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Local News - Victoria

Tears of joy in the rush to reopen, but not everyone is happy


Frank Ciccone, owner of Hair By Ciccone in Macleod in Melbourne’s north-east, has more than 35 customers booked for Monday and is sifting through 300 phone messages.

He expects to be heavily booked until December 31, but is not fazed.

“It’s amazing. The pressure is off us,” he said.

However, Marnie Browne, owner of Fem Skin Therapy beauty salon in Lower Plenty, was “very upset” that beauticians must wait until November 2 to reopen.

She feels beauty salons are discriminated against despite strict social distancing and sanitising practices. From November 2 they can offer manicures, pedicures, body waxing, eyebrow waxing and tinting, but cannot do lip or chin waxing, facials or skin treatments, due to having to wear masks.

With the distance Melburnians can travel increasing from five kilometres to 25 kilometres, Harry and Letitia Tseng of Reservoir can now visit Harry’s father Frederick, 65, who lives in Box Hill, and his mother Monica, 66, who does not speak much English, in South Yarra.

Harry and Letitia Tseng and their children will soon see Harry's father Frederick in person, rather than via video calls.

Harry and Letitia Tseng and their children will soon see Harry’s father Frederick in person, rather than via video calls.Credit:Chris Hopkins

And the Tsengs’ two children, Lok, five, and Edith, two, can once again watch MasterChef with their “Mama” Monica, who cooks for them.

Letitia said Edith had started showing signs of being wary of other people, adding: “I’d hate for her to be that way with her grandparents.”

Tennis-mad Fitzroy North children Florian and Aurelie Kostov, aged 13 and 10, have spent months having to whack balls against a wall. They are thrilled that from Monday they can play on a court, with tennis courts, golf courses and skateboard parks reopening.

“I’m very excited,” said Florian, who is also happy he can now see friends who live more than five kilometres away.

Aurelie Kostov and brother Florian will be hitting the courts at Princes Hill tennis club.

Aurelie Kostov and brother Florian will be hitting the courts at Princes Hill tennis club.Credit:Wayne Taylor

Kew plastering business owner Brad Harrison is disappointed the state government did not lift restrictions on the number of workers – six – allowed on small-scale construction sites.

And he said the restrictions still ruled out clients who want non-essential work indoors.

“I’ve still got people who’ve texted me saying, ‘Can you come and replace the ceiling from 10 weeks ago,’ and I’ve said, ‘Look, we can’t come into your home.’ “

Single mother Ashlee Kelly, owner of Listen To Your Body fitness studio in Brunswick, was pleased at the increase in the maximum class size from two clients to 10 from November 2.

But she says not being able to open indoors is “not sustainable” due to weather fluctuations, equipment being damaged and working in the dark being unsafe for female trainers.

“The other morning we turned up in the park and there’d been a stabbing overnight,” she said.

She said people were getting sick of outdoor classes, as with online sessions.

“We need to open indoors, not just for ourselves and business but for the mental health of our members.”

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Business

Streets ahead in the joy of interacting and tackling change


How long have you been doing this job and what first sparked your interest in this area?

I became a teacher 25 years ago. I always loved to learn and still love learning new things. Like so many others who find themselves in education, I was inspired by a number of amazing teachers when I was in high school. I never wanted to be in a job that would have me sitting or standing at a counter all day. Having said that I find myself sitting at my desk an awful lot these days but at least my office has a revolving door with plenty of different people coming and going.

What do you like most about the job?

One of the aspects of the job that I enjoy is the social nature of the job that has a primary focus on helping others. I like the unpredictability and constant change; you can never claim to be bored as a principal. Education is such a great place to be, it is wonderful interacting on a regular basis with so many bright young people and the staff both teaching and non-teaching are of the highest calibre.

What was the most unexpected thing you have had to do in your job?

There are many unexpected aspects to this job, like accompanying a student in an ambulance to hospital, choosing the colour of paint and patterns of carpet and becoming familiar with guttering styles and the plumbing of the school. In terms of recent events, I never imagined I would have to lead a whole school community in a transition to remote/online learning! That was certainly a learning experience, and something I could never have foreseen when I started teaching 25 years ago.

What is the worst thing you have had to do?

Attend the funerals of young people – educators end up becoming so much more than teachers; we develop strong relationships with not only the students themselves but also with their extended families.

Has your approach to being the principal changed after taking charge of a selective school – and one of the oldest and most renowned schools in Australia? If so, how?

Not really, I have always been acutely aware of how important a school’s culture and traditions are to the entire school community, and I have thoroughly enjoyed my journey in education in many different school settings including special education in London. Fort Street High School does have a rich history and pride in many old traditions. For example, I was surprised to find that students still sing in Latin every school assembly. That was something unfamiliar to me, but I felt it was important to make the effort to learn the school songs myself to show that I value that aspect of the school’s history and tradition.

The school’s long tradition of academic excellence is also important to me and to the students. Academically selective schools like Fort Street play an important role in the wider public education system.

Having such a concentration of gifted students allows them to become more than the sum of their parts, and the things they are able to achieve not just academically, but also artistically, culturally and in a leadership sense, are incredible. Part of the tradition of Fort Street is also recognising the responsibility that the privilege of such an education is for our students, developing in them a strong social conscience and encouraging them to make a positive contribution to society.

What advice do you have for people wanting to get into this career? What should they study and what experience do they need to get into this field?

Make sure you realise that the old days of teaching are over – it is not a job for you if you are looking to exert influence and power over others. Teachers and school leaders need to be tolerant, understanding and patient.

Teaching hours also do not reflect the school day. There are many hours spent late into the night and on weekends and holidays preparing lessons, creating resources, marking and providing feedback for students’ work and writing reports. A job in education requires a huge commitment. For those who are interested in school leadership in particular, it is important to realise that while schools are large and complex organisations that increasingly require skills in financial management, human resources management etc. at their heart they remain about the education of young people – quality teaching and learning – and it is important for someone in a position like mine to never lose sight of that.

What personal skills do they need?

Most importantly, you will need to have excellent interpersonal skills and the ability to communicate well. A joy of interacting and spending lots of time with young people is also vital.

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Australian News

We expected the return of the innocent joy of footy, but we were faced with its racial history and an obvious question


If the return of the AFL season was supposed to be symbolic, it might be remembered instead for its symbolism.

Before a strangely anticlimactic draw between Richmond and Collingwood, players from both teams took a knee in an empty MCG.

This was an AFL-approved gesture of support for the Black Lives Matter cause that was poignant and, no doubt, heartfelt.

Or it might have been if, just a few hours earlier, artists had not put the finishing touches to a mural of Adam Goodes on a building in Sydney’s Surry Hills, which provided a potent, perhaps even inconvenient reminder of one of the AFL’s most shameful episodes.

Accordingly, on a day we had expected to celebrate the return of the innocent joy of going to the footy — well, until crowds are allowed in, at least watching the footy — we were confronted by its still uneasy racial history and an obvious question.

About seven players walk out onto grass in a stadium, with green empty chairs in the seating above them.
There was no-one there to boo the Richmond and Collingwood players for taking the knee.(AAP: Michael Dodge)

Was the very public gesture of taking a knee — that will be repeated across the weekend — an indication the AFL is now ready to confront instances of crowd and on-field racism that have included the vilification of Nicky Winmar, Michael Long and Goodes’ as they occur, not just in the rear vision mirror of history?

Or was the AFL’s much-anticipated return after the COVID-19 shutdown being used for yet more corporate window-dressing and the sentiments no more resilient than the cardboard cut-outs who watched the game?

Who knows?

Climactic moments disguised constipated encounter

As it is, the game played on Thursday night between the well-fancied Tigers and Magpies only lived up to its billing in its finish, the climactic moments of the low-scoring 5.6 (36) – 5.6 (36) draw disguising a painfully constipated encounter.

Quarters shortened to 16 minutes would, we had been promised, create a ballistic new game with energised teams hitting the scoreboard at will.

Instead we got a scrappy contest after which both teams will feel they should have won but neither really deserved the four points.

Instead of free-flowing football befitting two highly-rated teams, the most significant sign of AFL-as-usual was the controversy surrounding a goal late in the third quarter when the ball appeared to have crossed the line for a behind before it was marked by Richmond’s Jack Higgins.

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The mark was awarded after video intervention, the goal kicked and, alas, the Collingwood throng was not there to abuse the officials in person and had to rely on an unsatisfying synthetic version of crowd noise to imitate their frustration.

Following the lead of NRL broadcasters Nine and Fox Sports, Seven had chosen to use their own fake crowd noise which landed somewhere between Nine’s quiet NRL murmur and Fox Sports’ heavy-handed attempts at “authentic” reactions.

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After a few early misfires, the AFL producers managed to get the fake reaction loosely synchronised with the action and, until the discordant cheers upon the final siren — a draw is always met with confused silence — the major failure was that the virtual crowd was not loud enough to drown out the most hysterical of Seven’s commentators.

Seven, we were very quickly reminded, has long been the home of the megawall — a multiscreen abomination where viewers are confronted by images on as many as nine screens.

This presumably saves the producers the tiresome task of doing their job by screening just one compelling image.

So it was inevitable the dreaded megawall would be the vehicle used by Seven to show public reaction with the sight of not just one but nine manic families cavorting in their living rooms subbed in for an actual crowd.

While you might applaud any effort to add a semblance of normality to the coverage of a game that would have usually been played before 90,000 fans pre-COVID, the megawall was only a slightly more convincing injection of “fan involvement” than an interview with the cardboard cut-outs.

The Biggest Loser

If taking a knee was the signature moment of the AFL’s return, signing a new media rights contract has now become the real ceremonial moment in any sport’s return to the field.

Just like the NRL’s re-start two weeks ago, it was the AFL’s last minute negotiation of its contract with Seven and Fox Sports that excited the commentators before the bounce.

However, despite the chest-beating about whether the NRL or AFL had signed and played first, the media rights game in the post-COVID era should be called the Biggest Loser — which game loses the most projected revenue due to the diminished appeal of a truncated season or the desperation to gain financial security by prolonging its deal?

Early projections suggest that by holding out the AFL has done marginally better than the NRL in cash savings, but it has not yet secured its deal with Fox Sports beyond the current contract.

Although, as unfashionable as it might be to say, we will only know which competition has done better when we find out how well they have protected grass roots competitions that are their lifeblood, not how much they protect the salaries of players and administrators.

Meanwhile, if the Richmond, Collingwood arm wrestle was a somewhat unsatisfying way to start again more will be learnt from the remaining games that are the subject of even more COVID-era quirks and tweaks.

On Friday night, Geelong plays Hawthorn in a match that would normally attract 80,000 to the MCG but will instead be contested at the Cats’ relatively claustrophobic Kardinia Park.

On the weekend the hub-dwellers West Coast and Fremantle begin their lives as Queensland’s third and fourth teams while in Sydney and Adelaide there will be a now rare sight — small groups of non-recyclable fans.

Real flesh and blood supporters in the AFL stands will be reassuring.

Although, as some will have noted, when the Richmond and Collingwood players kneeled none of the cardboard cut-outs booed.



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How remastering ABC TV show The Stranger after 55 years brought joy to its star, Ron Haddrick, in his dying days


For 55 years, 12 episodes of a hit science-fiction TV show, The Stranger, sat in the ABC’s film vaults, catalogued, preserved, and largely forgotten.

But who knew the meaning they held for a 90-year-old man at the end of his life and the family who adored him?

Ron Haddrick holds a scientific-looking instrument with an antenna. The picture is in black and white.
Ron Haddrick starred as Adam Suisse in the 1960s ABC science-fiction series The Stranger.(ABC Archives)

Accomplished actor Ron Haddrick was the star of The Stranger, which hit TV screens in 1964.

In an impressive career spanning more than 65 years, on radio, stage and screen, he regarded his performance as Adam Suisse, a mysterious visitor from space, as one of his finest and most important roles.

Newspaper article with headline 'Saucer lands in our first space serial' and photo of Haddrick in raincoat.
A TV Times article from 1964 announces the arrival of the ABC’s new sci-fi mystery.(ABC Archives)

“It was the role that gave him a public profile,” says his son Greg Haddrick, renowned screen writer and TV executive producer.

But it was a performance he’d not seen since it first went to air, and feared was long discarded.

“Dad thought the master copies of The Stranger had been lost forever and that saddened him,” says Greg, who recalls his father often speaking of the program in the decades after it was made.

“Ten years ago, we found out that parts of episode 1 are held at the National Film and Sound Archive and he thought well, at least there is some surviving remnant.

Backstory: actor Ron Haddrick after being awarded Lifetime Achievement Award
Ron Haddrick was awarded the Equity Lifetime Achievement award in 2012 honouring his illustrious 65-year career. He was still on stage at the age of 85.(Supplied: Greg Haddrick)

“In the last six months of his life he was very sick, and it was in early February when we said to him, ‘Guess what? The ABC has put The Stranger on iView.

“He said ‘wow’, and it put a really big smile on his face.

“Then there was a lovely day when he sat and watched the first episode with mum holding his hand.”

The universe looking after him through his end of life

After months in hospital battling meningitis, Ron was physically weak and bedridden.

His daughter Lyn Haddrick held up an iPad for him to watch the first episode as his wife of 67 years, Lorraine, sat beside him.

Elderly man and woman doing an arm wrestle.
Ron and Lorraine Haddrick were devoted to each other and married for 67 years.(Supplied: Courtney Boyle)

“He watched it with a lot of concentration, and avidly,” recalls Lyn.

“He remembered all this detail about shooting it, particularly the beginning which shows him lying at a gate and the rain coming down — he could remember that night vividly.

“He said he was surprised at how it stood up so well 50 years on.

“He was really proud.”

A man in a suit talking with three children in a room with futuristic interior. The picture is in black and white.
In the series, Haddrick’s character, Adam Suisse, befriends three children who discover he’s an alien.(ABC Archives)

It was a particularly poignant moment for Lorraine.

“It meant a tremendous amount to me,” she says.

“The years go by and he’s done so much but The Stranger and The Outcasts [another early ABC TV program in which he starred] were two we always remembered, and it did occur to us that we’d never see the episodes again, so it was really lovely to watch them again, together.

“He looked so young — he said I was 35 when I did that — and it meant a lot to me to see him performing as a young man.

“I remember our grand-daughter Milly coming in and saying ‘Papa, I have seen all The Stranger and you were so handsome!’.”

Black and white photo of Ron Haddrick and wife wearing evening wear and smiling at camera.
Watching The Stranger brought back happy memories for Ron and Lorraine Haddrick.(Supplied: Greg Haddrick)

The family planned to watch the remaining 11 episodes together, but sadly Ron passed away before they could.

Lorraine has since watched them all.

“I enjoyed watching him again. It’s brought me some comfort, given me some solace,” she says.

An important program in Australian TV history

Ron Haddrick was regarded as one of the finest actors of his generation.

In the 50s, he performed five seasons with the The Shakespeare Memorial Theatre Company (now known as the Royal Shakespeare Company) at Stratford-upon-Avon, alongside giants of the stage Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh, Michael Redgrave and John Gielgud.

He appeared in countless plays, (and later musicals), with Australia’s top theatre companies and greatest actors, including Ruth Cracknell and John Bell.

Black and white photo of Haddrick wearing Shakespearean costume and hat.
Ron Haddrick playing Petruchio in an ABC production of The Taming of the Shrew.(ABC)

One of his most memorable performances was a leading role in the first production of David Williamson’s iconic play The Club.

On screen, Haddrick appeared in a wide range of popular TV shows from Homicide to Underbelly, Mother and Son, Home and Away and Cloudstreet.

But The Stranger (and his role in The Outcasts) represented, for Haddrick, the vindication of a gutsy decision to leave a successful career in the UK and return home to help grow the fledgling Australian theatre and television industry.

“Ron was very happy with The Stranger because it was written by an Australian and produced and directed by Storry Walton, an Australian, and it was an Australian cast — before then they were mainly English programs with English actors,” recalls Lorraine.

“This is what he came back from the UK for, because he wanted to help Australian TV and theatre to build up and he was delighted The Stranger was being made.”

Newspaper article with headline 'Australia fears space attack in new ABC serial' and with photos of Ron Haddrick and Chips Raffe
1965 TV Times article on The Stranger and the appearance of film actor Chips Rafferty in the final episode.(ABC Archives)

Was The Stranger Australia’s Doctor Who?

The Stranger, which also featured legendary film actor Chips Rafferty in one episode, launched in 1964 at a time when the wonder of space exploration captured the public’s imagination.

“At the time it was broadcast, The Stranger was a huge success, both in Australia and the UK — it was the first ABC Television production sold to the BBC,” says ABC archivist Jon Steiner.

“While Doctor Who went on to become a long-running cult classic The Stranger faded into obscurity.”

Jon Steiner standing on a ladder looking at a can of film in between shelves packed full of cans.
Archivist Jon Steiner and colleague Helen Meany are passionate about sharing old film and TV programs in the ABC’s collection with a new audience.(ABC News: Nathaniel Harding)

That was until archivist Helen Meany stumbled across it in a film database when looking for content for RetroFocus, which she and colleague Jon Steiner created to give old programs and news clips from the ABC’s vast film and television collection a second life on digital platforms.

“We started watching it and were really blown away by the writing and acting,” says Steiner.

“It’s quite a sophisticated and complex story, and, far from being just a kitschy retro sci-fi series, it actually holds up extremely well today thanks to both its great storytelling and its forward-thinking themes.

Black and white photo of UFO model on steps of Town Hall with people and cars in street in 1965.
The final episode featured a UFO landing on the steps of the Sydney Town Hall.(ABC Archives)

“We loved it so much but weren’t sure if that was just because we’re archives nerds, so we did a test viewing with our spouses and kids, and they all loved it too.

“We then became obsessed with getting it back out in the world, but there were a few hurdles to overcome.”

The ABC had to get permission from the estate of the writer, Ken Saunders, clear rights with the 35 actors in the series and then embark on a complicated remastering of the film.

“Nearly two years after Helen first mentioned it, we finally got to launch it on iView and YouTube and watch the world react to The Stranger and read all the comments on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook,” says Steiner.

“Across platforms, it’s achieved more than 100,000 views and it was really fun to get to share it with such an appreciative audience.”

A group of people in modern clothing stand in front of a man in clothes reminiscent of the Roman era. Cameras are behind them
The show was shot at outdoor locations as well as in a studio.(ABC)

A truly special and treasured moment

There was no audience more appreciative than in the home of Ron Haddrick.

“It made me very happy to see how happy he was at what he’d achieved,” says Greg Haddrick.

“Dad was a very modest man who often felt he hadn’t actually achieved as much as he could have or would have.

“Just to see he was pleased with his performance in The Stranger and, in last two or three days, that he could look back on his life and career with happiness and pride was a lovely thing.

Two men with arms around each other holding glasses clinking together in cheers.
Ron Haddrick with son Greg.(Supplied: Greg Haddrick)

After his father died, Greg Haddrick wrote to a contact at the ABC to pass on to those who were behind the remastering of The Stranger how much it meant to Ron and the family.

“One of the joys of his last two weeks of life was to see the ABC re-launch via iView. To see my mother sit beside him and hold his hand … watching what Dad was capable of in his prime after 55 years, when he thought for decades that famous show had been lost forever, was a truly special, treasured moment. Please pass on my extreme gratitude to whoever took the decision to put the show up on iView. They couldn’t have had any idea what a beautiful thing for us it was.” Greg Haddrick

The archive team had previously heard of Ron’s death and hoped he’d been able to watch The Stranger.

“We were heartbroken to hear of his death,” says Steiner.

“We had been watching the episodes over and over while restoring the series, and he felt so familiar and beloved to us.

“A few weeks later, Helen and I received Greg’s email.

“I was so happy that Ron had had a chance to see it, and so grateful to hear how much it meant to him and to Greg.

“That alone made the whole endeavour worthwhile.”

Read more behind-the-scenes stories on ABC Backstory and watch The Stranger on iview or on the ABC TV and iview YouTube channel

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Australian News

James Pattinson creates hometown joy in Melbourne as Peter Siddle departs


Posted

December 29, 2019 21:09:57

There aren’t many sights more frightening than James Pattinson running into bowl. And I’m only talking about the view from the grandstand — not the middle. Anything so big that moves so fast conveys a sense of threat.

Here is the living embodiment of the large adult son, an online concept custom-built for this Australian fast bowler of childlike enthusiasm and impossible bulk.

Not to say he’s anything but muscle. There are no soft rounds to this silhouette. It’s just that his body somehow contains more human flesh within its limits than physics would deem possible.

We often speak about somebody having a different person inside them trying to get out. In Pattinson’s case, this appears to be literal.

Then the physical anomaly gets moving. The word bustling might first have been applied to fast bowlers in anticipation of this perfect use.

Pattinson sprints at the crease like it stole his wallet. He multiplies momentum like an avalanche.

That momentum breaks on the valley floor. And from within this bundling, bunching surge of energy emerges the ball at pace — rocketing forward at its target.

It isn’t just Pattinson’s body behind this pace. It’s the decisions he has made about how to use his body.

It’s a body that has broken down so many times, and a man at 29 years old choosing to hold back nothing, to go full tilt and hope that it has finally come good.

This was the Pattinson that hit New Zealand’s second innings at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

The drop-in pitch absorbs velocity. Tom Latham had batted four obdurate hours in the first innings.

Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor are the engine and wheels of New Zealand’s batting.

Pattinson crashed through all three.

A bit lucky, was his self-deprecating assessment. Which was nonsense.

Pace forced all three errors. A full wide ball drew Latham’s drive, but it was through the left-hander’s shot early and drew his edge.

Williamson couldn’t edge a ball that similarly carved through the air and hit his pad. Taylor was thoroughly beaten on the cut, chopping onto his stumps.

After Pattinson’s spell, the match was only ever going one way.

A dozen overs down, a million runs behind, two days left to bat, three wickets lost for 35.

Watching a Boxing Day Test be defined by the Victorian quick felt like something of a Christmas miracle.

For years, Pattinson has been a presence in Australian cricket through his absence.

The litany of injuries, the constant waiting. A player who was only ever a possible future, not a concrete present.

Then in recent times, the phantoms have started to cohere.

Fit and ready for a full Sheffield Shield season, some county matches, a whole Ashes tour.

Ready and waiting as the Australian summer started, then stepping up for his hometown match as if Josh Hazlewood’s hamstring had been twanged by fate itself.

Even then, Pattinson could have cost himself the chance with a homophobic insult to a state opponent in November.

The act was poor, but his response was heartening; immediately apologising to those around him on the field, then publishing a genuine apology rather than an “if you were offended” cop-out.

Even in Pattinson’s generation, such slurs were a sadly routine part of growing up.

His response as an adult reflects a welcome social shift that they are no longer acceptable.

Had he not been contrite, it would have been hard to argue that he should represent his country.

Instead, Pattinson was there to show his exuberance on the biggest stage of all.

He had only twice been able to play in a Melbourne Test: his debut season of 2011 when India’s fading stars made their valedictory tour, then four years later against the West Indies.

Another four-year wait followed before this third chance arrived.

There was a joy to seeing it fully grasped. For those who love watching, and hopefully for the player, the pangs of all those lost years and lost matches felt a little less sharp.

And it was fitting that a hometown kid could thrill a crowd at the MCG, given that another fine Victorian player chose that day to announce his retirement.

There was an obvious passing of the baton from Peter Siddle to Pattinson: the senior bowler told his younger teammate about his decision before anyone else and described him as a little brother.

Siddle is one of those players who will be rightly admired, not just for his skill but for his personality and work ethic.

A tally of 221 Test wickets is impressive, but more so is the way that he carried the team early in the decade through some of its toughest times on the field.

When the bowling was thin, Siddle worked harder than ever, and when the bowling was excellent Siddle showed that he could match that standard.

Pattinson is a very different style to the long-spell specialist that Siddle became, beaming on the boundary line after every long day in the field.

Siddle’s lean frame is the counterpoint to Pattinson’s mass.

But in wholeheartedness and enthusiasm they are a spiritual match.

If body and soul hold together, Victorians might have one of their own steaming in for a few Boxing Days to come.

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