I wheel down the ramp from "Rent a Ruffy" in a real bomb but, at $10 a day it will get us there and back - we hope. The objective, on car rental day, is to get as many errands done as possible. Freddy is in the copilot seat with a detailed list of targets, the projected route, and the map book of Sydney. Even natives of Sydney use the map book because the streets of Sydney, like Boston, are winding, confusing, and change names from one block to the next. Even figuring out the maps takes skill and practice.
I pilot downtown first, start-stopping over the Bay Bridge with the rest of Australia's humanity. The entire time we are stuck in traffic on the bridge the radio announcer reads a list of unions on strike. By 0900 we arrive at Channel 10 TV for a brief appearance on the Good Morning Australia Show.
Next, we wing up to Palm Beach to pick up the new stainless anchor trough and ladder from the welder. Since it's close, we make a landing at Whale Beach and look up Nancy. Bruce, Angela and Claire are there too, but they are tense and unfriendly. Freddy quickly gets tired of them and pulls me out the door.
"Don't look so miserable," she pokes me in the ribs as we drive back towards Sydney.
"I can't help it. I just don't understand why they are mad at me."
"I just don't understand why you worry about it. They haven't actually done anything except sit around and talk to each other." Freddy examines the new anchor trough for possible flaws. It is an excellent piece of work.
"But I like them as people, they were friends. Regardless of the dolphin crusade."
"Just forget it, will you? We have lots of other things to do besides worry about what they do to make themselves miserable." She's getting mad. I let it go and just drive.
"I keep thinking about what Sue said. How the people at the Environment Center think I went about this all wrong."
Freddy glares at me, "Come ON. We went to them and asked for their help and advice and they wouldn't even talk to us about it. "Sor-ry we only work with wha-les," she mimics. "If they knew how to go about it right, why didn't they? I'll tell you why. Because they are a bunch of incompetent idiots who don't care about anything except keeping the cash flow rolling in to their seedy little flat on Pitt Street. Now stop wasting your time worrying about them. The world is stuffed with do gooders who never actually do anything except blabber."
I make a quick stop at the Parks and Wildlife Service to see how many petitions have arrived. Jack Giles is busy but finally agrees to see me. He says there have been about 4000 signatures on petitions.
Only 4000? Less than 4000? I am crushed. Of course, they still have to count the ballots from the Sun. But I've given talks to 6 schools, the Australian Museum, been on several radio and TV shows and put on two shows at the Mosman Town Hall. Only 4000 signatures?
Crestfallen, we return to the Moira. Freddy gets out with the stainless trough, the new ladder, and the groceries. I drive the car back to Rent-a-Ruffy. It makes a foul, burning rubber smell as I pull into the lot. On the bus back to Mosman, and walking down to Quaker's Hat Bay, I keep thinking "4000, only 4000."
I put the new ladder on Moira's stern. It looks good. I go forward to put on the anchor trough but find myself just sitting on deck, feeling cold and tired. I go aft and swing down into the cabin. Freddy is rubbing her eye. "What's wrong?' I ask.
"I don't know. There's something wrong with my left eye. It really hurts." She rarely complains unless it's something serious.
I have lost a filling somewhere during the day and have to find a dentist. It looks like rain. Tomorrow I have to do a talk at a school in Dee Why. And then? (click thumbnail to read the story).
"I understand your office has received petitions from more than 210,000 citizens of New South Wales supporting the release of the dolphins from the African Lion Safari and the building of a sea-side dolphin park. Is that correct?" I glare at Jack Giles across the table and glance at the others.
Dr. Horace Dobbs, a biologist from England has just presented a rambling talk about his experiences with a dolphin in the waters around England. He turns to Jack Giles expectantly, eyebrows lifted. Estelle, Nancy, Angela, Tony Gregory of project Jonah, Vanessa from Greenpeace, Christine from Animal Liberation, and Sue Arnold all look at Jack Giles, waiting for a reply.
"Yes, that's approximately right, I don't have an exact count." Giles agrees. About 4,000, my ass.
"In most public polls a conservative figure of the number of people who reply versus the number of people who feel the same way but don't bother to reply is about 10 to 1. So the citizens of New South Wales overwhelmingly support this idea and feel rather strongly about it. How many people have said they did NOT want the dolphins released?"
"Not very many," Giles plays with some papers on the table.
"Perhaps just Bulley, Smyth at the Zoo, and associates. I think a poll here in the Parks and Wildlife Services would favor release of the dolphins and construction of the sea-side park, wouldn't it? Am I right?"
"Probably," Giles nods.
"I would think this would represent a rather powerful mandate to a public service to react according to the public wish." I pause for effect and lean forward expectantly, "So why are you not responding?"
"As I've explained before, Bulley refuses to let the dolphins go. The court dockets here in Sydney are booked for years. To release the dolphins we'd have to take him to court and this would cost an unreasonable amount of time and money. And we would have no way of knowing what the judge might decide since the scientific issues have not been settled. And we have not worked out the details of the sea-side park yet." Giles sounds exasperated.
"We don't care about courts or any sea-side park," Estelle leaps in with both feet. "We just want the dolphins out of there."
"Perhaps it would be reasonable if we were to compose a letter to Mr. Bulley and have all of us sign it," Chips in Tony Gregory. As I open my mouth to say this would be completely useless, everyone lights up and they chorus "Good Idea!," "Right!", "That's the best way." Only Greenpeace abstains - Vanessa just sits there, quietly brooding.
They compose a letter telling Bulley he should let the dolphins go and there should be no sea-side dolphin park or any other impediment to their immediate release. It is a stupid move and will do more harm than good. It cuts off the one option Bulley and crowd could possibly profit from. It also cuts off support from the scientists, who believe the dolphins require a place to rehabilitate and a place where man can interact with them in a natural setting. It also negates the 210,000 votes to establish a sea-side dolphin park. Quite a mental accomplishment.
I watch the Environmental Defenders of Australia work out the details of the half-page, whimpy letter. Their neural processes slowly and laboriously grind away at the complex task.
"Enough is enough," mantras up and down my axons, calling to all parts of the system, giving the news of surrender. "The war is over. The enemy has won. Time to move on." I ignore their declaration of hopelessness, get up and go home.
It is night. The FM radio is playing popular hits but my mind rewrites the lyrics:
"Howd-ya-like to live in a tank?
Whad-da-ya dooo all day and all night?
Ya go on Swimming round and round and around outta sight."
"Starbursts belong in the open sea
Breathing freedom only dolphins can see
soaring blue comets mind dancing with me
in the night with the moon all aglow, aglow."
"No dolphins ever die in the sea
cause their life is a singing mind
when a dolphin body stops the song goes on and on.
Please please pleeeeeease set them freeeeeeeee."
Radio 2JJJ announces, "If you are unhappy with the way a government agency is treating you, see your ombudsman."
"Hey, did you hear that?" I ask Freddy, "We should find us an ombudsman."
"Hmmmm," She thinks the project is dead.
The phone rings and it is a woman named Jane Powers who is a friend of Burnam Burnam. She has a friend, Daryl, who wants to meet me. She's coming over right away. An hour later, Jane and a big friendly looking man come down the stairs to the Bateau Chateau.
"Hi, Daryl," I shake his hand.
He looks distracted and immediately blurts out, "The minute I heard your name and the word "dolphin" I knew I had to meet you. This may sound strange, but I feel I have to bring you something. But I don't know what it is." This sounds interesting. Just the kind of thing the Moirae do.
So we sit around and talk and talk. I talk about dolphins, kaleidoscopes, and the Moirae. He talks about his interests in psychic healing, spiritual search, and so on. Two hours later we are still unenlightened as to what he is supposed to have brought me right away.
Daryl and Jane decide the thing to do is go into meditation. So Daryl and Jane and I meditate while Freddy fidgets. I wander through a sampler of psychic states ranging from receptiveness, aggressiveness, to nothingness. After a long time I open my eyes. Jane and Daryl are still deep into meditation. Finally, they come out of it and he looks very relaxed and pious but still unenlightened.
"Daryl, what do you do?" he looks blank so Freddy tries again, speaking slowly, "Daryl, what is your job? Where do you work?"
"Oh, I'm a lawyer in the ombudsman's office." he returns briefly to our planet.
Synchronicity strikes again! "Just the man I wanted to see," I grin. "This very morning I heard about the Ombudsman's Office on the radio. I was thinking of going to try to find one. Next thing I know, Jane calls and the Ombudsman arrives."
We all smile and cackle. The mystery is solved. "I'm not happy with the way a government agency has treated some friends of mine at the African Lion Safari."
Daryl immediately goes into reverse. "Uhh, you must realize our office is extremely busy with tax and land problems. I don't think we would have much chance of getting anything going against the Parks and Wildlife Services, at least not for a couple of years. I really feel the way to do this is through meditation and spiritual pressure." He sets off on a long, laborious description of how we might guide the dolphins to spiritual freedom through higher worlds.
After another twenty minutes of this sort of fuzzybrain stuff, they levitate back up the stairs. The message from the great whatever-it-is is abundantly clear. No hope. The dolphins at the Lion Park Safari are doomed.
Freddy is busy in the vegetable market, a small warehouse on a back street in Mosman lined with bins full of fresh, delightful vegetables of all descriptions. I walk to the corner of the street and buy a copy of the Sun from a news vendor.
Sue Arnold called yesterday with hot news. The Premier of New South Wales, Nevil Wran, agreed to demand the immediate release of the dolphins at the African Lion Safari. It is supposed to be in today's paper along with my comments on the African Lion Safari and an article from the Sun's New York Correspondent on the fight to close dolphinaria in the United States. Hope burns brightly again.
I page through the Sun, standing on the sidewalk in the cool sunlight. The article is small, buried deep in the first section. It is bland, wishy-washy, weak on Wran (he expressed the personal feeling the dolphins would be better off in the sea) and supportive of dolphinaria in general.
The cars drive by, looking for parking spaces along the crowded suburb street. People stop and buy newspapers and cigarettes from the vendor and go their way, intent on their busy lives.
I remember a dream I had last night. I was an ape standing on a street corner trying to tell the hominids something about dolphins. A few humans were standing about listening, but most just walked on by, intent on their own problems. They ignored the spectacle of an ape lecturing about dolphins on their busy city street. A dream come true. I feel exactly the same now.
"OK, let's go," Freddy wheels up with a big supermarket cart overflowing with vegetables and even a crate of fresh oranges.
I call Sue Arnold from the Bateau Chateau. She says the copy editor did it without her knowledge. She's furious. I swear this dolphin business has more emotional ups and downs than a love affair.
"So, if you want to see the dolphins free, all of you should write a letter to Mr. Bulley and tell him, in your own words, it's not nice to keep dolphins in a swimming pool. Tell him you won't come to the Lion Park Safari until he lets them go."
I look out at the earnest expressions on the children's faces as Jane Powers comes out onto the stage, clapping at my presentation. God, How many of these have I done? This one was a favor to Burnam Burnam's friend, Jane.
Burnam Burnam is a real life quenkin, an Aborigine, a spiritual friend of mine. I thought the presentation was terrible, my mind half-asleep, but Jane and another teacher at the school assure me the talk was terrific.
"We'll make it a special class project," she smiles at me as we walk out into the parking lot. "We'll get every student to write a letter to the African Lion Safari. And I really think this will help. Did you see the Telegraph today?" She opens her car and takes a copy of the newspaper from the seat.
The Telegraph reports The African Lion Safari is having financial trouble and will be closing down except on weekends and holidays. They have let some people go, too. Right, fire the people but keep the dolphins. How smart is that?
"So Bulley is feeling the strain," I muse. "It would have been so different if he had cooperated."