Sunday, July 31, 2016

ELECTION WIN KAYOS COALITION PLUG-UGLYS ; MORE BIFFO ?

  
Jones slips on red  banana skin , takes a  dive .
After what seemed like a count longer than that in the infamous  Jack Dempsey v Gene Tunney  heavyweight  championship fight of 1927,  it was  announced  after   29 days  that   Cathy O'Toole ( ALP ), aka the Red Rocket ,   had  delivered the  winning  punch  in the  battle for the vital Queensland seat of  Herbert  by  37 votes .The actual  declaration and handing over of the embossed champion's belt  by the Australian Electoral Commission   will  be  made later  this  week in  its square ring office in the Townsville  CBD. 
 
 Feisty  Cathy  O'Toole, displaying  fancy footwork ,  delivered  a  haymaker  blow  which  sent   Ewen Jones (LNP )   to  the canvas  like a  bag of  wet bagasse  and  shocked  Cuban cigar smoking  Coalition   backers  sitting  ringside with  their  floozies. 

In a n exclusive  interview with  Ring Magazine , protesting   fight promoter  , One Punch Louie , a  former  horizontal heavyweight ,    today  said   Jones had  been  robbed , that he has more  fans than  Cathy  and  Elvis Presley  put together ,   and   would  demand  a  rematch with  O'Toole at the Lavarack Army Barracks. In preparation for  the  fight, Jones is  skipping , chasing Pok√©mons  along   The Strand  and  daily  trundling up and down Castle Hill , doing the   Burdekin  Sugar  Plum   Dance to  get  himself  into tip top shape. 

Loquacious   Louie  strongly denied  rumours that  Ewen  is going to take  up  Greek wrestling  and  could be a late entrant in the Rio Olympic Game in the Russian  team .

BOOK SURFING AND KINDRED MIND BLOWING DELIGHTS

First in a new Little Darwin occasional  post  dealing with the wonderful  world of books,  art , ephemera, postcards,  auctions , the  BBC Antiques  Roadshow .
SOB and  sob again  . This was the recent  tantalising email sent to this blog from the   Cairns  Library three day book sale  which  Little Darwin  failed to attend because the office  jet  was in  for a grease and  oil change . There must have been untold  treasures  hidden  there ;  one of  our  miserable  runners only  bought  15  volumes .

FABULOUS AUCTION



High flying shoes
An auction to turn you green  with envy was the sale of the   Denis  Joachim Collection  of Australian colonial books, fine art, prints  and photographs   conducted by Mossgreen , Melbourne.
 
Glancing through the fabulous catalogue , certain items  stood out : photographs taken by  Douglas Stuart Wylie  of  the 1926 Aerial Expedition to Northern Australia  including Camooweal, Wyndham, Brunette Downs , Newcastle Waters ,Wave Hill, Cloncurry , Hermannsburg Mission ,Pine Creek  and Melville Island ; early views of South Australia by Captain Samuel Sweet , involved in the building of the Overland Telegraph Line from Adelaide to Darwin , spent time at the Roper River in the Northern Territory where  supplies were  brought  for the  project ;  items relating to Amy Johnson  who made  a solo flight from England to Darwin in 1930 and endorsed shoes here , including her fur lined  leather helmet , a signed postcard   and a  presentation  album from  the NSW Masonic Club to her , estimated to bring  $8000-$15,000  ; a rare souvenir of the first Australian naval engagement of the  first world war   in which the Sydney sank  the German cruiser Emden ; circa 1890 albumen prints  by Charles Henry Kerry of  Tonga, Treasury Island , Fiji, Samoa, New Caledonia  and  Tokelau ; a complete set of Dampier's voyages , $10,000-$15,000.; numerous early Aboriginal  photographs and paintings of  their way of life ; New Zealand  and  its Maoris .
   
 TIMES  HAVE CHANGED  IN  DARWIN 
 
Because of our interest in  the Northern Territory , Magnetic Island researcher  Gary Davies passed  to us his copy of  The Photographs  of Baldwin Spencer, appointed  biologist and photographer  for the Horn Expedition, the first scientific   expedition  to  Central Australia, who in 1901 ,  with Frank Gillen, went from Oodnadatta in South Australia to Borroloola in the NT , taking 500  glass plate photographs and  3000 feet of  moving film and recordings of  Aboriginal songs .
 
The superb collection  includes a  chapter by Nicolas Peterson  showing how Spencer's photographic imagery had  influenced  Australian advertising  to promote   tourism ,  theatre . It specifically mentions  a photograph of a man wearing a high, curved   emu  totem  head dress .
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A recent Little Darwin acquisition , north of Cairns , was  a circa  1950s prospectus for  the Art Training Institute which  included the  above  work  by German poster artist  Gert Sellheim   for The Australian National  Travel Association ,   inspired  by  the Spencer   photograph .
 
The Spencer  book contains a  circa  1912   view  of  Aboriginal  fringe dwellers in Darwin  beach shacks , one  bearing the name  NED   (Kelly ? ) painted on it , which  appears to be in  an  area now  close to  where  Chinese interests  plan to build  a  luxury  hotel with a  room  for  high rollers on  top .

Saturday, July 30, 2016

THE CASE OF THE EDITOR'S MISSING BRAVERY MEDAL


Bowditch [left] sizing up then  Liberal Leader Andrew Peacock in what appears to be  a  serious  discussion in  Darwin . 

 
When Darwin resident  Betty  Bowditch  attends the plaque unveiling ceremony for the Z Special Unit at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra on Monday  she will be wearing  a replica of  her late husband's Distinguished Conduct Medal for bravery against the  Japanese.

The original disappeared  in   Darwin   one   well  lubricated  Anzac Day during which " Big Jim" Bowditch , crusading  editor  of the  Northern Territory News , remembered playing  two -up  with the mayor  in  a  drained   pond  which had  been  donated to  Darwin by the Italian  community .

At war with certain  RSL types  and against  wearing medals , Bowditch had nevertheless  decided to march  that  fateful  Anzac  Day with his DCM  because he had been involved in  some altercations   with  RSL  officials   and  thought his  job could be under threat. In print he  had  criticised  local RSL officials who had  backed federal  government  moves to  deport Malay  pearldivers  he had helped  hide .
  
On  Anzac Day  l964  Bowditch  participated  in  celebrations  and , becoming  tired  and  emotional , flaked  out  on  a  table  in  the  RSL . What  transpired is  not  absolutely  clear. One  explanation was  that  he  had  become  drunk  and  obnoxious  and  was  asked  to  leave  as  it  was  nearly closing time .  He  left,  but  went  around  the  back  and  kicked   in  the  rear  door which  had  a  glass  panel,  badly  cutting  his  leg , and  was  taken  to  hospital .  Another  version  has  it  that  Bowditch  passed out  at a  table   and   some  RSL      officials   passed  derogatory  remarks about  the slumbering  editor . One  went  over ,  shook  him  and  told  him   to  get  home.   Bowditch  apparently  took  umbrage  at   being  told  to  hit  the  track  and  words  were  exchanged.   When  he  got  to  the  bottom  of  the  stairs , the  door  was  closed  behind  him  so  that  he  could  not  get back  inside. He  then  proceeded  to  kick  in  the glass  panels.

 After  that  ,   Bowditch made his way   to  the  nearby  Workers’  Club.   Brian  Manning  was  the   club’s  manager  at  the  time  and  took  Bowditch  into  his  office  and  sat  him  down.   Blood was  running   down  his  leg  from   cuts  and  he  was  in  a  highly  agitated  state  of  mind.   He berated  himself   for  what  he  had  done  at  the  RSL . Then  he  admonished  himself    for  the  people  he  had  killed  during  the  war.  In  particular, he  recalled  with   horror  how  he  had killed  and  mutilated  an  enemy  soldier  on  Tarakan, where he had paddled ashore  before the  invasion  to  gather  intelligence . 

At  times he  cried .  Eventually, he  fell   asleep  in  the chair  and   Manning  later took  him  home .  Manning  pointed out  that people who “ went  to the rescue ” of Bowditch, and there were many over the years , to prevent him from being arrested  or  getting into a fight, then drove him home  out of harms way , sometimes faced the wrath of  Betty.  She ,  not knowing  the circumstances  , but  furious  with Jim for  drinking, would sometimes  think  the innocent   rescuer had  been in a  session  with  him. The  RSL  fracas   prompted  the  satirical Waratah  Whisper  story  headed    Viscount Bowditch  and  PEACE  IN  OUR  TIME  . The  next  meeting  of  the RSL  barred  him  from  the  club . 

At  the  newspaper  office  ,  Bowditch  told staff   of  the  disastrous  day  and  the  loss  of  his  DCM.   He  said    that  he  could  not  put  a  classified  advert  in  the  paper    under  LOST    asking  any  person  finding  a  Distinguished  Conduct Medal   to  please  return  it  to  the  editor  of  the  NT  News.  People  would   say Bowditch  was  so  drunk  he  lost  his  medal .  If  it  had  been  anybody  else  who  had  lost  the  medal,  a  report  would  have  been  run  in the  newspaper  to  help  its  recovery .   The  medal  never  surfaced.

The  Administrator of the Northern Territory , Roger Nott ,  noticed  a  scar  on  Bowditch’s leg  .  “ Is  that   scar    from  your   war  service ?” he asked.  The  reply: “ No -  that’s  a  scar  I   got  kicking in  the  RSL  door. ”  It  is  fair to say that   Bowditch  and  some  of  the  RSL  hierarchy  were  not  the  best  of   friends.  He often  referred  to  Colonel  Blimp  types  and  RSL  club “bullshit”. 
Bowditch  with first wife at DCM investiture by South Australian Governor , Sir Willoughby Norrie .  Despite the nickname  "Big Jim " , it had been  difficult  at the Adelaide Army barracks  to find a uniform small enough  for him to wear to the event . The cap  he wore belonged to Harry Krantz of  the  Federated Clerks' Union , to which Jim  belonged .  At   the  time Bowditch was president of   the Alice Springs  branch of  the ALP  and became  editor of  the  Centralian  Advocate .
 
Betty Bowditch and daughter Ngaire  in Canberra .

Friday, July 29, 2016

STATE ROOM AND NANNY FOR DISGRUNTLED BANANALANDERS UPSET BY TURNBULL

CANBERRA : In a surprise move, members of  the unhappy  Queensland Liberal National  Party  have been  given their own  meeting  room  in  parliament house  which  will  be  run  by  imported  windy  Pommie  muffin addict and   troublemaker  Catherine Tate's Nan .
Our exclusive photograph  shows  the  first  boisterous meeting of  the Queensland pollies, keen  to  start  a third  party   within  the  Coalition , turning it into a  copy of the Balkans ,   in  their special cell,  with Nan helping plan a demonstration  against  the  evil   Queensland  ALP  government  which wants  to deny farmers the God-given right to clear fell  all  trees on  their properties and punch  watermelons  whenever they feel like doing so . The well padded room even has  a hat check  guy who used to be a regular P3 girl in the  Daily Telegraph before her varicose veins began to  show .

SINGAPORE INVESTMENT IN QUEENSLAND GROWING

Recently erected in  Townsville without  the media noticing  was  a  large  sign saying you  can fly direct  to  Singapore  from  Cairns  with  SilkAir , the regional wing of  Singapore Airlines .  And  the city's  prominent  CBD building   known as the  Sugar Shaker [right] , the Holiday Inn  , has  been sold to   Singapore's Grand Hotels International  for $15million  and renamed the Hotel Grand Chancellor, which sounds like a link with  colonial times when Britain ruled the  waves  . Further down the coast , at Airlie Beach , the Club Crocodile resort  has been  bought   by  Singaporean  group   Well Smart Investment Holdings  for a  reported $9million. The group already owns the Mantra Terrace Hotel in Brisbane and  the Ibis Budget Hotel , Melbourne   

CORPORATIONS WITHDRAW BACKING FOR GRUMPY LIBS

Shocked American PR spokesguy   with  stuffed Koala  explains  why giant  brewer's yeast  company could  not  possibly  make  donations to  the  Liberal Party of  Australia because its members  are not happy little  Vegemites .

CANBERRA: Cash strapped , squabbling and suffering from BO , the Coalition  has just received the shock (unconfirmed)  news that one of Australia's  best known  overseas owned companies ,  Vegemite Inc. , is  reluctant to make a donation to the Liberal Party  sinking   fund which is kept under wraps in  the federal  Funk Bunker strongroom  along with  mushrooms. The Vegemite  mouthpiece said the wonderful spread was invented in Australia  and  sales  rocketed  because of the Happy Little Vege Mites  Song, so it is not possible to back  a  bunch of  sad looking , down at the mouth  losers like the Coalition , still  sobbing after the  election . The only happy people in Australia seemed to  be  the  ALP ,  who  might  receive a container load  of  Black  Jack delivered   COD.  
Donations will undoubtedly resume pouring into Liberal coffers when   fine Young Liberals like this bunch of  happy loons , who recently  appeared on the highly regarded , fair  and balanced,   ABC TV  show ,  Mad As Hell , are elected to parliament .  

Thursday, July 28, 2016

THE DEPRESSION : A TIME FOR LAUGHS AND POLITICAL SECRETS

Front page of Smith's Weekly -The Public Guardian -May 20,1933, during the economic  slump , which  on just about every  page  ran a humorous  cartoon , illustration or  yarn , midst stories of the  devastating   economic  Depression  and its  politics .

The above dramatic illustration accompanied   articles  about  taxes   and   charges by    woolbrokers , middlemen    and  accountants  on  primary producers and  businesses. Several political articles  include  the  one [below ] which  contains intimate glimpses of  the women behind Australian   prime   ministers and  premiers which tells how Billy Hughes washed his own socks . 


Poet and journalist Kenneth Slessor conducts a page of  movie reviews  which includes  an advertisement for  the Pearce Bjelke-Petersen  Pty Ltd Physical Culture School that offers Turkish electric baths for men and women . The enterprise was started by Hans Christian  Bjelke-Petersen (1872-1964), uncle of  Johannes Bjelke-Petersen , the notorious Queensland premier .

The fight between  NSW Premier  Jack Lang  and the banks is covered in light hearted  fashion under the heading THE BANK THAT JACK BROKE  ; British publisher George G. Harrap,in Sydney on a  visit , is the subject of  large caricature  and a  poem ;   social notes and gossip from Queensland  and South Australia  are  included .   
 
There is a full page devoted to the newspaper's  " Royal  Commission " into the     Jardine  bodyline  bowling cricket   affair. Readers with money  could escape  the tough times  and  cold  weather  on a 19 day cruise to Papua  via Sydney, Brisbane , Whitsunday Passage  and the   Barrier Reef   from  just   27 guineas .  ( Newspaper kindly  made available by Magnetic Island researcher  Gary  Davies  who is greatly interested in early  cartoonists , illustrators  and artists .)

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

HERBERT ELECTION RERUN?

Down  to the wire and still counting . Then  what ? 
With ALP candidate Cathy O'Toole  leading by 35 at  the   latest count , with preferences to be rechecked , the arrival of  smiling Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in Townsville  has led to speculation  that  the Coalition will try every democratic  trick in the book to  have a  byelection , first  by  going  to the  Court of  Disputed Returns.  Winning the seat would  make  life  a little  easier  for  the  government .
 
On his visit,  the PM confirmed    the government would stand by its campaign promises for  $100million for the prosed  stadium  and  entertainment centre and urban revitalisation. He also hugged members of the Cowboys footy team and     visited the Lavarack Barracks  , where  glum looking Jones  was not allowed anywhere near a handgrenade  in light of his  previous juggling act  with one . Part of the display  by the troops included  carrying   an election casualty  off to  M*A*S*H headquarters , and it did not look like  O'Toole , Jones trailing by 73 votes at  that stage. 
Glum chums on political manoeuvres in Townsville barracks .
 
 
BOUQUETS AND BRICKBATS
 
The PM would not comment about the possibility of  a Court of Disputed  Returns challenge . However, he said Jones had been a phenomenally good,  committed and enthusiastic  and capable   MP for Herbert .  Some text messages  rejected the  praise  by the PM , saying Jones had done bugger all for Townsville ; another  said Jones should  man up , accept that he had lost the election and  not  put the electorate through  another election.
 
In another strange experience, a  sickly  Little Darwin  scribbler  had  an  interesting  discussion at Townsville Hospital  when an  outpatient  raised the subject of the long Herbert  count  and suggested a novel solution . Cathy O'Toole  and   Ewen Jones should  be  placed in a room armed with  baseball  bats  and  the one to emerge be declared  the  winner !!!
 
Then he added  fascinating  anecdotes about Ewen Jones  and  another Conservative  politician  . As   our  blogger  had  recently had his ears  syringed to remove a  build up  of  wax , which  had  reduced him to an  annoying  deafy, he was all ears for any  scuttlebutt  in the  battle  for Herbert.  One  being  that  the   tubby  politician  was  too heavy  to  be  allowed into a V8  racing car  in Townsville  because  of    safety  regulations dealing with a    crash in   which a  car  bursts  into  flames .  

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

IS THERE A DOCTOR IN THE HANGAR?

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Dr Clive Stead , soon  to  take off  for Tasmania ,  hams  it  up with a stethoscope testing  the  engine of a Northern Territory Aerial Medical Service  plane  in  Alice Springs , Northern Territory .

Magnetic Island's Calypso  King , Dr Clive  Stead , who regularly  performed  with a Trinidad  steel  pan  at   markets  is  selling up  and  moving to Tasmania with his extremely fit  wife, Shannon , who  each  two  days runs  a  22kms marathon.

Cancer has  played a  large  part  in their lives . At the  age of 32 , Mrs Stead developed cancer and as a result  took up  marathon  running   and  trekking .

The trekking will  later this year  include   the world's toughest , the Snowman  Trek in Bhutan , 36  days  with 11  spots over  5000 metres . More people have  climbed Mount  Everest  than  completed the  gruelling  Bhutan   climb.

She was  taking part in another tough trek, in rugged country which took  in the third highest peak in the Himalayas , Mount Kanchenjunga, when  earthquakes struck  Nepal last year  , killing  more  than  8000 and injuring 21,000.

The   massive jolts   were  felt  during the trek , and Mrs Stead said sherpas in her party lost relatives in the disaster. Her group  saw parts of the mountain  terrain collapse .While  they were traversing a narrow track , with a great  drop , she  looked up and noticed a  large boulder  bouncing down and  yelled , "Rock!" , enabling  a  person  next  to  her  to dodge out of  the way .

The  tension  of  the  dangerous situation  had made her feel  sick and feel  that she  could  die. A truly unforgettable experience .  Yet  she  is going  back  to  the dangerous  heights  in  September. 

In the case of her husband, to show that he is still alive in his  joust with  prostate  cancer  , he  went   diving  with  White Pointer sharks in South Australian waters ; engaged in  white water  rafting  at  Tully ;   three  variations of  leaping  from  a  tower  at  Cairns-one mounted on a  bicycle ; sky  diving from 13,000 feet over Townsville; hang  gliding from  the  Rex  Lookout , north of  Cairns, and barrel rolling in a  Mustang aircraft  at Caboolture .  All captured on  film .

His varied  life has  included  extensive travel as a  doctor with P. & O. shipping line  , medical officer  with  Gulf Air in Bahrain ,  spells in  Australia  as a  GP  in  Sydney and Noosa ,Queensland ,  as a   flying  doctor based  in Alice Springs  and  as  a  writer for  Australian  medical  publications .

Along  the way he  survived a bad car crash in  America , was  bitten by a   Cobra in  Phuket, Thailand ,  skied  across  a  mine field  in Sarajevo , caught  cholera in  Laos , had a  Lyssavirus  fright when he was shat on by a  bat on Magnetic Island  and  had  an  arm and leg  smashed  up  while they  were  skiing  in   Japan .

From  England , at  the age  of  five, he  was  taken to Trinidad  with his parents  where his father was a teacher  for the  expat community numbering  2000, with  500 children , involved in the  oil industry.

There he led an idyllic life  hunting, shooting , fishing , developing his musical talent ... a photo album shows him holding a  large trophy  he won  for playing the clarinet .While there  he experienced the steel drum  bands which are now  the subject of   large   competitions   with  up  to 100  players in a  single band .

From  this  developed his  skill  in the field , especially with  "the  pan" -the top of a steel  drum , tuned with a hammer , mounted on a   stand . For a  time on Magnetic Island  he  tried to organise a  full  range  steel  drum band .

Edinburgh University  is where  he  studied  medicine  and he has a  photograph of the first car he   owned , a Vauxhall , of  some  kind , which he  had agreed to buy  for  20 pounds  during an evening of  heavy drinking .

When he went to insure the car, he was told the premium was a little over  22 pound. This , he pointed out, was more  than the  value of the car , couldn't the insurance company do something  cheaper  for  a  medical student? The  reply was to the effect that the insurance was  high because he was a  student , the inference being  that such people were  reckless . There is a photograph of him playing  the saxophone in a university band . Early in his medical career he went to  the US and  Canada .
 
Then  followed years  as  assistant  surgeon-"Baby Doc"-  on P&O passenger  ships Oriana and Oronsay,  the so called Love Boats ,   where  the  high living and Monty Python hijinx in ports made life interesting . One vessel was described as being 40,000 tons of  rust , lust and thrust .  Another P. and O. vessel he served on was the   SS Uganda , which took passengers on educational  cruises  about  Scandinavia  and  the  Mediterranean , the education including  gaming  tables .

His  connection with Sydney saw  him running a  GP  practice in  a small room at North Sydney, near  the Harbour Bridge  , and  taking  further medical studies  at   Sydney University  which resulted in him  going to  Alice Springs as a  flying  doctor  travelling to isolated settlements , Brunette Downs  and  Ayers Rock (Uluru ).

 It also involved   occasional " shadow bombing ", the   pilot flying in a way which  cast  a  fairly  constant  shadow  across  a  vehicle as  it  drove along . Clive  points out photographs in an album  in which  the shadow is seen on a car,  the  concerned driver of which  thought  the  plane wanted  to land  and  pulled over  and  stopped .  Another Territory shot shows him with a large signpost in the mining town of Tennant Creek pointing  far and wide .
 
While  at  Noosa   for  a decade he set up a  Calypso band , the Pantastics , below ,  in which Clive is in the middle in the top trio, that  played at various  functions and venues  up  and  down  the  coast , including at  the One  Big Day Out  events .`  

His enthusiasm   for  this  form of  music went with him to Vanuatu , where he set up steel band in Port Vila , the Calypso Kings, below, which played  in various tourist  hotels .  On Magnetic  Island he attempted to get a   band  going   but ended  up playing by  himself at Sunday markets down  at  Horseshoe Bay , just across  from  the  Marlin  Bar.
 

Chemothereapy has greatly  reduced Clive's  thick mop of hair. He wrote an anonymous  article about   his prostate cancer   for a medical magazine in November 2011 , the opening  paragraph carrying the astounding statistic  that " one in nine Australian doctors  will  get prostate cancer " and that  every year 75 of  them  are  diagnosed  with  the  disease.


His  journey  with  prostate cancer had begun six years previous on an overseas holiday . Two years later, aged  62, just before setting off  on a round-the world -trip,  routine  blood tests returned a  warning sign .  A radical prostatectomy  was performed in 2007. He wrote  that  he took  pomegranate juice daily  to  reduce the  PSA  reading , which it  did, but rose again ...

On a lighthearted  note, Dr Stead wrote an article for  Australian Doctor  headed Carry on up the Khyber Pass  , about a   medical centre in Dubai, United Arab Emirates , called the Khyber Medical Centre  , recalling the rhyming slang for Khyber Pass , wondering  if  it  was  a  colonoscopy clinic or  a rectal  surgery .

The Medical Observer  of June 2003  ran a large illustrated article by him on Cuba , showing  him  in a  Cadillac  with  a  Cuban cigar  , which included a visit to Ernest Hemingway's home  and  places the writer  frequented . Discussing  Cuba , here on the  island ,  Clive said the Cubans were    proud, well educated people . He wrote that healthcare and education were free  and that Fidel Castro claimed the country had more  doctors and teachers per  capita  than any other  country .

Other places  written   about by him included his  thoughts on Syria and its antiquities  after a month exploring the country while  sitting in a famous Damascus , Iraq,  coffee house  where Saddam Hussein  and cronies  used to meet ;  impressions of Vietnam  in 2007 ; a colourful piece about Cambodia  which mentions   the impact of  plastic  mines  on  the populace , three men   regularly standing  outside the  Red  Piano restaurant in Siem  Reap, each with a leg missing , one  an arm as well , hopeful of tourist sympathy ;  health  tourism  in  Asia .

Little Darwin made  contact with  the Steads  due  to a  garage sale notice for  their residence in  Endeavour Street , Arcadia,  named after Captain Cook's   vessel , the famous  explorer who  described   the  island   as  Magnetical  Island because of  the  way  his  compass  reacted.

Mrs  Stead  said a plus about moving to Tasmania, where her mother and a brother live  , will  be  that she will not sweat  so much  in  her  regular marathons as she does on  the island . They  bought  from   an artist   an    1827  house  built for the security officers  of the  governor of what was then known as   Van Diemen's Land  at New Norfolk , facing the Derwent River , near Hobart . The ballroom had been converted  to  an art gallery, which  Mrs  Stead may turn into an  antique shop , friends  with  a  container  load in storage  in  Victoria  keen  on the  idea .   

Monday, July 25, 2016

FLYING BUSINESS CASTE : Top Gun Traveller Peter Burleigh Pots Airline Bovine and Pullet Uplifters

A person very close to me used to say "I won’t fly cattle class." This is now  "I only fly Business Class." Note the smug tone. Get the snooty vibe. If you too fly Business Class, you’ll understand the implications. Cattle Class is for the unfortunate untouchables who are self-demeaned and shamed every time they lower their bums into an Economy Class seat.
 
Airlines have successfully reintroduced the ancient Indian system where the human race is categorised into travel castes. After centuries of anti-caste activism and a lessening of its acceptance, airlines introduced "apartheid light" to their loyalty programs. Millions of people embrace the airlines’ loyalty programs. People rush to join the upper levels of privilege and it’s costing them a fortune. Did I say "them"? Of course I meant "us". 
We were hooked from the moment we booked our Business Award seats on Singapore Airlines. We swallowed the elitist message that we’d moved up to the next level of human evolution and there could be no going back. When we discovered we could pre-order Lobster Thermidor for our flight to Paris, our humanitarian values were thrown down the escape slide. To hell with equality, bring me my Lobster – now! 
When discussing our travels with others, we quickly learned to be unpleasantly aloof in conversation with everyone who admitted to flying "Battery Chicken Class". Battery Chickens have more room to move than Economy Class passengers, the major benefit being the chickens are free to relax their sphincters and Economy Class passengers are not (of course there are many unpublicized "mishaps"). Our mantra is: "if you can’t fly Business Class, don’t go at all." 

A seat in Economy Class, or "Untouchables Squat", includes food made from Thong or Stubby Holder offcuts mixed with poisoned insects from insecticide laboratories. It’s no secret – ask any Business Caste passenger, we know the truth. The Flight Attendants, if you ever see one, wear WW2 SS uniforms with "KAPO" armbands. Whenever the passengers become unruly, German Shepherds are brought up from the baggage hold.
 Economy Caste passengers are dusted with lice powder and must splash through an antiseptic footbath on the way to their seats. It’s true. No wonder their area is curtained off so we in Business Caste don’t witness the iniquities suffered by steerage passengers. Instead, we slide our leather seats backwards, order four glasses of the French Haut Medoc red (never order one when you can get two each), put on our noise-reducing stereo headphones and dial up a movie.
The airlines offer "Business Caste Lounges" at most major airports. They vary greatly. At a QANTAS lounge you’ll be lucky to get one of those little plastic squirters of Tomato Sauce and a piece of Melba Toast. A Delta Airlines lounge may offer you a reconstituted Buffalo-Wing-on-a-stick reheated from last week but in the Singapore Business Caste Lounge you can stuff your face…I’m sorry, I meant consume as much Tattinger Champagne, Yum Cha and Curried Conger Eel as is elegant (and you define what’s elegant, if you get my meaning).

For every privilege there’s a price to pay. To retain our elite status we must funnel our entire lives through two credit cards: Singapore Airlines "Krisflyer" Visa and Amex. When we owned a business we charged everything from toilet paper to food for the guard dog to paper clips and thumb tacks…every little thing went on the airline credit cards.
Today nothing has changed. I’m retired but I enter "Points Accumulator" as my employment in each census. We won’t buy stuff that doesn’t attract points. We buy stuff we don’t need. We negotiate with the airline to get the most out of every point. We do our own bookings through Singapore Airline’s labyrinthine website to get a bonus discount of 15% fewer points. It’s hard  work, but it’s worth it.
Should elite Business Caste passengers like us have to scrabble and push to book a seat, you ask? Of course not – however, the upward pressure of the "have-not’s" is undeniable. Passengers trying to "up-caste" as we contemptuously call it are after our seats. To obtain a Business Award seat these days we must book a year ahead and are forced to fly into cold, unfriendly hubs like Zurich Airport where a cup of coffee Singapore Airlines wouldn’t  rinse their toilets with  costs $A12. Of course we  get 2 Krisflyer  points per dollar for  this  brew .

Look with suspicion on other people in the Business Class cabin because no matter how friendly or like-minded they seem, they are predators in this jungle: they will do anything to take your seat in the future. You must be faster and more ruthless than they. I’ll bet Rupert Murdoch and Jerry fly Business Caste whenever they can. In fact I heard Rupert will fly Business and put Jerry into Economy when he’s short a few dollars. I don’t know about Charles and Camilla but she looks like a Business Caste aficionado if I ever saw one.
Even the airline encourages this frenzy. They cancel unused points after a year! To keep our points current we book on as many Singapore Airlines flights as possible and go to places we don’t want to visit, like Sarawak and Diego Garcia.
Recently we were introduced to the legend of so-called First Class by a delusional man who claimed he was an ex Business Caste passenger. First Class is a rumour, and not a very convincing one. Anything better than Business Class – if that was actually possible - would surely be called "Crown Jewels Class" or "Son of God Class "or "Paradise Class."
What does have credence is the (unconfirmed) news that Singapore Airlines will introduce an in-flight Olympic-size heated swimming pool for Business Caste, plus a Steam Room and massagerie, plus a Barbeque suite where a side of beef will be cooked for you  by Hester Blumenthal in person.
Gone are our early flying days when the dollar value of our luggage was higher than the fare we paid. Now all we have to worry about is accidentally confronting an Economy Caste passenger in a distant aisle. Remember to bring your hand sanitizer.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

COLOUR COORDINATED CURLEWS

The colourful Magnet Island  Curlew colony  has  seen the sudden reappearance of   Bluey , so named because he has a  blue band  about a  leg . He  has joined  Yellow Baby , right , who sports a yellow band plus a dash of dark green , like the flag or armband of some Banana Republic, yet is nevertheless still known as  Yellow Baby  instead  of El Supremo .
 
Wearing  an identification  band  indicates  the bird was probably saved   from  a  near death  or  dangerous situation  as a  chick by  a  carer, of which  there  are  a devoted  number on  the  island . 
 
Another banded  Curlew , left, is Whitey. In the  case of Bluey , he had gone missing a long time ago , so  his return is  a matter of rejoicing   by  Bev,   from  the Man  Friday Mexican  restaurant,  who feared  the  worst. 
  
Meanwhile , here at the Little Darwin ranch, our resident  Curlews have produced another   chick [ above]  with its mother . A  second egg disappeared  for  some  unknown reason , the suggestion being that it could have been taken by  a  Currawong  which had  been  worrying  the  nesting  birds. Ever since the chick  was born it  has been trotting  about  day and night , like the Road Runner , or  a  Russian athlete .
 
Other Curlews on the island are known to be sitting on eggs while some are showing signs of  going  broody . A Coucal was seen passing through the backyard bringing back memories of  cheese loving   Dracula , who also suddenly disappeared . Bev and the Queen of the Jungle  had looked after Dracula  from when he was  young .
Dracula soaking up the sun  before he went missing .