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Friday, November 24, 2017

Opportunity shop knocks!


Even during my restless years, I belonged to several book clubs, including Reader's Digest and TIME-LIFE, whose publications cost the usual $29.95 (plus postage & handling) which then was a week's housekeeping money (or the cost of a lavish dinner-for-two to which I never treated myself).

When it was time to relocate, I would put the books into boxes (which cost money) and the boxes into storage (which cost more money).

Then, twenty years later, when all my travelling was done, I got the boxes out of storage, only to discover that many of those books I had so carefully boxed and stored, could be bought at an op-shop for 10 cents, or perhaps 20 cents, but never more than a dollar. (And ditto for all those vinyls, those fragile black things handled with kid gloves lest they got scratched. They are on sale now, unscratched, for just ten cents!)

Another Op-shop Tip:

Don't spend $15 to dryclean your old suit.

Donate it to the Salvation Army instead.

They'll clean it and put it on a hanger.

Next morning you buy it back for $5.

If I had my time over again, I would buy nothing new as I can hardly image a world without op-shops. Generally staffed by kindly older ladies - click here - , they're little rays of sunshine amidst the primarily drab and boring shopping experiences of the twenty-first century. Apart from large, wildly expensive department stores like David Jones and Myers, where else can you go that sells such a wide variety of goods? If you're lucky the ladies might even offer you a cuppa and a biscuit.

Throughout history people have always worn second hand clothes and treasured pre-loved things. In most families (and in my family in particular!), younger siblings (and I was the youngest!) have long been the recipients of their older sisters' and brothers' hand-me-down clothes, while donating unwanted garments and household paraphernalia to the needy has been practiced by those who are more privileged. While once upon a time such benevolence was generally practiced informally, over the last several decades shops dedicated to selling pre-loved wares have sprung up in cities and towns, large and small, all around Australia.

I can't remember when I discovered my first op-shop. I remember once seeing a funny shop with funny-looking people going in and coming out but it was quite some time later, when op-shops had gone mainstream and into main street, that I entered a store which had that peculiar odour created by used clothing and household items within.

In days gone by, if I needed a new belt to accommodate that expanding waistline, I would have gone into a men's wear store and happily paid $20. These days, I go into an op-shop and choose from a range of real leather belts with real brass buckles, and never pay more than a dollar. As for books, I have found books I never knew existed and never paid more than a dollar for them.

Once such treasures are discovered, it boosts one’s endorphin levels, thus creating euphoria which can last for hours or days, depending on the perceived value of the find (and relative purchase price). A word of warning though: repeated discoveries of this nature will lead to the addiction of op-shopping!



To find your nearest op-shop, go to opshop.org;
to meet your nearest op-shop addict, come to "Riverbend"! ☺


Thursday, November 23, 2017

Will it be a gusher?


A small drilling rig pulled up outside "Riverbend". Are they going to drill for oil? No, they are merely taking soil samples for the proposed water and sewerage system. What a relief!

Or maybe not! I mean, why not keep the existing septic and the best-possible water supply straight from Heaven? It's free and never fails.

But, I guess, just like government itself, it'll be imposed on us whether we want it or not - and all in the name of progress.



Memories of Rabaul

Rabaul Pharmacy in Mango Avenue in 1970


My memories of Rabaul are about as hazy as this old photograph of John 'Pills' Mills, the resident pharma-cist, standing outside Rabaul Pharmacy with his staff, none of whom I remember except for his attractive Chinese assistant standing to his right.

I was a young audit clerk with the firm of chartered accountants of Hancock, Woodward & Neill, and we kept the accounts for Rabaul Pharmacy, including their debtors ledger. Our backdoors faced each other and John's staff regularly visited our office to check on some customer accounts.

I remember only too well the many times my concentration was broken by the arrival of his attractive assistant. Even my colleague Grahame, who was usually dead to the world until halfway through the morning after the night before, would show faint signs of life and his eyelids briefly fluttered open when she walked past his desk.

It must've been during one of her visits that I prematurely signed off on the balance sheet for Kessa Plantation without showing the company's authorised capital. Within days, it came back from the Sydney Stock Exchange with a 'please correct' note attached. What embarrassment!

Within months, I had moved on to greener - and better-paid - pastures on the island of Bougainville where I became senior auditor on the world's then biggest construction job, the Bougainville Copper Project.

Nobody broke my concentration on Bougainville Island, least of all any of those queers who worked as limp-wristed 'typists' on what was in the beginning a very hard-working and hard-drinking men-only environment.


P.S. I've been told by the man himself that the "attractive assistant" I'm thinking of was Claudia Tang, a Rabaul Chinese and pharmacy post-grad from Sydney University who in the 1970s worked for John Mills, but that this photo was taken earlier in 1967. Bang goes another good story!☺


The female Lawrence of Arabia


There’s no getting out of the conclusion that we have made an immense failure here. The system must have been far more at fault than anything that I or anyone else suspected. It will have to be fundamentally changed and what that may mean exactly I don’t know. No one knows exactly what they do want, least of all themselves, except that they don’t want us."

This is what Gertrude Bell wrote in 1920 in one of her "Letters from Baghdad" about Iraq which she helped to shape. It could have been written yesterday. As the architect of an unstable Iraq in the middle of an unstable Middle East, she must take some responsibility for the mess Iraq is in today. If she is a heroine, it is not as a visionary but as a wit-ness to the absurdity and horror of building nations for peoples with other loyalties, models, and priorities.

Bell was found dead in her room in Baghdad in 1926. It is believed that she had taken an overdose of sleeping pills, though that may have been an accident: she left no note and had asked her maid to wake her. It was a fittingly mysterious end to an extraordinary and exotic life - one worthy of the title "Queen of the Desert", a film as lavish as Lawrence of Arabia, and - just to get you interested - starring Nicole Kidman.

It's today's entertainment in the 'Clubhouse' by the pond. I'm afraid you have to do with this trailer, but you can always buy the DVD on ebay.



Twenty-four Years of Sundays


On the 23rd of November 1993 the purchase of "Riverbend" from Peter Alan & Alma Rose Freame was settled.

Mr & Mrs Freame had bought "Riverbend" on the 4th of September 1989 from Judith Gertrude MacPherson who - with her late husband Robert George MacPherson who passed away on the 27th of May 1989 - bought it on the 17th of July 1967 from Adelaide Neate.

Adelaide Neate née Schofield who was born in 1888 at "Orange Grove"
which is the adjoining rural property. Her father was Nelligen's ferryman.
Later she also became owner of the "Steam Packet Hotel"

Adelaide Neate of Orange Grove is the first recorded owner of the whole of "Riverbend". She acquired legal ownership on the 2nd of July 1956 by the simple expedient of swearing on a stack of bibles that she had occupied the land since 1942 and paying the outstanding council rates of £47.5.10.

However, according to an old parchment title deed (referred to in Delves & Wain's letter as "the title deed ... which you might like to retain for historical purposes"), a minor by the name of William Abraham Benjamin Richardson acquired allotment 2 of section 2, being a parcel of land three roods and twenty-three perches in size, on the 25th of July 1864. That equates to approx. 3,600 square metres, or just under an acre, of Riverbend's present-day seven-plus acres.
(A rood equals 1012㎡; a perch equals 25.29㎡; 40 perches make up 1 rood)

On the 21st of March 1941 William Abraham Benjamin Richardson sold this suburban allotment to Adelaide Neate, then of Greenwell Point, and already a widow.

Adelaide Neate sold it on the 1st of July 1952 to a Canberra public servant by the name of George Frederick Thomas. Then things get a bit murky because on the 2nd of December 1958 the retired Robert George MacPherson of Harbord shows up as the registered proprietor. Phew!

Anyway, I am now the proud and undisputed owner of Lots 1 through 7 of Section 2, plus Lot 1 DP 126109 (which is the old access road that runs along the back of the seven lots), plus Licence 199309 for a jetty 9.6m x 1.3m, sliding ramp 4.5m x 0.5m, and pontoon 5.0m x 2.5m (with supporting arms 6.0m long).

I paid a fair bit more than Adelaide Neate's £47.5.10 for all that and, after twenty-four years, am the second-longest owner of "Riverbend" after William Abraham Benjamin Richardson (who's also the owner with the longest name ☺).

Twenty-four years of Sundays! Maybe there's something in the water - or maybe it's just old age! ☺

According to war records held with the National Archives in Canberra, Adelaide Neate's husband James Wilkins Neate, born on 13th April 1883 and a bricklayer by trade, joined the Australian Imperial Force on the 26th of April 1916, served in France as a gunner, was invalided out suffering from broncho pneumonia, and returned to Australia on the 31st December 1918 aboard HMAT Sardinia, after which he was discharged on the 16th of February 1919 due to medical unfitness.

Here's a letter written by Adelaide Neate, dated 14th October 1917, which confirms that she already lived at "Orange Grove" at that time: