Thursday, February 27, 2014


 Just   arrived  from  China  is  the  above  replacement   Purple People Eater nest  for sea-going  Lorikeet , Larry , holidaying  on  Magnetic Island.   As  reported  earlier, Larry  is very protective  about  his  current  PPE  which   he  has  had  for  some  time  and refuses  to allow  anybody  to  touch it . Alert  to  everything  going  on  about  him , Larry spotted  the parcel  being   unwrapped  and   could   hardly believe  his  eyes  when  he realised  what  he  saw- another PPE!  He  danced  a  sailor’s  jig , imitated  the  call of  a Coucal and a Crow , laughed ,   said    hello,  rattled  off  several buggers , threw in a few hurry ups   and   whistled . The  PPE  was  washed  to  remove  any  possible harmful chemicals  and   pegged  out  to  dry.  Now  comes  the  tricky  bit - removing  his old nest  when he is not looking  and   inserting  the  new one . (See  Wash-Buckling  Sailor Comes  Ashore with  Cuddly Purple  People  Eater  in  Kitbag .)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

ADVERTISING EXPERT DISAPPEARS – Continuing biog of Crusading Editor, ”Big Jim” Bowditch.

The  advertising department at the  News   boasted  another  exceptional  character. A  swarthy, good  looking  fellow , with an eyebrow  scar, he just lobbed in town from nowhere  and began  selling  advertising  space on  smokers’ stands in  hotels , frequently seen holding court in  the  Hotel Darwin Green Room .  Dapper in dress,   even sporting  a cravat at times , like  Percy Burton , he  spoke  a lot  about the  psychology  of  advertising .

He even  discussed   the  possibility of  having  large advertisements  painted on the  high   water  towers   in town .  A relative of  his , he said, was a professor  in the  School of Tropical  Medicine, Bombay .  A smooth talker , he  often bet  he  could pick up the phone in  Darwin and  ring the  top man of  any  leading  corporation   in  America  and  get him  to come to  the  phone .  The reason why that  captain of  commerce would take a  call   from   Darwin , he explained, was because  it was human  nature for  any person , no matter how high their rank, to be intrigued by a mystery call from  the  other  side of the world.  Nobody  bothered to  test out  his  theory.   A man  who knew  how the heads  of  giant  US corporations  thought would  surely   be   invaluable  in the  NT News  advertising department .

And so he became  another  member of  the  staff  , carrying out his duties with flair .  During a  Melbourne Cup  some women  at the  News  asked  compositor  Bobby Wills,  a keen punter ,   for a  tip .  He selected  an  outsider  and when the  flamboyant advertising man heard of the choice he said the horse  was a donkey  and  offered the  women  odds of  100 to one, which some   promptly  accepted.   The horse romped  home, the advertising  man paid  out a considerable  sum   and told Wills  he wished he (Wills) had  kept his mouth shut.

After having  been at the  News  for  a considerable time , the advertising man  decided to  travel  down the track to Alice Springs  to  pick up new  advertising contracts .  As he had become friendly  with  the head of the  police  Special Branch  in Darwin , who  was  deeply involved in  the RSL and the Caledonian Pipe  Band  ,  the  advertising  wizard  said he  would sound out  businessmen  and  RSL  clubs  on his trip and get  them  to advertise in an  RSL magazine  he  wanted  to  start .
He obtained a letter  of introduction  from  the high ranking spook  and then set off down the  track .  The only trouble was that  he did not stop at Alice and return to Darwin . He  just kept on  going with  money he  had raised  with the  help of the letter of introduction . 
Some time  later ,  Bowditch was surprised to  receive a  call  from  New Zealand. The operator said it  was  " Colonel"  ( the  missing  advertising  man )  calling .  With  more hide than a  herd of elephants , the "Colonel " was  seeking a  reference from  Bowditch  for a  position he was  seeking with a  New Zealand  airline .  Bowditch gave him a firm  no and  was  bemused  by  the  sheer  audacity of   the  fellow.

There was   another   character   early in the  Murdoch period   who  used to   puff  nervously on  cigarettes .  Some  members of  staff  were  unkind enough  to say he  looked  furtive  and that  his  partner  had  a face like  a  horse. Trucks would  pull  up  outside the News  and  drivers would come in asking for the  man . Strange .  When  the couple   suddenly  departed ,  dogs  began  baying.
The  acccountant ,  Brian Phipps , went through  the books  with  a  fine toothcomb  and unearthed  some  fancy  bookkeeping.     Brandishing  a  bundle of  accounts ,  shaking  his  head   and   chortling , the   accountant went into the editor’s office.

Bowditch  rolled  about in  his chair laughing as "Itchy Phipps" explained what had  been going on ,  providing  a  humorous  commentary in  the process .   It  was  said  that  News  Limited  tracked the  man  down through a  bogus  job  advertisement  to  which  he  applied , and demanded he pay  back  some  money  or else they  would  sue him  and   ruin  his  career.   Apparently ,  he  forked out  some  money, but  it  was felt that he  had   filched  considerably  more.  NEXT : Bowditch to quit Darwin ?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

THE CASE OF THE SPOTTY SHARKSKIN SHORTS – Continuing biog of Crusading Editor,''Big Jim'' Bowditch .

Percy and Chimp on same  flights .
Engaged  locally  as  an  advertising  agent  for the Northern Territory News  was  Percy Burton who   had  come  to  Darwin from  Singapore as the ABC  regional  journalist . He had experience as  a  typographer  and  copywriter  which  he  used to  brighten the  layout of  advertisements. 
By  Peter Simon
Burton  had an eye for the  unusual  commercial  opportunity. When  the  Russians  shot a dog, Laika , into orbit in a  Sputnik  satellite he proposed  taking out a patent for a space  dog  toy.  Because  the  dog  did not survive the  flight , manufacturers were reluctant to  take up the  idea , canine lovers saddened   that  it  died  in  the  historic voyage.
Never  deterred, he had the same bright idea  when the  Americans  fired  a  chimp , Enos,  into the heavens in 1961.  A cartoon at the time showed  a  monkey in   a  US Air Force  officer’s   uniform smoking a cigar  and    telling    future astronauts   they  would  experience  an uncontrollable  urge for a banana  once their   rocket   got  to  a  certain height .  Again   no toy maker was interested. 
However his  space toy ideas caused much jocularity in  the News  and  Darwin  pubs.  Percy was clearly  ahead  of his time  in  the  toy industry and could have been a consultant to the lucrative , mega-hit series ,Toy Story.   Another  money making scheme he outlined was  taking  photographs of   Darwin  houses  and selling copies  to  the surprised  occupants  who , the theory went, would send  them  to  relatives  and  friends down  south  and overseas.

Before he left the  ABC  , Burton  had been  involved in a  scrap with a Cypriot  born  tailor  who had a shop in the Hotel   Darwin building .   The  tailor was making a pair of white sharkskin shorts  for  Percy who used to drop in  frequently  to see how they were coming along.  During  one  of  many  fittings ,  Burton spotted a  stain   in what he   described as a  "disadvantageous  position" -   the fly -  and refused  to  have anything  further  to  do  with  the  shorts. 
An altercation  took place and  Burton  was hit in the ear .    The tailor was  charged with  assaulting  Burton who appeared in court wearing a monogrammed  shirt and  a  cravat.   In   answer to  a question from  defence lawyer , George Cridland , Burton  denied  being used  to " grovelling  oriental tailors". The tailor was  not fined  and  in a magnanimous gesture, Burton paid  the  puzzled  tailor  for the   shorts  outside  the court .

The News ran a  report about the   hearing   under the Keith Willey   heading , THE CASE OF THE  SHARKSKIN  SHORTS.

Before driving down the track for a  weekend, Burton borrowed a  rifle from a  gun enthusiast  who was reluctant to  hand over the   weapon .     However , Burton assured him he knew how to handle  firearms.  While driving  along the highway  he came upon an unfortunate  kangaroo which  had been hit by a car . 
The injured  animal was  flopping about on the road, so  Burton got out with the  rifle  intending to put it out of its misery.  Instead of  shooting the   roo, he  used the rifle as a  club  and  began to hit  it  on the head.   Naturally , the   creature  objected  and  frantically  bounced around .  Intending to  finish   the the kangaroo with one almighty blow, Percy   missed  and  hit the  bitumen , which caused  the   stock  of the rifle to split .  Not  only  that , he actually  bent the  barrel .  The  owner  of  the rifle  was furious when  Burton  returned the  now   useless  shooter.


When Burton left Darwin he obtained a  job  as  advance publicity man for a road show . In this role , he lobbed  at the Sydney Morning  Herald  one  day  while  this  writer was  on duty . He  calmly  walked up to the  sub editors’ table and   placed  a  lengthy , racy  story about  his  experiences  in Sydney's King’s  Cross in  the  basket . It  read like  the   radio serial  Night Beat .    Nobody  but  staff should  place copy  in the subs basket .  A  copy taster  pulled the  bulky   story out  and  began  to read it , then   called out : " Who is this person  Burton ?"    By that stage  Burton was  making  free calls to Brisbane  from a  phone in  the  interstate   room  and  soon after  hit  the  road  again. NEXT Darwin  calling  surprised US captains  of  commerce .

Monday, February 24, 2014


A  gigantic  plague of   weasels   is responsible  for  the  mysterious   disappearance of  the   Bowen  Big  Mango. The   recent  rain  and   by-elections  led   to   an explosion of   the  weasel population. Many  Queenslanders   complained  they   could  hardly  hear  themselves think   because of   deafening   weasel   words   filling the   air , day  and   night, even  on TV and  radio  .   Weasels  breed   like  rabbits  and  are  worse than a  combined   mouse    and   grasshopper plague .  They  gnaw  through  anything  that  they  come  across , including the brain cells  of  voters.    When  the  tourist   attraction  disappeared,  Bowen locals ,  naturally ,  blamed danged  Greenies  who  oppose  proposed new  super duper   coal  loading facilities  and  the  dumping  of  harmless dredged  up  sludge  on the    Great  Barrier  Reef . However,  vast  amounts of   weasel  scats   have been  found   around   the   Big  Mango  site proving beyond  doubt  that  they  are  responsible for its disappearance . Police  have  discounted  a   report  the  mango, covered  in tattoos ,  was  seen  hidden  under  a  tarpaulin  in  the sidecar   of   a   motorbike  heading   for   a  Shepparton cannery or a Victorian bikie clubhouse .


CANBERRA :  The   Manager  of   Government  Fast  Food  Business , Christopher  Sanders , has instructed  the  Parliament  House  dining  room  drive   through   to   add   Wimpy Burgers  to   the   menu . It  is  believed  Wimpy  Burgers  will  be  popular with   Coalition   ministers  who   suddenly  find   they    have   to   make  decisions  and    work    back   late  at   night  in their  bunkers,  chewing   the   end  off   their    red pencils , concocting    media   releases  for    late  Saturday  night  release.


Intriguing  front  free  endpaper  inscription  : To  Banjo, Marshall  & Duncan  & friends. Hold and  use  this  to the  best  advantage  until you  are able  to get copies . I  will  call some day  & ask  for it on my  way north  when   my  password  will  be    Boots.

The   identity  of  a   person , simply  listed  as  Banjo in  the   above  inscription  in the  powerful  1910 American anti-war    book  , WAR –WHAT  FOR  ? ,    has   been revealed .  He   was  Edward  Hunter (1885-1959) ,  a   prominent Scottish  trade  union organiser ,  politician  and  writer   active   in  the  development  of   socialism  in  New  Zealand.   Like  his  father , he  became  a  miner at  the  age  of  12  and,  with    little  formal education,  went  to  the  West  Coast of  NZ   in 1906 , where  he  became  closely   involved  with   miners  and  was a  leading member of  the   New  Zealand  Federation  of  Labour.

Under  the    pseudonym  ,  Billy  Banjo, he  articulated miners’ concerns  in   prose  and  verse . He  strongly  advocated   educating    workers .  In   A  Song of  Freedom,  he  called  on  miners to  stand  and  fight  after  the death of  Fred Evans in a skirmish between  police and striking miners at  Waihi in  November 1912

 He  also called for a general strike which was proclaimed in 1913.  His  activities resulted in him being arrested and charged   with   sedition , alleging he   incited  revolution. Hunter was blacklisted on the coalfields  because of  his  trade union  organising and  socialist beliefs. As a result ,  he  became an organiser for  shearers and  the  Wellington Rural Workers  Union . Increasingly , he turned  to  writing and  penned   many  socialist  poems  and  other  works.

When  his  wife died in March 1915, leaving him to raise four young children , he returned  to Scotland with  his family around 1919.  There  he   became deeply involved in labour activity in Glasgow . A  play he wrote, The Disinherited ,was  performed by  people  drawn from a  mining community. He worked as  a  journalist for  labour  papers , was elected  on  a Labour Party  ticket to  Glasgow City Council , in which  he  became  the  deputy chairman,  and even served as  the city’s  police commissioner .

The  book ,  written by  George R. Kirpatrick , of  Ohio  , containing the  inscription , had previously  belonged to another  prominent union activist   H. E. Holland, imprisoned  for  sedition during  WW1  and  parliamentary leader of  the  NZ Labour  Party  from  1919-l933.   An activist in Australia before he moved across the Tasman , Holland was an outstanding  orator  and  writer, editor of the   Maoriland  Worker ; his  state funeral in Wellington  drew  a crowd of  100,000 .

Sunday, February 23, 2014


Bearing  the  subversive  Balmain Teacher’ College Library  stamp , Sydney,  this  1944 book  is  expected  to  be   banned  in   Queensland. The   Newman Government   has  been shaken  by  the democratic voting  process after   another  absolutely  fabulous   LNP   candidate  was  skinned  in  a  by - election, this  time  in  the  seat  of   Redcliffe.       In    Brisbane  today ,  LNP  mugwump ,  Fritz von  Waffleburger  said  the  divisive   Danish   book , which   spreads  the   dangerous  idea  of   teaching  democracy  in  schools , could  result  in  scores  of   born  to  rule  conservative  politicians losing   their  seats in  the  near  future, not only in Queensland ,  but  Victoria  and  the  Northern Territory , where  a  former  Chief  Minister has  pulled the  plug  in  the Mango Madness  Season. 
The explosive book  tells  how  the   Danish  Folk  High  School  system  helped  the   country  stand  against  Hitler’s  forces  when  they  took over  the  country. This kind of stance   could undermine  the  Newman    sell   off  blitzkrieg , which  includes  schools .  Like  the  Feds ,  the Queensland  Government  frequently  shouts :" Seig Heil! We  are  open  for  business!"

Waffleburger   said   rude  opponents of  the  LNP  government , including  Lefty lawyers ,  repeatedly  stated   Queensland is like   Hitler’s  Germany  .  If   this  outrageous  misrepresentation  of   the   government  gained   momentum ,  a  dangerous   book  like   this   could  add  fuel  to  the  fire   and , more  importantly,  cause  voters  to  kick   the   Kaiser  out .
He  quoted  a  passage from  the  disturbing   book’s  foreword by  co-author Christopher Moller .  "In  Denmark   we  have created in our  people  a  real understanding  of the democratic way of  life , so  that  all  are   vividly  aware  that  this  is  the only path   for  us  to tread .  The proof of  our success  is  that the Nazi  and Fascist  ideologies  made  no  headway  among the Danish people ; they  saw through  their inequities  and shams  and  recognised  them  for  what  they  were – the negation  of everything   for  which  Denmark  had  long  been proud  to stand.  This is  not , of course,  due solely  to  the  Folk High Schools , but in considerable  and influential sections  of   the   people  the   work  the bulk of   these schools came  to  form a  bulwark  against  Nazism  and  Fascism."
Motorbike  club  knitting and literary  circles , the CWA   and Clive Palmer's dinosaurs  are snapping  up   copies of  EDUCATION  IN  DEMOCRACY which contains the  following early  quote .


An  unexpected   link  with  the  "  greatest  literary  hoax  of  the  20th Century " is  contained  in   the  rare  books  collection  at  the   Eddie  Koiki  Mabo  Library , James  Cook  University, Townsville.  It  is  a slim  volume  of  poems- Night  Flight  and  Sunrise -  by   the  late  South Australian author and  publisher , Geoffrey  Dutton,  when  he  was  a  pilot officer  in   the  RAAF  during  WW11.   Published in  1944  by  John Reed  and  Max  Harris , it was  Dutton’s first  book  of  poems ,  he  just   21 ,  and  shows   him  in  flying  kit,  see  right.  The  collection  included  his  poems  from  A  Comment  and   the  Angry   Penguins  literary  publication. 

Of   particular  note   is   the  introductory statement   by    avant-garde  poet  and  critic, Max   Harris , who  praised Dutton’s  maturity  in  style  and  said   five  poems  were " far  and  away  the  finest  things  I have encountered in Australia, and  although the  idiom arrived  at  is  highly  individual, at  times  esoteric , they  possess  the  fervency and  sensitivity  that  characterise  the  best  of   D.  B.  Kerr  and   Ern  Malley." 

Kerr  , a   fine  poet," close to  the border of genius",  at the   Adelaide  University Arts Association on  April 7, 1940  had  been a founding  member of   the  literary magazine Angry  Penguins .  Kerr  and   Harris  were editors   and  P.G. Pfeiffer  and  Dutton  subeditors of  the  new publication, its  patron  C.R. Jury . It  replaced  the  Student Union  publication Phoenix ,  closed  because it  had  upset conservatives at  the university.   In  those  days ,  it  was  said    Adelaide  University was  Australia’s   literary  frontier .

War  intervened .  Kerr, 23,  described  by  Harris for  an  American journal in  Commentary on Australian  Poetry,  as  "the pre-eminent   poet of the Australian modernists  movement,"  joined   up  and  was   killed  in  air action  in  New Guinea  .  Pfeiffer , 28,  flew in the famous   RAAF  461  Squadron, a maritime patrol group  using  Short Sunderland  flying boats, under the  control of the RAF,  which  operated in Europe and  over the Atlantic , carried out  transport  flights  to Gibraltar, anti-submarine missions   and   supported  the Normandy invasion ; he  was  also  killed  in  action.

Dutton  was  lucky  to  survive  a  plane crash  in   New Guinea  late  in the war .  Angry  Penguins  moved  to  Melbourne  under  the editorship   of   Harris  , a corporal  in the war  ,who  did not get on with superiors ,  spent   quite some  time digging latrines . He formed  a  close  business  relationship  with   John  and  Sunday  Reed   of  the  Heide  Group  of modernists . Harris correctly predicted   Dutton  would  be  a   powerful force  in  contemporary  Australian literature   and described  this  first book  of   poems  as  yet another  sign of  the  vital creative  movement  taking  place  in  this  country, a  movement  the implications  of  which  extended   beyond   the  shores  of  a  country which might well  have  been a  cultural backwater.    

Unfortunately,   Ern Malley ,  praised   so  highly   by  Harris  in  the introduction to Dutton's book ,  never   existed   and   was   an   outrageous  hoax  pulled  off    by   two non-combatant   Australian soldiers  in  the  Army’s  Victoria Barracks, Melbourne,  in October 1943. They  were  Lieutenant James McAuley  and  Corporal Harold Stewart,   Sydney poets ,  who  disliked  modern poetry in general  and   hated Max  Harris  of  Angry  Penguins. NEXT :  Unusual  Queensland  souvenirs  of     Dutton   Dynasty   and  Ern Malley  Hoax .