Impressions of New York

I wrote this in the 1980s. I know the city has improved since then. I hope you find my observations amusing, or maybe you were there then and agree with them.


‘New York, New York, it’s a cow of a town.’

That’s not how the song goes, but it’s how I hear it. Some call it the ‘Big Apple’ but I find it more like a smelly cabbage—those fumes seeping up from the underground railway system, like an evil mist rising from Hades. Three or four times I’ve flown to the city. With each touch-down I hope that this time I’ll experience the excitement—the magic—that others rave about.

My impressions of New York are dominated by yellow taxis – dirty, rusty, yellow cabs with horns blaring non-stop, day and night—and their angry drivers, who look and sound as though they’ve just arrived from Ethiopia, or somewhere equally unlikely to have provided any training for this occupation. At every traffic light they scream to a halt, then roar away on burning rubber as if their tails are on fire, to stop again at the next red-lit corner, fifty yards away.

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Perth Heritage Days



Government House

Last weekend, the 15th and 16th October, we stayed in the city in order to visit several of Perth’s old buildings, hear stories, see a photographic display in panorama and enjoy a display of ballroom dancing which was all free as part of a program called Perth Heritage Days.

The Royal Perth Hospital Museum was our first stop, in the building that used to house young nurses. As my cousin spent her traineeship there, I was interested to hear tales of windows climbed into or out of, depending on whether the young lady was returning from a night of frivolity, or daring to disobey matron’s orders and climb out into the arms of a waiting beau.

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Irises in My Garden

Irises fill me with joy when their vibrant blues, p1080468-640x355purples, lemons and whites burst forth outside my windows. I have to grab the camera and snap away, almost as if I fear that they will disappear if I don’t capture their beauty immediately.

This gorgeous p1080455-640x370display comes from the bulbs that I almost tossed in the bin. Last year they produced so few flowers that I thought they were past their use by date and I did discard most of them. Then I found these, in a cardboard box in the garage – stored through the heat of summer, with no protection, surely useless, I thought. This bed, in front of my lounge room, needed something to fill the space where I removed a few straggly shrubs, so, rather than toss them in the bin, I tossed them in the ground.

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Jealousy is insidious.

Its poison drips

twisting thoughts and crippling hearts

of those who feel its wroth.

Jealous souls

are whipped by demons


and all consuming.

Their eyes are blinded,

minds devoured

by the smouldering flame.

Destruction is the only path it follows

and the ones who suffer most

are those who give it freedom

to ruin their lives.
























Florence: The Duomo

Main Entrance to the Duomo

Main Entrance to the Duomo

Most of the crowds had left by the time we reached the Duomo so Susanne and I could photograph the stunning facade without too many people in the way.



We approached the main door, thinking that would be the point of entry. Directions in Italian didn’t help, so we moved to admire the Campanile, designed by Giotto in 1334 but not finished until 1359, after his death. Part of the facade is clad in marble, making it almost too beautiful. We must have walked the whole way around the cathedral, before finding access into the building.

Main entry side

Main entry side

Side wall

Side wall










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Grey is the colour of sorrow

of hopelessness

and long abandoned dreams.

It’s a life that’s wasted,

an old man

sleeping in a cardboard box

clutching the bottle


drained into the greyness of his being.

Grey is the colour of hearts devoid of love.

A colour that confines

and crushes

grinding the spirit into a pile of dust.


Florence: Leonardo da Vinci

dsc01927-640x425From Fra Angelico we walked to the Museo del Opera del Duomo. According to my calculations we still had at least three hours to closing time for the museum which houses the most valuable works of art from the Duomo. But, again we were faced with ‘Florentine time.’ That museum was closed for maintenance. We couldn’t find anyone official to ask, but a wandering priest assured us that it would be open again tomorrow. There was no point in dallying, so we headed for the Duomo.

Ducking down an alleyway, hoping it was a short cut, we nearly walked past a small sign with a picture of Leonardo da Vinci on it. The place looked like an insignificant residence, certainly not a museum, but we decided to take a look.

The first flying machine?

The first flying machine?

Da Vinci's tank

Da Vinci’s tank







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Florence: San Marco and Fra Angelico

San Marco was on our itinerary for the 4th May, but as it was close to Accademia, we headed that way next. Before leaving Australia, I had noted the closing time as 2pm; once in Florence we were told 4 or 5 pm.  We were getting into the swing of Florentine time.

dsc01903-640x425The convent of San Marco was founded in the 13th century, and thanks to Cosimo il Vecchio was enlarged and rebuilt in 1437. He reserved two of the cells for his own peace and spiritual sustenance.

For me though, the frescoes, painted by Fra Angelico, were the main reason for our visit. Having been raised as Catholics, we knew the story of The Annunciation very well; Archangel Gabriel appears to Mary to tell her that she will be the mother of God’s son, Jesus Christ.

Fra Angelico's Annunciation

Fra Angelico’s Annunciation

We walked to the top of the stairs in Museo di San Marco and my favourite painting of the Annunciation wowed us. Fra Angelico has created his Mary with the face of innocence and an air of humility and acceptance of God’s will. Even for unbelievers this surely has to be an image that draws the viewer in. Single blocks of colour, Fra Angelico’s style for most of the paintings, are part of the appeal in that I’m not distracted by details. Painted in 1445 (or thereabouts) the picture is still pure, clean and simply beautiful.

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