Red Ned Tudor Mysteries

Monday, December 10, 2012

Jacinta Saldanha, Rest in Peace

For Shame 2DayFM!

Recently my friends an event occurred that diminishes us all, a woman in the depths of some unknown and perhaps dimly perceived despair took her life. It is a tragedy, one that occurs all too often for those drawn into the spirally vortex of depression by the slings and arrows of life. I’ve lost a few friends to this so as much as anyone I can understand some of the torments that drive a person past the brink and realise how sometimes the clues come far too late. I also know the pain and humiliation of being caught up in a vindictive manipulation played out for the vicarious pleasure and profit of others. It is a deeply raw and painful experience that eats at your very soul, knocking out the foundations of self respect and worth, a dangerous canker with a soft voice whispering doubts and offering an easy and lasting solution. I do not know, but can only suspect that it may have been so for Jacinta Saldanha, a nurse of some considerate experience and professional standing. As you’ve probably heard in the news or social media this poor woman was tragically caught up in a so called ‘prank’ concerning the Duchess of Cambridge and problems with her pregnancy that required her immediate rushing to hospital.
Now for a start my sympathy goes to Jacinta’s family for their grievous loss and to assure them that the vast majority of Australians are not at all like those at 2DayFM who created this situation. Further more I would like to express my sorrow to Kate Middleton the Duchess of Cambridge for the stress and concern this assault on your privacy has caused.

Okay so I’ve nailed my colours to the mast I stand against the bullying and harassment of women, children and the vulnerable and will always. Now let us examine an interesting reaction to the storm of criticism regarding this tragedy.

Now along with the world wide avalanche of revulsion on the social media channels, which understandably does include a certain amount of pitch fork and burning torch waving as well as calls ‘fo’ a lynchin’. There have been a few other prominent articles endeavouring to re direct the surge away from 2DayFM and their employees.

Here are the links to just two of them: by Yvonne Roberts
 by Peter FitzSimons

Both appear to weigh in heavily against the tidal wave of disbelief and disgust, apparently blaming social media for inciting mob rule and encouraging vindictive action towards the pair of harmless DJs. The British journo Yvonne Roberts even trots out the philosopher and psychologist Erich Fromm to justify her labelling of ‘the mob’ ‘as narcissistic toddlers in a permanent state of tantrum’. As a voice of sanity this sadly fails and comes across more as a case of snooty petulance that the community has dared judge anything before their peers in the media have had a go. Perhaps this is an attempt to stand out from the Fleete Street howl, if so it misses the point by a mile.

As for the Sydney Morning Herald article that’s another matter entirely, I happen to know Peter FitzSimons well. At least I did, I went to school with him for many years where if not actual friends we were friendly chatty acquaintances when we frequently bumped into each other between classes and at lunch. he was then in my eyes a good decent lad and a fine footballer, so that’s the personal history.

Now it‘s his ‘explanation’ of the event and misdirection of the blame that prompted me to put this on my blog, because Peter, of all the commentators so far should know better.

This act by the two DJ’s is firstly presented as a ‘harmless prank’ and Peter then plays his ‘limited legal knowledge card’ with phrases like What precisely are they guilty of?

Making a prank call? Which DJ in the history of the world hasn’t…and so on before ending with it’s obviously the fault of the snooty English culture and the royalty kowtowing media who can’t take a joke from a couple of Aussies.

And that’s where I covered my eyes shook my head and cringed. This is not Pozieres and Gallipoli in WWI or Crete and Tobruk in WWII where the sun bronzed laconic Aussies are portrayed as rescuing the stuck up British from military defeat. Which happens to be one of the jingoistic lines played up by Peter in his books, ‘sigh’. For shame Peter, you know as well as anyone in the media industry how radio programmes are prepared, scripted, vetted and rehearsed. This wasn’t just a little joke slightly gone slightly awry and the culprits shouldn’t expect to hide behind their mates in the industry all solidarity in the trenches. That as you know is PR spin and hype. To be honest considering your past articles I’d expected better from you, a lot better.

Facts, not persiflage are what makes real historical analysis and I’m afraid Peter you’ve sadly fallen down on presenting any real facts. So I will.
Fact 1. Over the past few years 2DayFM has a history of unscrupulous behaviour against women, fellow journalists and presenters (usually female) children, the disadvantaged and disabled.

Fact 2. Patterns of bullying behaviour and misogyny tend to flourish in an organisation if they are ignored or rewarded instead of punished.

Fact 3. This was not a ‘prank’, the phone call was one item in a carefully planned and reviewed schedule of business operations for inclusion in the station’s broadcast presentation.

Fact 4. Before this went to air several managers and legal officers would have had it pass over their desk. This as you will soon see makes them accessories before the fact.

Fact 5. If this call was part of a commercial operation, which it of course was then the ‘funny, innocent and harmless excuses vanish in a puff of reality, giving it a much more serious intent.

Fact 6. Since this is a commercial operation then the call obviously was intended to boost the status, ratings and profit of 2Day FM. Now that makes it a criminal act under the UK Fraud Act

Fact 7. It is a crime under the UK Fraud Act 2006 according to this section:
2.Fraud by false representation

(1)A person is in breach of this section if he—

(a)dishonestly makes a false representation, and

(b)intends, by making the representation—

(i)to make a gain for himself or another, or

(ii)to cause loss to another or to expose another to a risk of loss.

(2)A representation is false if—

(a)it is untrue or misleading, and

(b)the person making it knows that it is, or might be, untrue or misleading.

(3)“Representation” means any representation as to fact or law, including a representation as to the state of mind of—

(a)the person making the representation, or

(b)any other person.

(4)A representation may be express or implied.

(5)For the purposes of this section a representation may be regarded as made if it (or anything implying it) is submitted in any form to any system or device designed to receive, convey or respond to communications (with or without human intervention).

Fact 8. It has never been legal for any journalist or unauthorised person to fraudulently gain or then publish another person’s medical records in either the UK or Australia. In short this was a deliberate and premeditated criminal act.

Fact 9. Rather than admitting any form of fault or contrition the information gained by deception was repeatedly presented as a personal, professional and commercial triumph of the individuals and the station which refutes the claim of prank.

So as you can see this is action is very far indeed from the kind of friendly jape or jocularity swapped around the pub or the wry teasing of tourists about our deadly and carnivorous fauna,both real and imaginary. It is instead a premeditated action to enhance a commercial position and has as much moral justification as the hacking of Milly Dowler’s phone or those of the families of the victims of the London bombing.

It is in short indefensible, unjustifiable and illegal. Period.

The fact that it has created so great a wave of revulsion is actually a sign of hope that we the common people can see through the lies and deceptions of those who’d profit by other’s pain and anguish.

Thus according to the above facts the station 2Day FM and the two DJ’s should face lawful prosecution for serious breaches of Australian and UK laws. I would also suggest after an open and lawful investigation, if it is merited that 2Day FM lose its broadcasting licence.

Just a quick addition, this is the take of a Law professor from Sydney University interviewed on the 10/12/12

Regards Greg

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Anzac Day Myths and Reality

Lest We Forget

Good day all. I hope this latest missive finds you enjoying the bounties of robust health, having enjoyed a pleasant Easter with friend and family. Tomorrow as most Australians and New Zealander know is April 25, and I hope that all my readers will remember to take some time out and remember those killed or wounded in either this nation’s service or from where ever you happen to be reading this.

It has been a while since my last post, I fear I must plead that writing for novels has left me little time to write blogs. It’s a conundrum I now know all too well. As with every year that we step further away from the events that shaped the day of memorial in the Antipodes historians seek to review and explain those distant events to a contemporary community basking in decades of relative peace. While Australian forces still serve in conflicts like Afghanistan, our current commitment is nothing like the nation encompassing conflicts of the First and Second World War.

I was going to be discussing a few of the myths around the Gallipoli landings and Dardanelles campaign, however a recent news article caught my eye Diggers are Bludgers and I read with stunned disbelief how Anzac diggers were bludgers and thieves according to a NZ journalist. Now I’m not about to go all jingoistic and blindly patriotic over the cheap ranting of a second rate media hack who obviously couldn’t find his bum without a map and seems to account as history what some bloke told him in a pub after a few drinks. So I’ll leave that moron to stew in his own turd splattered reputation and talk about a single veteran I met and who gave me his non alcohol induced account.

I was buying a wood lathe off a gentleman in Melbourne back in 1993 and somehow the social chat lead to the revelation that he’d served in the 2nd AIF (Australian Imperial Forces WWII). His unit was part of the 8th Division that was based in Singapore as a key component of the Imperial Far Eastern Defence. Now historians have shed an ocean of ink declaiming its inadequacy and failure to halt the Japanese assault in 1941. Though very few have ever pointed out from where the necessary forces and equipment to halt this overwhelming attack were to come from. But we will leave that problem aside for another article. This gentleman talked slowly and with feeling of his memories of the retreat down the Malay Peninsular one particular image stuck with him and to my view made him sadly bitter. He like the rest of his unit was watching other battalions move past in the retreat, he particular remembered a company of Indian soldiers led by an old moustachioed British officer marching at the front, a real Colonel Blimp character. The Aussie veteran looked at me with haunted eyes, shook his head and said that’s when he realized they were in for a hard time. He then went on to say that these old officers really didn’t understand what was going on and their troops couldn’t handle what was coming.

Now do I take this as a valid reminiscence or is it flavoured by the embedded cultural assumptions of the times, it is difficult to say but the gentlemen had tears of recalled grief when he told me. Who did he blame for the disaster, I asked? Well at that question he shook his head and recalled friends who didn’t survive the prison camps at Changi and the Burma Railway. Blame was not something he was interested in.

I forget which battalion he was in but I have studied the campaign and as is often the case disaster brings out the best and the worst in any army and unlike this stupid and shallow NZ journo I ask how long does one have to fight to be a considered brave or worthy, the entire war, all of a campaign, a month, a day, an hour or maybe even five minutes or less. I will give one example.

Malaya: Johore, Muar Area, Bakri. A two pounder Anti-Tank Gun of the 4th Anti-Tank Regiment, 8th Australian Division, AIF, directed by VX38874 Sergeant (Sgt) en:Charles James Parsons, of Moonee Ponds, Vic, in action at a road block at en:Bakri on the Muar-Parit Sulong Road. In the background is a destroyed Japanese en:Type 95 Ha-Go Medium Tank. The Anti-Tank Gun was known as the rear gun because of its position in the defence layout of the area. Sgt Parsons was later awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) for his and his crew's part in destroying six of the nine Japanese tanks during this engagement. This photograph also appears as negative no 068592. 18th January 1942.

The following is the detail from the Austrlian War Memorial unit and campaign archive for this single event.

Japanese forces landed at Singora and Patani in Thailand, and Kota Bahru in northern Malaya, just before midnight on 7 December. By 15 January they had reached Muar River, in northern Johore. The area was defended by an inexperienced and poorly trained Indian brigade and the 2/29th and the 2/19th Battalions were sent to Muar as reinforcements. The 2/29th reached Bakri on 17 January and assumed defensive positions. The Japanese attacked the next day. The fighting was fierce but the battalion and the 2/4th Anti-Tank Regiment destroyed several Japanese tanks. In the meantime, the 2/19th had arrived at Parit Sulong, south of Bakri, having fought its way through the Japanese beginning to encircle the 2/29th.

The 2/19th attacked along Muar Road on 19 January and held a vital crossroad long enough for the 2/29th and Indians units to withdrawal. However, the Japanese had already outflanked the 2/19th position and the Australians and Indians began to withdraw towards Parit Sulong the next morning. Constantly harried from the rear and the air, the force fought its way through a succession of Japanese roadblocks but was halted by strong positions around the bridge across the Simpang Kiri River at Parit Sulong. With its ammunition exhausted, casualties mounting, and no chance of relief, the combined Australian-Indian force struck out through the jungle for Yong Peng on the morning of 23 January. The forced had to leave their wounded behind - about 110 Australians and 40 Indians (described by a witness as a “maimed and bloodstained”). Almost all were massacred by the Japanese.

Two hundred and seventy-one men from the 2/19th reached the British lines at Yong Peng, but only 130 from the 2/29th made it.
Brief isn’t it, what it doesn’t say is how terrifying an armoured assault is, the rumble and clatter of the tank tracks the boom of their guns and the clatter of machinegun bullets as they sping off the gun shield or the tarmac road.  All the while the gunner sergeant is calling the range and the crew are re aligning the sights, every single instant a potential for death or serious injury from explosion or shot.  And it is hellishly hot, noisy with screams, orders and the constant clash of battle in the flanking jungle.  But still you have to stay and knock out those tanks or else.  The or else is a constant fear in the back of your mind, a slow urgent canker eating at your resolve and training.  If they break through you and your mates are dead no escape the tanks will chew up the battalion and the wounded at the aid posts.  So you stand by the gun sight load and fire almost an automaton except for the hindering fear that hovers over your shoulder.

You can get an idea from the photo of how close the Japanese tanks were when knocked out. So what is bravery? These soldiers had to withstand repeated attacks for hours then withdraw and in the end leave their wounded mates behind.

The following is an eyewitness account of the action

Soon the force at Muar was reinforced by the 2/29th and 2/19th Battalions and a troop of the 4th Anti-Tank Regiment. The commander of the anti-tank troop, Lieutenant Russell (Bill) McCure, received an unexpected welcome from Lieutenant-Colonel Robertson, the Commanding Officer of the 2/29th Battalion:
I have orders from the General that I should be accompanied by a troop of anti-tank guns, but as far as I am concerned, you’re not wanted. I don’t want you to interfere with us in any way. I don’t expect the Japanese to use tanks, so for my part you can go home.

Ignoring orders, McCure deployed his guns in the 2/29th’s position. Before long the brigade came under sustained enemy attack with the

A 2-pounder of the 13th Battery, 2/4th Anti-Tank Regiment in action against Japanese tanks at Bakri on 18 January 1942. The forward tank has been set on fire while tanks on the other side of the road block, which is a felled tree, have been disabled. (AWM 40367)

artillery firing continuously, and on 18 January an enemy force with tanks approached the rear of the 2/29th’s main position, forward of Bakri. They were met by two anti-tank guns. When the first tanks were side-on to the foremost gun, its commander, Lance-Sergeant Clarrie Thornton, gave the order to fire.
‘We hit it and moved quickly on to the second tank. We got direct hits on both tanks, but we were firing armour piercing (A.P.) shells and they seemed to go straight through them.’ He called for high explosive rounds and McCure and his batman brought them forward. As McCure recalled: ‘Each time I dumped a container at their gun, I gave Clarrie a slap on the shoulder and urged him on. He was doing a great job and his crew seemed to be crazily enjoying the action, completely ignoring the danger of the battle raging on them.’ Although wounded, Thornton directed the fire from tank to tank. In an outstanding

Three tanks destroyed by Australian anti-tank gunners at Bakri on 18 January 1942. (AWM 11301)

display of coolness and courage the anti-tank gunners destroyed eight Japanese tanks and helped stop the attack.

Soon after the anti-tank battle Lieutenant-Colonel Robertson was severely wounded. He ‘summoned McCure, and the two men looked at each other in the gloom of the rubber trees. McCure erect and strong, Robertson crumpled on a stretcher’. ‘I’m so sorry that I acted as I did’, said Robertson, ‘Only for your persistence in defying my orders and positioning your guns where you did, there would have been wholesale slaughter’. Ten minutes later he was dead.

So are these average or less than average soldiers, as this NZ journo maintains? In fact for many of these soldiers this was their first action. This wasn’t any elite unit like the Brigade of Guards were this kind of stand and fight to the last attitude was the norm. As promised I’m not going to go all heart and flag, but I will point out that a free society where all are respected can provide quality volunteers, though only training not patriotism or familiarity with guns makes good soldiers. After that it is inspirational leadership, the bonds of friendship and self worth that helps a soldier survive the maelstrom of conflict. Unfortunately…

While a battle can last only a few minutes the tragedy of it can last a lifetime, those are the blokes I remember each day, they didn’t come back.

HMAS Vampire transporting wounded from Tobruk
I heard that from my Grandfather, Henry James House a survivor of Gallipoli and the trenches of the Western Front, he returned blinded in one eye and seriously wounded. From my partner’s father Donald Munro that scarring of mind and body lasted a lifetime blighting his life and that of his family. On rare occasions he spoke of the loss of his friends and shipmates on the HMAS Sydney sunk by the German Raider Kormorant, were he served before 1939, and on HMAS Vendetta which lead an amazingly charmed life through the battles of the Mediterranean. He did recall one very close friend lost, a radio operator on another vessel who continued to broadcast from his post as all through an air attack and even as the vessel sank. Anzac Day is not and never has been for the glorification of war, it is a day to remember those who served their families and their country by placing themselves in danger for the safety of all and those that didn’t return.


Bully Beef and Balderdash Some Myths of the AIF Examined and Debunked by Graham Wilson

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Terra Australis Templar

Evening and salutations to my growing hoard of devoted readers (all several of them), let me compliment you on your excellent selection of this blog to peruse from amongst the myriad wordings hovering expectantly in the ether.

I have recently been brushing up on my research on the discoverers of Australia. This is of course a fascinating subject and one I hope to pursue in depth when thousands of my books sell. At this point I would like to remind you that two red Ned Tudor Mystery novels The Liberties of London and The Queen’s Oranges are currently available for an extremely modest price on Amazon.

But enough of this shameless self promotion, back to the theme of this discussion.

Who did discover Australia?

Egyptians, Phoenicians, Hebrews, very lost Vikings and of course the Portuguese, space alien blood drinking lizards (opps wrong story!) take your pick. Or not.
Now I remember learning in school four odd decades ago about our historical discoverers especially in the year 1970 when all Australians celebrated the two hundredth anniversary of the Captain Cook expedition. We even minted a special fifty cent piece, which I sure I can find if I diligently searched through my dusty archived childhood coin collection. But that is a digression, in the meantime on to more contentious issues. What if the first European discoverers were actually none of these, what if it was someone completely unexpected and for the kind of reason that only a historical reality that reads like a wry fantasy provides. Well I welcome you to my new soon to be released novel Terra Australis Templar.

So found a pyramid in Queensland, a mysterious shipwreck in the sand or hieroglyphics on cliff face? No doubt Peter Wilks a British medieval history lecturer and reluctant ‘guest’ of Australia’s sunny shores will be given the task to solve the mystery. That’s if he can survive a potent mix of Australian terrors including academic Stalinism, too close acquaintance with crocodiles, treachery plus a myriad of fanged, clawed and gun toting denizens of the Antipodes. Luckily he has Lampie, his attractive and deeply cynical Aussie guide who continually struggles to keep Peter on track… or at least in one piece.
This is a new series of stories of archaeological adventure with a hefty splash of mystery, humour, skulduggery and historical speculation. They follow the mis-adventures of Peter Wilks, a modern day remittance man from Britain, who finds himself deeply mired in historical controversy, archaeology and the sordid politics that infests the halls of Australian academia.

The sky was a kind of intense hammer blue that spanned all overhead, making the horizon retreat well back over the turquoise waters, breaking with a leisurely splash on the sparkling white sand. The sun was still high enough in the heaven to give the barest hint of the coming flood of burnt orange sunset, while to the north the advancing bank of dark clouds fringed the scene lending the dramatic tension of a coming storm. It was the sort of vista that’d have one of those east coast landscape photographers whimpering with ecstasy, if only they could capture the moment.

To the lean built man hunched over the narrow trench cautiously scooping away trowels of sandy brown soil, the allure of the coming sunset was irrelevant. So absorbed in his work, he hadn’t notice that the shifting sun had passed the limited shelter of the canvas tarp, crisping the already tanned skin of his left arm below a rolled up faded blue shirt sleeve and bleaching out his wild red hair that escaped the restraint of a battered ‘diggers’ hat.
Another figure slowly paced up the low hill into view. It was almost as lean as the patient excavator, though the approach through the low brush of the sandy hill would have excited a different photographer. The long elegant taper of firm smooth thigh hit the edge of the tan shorts hinting at an interesting continuation of the curved sweep. While further up beneath the gaping desert ‘camo’ jacket shadowed swellings barely restrained by an open necked t-shirt, flashed into view with each step. To finish the profile long blond hair was tied back in a slowly bouncing pony tail, enhancing the landscape with alluring potential. The scene was just made for a front cover of ‘Fish and Game’. All she needed was the rifle artfully slung over her shoulder and ‘huntin’ enthusiasts would have been clambering over each other to get a copy. Damn that, if any advertising exec had glimpsed the image he’d have signed her up in a trice to flog a new model of 4x 4 that every accountant needed to brave the perilous wilds of suburban driving.
Instead the opportunity was lost as she sauntered over to the flapping awning, idly waving off a host of flies with the sort of casual elegance that a cosmetics director would have traded his secretary for.

“Y’ finished yet Sid? Uncle Bill’s got us a fresh barra to grill over the fire and Rob and Bluey have packed all the gear ready for the next site.” The lean figure pushed himself up from the trench and sat back on his haunches, brushing a dusty hand across his face.
“No I bloody well haven’t! Who said those two could pack up anyway?” The reply may have sounded petulant, though the long blonde plait only twitched impatiently, lazily flicking a cascade of gold in the afternoon light. A dozen shampoo commercial directors missed the chance of an award winning ad.

“I told em’. Got a problem with that?” Blonde pony tail began to recite what appeared to be a well rehearsed script, ticking each point off with her fingers. “Well Sid, first is the site at Champagny Island that the museum wanted us to check. Second there’s those caves up past Brecknock Harbour for Lavost Explorations. Remember them Sid? The guys that actually pay us? Then we promised to be back in Broome by next week, so you want all that and me as pilot, we have to pack now and head off before dawn to catch the tide.”
Hazel eyes under the battered digger’s hat creased in sudden annoyance and a free hand swatted at a hovering insect. “Well Lampie that’s changed, we stay here!” The answer was short and abrupt as the dusty man named Sid returned his attention to the open trench.
Lampie gave a slow shake of her head as if she was used to Sid’s sudden petulance and this was just one more in the daily flow.
“Oh and get ’em to bring up the lights and the generator!” Sid was still staring at the dirt in his trench and casually threw the command back over his shoulder.
Lampie crossed her arms and stared intently at the fly covered shirt of the excavator, as if painting a target for immediate use. “You sure about that? We’re running pretty low on fuel and its a long way back to Derby.”
If Sid had bothered to turn around, he may have recognized the implied subtext of the question. A more observant man would have instantly translated that foot tapping stance as ‘you really don’t want to piss me off!’
“What? Yeah. One at each end‘ll do fine, angled into the trench ’d be great.” The last conversation must have strayed somewhere else, cos Sid had missed it all.
Lampie dropped the subtle approach and growled out a reply.
“Get em yourself, arsehole! I said we had to leave or y’ can paddle off with the frekin’ sea turtles!”
“And Lampie, unpack the cameras and set em up to view the excavation, I want this discovery on film!”
Like a pair of trains hurtling towards each other at breakneck speed, this conversation was looking like a collision and at each switch, Sid, oblivious to the threat, pulled the wrong lever. Lampie was clearly unimpressed and her demeanor screamed the unsubtle signs of incipient mutiny, the sort that would see the obsessed Sid tumbled into his ditch with a casual but deliberate kick, soon followed by his lights and any number of extra objects that’d serve to fill the hole. Then import of his last comment froze the coming boot.
Discovery was an interesting word, so full of promise and portent. Discovery was in fact a very overused claim. To any advertising agency it was automatically tagged to the latest model of SUV, proclaiming its rugged supremacy, even if it got bogged in a light dewfall. All of them in Sid’s crew were hoping to hear that magically stimulating word after working up and down this coast for years. At its reverberation Lampie dropping her foot, then shoved in next to her grubby supervisor and peered into the open trench.
“What have you found Sid?”
Her companion lent over the open pit and scratched at a nondescript bit of soil with his trowel. A distinct ring sounded from the steel.

Hazel eyes widened in interest. “What is it?”
Sid, with the battered hat, shook his head and gave a crooked smile. “We won’t know until we get the lights an all. Ask Uncle Bill to bring tucker up here. I need to keep on this.”
Lampie straightened up and unselfconsciously brushed the loose sand off her knees, before bounding down the slope towards the small array of tents surrounding the fire. Sid pleased at her eager interest, took his attention off the trench for a brief moment and watched the vanishing figure, letting out a brief regretful sigh before returning his excavation.
The sun had fulfilled its earlier promise and the sky to the west was layered in bands of vivid colour, blood red to fiery orange and the narrowing arc of light blue to the spreading dark purple of night and its spray of stars in the east. The trembling whine of the small generator filled the coming darkness on the hill, as it struggled to supply power to the flood lights. The rest of the small party after setting up the required equipment, had stuck around to help, while the aroma of freshly grilled fish served to create an impromptu barbeque atmosphere. Low voices casually swapped improbable tales as they bent over the exposed discovery, deftly sweeping away the surrounding sandy soil at Sid’s exacting direction. The view through the camera on a tripod seemed inadequate to Lampie and every few minutes she eagerly bobbed her head around to peer into the trench.
It was a few hours into the full night before they’d finished digging out the hidden object, and probably a full ten minutes in stunned silence as they contemplated their find. It was rectangular in shape, probably wooden and covered in heavy bands of severely corroded iron. Any east coast archeologist would have traded his doctorate to make a find like this and as they looked at the chest shaped find, images of elaborately dressed pirates, bottles of rum and noisy parrots paraded through their imaginations. Well except for the assistant called Bluey. For some reason he just thought of fish and more bizarrely, of leather shorts. Of all of them, it wasn’t Sid who made the first tentative move to touch the chest.
“Put your hand near that Rob, an’ I’ll have it off at the elbow.” It was only a quiet suggestion from Sid, but Rob pulled his hand back faster than if it had been in a fire.
“But Sid mate!” He wailed with a distinct tremble.
“Its…its got to be a treasure chest, you know with piles of loot and gold!” Rob was a big fella, and he wasn’t used to shirking a challenge. It’d been said in Broome that when he’d caught some swanky tourist trying to cheat him over a friendly game, he’d pushed a pool table through the wall of a pub. The tourist had been airlifted to Perth, that night. The idiot’d been between the table and the wall. Despite that reputation Rob eased his bulk an extra pace away from Sid.
Even in the limited illumination of the flood lights, the others could see that Sid was serious. His right hand had closed menacingly around the haft of a shovel, while his eyes had acquired a hardened sheen, just like the one most favoured by murderous psychopaths in horror flicks before they meaningfully dismembered a few of the extras.
“We’re not scavengers like bloody Fenton! We’re archeologists. This dig’ll be handled properly, not plundered!”
The two assistants, Rob and his smaller friend Bluey gave each other a quizzical look, and Bluey, still lost in dreams of scaly delight and lacking his friend’s survival instinct blurted out a surprised comment.
“Since fuckin’ when? I thou…”

The rest was smothered by Rob’s hairy paw, as he grabbed his mate and hauled him back from the trench. The third figure of Uncle Bill stepped back into the shielding darkness, away from the glare of light and vanished.
Lampie switched off the camera and cautiously stepped forward, laying a firm hand on Sid’s shoulder. Only a blind fool wouldn’t feel the tension quivering beneath the thin cloth. “Ahh Sid, could you an’ me have a bit of a chat for a mo’?”
The leaner man slowly straightened up. He wasn’t much taller than Lampie, nor muscled like his two nervous assistants, more whipcord thin, no fat, just corded muscle and sinew like the old man ‘reds’ that bounded across the interior. He gave a brief glare of warning at the rest of his company before following her into the surrounding night. Twenty paces out past the glare of light, he joined her sitting on a low outcrop of rock set away from the thrumming noise of the generator, but in full view of the illuminated trench.

“I know being out here a while can get to anyone Sid. But have you gone freckin’ crackers? What was that shit?” You had Rob scared enough to piss himself!”
Sid may have frowned, it was impossible to see, but he did take a long slow inward breath before answering. “Lampie, how long have we known each other?”
If there was light, blonde pony tail could have been seen to tilt her head reflectively and give a long curious look at her companion. She fervently hoped this wasn’t going to be another one of those weird wandering ‘talks’ that had recently became his habit. “Its been four years Sid, two down in Perth and the rest up here. Why?”
The battered digger’s hat gave a slow unseen nod. “Yeah that’s right. Four years, seems longer. Well, after all that time scouring this God forsaken coast, fighting off mosquitoes, Irukandji and salties, all to scratch around for rusted relics and wreck leavings in the freckin’ heat. Just so some wanker in lounge loafers can gawk at it and say how much bloody better he is with his laptop and mobile! Now I think we got a real chance! Lampie this could be it!” The unsuppressed eagerness made his voice quiver as the words rushed out.
“What! I thought you liked it here?” There was an edge of anger to that question. What the hell did he think they were supposed to do? Was Sid turning into another pampered tosser from Perth?
“Yeah, well yeah. It kinda grows on you but I can’t go back to Sydney without something, well decent or maybe astounding.”
“What the freakin Hell! Why would you want to go back there? You got someone back there? Should I tell Elaine?” Sid was beginning to piss her off. He more or less said he didn’t like it up here and was just doing it to go back east. She clenched her fist in preparation. Once they got back she was sure Elaine would understand Sid’s bruised condition, he was clearly going mental!
Sid gave an embarrassed chuckle and even in the minimal light from the rising moon could be seen to give his face a nervous rub. “No, no. After Elaine, any city girl is going to seem well, insipid.”
That was a close save. Lampie ratcheted down her growing anger. Maybe Sid was just going through male menopause or something.
“No. Sometime soon, I’ve got to go back east and clear up some history, if not this year then damn soon.”
It was Lampie’s turn to slowly nod her head in agreement. Yeah that’d be right. So many ended up here in the Kimberleys due to ‘history’. Some were tightlipped and taciturn like Sid, others after a few drinks broke out into drunken rages smashing up the pub. That kind of made sense. Sid frequently joked that it was easier to come out here than join the French Foreign Legion. She didn’t think much about it, having been born in the rugged north west. The four years in Perth had nearly driven her screaming mad. A few weeks or a month may have been a novelty but two endless semesters a year! Uni field work just couldn’t make up for that much purgatory. It was too long and too many people with their heads stuffed full of stupid rules set by petty minded idiots. But that was her ‘history’ and without Sid’s help she wouldn’t have lasted. Well that and heaps of walks and meditation, actually buckets of walks and meditation and borrowing Helen’s yacht for two weeks. Well to be strictly accurate, it was her uncle’s yacht and closer to a month would not be stretching the truth too far.
Anyway, Sid was usually fun to work with and the jobs challenging and not many round here tolerated her ‘quirks’, certainly not those tossers down in Perth. Sid didn’t freak out that often. Mostly when he got drunk he told outrageous stories of his time back east, swore vividly for five minutes straight about some bloke called Ekland. Then in mid stride he’d collapse on the flooring and proceed to snore loudly until a pounding headache sent him moaning into Elaine’s capable arms. So compared to a few rounds here, Sid was good company.
So she owed him a chance to explain his freckin’ fragile temper. This last week had been the worst ever. He’d snapped at everyone, even at Uncle Bill and only those tired of life would piss off the old Wandijani cook, a man with the reputation of transforming even the most unpalatable local creature or wild plant into a mouthwateringly savoury meal.
“Okay what’s up? How’s this fit in with our commission from the museum, Lavost or our little sideline?”
Sid shifted uncomfortably. First he tugged at the brim of his hat, then gave his face another rub. Finally he made a move to grab a packet of smokes from his pocket. Damn, he must be upset. He gave them up a few years back after he got ‘rescued’ by Elaine. Finally he dropped his head in surrender.
“Lampie, I’m getting spooked by what I’m finding. There’s too much that doesn’t add up, or rather quite a bit that does and none of our employers are going to like it!”
Lampie shook her head trying to figure out what Sid was on about. This site had only marginally gained her attention. While it was mildly interesting as a beach, nothing had screamed out to her, no legends, from the local Wandijani as a warning or any of the usual signs for sacred places. The preliminary research was pretty sketchy as far as she’d seen, no eyewitness reports or visible remains, so it was as empty as she’d expected. In fact, it was so lean and unpromising, she couldn’t figure out why Sid had been so insistent on an inspection. Then within minutes of landing on the white sandy beach he had lost the plot, freaking out big time. First he’d done the preliminary site walk on his own, a bit irregular but they’d all shrugged and let him have his way while they set up camp. Then after that, he’d shut up tighter than a clam about anything and set out strict instructions on where to do the trial trenches. That was when Bluey had discovered the first graves. After that Sid just got weirder right up to now.

‘So it’s different. Makes a change to shell middens and ballast stones. Why bother? It’s nothing special.” It was her turn for an invisible dismissive shrug. It paid not to get one’s hopes up on this job. Any wild thoughts about his strangeness and the chest were shoved back into the deepest recesses of her consciousness. Obsession with the phantom glimmer of riches had killed too many along this coast.
“You saw that chest we uncovered. What do you think it is, or where it’s from?”
“Come on Sid you know I avoided those units cos they were dead boring under Richards. All we got to look at were his collection of rescued early twentieth century trash! At a guess it’s a chest, mid ninetieth century, so what! There’s a dozen in the Broome antique stores. Give me an area and I’ll find your site, then I’ll draw it. If it’s a wreck, I’ll dive it. As for identifying junk, that’s your work.”

Sid had pushed past the nervous stage and was now quivering with excitement almost bouncing off the rock. She was wondering if maybe tying him up for a while might help, when he turned and grabbed her arm thrusting his face closer. “Its older than that Lampie. Real old I reckon, around the sixteen hundreds!”
She could see the moonlight glint off his eyes. A Wandijani karadji man would have warned of possession by spirits and backed off chanting and conjuring protection. She didn’t have that option, instead dropping her right hand until it touched the hilt of her knife. Not that she meant to slice up Sid, but precaution wouldn’t hurt.
Another piece of useful knowledge bubbled up, ‘when faced with a madman be sympathetic and engage them in quiet conversation, no loud noises or sudden movements’ God knows where that came from probably one of her father’s strange Victorian era books. Oh well she made her voice pleasantly chatty.

“Really Sid! How’d you know it isn’t something salvaged from the Manfred, that went down near here, or maybe the Calliance. She kept on dropping bits all along this coast till she finally sank. We’ve found dozens of caches stashed from Darwin to Broome. Why’s this any different?”
Even in the dark night, Lampie could see the vigorous shaking of his head in the dim moonlight. Being so close gave her a clarity she didn’t need. Sid shook his head in denial like a damp dog. “No I thought that too, as I trowelled off the first layer, but along with those graves we found, I was getting pretty certain!”
“Why? They looked pretty standard dead guys in the ground to me.” That’s right, she thought, keep it calm and Sid will let go before I break his wrist.
“The decomposition was too far advanced even for here. If they were buried in the last hundred or so years we’d have fragments of cloth, maybe boot leather, nails and metal buttons. They didn’t have any of that and the orientation is strictly east-west. I could go on about the other irregularities but I reckon you’d find that a bit boring, like Richards’ tutorials.”

“Yeah, got that right!” Another bit of usually useless knowledge came to the fore, ‘engage the troubled person in talking about something they like, a happy reminiscence perhaps.’
“Tell me Sid, what’s the evidence for your supposition?” She tried to imitate the low rumble of Richards, her former lecturer and bane of her existence at uni. Sid kinda respected him, well, most of the time.
“It’s the chest. The ironwork is a lot older than a few hundred years – the simple pattern of the ironwork, excessive corrosion, the remnants of leather as a water proof cover and I think the timber is oak.”
It was incredible. She didn’t know Sid had such a depth of knowledge. Some of her amazement must have got through. Sid let go and gave an embarrassed chuckle as he waved his hand apologetically.

“Arrh, I had a mate back in the east, you see, he loved old ironwork. Used to build replicas of all sorts of things from beds to armour. The man was a walking encyclopedia on the Middle Ages and knights and such. He was one of those eccentric Brits we used to keep on getting sent out from the UK. Not near as bad as some.”
That memory caused him to pause and moonlight sparkled off his teeth with the smile or grimace of times past. “Poor Pete, he was a bit lost out here. He’d go on and on about how we didn’t have any real history worth digging up and moan about how recent all the stuff was here. Well a few months with him yakking away and it kinda rubbed off.”

The conversation dropped into a considered silence as implications and fantasies combined and percolated upwards to the conscious mind. Perhaps, just perhaps Sid wasn’t barking mad and gold glittered in the distance.
“Soo, Rob was right. It’s a treasure chest like the Batavia?” There she’d said it and now the Goddess of Fate would snatch their chance away.
“Yeah. Well y’know the laws of chance mean that even Rob has to be right sometimes.” That came out with a quavery laugh.
Sid was so twitchy it was beginning to make her nervous. It was a pretty wild possibility and took a bit of getting used to. They both lapsed into a speculative silence for a few more minutes. She’d covered enough of the basic history units to know about the wreck of the Dutch ship the Batavia, in the early 1600s. The grisly story of mutiny, murder and treasure were enough to gain the attention of even the most bored student.

“Okay, so who’s chest is it?” That question just oozed reticence. Despite the allure of a box of gold and gems, she was still reluctant to concede it wasn’t another of the usual run of stashed ship’s fittings buried by some wreck stripper.
Sid took off his hat and fiddled with the brim. “I was trying to figure that out while we were uncovering it. The list is pretty long – anybody from the Dutch to the Portuguese or maybe Spanish.”
She still suppressed a sudden surge of hope. All of those tended to carry handy chests of silver or gold coins. “What about that English pirate, Dampier? He cruised around here. I remember he tried to take one of the Manila treasure galleons.” She couldn’t help it, it just slipped out.
“I thought you said you skipped the history units? That’s why I had to arrange those special practicals for you.” Sid sounded distinctly suspicious, as if he’d caught her out stealing from the cookie jar. Well, actually he had.
“Not when they included pirates. Even Richards couldn’t make those boring! Anyway let’s go find your treasure.”

Lampie stood up and gave a stretch, but Sid jumped quickly to his feet and grabbed her arm again. Not a good move. Her other hand shot up and locked around his wrist. Ignoring the discomfort he maintained his grip. “Lampie, we got to take this really cautiously. There are a shit load of scavengers out there who‘d be onto us quicker than a saltie after a tourist, if they heard even a hint of what could be here! This could be bloody dangerous!”
“Okay, okay we’ll take it carefully, like you say.” Lampie slowing nodded her agreement and twisted out of Sid’s grip. He was definitely still hiding something, but about what?

With the discussion at a seeming end, they both returned to the floodlit trench and Sid began the painstaking task of getting into the chest. Lampie continued to monitor the camera, while Bluey and Rob took turns to check on the generator and occasionally Uncle Bill would front up and pass around strongly aromatic cups of steaming tea.
The first red streaks of dawn shot across the eastern sky, washing out the darker purple of the Kimberleys night though the crescent disc of the moon seemed reluctant to surrender the heavens. To a collective low gasp the lid was slowly eased upwards and all of them crowded around the opened chest. Then after a long moment of puzzled inspection, they all spoke at one.
“Where’re the dubblins? If this is a pirate chest there’d be golden dubblins.
“What about the jewels, an’ pearls, an’ piles of silver?”
“It’s doubloons Bluey. Now shut up.”
“Yurkch. That’s a funny way ta stow a blokes’ sconce boss.”
“I don’t think so... Now be quiet.”
“Urrh, yuk! Christ, Sid! What the hell is this box of junk? We spent so much effort digging up broken crockery and that? I told ya this was another wrecker’s stash!”

“Every body SHUDDUPP!!!!”
Silence dropped suddenly, just in time for the morning chorus of birds to start up. Sid slowly stood up, finger stiffly outstretched, pointing at the three objects in the box. After his bellow, the rest of the company dropped back in surprise. But now they clustered around closer, and leaned in over the open chest to see what Sid was so upset about.
“You see that! You all see them laid out like that. Do you know what it means?”

They seemed to glow with their own pearly sheen from the dawn light, washed in red from one side and a dark silvery tint from the other. Lampie pushed forward and had the best view of their discovery, though she still didn’t understand why Sid was trembling from head to toe. Perhaps he’d finally lost the plot. It happened to some of them out here. They went raving mad and tried to talk to a saltie or thought they were jellyfish.
She made surreptitious hand signals to the rest of the crew and spoke in a quiet soothing voice. “No Sidney. Could you please tell us?”
Sid took a long deep breath and dropped his quivering hand. “It means we’re so deep in the shit, we’re going to need snorkels to get out of this!”
And that was when, Lampie remembered later, the problems really started.

Hope you enjoyed this sample dear friends the whole novel will be out soon on Amazon Kindle
Regards Greg

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Will the Real King Arthur Please Step Out of the Shadows?

Greetings Houselings I hoped you liked the tribute to our American cousins for their 4th July Celebration in the last issue of this blog. Since then we’ve had Bastille Day and another dramatic revolution in Society that some are linking to the Arab Spring. On the events in Britain I will put my thoughts in order and give you a considered opinion in the next few days. In the meantime I was given the chance to check out a piece of historical non fiction on a subject very dear to the hearts of most if not all fantasy and historical fiction readers King Arthur. Now I remember racing home from school to watch on a very fuzzy Black and white TV the series Arthur of the Britons starring Olivier Tobias and one of my favourite British larger than life actors Brian Blessed. It was after the gruelling privations of school a real highlight. One I suppose pushed me in the direction of historical research and reconstruction archaeology that I’ve have doggedly perused ever since.

Now I now it was a made for TV production but even then it did impress me with the efforts it took to remove the ‘knightly fantasy’ of Arthur. Apart from being a damned good piece of entertainment it was as close as any TV production could be to including cutting edge archaeological and historical interpretations. Since then as we’ve seen standards have dropped a bit though one or two productions still make an effort to shrug off Hollywood History.
However it is items in the realm of print that I want to talk about. There is a definite Arthurian industry, that regularly churns out all manner of learned works that claim to either make Arthur a space alien, a purely mythological figure and of course many in the Victorian vein of the fantasy knight that he wasn’t. Thus it is refreshing to come across a book that doesn’t make extravagant claims, instead going back to look at the text and name evidence as free as possible from modern contamination. To me August Hunt’s book fulfils all the requirements of fine and rigours scholarship and research, he has present his evidence and given exhaustive reasoning for his interpretation. Now as any student of history knows the Truth of the past changes with time as new information comes to light, I suspect that it will be so with August’s book. It is not the definitive work on Arthur, but it is a damned important stepping stone on our path to understand the cloudy period of Sub Roman Britain and I hope will lead to further real efforts in research and archaeology.

The only problem I found with this was one of frustration…I immediately wanted to see the next stage of his research!

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

How to categorize this book well that isn't so simple, there are almost books without number claiming all manner of attributes and origins to that most famous and mysterious of British heroes Arthur-Dux Bellorum or High King of Britain. He has been presented in so many different forms a Celtic King reasserting a lost independence, the last of the Romans in an isolated outpost of a crumbled Empire or even Mallory's and Geoffrey of Monmouth's great chivalric hero. Through all this fiction it is very difficult to tell.

As a historian and reconstruction archaeologist I know that you have to look hard for evidence to base your work on and I must say that August Hunt has certainly done that. His research cutting through mythology and ignoring pet theories is based on original place names, reasonable translations and interpretations of the earliest records is to be commended. He presents a very compelling argument to place Arthur and his great battles in the north where the remnant of the old Roman field army most probably still held sway. He examines each phrase of the account of battles and give I feel a very reasoned suggestion as to their validity and location based on the textual and where possible archaeological evidence. Having studied the Arthurian conundrum for decades and been weaned as a teen on Morris' The Age of Arthur, I appreciate fine scholarship and this is it. I have no hesitation in recommending this book to any serious student of Sub Roman Britain as a valuable addition to the Arthurian discussion. Now considering this book a few days after I went through it I found that August's studies opened up a lot more questions. I can only hope that he will find the time to explore them. 
Regards Greg

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Sunday, July 3, 2011

The American Revolution- What was it and Why?

Welcome my friends and fellow Houselings! Since it is has been such a along time since the doctor has given you any pearls of wisdom, I think that considering it is the 4th of July it merits a special post.

Since 1776 an awful lot of misconceptions and legends have grown up around both the Declaration of Independence and the Founding Fathers of the United States. More than a few are demolished by Bill Bryson in his excellent light hearted work Made in America. A piece that should be required reading for anyone in High School and beyond if only to show that history and myths are damned amusing and their origins are quite bizarre.

Instead today I am going to shift the focus away from the suggested seat of Liberty America and look at a single event in the Bear pit of the House of Commons at British Parliament in 1765. Charles Townsend the Chancellor of the Exchequer spoke in the House for the enabling of the Stamp Act to assign taxation of items in use by the American Colonies. While no one likes taxes at anytime the basis of this one was perfectly reasonable, the monies raised were to be used to defray the costs of protecting the American Colonies. Simple and straight forward, however after that bout of commonsense the rest of the process was a disaster. Which the eminent and highly readable historian Barbara Tuchman succinctly points out in her March of Folly. If human arrogance, misunderstanding, stupidity, misconception, ego and snobbishness could put an oar in to make a poor idea into a catastrophe it did.

But there were more than enough men of backbone and character who stood up against this piece of absolute stupidity. Pitt the Elder, the architect of victory over France, the great orator Edmund Burke, General Conway and the man who first encapsulated the American Colonials situation Colonel Isaac Barré (see painting to left). This respected soldier fought with Wolfe and was with him at the time of his death on the Plains of Abraham the culminating victory of the Seven Year War that ended French control of the Canadas.

What Colonel Barré said in answer to Townsends’ slur on the Colonies was this, accord to a transcription posted immediately to the colonies (quoted from A New Age Now Begins – Page Smith)

“They planted by you care? No, your oppressions planted them in America. They fled from your tyranny to a then uncultivated and unhospitable country –where they exposed themselves to almost all their hardships of which human nature is liable, and among other to a cruel and savage foe…And yet actuated by principles of true English Liberty, they met all hardships with pleasure, compared with those suffered in their own country, from hands of those who should have been their friends.”

“They nourished by your indulgence? They grew by your neglect of em: as soon as you began to care about em, that care was exercised in sending persons to rule over em, in one department or another, who were perhaps the deputies of deputies to some member in this House- sent to spy out their liberty, to misrepresent their actions and to prey upon em: men whose behaviour on many occasions has caused the blood of those Sons of Liberty to recoil within them…

“They protected by your arm? They have nobly taken up arms in you defence, have exerted a valour amidst their constant and laborious industry for the defence of a country whose frontier was drenched in blood. Its interior parts have yielded all its little savings to your emolument. And believe me, remember I this day told you so, that same Spirit of Freedom which actuates that people at first will accompany them still- But prudence forbids me to explain myself further. God knows I do not at this time speak from motives of party heat; what I deliver are the genuine sentiments of my heart.

So folks, here we are all those noble sentiments and ringing word that moved the Thirteen Colonies first uttered here by an Englishman in Parliament endeavouring to protect your Rights and Liberties.

The Grand Union flag of the Thirteen Colonies
I think that at this time of division and the active promotion of hate and rancour within our legislative assemblies and without, perhaps we too should listen to the wisdom of Colonel Barré a man who spoke for commonsense, thought and temperance. A man who freely admitted that the current system had serious flaws and that if they were not solved it could lead to calamity. At this point I feel that it is also worthy while noting that all through the trauma of the American Revolution support for the colonies across all classes of Britain remained high. This also continued into the dreadful time of the Civil War when apart from a frothy sympathy for the South from the Upper classes the British Government was not going to go to war on behalf of States upholding the institution of Slavery. Sorry all you die hard Southern supporters, King Cotton was always a myth. So to our American Kin on this auspicious day I suggest you look hard at the realties of this occasion and think long and deeply about what those Founding Fathers and their English supporters would think of what you have done with their gift since then? Reinvigorated or squandered?

Regards from the good doctor and don’t forget keep taking them pills!

Happy 4th of July

Well, my friends and fellow Houselings the wheel of the year has turned and once more we find ourselves approaching a particualt time of signifigance for our American counsins.  Ye it is indeed almost the 4th of July Holiday.  Now apart from a wonderful mid summer break I am sure most people around the world and even here in the Antipodes have an inkling about its true origins.  Yes as the common film versions of history tell us it was all about those loathsome British and their redcoated soldiers oppressing and murdering honest hardworking colonials at the orders of a distant an uncaring king.  And as some would have it the right to bear arms.  But we won't get into that right now.  While films like the Patriot can partially convey an more modernist slanted impression, the reality was far more complex.  For one support in Britain for the Colonial cause was extremely strong and the King's war in the Americas actually faced far more opposition than the US involvement in Vietnam.  Officers refused to serve and resigned their commissions, gentlemen refused to pay taxes or subscriptions, papers like The Northern Briton by John Wilkes slammed the King's policies in Parliament.  While at Westminster Burke, Conway, Colonel Isaac Barre and the old lion of Parliament Pitt the Elder spoke eloquently and passionate day after day in  support of the rights of the colonists.  It is this later point of the of the divisions created in the British Commonwealth that made the Revolution and Declaration of Independence such a tragedy of the time, it was in every way a Civil War both in the Amercian Colonies and in Britain.  To make sense of all this and brign to life the multifaceted characters of the time none is better at telling the tale than Page Smith in-

A New Age Now Begins (A People's History 2)A New Age Now Begins by Page Smith

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Page Smith’s multivolume history of the United States is a phenomenal work in several large books packed with details and eyewitness reports from all sides of the both the small and larger events that shaped the path of the modern United States. Now I am not an American and as a descendant of British colonists in Australia I admit to possessing a distinctly different view of American history to others. That being said I found Page Smith presentation of the Americas of the pre Revolution and the progress of the Revolution deeply absorbing, in fact fascinating. Page Smith is quite prepared to present both side’s opinions, attitudes and angst. In doing so I feel that he brings the out the real humanity of firstly the British officers like Howe trying to solve or suppress the Rebellion. A gentleman, who found to his distress that duty and loyalty had to go before personal sympathy. The incomprehension of a King who couldn’t understand the motivations of his citizens, or the endless confusion and misunderstanding created by the Atlantic time lag and his orders.

Then we have the colonials who had grievances both real and manufactured. Whom felt pushed into an action they didn’t want to take and then under the most amazing leadership, that spanned the arc from inept to magnificent struggled to gain their interpretation of liberty and government. In all of this Page Smith takes you through month by month and in the case of moments of destiny or defeat almost minute by minute. In all this, he unlike other’s does not descend into jingoism, or hero worship. All the characters of this historical pageant are alive, some hopelessly flawed but still brave, some perceptive and farsighted but hindered by chance or support.

In the end this is not a dry recitation of revisionist history, it is alive and Page Smith as any good historian takes you to the heart of the events. I have no hesitation in recommending these first two volumes to any student of history.

Most of all it lays open the massive support the American colonists always enjoyed in Britain from all levels of society from the commoners to Parliament a fact that needs to be emphasised.
In closing a little clip from Barry Lyndon the Redcoats marching to the tune of the British Grenadiers

From the Good Doctor have a great and safe 4th of July!

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Monday, May 9, 2011

At Last, its Alive-The Liberties of London is Published

The Liberties of LondonThe Liberties of London by Gregory House

The good doctor bids you all a good day, and hopes all his devoted readers and their family's are in perfect health.  Ahem, not requiring any purgatives, emitcs or perhaps drawing a measure of blood.  Excellent, so today I am the bearer of good news, my novella  The Liberties of London the first of perhaps a dozen Red Ned Mysteries has been released on both Amazon Kindle and Smashwords (please check the links at the bottom of the article)  It has been a long time in promise but here it is.  This very reasonably priced novella (99c) complete with map and the first three chapters of the Queen's Oranges is the perfect company for any discerning reader of historical fiction or the Tudor devotee.  I'm not going to give too much away but a sample of the first three chapters is on my other blog.  So if your curious hop over there and have a look, or you can download a sample from Amazon or Smashwords.  

 So parting words from the Good Doctor, read a book, keep well and keep taking the damned pill!

Red Ned Tudor Mysteries, Apprentice Lawyer and Aspiring Rogue

A series of stories following the life and mis adventures of Edward (Red Ned) Bedwell, a young apprentice lawyer at Gray’s Inn and reluctant investigator who experiences first hand the tumult and intrigue during the reigns of the Tudor monarchs from Henry VIII to Queen Elizabeth I. A foot slogger’s view of the dangerous and deadly rivalries, ambitions and human foibles of the Tudor Court. His Sovereign Majesty the King may command and Councillor Cromwell will instruct, but it is poor Ned who has to deal with the inevitable consequences that lead to treachery and murder. In this Ned is mostly aided by the solid friendship of Rob Black, an artificer in iron and bronze. However it also includes the not necessarily appreciated but usually correct hectoring of his sister Mistress Meg Black, an apprentice Apothecary and suspected heretic. With this ill sorted team Ned has to balance solving his master’s instructions with retaining his honour, keeping secrets and somehow climb up the greasy pole of advancement in the Tudor Age.

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Available from Amazon Kindle

and Smashwords

Since I’m the author of this novella I naturally think its pretty good, however it is for you the reader to make you own judgement. Download a sample, see what you think, if you like it or have a comment please let me know.

Regards Gregory House