcha!

I remember when the three of us were in Mexico City and visited the bull ring, The famed Plaza Del Toro. The bullfights started at 4-00 pm. We arrived  about an hour early as we wanted to walk around the perimiter of the stadium looking at the statues of famous  matadors…and even some famous bulls.  As we got out of our taxi at the main entrance an old man passed by, pulling a wheeled coat rack from which were hanging about 100 plastic raincoats.

“Raincoats, forty pesos. Raincoats, forty pesos," shouted the old man. He looked at us hoping for a sale, but we just walked straight past him and set off exploring the great Plaza del Toro. When we came back to the main gate it was starting to rain so, we rushed over to the elderly raincoat seller.

“Raincoats, eighty pesos. Raincoats, eighty pesos.”

“Hey,” said Tony, “Half an hour ago they were only forty pesos.”

“A half an hour ago, Senor, it was not raining."  Economics 101. Product prices rise as need increases.

I remember one day, about ten years ago, when Tony told me that he had attended a class reunion of students he taught at Belmont Senior High School. He was enjoying a conversation with several of the now fortyish and obviously prosperous former students. Suddenly, Tony heard a loud voice exclaiming, “Mr Jones!Mr Jones!”

He looked around to see a man coming towards him with arms outstretched. The man embraced Tony in a giant hug and said, “Mr Jones! You changed my life.”
By this time, Tony had recognised his former student and asked how he had changed his life.
“You gave me an appreciation of Art. I was a good student at school and had my eyes fixed on a career in commerce. I wanted to make a lot of money. Well I have a great job and I have a lot of money. I travel overseas a lot. Whatever city I am in, I always go to the art gallery to look at the paintings and I remember all those things you told us about art, structure, texture, light and shade, the setting, the focus, the story. You enriched my life and I thank you for giving me such a love of art. It changed my life.”

Well, only a teacher would know how wonderful it was for Tony to hear those deeply felt, appreciative words.

Yes, Tony changed a lot of our lives. For the better.

Now, he is gone, but we treasure the wonderful lifetime memories that he gave us.