Author: Gillian Bouras

  • AUSTRALIA

    It is my duty to remember

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 21 April 2017
    16 Comments

    Every Anzac Day there seem to be arguments about the legitimacy of what has been called the One Day of the Year. In the past I have taken my turn at rebutting views that express the belief that such days are part of a wholly reprehensible glorification of war. I've had a great deal of time to think about the matter, and also have a personal involvement: my grandfather and father were in the Australian Army, and both saw active service, about which periods they hardly ever spoke.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Letters from dystopia in these best and worst of times

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 04 April 2017
    6 Comments

    Small wonder there is a particular surge of interest in dystopian novels: many people feel times have never been so troubled or so complicated, although I remember my father pointing out that people felt the same when the longbow and later gunpowder were invented. Amazon recently reported that Orwell and Huxley are selling like hot cakes. This at a time when certain purveyors of doom are lamenting the fact that 26 per cent of Americans, for example, did not read a single book during 2016.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Down syndrome in and out of love

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 14 February 2017
    12 Comments

    A school mate of mine had a sister called Edith. I wondered why Edith didn't go to our school. 'Edith doesn't look like us,' I told my mother. 'No,' agreed mum, 'that's because she was born different from most people. But she's quite happy, and her family loves her. Babies bring their love with them.' Edith had Down syndrome. I know now my mother had a point: such children as I have observed in the long years since I knew Edith have been happy and loved. But it's not always the case.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    What I did in my holidays

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 17 January 2017
    7 Comments

    It seems incredible that there were ten of those summers, consecutive ones when three generations coexisted happily. My siblings and I had an idyllic Ocean Road beach practically all to ourselves, the men went fishing every afternoon, except when, to Grandfather's annoyance, an easterly was blowing, and the women, in time-honoured fashion, kept everybody fed. Of course change was inevitable, although I didn't really believe it, and started with my grandmother's death. I was 19.

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  • EDUCATION

    Christmas encounter with an unremembered student

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 20 December 2016
    9 Comments

    I have no idea how many students I've taught in two countries. I remember, usually, the high achievers and their troublesome and often troubled opposites, but most are a blur: the human memory has its limits. On the other hand I think I can name all the teachers I ever had: this, of course, is much easier to do. There was more evidence of this today. I was in the Kalamata post office, waiting my turn and clutching a fistful of cards bound for Australia, when a bearded young man asked me a question.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Mooted boat ban ignores history and humanity

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 08 November 2016
    15 Comments

    It would be interesting to know how many of our forbears were illegal immigrants. One of my great-great-grandfathers was. From County Down in Ulster, he was only 16 when he used his thumb print to sign on as a seaman; it was 1847, midway through the Great Famine. Throughout the long journey he was persistently bullied by a petty officer. One morning he snapped, and clobbered the bully with a deckscrubber. Convinced he had killed the man, my ancestor jumped overboard.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Flagging patriotism in a divided world

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 21 October 2016
    8 Comments

    Before I turned five, I was in the serried Monday morning ranks of children who had to swear, among other vows, to honour the flag. Years later I watched, shocked, as a Greek friend burst into tears at the sight of the emblematic blue and white stripes at a soccer match: big, strapping Panayiotis sobbed helplessly for quite some minutes. Today the American elections are almost upon us, and Old Glory has naturally been very much in evidence throughout this most gruelling and worrying of campaigns.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Athenian taxi driver's keys to happiness

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 07 October 2016
    6 Comments

    The man's grandparents were from Ithaca, the storied isle, but he himself had always lived in Athens. I learned he had not been driving a cab for very long, but had taken to it when his business failed because of the continuing financial crisis. A familiar tale in the Greece of today, alas. But he acknowledged he was lucky to have a job at all, and went on to say that he had no complaints, because he had realised his ambition. I asked what this was. He replied: 'I have educated my children.'

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Grandchildren are your children twice over

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 22 August 2016
    7 Comments

    When we were all younger, I wrote about my three sons. In the words of Sir Thomas More, their characteristics strangely tugged at my heart, and like More, I fed them cake, ripe apples and fancy pears. Among other things. But eventually there was a mild rebellion about the writing, in the course of which my eldest threatened to send me a bill. Now I write about my grandchildren, three boys and a girl, who are too young as yet to be so commercially minded.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Home is a place that you leave behind

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 04 July 2016
    8 Comments

    Every migrant, and every ageing person, loses a home and the past: that is simply the way things are. Fortunate people have the chance to make another home, and to write a series of additional chapters in their personal stories. We look back at the past, but can never revisit it. And would we really want to? We should always be careful what we wish for, as many British people who voted to leave the EU may now well be learning only too painfully.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    A righteous sermon about the haves and have-nots

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 23 May 2016
    11 Comments

    In America, Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon, received a salary of more than $40 million in 2012. He is apparently a devout Christian, so I wonder whether he ever worries about Matthew chapter 19, verse 24: it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God. The 400 richest Americans own more wealth than the GDP of India. In contrast, vast numbers of their fellow citizens have less than $1000 in their savings and cheque accounts combined.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Francis in Lesbos confronts the unforgivable sin

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 19 April 2016
    10 Comments

    Pope Francis recently visited the island of Lesbos, another scene of immigrants' dire suffering, and surprised the world by taking 12 refugees back to Rome with him. Bernie Sanders asserted that the Pope, in his gesture of hope, is surely the greatest demonstration against a surrender to despair. I am still partly persuaded by Graham Greene's view of despair as being the unforgivable sin, but I'm also giving some thought to the distressing matter of indifference.

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