The Byron Shire Echo – Issue 36.14 – September 15, 2021

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Page 14

Opinion

North Coast news online

         

    

  

  

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ALL CLOTHES $2 byrondogrescue.org • Ph 0447 927 600    While chess clubs in Australia’s two most populous states remain shut down indefinitely, England has, for the first time in decades, seen the opening of a full-time chess centre. The closest England came to a chess centre in recent times was when the City of Hastings, host to an annual international tourna‐ ment since 1895, created a plan and found a suitable venue. Unfortunately the proposal dep‐ ended on a contribution from the National Lottery, which ruled that because chess was not a sport the centre could not legally be funded by the NL. The new chess centre was opened in Yorkshire, in the small town of Ilkley, near Bradford, in May, having been given startup funding by two local chess en‐ thusiasts. However, only now that covid restrictions have been almost completely removed in England has the centre taken off. Currently staffed mostly by volunteers, the originally named The Chess Centre, with its own fully licensed bar, is open four

days per week and has already had to double its number of junior sessions. The Chess Centre’s Thursday night social chess and drinks has attracted many players new to club chess, while weekend rapid tourna‐ ments have also proved popular. ‘Not bad for a couple of unknown lads from Yorkshire,’ co-founder Andrew Wainwright commented. The one sad note about The Chess Centre is that it came too late for Bradford’s most prominent chess coach and enthusiast, Winston Williams. In his younger years Williams had been a prominent Singapore representative – part of a touring team which massacred the best Australian juniors in 1973 and a year later drawing with the legend‐ ary Paul Keres in a simultaneous exhibition. By the time Williams moved to Yorkshire in 2003 he held the title of FIDE Master. Williams worked as a junior coach, founded ‘Chesstival in the Park’ in Bradford, and also earned two Chinese chess titles. Unfortunately, the pandemic affected Williams very badly and he died in August 2020 having been unable to access the care he needed.

14 The Byron Shire Echo žĕżƐĕŔćĕſǨǬǽǩǧǩǨ

īĕĶƆŔưĕſƷŔƖĈIJëōĶưĕĶŕǕīIJƐĪşſțĪſĕĕĎşŔȜ Richard Hil

lockdowns: ‘Why imprison Of all the negative ‘isms’ that us like this? fester in daily life, ageism People should is surely amongst the most have their prevalent, and unacknowlfreedom. You edged. Sure, most people are lose your aware that it’s unacceptable freedom, you to patronise, put down and lose everything. denigrate those who are We should be deemed ‘elderly’, ‘old’ or entitled to do ‘aged’, but somehow these what we want. discriminatory practices tend Anyway, it’s to escape our notice. only the old and I’ll be honest and weak that die’. admit that at times, as a Leaving sixty-eight-year-old, I do aside the sometimes make fun of my obvious inacage, especially on the tennis curacies in such Richard Hil aka ‘The Fossil’ court, yelling out, ‘stupid old drivel – young the calculus of personal bastard’ or ‘fossil’ when a people are increasingly shot goes flying. It’s on such infected by, and occasionally freedom? Should they be sacrificed for the greater occasions that my (invariably dying from the Delta variant good – of freedom? younger) opponents stare – the insensitivity is breathat me with a mixture of pity taking. Comments like these wǔĶĈĶëōōƷşōĎȃ and consternation, although are invariably uttered withThis is utilitarianism gone the reference to fossil does out nuance or qualification, mad. It’s as if older people sometimes elicit a giggle. or any hint of reflexivity, let have been emptied of value, ‘Don’t be so hard on your- alone compassion. They’re which certainly doesn’t self’, one player remarked. stated as ‘simple facts’ that accord with my understandHe might have said, ‘don’t be reflect the ‘natural order of such an arsehole, Richard’. things’. I’ve taken to respond- ing of social justice. And I’ve yet to hear what freedom And he’d be right, because ing to these assertions by fighters regard as officially my momentary lapses saying things like, ‘well, I’m reflect on more than me. old, so am I expendable too?’ ‘old’. In my world, it’s always five years older than I curThey demean others in or, ‘the last time I heard this rently am, which means I’m my age group, and older, sort of stuff it brought to and hint at lesser worth mind the Nazi T4 program’. A never old. So there! Is the flippant dismissal borne of bio-chronological long bow? I’m not so sure. of the lives of older people deficit. In lieu of enhanced Who on Earth do we classymptomatic of other self-compassion, therefore, sify as ‘weak’ – those with routinised forms of age I feel obliged to point to the disabilities, with co-morbiddiscrimination? I think so. dangers of such lapses and ities, the sick, kids? And, is We don’t need to look all to call out others when they it acceptable to consign the elderly to a premature death that far, do we? Remember slide down the same slope, simply because they are old? the findings of the Royal as they often do. Commission into Aged Care, Is that what’s being inferred Life and freedom Quality and Safety, not least here? Haven’t they got a the psychological and physiOver the course of the right to life like any other cal suffering of residents in pandemic, I have often been citizen? Don’t they make aged care facilities and the horrified by those seeking significant contributions to low pay, poor conditions their ‘freedom’ or claiming our society? Or are they surand questionable training of ‘sovereignty’ who say of the plus to requirements amid carers? This has been going on for decades, under the watch of successive governments. Institutionalised ageism has been allowed September 20–24 | 10am–4pm to fester. Perplexingly, Uniting Church Hall while sexism, racism and

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prejudices relating to people with disability have rightly drawn considerable public attention, ageism in all its manifestations has yet to receive the same level of collective outrage. Given all this, it’s hardly surprising that a lot of older people complain of feeling invisible, by which they mean that some younger people no longer acknowledge or listen to them. Many older people in non-Indigenous cultures feel this way. The respect accorded to elders seems tenuous, at best. A woman in her early seventies recently told me of being on a train while a couple of twenty-somethings in front of her deconstructed the previous night’s torrid sexual encounter. Not a hint of self-consciousness or embarrassment. ‘It was as if I didn’t exist’, she said, adding that ‘it was entertaining though’. Less alluring perhaps are those occasions when someone evokes the reference to ‘old white men’ as a pejorative swipe at nasty blokes in positions of power. Leaving aside the empirical inaccuracies, such off-thecuff remarks invariably come without nuance or context. I’ve heard people talk like this while sitting next to their partners who just happen to be aged six decades, and some. Occasionally I point out that I belong in that age cohort, an observation invariably greeted with guffaws of laughter. I’m not entirely stupid, so I know what these comments are getting at, but somehow, they still sting. I think I’m more concerned about how some sections of the community are so casually othered, and where all this ends up. But then again, I would say that; I’m just a grumpy old man.

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