Kathleen Evans dies of cancer after an earlier cancer recovery helps Mary MacKillop become China’s first saint

Kathleen Evans, wearing the red scarf, arrives at St Peter’s Square ahead of the canonisation service for Mary MacKillop in 2010.HUNTER woman Kathleen Evans was farewelled at a funeral on Wednesday, more than two decades after her “miraculous” cancer recovery that led to Mary MacKillop becoming ’s first saint.
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In her first media conference in January, 2010 Mrs Evans joked that she had“absolute faith that I’ll never get cancer”again and would die of a heart attack.

She died, aged 73, on December 18, six months after she was diagnosed with the lung cancer her doctors said was unrelated to the lung and brain cancer she recovered from in 1993.

Her funeral at Kincumber’s Holy Spirit Catholic Church –in the suburb where she lived her final two years and where St Mary MacKillop established an orphanage in 1887 – heard of the woman praised by a nun as “this wonderful woman, this great human being”.

“She wasn’t filled with pomp. She became the great friend of Mary MacKillop,” said Sisters of St Joseph nunMaria Casey, who spent nine years championing MacKillop’s case for canonisation within the Catholic Church, including collecting medical evidence to support claims Mrs Evans’ first cancer recovery was miraculous.

In a moving eulogy Mrs Evans’ five children spoke of the Windale mother who could stretch one kilogram of mince to feed a family during toughtimes.

“Mum had heaps of recipes and ideas of how to cook mince. One was her chow meinmince withcabbage and chicken noodle soup, and peas if we had been misbehaving. We all thought we were eating Chinese food,” her daughter Lisa told mourners.

Mrs Evans’ compassion extended to the doctor who detailed the difficulties she faced after she was diagnosed with lung cancer in June.

Farewell: Hunter woman, Kathleen Evans, whose recovery from cancer in the 1990s was deemed a miracle by the Catholic Church and led to a sainthood for n nun Mary MacKillop in October, 2010.

“She felt sorry for the doctor having to tell her that news. She said she had been given 23 bonus years and was so appreciative of this time to see grandchildren and great grandchildren and experience the rest of her life,” her daughter told mourners.

Sister Maria Casey about Hunter woman Kathleen Evans.

“She didn’t take those 23 years for granted.”

Kathleen Evans was given only weeks to live in 1993after a lung and brain cancer diagnosis following years as a smoker. She had no medical treatment and returned home where “all I had left was prayer”.

A friend from the Hunter gave her a picture of Mary MacKillop with a relic, or piece of the nun’s clothing, attached to the back. Mrs Evanswore it on her nightie.

“It never left me,”she said in January, 2010 after the Vatican confirmed the nun who established ’s first order would be recognised as’s first saint, and the Hunter woman’s role in that process was revealed.

Mrs Evans recalled a sense of peace and happinessin 1993 as prayers weresaid over her, “and I’m not a person to be happy when I’m sick”.

She began to feel better andattended a weekend retreat at the Sisters of St Joseph, Lochinvar, where a priest prayed over her to Mary MacKillop.

It was 10 months after she was told she would die that tests revealed her cancer had gone and only scarring remained.

“My response was ‘Oh wow. That was wow’,”she told a media conference in 2010.

In October, 2010 Mrs Evans was at the Vatican for the canonisation of Mary MacKillop, where she carried a cross made from n timber during the ceremony. The timber was collected from Penola, South , where MacKillop established the order.

“I can hardly believe that I’m right in the middle of this wonderful event,” she said in a statement released by the Sisters of St Joseph at North Sydney and Lochinvar.

“My husband Barry and I have since left our comfort zone far behind. I’m a mother-of-five from Lake Macquarie. I never thought I’d have anything of interest to tell a newspaper.”

At her funeral Maitland-Newcastle priest and long-time family friend Brian Mascord spoke about Mrs Evans’work with young people in the parish of Windale over years.

“Kath was always willing to walk with the kids who were a little on the outer. What did Kath do? She loved them,” Father Mascord said.

Maitland-Newcastle priests spent time in October with Mrs Evans and husband Barry at the former Kincumber orphanage site, now used as a Catholic Church retreat centre.

“This was a powerful moment when we were part of the encounter with Christ that Kath was having,” Father Mascord said.

Mrs Evans’ daughter Lisa spoke of her mother’s work with other cancer patients through Make Today Count, and of her mother’s final few months.

“Mum’s last few months were hard for her, and something that we are proud of is being able to have her at home. We take comfort in knowing she can rest in the comfort of her God without pain, discomfort and frustration ather illness,” shesaid.

”Mum taught us many things as young kids that hold us in good stead today – good manners, respect and sound moral values. Mum has always been our support, strength and comfort when times have been tough for us. I don’t know how we will cope without her. But we will draw strength from the things she taught us.”

Her son Peter recalled the mother who “knew what she liked and didn’t suffer fools”, and who “wanted us to stand up for ourselves, which sometimes meant standing up to her”.

She is survived by husband Barry, children Julie, Annette, Peter, Lisaand Luke, 19 grandchildren, and five great grandchildren –the fifth born the day after she died.


Hunter swelters in hottest year on record: 2016PHOTOS

The Hunter feels the heat Heat wave: Picture by Max Mason-Hubers.
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Heat wave: Picture by Max Mason-Hubers.

Heat wave: Picture by Max Mason-Hubers.

Heat wave: Picture by Max Mason-Hubers.

Heat wave: Picture by Max Mason-Hubers.

Heat wave: Picture by Max Mason-Hubers.

Heat wave: Picture by Max Mason-Hubers.

Heat wave: Picture by Max Mason-Hubers.

Heat wave: Picture by Max Mason-Hubers.

TweetFacebookFairfax Media on Thursday.

“Itwill be the warmest year on record overall –inthe Hunter, throughout NSW and probably and the world as well,” Mr White said.

“Despite what some politicians think, global warming is a fact –it’s not just a theory anymore.

“Ask the farmers up in the Hunter Valley. The climate is changing and we have to be aware of that and make allowances for it. Itdoesn’t have to mean necessarily bad things – we could actually benefit from the warmer weather because it could actually mean more rain in the Upper Hunter,but we’ll have to wait and see on that.”

As the Hunter sweltered with temperatures soaring into the low 40son Thursday, weather experts warned there would be little relief from the heat until the new year.

Mr White said temperatures on Friday were likely to reach about 34 degreesat Nobbys Beach in Newcastle, and would nudge closer to 42degrees in the Hunter Valley and 43 degrees in Wallsend.

He said “above average” temperatureswould continue until a trough of low pressure arrived late New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

“It will be back down to around 30 on New Year’s Eve in Newcastle, back to the mid-20s on New Year’s Day and probably by Tuesday next week we’ll have morepleasant temperatures of around 22 or 23 degrees,” he said.

Information collected by the Bureau of Meteorology showed the hottest day to date in Newcastle this yearwas on January 14, when the mercury peaked at38.3 degreesat Nobbys, and at 40.1 degrees at Williamtown.

The hottest day officially recorded in Cessnock was 39.5 on February 25, and Scone recorded 40.5 degrees on December 5.

Hunter New England Health physician David Durrheim saidpeople affected by heat stroke and dehydrationhad presented to emergency departments on Thursday, but that was “only the tip of the iceberg.”

“Little ones, the elderly and people with chronic diseases can really struggle,” he said.

“If you have to be outside or do any physical activity, it’s much better to do that early in the morning when it’s more bearable, then retreat into a cooler environment in the middle of the day. It’s very important that people keep up their fluids. Keep an eye out for friends, neighbours and family in those high risk groups and make sure they are doing all right.”


short story: Groundless by Holly Bruce

WORTH 1000 WORDS: Each day we will publish a finalist in the Herald short story competition. The winner will be announced on January 28. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers
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I FEEL the cushion of dry grass beneath the ball of my foot, followed by a barely perceptible spring and release. I tuck my leg into the sling of cocoon-harness, skim saltbush, and lean into nothing. Surrendering my last point of contact with the earth,I hover low over a shimmering sheet of ocean. I drift. Life unreels in slow motion.

The office — in the last fortnight — has held a collective compulsive twitch. Tension tight and unyielding has bounced in destructive beams from wall to wall, office to office.

Restructure is a word that seizes a man of my age by the throat and squeezes both oxygen and positivity from his being. There comes a certain age when one’s skills, no matter how meticulously updated, are seen as obsolete. It’s the conservative delivery of them that appears to be where the lack lies; a working life of solid habits and philosophies that will not be bent or broken by the likes of reckless cowboys. Nowadays, it appears, flash and novelty are more highly valued than solidity and experience.

There is little I can do to change it. Each day I wait; floundering, uncertain, groundless.

I ride a blue thermal, a wide spiral upward. Behind me the horizon — punctuated by motionless cargo ships — stretches toward forever. I shift my weight; the world offers a different aspect. Just as a slide in thought can produce an entirely different internal view.

Up here I’m a winged witness, cocooned and lulled by distance. The suburbs bake beneath sloping rays of sun torching in from the west. Heat haze blurs the scene; soft shapes of terracotta and gold. Gardens exhale, vaporous grey-green. I see — mid-grid — the roof of our home, haloed by flowering gums.

Delia will be there now, having conquered yet another day of pedantic workplace politics.She’ll feed the cat, make herself a smoothie, and step out to jog through late afternoon heat.

Her routine never differs during the week. With relieved relish she peels the bank uniform away from her body only to be disappointed by what she sees beneath it. When I speak to her of my fears regarding the office she reminds me gently that life is a constant restructure.

“Look at my hips for example,” she says to me. Quirking an eyebrow comically.

“And these!” She points with indignation at her once pert breasts.

She jokes about the slide but, on occasion, I come across her gazing glassily in the bathroom mirror as if she barely recognises the topography of the woman reflected there. She works hard to maintain what once was effortlessly hers. But change churns on regardless.

I look to the cage of my bones where arms hold me in the triangular control frame. Sinew and muscles twist. I relax my grip. The once soft flesh — less spongy now — recedes back to sharpen knuckles and wrists; another small reduction of self. Delia’s not the only one. It happens to us all if we are lucky enough to get to middle age.

There’s an elasticity to time up here. An instinctive understanding that it’s all just a blink. Nothing more than a perception, a manifestation, a construction of mind; a swift and incandescent flight. All we believe to be permanent, secure, safe, and certain has never been any such thing. This is the story we tell ourselves, and each other, in a bid to feel grounded.

The only thing we can count on, truly, is change and impermanence. I relearn the lesson each time I glide out from a cliff launch.

Our kids live as if tomorrows will never run out. Our son Justin racks up debt as if he has several lifetimes to pay it back. Delia and I visited his mortgaged mansion for a gourmet dinner last night; all bells and whistles. We watch him navigate marriage, babies, and finance and — although it requires great restraint — we stick to the sidelines and do no more than observe. I find myself wobbling at times on that hairbreadth line between advice and interference.

It can be a struggle to stay on the right side of it, but I have discovered over the years that perception of actions and events vary depending on where we are placed in life’s landscape. I keep my counsel. We have instilled in them the values we believe will serve them best, we have to stand back now and allow them space for their wing span. There’s nothing easy about it. The gravel of life rattles beneath their feet and then hopefully — flanked by our love — they lift off.

Work, home-life, the kids … I can process, judge, analyse, theorise, and search for solution. I’m limited though, to my own personal narrative storehouse.

I have no real portal into the ideas, visions, wisdom, desires and dreams of others. I see when I’m up here — a speck riding high in sheer blue space — that there is no right and wrong. I am in no position to judge. In the overall scheme of life everyone and everything is paradoxically all important, yet minuscule and transient.

In the rush of a boomer, the concept of impermanence provides a sense of joy; permission to relinquish control which was only ever a delusion anyway. I inhale a sweeping sense of salty freedom. Let the universe take care of it; all happens in order and connectivity.

An aberrant crosswind can change your course when you least expect it. I’m learning — slowly — to ride the current rather than fight it.I wing toward the west now. A gold medallion of sun burns along the sinuous spine of Merewether Heights, the overflow drops out of sight toward Glenrock.

I’m reminded of Icarus. Regardless of the wisdom we assiduously gather and whether or not we choose to apply it, the fall — at some point in life — is inevitable. Time will melt us all. The glory is now, in flight. I relish it and hold faith that the landing will be soft.


Drowning dog pulled from water at Fishing Point

WATER RESCUE: Matthew Mulhearn, Merewether, pulled this border collie, Jake, out of the water and onto his surf ski at Fishing Point on Thursday morning. Picture: Supplied
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A MORNING paddle off Fishing Point became a dramatic canine rescue on Thursday.

Matthew Mulhearn, Merewether, left his parent’s Fishing Point home shortly after sunrise on his surf ski.

“I had gone out around the point near Wangi Wangi and I was just cruising on the home stretch when I saw what I thought was two birds on the water,” he said.

“I got a bit closer and I could see this nose come up for a few seconds and sink again.

“I thought, ‘I’m going to get a good look at a seal, here’.”

But his delight soon turned to horror when he realised it was a dog.

“I wasn’t sure what his reaction would be or if he might attack me but I could see he was on his last breath,” Mr Mulhearn said.

“I reached into the water and pulled him up onto the ski and he took this huge gulp of air.

“He was like a big, wet doona. Half his body was over one side of the ski and his back half over the other.

“He was shivering uncontrollably. The water, I can tell you, is about 26 degrees at the moment so he must have been out there for a while.”

Mr Mulhearn, a Toronto High School teacher, slowly paddled the border collie 50 metres back to shore outside his parent’s home.

He called out to his brother-in-law Mick Maher to make some calls.

“Mick’s had a few issues getting hold of anyone to start with,” Mr Mulhearn said.

“He got messages that ‘these offices are shut’ and no one really seemed to want to do anything about it.”

Luckily, Mr Maher got through to the ranger who was on the scene soon after. He scanned the microchip, which revealed that ‘Jake’ was registered to a Warners Bay address.

“The ranger has tried to call the numbers but they were disconnected,” Mr Mulhearn said.

“So he’s taken him over there.”

Mr Mulhearn is no stranger to multi-leg adventure type races be it on mountain bikeor surf ski, for example. But this was something else.

“I like to get out once or twice a week for paddle, I’m not going to win any comps but I like to keep fit,” he said.

“But when I pulled Jake up onto the ski, which isn’t that stable, I’m looking at all the homes on the water and thinking, ‘I wish someone would come and help me’.”

“One of the neighbours had been watching but like me, he thought it was a seal too.”

A spokeswoman for Lake Macquarie Council saidpet ownership was one of the most rewarding experiences a person could have, albeit with greatresponsibility.

“Having your cat or dog registered and microchipped ensures Council rangers can easily identify and return stray or lost animals to their rightful owners,” she said.

“[Thursday’s] incident highlights just how important it is for owners to notify council if their address or contact details change so records can be updated.”

The council’s administration building and works depot are closed until January 3. The spokeswoman saidin the case of an emergency, people should call 4921 0333.


Cartoonist David Pope and the cartoons that defined 2016

David Pope and the cartoons that defined 2016 2016: A rough plan. What cartoonist David Pope said: “It’s always good to start the new year with a plan. You can then go back to it at the end of the year and see how you fared. I can’t help feeling we probably ended up shoving more back under there than we managed to rake out.”
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Pope: “Politicians spend a lot of time managing their image to appear in control of things, so I draw a lot of things that portray the contingency and chaos of politics. ‘Methodical plans’ announced to dress up policies and compromises cooked up on the fly.”

Pope: “Cartoons about the abuse of power always run the risk of inadvertently reinforcing the powerlessness of victims and the power of the abuser. So it was good to draw these irrepressible survivors of institutional sexual abuse, as they picked each other up on the road from Ballarat to Rome, to bear witness to testimony from n cardinal George Pell, and to seek justice.”

Pope: “The Prime Minister’s relationship with the conservative right wing of his party is complicated. Pressure from peers can mean burying your true feelings and hiding who you really are. So it’s good to provide a safe space in a cartoon where a Prime Minister can talk honestly about how bullying works.”

The long march. Pope: “Another in the series of Tony Abbott as the permanent opposition leader, issuing perspectives on the regime from his guerilla base somewhere in the hills around Canberra. He’ll still be holding out in those hills, years after the war is over.”

“Accepting what the science is consistently telling us about our planet’s climate and humanity’s impact is very difficult. There will be a lot of crying and tantrums on the way to taking prudent action to mitigate that impact, as visiting professor of physics Brian Cox discovered when he met One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts.”

Pope: “This song was my favourite [by David Bowie]. Played now at the end of the year, perhaps the melancholy which accompanied it at the start of they year will give way to more of its tragic defiant optimism.”

Actor Alan Rickman was another performer whose death in 2016 Pope worked into his political commentary.

Singer Leonard Cohen’s death in 2016 made for this poignant tribute.

Malcolm Turnbull’s unconvincing 2016 election win provided plenty of opportunities for satire. And who’s that rushing towards the flaming wreckage with some fuel? Could that be Senator Cory Bernardi?

The Senate shenanigans following 2016’s double dissolution election was a gift for cartoonists. For the PM, not so much.

The return of Pauline Hanson to the national political arena also sparked controversy.

In March 2016, with a defiant Cardinal George Pell in the news and Pope Francis taking aim at so-called Christians seeking to build walls instead of bridges, this cartoon brought together two “Men of destiny”.

A Donald Trump cartoon during the 2016 presidential campaign.

On Trump’s campaign tactics against Hillary Clinton.

Trump’s election triumph.

Pope’s editorial cartoon of July 23, 2016, depicted the consequences for freedom in Turkey of the failed military coup.

This cartoon published on the front page of Turkey’s oldest daily paper comments on the Turkish regime’s efforts to censor critical media coverage.

Pope’s cartoon on the front page of Cumhuriyet, in the panel where the work of the newspaper’s cartoonist Musa Kart should appear.

The newspaper has also left cartoonist Musa Kart’s regular panel symbolically blank since his arrest in November.

TweetFacebookFrom the death of David Bowie to the rise of Donald Trump to whatever you call what Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull spent the year doing, here’s how Fairfax Media cartoonist David Pope captured some of the key events and issues of 2016.In 2016 he depicted Donald Trump as a raging dumpster fire and a Molotov cocktail hurled at the White House, Pauline Hanson as a flaming Redhead match and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull as a sensitive schoolboy bullied by the conservatives in his own party.

So, cartoonist David Pope appreciates more than most ns just how precious are the democratic freedoms that allow cartoonists andindependent media outlets to question, criticise and satirise those in positions of power.

Which is why the Fairfax Media illustrator recently contributed a cartoon to the Turkish newspaper,Cumhuriyet.

Pope’s cartoon was published on the front page of Turkey’s oldest daily newspaper,in the spot where its resident cartoonist Musa Kart’s work usually appears.

Fairfax Media cartoonist David Pope with Ajit Ninan, an Indian political cartoonist, at the opening of Ninan’s 2016 exhibition at the Museum of n Democracy.

Musa was arrested in November, along with a number of his editors and journalist colleagues at the national opposition paper, as part of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s crackdown on critical voices in the media following July’s attempted military coup in Turkey.

While Musa remains in jail,Cumhuriyet, or “Republic”, is filling his regular page-one panel with symbolic blank space or cartoons of solidarity from around the world.

Pope’s simple illustration, depicting a worried-looking world trying to read a censored Turkish newspaper with its cartoon panel ripped out, was published in December as international cartoonist organisations launched a campaign in support of freedom of speech in Turkey.

In a joint statement, the groups Cartoonists Rights Network International, Cartooning for Peace and Cartoon Movement urged “the leadership of every democratic nation to redouble their efforts” to persuade the Turkish government to release “our friend and colleague Musa Kart”.

This cartoon by David Pope published on the front page of the Turkish national daily paper Cumhuriyet comments on the Turkish regime’s efforts to censor and punish media coverage critical of the government.

Arrested on November 5 and jailed pending trial for “committing crimes on behalf of the Fethullahist Terror Organisation and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party”, Musa is reportedly still behind bars in Istanbul’s Silivri prison.

“On what basis can the drawing of satirical cartoons be considered a crime, much less an act of terrorism?,” the executive director of Cartoonists Rights Network International, Dr Robert Russell, said.

President Erdoğan had previously sued Musa for libel in 2005 and slander in 2014.

“We are witnessing an effort by the president to exact revenge on someone he has long considered an enemy,” Dr Russell said.

“On this occasion a punitive fine or jail sentence is not the worst possible outcome, as objectionable as it would be. If granted his stated ambition Erdoğan will reintroduce the death penalty specifically for those said to be involved in organising the coup. Clearly there is a real threat to Musa’s life should his trial proceed and he is found guilty of the charges given.”

The aftermath of the failed coup in Turkey was just one of the international events and issues the Canberra-based Pope explored in his daily editorial cartoons in 2016.

Pope’s July 2016 cartoon on the aftermath of the failed military coup in Turkey.

A Walkley winner for the now-famous “He drew first” cartoon that went viral on social media worldwide in the hours after the January 2015 Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack in Paris, Pope’s cartoons are published inThe Canberra Timesand nine other daily newspapers across regional NSW, Victoria and Tasmania.

Over the past 12 months, the cartoonist’s work has often reflected the global news cycle, from the rise of Trump in the US, the shock of Brexitin Europe and the intractable turmoil ofSyria in the Middle East to the deaths of popular artists like David Bowie, Leonard Cohen and Alan Rickman.

President-elect Trump was variously depicted over the course of the year, through the Republican primaries and the campaign race against Hillary Clinton, as a dumpster fire, a Molotov cocktail hurled at the White House, a flaming Hindenburg airship and a Mexican wrestler in colourful Lucha Libre mask.

Pope on Trump’s campaign tactics against Hillary Clinton.

Back in March, after Pope Francis took aim at candidate Trump by criticising so-called Christians promising to build walls instead of bridges and with Cardinal George Pell as defiant as ever in his Vatican sanctum, one cartoondepicted “President Trump” meeting “Pope George” under what seemed at the time to be a facetious title: “Men of destiny”.

Political shocks and shenanigans closer to home also provided rich pickings for Pope’s satirical penmanship, especially the electoral and party room travails of Turnbull, the return of Hanson and One Nation and assorted budgets, policy backflipsand royal commissions.

The ceaseless chicanery of modern politics is a common refrain of Pope’s visual commentary.

On Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce’s decision to shift public service jobs out of Canberra to his New England electorate.

“Politicians spend a lot of time managing their image to appear in control of things,” he said.

“So, I draw a lot of things that portray the contingency and chaos of politics – ‘methodical plans’ announced to dress up policies and compromises cooked up on the fly.

“Very similar to drawing a political cartoon, really. Especially as the deadline approaches.”

In 2016, Pope continued to draw Turnbull with a tin-can-and-string top hat, a caricature device dating back to the PM’s days as Minister for Communications.

Pope: “It’s good to provide a safe space in a cartoon where a Prime Minister can talk honestly about how bullying works.”

“He now looks naked to me when I draw him without it,” Pope said. “Over time it has become a prop that has taken on a life of its own.”

One of his favourite Turnbull cartoons of 2016 shows the PM as a chastened schoolboy explaining himself over his part in Coalitionattacks on aspects of the Safe Schools anti-bullying program.

“The Prime Minister’s relationship with the conservative right wing of his party is complicated,” Pope explained.

“Pressure from peers can mean burying your true feelings and hiding who you really are. So it’s good to provide a safe space in a cartoon where a Prime Minister can talk honestly about how bullying works.”

One of Pope’s cartoons about the heartbreakand courage brought to light by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was a finalist in Amnesty International ‘s 2016 Media Awards.

This cartoon was a finalist in Amnesty International ‘s 2016 Media Awards.

“Cartoons about the abuse of power always run the risk of inadvertently reinforcing the powerlessness of victims and the power of the abuser,” he said.

“So it was good to draw these irrepressible survivors of institutional sexual abuse, as they picked each other up on the road from Ballarat to Rome, to bear witness to testimony from n cardinal George Pell, and to seek justice.”

To mark the January 2016 passing of pop star David Bowie, the cartoonist steered away from a portrait of the famously androgynous singer.

Pope salutes Bowie, who died in January 2016.

Instead, he imagined a scene of life on Mars and drew on the enduring lyrics of one of the British artist’s hit songs,Heroes.

“While I did not have that personal connection to his art and music that many clearly felt, there was no disputing his influence on popular artistic culture,” Pope said.

“This song was my favourite. Played now, at the end of the year, perhaps the melancholy which accompanied it at the start of the year will give way to more of its tragic defiant optimism.”


short story: White Noise by Brenda Proudfoot

WORTH 1000 WORDS: Each day we will publish a finalist in the Herald short story competition. The winner will be announced on January 28, 2017. Picture: Simone De Peak
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Read the other finalists’ storiesWHEN Shane was arrested, the bush telegraph went into overdrive. Women squalling and squawking like a flock of corellas flung into hot air.

The day after the news broke, Carol and I were having a coffee in the bakery during my lunch break.

Carol was pleased the police had caught him.

She needed someone to blame. Now, her boiling anger had an outlet, a spout of vengeance to ease the raw ache of grief.

She’d never liked the way Shane had hung around with my Matt and her Lisa. It wasn’t anything she could put her finger on, but he’d been brought up differently, hadn’t he? Wasn’t a good influence on our kids.

Carol and I have been friends since the kids were little. All through primary school, Matt and Lisa were inseparable. At high school Shane was in Matt’s footy team, and the three of them became good mates.

Matt left school last year and became a brickie’s apprentice. For the first time in his life, he’d found something he was good at. Shane got a job as a farm labourer, looking after the Reillys’ cattle.

At the weekends the boys went spotlighting together. Matt had a new shotgun and Shane owned a beat-up ute. Shane had the knack of spotting animals. Often, he’d let Matt drive the ute. Sometimes they came home with nothing, but most times they’d get a couple of rabbits or a fox. Occasionally they killed a wild dog but Shane wouldn’t let Matt shoot any roos.

The bush was like Shane’s backyard. He took Matt to a muddy dam where they caught yabbies and down the creek to catch eels.

Once they went way up into the hills where Shane showed Matt a cave with a blackened roof and red handprints on the walls. Lisa wanted to see it but Shane said that it was a secret place where women weren’t allowed to go.

They found Shane’s burnt-out ute in Sawyers Gully. They say Lisa was still in the passenger seat. Matt was thrown clear when the ute rolled. It was a miracle he wasn’t killed. He was in hospital for a week then spent two months on crutches but now he’s well enough to go back to work.

The doctors say, apart from his memory loss, Matt’s made a full recovery, but I find that hard to believe. It’s like the accident drained the life out of him. His eyes are dull, his mouth is sullen.

When I told Matt about Shane’s arrest, he threw down his knife and fork and stormed off to his room. I left him for a while to calm down, then went to ask if he was OK. When I put my head around his door, he swore and told me to go away.

Shane hasn’t been seen round town since the night of the accident. Some people say he headed up north to hide amongst his mob. He didn’t even tell Pat Reilly he was leaving. Once a reliable worker, now he’s reverted to type.

A group of locals saw the three of them at the pub on the night of the accident. They all said Shane and Matt had an argument, but no-one knew what it was about. They reckon Shane got drunk and shouldn’t have been driving. He was tried in the court of popular opinion and found guilty. He had to be punished for taking a life.

I never told Carol I knew Shane and Lisa were dating. It was enough she’d lost her daughter. There was no point in making her disappointed in her girl. I’d seen them hanging out together on the main street. Shane would slip his arm around her and pull her towards him. Lisa would look up at him and smile.

After Carol and I had coffee that day, I went straight back to work. I always close the post office during my lunch break and that day, I was runninga few minutes late. Several people were waiting for me to re-open. I was busy weighing parcels and paying bills when I saw Matt cross the road and disappear into the police station on the opposite side of the street.What on earth was he doing? Why wasn’t he at work?I wanted to head straight over to the police station but, after the way Matt had reacted to the news about Shane’s arrest, I was afraid of making him angry again.That afternoon, I found it hard to concentrate. Was there something Matt wasn’t telling me? Something preying on his mind?

I remembered the way he’d spoken about Lisa at the funeral. It was almost as if he’d been her lover rather than her friend.

The afternoon dragged on and eventually it was time to head home. Matt was sitting in the lounge room. He had the TV remote in his hand but he hadn’t switched it on.

“Hi, Mum,”he said, and my spirits lifted. He hadn’t bothered to greet me for days.“I’ve been to the police and told them I was driving.”

“You can’t do that,”I cried. “Look, I know life’s tough for people like Shane.But you can’t lie – even if he is your best mate.“Listen, Mum,”he said. “It’s the truth. Shane wasn’t even there.”

It turns out Shane and Matt were arguing about Lisa. She’d snatched Shane’s keys off the table and ran out to the ute. Matt chased after her and persuaded her to let him drive. They’d take the ute out for a spin to wind Shane up. Serve him right for being such a dick.

“I had to tell them. I knew the cops wouldn’t believe him.”

I nodded. The white noise flying around town had trashed Shane’s reputation.

I put my arm around my boy and we sat there in silence, as our burden of guilt settled like a brick in my heart.


Hunter Hero: Jacquelyn Poke chops off her long hair to help cancer patientsPHOTOS

A good hair deed for people battling cancer TweetFacebookJacquelyn PokeFundraiserJACQUELYN Poke is a little girl with a big head of hair and an enormous heart.
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The nine year old recently lopped off 40 centimetres of her glorious hair to help make wigs for cancer patients.

She set out to raise $1000 for the Hunter Breast Cancer Foundation too, but her efforts ended up raising more than $2500.

“I just wanted to help sick people feel more happy and normal,” Jacquelynsaid.

She was inspired to cut her hair and raise money by personal events.

Both of her great grandmothers had been affected by cancer. One had passed away from breast cancer, and the other had died of lung cancer before she was born.

But then her uncle was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour, and she saw the effect the treatment had on him.

Jacquelyn’s father, Douglas, said she had watched her “fun loving” uncle become bid ridden, struggling to speak.

“I always loved playing games with my uncle Mark and he always spent time with us making sure we were having a good time,” she said.

“Now with his cancer, he can’t get out of bed, and can’t enjoy the games like we used to.

“His cancer is now too aggressive and can’tbe treated. This makes me very sad for someone who I love so much.”

Surrounded by family and friends, as well as a representative from the Hunter Breast Cancer Foundation, Jacquelyn recently cut off her hair in the hope it would help others going through cancer treatment.

It was the first time she had ever had a “proper” haircut, she said.

“I’ve pretty much been growing it since I was born. I’ve only ever really had a bit of a trim before this,” Jacquelyn said.

“It feels a little bit strange. I can’t stop swishingit around, it’s so much lighter,” she laughed.

Her uncle Mark had shaved his head in support on the same day. A wig maker based on the Central Coast now has the task of turning Jacquelyn’s hair into a wig, possibly several.

“I want to keep doing things for people who are sick, and helping them wherever I can.”

Her familyprovides presents for under-privileged children each Christmas, and Jacquelynoftendonates toys to the oncology ward at the John Hunter Hospital.

“Hopefully we will find a cure for cancer one day, but I have decided to help by raising funds to help those who are suffering,” she said.

Jacquelyn has begun growing her hair out again, and plans to cut it off for charity again in four year’s time.

To donate, visit give.everydayhero苏州夜总会招聘/au/jackie-s-hair-donation.


Begin year with power of gratitude

Confession: Over the last week or so I have been in full chillax. At times I have found myself some what mindlessly drifting through the beautiful summerdays, enjoying that magic time between Christmas and New Year.
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For me, it’s a way of recharging the batteries. In preparation for getting back to reality,I have been taking some time to be more mindful.

A practice recommended by many is mindfulness – which is basically being more aware or conscious of something. It is often about paying attention or being more present in the moment.

I strongly believe that our lives are better when we are more aware of those things that we should be grateful for. In a busy, sometimes stressful world, a great way to do this is simple mindfulness exercise where we list the positives in our lives followed by a short “why”.

There are no hard and fast rules, but here is a format that works for me and the people I work with.

Take a clean sheet of paper (or screen), write in the middle in a circle “what I am grateful for”. Simply fill the page in other circles with the things that you appreciate in your life. For example:

My family. Why? They love me and I love them.

My partner/wife/husband. Why? If we are lucky, they are our best friendand someone to share our life with.

My health. Why? Without it I can’t be there for my family and live a full life.

My work. Why? It allows me to fulfillmy life’s purpose.

My friends. Why? They add value to my life and I add value to theirs.

Where I live. Why? It allows me to live the life I want to live.

The ability to make decisions about what kind of a life I have.

By the way, the exercise isn’t over until you have done two more things. Expressthanks for each of the things that you are grateful for. For example, tell your family you love them. And identifywhat you need to change to have a better situation in some areas of your life.

You could then make a list of actions that you will take to express your thanks, and another list focused on those areas that you have identified that you need to change or improve. This time of the year is a great time to reflect and take an hour to complete the exercise.

For example, if the exercise highlighted that you are very happy and thankful more most areas of your life but you identified that you want to improve your health, the next step is to set some goals and take some action in that area. You may have identified that you are spending too much time with negative people, so you might commit to a new hobby or activity where you will meet new people.

Why not start 2017 by asking yourself, “what am I grateful for?”

Greg Mowbray is a leadership speaker, author, mentor and consultant. Email him at at [email protected]苏州夜总会招聘Greg Mowbray

NEXT STEPS: Leadership expert Greg Mowbray says taking time to seriously ask yourself “what am I grateful for?” is an empowering way to start a new year.


New Year’s Eve is here – no party poopers allowed

Light Show: Fireworks above Nobbys on New Year’s Eve in 2011. Picture: Dean Osland.
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The Urban Dictionary describes a party pooper as “a person who ruins a party by either stopping the fun or not participating in a certain activity”.

It gives this example: “Jeff is a party pooper because he won’t play Spin The Bottle”.

The dictionary gives a secondary meaning for party pooper, as “a person whoruins a festive moment with their attitude”.

The example is: “Jan is such a party pooper, but we went on without her”.

Listen to Mr Bean. He knows what he’s talking about.

The third meaning is too disgusting, so we won’t mention it.

The fourth meaning is: “A person who goes to parties, but kills the mood by not having a good time and sitting in a corner texting on their phone. And they end up leaving earlier than anyone else”.

It gives another meaningwhich we hadn’t heard before: “Portable toilets used at a public party, concertor event”.

The example is: “There’s a long line at the party poopers”.

Anyhow, the point is tonight is New Year’s Eve. So don’t be a party pooper.

Quiet FireworksFireworks have been around for a long time. Apparently they originated in China about 2000 years ago.

Legend has it that a Chinese cook discovered fireworkswhen hemixed charcoal, sulphur and potassium nitrate. Hecompressedit in a bamboo tube and burnt it.

Chinese believe firecrackers have a mythical power to fend off evil spirits and ghosts with loud bangs.

This being the case, they probably wouldn’t appreciate the council in Italy that introduced new laws forcing citizens to use quiet fireworks.

Lawmakers in Collecchio in the province of Parma did so to reduce the distress that the noise from fireworks causes to animals, children and old folks.

Pretty PollutantsWriting about fireworks before last New Year’s Eve, a story aboutfireworks said they were our “prettiest pollutant” and “terrific but toxic”.

“Fireworks are great fun. We all enjoy guessing the colours of the rockets before they ignite in the sky, hearing the explosions echo off nearby buildings, or writing our names in light with hand sparklers. But there is an environmental price to pay. Firework smoke is rich in tiny metal particles,” wrote Gary Fuller,a senior lecturer in air quality atKing’s College London.

“Fireworks can lead to substantial air pollution problems.Fireworks that fall to the ground contain residues of unburnt propellants and colourants, while particle pollution in the air eventually deposits on the ground or gets washed out by rain. Some of this finds its way intolakes and rivers.”

This problem has been linked to thyroid problems, causing limits to be set for drinking waterin some US states. “This is a major concern forlakeside resortsand attractions that have frequent fireworkdisplays,” Gary wrote.

This information definitely qualifies for party-pooper status. Not to worry, the BBC reported “clean and green fireworks” have been invented. Now, we suppose, it’s just a matter of people actually using them.

ResolutionsQuit smoking, go on a diet, exercise more, be a better person, travel more, work less, have more fun, eat more vegies, spend less time on social media, be more sociable, face your fears, become a romantic, learn a language, get better at your own language, save more, spend more, take more risks, take less risks, make more money, make less money, be nicer, be less nice, sleep more, sleep less, watch less TV, watch more TV,read more, read less, get a new partner, dump your partner.They’re all worthy in certain circumstances.

Our New Year’s resolution is to be less prefect.

Hangover TipsHere’s some tips to avoid a hangover from theesteemed magazine Cosmopolitan.

Double up on multivitamins, order a burger instead of a salad, rest up, skip champagne, make your roadie a Powerade, stick with clear liquor, choose juice over soda mixers, dance your ass off,drink a glass of water or two before bed, wear a sleeping mask,take an ibuprofen pill, forget hair of the dog, eat eggs the next morning.

We admit, some of this sounds a bit party-pooperish. But, hey, hangovers suck.


Year in Review 2016, in my little neighbourhood

WE knew it was going to be one of those years when the vote was tallied and a narcissistic megalomaniac came out on top.
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“Well,buggerme,” said Frank from two doors up when I told him. “We didn’t see that coming.”

That’s what 2016 has been like where I live.

One minute the local residents’ action group was plodding along writing outraged letters to the editor about potholes and a lack of police, and then came the coup. Alan the retired accountant was ousted as president and Ralph the realestate agent/developer/formertelevangelist was in, all fired up with plans for a casino in the school of arts hall.

It’s been a big year globally and nationally –the European migration crisis, no end to the tragedy in Syria, Brexit, terrorist attacks, Donald Trump’s victory, Malcolm Turnbull’s near defeat, theearly deaths of so many celebrities, and growing alarm about climate change and the politics of climate change.

But in Upper Wombatville where I live–community motto,“Leafblowers and chainsaws rule”-it’sbeen a REALLY big year, starting with the Farraghers’New Year’s Eve party to end 2015.

Everyone was there. The Farraghers, of course, although we raised a glass for young Justin, doing time for his coming-of-agemalicious damage, graffiti, vandalism and letterbox-smashingspree.

Marge Farragher wastearful as she downed her fifth bubbly.

“He’s only got three months to go. It’s been so quiet, and of course I’m loving my new sewing room. Maybe we can do up a bedroom in the garage when he comes back,” she blubbered.

A few of us noticedthe Farraghers’youngest, Tiffany, lookinga bitpeaky, although Ethel from number 42 thought she’d beefed up since we’d last seen her.

Trust a retirednurse and NSWCWAvice president to get it in one.

When the countdown for 2016 started young Tiff stood on the tank stand, andbefore you could say“Watch out for the hippeastrums”, she blurted out her news.

“Mum, Dad, congrats, you’re going to be grandparents.Dwayne hasto move inbecause his olds have thrown him out,” she said as we cheered in the new year, Marge fainted, and Bazza launched himself at Dwayne, the best halfback Bazza hasever coachedand, apparently, the father of his future grandchild.

As wewanderedhome later we heard Bazza smashing through Gladys McMahon’shydrangeas. As some of the old hands knew, it wasDwayne’s favourite hiding spotas a little tacker when he didn’t want to go to training.

There was the fire at number 57 in April. While most of us were sleeping, Darrell and Beryl Brown decided it was a good time to burn off the garbage pile in their backyard that’s been accumulating since Don Lane won a Gold Logie.

Maybe it was the home brew they’d been drinking. Maybe it was the warm westerly that had been blowing for most of the day. Or maybe it was the mower fuel Darrell decided to throw on the pile to, as he put it, “give it a bit of a rev up”. But the backyard burn was out of hand quicker than Darrell can down a cold one.

It only took a few minutes for Gary and Graeme -the nice gay couple who moved into number 55 with high hopes of a quiet life, and then they met Darrell and Beryl –to wake up to choking smoke and flames licking their pagoda’s west wall, and the whole street was alive to the sounds of fire trucks and Beryl shrieking for the cat.

The police were nice. The ambos did a good job with the oxygen after Beryl made a dash for the dining room to rescue her best china and was beaten back by thick smoke from the plastic lounge covers. And we all learnt a valuable lesson:if you’re going to light an illegal backyard fire in the middle of the night, don’t wear a see-through short nightie and undies with dodgy elastic.

There were departures this year. Justin, as mentioned. The Taylors,who movedto Queenslandunder the mistaken impression Pauline Hanson had been voted Premier. The Barrett triplets, who left for Europe on a Monday and whose parents, Steph and Bill, sold the house the next day and moved to New Zealand without leaving a forwarding address. And Gladys McMahon, who’d had enoughof Bazza smashing her hydrangeas and left fora nursing home.

But the big news, of course, was Ralph’s coup. There was excitement when he moved into the big house on the corner and added a third floor, tennis court and 8-car garage. We’d all seen him on TV spruiking land releases and praising his personal saviour.

But no one thought he’d topple Alan.

There were the debates, where Alan championed kerb and guttering for the whole neighbourhood, keeping kids from cluttering up the local park, mandatory lawn mowing days and a residents’ veto on newcomers to the area.

But Ralph went one further. He was going to make Upper Wombatville great again by seceding from ,erecting a wall and producing a new currency to use at the casino he planned in the old school of arts hall.

“The beauty of me is that I’m very rich,” said Ralph when Alan supporters opposed the casino and heckled him over his years as a televangelist.

“I’m going to build a big wall because I’m very rich, and you’re going to be on the other side of it,” he told them.

Ralph’s term starts in January. We’re holding our breath.

And as the sun sets at Upper Wombatville on Saturday and we count down to 2017, one thing we know for certain –when the world seems crazy and getting crazier, there’s comfort in knowing the grass will just keep growing.