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Came a Hot Friday

About six months ago I was in Melbourne. After seeing the Gustave Moreau exhibition at the NGV Ingrid and I took a ferry ride down (or it may have been up) the Yarra to Williamstown. I took some pictures along the way. It was hot though. I had to have a beer at the pub afterwards.


Dying like a bridegroom.

The 21st May is the anniversary of the execution of James Graham, Marquis of Montrose (1612 – 1650). He led his army of Highlanders and Irishmen to victory after victory over the Scots Covenanting enemies of King Charles I. Montrose was eventually betrayed and hanged on a thirty-foot gibbet at Edinburgh Market Cross. It is reported that he went to his death ‘like a bridegroom’  with even one of the hangmen in tears.

The following is attributed to him:  

‘He either fears his fate too much

Or his deserts too small

That dares not put it to the touch

To gain or lose it all’





A little bit of NZ


‘Free as a fish’ (the Christchurch Literary Trail).

This is a short journey, though there are a lot of streets named for famous writers (chiefly English) in the city. This little tour goes from Kipling St across Burke and Ruskin streets and ends up at the Addington cemetery where I plucked a sprig of rosemary from beside Daniel Reese’s grave. No-one else was on the trail.


Horotane Valley

It’s autumn, we’ve had earthquakes and moss grows on the south side of mailboxes. The fruit trees are hedging their bets. The dog made an exhibition of herself when a fellow drove past towing a trailer. Or the exhibition may have been me, shrieking like a banshee at an elderly dog who should know better. I didn’t photograph the sign advertising tomatoes at ‘cheap prices’. I’ll be having a word with the growers about that instead. But as well as walking along and taking photographs and yelling at the dog I thought about stuff. Oh, well. It’s rather grey today.


Lyttelton’s demolition.

Lyttelton is now without the Volcano restaurant, famous (among other things) for being run by a man who played a character called Count Homogenized on a children’s TV programme. I let a secret slip there too, in 1997. I still feel bad about that. Next door to the Volcano was the Lava Bar. Their margaritas were excellent. The Gound Deli is rubble, the Royal Hotel is nearly gone despite the ‘Yes, We’re Open’ sign. The Loons is open but it doesn’t look very safe. St Joseph’s is red-stickered and the Lyttelton Coffee Co. appears to be set to go. The Wunderbar gets to live on but I’m not sure where. I have never been to the Harbourlight Theatre and I’ll never get to go. God Save The Queen is red-stickered, and the Lyttelton Museum doesn’t look at all sound. It had a fascinating collection on offer. I hope it has been salvaged. The cannon that lived outside has gone. And the Timeball Station is of no use to anyone on a ship who wants to set their chronometer.

I was told that the cranes on the wharf jumped their tracks in the earthquake but are far too heavy to be manoeuvred back on to them. There is no equipment suitable to shift them.

And the trip through the 2km Lyttelton tunnel is a bit more exciting than it used to be. The front of the Tunnel Control building, sporting thick distorted steel bars, and behind large shipping containers, is testament to the danger posed by falling boulders. My normal route to Heathcote is blocked by more shipping containers placed along the motorway to form a shield against even more rocks being shed by Castle Rock.

It’s all a bit hard to take in.   


April 18th

Buckingbong Primary School was a very small school in Buckingbong State Forest (NSW) just beside ‘Woodlands’, the family property since 1909. Nothing is left of the school now except for a few silvered and splintery stumps of wood and a stone with a plaque. The school closed sometime during World War II, I think, probably shortly after my father was there. They had a nice line in bookplates for their prizes.

My father turned 79 today. I don’t think he knows how old he is, and I don’t know if he remembers anything of his primary school days tucked away in the bush. Probably not.