Bottle of Happiness- Susie Dunn

Comments (0) Susie Dunn

You just wanted to bottle that look of pure happiness …

Was the description of a group of children who’d been given a very simple surprise  present of numbered team T-shirts. Nothing whizz-bang, but simple joy. Sometimes, with the best intentions, we’ve made life too complicated for our children. And maybe ourselves.

One of my early memories was of tremendous excitement in the Armidale Town Hall where I was taken to see Gilbert and Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore.   I don’t want to even try to remember the year! It was probably performed by what we now call the ADMS, Armidale’s Drama & Musical Society.  The ADMS have a most professional approach to providing something for everyone over their seasons. I loved the diversion of the recent Thirty-Nine Steps. We take so many things for granted here, across the whole spectrum of activities available. And there are those who gain their joy from volunteering towards the end result, whether a cricket competition, an air show, a play, a choir performance or a special fundraiser. An appetite for life is a wonderful thing.

Our Central Mall should always stand as the social and recreational heart of Armidale – a Recreational Precinct that is now being shaken up by an energised group of its can-do retailers. The Business Chamber has facilitated the formation of this group, and it was exciting to hear their very do-able plans. Watch this space – reaching full potential and meeting the market are the name of the game. Last year’s Turning on the Christmas Lights was a wonderful community event. This year there are a string of events  (check Council’s website) with a combined Switching on the Lights and Christmas in the Mall on Thursday, December 3 from 5 – 10pm. Stephanie Kentish is the Council’s Events Co-ordinator.

One of the big issues in the Mall is meeting the need for all-weather comfort as one of the keys to making the area fizz. This has been achieved in other places, so the template is there.

We have some wonderful poets in our district, and Yve Louis is certainly one of our very best.  She is widely published and appreciated, and I got great pleasure from a work of hers that presented as working notes for a film script, referring back nostalgically to a beautiful woman followed by three romantic French singers from the past. Yve read the poem at a Readers’ Companion poetry evening. Published in the Australian Poetry Journal, I hope she won’t mind me quoting some fragments about “a sunny spring day in the Third City of the Arts, NSW, Australia, fronting the new shoetique” …”and now the smell of coffee, wafting, narcotic from the Paris end of town … and right on cue a busker on accordion …” (YL).  I don’t know about you, but I just melt into the possibilities of this magic image – and why not? Thank you, Yve; I hope you don’t mind me sharing my small borrowing …

We have so many ingredients for optimism and the good life in our district. Armidale Mayor, Herman Beyersdorf, has spoken of cutting red tape and his desire for co-operation and negotiation. If this does happen, pooling of efforts and mindset should make us all better off.

I personally always prefer a Do Tank to a Think Tank. It’s a joke to contemplate that a public sculpture of The Big Argument can ever have been suggested for Armidale and its strong-willed citizens!

Robin Jones’ and Steve Widders’ initiative of the YOU + ME = US forum of Armidale people sharing the commonalities of their different faiths I found heartwarming.

Let’s agree to bottle some community happiness in this Christmas season, folding in different people in our common shared humanity, based on the joys of simply being human and together in a great place. Hope, simplicity and yes, tolerance, are surely basic messages in the Christmas story.

Take care of each other – and do enjoy some cake.

Susie Dunn

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