Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Hi, it’s Sandy, and I’m here with Leo, my brother and Alene’s other boy, waiting for the coroner. Her Blogger page was still open so I thought I’d use it to let friends know what happened, probably on Monday night, and why we’re here. After that, well I don’t know Alene’s password, so when I sign off on this it will be, so to speak, the last post for Alene. After that, no way of getting back into the blog again.

We found her, well, the Emergency boys actually found her, about two hours ago. Alarm goes off, neighbours report it, neighbours report it again, door gets kicked in, and there she is, stretched out on the floor, quite dead, with her head in the oven. She must have been a bit glum when she did it. It’s an all electric house.

Paint is ruined from the smoke ($4000) and the house smells like Sunday roast. New stove ($1000)?  Nah, buyers don’t really need to know what’s been cooking and we all  don’t hear the timer every now and again. Alene’s proved that the oven works a treat, though. And for the replacement door, maybe a leadlight kookaburra, or some Federation-faux gum leaves and boomerangs ($800-$2500). Presentation, that’s what moves a house at top dollar ($750K to $900K). Sorry seagrass, Bali puppets, Krishna and the cow maidens on the wall, it’s time to go! Polished wood and sconces, that’s the shot. Take out the Rheem and put in a woodchip donkey heater. Burns renewables, and your Seddon sorts like that, and it will cut the number of baths, too, because the water takes so long to heat. They will like that as well. No Dams! Wild Rivers Say No Salinity etc!. Yes indeed, maybe it will make a million with any luck.

Leo’s just come back from taking care of Sparkles. The cat was a bit weird when we got here. Probably the three days of overcooking did it. Sorry Mum, but if your little friend had a nibble on the roasted bits I can’t tell. But
you two were very close so I know you wouldn’t mind. Nice Mr Lee, the bloke across the road who owns the restaurant in Footscray, has taken her. Said he didn’t need the cat bed or the John Howard litter tray, so he left without them. Seemed quite happy. Well, happier than Sparkles anyway    

LOOK, it’s Leo here now, and I’ve taken the keyboard away from my brother because he makes this all sound flippant. It’s not. It’s horrible finding Mum like this. And she was a vegetarian too. But Sandy is like that and means no disrespect. It’s the way we were brought up, as she explained in one of her last contributions to the SMH. You may have seen it.

As a "first wave" feminist and single mother, I raised my boys in a way that transgressed the gender norms and stereotypes that dominated the sixties. No toy guns or access to violence-themed superhero figures, limited "play exposure" to recreational aids that encouraged unthinking acceptance of the proposition that only the "hard" sciences and macho occupations -- firemen, cowboy, policemen etc -- were fit goals. Instead, the emphasis was on nurturing, empathetic and consensus-driven goals. At the beach, for example, we didn't make sand castles and then destroy them. Instead, we would have fun laying out sand gardens and making them bloom with "flowers" made out of icy pole sticks and rubbish we collected. This also helped introduce them to environmental principles.
Well that was decades ago and, even if I say so myself, the sandpit policy has worked. When each was an adolescent, both were felt free to be entirely open about their sexuality. There was no anguish about coming out of the closet for either Sandy or Leo because they were never in the closet to begin with.
Today the eldest is a happy, well adjusted figure in the art world and the youngest, who has just adopted a Congolese orphan with his partner, has made me a grandma.
We can change the world, us mothers. One person, one attitude, one generation at a time.
Alene Composta | Seddon - March 13, 2011, 9:42AM 

She was a beautiful person, Alene, always there with a smile and never a harsh word. Opinionated, but then aren’t we all? And who is to decide if one idea is more sensible than any other? Don’t discriminiate. Do not judge, that was her creed. We’ll play “Imagine” at the funeral. It is a beautiful hymn and she always said it gave her such pride in believing in not believing in so many different things. No wonder the kiddies still love it in their music classes.

As far as we can tell, it was Media Watch and Jonathan Holmes that set the thermostat, so to speak. She was calling both Sandy and myself all day, saying we should come over, watch the show and try a new snack, something fishy with tahini and lemon that she was whipping up. There was going to be something very big, something Holmes was going to do for her, some injustice he was going to expose. Who knows what it was this time? Mum was always crusading for something.

Anyway, it was all  such a mix-up! I thought Sandy was going over here and he thought I was going, so neither of us went over and Alene was here all alone. I can’t tell you how often that happened. We were a pair of slack sausages when it came time to see a little of Mum. And now she has gone. Forever. But I think she was happy until right at the end, whenever whatever it was on Media Watch tipped her over the edge.

She could change like that, did it all the time in fact. I remember when we were kids how she agreed with Gough about keeping out those “slit-eyed Balts”. And then, when Howard was in, she howled about the desert concentration camps and would have gone to Woomera and torn down  the wire if only she could have left the house. Same with Timor and the carbon tax and the US alliance and how she loved Kevin one day and adored Julia the next. Always changing, always evolving in what Mum used to say was “the appropriate way”. Just like Julia, actually, when you think about it.

What did it for Mum neither Sandy nor I can really know, despite page after page of the notes she made about what was on the ABC that night. Can anyone make heads or tails out of it? I don’t think the first line is sexual or has anything to do with the warts (who knew!!!), but I really can’t be sure.

ABC building up to Media Watch climax for me in grand style as Four Corners covers Japanese nuclear catastrophe. Fighting words from Friends of Earth, Nautilus Institute, Australian Conservation Foundation, and maybe the Seahorse Society too, or was that another item about Helen Caldicott’s brother? I get confused. Not a pro-nuker or a denier on the show though. How good! Keep swinging, Aunty. We have a carbon tax to pass.

Finally, it’s on! Media Watch – and there’s Jonathan H. Had earthquake in NZ and they’re still screwed, apparently. What losers, putting sheep dip ads or whatever on our national broadcaster.

My item must be next.


Climate change..climate change … climate..change … Jonathan just won’t shut up. Yes, the climate modelers ARE heroes, Jonathan, we know that. But PLEEEZE go get a room after the show. My item next, surely?



 And here is where the notes go very, very strange.

Now its Q&A and the ABC is pulling out all the stops. Nothing but Greens and Youth Climate Kids in the audience. Beautifully, beautifully stacked. ABC at its best.

Hear those cheers? Every syllable from Christine gets applause. And Pyne? Bring on that libidinous dog. More cheers for wind and tidal. That will scare the protesty old men who hate our planet! This tax is going to be so popular we’re going to gain many, many seats. Big girls like Julia need two, just for herself. Ad campaign to obliterate Libs. Millions well spent.

Won’t be here to see it, I’m afraid.

ABC stacked against me. I AM NOT CHRISTOPHER PYNE!!!! Please listen, please.

TEARS. Ink runs like life force down the page.

Every show tonight a wonderful, example of appropriate, responsible journalism, but not a word about the Drum’s injustice to me. Or how the editor broke his word and destroyed an article that would have turned NSW voters against the Liberals, as we agreed. Not a word.

If even Jonathan is against me, what’s the point?

That is where it ends. Where Mum ended too.

Oh well, that’s it. House goes on the market and we better get the fixes done before the carbon tax starts to figure in the tradies bills’. Frankly it would have been much more considerate if Mum had done this last year.



  1. Bryla's Ex-KeyboardMarch 24, 2011 at 6:34 AM

    Vale, Alene. I'm sure you're in a better place.

    PS: In your next life, try a rope. That can be recycled, unlike electricity. Not to mention all that carbon that went towards your demise.

  2. RIP, Alena, you beautiful soul.

  3. I hope that the oven wasn't damaged.

  4. Thus ends the most awesome piss-take in Australia's history, I tip my hat to you.

  5. Sandy and Leo, I feel your pain you dear sweet children. Oh! How I also feel the pain.

    take solace in that I'm sure Mother Composta will live on in the memories of all of her adoring carbon tax loving readers, just as we remember Mark Latham even today (albeit he tends to be a bit more lively).

    I will think of Alene especially this Saturday evening and will burn an extra dozen candles in her honour.

    Alene, I salute you. Ashes to ashes.

    - gzg

  6. I would suggest that Jonathan is the avatar for a Big Green Meanie:


  7. Absolutely tragic yet somehow heart warming. One question though. Was Alene fully or half-baked? What I mean is, could she rise again, warts and all? So to speak. I shall put out my best Navajo Dream Catcher for her. No, really. Colonel Neville.

    Ps. Could this be an inside job? They always are.

    Good article by Stephan, published today. ;)

    Look Alene.
    'Real' or a sock puppet (I suspect more of the former than the latter), you've evidently been hurt by recent events and I empathise.

    (Everything about me is real but, yeah, still know what it feels like. heh!)

    Your identity is irrelevant: you write well, you have useful stuff to say and you offer some fresh perspectives – just express yourself.

    For what it's worth, I reckon you're at your best writing about what's going on in the world – rather than obsessing about hooking up with elite lefties, whose carbon footprints all too often betray them.

    Be yourself. Be true to yourself. Win.

  9. Sandy, Leo, I think a beautiful tribute to your mother would be a GREEN FUNERAL. Your loving, indiscriminate life-giver would have known about Labor MLA Carryn Sullivan and her crusade.

    Like your peaceful, Gaia-worshipping mum, I'm not one to tell anyone else what to do, but in keeping with caring for the environment above all else, I'm telling you: DO NOT allow the traditional funeral/cremation industry to release toxins and carcinogens into our environment by allowing them access to our Alene.

    Just in case you didn't see it in the Brisbane Courier Mail, here is an excerpt from the article:

    DYING is bad for the environment if people are buried in traditional ways.

    So says Labor MLA Carryn Sullivan.

    In an extraordinary statement today she said: "Almost all of the 27,000 people who died in Queensland in 2010 were laid to rest in conventional burials or cremations.

    "Both practices involve the release of toxins and carcinogens with significant impacts on the environment."

    Mrs Sullivan was speaking in her capacity as chairwoman of the Queensland Parliament's Environment and Resources Committee.

    She called for an investigation into "green" burials that minimise pollution.

    "The funeral industry, like other service, producer and manufacturing industries, has a vital role to play in minimising pollution. Burials and cremations are big business in Australia and have changed little in my lifetime. Our inquiry will have a fresh look at the industry's practices and how they can be improved.

    "I'm keen to discover why cheaper, greener choices to conventional burials and cremations are not readily available."

    More environmentally friendly methods of burial include using simple wooden or biodegradable cardboard coffins, liquefying a corpse through chemical treatment or even freezing and "shattering" it into a fine powder using vibrations.

    A final thought: Since your dad (or was he??) screwed over poor Alene, she might prefer the final option involving vibrations....