xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' The Font of Noelage: January 2014

Friday, 31 January 2014

The Wedding Speech.

Oh, No! It is the last day of January and I have only written one blog this month.  Well, it is the holiday season and I am still very much in holiday mode, so I guess I'll have to go into the vault to find something to post before February gets here.
On September 30,  2000, our youngest daughter, Emily, married Carl Barrett and this is my speech as Father of the Bride.  Our Son in law, Denis Belliveau did an excellent job as MC. As usual my speech is longer than it needed to be but it was a very special occasion. It was also the  first major public outing for Lesley after her six month long chemotherapy and radiotherapy regime for breast cancer.

Thank you, Denis.
May I say straight away that Lesley and I are absolutely delighted that Carl and Emily are married...at last.

May I also say it has been a very interesting experience for me to be living in a family that is planning for a wedding. There can be a lot of excitement, a lot of tension and quite a deal of stress in any family as various people make and unmake decisions and plans leading up to the big day.

Fortunately we were not like one family where the 'bride to be" was becoming increasingly upset that her mother seemed to be making arrangements and generally taking charge of proceedings.
Finally came the big family showdown and the girl said, "Mother, I do wish you would stop interfering. This is MY wedding. After all, you have already had your wedding."

"No Dear," the mother replied sweetly, "that was my mother's wedding. This is MY  wedding!"

Carl and Emily played a major role in the planning of their wedding, but as they are living in Carnarvon a lot of the nitty gritty work was carried out by Lesley, and  by Emily's sisters, Jane and Sarah. Of course, I also thank Carl's family for their great assistance in making this day possible.
From the start my role was quite clear...to say nothing, to listen carefully and to do exactly what I was told.!

Of course I had known all along that this would be my role as I had lived through the tumultuous family years of 1988 and 1989.In 1988 through 1989, Emily, Sarah and Jane were all teenagers. I lived in a house with three teenage girls... and a teenage wife. I knew if I survived that I could survive the Year of the Wedding!

And I knew that if I became confused about my role I would have four beautiful ladies telling me exactly what to do and when. This is very important...it is good to have clear instructions, because not knowing exactly what to do causes personality disorders and can lead to dire consequences.

Just like the 50 metre breaststroke race between the redhead, brunette and blonde.
They all dived into the pool and pretty soon the brunette touched the finish line, closely followed by the redhead. Then a long, long, long while later the blonde finished the race.

When they got out of the pool a reporter caught up with the blonde and said. "Obviously the 50 metre breaststroke is not your best event".

“Maybe not," said the Blonde, “and I don't want you to think I'm a sore loser, but I'm sure those other girls were using their hands."

Emily and Carl. What a great couple they are! In fact look at the wedding party.
What a wonderful array of beautiful women and handsome young men. People of my generation can have great hope for the future of our country with such fine young people coming along.

I suppose it is appropriate, as Father of the Bride, that I speak particularly of Emily.
Like her two sisters, Jane and Sarah, Emily is a beautiful person...on the inside and on the outside.
Of course Emily and her sisters can thank me for their good looks. It's true! You see 32 years, one month, four days and four hours ago I had the greatest of good fortune...I married their beautiful mother.

It was the greatest day of my life and Lesley is the only First Prize that I have ever won. I'm sure some thirty or forty years down the track Carl will say exactly the same of Emily.

Lesley has been a wonderful wife and mother and I thank her for giving me such a wonderful family. In fact my whole family is the better for Lesley being in it.

I remember one Christmas evening about thirty years ago. Our family had gathered for a Christmas meal at the home of my Aunty Tassie and Uncle Jack. During the night my Uncle Jack said to me, "Noel, you know the best thing that you have ever done in your life is to bring Lesley into our family."

How right he was! And I know that Emily, and her sisters, give thanks and count themselves very fortunate for having such a wonderful mother. Not only did Lesley give them their good looks, she gave them something far more important...strength of character. This year in particular, Lesley has displayed great courage and fortitude in the face of adversity. She is a shining example to us all. 

August 16. To a lot of people it's the that day Elvis died. To us, living in Donnybrook in 1975, it was the wonderful day when Emily Elizabeth Bourke was born. I was there when she was born. I was there when the nurse placed her in Lesley's arms. We loved her at first sight and we have loved her ever since.

She was four years younger than Sarah and six years younger than Jane. Growing up in Donnybrook we often called her, "Little Emily".I remember once, when she was about three she told me she wished that she was big.

"How big do you want to be?" I asked.

She said, "I want to be so big that when I sit on the toilet seat...my feet can touch the ground."

It think it was shortly after that that  Lesley took Emily and her sisters to see the circus at Egan Park in Donnybrook. They had gone with a family friend and her three children. Everybody enjoyed the circus except Emily. In our family life she had been surrounded by laughter, music and song. The circus was a disturbing experience. She became terrified of the clowns who were rushing around yelling and screaming, letting off noisy firecrackers, blowing whistles and throwing things at the audience.

"I want to go home Mummy", she pleaded and sobbed.Lesley could see that she was distressed and arranged for the older girls to come home with her friend as she took Emily out of the circus.

As they walked home Lesley was naturally disappointed that she was missing out on the fun of seeing Jane and Sarah's delight at all the Circus acts. On the other hand Emily quickly became her old cheerful self.

“Were going home now, Mummy. We go home and watch it on television."

Or the time when a big, black stray cat, wandered into our front yard in Donnybrook. Emily liked the cat right from the start. More importantly, the cat liked Emily, but Lesley told her it could not come inside the house.

Much later in the afternoon Lesley wondered why Emily had not come in to get her glass of milk and a biscuit. She went to the front door and there on the front step of the verandah sat Emily gently stroking the cat that lay curled up beside her.

Emily turned, saw Lesley and said, "Mummy, if this cat could come inside...then I could come inside too!" Even at three years of age she had a strong sense of loyalty!

Of course Emily was our youngest daughter, but she often referred to herself as our "Only" child.
Her  two older sisters left home fairly early in life. Jane spent her 21st birthday working in Japan. When Sarah turned 21 she was in Canada, falling in love with Denis.

Emily was happy to stay home. She had her 21st birthday and celebrated it in style right here in Perth...while Lesley and I were on holidays in France! We did ring her up!

But living at home for about seven years as our "only" child, Emily did get to spend a lot of what she called "quality time" with us. And we loved it.

From an early age Emily has barracked for East Perth, the Mighty Royals. In 1987 she and I became members of the West Coast Eagles (Emily was a Junior Squadron member), the first Western Australian team to play in a  National football competition. I really enjoyed the fact that she would come to the football with me.I wasn't sure if it was because she liked the football or that she felt it was her duty to keep her old Dad company. I soon found out.

One day after another Eagles win we were driving home and Emily asked what time the TV replay started. I said it was already on but we would arrive home in time to see most of the second quarter.

"I hope we get home by the 19th minute mark of the second quarter," said Emily.

"Why is that?" I asked.

"That's when Chris Mainwaring took that spectacular mark on the half forward flank."

Obviously it was the football, or more particularly certain footballers, rather than keeping me company that now held Emily's main interest.Chris Mainwaring and Craig Turley were her favourites.

Soon after that she became interested in a boy at school named Carl! They have been great mates ever since....and now they are married.Little Emily has grown into a beautiful woman and a beautiful person.I don't think you could find anyone on this earth who knows Emily who could say a bad word against her.

Today she is Carl's beautiful bride.Her mother and I are thrilled that she has chosen Carl to be her husband.Over the years we have come to know and love Carl for his fine qualities and we are pleased to welcome him into our family as our son. He is a wonderful young man. We know that he will cherish Emily and love her for evermore.

We are pleased also that as a result of their marriage today the Bourke and Barrett families have a special bond. Over the years we have grown to know Gayle, David and their children very well. We enjoy their friendship and their company and will do so into the future.

Today, in the readings chosen by Carl and Emily, we heard those beautiful words of St Paul about love. Love is patient and kind. Love is not demanding. Love does not end.  He was 2000 years in front of another Paul...Paul McCartney, who, with John Lennon, wrote "All you need is love, love is all you need.!"

Well, maybe these days it doesn't hurt to have a sound financial plan as well!

And we heard in St Mark's Gospel that marriage is when a man and a women become one. Sometimes the trouble starts when they try to decide WHICH one! But marriage doesn't mean you surrender your personality and become subservient. In some mystical way the two become one so that together each is greater and more fulfilled than they could ever be on their own.
Well Emily and Carl, I say that a successful marriage must have two basic ingredients:
  1. Finding the right one.
  2. Being the right one. 
 True love does not end. Marriage is for life.

I once heard a lady say, "When I married my husband I thought I had found Mr Right. I didn't know that I had married Mr Always Right!"

Mae West said "Marriage is a great institution, but who wants to spend the rest of their life in an institution." Well, Carl and Emily, as one who has happily spent over 32 years in that institution I can only say I hope that you both enjoy it as much as I have.

But being married isn't about gazing lovingly into each other's eyes....it is about both of you looking together to the future...and working for the future that you have planned together. Marriage is about sharing and caring, of considering your partner above yourself. It isn't always easy...but it is always worthwhile.

Love is not demanding. Love is about giving and seeking to make the loved one happy. And the funny thing is, when love is reciprocated, the more you give, the more you receive. This is often done in very subtle ways. When a wife laughs at her husband's jokes it means either that he has found a very clever joke...or has a very loving wife.

Ogden Nash, the great American humorist, summed up the secret to a good marriage in four lines:
To keep your marriage brimming
With love, in the wedding cup
When ever you're wrong admit it
Whenever you're right...shut up!

It is well and truly time for me to shut up. Before I do, Lesley and I thank all of you here present for being with us today. Thank you for honouring us with your presence. Thank you for being witnesses to this celebration of joy and love to mark this magnificent moment, the marriage of our beloved daughter, Emily, to her beloved husband, Carl.

It has been written that where children find true love, their parents find true joy. Lesley and I, and all of your friends and relations, here and far away, wish you, Emily and Carl, true love and true joy from this day forward.

Congratulations and Good Luck!

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Christopher Pyne. A disruptive nuisance in Australian education.

Christopher Pyne, the Federal Minister for Education has called for a review of the National Curriculum. To say the least, this is a an unexpected move, as the Australian Curriculum is still in the process of being introduced into Australian schools after a lengthy period of review and development by The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA).

Christopher Pyne was Shadow Education Minister for three years up until the federal election in September, 2013. In that time he asked only three questions in the parliament. None of the three questions concerned education.

In opposition he was removed from the house a record number of times for being a disruptive nuisance.

A week before the 2013 election he stood, together with his Liberal Party leader, on national television and vowed that he would carry out the Gonski school funding reforms exactly as labor had intended. After the election he said Gonski was a huge mistake and he would fund schools very differently. Two days later he back flipped on his back flip and said Gonski was a good policy and he would implement it.

Now he has turned his attention towards the Australian Curriculum, which was produced by the respected and independent Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority which considered submissions from a very wide variety of teachers, academics, parent and other organisations. The new curriculum is in fact still under review by ACARA and will no doubt be modified and amended in due course.

Mr Pyne is of course entitled to his views on what should be in the Australian Curriculum but he should use the already established curriculum process and not attempt to override it with a carefully selected review panel. It is not Mr Pyne's Australian Curriculum. It is in the domain of seven Education  MiInisters at federal, state and territory level.

Pyne says the Australian Curriculum is biased and he has chosen two Liberal Party apparatchiks to review it so as to give it a different focus. These two gentlemen have no recent background in education but we do know that they do not like the Australian Curriculum. Both have been outspoken critics of it.

Teachers and principals, who have been busily engaged in recent years in informing themselves of the scope and sequence of the new curriculum, are now to be at the whim of political interference.
Educators, not party political ideologues, should be the ones who determine national curriculum guidelines.

Unless Pyne does another back flip, we can expect more and more changes in education as he is struck by other “bright ideas.” Unfortunately, unlike his days as Shadow Education Minister, he cannot be forcibly removed. We will have to wait for the next Federal election in 2016 to do that. It seems a very long way away.

Pyne is probably the worst thing that has ever happened to education in this country. I can envisage massive "No confidence" rallies by educators throughout Australia as this meddlesome man, like the Mad Hatter that he is, pursues his ideological paper chase. He seems intent on continuing to be the one thing he has proven himself to be very good at, a disruptive nuisance. He is creating nothing but malice in Blunderland.