While the winds of change blow everywhere around the world – Susie Dunn

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There are other things to keep our lives balanced. A few days ago I heard someone whistling happily as he walked through the Mall, suddenly realising I couldn’t remember when I’d last heard that human sound. As everyone stares into their phones, have we forgotten other pleasures?
Last year one of the happiest memories came when NECOM’s Director Susanne James organised an afternoon of sheer magic in the Sutherland’s famous Deeargee Woolshed. Everything came together – the weather, the music, the whole organisation – and the absolute enchantment of cello and didgeridoo, accompanied by the uninvited but pitch-perfect whistling of a resident Willy Wagtail.

The concert is on again this year on Sunday, October 25, just after shearing, and because so many missed out last year, it will be performed twice, 11am and 4 pm, with pre-concert talks before both. With a marvellous surprise programme, Susanne says the finale will be a “homage to ‘Blue Hills’… the longest running radio serial in history!”. It all sounds enchanting magic again. I wonder if the Willy Wagtail has been rehearsing?
Meanwhile, citizens like Cyril and Hazel Green take music to many, who without them would be deprived of moments of sweet sounds. Cyril’s professional guitar has brought joy to the elderly and sick in the district for years. Formerly Jimmy Little’s lead guitarist, with his mix of Jazz and Rock, Cyril has made so many happy who could otherwise be forgotten. He and his wife, Hazel, both with OAMs, are special local people to celebrate.
NERAM has held a Spring Celebration to welcome Robert Heather, its new Director, who comes with new ideas (and a nice little smile) and more than twenty years’ experience in public galleries and museums. And the new café is open for business. All good.
With an increasing emphasis on the importance of the sciences (and the need for more women), when UNE’s Natural History Museum opens next year it will add another vivid dimension to the exciting possibilities in science: the novelty of actually being inside a hands-on research team in operation will open up new horizons to visitors. Another thing to be excited about, with possibilities opening for volunteers.

UNE’s VC, Annabelle Duncan, is updating the Armidale Business Chamber in early October on this year so far and the 2016 outlook for UNE. I’m looking forward to attending, as I passionately believe the good fortunes of UNE and the district are intertwined and should be even more visibly so in town.
Updating the economic benefits from the sports front, Steve McMillan has said that August was a “massive month”, bringing an estimated $1,507,180 to the Armidale economy. What brings pleasure can also bring undeniable additional benefits.

“Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink” was the cry of the Ancient Mariner. And some of us know all too well the implications of no water. These are the sharpening questions the whole world has to face into the future. Past assumptions are out the window.

I was at the MCA in Sydney looking at the current exhibitions, and what I most carried away from the experience was not Aleks Danko’s exhibition, but some subsidiary material beside it. This explained the inspiration behind the patterns on his Ukrainian mother’s cushions, which had in turn inspired him. The desk was kind enough to print me a copy. Basically, it said that “since prehistoric times, water was seen as forming the orbit of fertility for the universe,” as the world was perceived of an organic whole and water symbolised “the whole of potentiality, the source of all possible existence”. Not much has changed.

My daughter-in-law reminded me that the sap is rising because it’s spring – let’s enjoy it and be glad that, as Peter Allen sings, “(We) Still Call Australia Home”. He deserves to be remembered in Armidale, and Eileen Kelly has made it a mission. I missed seeing the latest TV show, but I gather it set the record right.
Susie Dunn
P.S. October brings us three Plays about Letters, Love and Lunacy at the Hoskins. Look out for details.

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