Tuesday, 31 December 2019

A year in review: 2019

This article is a 30-minute read so if you are pressed for time perhaps it’s best to bookmark it to read at leisure. I worked on it for six weeks.

One consequence of the hot spring weather was that on Wednesday 13 November I started cleaning up the place. On Facebook I said:
Have tidied up bits of the living room, putting books away, and throwing magazines out to be recycled. Some books have gone on the shelves while others, which I don't want, have been taken out. The rejects will be taken to a charity for them to sell. I also plan to clean out the boxes of stuff that have cluttered up the room that contains my bookshelves, and that have been on the floor there for five years. Time to get things in order ...
The next day, the Thursday, I said this:
Emptied six boxes that were on the floor in the third bedroom which is, because of all the bookshelves it contains, virtually a library. Shredded stacks of paper. Threw out old folders and boxes. Stacked the books along the wall on the floor and on top of the dresser. Have started to make headway, but there's still more work to do before it's all sorted. Not sure what I'm going to do with all the books, there are hundreds without anywhere to go apart from on the floor ..

On the Friday, this:
I have put some of the books from the spare room on my dresser. Will have to find a more suitable place to put them at a later date. Good suggestion from Antony Talone to get another bookcase made for the bedroom.
And this on the same day:
Have thrown out 12 boxes to be recycled, and the books on the dresser have multiplied to match. The dull looking tome visible in the image below is my mother's uncle's autobiography. The volume with the gorgeous, ornate binding is one of mine from my student days in the 80s. It's a book by art critic Andre Malraux. Everything higgledy-piggledy ...

The result of all the work? After almost five years of living in my apartment, I could see the library floor. In the end, all of the boxes you can see in the photo below were moved: the plastic storage boxes you can see behind the chair at the back of the room, next to the window: they went into the closet. The other boxes were emptied out and their contents put away or shredded.

As I was putting some books aside planning, as I didn’t want them anymore, to deliver them to an op-shop, I realised that most of my books gave me joy so, on Friday 15 November, I rang a carpenter, made a drawing with dimensions marked, and emailed the image to him along with a photo of one of my existing bookcases so that he could match the colour. I had eight bookcases but there were hundreds of books without anywhere to go and three full plastic storage boxes in a cupboard in the library would also need to be dealt with: either cull the books in them or put the books in a place where I could access them. Or a combination of the two. Leaving them where they were was, I decided, impossible.

My email to the carpenter didn’t go through so I rang him again 10 days later. He got me to SMS the drawing and I paid a deposit with my credit card. I also SMS’d the dimensions of the lift the deliverymen would have to use to get the thing up to my unit from street level. The next day I approved his detailed drawing. A couple of days later I sent drawings to the same carpenter describing two more bookcases and asking for a quote. I figured I could get a better deal if three units were delivered at the same time; if nothing else it would save on transport costs. He replied with the information I had asked for and said he could get them all delivered before Christmas. 

On the third Tuesday in December the deliveryman arrived in the street outside my building with his truck and we drove around to the loading dock where two security guards were waiting for us. Together, the man and I wheeled the bookcases into the garage, into the lift, and took them up to my unit. We had finished before 11am. The following photo shows one unit after it was installed and filled with books.

I had started to use my new shredder from Officeworks (see photo below) – dad’s machine gave up the ghost one day – as well as a vacuum cleaner I bought at Godfreys on the Great Western Highway. I also bought a new clock at Officeworks because my old one, bought in Burwood in 2008, stopped working too. 

Underneath a stack of old papers – tax invoices, phone bills, records of the amount of urine dad had produced when he had catheterised himself to micturate – I brought out of one box that had been in the library a funeral directors’ bag – stemming from the event of dad’s death – with, in it, a Bible that had belonged to mum’s great-grandmother, Maria Alexina Carr. This woman’s husband had been born in Ireland. In the summer of 2011 the book was damaged when water and sewage filled the basement of mum’s building in Maroochydore. 

I even got to the bottom drawer of the filing cabinet and emptied it of papers. Some were sorted and stashed elsewhere and others – including bags of receipts from old tax returns – were shredded. I felt bad about all the paper I was putting down the garbage chute, and I was heading to the loading bay to dispose of three bags of paper when, at the moment the lift arrived, the cleaner appeared with his wheelie bin. I asked him what to do with shredded paper and he said to just put it in the garbage room on the floor and it would then be recycled. If I put it in the chute, he went on, the rubbish container at the bottom of the refuse shaft would fill up too quickly.

Sorting through papers, it became apparent that mum had had to take over the running of the household in 2008. There had been a transition when dad was making notes for mum so that she could do things, like pay bills. Then all of the bills and invoices and receipts are stuffed into manila envelopes and put away to keep.

Other items were affected by the water, and I threw some away. I asked an old friend of mine, Paul Feain, a seller of antique books, whom I should contact in order to repair the Bible, and he told me to phone Cali Andersen in Redfern. So I did. When she saw it she told me to get the mould taken off it, so I took it, as she suggested, to Preservation Australia in Annandale and gave them the ok to go ahead, in the week before Christmas, with the job. Once that had been done, Andersen would be able to see about replacing the binding.

I took down cups and saucers and mortars and pestles that had been gathering dust and grime on the top shelf in the kitchen cupboard. There was a heavy Krosno glass salad bowl that was, in 1991, a wedding gift, and ceramic vases and lacquered dishes: bibs and bobs. I took packets of knives, spoons, forks, and assorted kitchenware from out of the sideboard in the living room. Washing cutlery and crockery felt, like cleaning out the library, overdue. 

I found an unused and pristine wallet Antony Talone had bought me years earlier and into it I now transferred everything useful from my ragged wallet – an item that had been bought in Burwood shopping centre in 2005 or 06 – as I chucked out a pile of faded receipts. This solution didn’t work though as when one night I took the new wallet with me, going to dinner with a friend, it kept falling out of my pocket, so I transferred everything that was in it into a batik wallet mum had had in her collection of goodies and that she had thoughtfully, at some stage, given to me.


Decluttering actually started a bit earlier than stated at the start of this post. On 6 November while buying clothes online for the first time I brought out from the back of the closet a handful of shirts that I had worn years before. I wrote about those purchases in November. Three weeks later I was still bringing out old clothes: now trousers that had not fit at some point in time. I had slimmed down from a size 44 to a size 40, and I had some old size 38s as well, but reaching a weight that would allow me to wear them seemed a bridge too far. 

One of the usable pairs of pants I took to the dry cleaners. On the same day I brought out a green woollen coat I used in the 1990s when I lived in Tokyo, and which still fit me. Looking a little better was a coat (see photo below) I bought in about 1985 after for the first time graduating from university, which I wore in my job as a book publisher’s representative. It’s a “London Fog” coat and I got it at David Jones in Bondi Junction; I thought it, at the time, the height of style.

One day in late November, from a shelf inside the sideboard, I extracted the exercise bike’s logic unit and, within a tangle of electrical cords and power boards, I zeroed in on its voltage adapter which I plugged in, before turning the thing on. It seemed miraculous: the machine worked when, about 10 days later, I tried using it. Since moving south I had wanted to exercise in this room, but a wall of belongings impeded me. Other things I was able to organise were my reference books (see photo below), which I brought together in the entertainment cabinet in the living room. This entailed relocating a shelf, for which task pliers came in handy. 

My street directories are now, likewise, all in one place: on a shelf in a bookcase I bought second-hand in around 1989 – stripped of paint using a heat gun and a putty knife – which is in the library.

On one shelf in the kitchen there was a yellow ceramic cup I had bought for mum to use in her nursing home (see photo below). She had specified the kind she wanted and I had bought it one day somewhere – I have no recollection or record of doing so – and for five years, since her death, it had sat unused.

Many cups uncovered in the kitchen survived intact my 2015 move from Queensland to Sydney. In the library, some things had got lost and in turn other things appeared in unexpected places. Once all the boxes had been allocated space in a cupboard, had been emptied out and put downstairs in the loading bay to be recycled, or had been earmarked for sorting at a later date, every time that I entered the library I experienced a feeling of wellbeing. Even sitting on the couch in the living room while reading one of the books that had been made accessible by my efforts, left me feeling good. 

Planted on the red vinyl of the couch I could sense the emptiness in the library – which is located down the hall and around a corner and through a doorway – as I was scanning the printed page with my eyes or turning it to continue the story on the next one. The threads of my consciousness reached out into the apartment I called my home, directing back to me a positive vibe while, before, I had sensed an obstruction.

I had felt compelled to face what had been a confused mass of objects, perhaps as a consequence of the warm temperatures. Perhaps it was also due to a feeling that, finally, I could face the memories, including those linked to mum’s passing. Perhaps it was due to this year being the last of the 21st century’s Teens. Perhaps it was a combination of all three. 

Perhaps, also, it was due to the close-call health-wise in January (an operation fixed that) and the second set of heart problems in August and September. Readers of my blog might remember the heart palpitations that occurred in August last year. At that time, the diagnosis was not alarming but the problem recurred with a vengeance at the beginning of the year

Once it was fixed, in August things started to get tricky again, and I was in the hospital several times. The upshot of all this toing-and-froing was that I gave up alcohol and started a course of antidepressants. This medication stabilised the palpitations and so I was able to get to sleep without feeling like I was about to die, but the big clean-out did bring back some painful memories such as how, once mum was under my care due to her dementia (she was diagnosed in March 2014), I had to cancel all the donations she had started to give to charities using her credit card. 

There were dozens of them and now I found remnants, in letters and receipts, of that time. Charities phone old people – who are often isolated and therefore grateful for any chance to talk to a real person – and sign them up to monthly plans linked to their causes. Helping to look after animals is one I found evidence of while shredding papers. Another thing that triggered negative emotions was a 2001 Christmas card in mum’s hand addressed to two people named Jill and David. The woman, I found out a bit later after doing some Google searches, is Jill Eddison, author of several nonfiction works. On her card mum wrote, among other things:
Our son Matthew is in Sydney alone, & under professional guidance at last. His marriage will probably end soon also. Geoff is being most kind to him, we are eternally grateful.
Use of mum’s brother’s name like this is most suggestive and, looking at my records, I unearthed a fact that had slipped my mind: Eddison is the maiden name of Geoff Dean’s widow, at the time of publishing this account, alive and kicking. 

Jill Eddison was responsible for a 1995 monograph titled ‘Romney Marsh: The Debatable Ground’, which I now bought through AbeBooks from a UK bookseller named Winghale Books. She also wrote ‘World of the Changing Coastline’, which came out in print in 1990, and ‘Romney Marsh: Survival on a Frontier’, which came out in 2000 and which has a foreword by Barry Cunliffe, an academic and author. He has a knighthood and it might perhaps have been the cachet associated with his name that inspired dad to make the comments he made within mum’s hearing. I bought these books, too, the former from Julies Bookshop in the UK and the latter from Orbiting Books, who are also based in the UK. 

As I was tidying up and acquiring her books it struck me with some force that mum had never mentioned to me the name Jill Eddison in the five-and-a-half years I was living near mum and looking after her in Queensland. This ellipsis is odd as she knew that I was interested in writing and in books. I wonder why she never mentioned to me her and dad meeting Jill and her husband David. The wedding mentioned in the missive was that of a cousin of mine.

As for Uncle Geoff, given the circumstances he was indeed kind to accept me into his home when I arrived back from Japan in 2001 though, in fact, I had been receiving professional help since the end of the previous year; I spent Christmas Day in 2000 in a Tokyo hospital before being discharged so that I could re-enter the community. Once I had returned to Australia support was made available by the New South Wales government, but I had virtually no supervision and was free to do what I wanted because I didn’t need looking after. For her part, mum spent no time talking to me about these things until much later and, even then, it was only mentioned occasionally if the subject of mental illness surfaced in our conversation, which it didn’t often do. 

In the same card she continues:
We arrived back in Australia only a month ago, so have just collected ‘the Book’ which Peter has whisked away to read in bed. I’ll get to it later. Peter had many trips to England & knows so many of the areas, he also sailed on the Norfolk Broads one Summer. He confided the book is so well researched, indexed etc that ‘it could have been written by a man’ a high compliment, meaning the writer has an academic & scientific approach. I was so happy to meet you at The Wedding, & suggest that you could consider the Queensland coast & hinterland worthy of a trip one day – the Glass House mountains behind, the Blackall Ranges, & the Maroochy Rivermouth has swamp to the north, since our arrival in ’97, of Pincushion Point, then Island, now Point again.
The landscape feature she mentions sits at the mouth of the Maroochy River, and could be seen from the balcony in their apartment, which was in a building near the water. In 2001 I didn’t get an invitation to visit them. In fact, mum told me later, in no uncertain terms, after dad had gone, in 2009, into a nursing home, that he hadn’t wanted me to visit.

The card was in a filing cabinet purchased to house mum’s papers after she moved, in early 2011, to a two-bedroom apartment on the ground floor of a building on Beach Parade in Maroochydore, just around the corner from the unit she had shared, for a decade, with dad. A piece of paper holding the Eddisons’ name and UK address had been placed, at another point in time, inside a cardboard removalist’s box full of papers. This piece of paper dates from the time when dad was still living in the old apartment and it was clear, as I was tidying up, that dad had conserved it in his records on purpose. 

Dad was just being typically precise in his record-keeping, but mum must’ve put that Christmas card in the filing cabinet. Was that done for me to find it, or was it just that she wanted a place to put something that might, otherwise, be easily lost? And why wasn’t the card sent? Now, I can’t know the answer to any of these questions. 

Also in the filing cabinet was a letter, written on a PC and printed on a sheet of A4 paper, with the title ‘2003 Christmas letter’. Dad regularly wrote such circulars in order to keep friends and family up to date with each year’s events. The third paragraph of his missive goes like this:
Matt is still in Australia by himself and having landed a three month contract at the University of Sydney is working hard to turn it into a permanent job. We are pleased and hopeful.
This letter was written, it is clear from what is contained in other paragraphs, by dad. In actual fact, I had spent almost the whole of 2002 and the first half of 2003 reading Jane Austen and books of biography and history, with a focus on the late 18th and early 19th centuries. I never in my entire life saw dad read a novel, so the kind of activity I had plunged into could not have been thought useful, even if it had registered with him at all. Another paragraph in his letter goes like this:
Sister Sally died on 24th September 03. John Cromwell phoned from their farm at Mypolonga South Australia as soon as he got back from the Nursing Home. It was a relief to know that Sally is at last free of the degradation of Alzheimer’s. 
Dad would die with the same disease less than eight years later. Uncle Geoff died with Alzheimer’s as did mum. Dad goes on later in the same letter:
During the 1930’s [Sally] was my surrogate mother during my waking hours, taking me to school, looking after me when our mother was at work. On Friday evenings when mother worked back, Sally often took me to the railway station to meet her, keeping me dry and happy on those cold, rainy, black winter nights only Melbourne can deliver. 
Dad’s written expression was powerful, as his memoir – in 2002 I received a CD-ROM with it inside – proves. By 2005 when I finally saw mum and dad – having driven in my Toyota Echo up the main north-south highway on the east coast of the continent – things were different because by that time I was on a different type of employment contract. It was a type called “continuing” in order to distinguish it from a temporary contract; “permanent” was not used in the context to classify university administrative personnel. In a letter to a friend named Dan who lived in the US, dad wrote on 1 December of that year:
Matt has found a job that he enjoys and Judy and I could not be more pleased. Our hopes are high for his future. We ache to see his children, the last time was in Honolulu in 1999. We are pleased and happy for him and hope that his future is on the road to fulfillment.
When I found this letter I wasn’t puzzled by dad’s reliance on the idea of employment as the only thing that can give meaning to a life, but I was puzzled on account of his willingness to admit that he and mum had been hurt because they couldn’t see their grandchildren. 

This is because dad didn’t provide any support for them in a material sense or, for that matter, in any other fashion. Looking through his papers I can see, dating from 2006, documents relating to the sale of an investment property the two of them owned on the river in Maroochydore and in 2008 mum sold another unit they had in the same building. But dad made no move to send money to Japan so that his grandchildren would have a place to live. (I had never been able to buy an apartment in that country because banks there wouldn’t recognise the value, as collateral for a loan, of a property I owned at the time in Australia. In addition, my employment status had never been rock-solid; I was a contractor according to the HR department at Yamatake Corporation, a fact they would exploit when they found I was sick.) 

In a letter to his accountant, dad regrets that, on an occasion when I met with him and mum in 2005, I hadn’t told them anything about my relations with my family in Japan. There was no mention in this letter of his grandchildren and no apparent display of concern about their wellbeing, but it might have been that he was waiting for me to say something about my plans regarding my family, so that he could suggest a way that he might provide them with financial support. Now, I can never know what he intended to communicate to his accountants in the case that I said to him that I planned to bring my family to Australia or, alternatively, that I planned to return to Japan to live and work. I tried the latter but the attempt was not successful. In the end, I lived alone in Australia, and still do.

I would end up looking after him and mum once they became too old to properly look after themselves. When I talked to my cousin John Bishop about all these things he voiced surprise at what I revealed about mum’s and dad’s thinking at that time – now, almost two decades in the past – but also noted, wisely, that dad had told everyone of my acquaintance about my breakdown. As a result many people had sent cards and letters to me when I was in hospital in Tokyo. I kept these in the cabinet beside my bed in the ward, and still have all of them now, in a drawer in my entertainment cabinet.

Below is a photo taken in the middle of 2009 at the time I moved north to live in Maroochydore, in Queensland. Mum is with me on the couch in their apartment. At the same time as I unearthed this photo, I found a CD-ROM with a label on it with “Peter’s computer” written in mum’s hand. The words “until he couldn’t” is also written there along with the date, “early 09.” The disc contains the contents of dad’s Toshiba laptop.

Below is a photo of a pair of shoes that I dragged out of the closet this month. The last time I wore them was in 2009, when I worked in the IT department of Sydney University. They still serve the purpose they were made for. This photo was taken outside a building I used to work in, starting in 2003: the Services Building.

As well as books, papers, and kitchenware, I was also unpacking boxes containing photos. On the second Sunday in December I drove to Ikea and bought a flat-pack chest of drawers. The next day, in the hallway outside the library, I assembled it. On the day after that, I put away thousands of photos in the drawers I had made (see photo below). 

While I had long reconciled myself to my memories or, at least, to some of them, I knew at this moment why I had delayed so long the job of tidying up the library: doing so forced me to confront difficult realities, versions of events that contrasted with the image that my parents created for the benefit of their circle of acquaintance. What I knew, as a result of studying physical remnants from that time, didn’t jibe with what people close to mum and dad thought they knew, as I learned when I spoke with John on a day that fell after the sky had emptied of smoke and the central business district was, once again, visible. People sometimes don’t project their true feelings or thoughts. Sometimes people hide the truth. 

Changing the inside of my home did, on the other hand, return a psychological dividend. We are horrified by homelessness for the same reason that tidying up a room in your house can bring rewards. The idea of habitat is hard-wired into the species so being without a home is somehow shocking to contemplate. So many ideas are attached to the word “home” that it is almost impossible to list them all. 


Two-thousand and nineteen was the first year I went down to the garden next to the outside swimming pool in my apartment block. It was the Christmas party and I stood around talking with a downstairs neighbour who writes books. But other things were new, as well. I downloaded a user guide for the stove – which I had never used – paid a deposit on a new car, and started listening to commercial radio while driving. I also started watching commercial TV at home; this felt like a major innovation, and was something I had not done since Japan, where I lived in the 1990s. 

Perhaps the most remarkable thing to happen to me this year was my trip to the Middle East. You can see the posts that stemmed from it in May (21 posts), June (11 posts), and July (8 posts). There are 41 posts in all with the final one appearing on 24 July.

In a year that was marked by the closure of Google Plus, I signed up for two new social media platforms – Civiq and WikTribune Social. Civiq, which is run by a US journalism non-profit organisation, went offline for a few days in mid-November and developers would continue to repair and tweak their code over time. After a month or so of use, it seemed to have very few members.

WT Social, which was set up by Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, contacted me after I joined and asked if I was interested in becoming an administrator, presumably since I had been sharing so many links on the site. They told me, however, that I was sharing too many links from my own blog, and that if I wanted to be an admin I would have to give them an assurance that this wouldn’t continue. In the end I turned them down. After about a couple of months’ using the site it appeared to be mainly a place where people could complain about Donald Trump – disinformation in the public sphere seemed to be the main topic of conversation – but there was a subwiki about AI that was also well-patronised.

Frequent posting also seems to be an issue on Instagram, which is owned by Facebook. I joined Instagram site in early November and on the 16th and the 21st of that month they barred me, for a day on each occasion, from commenting or posting photos. The first time it happened, I asked my daughter why it was so and she said I was probably due to posting too much. I find Instagram pretty mindless, furthermore, and I soon stopped following accounts with a similar profile to ones I already followed. Another thing that strikes me it that the suggestions it offers never vary, so you are always presented with the same list of accounts to follow. This is in contrast to what happens on Facebook, where the suggestions change all the time.

LinkedIn had begun, conversely, to seem more relevant than ever before. They had started, for one thing, to include a marker next to links you post on the site showing people who follow you how long it would take them to read each post you put up, if it is made up of text. This seemed, to me, to offer a good way of enabling people to gauge, before clicking, what kind of investment would be required, in terms of the time spent with your thoughts, in order to engage with you, but the feature disappeared after a couple of weeks. Beyond that, since other social media platforms had become more and more polarised, and less and less civil, LinkedIn, which had once seemed stiff and unapproachable, began to look more and more attractive. Because people’s reputations are precisely linked, there, with their online personas – the number of anonymous accounts is much lower on LinkedIn than on Twitter, or even than on Facebook – they behave more circumspectly. This results in a better experience.

One other thing that I noticed this year was the ubiquity of content available online in audio and video formats. Everyone, it seems, is making podcasts or videos and sharing them with people they know, who follow them on social media, or who are tuned into hashtags. The headphone jack on my PC is broken so I haven’t much listened to much audio, but while I was writing this I turned on my speakers and they still worked, so with the end of the calendar year I was able to listen to audio while sitting at my desk (I had been consuming videos on my mobile phone). 

I made another technological discovery, too, when, on the way home from filling up the petrol tank at the service station, I tried to work out how the clock in the car might be changed. To do this I pressed the “Mode” button a few times then, on the off-chance it might work, held it down for a few seconds. The hour marker started flashing, indicating that my surmise had been correct. I had not, for a number of years, changed the clock in the car to account for daylight saving, no longer possessing the operator’s manual for the car. Now, I would be able to.

In November I started to do something for the blog that I hadn’t done before: I began collecting in a spreadsheet mentions of books by people on social media. I see dozens of such comments every month, it turns out. I started collecting them on 18 November and by 19 December I had 41 book titles listed in the file. I don’t even have to do anything; the titles arrived in my timeline automatically because of people I follow. This kind of facility was unknown when I was in my 20s. At that time, you talked with people at parties, or with friends who had talked with someone at a pub or at a dinner party. The routes information took to get to you were less immediate, and depended on physical proximity, in many cases, although gatekeepers in the form of literary critics also held sway in a way that, now, they do not.

It was a year of sharing in other ways, too, as I noted on Facebook on 28 November: “Bought a birdbath yesterday at Bunnings. I put it on the balcony and filled it with water. Today a rainbow lorikeet was the first bird to have a dekko. It alit on the balcony balustrade but flew off before using the thing because it could see me inside, presumably.” On the last Friday of the month the gulp of swallows I had seen the Saturday before were back circling in the space in front of my building but, as with the two new social media sites mentioned above, there was a lack of participants. 
I put the birdbath on the back verandah so that birds could get to it without the risk of seeing a human. Later, on the last Thursday just before Christmas, I brought the birdbath back to the front verandah. This was because I had seen an Indian mynah flying into the space created by the overhang there, and thought it might have been looking for water, as the air was full of smoke. The poor thing seemed disoriented. 

At the end of the year of the pig, bushfires on the eastern side of the continent meant the air above Sydney was hazy on many days. While drought in this part of the continent had been predicted in 2014 because of how the Indian Ocean Dipole has been behaving, people were quick to blame the prime minister. There was even a hashtag – #MorrisonFires – that, on 16 December, started trending on Twitter on account of his government’s lack of concrete action on climate change. Regardless that the government’s explanation for the fires – they were partly due to climate change – was accurate on the strength of available evidence, parts of the community had strong beliefs and the complaints about the PM continued into the following week. Whatever the truth – and everyone seemed to be, suddenly, an expert – indicators for the year of the rat were inauspicious, as you can see in this shot of the city skyline at 5.40am on 31 October 2019:

At 5.31am on 3 November the sky was clear:

At 5.28am on 9 November the air was also clear:

At 5.50pm on 19 November there was a bit of smoke evident:

And at 6.04am on 21 November the smoke was heavy:

On 26 November at 6.22pm the air was full of dust:

On the morning of 29 November the air was again full of smoke:

At 4.28pm on 2 December the smoke was back again:

At 3.28pm on 5 December it was even worse:

At 5.22am on 8 December, the sky was clear again:

At 6.42am on 10 December the sky was full of smoke again:

At 5.10am on Friday 13 December the sky was overcast but the air was clear:

At 8.48am on 19 December the smoke was there again:

And on 22 December at 5.36am, a cool day, the sky was, again, clear:

The following photo was taken at 5.19am on Christmas Day, also cool. It had rained on Christmas Eve.

And on 30 December at 9.06am the sky was hazy again:

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