Thursday, 26 April 2012

Lynie de Bakker

In a Dutch retirement home owned by The Netherlands Retirement Village Association- an organisation of Nursing homes dedicated to caring for Dutch immigrants in surroundings that remind them of their home- Lijine de Bakker sits alertly in her chair. Her frail hands give an oddly sturdy handshake as she welcomes me to her home.   A fresh coat of coral coloured nail varnish seems slightly out of place on her fingernails -102 years old-. It’s only nine o’clock in the morning but she sits alert, dressed like a true hipster; scarlet beads and  canary yellow slacks. It dawns on me that Ms. de Bakker was my age in the 1920’s; however it is not just her fortune with good health that makes her remakable.  It is the remakably inspiring story she has lived to tell.

Ms. de Bakker, 1931 (aged 21
Born on March 9th 1910, Ms de Bakker has literally seen the world change before her eyes. She has lived through two World Wars, the landing of man on the moon, feminist movements, Beatle-mania, the discovery of penicillin, campaigns for racial equality hundreds of inventions including; the bandaid, juke box, television and superglue and today witnesses’ society’s shift into the technological age. However, it is not merely the things that Ms de Bakker has seen during her long and healthy life time that make her remarkable, it is the inspiring life she has lead.

Ms. de Bakker was born in Netherlands, Strijen as one of seven children. She was brought up by her, “lovely and God-fearing parents”. She described her home as an “Open House”, a place where anyone was always welcome. The concept of an “Open House” appears to have stayed with Ms de Bakker her entire life. When World War Two broke out she and her late husband Corneilus de Bakker, opened up their home to Jewish Families, enemies of the Nazi Regime and downed allied airmen (they insured their return to their own countries).

Married in 1940, the de Bakkers resided in Hengelo. At the time Mr. de Bakker worked an interesting job with troubled youth and was later promoted as a Personal Manager. At the same time World War Two broke out and the German invasion commenced. As one can only imagine the de Bakkers’ life dramatically changed. The Germans issued regulations and slowly the de Bakkers became less committed to their day jobs and “heavily involved in other things.” Together they became invaluable members of the Dutch Resistance.

Among many who were saved by the de Bakkers were two Jewish girls whose families had been sent to concentration camps. They adopted one of them, a seven year old Seinna after the war. In 1943 the de Bakkers also had their own biological child, Mirijke.

The de Bakker’s work in the underground advertised their blatant disapproval of the Nazi Regime and earned them a place on the notorious hit list of Geheime Staatspolizei. Geheime Staatspolizei, commonly referred to as Gestapo. Gestapo was the official secret police of Nazi Germany. Early one morning as the couple enjoyed a cup of tea together; Mr. de Bakker spotted notices Gestapo at the front of their house. Realising the immense danger he was in, he sprinted out the back door with Gespato and their Stenguns hot at his heals.

Ms. de Bakker remembering...
Two soldiers returned to Ms. de Bakker, curtly stating that they had shot her husband. “I was trembling inside, but outwardly was calm, the Lord gave me strength for this, and I felt my husband was not dead”. The two soldiers then proceeded to smash around shouting and then loaded valuable and sentimental stolen items from the de Bakker’s house into their car.

At the end of this recollection Ms. de Bakker is overcome with emotion. She sits quietly and we must take a break. Even after almost six decades the pain of this incident appears to still be incredibly raw for her. After a few silent moments Ms. de Bakker is ready to continue.

Knowing she had to make her self scarce as the Nazis would be back, she left home. Mirijke in a pram and Sienna at her side. Together they arrived at a safe house, a farm belonging to Boer Sanderman, where she was relieved to discovere Mr. de Bakker very alive and well. Here they stayed until after the war ended.

Upon returning to their home (after the war had finished) the de Bakkers discovered their home had been ransacked. However, thankful for their lives they took the opportunity to start over.

Ms. de Bakker celebrates being a centenarian.

Mr. de Bakker grew restless and went to work in the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Association where he assisted in relocating persons back to their country. Following this he left his small family while he worked in Indonesia (it was too dangerous to bring Ms. de Bakker and children due to the Japanese occupation). He then reunited his family in Palembang, South Sumatra where but left after one year due to a shifting political climate. It was then in 1951 they arrived and stayed in Brisbane, Australia. Mr. de Bakker received citations from both the Dutch and American governments for his work in resistance during the war. Sadly Mr. de Bakker passed away in 2001, aged ninety having lived a very fufilled life.

“What drove you to do what you did for all these strangers?” I inquire. She quickly replies smiling and shaking her head, “Well I couldn’t say no or leave it to someone else because my belief and faith told me otherwise.” And yet, she tells me not to put her on a pedestal…

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Terms and Conditions of a Loan from Kobi Blake Craig's Library

For me nothing arouses stronger hate than a person who destroys my books. Call me uptight and pretentious and curse about/behind/to me; I don’t care. Crease the spine of my paperback and I will rearrange your face. This is a legitimate threat.

I could not love my books more than a human child, this is a fully legitimate analogy. While, I may not kiss them all goodnight I don’t lend them to just anybody. To be loaned a book from Kobi Blake-Craig’s personal library you must meet the following difficult selection criteria.
a) Have made a public proclamation regarding a love of literature.
b) Demonstrate an adequate level of care for your own library.
c) Prove your ownership of a book mark.
d) Present proof that you have ever visited a library. The proof is acceptable in the form of a library card or library receipt. If the latter your name must be clearly visible along with a check out date no more than two years ago.
Due to my tough selection process I can probably only list on one hand people who I permit to borrow from my library.

Makes me want to rearrange my brother's face...
After what I now refer to as the Harry Potter Annihilation I only allow one third of my family members to read my books (that is one person). The Harry Potter Annihilation commenced on the god forsaken day my brother commenced reading the Harry Potter series. One by one, book by book he single-handedly destroyed the spine, pages and covers of my novels. Each time he finished one, he would swear it would never happen again. Sadly however he had a problem and my books suffered. Following this my mum openly admitted to the immense pleasure that dog earring a page gives her. Honestly, I 100% of the time I want to believe I am adopted. 

Don’t get me wrong, I like markings on books that have sentimental value. I love a good second hand book as much as the next person. However when someone screws with my books (as the French would say) merde is going down. It’s like when a dog marks its territory on your white fence; someone is going to get hurt.

So if you happen to be offered a book from my library, ever. Accept the loan, knowing that you have actually made it in life.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Misunderstanding Beautiful Beats of 1D?

One Direction: You don't know your beautiful!
 Image courtesy of Oska Blake-Craig's alterations to the Courier Mail

It has been pretty hard to interact to escape their beauty, songs and adoring fans over the past couple of weeks.  Yes, I’m talking about One Direction. What’s not to love about them? They have that flawless cover girl look and own some minor talent in their vocal chords.

Despite these truly lovable qualities about them, I would have preferred to hack my arm off with a screw driver than have attended their Brisbane concert last night. This is for multiple reasons; firstly I am repulsed by people. The thought of being  condensed into the Brisbane Entertainment Centre alongside thousands of screaming twelve year olds, is just too much. Aside from my general hate for all things humanity, my weekly income barely accommodates for me to attend concerts of musicians I actually like. To say the least my ticket was more adequately utilised else where. My open disdain is not because I despise their music (honestly they have produced catchy tunes) or them (although I don’t know them personally), but their disregard for the English language.

The British boy band’s first rockin' beat hit the charts September 11 last year. Their track What Makes You Beautiful  may possibly be the most irritatingly catchy over played hit.  However this is not where the foundation of my loathing lies. Perhaps I merely misunderstand the song, in which case directioners come at me with the corrections. It is however my belief that the song contradicts itself in every single chorus.
You don’t know ow ow…You don’t know your beautiful uh uh...that’s what makes your beautiful

For those of you who require further elaboration on my fundamental misunderstanding with the lyrics, here you go…According to these lyrics if the girl in the song, admitted she was beautiful she would no longer be considered beautiful. The whole concept becomes a little like a dog chasing his tail: totally and utterly mind boggling.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

My Name is Kobi and I'm a Klutz

I have always despised those people who could play sport like it was a sixth sense, especially those who could throw or kick a ball like it was an extension of their body. This is probably because I struggle to merely walk without falling over. Please, I am not requesting your sympathies. I wasn’t bludgeoned over the head with a lead pipe at birth, and I don’t have any form of disability (that I know of), my brain function is relatively normal and I can control most aspects of my personality. My actual problem is plain and simple and slightly more embarrassing; I suffer from being a klutz.

The Heinemann dictionary defines klutz with two options:
  1. A clumsy awkward person.
  2. A stupid or foolish person; blockhead.
Many situations arise from my klutziness. A lack of hand eye coordination often results in shattered crockery on my dish night, and the occasional ball in face or concussion incident. On a regular basis my feet loose their ability to stand. Often this results in a fall or stack which is highly comical for bystanders. Stairs are notorious for being a fatal threat to klutzes like me, so I would like to propose their removal from all schools. They are a real hazard. Unfortunately I have not had injured myself severely enough on stairs to make a substantial case about this to the department of education.

My klutz related injuries occur doing mundane activates such as walking, which naturally lend me as the punch line to unnecessary klutz related jokes. Especially when you break you foot face planting over thin air. Here is my predicament; I can’t sue the pants off someone for my momentary inability to walk. Don’t get me wrong I don’t want to get rich through my predicament, although I would never turn down some excess wealth. I would just like to know there is a solution somewhere for the clumsy, awkward blockheaded people of the world, like me. Is there such thing as klutz rehab?