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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

It's all Greek to me

 

Mind you, I don't care what they do, so long as they don't do it in the street and frighten the horses, although I suspect it's now so much 'in-your-face' (or wherever) that even my local swimming pool is no longer safe from it.

If nothing else, it'll deal very nicely with the world's crushing population explosion as just one generation of all-out Greek homo (as in homo-sexuality) will ensure that the Latin homo (as in homo sapiens) will go from extant to extinct.

So go and vote whichever way you like. I don't care! The whole world is up the Khyber Pass anyway! Luckily, I'm 72 and not the other way round (read this whichever way you like ☺).


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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Lotus Eater

 

Most people, the vast majority in fact, lead the lives that circumstances have thrust upon them, and though some repine, looking upon themselves as round pegs in square holes, and think that if things had been different they might have made a much better showing, the greater part accept their lot, if not with serenity, at all events with resignation. They are like train-cars travelling forever on the selfsame rails. They go backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards, inevitably, till they can go no longer and then are sold as scrap-iron. It is not often that you find a man who has boldly taken the course of his life into his own hands. When you do, it is worth while having a good look at him." So begins W. Somerset Maugham's short story "The Lotus Eater" - keep reading here.

The title, of course, is a reference to an episode in Homer’s Odyssey in which the travelers encounter a land bearing lotus plants so irresistible that its visitors never leave, but the character was based on Maugham’s friend and lover, John Ellingham Brooks, who came to Capri as part of an exodus of homosexuals from England in the wake of Oscar Wilde’s conviction, in 1895, for "acts of gross indecency". Brooks, however, escaped the fate of Maugham’s character by marrying a Philadelphia heiress who, though she quickly divorced him, left Brooks an annuity that allowed him to live out his days on Capri, playing the piano and walking his fox terrier.

Maugham never approved of Brooks' indolent life in Capri, and wrote, "For twenty years he amused himself with thinking what he would write when he really got down to it, and for another twenty with what he would have written if the fates had been kinder."

I'm a fan of Maugham's writing and hope you find the story as fascinating as I did. As Maugham would have said, "Merci pour visiter mon blog!"


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Monday, September 25, 2017

The salt of the earth

John and Elizabeth Gamauf at their wedding in 1965

 

After my return to Australia in 1985, I tried to settle back into beachside suburbia at Cape Pallarenda just north of Townsville but the old magic of just walking back in and picking up from where I had left off had deserted me.

I eventually landed a job large enough for my ambitions in far-away Sydney, but not before I had made friends with two Townsville locals, Elizabeth and John Gamauf, who at the time were the heart and soul of the budding German Club. I spent many happy hours at their crowded home in Railway Estate, with Elizabeth trying to encourage me to stay in town because, as she put it, "something always turns up".

Which was pretty much how she viewed the world because something always did, just as twenty years earlier a young migrant from Austria on a round-Australia-trip had ridden his motorbike into Home Hill, a small place a hundred kilometres south of Townsville, and swept her off her feet. Not that everything went exactly to plan. "I married a migrant in the hope of seeing the world and got as far as Townsville", she once wistfully remarked.

 

Populate or perish: the Gamauf family sometime in the early 80s

 

That migrant became her husband John who'd come out, just like me but eight years earlier and slightly older, as an 'assisted migrant' from his native Salzburg aboard the TOSCANA. Whether six children had been part of his plan is unknown but it certainly fitted in with Immigration Minister Arthur Calwell's post-WWII rallying cry of 'populate or perish'.

I stayed in touch with Elizabeth and John, and briefly enjoyed their Austro-Australian hospitality again during a short visit in 1999, but, sadly, they have both since passed away, John in September 2015 and Elizabeth far too soon a few years earlier.

Thanks to them and their six children and many more grandchildren, Australia is not likely to perish, and nor am I likely to forget them. They were the salt of the earth with hearts of gold. May they rest in peace!


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Sunday, September 24, 2017

All the news that's fit to print

 

There isn't much that's really news: the two guys with funny haircuts still want to blow the whole world to smithereens, "Mutti" Merkel will get another four years to turn Germany into Germanistan, and Sarah Hanson-Young wants to bring 20,000 Rohingya refugees to Australia to be trained as brain surgeons. I don't mind the Royinga refugees so much; I just don't think they'll find enough brains in this country to operate on.

As for same-sex marriage, I'm not sure it's worth getting all upset about. I mean, I've been having the same sex for far more years than I'm able to remember and yet I don't goosestep in the street. So for a bit more 'uplifting' news, I leave you with this article from the New York Times:

Have a good weekend and don't forget the Aeroguard!


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Saturday, September 23, 2017

Duped again?

All that's left of the Marquis de Rays' utopian dream: a millstone in the jungle

 

New France’ was a utopian society founded in 1880 by the con-man Marquis de Rays on the island now known as New Ireland in the Bismarck Archipelago of present-day Papua New Guinea.

He launched this scheme in 1877 and soon hundreds of investors poured in money, and altogether 570 would-be utopian settlers joined up. The marquis deliberately misled the colonists, distributing literature claiming a bustling settlement existed at Port Breton, near present-day Kavieng, with numerous public buildings, wide roads, and rich, arable land.

Instead of finding this Utopia, the colonists, mostly French, German and Italian, found a swampy, malarial-infested wasteland, surrounded by cannibalistic neighbours. Some were killed while others died of disease and starvation before the survivors made their ways to Australia, New Zealand, other Pacific islands, or back to Europe. For the full story of Marquis de Rays’ audacious con, read "Utopian Fraud: The Marquis de Rays and La Nouvelle-France".

All that's left of 'New France' today is the above millstone which is on display in neighbouring Rabaul and whose inscription reads, "This Mill Stone was landed at Port Breton, New Ireland, by settlers brought out by the Marquis de Rays Expedition in the year 1880. Salvaged and brought to Rabaul in 1936. Survived the Japanese occupation and Allied operations in 1942-1945".

 

All that's left of Robert Bryce's utopian dream: a washing machine in the jungle
For more photos, click here (it's all in German but the photos speak for themselves)

 

‘New France' is arguably the biggest fraudulent utopian scheme ever perpetrated but, as they say, history repeats itself and the dream of a life of ease on a tropical island lives on unabated as evidenced by such phantom paradises as Robert Bryce's "Cocomo Village" in the Kingdom of Tonga. Since 2009 it has attracted close to a hundred dreamers from all over the world - see here - , none of them living there yet. And perhaps never will, although one young family has just moved into the jungle, complete with washing machine. Wife and kids have since left again, leaving hubby behind with the washing machine.


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