Songs to lift the Spirt

Inspired by Alan Kohler’s reference to Strauss’ Last Four Songs Eureka Report – here are a few from You Tube to lift the spirts, including Jessie Norman’s version of “Beim Schlafengehen” (Going to sleep).

Ava Maria, irrespective if you are religious or not, is just the most amazing melody, in my humble option that is. Jessie Norman has the most beautiful voice and here it is done justice. Summertime is sung by Leontyne Price, an encore at the White House during Carters time in office, apparently. Billy Holiday is my favourite and here she sings Strange Fruit – if you have not heard this song listen carefully, it was performed first in 1936. If you think back to that time, this was truely a beautiful and brave performance.

Enjoy! Oh, and there is a ring in at the end.

Ava Maria

Beyonce has a beautiful version also.


Strauss’ last four songs


Jessie Norman

Summertime – Leontyne Price

Strange Fruit – Billy Holiday

Based on a poem by Abel Meeropol in 1936, one of the first racial

protest songs.

I am in Jordan, so here is one I found.

Father-Daughter time in Jordan

Nicola arrived safely and we enjoyed a great time travelling around some of Jordan and sampling some of what Amman has to offer.

Her flight from Heathrow was delayed nearly two hours, but she was out so quickly at the Amman airport I nearly missed her. On Tuesday she was woken in the morning by 2 hours of call to prayer to mark the Eid holiday celebration.

We ventured up to Jerash and enjoyed the sites and had lunch which was very nice. It was lovely weather and not too crowded. Jerash is just fantastic and now that I can get in for 1JD with my residency card I will go back often. The North West of Jordan is full of interesting places: Jearsh, Pella, Ajloun, Umm Qais to name a few.

After an early night we left for Petra at 6.30 and made it down by 9.30 – the highway, especially after the turn-off passes through some of the most inhospitable terrain. The weather again was kind and although Niki was not too impressed with the treatment of the horses and one amazing scene with a donkey, she thoughly enjoyed chalking up number 4 on the list of the Worlds Wonder she has seen.

The incident with the donkey deserves mention. The boy rider was trying to get the donkey to move, it would not, so he got off and grabbed a small boulder about 1foot in diameter, jumped back on and banged it onto the donkeys head. Well I let the boy, his two adult minders and who else cared to listen that this was just not on! It occurred to me latter that this was obviously learned behaviour and that probably the animals were not as well treated as we might hope.

Petra was left behind and off we headed to the Movenpick resort on the Dead Sea – we were upgraded to private suits with a private pool and patio area, which you got to via double opening doors. This was a highlight in Nicola’s eyes, and mine I have to say.

The trip back to Amman was over the mountain range to Madaba and then onto Amman, this, like all trips down or up the range to or from the Dead Sea provides spectacular vistas of the West Bank and other occupied areas, as well of the geographic landscapes in general.

Thursday night was a trip to books@cafe for dinner and an early night – Niki is getting tied these days and needs her rest.

In the middle of this fun we got the news that my younger daughter was ill with of all things Glandular Fever! Flowers and a teddy bear were dispatched to cheer her up.

The Friday was a quiet rest day, but thanks to my good friend Niki (can be confusing as they have the same first name) who took us to the old town at night, Nicola was able to sample the delights of the famous Hashem eatery and to have a look around the souks and markets – thanks Niki for taking us.

Arising at 5.30am for the trip to the airport, Nicola has flown back to London.

A great experience for both father and daughter – possibly our last holiday together on our own.

By the way, on Friday morning I received the news that I had been awarded my Doctorate from the University of Melbourne – well done me!


A trip to Pella from Amman is best done via Jerash, if you go up to Irbid it is bit longer and the signage is easy to miss! Take the turn-off to Jerash, then via Aljon Castle and little further on you reach Pella, if you continue on past the Pella turn-off you will make it to the Jordan valley.

The day was perfect, weather warm, sky blue and the start of a nine day break. I picked my friend Niki up at 9am and by lunch time we had found Pella, and it was reasonably warm so I think we were both relieved that we did not feel it necessary to walk in through the small gate marking the entrance to the site but could head straight to lunch.

The Rest restaurant is managed by the people who run the eatery in Omm Quais and the view is just as impressive, overlooking the Jordan Valley. The view can be seen in the slide show below at the start – along with a picture of a helpful cat, who managed to eat most of Niki’s chicken!

The menu is not as extensive as the one at Omm Qais,you are restricted to chicken and fish, we saw the fish whisked by and ordered chicken, salad and somehow managed to end up with a lime drink as well, all very reasonably priced.

The ruins can be easily seen from the table – no need for clambering over rocks just use the zoom! Anyway, they looked, well just like the other Romans ruins. Australia is very well known here as it is one of the countries whose Universities have been digging and exploring since the early 1970s.

After negotiating the tour bus blocking the exit we headed off to visit Aljon castle. This is an impressive place with vistas across much of North West Jordan, somehow we managed to attract a guide who actually turned out to be very helpful and informative.

Just a nice day and I didn’t get lost!

It is now Saturday, and I am so exciting – the hot water works. I got the diesel tank filled and had a visit from the school maintenance person who checked everything and seemed to give the boiler the thumbs up, alas, as is often the case here, not everything was just quite ready to fire. One final check tomorrow, but at least I had a nice HOT shower, and I reckon Nicola will be pleased when she visits next week.

Off to Books@Cafe to meet some people from school.

Just an update on the hot water – its off, problem with the boiler, it will be fixed but it is now the Eid holiday!

Niki my elder daughter has arrived safe and sound and is sleeping in, off to Jerash today.

A personal day in Amman

 Taking personal time, away from family, friends and cares is recommended – some might say that moving away from home endures that every day is personal time. Well it is not quite like that. Living away from home and on your own is something that takes adjusting too, in fact you are left to your own devices most of the time. If things are not going well in your job, for instance, you have plenty of time to mull things over in your head, which in my case is not the wisest course.

Amman is very quiet on a Friday, yesterday I forgot and turned up to the Mecca Mall at 9.30am only to find nothing open, this necessitated a trip back to my local, the Amman Mall and a visit to Donut King! As pointed out by my close friend Niki, ‘not the best breakfast, Andrew!’.

Today, that is Saturday, I was determined to do better. After pottering around at home (something I am excellent at) and having had a good nights sleep for a change and a good breakfast of 3 mugs of coffee (!!) a peanut butter roll and cheese toast (is that a healthy breakfast, seems OK to me compared to the donuts from the Donut Kind), I was ready for the day.

Had a good chat to Cathie back in Australia for 20minutes or so, something we are good at, and goodness only knows what we all did before Skype. A little lie down again, which was a mistake because I was now so relaxed I nearly convinced myself that I was due a good day in bed, again, if allowed to, something I am good at. I think nothing of propping myself in bed, playing my guitar, listening to the radio, reading the papers, scattering some books around and consuming whatever is to hand – all day, as I say, if allowed.

The thought occurred to me that some shopping and lunch at Mecca Mall was worth a try again. Shopping is actually something I like doing, love spending hours deciding over presents but often am hopeless at shopping for myself – stuff never fits, pants are always too long or tight, shirts look awful and as for shoes forget it. Instead of cheering yourself up, depression sets in and you become convinced that a Hessian bag is the go.

As anyone who knows me can testify, I hate suits, just can’t see the point of donning the black suit to look like everyone else, and as for shoes, give me a pair of sandles or thongs (for your feet) any day – I never actually wore shoes to school until I went into year 7. Fortunately there is a shop called Camel Active ( on the lower floor of the Mall, and it is just fantastic, with a range of clothes that fit somewhere between smart casual and what you can go to work in, at least what I think I can wear to work – chics get away with murder in this regard, basically anything goes, even in conservative Amman, but if you are a guy – stick on the black suit, white shirt and tedious tie is about as creative as you are allowed to be.

Thanks to the lads at the store, they are very helpful, can tell by a glance what size you are and basically make you feel relaxed so you can enjoy shopping – take note all the other shops assistants in the world, listen to your customer, if he says ‘piss-off’, piss-off, as you will not get a sale lurking around hiding in a clothes rack and randomly appearing with helpful suggestions like ‘this Mosses coloured robe would look good on you’!

So, I emerged with two pairs of pants, two great shirts (at least I and the lads think so) and a nice Italian Scarf! I also left instructions to find a nice blue jacket and to try and solve my shoe problem ie at least size 12, they only run to 10 – ‘don’t people in Amman have big feet’, I said. And of course the answer occurred to me, ‘Yes, but they have already shopped here’ (ha). Oh well the sandles will have to do for now, and maybe I could polish my one other pair of shoes, maybe Andrew, maybe!

The other couple of items, seeing as the shoes and jacket had to wait, were comfortable fitting trackie pants and a top – by comfortable I mean at least 2 sizes too big, in my case that means ……. I’m not going to say. Alas these are a bit down market for Camel Active!

I managed to find a large fitting pair of articles and am well satisfied, presently I am ensconced in front of the TV, dressed in said large fitting sloth garb and ‘Park has just SCORRRRRRED for MAN-U against Bolton – GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL’.

Before venturing home I wanted coffee, but am sick and tried of answering no to the question ‘do you want Americana?’, ‘what, no I do not want a vat of luke warm black crap’, well I found another gem – Cafe Vergnano ( on the lower floor near one of the exits, good knows which one as I get lost every time I go to the Mall – sort of a pattern emerging, like with the hire car. Again, great service, and I had the healthy option – a Marccchino Speciale with ‘Yes please I’ll have cream, thank you so, so much for being concerned for my health’, according to the menu it is: espresso, latte, cioccolate in palvere and creama di cioccolate, which all sounds nice (translated as chocolate, milk and coffee) and healthy – look all you doubters you need the ‘stuff’ in milk and chocolate, I think, maybe not in these quantities, but it was of course delicious!

The taxi was another – I score goooal – one of the grey ones in Amman, driven by a nice and helpful guy called Ahmad, (still need to practice the back of throat pronunciation) who I am now going to use as my driver. Anyway, I decided I needed to visit a music shop as I wanted some new plectrums and a tunning instrument – ‘no problems mate’, and off we went to the Faza Music store in the AlGardens Street. I purchased what I wanted, tried to play an Oud, got some free instruction and am now booked in for lessons, such helpful people. Again, a lesson in how to treat customers- pretty simple really: listen and then meet their needs with a smile and further helpful advice.

For those that don’t know I spend a lot of time in sales and did a heap of sales training, it ain’t rocket science – here without being asked are some simple rules. Smile, be thoughtfully genuine, don’t try and bullshit the bullshitter, and give the customer what they ask for, provide advice, be really interested and for goodness sake don’t say ‘have nice f….ing day!’.

Well there you go, I had one of those rare nice personal days, I am even looking forward to meeting my truculent year 9 class, mind you my current relaxed frame of mind may evaporate quickly – more quickly than my Mt Nebo Cab Sav even – when that happens, but we live in hope – teaching is essentially selling with the exception that you don’t often get the chance to tell the customer to …… off, nor are the customers obliged nor necessarily inclined to see things your way – freewill lives, at least in my classrooms!

But one thing is for sure, in this day and age of technology, isolation and the itty-bitty Internet, the key to education is still love, kindness and concern for the individual to be able to do their best – it just is a very giving job and sometimes it takes a lot of giving before something is taken, but when it is taken it makes ya day.

 Love to all.

(PS: Park scores the winning Gooooooooooooooal!!) 2 : 1 against Wolves.