Saturday, October 30, 2010


After seemingly succumbing to a dose of electoral Ratsak ,Little Johnny Howard has miraculously come back like Lazarus , the garrulous laboratory rodent, squeaking and speaking ad nauseam. In his whopper book , he gnawed away at the image of his old mate, the best ever Treasurer, Peter Costello.

Costello’s made in China imitation smile was obviously missing after he read the references to himself in the doorstopper. He dashed off a billet doux to The Australian implying the comments were , as Tamie Fraser would say, what you would expect from a person lower than a snake’s duodenum . From a rodent to a reptile , my how things change in Australian politics.

Howard also did a fine job on Joe Hockey , saying he could not be regarded as anywhere near as good a treasurer as Costello , because he has only held the Shadow Treasurer possie since February 2009 ; jawboning Joe, unkindly called a giant Tinkerbell by Wayne Swan, sure as hell won’t hold the imitation purse strings much longer, going on the rat in the ranks who leaked a nasty yarn to The Australian about Hockey getting the rhubarb treatment from his colleagues , some of whom are after his job.

But back to the fly (spotted)leaf on Howard’s book . Nowhere in the Wollstonecraft Wally’s tome have we found mention of his warning that one of the Territory’s gasbags should never ever be given a major position. We have it from a good source that Howard thought this person was " dangerous "and should be, wait for it, given the boot !

As much as it hurts, we kind of agree with Howard’s assessment , mind you , you don’t have to be Einstein or a Rhodes Scholar to form that opinion. Dangerous, however ,is too strong an adjective to describe this person . Several four letter words starting with the fourth letter in the alphabet seem more applicable . Then there is a six letter word starting with the same letter which also admirably fills the bill .

FOOTNOTE: Re the shoe throwing episode on Q & A-what a shame they were not heavy work boots instead of Hush Puppies . One of the brilliant cartoons inspired by the shoe chucking event showed a third piece of footwear- courtesy of Peter Costello- lobbing near Howard. Incidently , a poll carried out by the Sydney Morning Herald found that 82 percent of respondents believed Costello's account of the succession and only 18 percent Howard's version .

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Waste from three quick deepwater oil wells in Timor Leste will be brought to Darwin for disposal , according to the latest ABC Asia Pacific report. One of the companies carrying out the drilling was involved in the devastating Gulf of Mexico spill. A computerised oil spill has predicted it would spread towards West Timor, not Australia ... This radio item raises questions about the oil drilling "service centre " planned for Darwin . Are we going to receive the waste from all drilling operations? If so, a full explanation of "waste " is required and how exactly is it going to be disposed of and where ? Please explain to Territorians what is going on .

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


A deputation will call on a government minister early next month to discuss an issue which demands firm action in several related matters , one of which is the intolerable stance taken against a low ranking public servant . The talk should include the Chief Minister , which would give him the opportunity to show that , as he often says, he REALLY does care for Territorians , in this case a member of a large Territory clan appalled by the treatment given one of their kith .


A barnacle encrusted bottle found floating in Darwin Harbour contained a strange message. Probably a schoolkid’s prank, it said company records had been checked to see if there is any connection between personnel in several outfits . It went on to say people had been seen marching about in uniforms and someone had taken some photos . Goodness knows what inspired this odd yarn . Whoever composed the story has a bright future writing children’s mystery stories.

Monday, October 25, 2010


In pain , her speech affected by recent strokes , receiving inadequate attention in a retirement village , my mother croaked over the phone that old age is terrible, and you should be able to take one of “Dr Nixon’s” pills to end it all. She meant Dr Philip Nitschke , an old Territory hand , whose euthanasia campaign has seen him both applauded and demonised.

Sixteen years ago, my mother was rushed to a capital city hospital with an aneurysm;it was touch and go. At the time , we told the doctors that she, an ex nurse,who had seen many people die in distressing circumstances , had expressed the desire to die quickly and not become a vegetable, " a burden " on her family. In our vigil , we spent hours in the intensive care waiting room watching cockroaches scurry about near the watercooler . Dozing one night , my head against the wall, I was suddenly made aware that something had dropped into my head and bitten me . Brushed off, it rocketed underneath the watercooler. Some women screamed on seeing cockies ; one shouted ," Kill it! Kill it! "as a man chased a large one sprinting towards the safety of the cooler.

Mum survived the operation, the weird little men she saw climbing into the ceiling , a wardsman who allegedly pinched her on the buttocks and marauding cockroaches.

In subsequent years she developed diabetes , had angina attacks , her back , ruined by lifting heavy patients while nursing, became increasing painful and , reluctantly, though " still with her marbles intact " , she moved into a retirement village. This she named the Funny Farm , tried to help less fortunate residents , and laughed at the elderly gent always trying to escape who maintained his family had put him in the village so they could sell his house. As the years went by she became increasingly concerned , almost fearful, about the future of Australia and mankind.

Panic attacks combined with more painful angina and a feeling of breathlessness saw her in and out of hospital, with variations in medication , monotonous questioning to ascertain basic information which should have been on record . Because of her age, diabetes, kidney trouble ,the former aneurism operation and angina , it was decided that it would doubtful that she would survive a heart operation .Therefore she was marked down for palliative care only when ever admitted to hospital .

Taking another bad turn, it was discovered she had suffered some mild strokes which impaired her speech and thought . Another a tough fortnight was spent back at the retirement village, during which she obviously did not get the personal care and attention required because of the inadequate way so many retirement villages are run, the staff poorly paid and the large turnover. Strangely, the subject of organ donours had come up at some stage and Mum was asked if she would like her body left to advance medical science. She responded by pulling the sheet up over her head and firmly stated she did not want to talk about the subject, Shut up!

After another emergency, she was given a morphine patch , and sent back to the retirement village. My sister discovered that in the last week there Mum had been left a food tray from which she attempted to feed herself . Due to her strokes, she was unable to control her hands and there was a trail of foodstuff from the tray, across the bedding onto her nighty.

Not long before her death , she was admitted to another public hospital and over a weekend it became apparent that she had not received the treatment ordered by a doctor , her tongue swollen, dehydrated and she in obvious pain. An at first aloof doctor, got the message when he was asked would he like his mother to be treated this way . By sheer luck, and perseverance by my sister and brother , she was moved to a palliative care ward in another hospital which was excellent from the point of view of care and attention , staff and facilities. It even boasted a chef who turned out meals which were so unlike the usual retirement village /hospital fare. Anybody for braised steak, mushroom sauce ,rice , pumpkin, beans , with pears , wine sauce and cream to follow ?

In anticipation of Mum’s imminent death , we began to clear out her unit at the retirement village , the only way out being through the front of the establishment, so that we carried her possessions past residents, some slumped in chairs oblivious to the world, others who knew her became emotionallyy affected . One poor old woman, flat on her back , kicked at her blankets and berated her children- calling them “shitheads”- for putting her in a place like that. “Entertainment” of some kind-Top Gear ?- was projected onto the wall with a noisy soundtrack , but there was so much light it was hard to see the images.

In a moment of lucidity at the hospital , Mum recalled the large ,long gone , Sydney department store, Anthony Hordern’s , where her sister had worked in the ladies cotton frocks section , and said it claimed to sell everything from a needle to a ship’s anchor ;its motto-WHILE I LIVE I’ll GROW . Before setting out to navigate the Styx , Mum also firmly stated that she owned the air conditioner in her unit at the retirement village. Mum had made provision for everything –the cremation and the wake, which included prawns and oysters, she having a liking for seafood. Conscious of the pennies to the very end,she said a woman had told her that the market offered cheap cardboard coffins . A chorus of assurances that she should not worry about anything at all , especially the cost of a coffin , followed.

Another melancholy task involved selecting a resting place for Mum’s ashes in a memorial garden. Walking about the site, which offered a range of possibilities from rose gardens to memorial walls , you could not help feel sorry reading the sentiments expressed, the tragic losses and seeing the memorabilia scattered on and around the memorial stones. Here was what looked like the large bone of a shark, dolphin or even a whale perched atop a memorial along with a bleached seashell ; some Dear Departed were shown in cameos with pets ; cat, dog and bird figurines were numerous along with plastic flowers, windmills, marbles , candles , imitation butterflies, cherubs, angels , pelicans and toy cars .

There were several photos of prized autos. From the brief wording on plaques there were indications of injustices –Vonnie, for instance, did not deserve the life she had endured . A Southern Comfort bottle stood guard on a memorial bush rock. The multicultural face of Australia was reflected in the cemetery, one of the many Chinese there having worked on China’s hydro-electric schemes; someone had been sadly taken in Sarawak.

RIP : An indication that life goes on no matter what is the fact that numerous lizards found the memorial rocks ideal places to sprawl out on and soak up the life giving rays .

Friday, October 22, 2010


In a special shock horror Halloween edition , the Australian Women's Weekly will run a tasteful centrespread proving that our former great treasurer, Peter Costello, does have intestinal fortitude. The nation was shocked to hear the claim by famous egg catcher and mud cake tax expert, John Hewson, that Costello failed to give John Howard the boot because he "had no balls." The outrageous claim that Costello was lacking in fishing tackle made his official call for fecund females to go forth and multiply, having one for Pete and one for the government,well, non core or blank .

The Women's Weekly picture spread, in 3D, will disprove this hurtful statement . Little Darwin has been leaked a full frontal snap from the magazine which shows Costello in a manly,elitist pose , nose uptilted, wearing a tattered pair of Tony Abbott's cast off, moth-eaten budgie smugglers,which leaves nothing to the imagination. The technicolour vitals resemble an unfortunate , squashed Tasmanian possum after a Gunns woodchipping gang has been through an old growth forest.

Hurtful Hewson will have egg on his face when he sees the pix, and will undoubtedly laugh all the way to the next Gruen Transfer . Readers may recall that jovial Hewson once accused Little Johnny of kicking the Kirribilli House cat , resulting in letters of outrage from feline owners, people burning their green and gold tracksuits and a slump in the sale of Akubra hats.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


In a brilliant move, Rupert Murdoch today announced he has hired the fabulous IT Crowd, as seen on ABC TV , to revamp the Northern Territory News.The team of geeks will operate from a dank basement in the Adelaide Advertiser building.

Murdoch said one of the team, Roy, an Irish layabout, had sprained his back flying out from London to Australia aboard a Quaint Arse flight with Alf Garnett and would have to see the late Don Dunstan's masseuse at Norwood before he could sleep on the job.

Mr Murdoch said this dynamic team,responsible for Reynholm Industries making a profit of 18 hundred billion dollars , would make a big difference to News Corp's bottom line. If they produced a similar financial gain at the NT News , Rupert said he would kiss Roy in a place where his mother regularly used to beat him with a shillelagh for sending rude limericks to the editor of the Irish Catholic Times .

One of the nerds, Moss, says he may give up eating popcorn for Adelaide’s smelly pie floaters . A vital member of the trio is Jen who plans to dive off the Glenelg jetty and do the dance of the seven veils at the next Womadelaide. In an exclusive interview with Little Darwin, Jen said Mr Murdoch is similar to Douglas Reynholm , her former boss, an amputee who has the tattoo of a helicopter on the stump of one arm . According to Jen, Murdoch has a jumbo jet tattoo on one arm , another large tatt of Skippy the kangaroo waving an American flag on his hairy chest and is surrounded by Spacemanagers.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


It is a good thing that Tim Flannery’s original field of scientific expertise was palaeontology- fossils- because he frequently encounters annoying modern day rock apes . Take the 18/10 ABC Q and A debate in which he was scoffed at, ridiculed and interrupted by global warming sceptic,biologist Jennifer Marohasy. The understandable exasperation of Flannery was evident. The performance by the Shadow for Climate Change, Greg Hunt, was like one of those well scrubbed members of the Junior Chamber of Commerce of yesteryear. Former military lawyer, Mike Kelly, whose moustache drew admiring twitter comments, came through as a real asset to the Federal government. He shot windy Hunt down with short sharp bursts. Most wounding was his comment that he knew Hunt wanted climate action, was a small l Liberal, but was on a front bench from Jurassic Park. Kelly also used a biblical reference about the cock crowing thrice to demolish Hunt, an act which would have attracted a blessing from a brand new Aussie saint , seeing she became hot under the habit when confronted by blind men in power.


After listening, half awake , to the interview by the ABC’s Kerry O’Brien of American journalist /author, Megan Stack, about her book Every Man in this Village Is a Liar ,and then reading Gecko Tails -A Journey Through Cambodia, by another American foreign correspondent , Carol Livingston, I was mightily impressed . The way Stack verbalised the grim situations she witnessed in Middle East wars and powerful passages read from her book by O’Brien presented a stark and grim picture : children being buried in hospital gardens while all about was convulsed in mad warfare; Palestine morgues overflowing with the remains of suicide bombers –usually just their heads and feet ; the plight of the old, infirm and others left or those who chose to stay behind in southern Lebanon which was pulverised by the Israelis , taking out Red Cross vehicles in the process. The obscenity and madness of war was presented with startling, new clarity .

Stack , whose book is published in Australia by Melbourne based Scribe, was the recipient of the 2006 Overseas Press Club of America’s Hal Boyle Award and a finalist in the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for her coverage of the Iraq War. Now she is the Moscow Bureau Chief for the Los Angeles Times.

In the case of Livingston’s book , Gecko Tails, Phoenix Books, 1996, it at first glance gives the wrong impression that it could be a travel guide to Cambodia ( Ankor Wat and all that ) , but turns out to be a less blood- drenched account than Stack’s searing work, despite some coverage of the appalling Pol Pot regime and the killing fields.

What it does present is an interesting picture of all the foreign correspondents and free lance journalists , including backpackers pretending to be reporters, running about in the troubled country . Journos no doubt will appreciate the author’s description of the official opening of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Phnom Penh where those in attendance were showered with bats chopped up by the overhead fans. One reporter mentioned is known as Murdoch’s Midget . Up near the border with Vietnam, Livingston is offered army rations in tins , called MREs (meals ready to eat), better known as MEALS REJECTED BY ETHIOPIANS .

Any Darwinite reading this recommended book will never again be able to listen to the sound of a gecko without suspecting the cute , pop-eyed creature might be saying something quite naughty. Aussies , as well as Skippy, rate a mention , as does a determined Kiwi girl . Even though there is much humour , the plight and desperate conditions of the masses in a country, now referred to internationally as SCAMBODIA , because of the corruption , comes through.

Monday, October 18, 2010


The Northern Territory News recently ran an interesting blast from the past by a former sports editor , Dennis “ Doggy ” Booth , which contained a photograph of chunky, ardent rugby league and RSL supporter, Frank Geddes, in action on the field . Another player in the background was journalist Keith Willey of the NT News , first journo to win three Walkley Awards for reporting and a highly regarded Sydney rugby league writer.

Keith played for Brothers and was so keen on the game he got a visiting hypnotist to try and improve his footy skills in a session at the old News office in Smith Street . On a visit back to Darwin ,Willey and Geddes played a bruising match on the bitumen road in an outback town , no easing up because of the “turf”. A tutor at the University of South Queensland, Keith died from cancer in 1984. Major events he covered as a reporter were the six day Middle East War, Vietnam, the drowning of Harold Holt and the hanging of Ronald Ryan ,the last in Australia

Saturday, October 16, 2010


A rugger bugger is being congratulated for some fancy on passing of documents to a literary type. As a result, he could find himself crash-tackled in the near future*** There is a bit of swapping going on in legal circles *** A well known Darwin identity, courted by both sides of politics, has decided not to enter the fray because both brands are seen as,well, peas in a rotting pod.


Following our post about seven sub editors getting the chop at the NT News (below ) because the paper is now going to be mainly made up at the Adelaide Advertiser, one of our Adelaide contacts came forth with an unusual insight into the demise of the Adelaide News, the last afternoon tabloid in Australia .

When there was speculation that Rupert Murdoch would close the paper , several somewhat unworldly SA reporters firmly stated he would never close the paper because of his father’s association with the paper and the fact Rupert had worked on it as a young man .

It was pointed out that in 1985 Murdoch changed his nationality from Australian to American to allow him to buy a US TV station , the reporters still insisted that the Adelaide News would survive. Like another Adelaide product , the Collins class submarine, it disappeared beneath the media waves on March 27, 1992.

The print media in Australia is under pressure from the new extra digital TV channels ( is it three or four or more in Darwin alone? ) and other competitors , radio being another . The ABC’s Inside Business recently revealed that the big advertisers are putting the squeeze on papers to justify their audited circulation figures and rates.
The move to make up NT News pages in Adelaide is seen as a way to cut expenses and combat that rising competition.

Are the Cairns Post and Townsville Bulletin , part of the Murdoch chain, comparable to Darwin, to be part of that centralised production? Centralising production is part of the global process of homogenising news . In the process, newspapers tend to become blander and sources of public information and expression become fewer . If News Corp is engaged in heavy cost cutting ,what then the future of The Australian seeing it has never been able to tap at any stage those advertising rivers of gold?

Friday, October 15, 2010


The very day that Little Darwin was informed that two sub editors at the NT News got stroppy and one invited the other to step outside, there was a newsflash that the staff is going to be reduced by seven . Many of the paper’s pages are going to be made up at the Adelaide Advertiser . Sub editors have been asked to volunteer for redundancy. This on the paper which recently had a revamp and boasts it is your voice in the Territory. Dare we say that this voice will become influenced by soy milk latte slurping southerners. Adelaide reporters are notorious caffeine freaks and if ever an expresso machine explodes in Rundle Street East half the journos in the City of Churches and Gluttony will be rushed to the burns department at Royal Adelaide. It is also alleged that snorting took place there in the past , according to our informants. Oh Adelaide, when you lift your demure skirts you show a surprising pair of gams.


Through a friend at Colfe’s Grammar School, Jim got to know a farming family at Little Marlow in the Buckinghamshire area. Often he cycled to the farm for a weekend , hanging onto the side of trucks for a tow along the way. On the farm he helped to milk cows, plough the fields , handle equipment and look after livestock. Although a small farm, the people ate well and seemed better off than his family. A desire to become a farmer when he grew up developed .

Returning late one Sunday from a pleasant time on the farm , Jim found a disturbing situation at home. His mother, crumpled and crying , was sitting on the floor in the corner of the dining room. The entire house had been stripped by bailiffs .

Recalling the event , he said :“There was nothing in the way of furniture, no knives, no forks, no towels, no sheets, the house was stripped bare and she was enormously distressed . I can remember trying to comfort her and she told me that as a result of bills not being paid by my father the bailiffs had come around and taken away all our possessions. I was deeply furious . Over the years , I have campaigned strongly against racial discrimination , but I must admit that then I had a deep hatred for the Jews because they were bailiffs.”

I raced around on my bike and got relatives and friends to provide bedding, pots and pans and other household needs. But I had already determined to get revenge on the bailiffs . In those days , chemistry sets were popular and you could get the ingredients for gunpowder, I found out where the bailiffs lived, and set to work making flying bombs . Using cardboard and plywood , doorknobs filled with gunpowder , live matches and pieces of matchbox , I made primitive gliders which exploded on impact. “At night I would ride pretty fast past a bailiff’s house, launch the flying bomb and ride off quickly ; there was a pretty big explosion.

The aim was to terrorise the bailiffs and pay them back for their act of cruelty on my mother. It is a wonder that I did not blow myself up in the process . Nobody got hurt as far as I know It was revenge for an act of total brutality on a human being .”

While it might be considered strange that Bowditch engaged in such activity against bailiffs, it should be known that a popular British boys’ magazine urged children to buy aerial bombs called whiz bangs which were gliders with an explosive tip. These were described as being ideal to scare policemen, old ladies and postmen. The idea was to sneak up on your target, launch the glider and the resultant explosion would frighten your victim . Adverts for these bombs carried drawings of a little old lady with a walking stick , a tubby policeman and a tired looking postie with a sack of mail. The campaign against bailiffs lasted about three months, during which time he enlisted the help of some members of the punchy Boadicea Gang.

As if bailiffs were not bad enough, Jim had to contend with a thankless headmaster. Caught by prefects puffing a cigarette , he was hauled before the same headmaster who had enlisted his assistance to wipe out flying. Instead of getting a mild reprimand, as Jim expected, the headmaster decided to make an example of him. The headmaster, carrying a cane ,took him on stage in front of the entire school assembly of about 500 pupils and said smoking had to stop . He then called the porter up and Jim was told to jump on his back and put his arms around his shoulders

The headmaster then proceeded to pull up Jim’s shirt and take down his trousers . He then “got into ” Jim with the birch . “ It must have been a ludicrous sight, ” said Bowditch , “ because the headmaster was this strange little monkey-like man, very small indeed, wailing away at me sitting on the back of the porter. After that , he left the stage and summoned me to the study where he gave me a lecture on why he had done what he did. Then he told me to go home and not return until the next day. ”

It had been an enormous indignity being beaten before so many people ; he did not smoke again until he joined the Australian Army. Jim went on to have recurring nightmares about being chained to a block of ice and often wondered if it was due to that public flogging


Modern Darwin appears to be losing the urge to don fancy dress , going on the stock of a former costume hire business now floating about city op shops . Military uniforms and a beaut red devil outfit with a pointy tail have been sighted. Sitting here in front of the computer dressed as the devil knocking out blog items appeals to the perverse nature of this evil hack. Seeing Old Nick on skype would sure as hell cause consternation and panic- like that generated by Orson Welles when he broadcasted the bogus radio report about the invasion of Earth by killer aliens from outer space- and lead to a religious revival throughout this increasingly superstitious , gullible and sinful land .

While doing wide ranging research , several acounts of Darwin fancy dress balls going way back have been found. Recently a southern newspaper cutting circa 1928 surfaced with details of a Darwin nursery rhyme and fairytale ball where the residents whooped it up dressed as Beauty and the Beast, Miss Muffet, Little Boy Blue and characters dear to the heart of childhood . The gathering danced and frolicked gaily through the night.

Of course, our modern day thespians, of which there are legions, appear to be eagerly getting their gear on and off , but you expect that kind of behaviour in theatrical circles. The average person, however, seems reluctant to hire a costume and parade about Mitchell Street on a Saturday night dressed like Miss Muffet or Little Boy Blue .

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


In the illuminating TV series, Seven Ages of Britain ,David Dimbleby said that at one stage the Foreign Office and the Colonial Office ,Whitehall, London, between them ran most of the world. He made this statement after climbing a massive flight of ornate stairs in the Foreign Office to an out of the way place where a magnificent painting depicting Britannia receiving tribute from the world –a pearl necklace , tea, cotton ,etc , is now more or less hidden away.

A Little Darwin reader tipped us off that a woman now residing in Darwin and making plans for a wild Melbourne Cup party in her palatial abode , had slid down the stairs at the said Foreign Office on her bottom because she was afraid of heights. However, checking , it was revealed it had not been at the powerful Foreign Office but a museum where she inelegantly made her exit. She had worked as a junior typist at Somerset House ( births, deaths, marriages and wills ) where telephone calls were made to some mysterious person at Whitehall 1212 .

Hitler was responsible for her mother thinking " all her Christmases had come at once ". When Whitehall was bombed , her father was in the gang sent to clean up and brought home one of the plush , velvet Foreign Office curtains which had been blown down . These heavy curtains ran from the floor to the ceiling. Her mother was absolutely thrilled to think she had something from Whitehall , and cut it up to cover the front door to prevent the bitterly cold wind from getting in.

From time to time ,the woman repeated her bottom slide when she strode Darwin's corridors of power, probably why she did not rise above a Grade 3 clerk , despite being multi- skilled , efficient, a dab hand at pomp and protocol and, above all , compiled Darwin’s first official A list , which should have made her as powerful and influential as the Foreign Office and Colonial Office wallahs.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Why has the entrance to the airport public parking area been reduced to one lane ? Turn into the entrance and you are suddenly faced with witches hats closing off one lane. This situation has existed for weeks and it is obvious that some of the hats have been hit . Directing traffic to one ticket dispenser also causes it to bank up . On a visit to the airport this week the Territory Tourism information dispenser was found to be empty of any pamphlets.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


With newspapers struggling to stay afloat and a report that audited circulation figures of major mastheads in Australia may be rubbery , it is a surprise to hear that a new publication has been launched in Mareeba ,North Queensland. Called the Mareeba Express, it is a weekly freebie published by Rural Press .

Friday, October 8, 2010


Book dealers – especially those in the secondhand and antiquarian trade - are a fascinating breed, even if some in the rare volumes end of the business can be uppity , adopting airs and graces . Unfortunately, a large number of secondhand dealers have closed their doors, often due to escalating rents, age and infirmity, the impact of the electronic age and the couch potato syndrome which has produced legions of illiterate drones, incapable of opening a book and reading from cover to cover. More importantly, they will never know what wonderful places real bookshops are , not the modern , sterile chains marketing “product”.

One secondhand dealer still standing after 26 years is Brian Smith , 69, proprietor of Charing Cross Books , Chardon’s Corner, Annerley , Brisbane . During that time , many bookshops have come and gone ; he laments the closure of a one anywhere in the nation. At the entrance to Charing Cross Books is a jumble of boxes ; inside is like Tutankhamen’s cluttered burial chamber. Squeeze your way along the narrow aisles and you are confronted by Lost Worlds. To locate the purveyor , it is desirable to call out, like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle at a séance , “ Hello !Is anybody there ?” Reminiscent of a scene from The Curse of the Mummies , Brian will appear, seemingly from behind a secret sliding panel.

In a recent encounter with him , he showed me a great find of his ,The Scribblers , a self published book, written after years of research , by one Jean Stewart, which is about a group of women known as the Ladies Literary Society ,Brisbane, 1911. Smithy says it is a gem ,with rich information about the writers , some of whom were wives of prominent men and members of well known families.

Brian likes hunting down early Queensland publications , ephemera , documents, gathering history about suburbs and the changes in them over the years, their decline and rebirth as trendy new inner city pads. Knowing his enthusiasm for gathering information about bygone days , he probably sleeps with The Scribblers beside his bed , along with the latest form guide as he likes a punt.

A bricklayer in earlier days, he owned 12 racehorses over the years 1960-1980, and winnings enabled him to open the bookshop. When it comes to interesting yarns about the racetrack and its characters, he is something of a Damon Runyon. We swapped yarns about the late Adelaide bookdealer , Morry Edmonds, also a follower of the sport of kings, who had an interest in several horses. . Edmonds would not accept credit cards in his shop, but was happy to take a cheque , some of which bounced .

Charing Cross Books – is not far from the famous cake shop-LUNNS FOR BUNS - owned by the parents of journalist / author Hugh Lunn once stood . Lunn wrote Over the Top With Jim , published in 1989,the story of his Brisbane upbringing at Annerley Junction , during which time he had the hots for Sallyanne Atkinson ,which sold like hot cross buns and was made into a highly popular ABC radio series. It was the 1991 biggest selling non fiction book in Australia.

Brian recalls that a Perth woman was so impressed by the book, she came to Brisbane, booked into an Annerley motel and walked up and down, drinking in the atmosphere. Little Darwin was pleasantly surprised to learn that the counter at Charing Cross Books had once been the cake display stand at Lunns’ shop. A large antique shop now stands where the bun shop , swallowed up by an early Woolworth’s building, was located and from whence Little Darwin has bought various items.

Hugh Lunn won several Walkley Awards for journalism,was Queensland editor of The Australian for 10 years and was sacked and reemployed by Rupert Murdoch several times. Other claims to fame are that he coined the expression there is no such thing as an ex-Queenslander and,wait for it, convinced the president of the Queensland Rugby League ,Senator Ron McAuliffe, of the viability of a rugby league State of Origin series.

In appeararance , Brian Smith resembles a wise Roman senator, with impressive white eyebrows that twine like laurel vines . His jovial female hairdresser is amazed by the way the regularly trimmed eyebrows grow back so quickly in luxuriant , rampant fashion. He refers to them as his “feral eye lashes ” and firmly maintains they are a sign of virility .

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


At some stage the Bowditch family had a typewriter which Jim’s sister, Mary, thought had been given them by a workmate of their father’s , “ Uncle ” Bill Glass . With this typewriter the boys played at bringing out a newspaper on a desk in the lounge room, selling copies to family members.

Jim had a major part in its production of the paper which ran local news. It was produced on and off for several years and Jim , the chief reporter , did everything with a flourish. Sister Mary remembered Jim and Peter “ sniggering ” over a story . It had been her task to keep the boys supplied with cups of tea when they were working on the paper . The youngest brother, David, usually in Mary’s care , was frequently “crying” for some reason while the paper was being made up.

Jim’s first interest in Australia began when a suntanned man addressed the scouts about “the colonies ”-Australia, New Zealand and Canada . He painted a glowing picture of open space, adventure and opportunity -a vision which entranced Jim.

With the arrival of the Depression, life became harder for the Bowditch family. When his mother was short of money, often because of his father’s failure to pay bills , she was able to obtain help from her father. It was grandfather Manning who paid for the education of the boys . Sister Mary said Captain Bowditch squandered everything , he being a “ gay blade ” who preferred being out with his wartime pals and others , drinking and smoking. Gay had a different meaning in those days .

However when the economic crash came their life underwent a drastic change. Captain Bowditch kept his job, but had to take a cut in pay. Grandfather Manning also felt the pinch. The Bowditch family was forced to move from their comforable house to a small council dwelling at Lee, about seven miles south- east of London, and their lifestyle changed dramatically .

Jim’s mother, although named Edith Mary, was mostly called “Tina ” and actively supported St.Margaret’s Anglican Church, Lee . As she strode purposefully up the path to the church with her four sons, the vicar often said , “Here is Tina with her disciples. ” Young Jim , with a mop of golden curls, and brother Peter, who had platignum locks , looked angelic , and both served as choir boys.

Jim attended the Lee County Council School and Colfe’s Grammar School where at the latter he had his own gang, Boadicea’s. His gang attained what could be called official approval. The headmaster became annoyed by the schoolboy prank of “flying ”- ripping fly buttons out of pants with a quick movement of the hand . He called in Jim to combat the trouble.

Jim described the event thus: “The headmaster asked me to see him one day and we had a long conversation about my gang. He was not concerned about the gang fighting with other kids. The headmaster discussed an episode in which my gang had beaten up a gigantic lad called Gas. Believe it or not , Gas had a friend, Kettle, and they were fairly repulsive lads. Gas had consistently bullied the Divinity teacher. I , personally, would not have been able to handle Gas, but I got the gang together and we beat him up. The headmaster said he had received a lot of complaints from parents and pupils about flying. He asked if I would take up the role of being the flying vigilante . It appealed to my ego , so I spoke to the lads and they thought it would be a good laugh . We just passed the word around flying was out and thumped anybody who broke the edict. After a little while, the flying epidemic was broken by the Boadicea Gang .”


* At the above 1993 launch of Jim Bowditch’s book, Whispers from the North -Tales of the Northern Territory , former Northern Territory News photographer, the late Joe Karlhuber,is shown with the author.The book, published by the NT University Press , regrettably, was not an autobiography;while the cover illustration by Tony Dean was well drawn ,as were his other drawings , it gave the unfortunate impression that Bowditch was a campfire spinner of yarns, which he certainly was not. Karlhuber, seen here having lost an arm, had pioneered the primitive photographic section in the early tin bank days of the NT News. It dismayed him when he discovered that the News dumped the old photographic files when it moved to the Mitchell Street site in 1967. Photo by Barry Ledwidge

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Joining the Little Darwin team of roaming correspondents are two old hands who mix with the cafe society , picking up a range of intelligence , swapping gossip , asking leading questions . Try this for size... A respected medical man has been heard making critical comments about a Territory doctor and has suggested a woman should launch a malpractice suit . ******* Another scoop is that a charitable organisation in the City of Churches got a terrible fright when informed about the activities of a man who swanned about the nation, including the Territory, supposedly gathering donations for a worthy cause . Both matters are hush hush in the Croweaters’ capital.

Monday, October 4, 2010


LONDON : In a surprise announcement, the Queen today said that the ferocious Australian Coalition leader , Tony Abbott, has been signed up for a part in a new Dr Who series. Little Darwin understands he will play a malevolent Darlek , shouting , "EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE ! EXTERMINATE !" Dr Who talent scouts say Abbott looks and sounds like a real Darlek as he dashes about Australia and now in London attempting to wipe out all profligate Labor governments.Geriatric Darleks throughout the world , sitting on the boards of many top companies, are thrilled by the news that Abbott will be the first Rhodes Scholar to play one of them .

Some other members of the Australian Tory shadow ministry are also being considered for Darlek parts in the new thrilling series. One conservative , however , is too big to fit inside a Darlek killing machine and may have to be content with a role as a stand in for Shrek .

Little Darwin was told Abbott put off a secret voyage in a midget submarine to the troops in Afghanistan to be auditioned for the leading evil Darlek in the Dr Who extravaganza .


So sick is the American economy, the Liberace Museum in the gambling joint of Las Vegas will close October 17, after 31 years . No doubt his ornate pianos , candelabra, fancy cars , jewellery , ruffles and costumes will end up being auctioned off . The museum also holds what has been described as the biggest rhinestone in the world. His Mom would be distraught if she were alive, as would Liberace , if she knew the shutter is about to come down on her showman son’s temple . Vegas is an economic basket case today with unfinished projects, large numbers of unsold houses, massive write downs in the value of property , empty supermarkets.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


Sources tell us that business activity in capital cities is tending quiet , as well as here in Darwin.Needless to say , consumer spending is subdued in most places . In Brisbane , there is closer examination of applications by individuals wanting to start new ventures ; those in business are watching all outgoings.

In WA, the housing market is quiet . The allocation of more funds to regional areas there , however, is expected to stimulate activity . Talk of further interest rates by the RBA and the big, overbearing 4, political uncertainty and grim economic news from the US, Europe and Ireland is making some more cautious .

Here in Darwin, some business are doing it tough , especially in the CBD , part attributal to seasonal conditions and council activities . As pointed out in an earlier blog ,the Aboriginal art market has taken a dive. High rents, home and land prices are driving some people out of the Territory . Alice has experienced a loss in population .


Further Information about the aftermath of the Christchurch , New Zealand , earthquake has been received. More than 1000 aftershocks have been experienced and some people are suffering motion sickness because of the unnerving shaking. Parents with children have become anxious about which ones they should grab and attempt to save in the event of another jolt which in a split second could bring down their house. Palatial homes worth millions near the river were moved a metre closer to the stream . Port-a-loos now dot the front garden of many residences . One of the businesses wiped out was the estimable Smith’s bookshop from which this blogger bought interesting slim volumes dealing with early NZ poets and writers. The fact that a fault line ran under Christchurch had been little known and the populace laboured under the false impression that they were "safe". It seems little follow up news about the plight of Christchurch is being run in the Australian media. Apart from the ABC, anybody heard or seen recent reports about the situation in Haiti ?

Saturday, October 2, 2010


CANBERRA : The Lodge , official residence of the Australian Prime Minister , is to be connected to the Adelaide to Darwin railway line in what will be a wonderful boost to the Territory tourist industry . In addition , the name of the residence will be changed to reflect the Welsh origins of PM Julia Gillard . As from sunset today , the Lodge will be changed to the longest place name in Great Britain –the Welsh town of Llanfairpwilgwyngyllgogerychwymdrobwlllantysiliogogogoch .

Because of the extraordinary length of the name, souvenir rail tickets will be as long as a Subway 12 incher, with a liberal insertion of pickles, hot chilli and a heavy handed shake of the sauce bottle.

In an exclusive interview , PM Gillard told Little Darwin political correspondent , Argus Tuft, the Welsh name will infuriate the Coalition and make them look stupid when they vainly try to say it in a 30 second TV grab . Some of the more elderly members, especially in the Nationals , would probably develop lockjaw and brucellosis trying to pronounce the new whopper .

To mark the launch of the rail connection with Canberra proposal ,the PM’s partner has written a children’s book –TIM THE TANK ENGINE.

When the Llanfairpwilgwyngyllgogerychwymdrobwlllantysiliogogogoch terminal is built in the manicured grounds of the former Lodge, it is expected that First Bloke Tim will be appointed the supervisor, thereby enabling him to officially blow his whistle, wave a red flag and give the lawn outside the railway refreshment room a short back and sides.

Our man Tuft said the Coalition was incandescent (official colours of the Welsh national flag, according to a leading Darwin vexillologist ) with rage , a perpetual condition nowadays, when it heard of the ranga’s railway reroute plan. As usual, sounding like a coven of warty, wailing, wicked , Welsh witches , Sophie, Bronwyn, recently ejected Christopher, Julie et al , mouthed vile imprecations against the PM and her railway stimulus proposal and tongue twisting Lodge name change . Further amazing developments in this great nation building railway story will be posted ,including a nasty shock for Territory public servants.