Icing on the Cake – Heavens to Betsy

Comments (0) Susie Dunn

It’s feeling time to hunker down in the Little House on the Prairie, before wranglin’ the wagons into a circle. The news barrages us with doom, chaos, gloom and the stress word, abysmal politics – possibly best described in Oscar Wilde’s words – “the unspeakable in full pursuit of the uneatable”. How have we come to this? Listen to the people, politicians! We and business want the informed, stable, ethical national leadership and performance we surely deserve.

While the drought goes on, with tough decisions to be made, the Banking Royal Commission has again shown little understanding of bush financing. When the old days of close personal interaction with banks ended, new (often imported) CEOs brought new rules. The treatment of rural properties by what I call the Stationery Cupboard Method was introduced. It was as though counting stock numbers and crops was like counting pens and pencils, expecting the shelf to stay neat the next day. Past introduction of some non-bank “bounty hunters” to bring in unconscionably compounding dollars added to ongoing disasters. Managing finances in drought conditions demands particular skills, underlining the disastrous lack of informed rural/city communication. 

Too late for last month’s column, I realised I’d missed other Armidale Zoo hospitality businesses: The Welder’s Dog, the French Coq and Grill Monkey. Café Patisserie is now re-established (a missed animal-naming opportunity?), their followers beating a path to their door. And the NERAM Café is open again.

When times are really tough, when health issues and personal tragedies strike, that’s when the wagons in the bush do make a circle to support those in trouble. That’s when community really means something. NFF’s Fiona Simson said on Q&A she doesn’t like it when the urban impression of life outside their boundaries is one of constant wearing disadvantage, when in fact we really like where we live. One of the greatest advantages is that feeling of being “folded-in” when trouble hits.

NECOM’s had its usual jam-packed programme of musical education, plus NECOM’s Paul Marshall’s commissioned piece, Where the Mountains Kiss the Sky, premiered by the Armidale Youth Orchestra at their 50th Anniversary Concert – a magical evocative image lifting spirits. Director Russell Bauer’s composition, A New Frontier – cheered on by Dr. Megan Clark of the Australian Space Agency – premieres in the sci-fi programme In a Galaxy Far, Far Away with the Armidale Symphony Orchestra on September 29 and 30 at Lazenby. On October 21, nearly nine hundred schoolchildren from our region, organised by NECOM’s Corinne Arter, will perform New England Sings 2018. Always unforgettable.

Alison Kubler, NERAM’s inaugural Chandler Coventry lecturer, talked on cross pollination between art and fashion continuing to blur boundaries in the 21st Century. Channy’s donated collection to NERAM forms an important segment of the total collection, and it’s good seeing his memory celebrated in this new lecture series. Packsaddle fundraiser October 19 – November 4.

It’s a wise decision to rename and refresh the Autumn Festival; its new name, New England Festival, giving much more flexibility without tying it to leaf colour. Lots of new ideas are bubbling in the pot … And Live Music is popping up all over town. Hurray!

It’s evident future workplaces will increasingly see jobs created through different educational pathways. Local State Member Adam Marshall’s announcement of an extra $300,000 for UNE’s Smart Region Incubator developing business ideas has brought a smile to Director, Dr. Lou Conway, as she organises mentoring more promising new businesses. Very big smiles also for Armidale City Gymnastics, as $998,039 State Government funding was announced to transform its building, enabling national championships.

One stress I’ve avoided is an addiction to “jitter juice”, aka coffee. I know that puts me beyond the social pale, but people seem so tense when their coffee isn’t “Just Right”. Not getting uptight about that is icing on my cake, leaving my angst for all the other things!

Let’s hope sanity prevails in government and a climate policy and transition strategy can be implemented as business has requested. It’s not always short term economics that matter most to the economy in the end.

Susie Dunn.

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