Hunger is where you find it: fine moments from a free breakfast #2


George has a long history of telling me jokes that I cannot decipher and last Sunday was no exception:

George: Did I tell you the one about the man who went into the burger shop?

Me: No, I don’t think so, fire away.

George: See a man went into a burger shop with his friend and said to him, ‘Gees, I’m starving!’ His friend says, ‘You can’t possibly be starving.’ ‘Why’s that?’ says the man? ‘Because your Australian!’

Those of us who heard the joke were left scratching our heads but the playful grin on George’s face was worth a thousand jokes and I had to laugh.

I’ve pondered this joke since and know it has a deeper meaning (but possibly not a punchline…)

Told by a man who frequents free meals around the city, it’s a reminder to the comfortable classes in this blessed land that we are privileged and well-off and that by world standards we have little to worry about, including starvation.

But maybe it also reminds us that despite our taking for granted the abundant provision we enjoy, there are all around us people who are starving.

Some who spend their few dollars each week on alcohol or drugs and as a result know they will face several days with nothing to eat. Some who have seen their family, home and identity leach away until they are disheveled wanderers of urban deserts. Some who were born into nothing, have not dealt with it well and now cannot conceive anything different. Some for whom mental illness has isolated, ostracised and disarrayed until life is a constant chaos or a mundane coma. Some who were born into plenty, have not dealt well with it and now cannot conceive anything different…

And it is with these friends and others I will surround myself on Father’s Day morning because if a father cannot demonstrate compassion then what good is he to his children.

I may have to listen to more of George’s jokes, or worse – the despairing tales of men who never see their children or women who never knew a decent man. But maybe I can be something of what they have lost by the sharing of my life.

Photo: The staff of a local community project, having recognised something of value in our little breakfast, created this ‘billboard’ for local people. It warmed my heart when I stumbled upon it.

Breakfast at the Booler is on this Sunday from 8.30am and we’ll join in the festival in some way on September 21. But where to go from there??

Fine moments from a free breakfast

community, bteakfast, things people say, kindness, random acts of kindness

Brian*: ‘Oh, and I’ve found Jesus.’

Me: ‘Yeah? That’s great.’

Brian: ‘He was on the corner of Ross St and Pyrmont Bridge Road.’

Me: ‘Mmm, well that’s as good a place as any.’


* named changed for privacy

Stories from the ‘sharing our lives’ community breakfast being held at the Booler Centre, Lambert St Camperdown, August 10, 17, 31, September 7.




Off with the moustache and up with the Christmas tree

December 1 tomorrow and a traditional date for many to put up their Christmas tree while listening to carols and eating cherries – in the land down under at least.

But increasingly it is also the day when bathrooms across the nation are littered with much-loved or much-maligned facial hair as it is removed to mark the end of Movember.

The moustaches, including my own, are somewhere in the range of impromptu, uncalled for, optimistic, unrealistic, threatening, questionably bushy, occasionally beautiful and down-right awful but regardless, most of them will go.

To give the many readers of Utterance (he says hopefully) an opportunity to give to the worthy cause of men’s health – prostate cancer, depression – I’m posting this final-hours photo of my Movember mo (with Oscar N in the background) and whilst wearing my Mr Mo shirt.Read More »

Father Bob neighbour of next year’s The Block

The producers of The Block may have a thing for living near celebrities but they certainly no how to make Father Bob angry.

“While this year’s houses in Richmond back on to Molly Meldrum’s lavish Egyptian-themed property, the four houses believed to have been bought for next year’s show are opposite the home of renegade priest, Father Bob Maguire,” the Herald Sun reported yesterday.

Father Bob tweeted that he was “Not happy me”. Well known for his media appearances and run-ins with Catholic authorities over his retirement, he clearly resented the renegade title.

The four side-by-side terraces in South Melbourne are located on Dorcas St, overlooking the parish of St Peter and Paul’s.

The properties were recently sold and came with planning permission for a third storey, to maximise city views.

See the Herald Sun story.

Chinese officials float over road and around the world

Utterance more often than not tackles relatively serious and reflective issues but can’t resist the hilarity that has surrounded China’s three levitating officials inspecting roads in Huili, south-west China.

The original badly doctored photo has spawned a creative range of imitations and even prompted a re-issuing of the original photos.

The three men will probably remain nameless forever which is a shame, I hope they can have a good laugh with the rest of us. And let’s hope the person who posed them floating over the new road is not locked up! Enjoy…

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Major new avant-garde dance talent discovered

As my vast readership will know, I am a great supporter of the arts… Mmm, I wonder if I could make that sound even more pretentious…. never mind.

As I was saying, I love the arts and so am proud to unveil a major new work in the field of dance… or is it comedy… most likely neither.

In the  words of a famous car commercial: Please Consider.

God makes a Google Street View appearance

Plenty of interesting things have been found on Google Street View ranging from dead bodies to hovering cars, but perhaps even God has made an appearance.

A god-like figure can be seen hovering midair above a lake in Quarten, Switzerland.

Discovered by the Gawker blog, the image is most likely to be the result of  light distortion or lens flare, however blogger Max Read has questioned tongue-in-cheek whether it might have more mysterious origins:

‘Is it something on the camera lens? Or is it maybe… God and His only begotten Son? And who’s to say that God isn’t “something on the lens”, in some kind of a cosmic, metaphysical sense?’ he writes.

God can be anywhere and everywhere – even on a camera lens no doubt – which kind of reminds me of the supposed ‘how many angels on the head of a pin‘ theological debate. Still, when God appears again in the sky, the Bible suggests we won’t be left guessing…

For a few more favourite Google Street View images, visit this Sydney Morning Herald gallery.

And let’s not forget Perth’s famous hovering cars or an unusual man-made landscape in a remote part of China which appears to be a model of a larger piece of territory complete with snow-topped mountains, streams and valleys.

The lighter side of zips, oxen and paying for sunshine

The Ashes Urn
Image via Wikipedia

One zip and your out

The Brisbane Gabba’s bag policy has been credited as the cause for a lower than expected crowd on the fourth day of the first Ashes Cricket Test.

While most sporting venues have a bag policy which involves checks for alcohol or metal and glass objects, the Gabba has gone a step further and decreed that if your bag has more than one zipper it will be refused entry to the ground.

ABC cricket commentator, Kerry ‘Skull’ O’Keefe, said that under the one-zip policy, there were some concerns that if you had a zip on your jeans, you may be allowed to take your bag in but have to remove your pants…

When you don’t want to be as strong as an ox

 The discovery of three teenagers who had been lost at sea for 61 days was described as a miracle and answer to prayer, apt descriptions indeed.

Not so apt perhaps was the description of their condition by one of the fishermen who found them. After commenting that they were very skinny, he said, ‘but mentally they were as strong as an ox.’ Mmm… faint praise?

There goes the sun

And in the same week that Here Comes The Sun (do,do,do,do) became the best-selling Beatles song on iTunes, a Spanish woman has registered the sun as her own personal property and intends to charge for its use.

Angeles Duran, 49, said she took the step after reading about an American who had registered himself as the owner of the moon and several planets.

An international agreement states no country may claim ownership of a planet or star, but it apparently says nothing about individuals.

Ms Duran now wants to charge for using the sun and give half of the proceeds to the Spanish government, 20 per cent to the nation’s pension fund, 10 per cent to research and 10 per cent to ending world hunger. The rest she’ll keep for herself… Mentally, as strong as an ox?

More head miles than my legs can cope with

My New Year’s resolution to post to Utterance every day in 2010 has hit its biggest challenge recently thanks to a condition a good friend describes as ‘head miles’.

I first heard him use the phrase when I asked him why it was he stayed awake all night, most nights, walking the streets.

‘Oh, I just walk around and do lots of head miles,’ he replied calmly. He put it down to a combination of schizophrenia and the drugs used to treat his condition. I can claim neither as contributing factors for my mental mileage.

Unfortunately I also cannot claim the same positive side-effect of doing lots of walking. The phenomenon has dried up quite a bit since the City to Surf although I have turned to cricket in an attempt to stay fit. That, and about a kilometre quick-march as part of my journey to work each day.

Having watched a great deal of the big game of cricket on a small box in recent years, I was clearly lured into a false sense of my own ability. In a team made up of much younger men, including my sons, it has been somewhat embarrassing to discover my body simply won’t cooperate.

During the first game, not only did I manage to go out to bat with my pads on the wrong legs, wearing left-handed batting gloves and with my helmet in an oddly sight-reducing position, but I pulled my ham string fielding in the slips.Read More »

Swans win emphatic, election less so

While the nation pondered its electoral fate last night, 40,000 Sydneysiders were in no doubt who won the Swans verses Bulldogs clash at the SCG.

When the ABC’s Adam Spencer gave a half time election update it was like instant polling as the crowd cheered and booed various results.

And for the record, that’s not me singing in the audio post…

Some Friday fun at my expense: City2Surf photos

Ok, so it’s the end of the week, we are four weeks into an election campaign and two and a half months through a cold winter. On that basis you could probably use a laugh, so I’ll go out on a limb and share my City to Surf photos.

Firstly there are the photos taken by the official photographers, Marathon Photos, who through the wonders of modern technology, allow runners to view a range of photos taken during the race. Keep in mind that nearly 70,000 people finished the City to Surf so to do this is no mean feat.

When a certain member of my family first saw these, they were in such agony of hilarity that they rang me 50 times to tell me to look. Very funny. All I can I say is that they reveal the agony my legs were truly experiencing by this stage. To view the video of me finishing and a small collection of photos, click here. You’ll see some small thumbnails which you can click on for a larger view, if your game.

Secondly, I took a range of photos on my phone before and during the event and, once again, there are some mildly amusing results. I admit, I’m not good at the whole self-portrait thing… Enjoy, and go for a walk or a jog this weekend!

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City to Surf audio posts here tomorrow

After walking and jogging a couple of hundred kilometres in the past few months, Jeremy and I are ready for the City to Surf tomorrow.

We’ll hop on the 440 bus just before 8am in time to join our exclusive back of the pack starting group in the city. Due to the large crowds expected to watch our special orange group, we won’t get away from the start line until about 9am.

But our times will be carefully synchronised thanks to the start of the art shoe lace chips we’ll be wearing so our spectacular times will not be interfered with.

For you, the listening public, we will phone in breaking news blog audio posts direct from the race. So watch this space tomorrow morning (not during church though…) for a starting summary, a mid-race review, and a eulogy at the end. Did I say eulogy? I meant wrap-up.

If you are watching on television (and checking out this blog at the same time of course) you will probably spot us, notable for our orange bibs, my Jesus Saves goalkeeping t-shirt (thanks Bek) and Jeremy’s huge stature. If you see an ambulance, that also may have something to do with us…

I know various other people completing the event and have decided to let them all beat me in the spirit of self-sacrifice. On the day, the City to Surf will be the winner…

My secret preparation tip was a carbohydrate-laden Pad See Ew, purchased on the way home from the Swans v  Hawks game, from official City to Surf Thai restaurant, Thai La Long. (I just made up the official bit.)

My other secret weapon was to work night shift last night and have just three hours sleep this morning as I plan to sleep through the last half of the race tomorrow so as not to notice the pain in my curly toe.

I know you don’t believe me about the curly toe but it’s the stuff of legend in my family and I have learned from my mother that she gets it too and so did my grandmother. We come from a line of curly toed people…

I have just realised my sleep deprivation may be becoming obvious in this posting so will say farewell and go upstairs to see if I can make out what Jo is singing in the shower. PH

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Possum’s magical parade across Parramatta Rd

While driving to work at about 11.45pm yesterday, the normally frantic Parramatta Rd heading into the city was refreshingly quiet.
Which was just as well with a dignified, if slightly wobbly, possum deciding to cross the road in Camperdown.
Setting off from near Bridge St School, the possum crossed the first three lanes with one or two hesitant moments before hopping on to the median strip like some street-savvy Sydney-sider. Having slowed down to watch this part of the journey, I stopped completely as the possum continued a metre or two in front of my car.
Having seen the creature safely across I moved on, wishing I’d got my phone out to video the unusual city sight.
My last glimpse of the possum was of it sitting patiently in front of the glass sliding doors of AGL. Maybe it had a gas bill to pay…

Brush with advertising fame

B.W.A.F # 1: The new Pizza Hut ad where four delivery boys hop out of four identical Pizza Hut Morris Minis and walk into houses – filmed on Young St, Annandale a few blocks from home. Passed them making the ad while taking someone to the airport… No free pizza unfortunately.

B.W.A.F # 2: The Kit Kat ad with a guy impersonating an amp while people try out guitars in a guitar store – filmed in Billy Hyde pretty much next to our church, Eternity. They even ‘hired’ our car park while filming for the day. No free guitars and no free Kit Kats unfortunately.

I haven’t had a brush with Old Spice yet, but I’m working on it…

Utterance has no commercial blog for profit arrangements with these companies but all offers considered….

Even men who think they’re Jesus respond to kindness

Came across this old song that first appeared on the Strawbs self-titled album in 1969 and was released as a single.

It reminds me of a few people I know and what I like most in the lyrics is the simple invitation of hospitality given to someone who is quite delusional. Kindness matters, even to Jesus.

Not sure about the pint of blood reference – maybe a beer too many. Oh, and the song was banned by the BBC… how times have changed.

The Man Who Called Himself Jesus
Dave Cousins

He came into the shop and looked me straight between the eyes
And said ‘You know I’m Jesus’, and I must have looked surprised
Because he said ‘Please don’t be hasty, no-one understands
But I’ve got a way to prove it’ and he lifted up his hands.

He was the man who called himself Jesus.

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Sleepy street throws up some random humour

This meddlesome mattress has been taking up car spaces around our street recently – I’m pretty sure I saw a ranger giving it a ticket this morning. But every mattress has a silver lining and today this one conspired with an unusual car number plate to throw up some random humour on an otherwise grey old day. I promise this is not a set up, I just walked out of my house and the gag was sitting there waiting for me to find it… PH

Remember the City2Surf, we’re still on track…

The pain started in the lower back, moved painstakingly through to the hip, on the knee and then meandered around the left calf for a while.  And this just from walking… Hopefully it has disappeared out my foot, a bit like being struck by lightening…

Despite all this (violins please) and the curly toe syndrome (ask my family) our City to Surf preparation is moving forward well – we are up to 8.5km fast walks, hills and the occasional jog.

By the time the event arrives on August 8 we’ll be blisteringly fast… or just blisters…

Check out some video of a recent ‘training session’ which, for the first time, featured the Green Lantern. And head to the City2Surf page of this blog and click on the links to sponsor us for a good cause or two.

PS Utterance now has its own YouTube channel, Uttuberance.

Dynamic duo takes on City to Surf

Ten weeks out from the City to Surf fun run I have started my disciplined training schedule to ensure I finish the event alive…

Today, accompanied by son Jeremy, who also plans to take on the City to Surf, we walked the inner west’s very popular Bay Walk , or according to some signage, the Bay Run (but not in our case…).

This was our second training effort and was preceded on Monday by a complex scurrying around the back streets of Glebe, Camperdown, Annandale and Leichhardt to come up with a 6km track.

To prove that we are actually doing the training and not watching Lord of the Rings (in which the cast do all the walking and running) I deployed the Sports Tracker application on my E71. Imagine my delight when I discovered the GPS traces a lovely little map which can be saved as a picture file.

This may well be the most accurate map of the Bay Walk yet recorded and I would like you to note the straight line at the top right of the diagram which depicts us walking, with purpose, across the Iron Cove Bridge.

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