By Mike Welsh

Canberra’s tennis superstar Nick Kyrgios has returned home to spend Christmas with his family.

The world number 35 is taking a breather from a tumultuous season which saw him continue to clash with officials and frustrate fans.  In November Kyrgios admitted he was taking steps to improve his overall approach to tennis and that he was seeking expert help to “get on top of “ his mental health issues.

Earlier in the year legendary tennis brat and former world number 1 John McEnroe said that Kyrgios “was the best tennis player I’ve seen in the past 10 years” but feared he  risks “running himself out of the game” 

A relaxed Nick Kyrgios at the Kaleen Tennis Club

Kyrgios made himself available to hundreds of excited youngsters at the Kaleen Tennis Club today. The 23 year old looked relaxed and was happy to sign autographs and pose for photos.

On the NK foundation

For the first time, I feel like there is a reason for what I am doing. Tennis is a great life – we are well paid and the perks are pretty good – but it can feel empty if you’re just doing it for the money. I now know what it’s all for. When I work on the NK Foundation and our Melbourne facility, I cast my mind forward to all the disadvantaged kids I will be helping. I’m playing for them now. Nick Kyrgios on the NKFoundation

As hundreds of excited kids swarmed around Kygrios his mum Norlaila and sister Halimah manned a ‘merch’ stall groaning under the weight of everything from wrist bands and t.shirts to baseball caps and tennis sox all under the NK Foundation brand. The foundation’s mission statement is Giving Dreams A Sporting Chance and was founded by the Kyrgios family to offer disadvantaged youngsters the opportunity to play sport in a safe and encouraging environment.. 

His brother and manager Christos said the tennis star will remain in Australia until Jan 26.


Members of Team Kyrgios and coaches at Kaleen Tennis club

Charity begins at Kippax or Hawker?

By Mike Welsh

Tis the season for giving and,it would appear,dumping.And in some parts of Canberra it seems the dumping is greater than the giving. At the Kippax Fair shopping centre car park the dumping is far more generous that at the nearby Hawker shopping Village car park.

KIPPAX                       HAWKER
kippax binshawker #2 bins

And pilfering from charity bins is also popular, and possibly profitable, at this festive time of year.

One man challenged for stealing from a charity bin/dump,justified it thus “it’s only junk”. Hard to argue when a lot of it is..junk. Junk the dumpers are too mean to pay to dump at the tip. So it makes perfect sense to dump it at the charity bins?.

But why are the bins at Hawker less “dumpy” in appearance than the bins at Kippax?. Could it be there are more thieves and fewer donors at Hawker while the Kippax mob is more generous and less shifty?



By Mike Welsh

Jennifer was killed near my place a few years ago. While I’m not sure exactly when and how she died, I do know she is sorely missed, at least by her mother. It is clear she perished after a vehicle left the road and hit a large tree.  Apart from that I know that her mother wants her memory to live on.

How do I know about Jennifer?  There is a bright and uncluttered roadside memorial attached to a large tree just around the corner from my place.

I wasn’t aware the memorial was dedicated to Jennifer until recently. The tribute to Jennifer is always simple and fresh and unavoidable. Flowers and messages mainly. But today I couldn’t avoid the large, personal sign which appeared.

roadside memorial

 I’ve conducted several interviews on my radio program with the  authors of books on the subject of Roadside memorials.    Apparently there are scores of books available on the topic,  mostly filled with poignant pictures of wooden crosses on the  sides of highways from all around the world. Although in some  parts of the world tributes are distinctly different. In Ireland for  example you’ll see actual headstones or piles of rock with a  cross atop. In Canada they are more organised. The  government pays for a bunch of crosses with the deceased  person’s name and a road safety message included.

It’s almost impossible to drive by a roadside memorial without  giving some thought to what you see. There’s no  confusion.    But there is always, to someone, a tragic story  attached.

Is it sobering and upsetting if there’s a cuddly toy and photo frame featuring a child in amongst the flowers and candles?  A child perished at that spot.

Often when a teenager dies in a car smash their peers shower a makeshift memorial site with all manner of items.  Cans of alcohol, footy caps and scarves, graffiti. They have few other ways of dealing with the loss. These mostly fade with the months and years. Others are meant to be permanent.

I’ve often wondered as I pass the tribute near my place whether the extensive maintenance undertaken to keep the memorial alive actually helps the family left behind deal with its loss. Is it none of my business? Was it disrespectful of me to take and publish a photo of Jennifer’s site?

Some experts in the field of grief and loss suggest the concept of roadside memorials is more about those who are, or wish to be, unconventional. Church and graveyard displays are the traditional manner in which to remember the departed.

And while from a practical viewpoint, local governments   grapple with this sensitive issue, it seems there are those who find the concept of roadside memorials distasteful and even offensive.

The Separation of Church and State issue, surprisingly, rears its boofhead. Because most sites include a cross, a universal sign of death and loss, this automatically also means Christianity and that, for some, just won’t do.  This was the basis for a change of the law in the state of Florida in the late 90s.

It’s also distressing to learn of in incident in Portland, Oregon several years ago. Somebody decided it was ok to compact the grief of a family by erecting signs featuring black crosses with a red slash though them. The Black Prince’s calling card “666” was tossed in for greater effect. Not to mention memorials ripped out only to be replaced, time and time again by grieving relatives.

And of course there is always the old chestnut about the distraction sites create for passing motorists.

But all I can think of at this time of year is Jennifer’s mother and her grief and another Christmas they won’t share.