Monthly Archives: November 2016

Movie: Sully

[ Postscript at the start: Oh dear, I wrote this review months ago and forgot to post it! Sully is still on at a couple of theatres so I guess this is just one of my ‘hurry up because it’s finishing soon’ posts]

How striking that two of the major news stories of the twenty-first century in a visual sense should occur in New York: that footage of the plane flying into the second Twin Tower and  the eventual collapse of the towers, and the landing of US Airways Flight 1549 onto the Hudson River on the cold morning of  Jan. 15, 2009 after striking a flock of geese. The movie  ‘Sully’ tells the story of  Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger whose skills saved the 155 passengers and crew on board, and the review that took place after the incident.  In this telling, within days of his heroic action his reputation is impugned and his skills questioned by a narrow-minded and legalistic board of enquiry, blinded by their stupidity and determination to turn him from hero into an incompetent egotist.

It’s quite an achievement to turn what was about six minutes of action into a full-length film, and you find yourself cheering for this good man who has been victimized by the system. But my scepticism-antennae began quivering at the end of what had been an entertaining movie with the patriotic declaration that “New York’s finest” had been there, along with Sully, to save the day.  Yes, if you had to land a plane on a frozen river anywhere in the world, you’d want it to be in a first-world city with beefed-up emergency services. But, remembering that Clint Eastwood directed this movie, was it true?

Well, as this article in the Guardian indicates: not exactly.  The film suggests that the inquiry in a packed room commenced immediately but in reality it did not commence until some months later, and there were only six people in the room and not the bank of onlookers shown in the movie.  Of the simulation flights ordered by the enquiry, only half made it to alternative airports. The investigators, not Sully, asked the simulation pilots to delay before attempting the emergency landings.

“Does it matter?” asked my father, who very much enjoyed the movie.  Stephen Cass, the author of the Guardian article asks the same question.

But does Sully’s portrayal of NTSB investigators as bullying incompetents matter? After all, whenever a movie based on true events is released, there are always cries of “it didn’t happen that way!” This occurs because of the inevitable changes required when dramatizing real-life events. These include creating composite characters, eliding side issues and compressing chronologies.

It certainly seems that great attention was paid to the details of the cockpit and the emergency procedures on board the aircraft.  But is there a bigger truth?

In evaluating such storytelling decisions, what’s important is whether or not the top-line takeaway is fair….It’s not hard to see why this tack appealed to strident libertarian Eastwood. In its populist zeal, the American right wing has been increasingly unwilling to accept the legitimacy of any branch of federal government. Sully meshes perfectly with a worldview where petty and clueless civil servants obstruct real Americans from being great.

The story of the landing of Flight 1549 is a great one in its own right.  I enjoyed it while I was watching it, but I feel cheated by the politics that have been superimposed onto it.

[Postscript: I recently heard a movie reviewer mention that in a movie ‘based on true facts’, the rule of thumb is that the most memorable scene of the movie is the one that didn’t actually happen. I must remember that.]


‘White Dog’ by Peter Temple


2003, 337 p.

I think I’m just going to have to admit that I don’t really like Peter Temple’s books very much.  I’m already ambivalent about the fictional crime genre and Temple’s books, with their abbreviated dialogue and huge range of incidental characters, just confuse me.  I looked back at my review of Truth, another of his novels, and I could just as easily cut-and-paste the comments that I made about that book into this review too.

Just to add to the confusion, the ABC has recently screened another Jack Irish series that uses some parts of White Dog, but not the whole book. So not only did I have Guy Pearce firmly embedded in my head (no hardship, I must say) but I found myself half remembering some aspects of the plot and misremembering others that appeared in the television show only.

Like the other Jack Irish novels, White Dog is steeped in local Melbourne colour, very familiar to north-of-the-Yarra inner suburban Melburnians (as I am). However, it’s a rather curmudgeonly approach, dismissive of hipsters and all-day breakfasts and harking back to a 1980-1990s cool, and even further back to the glory days of Fitzroy Football Club.  It’s all thoroughly recognizable to a Melburnian but I don’t know that it would add much for readers elsewhere.

So all in all, not a particularly successful read.

Sourced from: CAE bookgroups

My rating: 6.5

My November Brunswick (again)

For someone who has rarely been to Brunswick, I found myself back there again for the third time in November. This time we were there for the ‘Marking Time‘ art project, produced by Jessie Stanley, artist-in-residence as part of the MoreArts program of the Moreland City Council. Based in Moreland Railway Station waiting room, the project runs between October 23 and December 19 and involves a number of site-specific works and events (see the project’s Facebook page for more information). Today was a Timewalk – the first of two- that went from Jewell Station to Gilpin Park.

It would probably be more correct to think of this walk as a performance rather than a historical walk as such (partial as I am to historic walks). Ms Stanley read from a carefully and quite beautifully written script, starting off with a contemplation on the nature of ‘place’ and ending, some 45 minutes later and about 1/2 kilometre away, with an enacted description of deep time.  She asked that we undertake the walk in silence, focussing on the bricks that surrounded us, with any interaction only at the end.  I’m not really sure that this stricture was necessary, although I suppose that it enabled her to control the event as an integrated performance.  Her presentation concentrated on the brickworks of the area in particular, and not a generalized history of Brunswick that might have been given, for example, by a member of Brunswick Community History Group.  Instead, her focus was on the brickworks, most particularly Hoffman’s Brickworks, and the dominance of clay and bricks on the economic and social fabric of Phillipstown (the earlier name for Brunswick).  Certainly, walking around the post2000 redevelopment of the former Hoffman’s Brickworks site, you get a sense of the dominance of the chimneys and sirens of a large brick factory.

The walk ended at Gilpin Park, built on the site of one of the former quarries that provided the clay for the brickworks.  It was here that she returned to her reflections on deep time, and the wafer-thin segment of white settler time in what we know now as Brunswick.  Somehow the newness of the park with its adolescent-aged gum tree plantings captured this well.


There is a second  walk, covering different places but similar themes,  on Saturday 10th December, starting from Clifton Park at 11.00 a.m.  It is free, but you need to book through  (0419 441 195)


Movie: Embrace of the Serpent

I need to sit with this movie for a while. Filmed in black and white, it is the story of two journeys along the Amazon, thirty years apart.  The first is in 1909, with a very ill German ethnologist, Theodor Koch-Grunberg being rowed up the river by a westernized local, Manduca, whom he had saved from the rubber plantations.  He is seeking the the hallucinogenic plant yakruna  to save his life.  The second journey is in 1940 with the ethnobiologist Richard Evans Schultes also traversing the sinuous river, armed with the published edition of Koch-Grunberg’s journals.  Both men, some thirty years apart, encounter Karamakate, who lives alone separate from his tribe, and demand that he guide them on their quest.  Karamakate is a young man in 1909, fired up by the injustices of the rubber plantation owners; by 1940 he is much older, forgetful but even more disgusted by the cruelty and appropriation. With shades of Apocalypse Now, the strict religion introduced with the white man, with its abuse of children and obliteration of culture and language,  has warped into an even more alarming violent, messianic cult.

Its critique of colonialism and capitalism is trenchant, and its photography is stunning.  I still need to think about it.  [Post-script: it’s no longer showing at the cinema. Obviously I sat and thought about it for too long!]

‘The Bush’ by Don Watson


2014, 378 p & notes

I’m almost embarrassed to think how many times I have borrowed this book from the library and had to return it still unread once my renewal limit was reached. I first borrowed it after it received Premiers’ Awards in both NSW and Queensland and it was announced as the Indie Book of the Year in 2015.  I borrowed it again months later, but then decided to read Don Watson’s earlier book Caledonia Australis instead (see my review here). And now, after multiple renewals and many months, I have finally finished it.

I was wrong to see Caledonia Australis and this most recent book, The Bush as companion pieces.  The earlier book (originally written in 1984) is a product of Don Watson the historian, but The Bush, with its subtitle ‘Travels in the heart of Australia’ is more similar to Watson’s American Journeys or his more recent Quarterly Essay The Enemy WithinIn both these books Watson travels to different locations and milieus, talking with people, looking out the window, sniffing the air.  This is very much the way that you need to read The Bush. It was only when I realized that, and stopped looking for a clearly defined argument, that I began to enjoy it.

I only found the map, too, once I sat down to write this review, and I feel rather annoyed at myself for overlooking it earlier.  The map shows the breadth of his travels, extending almost 3/4 around the circumference of Australia and leaching inland.

He calls his book The Bush but as he points out, that short word is too small to contain all that ‘the bush’ evokes:

the bush is any one of many different kinds of forest, scrub, woodland, savannah, rangeland, grassland and desert, made up of countless species in countless combinations of shape, colour, light and atmosphere so ephemeral and various that, unable to cope with them, our collective imagination has rendered all as bush, and often reduced it to a river red gum combined with a flock of sheep.

Collapsing into a single word or image tropic rainforest and mulga, and all the ecosystems in between, is a natural enough convenience, but the bush describes much more than vegetation and its native creatures… It has equal measures of what was there before Europeans came and what is there now.  It is what we have done to the natural environment and what it has done to us.  The world outside us and the world within.  Wilderness, home and garden.  Temple, nursery and slaughterhouse. (p.69- 70)

The book starts with the personal: his grandfather striding across the paddock to his cowshed, and his grandmother sweeping the back veranda. Watson is a country boy (and already there’s the slippage in terminology between country/bush) from Gippsland, and in the final chapter he tells us that some forty-odd years later he has returned to the bush, albeit the very different bush of the Macedon Ranges. In between the chapters range across the Mallee and Wimmera, the Murray-Darling Basin, the Mitchell Grass Down and the West Australian wheatbelt.  The chapters are arranged, however, at a human emotional level as well as a geographical one: “The Bush Means Work” or “Striving to Stay in Existence” “Farming the Flood Plain” or “The Bush Will Not Lie Down”.

Each chapter starts with an italicized paragraph of subheadings to signpost the content to come, similar to those found in an old-fashioned novel (I’m sure that there’s a word for this, but I don’t know what it is).  These prefacing epigraphs (is that the word I’m looking for?) reflect the meandering, ruminative nature of the chapters, which branch off and diverge into unexpected places.  There are many lists, particularly of trees, grasses, birds and fish. There are also many commentators along the way: the present-day people he has met on his journey, explorers and visitors to Australia who diarized their impressions, settlers who documented their memoirs, historians who have responded to these primary sources, and fictional characters crafted by mainly Australian writers drawing from and replenishing the well of the Australian imagination about the bush.

For, as he says:

The Australian bush is both real and imaginary. Real, in that it grows in various unmistakable bush-like ways, and dies, rots, burns and grows into the bush again; real, in harbouring life.  Imaginary, in that among the life it harbours is the life of the Australian mind. It is, by many accounts, the source of the nation’s idea of itself…. The bush is a social construct as well as an ecological one: as much as the things that grow and live there, we define it by the people who inhabit it. (p66)

Embedded within the landscape are people, both Indigenous and European. There is no one ‘Indigenous’ chapter here, tacked onto the front or the back of the body of the book.  Instead, the Indigenous and European presences are interwoven throughout the chapters, sometimes existing side-by-side, at time working at cross-purposes, sometimes in a state of active hostility.

Much of the book reflects struggle with physical elements like soil, water, fire but its final words (before an oddly placed appendix) are those of in the realm of the emotions:

It can do no harm to settle on the public mind a deeper and more honest knowledge of the land than anything that myth and platitude allow, or to encourage love to overrun indifference… We need a relationship with the land that does not demand submission from either party, that is built more on knowledge than the hunger to possess, and finds the effort to understand and preserve as gratifying as the effort to exploit and command.  In the end it is possible to love and admire the bush… Except we need to love it as it is and can be, not the way it was and never will be again.  (p.373)

I enjoyed this book so much more once I started to look at it as a series of essays, rather than an argument in itself. They are beautifully written, and would lend themselves well to being read aloud, and being read over and over. You don’t need to read it in one go, and you don’t need to read it only once.  It’s the sort of book that belongs on your own bookshelf  and it will, on mine- especially now that it has been released in paperback.

Sourced from: Yarra Plenty Regional Library  (again and again)

My rating: 8.5



Movie: Poi E

When the film finished, the audience clapped.  Need I say more?

To be honest, I’d never heard of the song Poi E even though this film seemed to think that everyone in the world had.  Released in 1984, it reached No 1 on the charts in New Zealand and was performed at a Royal Command performance. The lyrics were written by Maori-speaker Ngoi Pēwhairangi and the music, a blend of traditional Maori song with a steady  beat, was written by Dalvanius Prime, a supporting artist for acts like Isaac Hayes.  He did not speak Maori himself, and was largely disengaged from his community until returning home and working with the local Patea Maori Club in a small town threatened with the closure of the local meat works.

It’s a terrific documentary about language and culture; the interviews are funny and engaging and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Movie: Equity

It’s good, if rather distasteful, to see that female investment bankers can be just as greedy and ambitious as male investment bankers.   I must confess that I still don’t know what an IPO is, but I understood enough to know that these women were mixing it with the Gordon Geckos of the world in a rarefied world of glossy, hotel-like interiors and lots of alcohol. They worked all hours too but were rarely forgiven for their mistakes and had to use their sexuality as well as their brains. Thank God I live a boring little suburban life.

This Week in Port Phillip 1841: 9-16 November 1841

Mr Arden breathes again

You might remember that back in early October, Judge Willis had George Arden, the editor of the Port Phillip Gazette, ‘bound over’ with recognizances of £400 and two lots of sureties of £200 pounds as a form of editorial good behaviour bond to ensure that he stopped printing attacks on Judge Willis in his newspaper.

The three newspaper editors spoke to Governor Gipps about the matter when he was in Melbourne, and on 8 November, now that the ‘excitement’ had subsided and in a spirit of post-Gubnatorial bonhomie, Willis announced that he would annul the recognizances:

My object, which was peace, is accomplished… I will only say, that [the recognizances] they have ever appeared to me inconsistent with the respect due to the office of the Resident Judge, and contrary to that due and equal administration of justice, which the Resident Judge is bound to see observed. I am quite willing, however that they should be buried in oblivion; I merely refer to them that my conduct may in every respect be understood.  I wish to act on all occasions with that candour, which I hope to meet with from others, and which should ever pervade all intercourse in civilized society..[ PPH 9/11/41]

George Arden himself wrote in his own newspaper in an editorial headed ‘The Last Defence of Judge Willis’:

…the feud existing between the Press and the Resident Judge is apparently closed. Mr Justice Willis has placed himself on his last defence and, although his remarks were utterly uncalled for, and certainly unrequired, we have no wish that he should not enjoy the full benefit of his explanation… We do not place that extreme value on enjoying the ultimate position of an argument- which is evidently clung to in the most tenacious manner by Mr Willis- and care not, therefore, if he have, as he desires to have, the last word… We have all, however, our imperfections- none more so than the gentleman who has in this instance been brought into so protracted a struggle with the power of a Judge and the talent of a Willis… [PPG 10/11/41]

So, all’s well that ends well.  For now.

The Commissioners for the Melbourne Market

The elections over, the new Commissioners for the Melbourne Market met to discuss future prospects for the market.  At the time there was only one general market (later known as the Western Market), taking up the city block bounded by Market, Collins and William Streets and Flinders Lane. It would remain there for ninety years. There was an informal arrangement that cattleyards close to Flagstaff Hill could be used as a temporary cattle market and La Trobe agreed that a site for a permanent cattle market should be selected on the Sydney Road, in a line with Elizabeth Street.  Land was set aside on the present site of St Paul’s Cathedral for a Hay and Corn Market, but this later shifted to a site  known as ‘Haymarket’ on the corner of Exhibition (then Stephen Street) and Little Collins Street on 1 August 1846. This expanded to a larger market known as the Eastern Market on the block bounded by Exhibition (Stephen), Little Collins and Bourke Street.

In the short term, it was decided to fence in the Market Reserve at the Market/Collins/William/Flinders Lane site  (i.e. the Western Market) and to divide it into two or more compartments and allow stands to be erected. Rules for the market were promulgated. The market would open by the ringing of a bell at 7.00 a.m. from 1 September- 28 (or 29th in leap year) February, and an hour later at 8.00 a.m. from 1 March- 31 August.  The market would close at sunset, but articles for sale on the Wednesday and Saturday market days could be admitted at any hours of the night before.  The north-east portion of the market would be set aside for the sale of apparel, hardware, crockery and groceries; the south-east portion would house butchers and dairy foods, eggs and fish.  Potatoes would be sold at the north west corner, and in the south west corner would be fruit, vegetables and garden produce.

The second municipal body in Port Phillip

As a proud Heidelbergian, I wish I could brag that the Heidelberg Road Trust was the oldest municipal body in the Port Phillip District.  Unfortunately it’s not true.  But it does run a close second, with the election of the Trustees on 16 November taking place just fourteen days after the election of the Market Commissioners on 2 November.  As Max Lay writes in the e-melbourne encyclopedia:

The road to Heidelberg was Melbourne’s first major road. It originally began at the top of Bourke Street, tracked across to Smith Street, followed the top of the Collingwood escarpment and then (as Plenty Road and later Great Heidelberg Road) followed the current routes of Queen’s Parade, Heidelberg Road, Upper Heidelberg Road and Lower Plenty Road. The route was well established by 1839, surveyed through to Eltham by Townsend in 1840 and opened in 1841.

On 17th November, the Port Phillip Gazette reported:

HEIDELBERG ROAD In pursuance of an advertisement from the Police Magistrate, convening a meeting of the proprietors along the line of the Plenty Road, for the purpose of electing trustees for the same, a meeting was held at the Exchange Rooms yesterday at two p.m. W Verner, Esq. JP presiding magistrate.  The following gentlemen were duly elected trustees in conformity with the Act of Council:- T. Wills Esq, W. Verner Esq, G Porter Esq. We believe this to be the first and only instance of the Act of Council having been brought into operation, with reference to the construction of  parish roads.

‘The Tasmanians’ or ‘Van Diemen’s Land Blacks’

Over the last few weeks, news had been percolating into Melbourne about an “outrage” at the Coal Mining Company’s station at Cape Paterson where two of the “Van Diemen’s Land aborigines”  named Bob and Jack, brought over by the Chief Inspector George Augustus Robinson, had burnt settlers’ huts and turned out the women (PPH 15/10/41).  This was one of the first newspaper references to the small group of Tasmanian indigenous people that Kate Auty and Lynette Russell have called ‘The Tasmanians’ in their recent book Hunt Them, Hang Them, instead of the term ‘Van Diemen’s Land Blacks’ which was more current at the time. ‘Bob’ and ‘Jack’ were Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheener, of whom I have written previously.

On 11 November, the Port Phillip Patriot reported:

THE BLACKS. Mr Powlett, the Commissioner of Crown Lands, returned to town on Friday evening last, after having been unsuccessful in the attempt to capture Mr Robinson’s Van Diemen’s Land blacks, who have recently been committing serious depredations in the neighbourhood of Western Port.  On one occasion Mr Powlett and his party had the ruffians actually in view, but the intervention of a low swampy scrub between the pursuers and pursued, enabled the blacks to make their escape.  Mr Powlett has again resumed the search, and there is every reason to believe many days will not elapse ere the marauders will be captured or destroyed [PPP 11/11/41]

The Port Phillip Herald gave a fuller description:

THE VAN DIEMENS LAND BLACKS. Mr Powlett, the Commissioner,  returned to town on Friday evening, unsuccessful in his endeavours to take the blacks.  It appears, however, that they have had a narrow escape from capture: after tracking for two days, Mr Powlett, at the head of a strong detachment of police and natives,  got sight of the parties late in the evening of a wet day,  at the edge of a low swampy scrub; every possible exertion was made to come up with them, but ineffectually, owing to the nature of the ground, in which the horses sank to their knees, and the thick scrub into which they escaped; in the pursuit, it seems they must have separated for their whistling was heard by the police while searching the scrub, making signals to one and other; their escape was greatly owing to the late hour of the evening at which they were seen. Finding themselves so hard pushed, the natives have seized a whale boat of Mr Anderson, and put to sea: information has, however been received by Mr. Powlett since his arrival in town, that they have returned to the main land, and he started for the scene of action yesterday; the police and natives had been left in the vicinity of the place where the outrages have been committed.  It now appears certain that this party, which consists of two  men and three women have committed two murders, wounded one  man dangerously and three  slightly; their capture, however, Mr Powlett expects will be effected in the course of the ensuing week, as the police are determined to run them down. [PPH 9/11/41]

The Port Phillip Gazette was particularly critical that the aborigines had been ‘imported’ from Van Diemen’s Land by George Augustus Robinson:

THE NATIVES. The outrages which have of late been committed in the neighbourhood of Western Port by a party of aborigines, are incontestably traced to have been perpetuated by a gang of imported blacks. As if it were not sufficient for our settlers to be harassed by some of the turbulent tribes of their own shores, they have now to guard themselves against the experienced and semi-educated savages of a neighbouring colony, who were expelled from their native haunts in consequence of their atrocities. If this is to be the sole benefit of a Protector General being appointed, to travel with his predatory tribes wheresoever he may list, the sooner the Government grant promotion to that officer the better for this province.  A Protector “Field Marshal” might perhaps cause the whole of this band to decamp northward [PPG 10/11/41]

This isn’t the end of this story either- we’ll be following this one through

But here IS the end of a good story (narratively speaking)

I generally endeavour to write about things that DID happen in Port Phillip, but I just can’t resist this event that didn’t happen. During the 1840s ‘the boy Jones’ was so notorious throughout the Empire  that it wasn’t even necessary for a newspaper article to name him- just ‘the boy Jones’ was enough.


Edmund (Edward) Jones was a recurrent intruder into Buckingham Palace between 1838 and 1841.  His first incursion was in 1838 when, at the age of about 14, he entered the place disguised as a chimney sweep. After a chase he was captured with Queen Victoria’s underwear stuffed down his trousers. He was acquitted by a jury but on 30 November 1840, nine days after the birth of Queen Victoria’s first child, he was back, entering and leaving the palace undetected.  The next day he broke in again and was arrested after being discovered under a sofa.  He was sentenced to three months in prison. He was released on 2 March 1841 and within a fortnight was back in the royal apartments yet again.  This time he was sentenced to 3 months hard labour.

Which brings up to the middle of 1841.  And adding about three months for a journey from England to Port Phillip…could he have arrived HERE? Well, the Port Phillip Patriot thought so when it announced the arrival of the Boy Jones as an immigrant by the Diamond on 4 November:

the Government having availed themselves of this plan to rid themselves effectually of the presence of a youth whom no precaution they could take sufficed to exclude from the presence of royalty, and from whom danger to the person of our most gracious Sovereign was with some reason apprehended. Jones was offered a handsome salary to exhibit temporarily on the boards of some theatre some time before his departure from London, but his father very wisely objected to the engagement unless the agreement were more permanent.  We have not heard how Master Jones is to dispose of his services in the colony, but as we have no Queen here, nor anyone who may not be approached without difficulty, we apprehend his peculiar talent for undertakings of this nature will avail him very little [PPP 11/11/41]

Alas [?] it wasn’t true, the the Port Phillip Patriot itself admitted a few weeks later when later editions of the London papers arrived (PPP 29/11/41 p.2)  Although Jones did end up in Victoria eventually, dying in Bairnsdale in 1893 when he fell from a bridge, drunk. However, the prospect of young Jones coming out on the Diamond was rumoured in England as well.  As the Sydney Herald reported on 18 November 1841, the Times published the following article:

The boy Edward Jones, who, it will be remembered, has on three different occasions effected a mysterious entrance into Buckingham Palace (and, according to his own account, a fourth, but on which occasion he escaped without detection), was on the 14th of last month liberated from Tothill-street gaol; his period of imprisonment having expired.  While in prison he was quiet and orderly, and even exemplary in his conduct, so much so, that the governor had not in any one instance cause of complaint.

Since the liberation of this youth, who has gained so much notoriety, he has been frequently seen on Constitution-hill, and in the immediate neighbourhood of Buckingham Palace, which being communicated to the authorities, orders were given to the police to watch his movements, which was accordingly done; but there was nothing in his manner or behaviour different from those who daily frequent the parks in hopes of gaining a sight of royalty.  Still it appears he was deemed a dangerous character, and meditated another entrance into the palace.  Without, therefore, going into details and rumours of suspicion, we may state that Edward Jones the uninvited visitor Queen Victoria, has been taken quietly in hand by the proper authorities, and placed on board the Diamond emigration ship, bound to Australia, or some other of the English colonies, being apprenticed as a seaman for five years. His father thinks it is only for three years, that he is going to Port William, and will in a twelvemonth return, when he will receive wages, and be allowed to remain at home with his friends for a short time.  He (the boy’s father) also thinks that his son left London for Gravesend on Friday last, but it is stated by others that, although the Diamond sailed from Gravesend on Friday, Jones, accompanied by an officer of the Thames Police, only left London by railway on Monday last, and that orders were given to those in whose charge he was, not to lose sight of him until he was place on board the Diamond in the harbour of Cork. On the day Jones left the prison, one of the agents or manager of a minor theatre (his father says) called and offered him £4 per week to appear on the stage for a fortnight and, at the end of that time a “benefit”, but the boy declined exhibiting himself for so short a period. Jones complains of the mode in which he was treated in Tothill-street prison, and attributes it entirely to the orders of the Government.

The Port Phillip Patriot backtracked from its claim on 20 December 1841, when it cited the Waterford Mail which had recently arrived via the Agostina:

The boy Jones of Palace-visiting notoriety would not be taken on board the Diamond at Cork for Port Phillip.  The master, Captain Taylor refused a handsome sum as an apprentice fee, which the Bow-street officer who accompanied him here offered. [PPP 20/12/41]

[There’s a book about The Boy Jones- Jan Bondeson. Queen Victoria’s Stalker: The Strange Story of the Boy Jones. Amberley, 2010.  There’s also a How Stuff Works podcast here and here (24/8/16) that seems to be based on the information in the book if you can stand the flippant presentation and the advertisements]

And the weather?

Fresh and strong breezes generally, fine agreeable weather. Top temperature for the week 78 (25.5C) and lowest 43 (6.1C)

‘What Do We Want?’ by Clive Hamilton


2016,  190 p & notes.

I quite often attend demonstrations. Climate change, the war in Iraq, anti-Kennett, Hiroshima commemoration, refugees – I’m there.

It’s often struck me as I gaze around at the people, many of whom are my baby-boomer age and at the police who generally just look bored, that demonstrating in Melbourne CBD in the 2000s is a fairly cost-free enterprise for me. I’m reassured that I won’t be arrested (a middle-aged woman isn’t much of a threat) and I’m certain that I won’t be killed. I am very much aware that there are other places in the world where this isn’t the case, and I suspect that although I’m happy to let the whole world see my principles and causes here in safe Melbourne, I’d suppress or maybe even jettison them in a more dangerous environment.  But as Clive Hamilton shows us in this book, protest in Australia has not always been as cost-free as it is now. Continue reading

Movie: Eight Days a Week

Fifty years ago I sat in the now-disappeared Hoyts Theatre in Ivanhoe and screamed at a film. It was ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ and the theatre full of girls screamed from the opening shots right through to the end.  Thinking back, it seems a particularly pointless thing to do. And here I find myself, fifty-one years later, sitting at Cinema Nova with four other patrons, watching the 2016 Ron Howard documentary ‘Eight Days a Week’, and wishing that I could scream again (except it would probably be a cracked and strangled old-lady warble by now).

Produced by the American Ron Howard, this documentary has a strong American focus – an appropriation that, swayed by my sour mood towards America after Trump’s presidential victory, I found myself resenting. But I couldn’t resent the care with which this documentary has been put together, and the sterling work that has been carried out in remastering both the sound and image quality. Certainly I’ve seen much of the footage before, and I’ve heard the story of the Beatles over and over, but there was much here that I hadn’t seen.  It’s impressive to remember just how good they were playing live, particularly when they couldn’t hear what the others were singing or playing, let alone hearing themselves.

At the start of the screening there had been a rather cryptic message about viewing a Beatles film afterwards. “It’s a bit late for that” I thought, knowing that the season at the Nova is drawing to an end.  The documentary ended, and I stayed as I usually do, to see the credits as three of the audience of five left.  But what’s this? All of a sudden, in glorious clear colour, was the Shea stadium concert – all thirty or so minutes of it – as a parting gift.

I really enjoyed this documentary. Loved it. It’s still on at Cinema Nova, although it’s now its “last days”.

There’s a good Rolling Stone article here, complete with old footage – particularly the British Pathe documentary