Sunday, December 25

Merry Christmas

Above is our family photo on Christmas day: from the left is Son in law Alex with son Declan, daughter Nicla with Alice (Vanessa's newborn), Rachael with Liam (Nicla & Alex's baby), daughter Vanessa, Anne (wife) and son in law Mark.

Thankyou for your comments and interesting articles during 2005. I look forward to a continuance next year!

My youngest daughter Rachael, was very creative with her Christmas presents this year, the cost was a considerable amount of time and thoughtfulness but without much material expense. An alternative to the consumer Christmas has been a popular topic and should you be interested Rachael has posted an article and some photos of her hand made presents on her "less is more blog" [[click here]]

Thursday, December 22

Charlie A Father

My Father was a”mans”man. A bomber pilot in World War 2, invalided out of the war from his posting in India in 1944, where he had contracted some sort of blood disorder before hostilities ended in 1945. The war changed my father’s character.My Mother, knew this, and made such unbelievable allowances for him which seems inconceivable to me to day.

One day Charlie had been playing golf. As usual he had enjoyed himself with his mates, Curley Campbell, who loved to bet, and partnering Cuttee the club champion and other players had joined in for a game of “skins”. A “skin’ in golf is a hole won and my father had had a good day, collecting more than his fair share of winning “skins”. So he happened to consume a good portion of his “winnings” at the Club Bar. So much so that it caused him to overlook his planned wedding anniversary dinner date with my mother that night. Much later he drove home slowly, aware he’d had too much to drink.

Meanwhile at home my Mother had been sitting, rigidly in her chair, dressed for the evenings planned engagement, patiently waiting for “Charlie” to finally arrive home.There was certain tension in her tiny frame, like a steel spring ready to snap at the slightest surface disturbance.

Charlie arriving home saw my mother through the window dressed for the occasion, sitting motionless in the chair and remembered the anniversary dinner plans as he walked up the steps to open the front door.He opened the door slowly, tentatively; considering an appropriate entrance, at the same time reaching for his hat and crouching forward, as if in combat, gently throws it. It glides over the furniture for the perfect soft “landing” at my mother’s feet.

Charlie kept a War Diary.

Went on a 1,000 mile trip last night, a “bullseye”. Bags of searchlights and few night fighters. Flew at 13,000 feet and nearly froze.We are on another “bullseye” last night, airborne from 10pm, until 5am, about a 1,000 miles .Wizard trip. No night fighters but search lights were troublesome, my starboard motor wasn’t behaving very well, (it was a lousy kite anyway) and I was very pleased to return safely to base. Whole crew very tired. Squadron Leaders had given us the night off, so it’s early to bed.

My mother heads slowly turned, coldly eyeing its presence. Eyes glanced to the door; tension subsides at Charlie’s hesitant entrance. A momentarily flicker of compassion passes over her, for her Charlies home.
Charlie’s enters the room, a fleeting glance to my Mother, as confidence returns.

A contrite Charlie stands before the ‘Commander’ for he’s arrived back at base at 9.30am in the morning after a nights celebration ‘and his boys caught AWL are in plenty trouble’ but the incident is quickly overlooked.

He speaks slowly to disguise any hint of slur, ‘Hello Dear. Now I was thinking about our anniversary. Rather than take you out to –night as we planned I have a better idea. Tomorrow we could celebrate, you can cook for me my favourite “Sunday roast’ and I will invite all my air force mates, from whom you will hear some good jokes.’

This reminded me of the frequent stories by “Charlie” of the dear English folk whose homes became a home away from home to the “lads” from Australia.They outpoured the best of “British” gratitude. The ‘Homes of England ‘became a refuge, a sanctuary, warmth. Stiff upper lips, ‘The British Empire’, don’t worry about the bombs, siren going off, bloody nuisance, those bloody Germans, finish your cup of tea first son.

My fathers often spoke about it, almost in reverent tone, not one to normally show his feelings. Land of hope and glory, this was their finest hour.

A time to record it.

Arrived at the BBC studios at 9.30am. met several officials then a rehearsal after which we began recording. We made 6 records, 2 of which had to be repeated. because of technical faults. The BBC fellas were very pleased, called in story writers and 2 newspaper correspondents to get our story. To day we are going to have our photograph taken for the papers.

“Feeling a bit peckish Charlie” asks my Mother, fully restored to her devotional self.

Yes, sure I am.

Steak and Eggs ?.

Just what the Doctor ordered.

The Medical Superintendent handed Charlie his papers. Cause for celebration you’re being invalided out of the air force.The post message was brief
'Darling I’m on my way home. I can’t wait to see you. Everyone at the hospital is jealous. They have drawn pictures of you with me coming towards you. They think you’re a good sort. I nearly died, they thought I was goner, but I pulled through for you my dear, I was unconscious for 10days. I’m coming home.'

Her “Charlie’s returning.

It was almost too painful to talk about the long separation to anyone.
They (her feelings) must not be mentioned in any detail ever.

The emotion is an ocean, and you must not swim against the tide.
It’s not a good idea.
The red roofed houses of Sydney have received many telegrams of those who will not return. It casts a grey shadow over the community.

A sad note too deep to hear.

His premature death from cancer aged 57 was hastened, if not directly caused by his wartime experiences. I remember he had continued difficulty in breathing and frequent bouts of bronchitis. At his funeral I can remember the streets being blocked off; in anticipation of the large crowd as all of the numerous service organisations he had served so well, came to bid “au revoir” to their “faithful digger”.

And of course the spirit of those great mates, the best friends he ever had, who had perished earlier, in the “Theatre of War” were also present in the form of the last entry in his diary. …it seems if the war is like a series of more or less interesting events, with a nightmare of sudden death in the background. Many of the fine lads mentioned in this book will never again to see their homes. They will always, to me, be the good friends they were when we last met, they were men I was proud to call ‘friend”.

My parents marriage appeared to be made in heaven for I can scarcely remember a single cross word ever spoken between them .But it was based on a lop sided devotion of my Mother to my father, who reigned supreme. And to whom she spoilt rotten.

It belongs to a past era, never to be repeated, as the two stories testify.

Tuesday, December 20

Christmas Passsion Point

Charless Kovess introduced the importance of "Vision" in a previous issue and now has the results of the survey. He has listed what are considered the top 7 companies visions.

I think his Chrismas message set in California may be of interest and the newsletter is reproduced below.

A Passion Point to Ponder 20 December 2005

Welcome to the 11th Passion Point for 2005.

Our goal this year with these Passion Points has been to provoke you so that your business, and the rest of your life, become filled with more passion,performance, and improved balance of mental, physical, and spiritual elements. We are grateful for the many emails of gratitude that you sent to us during the year.

You will recall from last month’s Passion Point (16 November) that we conducted a survey amongst our readers, asking for inspirational Vision Statements that we could share with you.

Here are the top seven that appeal most to us, chosen on the basis of our work with teams that are inspired by a powerful vision:

1. Hydro Tasmania's vision is "… being Tasmania's world-renowned renewable energy business".

2. Vision for ANZ’s National Bank Limited :
To be New Zealand's leading bank through quality people, quality service,quality performance.

3. The vision statement of Hobart City Church of Christ is:
To become the living presence of Jesus in the City of Hobart.

4. Haigh’s Chocolates’ vision is to be "National Retailer of Choice selling our high quality chocolates"

5. The school vision of Tannum Sands SHS is encapsulated in the
MOTTO: Creating Our Futures and KEY VALUES: Respect, Responsibility and Excellence

6. Sensis’ vision is 'to make complex lives simpler'.

7. State Water Corporation of NSW's vision is 'to be Australia's most effective water business'.

The winner of the prizes worth over $1100 was randomly selected out of a hat, with all respondents having a chance to win. The winner is Ric De Garis, Managing Director of Kendle Australia. Kendle’s vision is "None of us is as smart as all of us" Congratulations to him!

However, we also had so many respondents, that we’ve decided to give three consolation prizes of a book to each of the following, whose names were also drawn out of the hat:

John Britten of Hydro Tasmania
Annabelle Beaumont of Sensis
Lindsay Byrnes of QBE.

Congratulations to all of you.



A man and a mare once brought Christmas magic to a small boy. They still do, if you read Bret Harte's short story "How Santa Claus Came to Simpson's Bar".

Set in a mountain mining settlement above California's Sacramento Valley, the story begins on Christmas Eve 1862 and ends on Christmas morning. The Christmas Eve storms have swollen the rivers and Simpson's Bar is cut off from the rest of the world. It's a dreary place and, for one small, sick boy -- whose mother had once told him about "Sandy Claws" -- it must have seemed a very dark world. To the boy, Christmas was just a story and, as heis being nursed to sleep by his father, a few men of the town, led by one Dick Bullen, gather and resolve to bring Santa Claus to the boy and
Simpson's Bar.

Between midnight and dawn, Dick rides his wild and ugly mare Jovita to Tuttleville and back. They brave storms, swollen rivers and attempted human intervention; returning to Simpson's Bar before the boy awakes. Dick carries with him a small waterproof bag containing a few small wooden toys. One broken, one almost spoilt by water and one marked. It was the best he could do in the middle of the night.

Harte does not record the child's waking words, only those of Nick Bullen to is father "tell him Sandy Claws has come." Harte goes on "And even so,bedraggled, ragged, unshaven and unshorn, with one arm hanging helplessly at his side, Santa Claus came to Simpson's Bar and fell fainting on the first threshold."

Our Christmas mornings are usually a little less dramatic. Our children's and grand children's gifts are, typically, more than a few damaged and broken toys. Yet, all gifts are borne of the same spirit. It is this spirit which shapes our Christmas and, through our gifts, the Christmas of others. Unlike the town of Simpson's Bar we are not isolated from the world, but like that town, our spirit rises above all and connects us to friends and loved ones.

Unlike Dick Bullen, we need not ride through storms and rivers to buy and bring our gifts to others. Our gifts, whether purchased, or borne within, are just as precious as the spirit that bears them.

Harte gave his gifts to the world too. Little known today, he was once one of America's most popular authors, with over forty films being made from his stories. "How Santa Claus Came to Simpson's Bar" was first published in 1872. Its final words record:

"The Christmas dawn came slowly after, touching the remote peaks with the rosy warmth of ineffable love. And it looked so tenderly on Simpson's Bar that the whole mountain as if caught in a generous action, blushed to the skies."

May your Christmas dawn, and those thereafter, be filled with love. May your actions be as generous as the spirit that lives within you.


"Never a lip is curved with pain that can't be kissed into smiles again."Bret Harte (1839-1902), American author.

Are your lips curved with pain, or does your spirit regain the smile that gives so much?

"If of all the words of tongue and pen,
The saddest are 'It might have been,'
More sad are those we daily see:
'It is, but hadn't ought to be!'

Bret Harte (1839-1902), American author.

Are your days and words what they ought to be, or do you see a change of scene; a difference from the might have been?


Charles Kovess
Australia’s Passion Provocateur ©

Copyright- Charles B. Kovess & David J. Wood of Passionate Performance.Republication welcome provided authors are acknowledged & advised at above address. If you want to see Charles on video, or listen to audio, just go to and follow the links.


For a list of keynote speech topics that Charles would love to deliver in a passionate, entertaining, provocative, and educational way to your teams,clients, or prospects, at breakfast, lunch or dinner, see below.

All 137 published Passion Points to Ponder are on our website. If you wish to review them, please visit the site. If you wish to receive a list of the 137 titles of the Passion Points please let us know.





Best regards from Australia's Passion Provocateur (copyright)
Charles Kovess LL.B.(Hons), LL.M., CSP*
Immediate Past National President
National Speakers' Association of Australia(*CSP means Certified Speaking Professional, the highest membership category of NSAA and the only internationally recognised designation for professional speakers.)
ph 0395622248
mobile 0412317404
PO Box 1412, Central Park East Malvern Vic 3145
Office: 17 Notre Dame Parade, Mulgrave Vic 3170
Author of 'Passionate People Produce' and 'Passionate Performance'
Co-author of '7 Heavenly Virtues of Leadership'

Sunday, December 18

Alice May, Mother and Grandparents

Here is a picture directly above of the proud Mother and Child. Both are doing very well. The baby has recovered remarkedly and the Doctors are all amazed. The baby has lost weight, but soon that initial loss will be reversed as she is tempoarily being given a supplement to her mothers milk supply. Vanessa also lost some blood in the operation and her red cell count is down, but not enough to warrant a transfusion. She is also recovering rapidly and is in good spirits.

Above the first picture we have the proud grandparents.
The first is my wife Anne and above, Mark's parents Muriel and Gary all joyfully holding Alice.

Friday, December 16

Miraculous baby girl Alice

Our eldest daughter Vanessa gave birth to a daughter about 8 am on Thursday morning within 10 minutes of being induced. The baby is doing fine,feeding very well and Vanessa is okay but feeling shaky and nauseas from the effect of her rushed caesarian surgery. The baby had a main artery located in such a position that this was inevitable it would be severed once the membrane broke.

By another stroke of good fortune the operating theatre was in the very last stages of preparation for another caesarian operation so they operated immediately.

The series of events are all somewhat miraculous.

If she had been at home and not decided to be induced the baby would have died. If her Doctor had not carried out the inducement and the theatre was not in the final stages of preparation at that precise time for a caesarian operation, the baby would have died.

Even so the baby had lost 70% of its blood at birth.

Tests have revealed no side effects; the pediatrician is delighted at her quick recovery hence she is known as the miracle baby in the Hospital where she is staying.

Wednesday, December 14

Time For Peace

I have just finished reading Dorothy Rowe’s book ‘Time on Our Side". kindly lent to me by Roger Gray who is employed by QBE be in Melbourne. Thanks Roger, it was good read.

It gave me the inspiration to compose a short poem entitled


Time is space for poets line
Time is space, what we create
Time is space, space our time
Time a space for peaceful state

Time is not our fateful date
Time is our imagined state
Time is not our real estate
Time a space for peaceful state

Time to cast off fears of time
Time to cast off fears of life
Time to cast off fears of death
Time a space for peaceful state

I think time and space are the same. If your interested in why I think that is the case click to read about that from my previous posting -assuming you think you have the time.

Sunday, December 11

The Birthing Centre

Our family to day celebrated 2 new births and one imminent birth, with our daughters Vanessa, Nicla and Rachael, along with husbands Alex and Mark, joined by grandchildren Declan and Liam and visiting friend Helga.

Vanessa, who is pictured directly above is expecting a baby girl in the next few days.Her husband Mark is soon to become DR after 5 years of hard part time study. Can you notice how he cradles his PHD publication, a birth of all 360 type written pages without alteration from his supervisors. .

Above is Rachael, who proudly gave birth to her permaculuturally based veggie garden.

Thursday, December 8

Letters from Malawi

If you're interested in world news you might like to read about Malawi from some facinating local contacts. I have posted 2 recent letters from Fr Patrick McCallion and Sr. Mary Doonan, a medical missionary, assisted by the Malwai Support Group (an inititave of the parish I belong to) Click here for link to the Malwai Support Group Blog. It's wonderful to hear news first hand rather than through the filter of popular press.

Wednesday, December 7

Corporate Social Responsibility

Even though in Australia companies are embracing ethical and fair corporate governance principles within their charters and seeking to confirm a culture of social responsibility I think the broader community remains highly sceptical. Part of the problem I believe is the lack of an understanding of ethical guiding principles amongst the “top management ranks “. I notice this aspect in many Annual Reports where mention is made of “upholding ethical standards “ without mentioning specifically as to how this is done. On the question of community social responsibility we also find statements of intent rather than of substance, vague notions that lead me to believe “flowery words “ are being used to pay lip service to this important aspect of Corporate reporting.

Maybe what’s also needed is training of Business executives on how to incorporate Corporate Social Responsibilities into their company’s culture. Changing culture takes a long time and is much had harder than most realise. From an educational viewpoint in most business courses, such as MBAs, the idea of ethics and social responsibility is not well covered. Maybe in some countries there are these optional subjects but on the whole those entering the work force haven’t got a particularly good grounding on ethics. Worse still many top executives are very poorly versed and I think that’s the reason for the community scepticism as they lack the clarity of thought to express clearly joint community initiatives. As far as the professional bodies are concerned they are doing a lot of worthwhile work in research and capturing the concerns of their professional members. Click here to view the latest survey by CPA Australia.

Sunday, December 4

Social Capital

When we measure economic development we tend to use crude economic data and compare per capita income in determining our financial health and prosperity. Non monetary aspects such as the value of voluntary work and our general community wellbeing are ignored. Our current crude monetary measurement makes no allowance for replacement and reinstatement of consumed finite resources. Its' an aggregation of honest and corrupt activities indistinguishable between those upholding human rights and those involved in abuses.

What's the solution? Introduce the term 'Social Capital'. By that I refer to the value of a community network of social interaction, the civic responsibility and trust that exists within communities, an expression of values and whether or not they are being upheld.
You might say this as a somewhat vague notion but I think it needs urgent debate, definition and measurement to determine our current level of wellbeing within communities of people.

I suspect with the current "War on Terror" our community standards overall and values are decreasing at an alarming rate in many countries, but the politicians have no fears, as our measurement is anecdotal, a confusion of sorts, characterized by a vague sense of unease and some irate bloggers. Such unease often surfaces long after the events that preceded it were suitably quarantined away from the public eye.

If you would like to understand better what's meant by social capital and its progress a good source is social commentator Author Robert D Putman. Click here.

In Australia the Commonwealth Bureau of Statistics has 'Social Capital' as 'Work in Process'. Click here to visit their site.

I hope one day we will be measuring 'Social Capital' and ensuring that it is showing an improved trend just like unemployment, compared around the world as a matter of course. We need international standard for social capital and I hope one day it's included as part of Foreign Policy.

I am not saying its a panacea for all ills, rather an improvement on the current fatally flawed system of economic measurement.

Saturday, December 3

Australian Christmas Carols

At the time I grew up as a child Australia was more “English” than the English. We sang traditional English Christmas carols and songs about a winter wonderland each Christmas despite it being in the height of our hot summer. Our parents slaved over a hot stove to serve up our piping hot Christmas family dinner with plum pudding appropriate to any English household blanketed in snow.

At this time the landscape in Australia fades to brown, and is fanned by hot Northerly winds”, which herald the beginning of the ever present threat of raging bush fires. Australia is a fragile land and one of the driest on planet earth.

The summer heat brings with it an increased chorus from our birds who loudly proclaim the new seasons bush flowers. At that time we would head for the beach or plan family picnics alongside cool streams by shaded trees.
Australian Composer John Wheeler captures that reality with these evocative words as Christmas carols, which I like to sing each year. “Orana” is an aboriginal word meaning “Welcome”. Here are 3 of his carols

Carol of the Birds

Out on the planes the Brolgas are dancing
Lifting their feet like war horses prancing
Up to the sun the wood larks go winging
Faint in the dawn light echoes their singing
Orana! Orana! Orana to Christmas day

Down where the tree ferns grow by the river
There where the waters sparked and quiver
Deep in the gullies Bell birds are chiming
Softly and sweetly their lyrics notes rhyming
‘Orana! Orana! to Christmas Day

Friar birds sip the nectar of flowers
Currawongs chant in wattle tree boxes
In the blue ranges, Lorikeets calling
Carols of bush birds rising and falling
‘Orana! Orana! to Christmas Day

Christmas Day

The North Wind is tossing the leaves
The red dust is over the town
The sparrows are under the Eaves
And the grass in the paddock is brown

As we lift up our voices and sing
To the Christ child the heavenly King

The tree ferns in green gullies sway
The cool stream’s flow silently by
The joy bells are greeting the day
And the chimes are adrift in the sky

As we lift up our voices and sing
To the Christ Child the heavenly king

How about 3 wise drovers!!

Across the plains one Christmas night, 3 drovers riding by ….and gay
Looked up and saw a starry light, more radiant than the Milky Way
And on their hearts such wonder fell, they sang with joy “Noell Noell”

The air was dry with summer heat and smoke was on the yellow moon
But from the heavens faint and sweet came floating down a wondrous tune
And as they heard the sang full well, those Drovers 3 “Noell Noell”

The black swans flew across the sky, the wild dog called across the plain
The starry lustre blazed on high, still echoed on the heavenly strain
And still they sang “Noell Noell ” those drovers 3 “Noell Noell”