Graham Gorrel's Friday On My Mind | OPINION

THE last week has been memorable.

It included a reunion of the Cotton Club, a small group of friends and partners with an interest in jazz, hence the name borrowed from the great night club started in Harlem where the legendary Duke Ellington began his long tenure in 1923.

We no longer annually visit the Thredbo jazz festival but continue the tradition here in Wagga listening to jazz and indulging in good food and wine and, as we particularly did at our farewell dinner, discussing affairs of state - hence today’s column.

At a time when Australia’s automotive industry has reached the brink of oblivion, Ric put forward that the hundreds of automotive tradesmen should be re-trained to work on building submarines rather than bring in overseas workers; it was a fair point and raised the important fact that if ever this nation is to reach its manufacturing potential we need to build more dams and railways quickly plus sort the energy mess.

Discipline, or the lack of it, got a strong airing, not the least of which was a totally unwarranted outburst by cricketer Mitchell Starc that “our spectators should get stuck into Poms” this summer which prompted our concern about sportsmanship from players who just a few weeks ago were threatening not to play for their country unless they got more money.

As a letter writer in The SMH had written the very same day: “Judging by the way this inept team has been performing of late, wouldn’t it be a better idea for the Australian team to get stuck into the Poms itself?”

The thought was offered that we needed a return of some form of national service although Graeme, a former army officer, said the armed services role was to defend the nation not necessarily to act as the disciplinarian agent to make errant vandals, larrikins and delinquents into decent citizens.

That aim, it was felt, by Helen might be better achieved by greater vocational service training at high school as well as an emphasis on tolerance, each of which seem to have disappeared from the educational sector in recent decades; indeed we bemoaned the complete absence of physical education teachers in the public school sector these days.

Nonetheless, we recalled the worthwhile effect the CMF, Ready Reserve and Citizen Forces (it had some other names along history’s way, too) had on relatives, work mates and friends who participated.

Our reunion was not all jazz, beer and skittles; a day visit to Coolamon with stops at the cheese factory for an instructive, at times hilarious, tour by cheesemaker Sue.

There was also the impressive Up To Date store and the wonderful exhibition of more than 200 garments hand made by Mavis Furner, blew the socks of Heather and Jenny, and had our interstate and Newcastle visitors in awe.

Coolamon is proof, indeed, that our legislators need to recognise and do more for regional Australia if the nation is to reach its full potential.

Finally, one of our group was rushed off early on our final day by the efficient ambulance paramedics to emergency for a problem that last year meant a rushed trip to Sydney.

This time, however, two young doctors, one from Asia, the other from Saskatchewan, had our man back home later that afternoon for the final dinner; proving, if we ever needed further evidence, that our medical and specialist services are state-of-the-art.