Short Stories – Funny Stories

Roger's Humourous Stories from Australia and the World

Short Stories

Written By: Roger Crates

 

This page is dedicated to my Short Stories.

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The stories you will find here feature an eclectic range of subject matter. Some of these yarns had been rattling around in my poor noodle for a number of years.

 The ideas stem from a lifetime of observations and always have an undercurrent of the good and bad poles of human nature. ‘A Pile of Old Rocks’ for example started out as a secondary sub plot from ‘the one great novel’ that they say lies within us all. Problem was my one great novel had been written by Marcus Clark. That novel was ‘For the Term of His Natural Life’.

 I never turned in my sad manuscript for fear of plagiarism. There was a degree of serendipity involved in the whole schmozzle though, as I picked up Mr. Clarke’s real work, read it, loved it and cried “Aawww C’mon I tried really hard, bugger, I thought it was really original” naturally I was talking about my own poor efforts.  Mr. Clark did not reply as he was well and truly dead at the time, actually he died in 1881.

 We share some other aspects Mr. Clarke and I.  He never could quite get ahead financially, and I am hopeless with finance, he wrote, as I do, mostly, but not exclusively, funny stuff, obviously with some major exceptions. ‘For the Term of His natural Life’ being the main one of course. We also have an nose for social injustice, and you will find some ‘bucking the system’ type ideas in our works.  He also loved the Australian laconic sense of humour and used it eloquently in his writing.  I share his love of Australian humour.

That is not to say I could ever be compared to such an excellent writer, but it is something to aim for.  My personal great hero, sorry Marcus, you were good but Samuel Clements was great. Yes…. good old Mark Twain, I would love to find some talent, maybe even a whole potful, in the bottom of the magic talent box so I might write something as funny and profound as ‘Tom Sawyer’ or ‘The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County’

So back to reality. I intend writing a series of short stories about Australians, centering around outback or rural towns and the folk that live their lives in sometimes extraordinary conditions.  Drop me a line or leave a comment if you have a tale to tell. The whole project will be considered as fiction and might even be so, so don’t be shy.

In the meantime, you might like to purchase some,  I do hope you like them.

The stories featured have been complied into a seperate Ebook titled  MOTLEY STORIES Volume 1 which may also be purchased from this site.

 MOTLEY STORIES Volume 1 also has 3 bonus stories… The Garage of Lost Things, Elephant Earrings and Cons, Cuckoos and Cold Ducks.

MOTLEY STORIES  Volume 1      Available now     $19.95


 

Please enjoy this excerpt from

                                                      

    OLD BLUE OF WARRIGAL FLAT

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In the now long gone town of Warrigal Flat, way out west in Queensland somewhere west of Cunnamulla and in the vast salty plains that have been sweltering under the Australian outback sun for eons. A a true Australia character was created. The salt of those salty plains came from the original inland sea millions of years ago and nothing much has grown out there since. The land waits patiently for technology to find a way to make it productive and prosper under that same sun.

At the time this tale happened it was nearly past its very brief history as a pastoral enterprise by a British family who had sent their wayward third son to the Antipodes with a modest purse, of pounds stirling, he complained that is was modest but to you and I it was a small to middling fortune, the purpose of which was to carve out a new dynasty in the 1850’s.

The patriarch of the family, Sir George Willington the twentieth Earl of Strafford, thought this might be the very thing to bring some sense to young William, known as Willums to his debauched London friends of both high and low birth.

William was the very epitome of the dissolute youngest son, and with two elder brothers, he was not in line for the hereditary title as was the eldest son, and it was not fashionable to have two sons as rivals in the Clergy in which the second son excelled and William was not clever enough to do much of anything else.

The father never did give much consideration to his offspring even the most rudimentary thought process might have recognised the unsuitability of any title for William Willington other than idle adventurer, but that was how old Sir George was. He had put about as much thought into the success of Willam’s Australian adventure and assumed an adventurous spirit and a large bank draft would bring credit to both William and the Willington name.

Upon arrival in Sydney town in 1853, William soon settled into the rough houses and brothels that had sprung up and become such an important source of commerce and social exchange since the days of early settlement. Willums, his new lowborn and local friends had also taken to calling him the same name as his low born friends in England. He was somewhat surprised to be approached by the Personal Private Secretary to the Governor of NSW. Frederick Bowen Esq.

This high personage offered Willums, at the secret behest of Sir George who had arranged the secretarial post, a grant of a thousand acres of land west of Sydney near the town of Bathurst or alternatively thirty thousand acres for the possible farming of fine denier sheep similar to the Marino bought to Australia by McArthur from the grandees of Spain via South Africa.

As the bureaucrat suspected the young man was dazzled into thinking he could boast a thirty thousand acre sheep station and he had enough cash on hand to set the thing up and pay overseers to run the enterprise with no great input on his part.

This was the ideal way to make everybody happy as Sir George was not averse to the odd boast about his family in the salons of old London town, Willums believed he would obviously make absolutely “pots of pounds, don’t you know” all the while tasting the lecherous life from his nightly escapades into spirituous liqueurs and all manner of bawdy houses.

There was also a hidden agenda in Frederick’s offer and that was that he did have a bidder for the thousand fertile acres closer to Sydney which he was obliged to offer to Willums. If Willums accepted the unknown thirty thousand acres north of a tiny place called Thargomindah in the Queensland outback, Frederick could sell the thousand acre grant to the highest bidder.

A bidder was naturally found, in fact thde bidder was always going to get the acreage as he had offered a sizable grant to young Frederick who promptly bought into that enterprise as a minor shareholder, such is the way fortunes are made and in Willums’ case lost.

 

 Further along in the story

 

If you were to double the distance from Brisbane to St George you would be about seven hundred kilometres away from the balmy sea breezes coastal dwellers often enjoy.

If you follow the road west, eventually you will get to Thargomindah where you can turn right and head north along a single lane bitumen road, some say the bitumen only serves to hold the potholes together. Just where the bitumen returns to bulldust is the once, was to be, mini metropolis of Warrigal Flat.

I went there to paint.

Warrigal Flat has no particular industry and no-one particular lives there, just one soul, Brian Bartholemew Barnes, whose mother just loved alliteration.

Now Brian was a true offspring to his parents Scottish ancestry and this was evident from the flaming red hair he cultivated on his head as a younger man. I never saw this personally but I believe it to be true because Brian Bartholemew Barnes only answered to the nick name of Blue. Over the passing of his eighty or so years this had lengthened into the more appropriate ‘Old Blue’ which is the Australian soubriquet of a red headed old man.

Old Blue’s pate now boasted no hair at all, red, black, grey or purple. The top of Old Blue’s head reminded me of an acorn in its round shiny browness with the lighter colour growth stripes running across rather than along it’s length. The other fascinating thing about the old mans dome was a collection of freckles that had joined together under the relentless outback sun in some sort of collective effort to dull it’s burning power.

Not a whisker on the top but plenty a bit lower around the jaws where he looked a little like a modern pop star with the perennial five days growth on a face grown wizened with the aging of decades and a lack of many top and bottom teeth.

He was also tall, taller than my almost six feet, I defer to Imperial measurements for Old Blue’s sake as he didn’t know a kilometre from a kilojoule, Blue was slightly taller than I but no doubt stood much taller before “the ‘ritus got me” as he was often to say in the weeks I stayed with him.

He did have a home of sorts and it was one of the shanties still standing along from the now derelict Big House that was once built for “some Pommie toff bastard an ‘undred ‘n more years ago they say”

The old house and the shantie or what was left of them stood facing East as if looking for respite to the blazing and pitiless sun to come from the faraway Pacific Ocean.

It never did arrive and so the old structures simply shrank a size or two and turned a grey which was the grey of all weathered timber in these parts. Each carefully placed plank was now desiccated and split along the grainy lengths of itself.

The roof was mostly still there, and probably boasted the first corrugated iron seen in these parts. Most of it was that same grey but with streaks of reddish-orange rust smeared along the bottoms of the wavy old iron.

 

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Please enjoy this excerpt from

 

 THE TENNANT CREEK AFFAIR

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 I am reliably informed that in every story, even fiction, there is a nub of truth and this one is no different. The nub was handed to me by a friend who for a few instants was given the opportunity to talk during a very one way conversation we had over coffee the other day. The nub then rattled and bounced across the voids that some call my brain and here is the result, the names dates and circumstances have been changed to protect the guilty, even the ubiquitous Darwin Stubby has been introduced a few years earlier than its actual appearance in the Northern territory, but that is the fiction writers license some say excuse but I prefer the more cultured pretext of license. Whatever the accuracy of the Tennant Creek Affair is not only in doubt but non existent.

Tennant Creek is a township famous for two or rather three commodities. Gold, which is bound unusually to the mineral Hematite rather than the more common quartz.  Beef Cattle, which graze contentedly on the swaying areas of golden Mitchell Grass stretching across the vastness of the Barkley Tablelands east to the Queensland stock routes. The third is the cast of characters that have landed there, some on their feet and some on their heads and for whatever reason stuck there and taken root, if only for a few short years.. Many of these of course include the indigenous population which make up a majority of the present residents. Tennant Creek has also been considered a remote place especially before the advent of cheaper and more efficient aircraft.

The town itself is perched next to the Sturt Highway leading to Darwin and which in local modern terminology is about a thousand clicks South of Darwin as the crow flies. As the crow flies is the Australian expression for in straight line and is considered more accurate than the ubiquitous ‘bloody big step’ or anything expressed in ‘country miles’. Tennant Creek is also approximately 2,300 kilometres from both Sydney and Perth as that very very tired crow can attest.

I couldn’t start this little story without an appreciative nod to the wonderful cast of characters and their innovative nicknames, some of which are sprinkled throughout his tale. They inhabit this and nearly every other outback town. I personally know three bloodnuts who are champion people despite the ghastly nom de plume they are forced to carry through their lives.

A bloodnut (redhead) is also a Ranga or even a Ginga and very often called Blue. Small men are often named Goliath and Tall men often Shorty or Tiny. Walk down any country main street and see a tall rangy man and yell “hey Shorty” or “Tiny” and the odds are very good that he will turn to you and say “Wot mate”, which is Aussie for ‘are you speaking to me sir?’ If he does not do so, he will respond to the name Stretch. I myself have been called amongst a singularly number of obscene nicknames as The Dodger or Artful though I have never been able to ascertain whether this refers to the very colourful of Dickens’s wonderful characters or simply my friends consider me capable of petty theft.

This particular story involves a few wonderful characters including “Tooley O’Toole” who was an Engineer and a whizz with a spanner.  He looked after the plant which extracted the gold from the lethal sludge and deadly gases of mercury and cyanide.  This brew was what extracted the precious stuff from the Hematite in which it hid.

Then there was “Wiley Bill Connors” who saw himself as a sort of self appointed Mayor. The towns weekly rag, The Tennant Post was written and printed by “Little Cos” who inherited it from his father who was known simply as “Cos” the soubriquet coming from Cos’s habit of saying when challenged on printed ‘facts’ in the paper “Cos I bloody well say so”

There was Queenie Johnson the publicans wife, a lady of Wagnerian proportions and some more cultured folk had been known to say that she was the inspiration for Lerner and Lowes depiction of a mother in law in Professor Higgins solo effort of “Never let a woman in your life” in My Fair Lady, the show came out after her husband, Little Alf’s death in 1964, this was after they sold the Goldfields pub and moved back to the big smoke.

“Scaramouch the Ugly” who, poor soul did have what may, in these politically correct times be called an unfortunate countenance, he was in fact ugly and lampooned mercifully for it so much so the they took the impossibly handsome matinee idol of the time Mr Stuart Granger’s film character of Scaramouche and turned it around. Such are the things nicknames are made from.

During the telling of this tale we may see many others who for the city dweller may need clarification as we go along and the fun develops in and around the Goldfields Hotel and the accomodation block within the gold mines not so carefully monitored ‘compound’ which is in part the centre of the action as it happened.

Our tale starts in the period after the second world war when gold mining took the lion’s share of commercial activity in the area.

The returning soldiers were replacing the women in industrial plants across Australia and there were many young people displaced by both the war and the enormous efforts to support the war efforts of a nation.

Men did return of course and somehow a sense of form and balance returned between the sexes at least in more populated areas of the vast brown land. This was not the case in Tennent Creek where most activity was centred around the gold mine and the mineral processing plant surrounded it.

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     Please enjoy this excerpt from                                           A PILE OF OLD ROCKS 

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Twin engined planes make a particular drone as the chew through the air in front of them and thrusts it behind them, across the wings to create the vacuum that keeps the whole plane up in the air. The same thrust pushes the plane forward to its destination. This particular twin engined plane was chewing air and thrusting itself high above a desolate landscape that was not the usual patchwork that is seen from planes that flew over the populated areas of Australia in 1932. Six people sat behind the pilot and looked down at a small part of the area under discussion. I sincerely have my doubts” said Edmund Jacobson the son of the Pioneering Sir Eric who was knighted for his services to opening up some of the very areas they had been discussing around the table in Darwin. With all due respect Edmund but this conversation is best left till the next meeting which is, when is it Gwen?” A young Lady sitting in the very rear of the tapering fuselage of the plane leaned forward to be better heard over the drone

Thursday week the seventeenth Sir. ”

She was replying to Brian Willis MP who was the sitting member for Parramatta and had been appointed Minister for Federal Territories and Aboriginal Welfare by Labor Prime Minister Joe Lyons after the last election.

Let’s all stick to the point” joined in Robert McFarlane. McFarlane was one of the larger landholders in the Northern Territory and as such potentially had the greatest to lose if the project ever came to fruition.

This was a problem to McFarlane who was in complete opposition with the now snoozing Wallace Simmons who had advocated the whole program when he had the Prime Minister’s ear last year when the usual payback for political favours was being exercised.

Simmons owned twenty seven local papers around the country and had used the strength of editorial to elect labor and in particular Phillip Collier, Labour’s Western Australian Premier and his parties candidates.

Wallace Simmons had advocated the Aboriginal Land and Repatriation Scheme (ALRS) strongly to all and sundry for years now. The project entailed selecting volunteers from the diminishing numbers of ethnically pure or as close as was acceptable to the majority of volunteers to return to a nomadic existence away from the influence of the white man that had so changed their traditional ways of life over the past two centuries since coming to this land.

There were certain quite separate ideologies involved and it had always been a matter of conjecture if the plan would ever get off the ground at all.

The church and its representative on this plane and this committee, Bishop O’Dowd thought it was outrageous that the the secular world of politics, and this new culture of self determination could even be considered as an alternative to the tried and true missionary work which bought God to an ungodly peoples.

Hadn’t the church set up and manned mission stations across the ‘Outback Regions’ that were bringing the civilizing words of the prophets to the Aboriginals and were they not thirsting for the words of the Lord?

Then of course there were the representative of the pastoralists, Robert McFarlane, who maintained a barrage of legal experts most of whom could graciously sport King’s Counsel after their often double barreled names.

Many of the pastoralists lived in other countries mostly Great Britain or were token heads of very large enterprises which were at the beck and call of their major shareholders.

Further along in the story

 

 Others came from the ruins of a Europe which it was thought would take years to rebuild. The great depression further swelled the numbers of men roaming the far corners of Australia.

These men, by 1938 had settled down and had children of their own, who, it may be said were only second generation country folk.

There is a phenomenon regarding the second generation generation of displaced people, these people seem to produce many in their generation who make great strides in their new environment and a few who do the absolute opposite, they rebel. This happened in the area known as the top end.

Young men wishing to live their way, in a wild and often lawless environment often seemed to find each other and a trio of such men found each other as kids in the season of calm after the monsoon deluges had spent themselves on the land and sea in the year of 1948.

Donald Brasher also known as Brash found Ali El Soudi known as Soodi the Bloodman, and Soodi found Trevor Brigelly whose nick name was Trevor Terrible or simple Terra for short.

Why some young men need to change their names is unknown and when the new names have negative connotations it is always something to be wary of.

The three would be desperadoes had not been involved in any crimes of note, things like syphoning a few gallons of petrol from cars in the big smoke of Darwin.

Their lives changed however when they stole a Ford estate car from outside the old Post Office building and left it deserted and out of fuel in the Palmeston district several hundred yards away from Soodi’s humble home.

They had also been expelled from the rudimentary school of the time and were on their way to bigger and more illegal things when the Government announced that Darwin was to be a focal point in the battle for the Pacific if it ever came to that. Darwin could be in jeopardy as the northernmost Australian city.

In 1943 Politicians were sent out with the message ‘We must be prepared for all events, our young men will heed the call of our British and American allies.’

The fathers of the boys were not so sure about ‘heeding the call’ as their political betters were and having experienced the Great War, suggested their sons might do well to leave for parts other than here, where there was less likelihood of being called into the European war.

The three adolescents, feeling the possibility of parental weight lifted from their young shoulders complied quickly and completely.

They decided to become hunters. Their first venture was into the eastern territory up around the Cobourg Penninsula where they hunted salt water crocodiles for skins which would adorn those very same Europeans which were so intent in involving them in a war they wished no part of.

The hunting was very, very good and they became adept at living off the land. They made a good living selling the crocodile skins to itinerant traders who plied the islands from Bathurst and Melville Islands across the northern coast of Arnhem Land.

They began trading with other small groups of hunters who also sold Kangaroo and Wallaby skins.

Bash, Soodi and Terra preferred the excitement of crock hunting, this was a wild way of life and the three fell into patterns of behaviour it would have shocked their parents to see.

They had begun to make their own version of Territory gin which was a potent brew made from the fruits of Quandong and Kulgera and flavoured with Lemon or Aniseed Myrtle, all of which are. native fruits and spices.

Most young men of nineteen or twenty of that time had yet to experience the youthful fumblings in the grand game of love or sex. Brash, despite his name had not, nor had Soodi and Terra’s best efforts with the opposite sex had resulted in a fight in the tiny bar in the unofficial pub at Howard Springs on a selling trip.

He had attempted to chat up a local Aboriginal woman outside the pub, she had repulsed his advances and told him in broken English she was waiting for her old man to come home from the pub. To this he had replied they could do it quick before he gets out. She told him no, this time more emphatically and he struck her across the face calling her a blacker bitch.

At this precise moment the woman’s husband, known for his skills with broken down horses and vehicles, came out of the pub to see his wife’s hand clutched to her stinging cheek.

The man naturally jumped to his wife’s defence and Terra was handed out a beating. The lessons learnt from the beating did not last and Terra’s bruises were replaced by a hatred and disrespect for women in general and Aboriginal women in particular.

His version when he rejoined Brash and Soodi was that the woman had asked him for ‘a root’ “while the old buggers getting pissed”, I told her to “bugger off, I wouldn’t touch a filthy gin for quids when her husband,a white bloke too, jumped me from behind, but I gave him a good belting for being’ filthy black loving bastard.”

This lie was readily accepted and the culture of drinking, lying about non existing female conquests and fights, always won against the odds continued.

They all knew the lies were just that, lies, as they had been in each others company almost all their short lives. The home made alcohol helped and the lies led to disrespect for all Aboriginal people and a declared aversion to Aboriginal women.

They had become very good hunters, but like many ill disciplined men became easily bored with the sameness of the crocodile hunt and soon looked for other sport.

Kangaroos are to be found across mainland Australia as are their smaller cousins wallabies, the hides have no great commercial value and so although plentiful and easy to kill the returns were, when compared to crocodile skins, very meagre.

They began to speak to other hunters they occasionally came across to find out what else was of high commercial value and was told reptile skin from lizards and snakes was a big fad in other countries and they made good prices and were in easily shot if you knew how.

The best prey from the hunters perspective were the Lace and Perennial Monitors both of whom can each over two metres in length and a single skin and can produce several pairs of near matching leather boots.

Another species the hunters found gave a good return for their effort was the Martens Water Monitor, found right across Northern Australia.

Armed with this knowledge, they turned away from the coast to concentrate on hunting large lizards. They found some success further inland and it was here their sense of civilisation became so very far from all that they had been taught as children by their parents.

This may have been created from their backgrounds as second generation northern Australians, or because they left the discipline of their parents at an early age or even as a result of being away from civilisation for so long that they simply felt no civilising influences at all, because they had turned feral.

Whatever the reason, they instigated a reign of terror that went both undiscovered by the outside world, and unpunished by the interior world of Arnhem land.

Most days they were fuelled by the Territory gin they made in abundance and kept in a jerry can in the back of their old ford utility, they had converted it from one stolen from the hamlet of Adelaide River six months ago. The back tray also had another five, fifteen gallon or seventy five litre jerry cans of fuel all safely stowed against the rear of the cab all three young men squeezed into when on the road or trackless country they travelled across.

Cars were rare in the Northern territory though certainly not unknown, a car converted to a half truck like vehicle made the original unrecognisable and the thing Bash, Soodi and Terra drove around in the bush like kings and into the small settlements with impunity was actually fairly mechanically sound.

Hunting lizards was not the only prey they sort, they also hunted women. Few Aboriginal men in Arnhem land had very much close contact with white men and were unaware of the treachery these three men were capable of.

The Indigenous men were particularly susceptible to the territory gin liberally given out whenever the hunters encountered a small family group of Aborigines.

Once the menfolk were on the way to inebriation, they were offered a small price by the three miscreants to prostitute the women. In most cases this was refused although it sometimes worked, if the offer was refused the men were given more alcohol until they were in a stupefied state, and the women raped at gunpoint if necessary.

The hunters then disappeared into the bush in what was probably the only motorised transport for a hundred miles. The bush telegraph never caught up with the rapists for almost two full years.

They had now been hunting and trading skins for the leather tanning factories in Sydney for seven years, and had created a mini empire of hunting and raping native women.

Hypocritically they declared, when they stood in a white man’s pub, that a white man who took a black woman was a traitor to his race, and should be shot.

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  Please enjoy this excerpt from                         

 BOOK MAGIC                          

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 CHAPTER ONE

 When I was a little boy I believed in magic, actually, I still do. I am not a little boy any more, in fact I am nearly seventy two years old and aging every minute. This story takes place over that same nearly seventy years, so sit back and make yourself comfy because that was so long ago and a very long way from here.I was born in 1938, for those of you who struggle like I do with simple maths and don’t wish too admit it, lets just check that, it’s now 2010 so, 2010 minus 72 equals ahh……..1938, good, I got that right and without a book or even a calculator. So I was really born in May1938, and I suppose the next thing to tell where, well that one’s even easier, I was born in London, the great European Capital. Oh I know its the capital of Great Britain but in 1938, a great many people mostly Continental Europeans were glad of the fact. It had to do with a megalomanical person named Adolf Hitler, Oh dear I just realised I mentioned someone’s name and forgot to tell you mine, Bertram Wilkins is the personal handle, but you may have seen the name with lots of garnish behind it. Bit like a tough old steak on the plate that needs lots of bits and pieces around it to make it better than it really is. Garnish like Sir, which actually goes before the Bertram but other bits like KCB/DCB which really means I have done the job required over quite a few years.The job generally is to advise Political figures about the very things they take responsibility for and act upon one way or another. I am a background boy as we were once called in the halls of Whitechapel.

I tell you all this, not for self aggrandisement or to give weight to the tale but simply so that you may understand why I was involved in the first place. I am or was, after all a grey man of the British Civil Service. Old Bertie was a ‘Special Adviser’ on secondment to the British UN team for whatever was happening at the time.

One reason I had some modicum of success was the fact I have an unusual and incredibly retentive memory, which I am saddened to say lets me down a bit nowadays, at least as far as the very recent past is concerned, you see I can remember an extraordinary amount of detail from say 1950 but I am lucky to remember what I put on my toast for breakfast or even if I had toast.

This is not only not uncommon for a person of my years, but a rather good thing for me, as I see so many unpleasant things happening in today’s world that my lack of up to the minute memory is not constantly reminding me of it all the time.

I am though, often reminded of my own Father as I think my father had special talents of his own, his ability in linguistics was exceptional he soaked up language as a dry sponge soaks up water.

I remember him bamboozling me as a small child of five or six in our last year together when he would speak to me in the same three different languages all day. I think the purpose was to see if I had his ability, if it was, then he must have been sorely disappointed as I hardly have a multilingual bone in my body.

My father’s exceptional gift with languages led him to his particular fate and because of a singularly strange gift to me, led me to mine. It has led me to have all the garnish behind my name and all the peeks in on the actual events of the last sixty five years and the advice I was to give, when accepted has given me a cache I do not deserve.

Mind you it was really all a sham, especially as I had so much very special help, now that I have the time to look back at it all and see it all for what it really was, and it really did start with that man Hitler. He took away Jimmy and Irene Wilkins, my Parents and gave me more than anyone could ever wish.

                                 * * * * *

My father (1912-1942) was a Roof Tiler, you notice I use capital letters with Roof Tiler as a matter of respect rather than the usage of proper nouns, Dad was a Roof Tiler and proud he had established his own little business in the London district of Wapping, he supported Chelsea, the soccer team I mean, Chelsea is a toffs neighbourhood and one where I currently reside, although the heart and soul of the Chelsea Football Club club is actually in nearby Fullham, a not so toffy area, the other confusing fact is the name of Chelsea’s stadium. Stamford Bridge is the name of the Stadium and not to be confused with the battlefield known as tamford Bridge in York, 1066 and Vikings and all that.

The best my Dad’s team ever did in his lifetime was as runners up in the FA Cup in 1915 when he was three and I doubt even if he had my memory, that was one he wouldn’t be able to revive to rejoice over.

So a working man from Wopping met a beautiful young girl from Bermondsey, the roughest area in London, an area whose poverty bred criminals by the gaol full, but that didn’t make all Bermondsians bad, and certainly not my Mother.

They met, fell madly in love, and I need not tell you the rest, except they did not live happily ever after, but at least their ever after here on earth was a short and loving one.

Dad promptly volunteered for the Army in the summer of forty nine and was promptly rejected for service because of a badly injured neck which he had suffered from a fall from a roof.

The fall was entirely his own fault and comprehensive insurance was not so comprehensive in 1935. He did succeed in becoming a Fire Warden and a Home Guard Officer and always felt a slight unjustifiable shame for it.

As you know I was born the year prior to the declaration of war when my Dad and much older heads than his, laughed at Mr. Neville Chamberlains naive ‘peace for our time’ speech was made on his return from Munich in Germany in the year of my birth in September 1936.

My civil service and advisers background prompts me to say, going to the lion’s den to give him a gift, in this case, Czechoslovakia is not the way toward peace, but encouragement for war. Bullies are never appeased by weakness.

The army was in a different state with high casualty rates in 1941 than previously, when the slightly unjustifiable shame led him to volunteer again. This time they accepted his request and this time promptly made him a spy.

This didn’t really happen so very promptly as he was still not fit for active service and they started him out on code breaking at which he was at least adequate for a man with linguistic skills.

Armies, like the Civil Services have pathways for advancement and the pathway makes career positioning a matter of basically staying on the pathway till someone needs somebody else on that or another a branch of the pathway. This is also called fate sometimes Kismet and sometimes even Karma.

Dad’s fate was to be sent to an hush, hush espionage centre at, Dorking House, that years later would house a young and callow Bertram Wilkins on his own path that led to so many adventures.

My Father was taught such things as morse code, and radio technology, psychology, and unarmed combat at which, I am told, he was hopeless, mainly because of his neck, but the path is the path and if unarmed combat was required unarmed combat was learned.

The path also meant to have him as a backroom boy, and that he was until his special skills with language led him away from the hearth of England into the maelstrom that was the Near East in 1944.

I was never able to break the silence that surrounded the deaths of five brave young men of the special services unit that was sent to Algiers in July 1944, we have the Freedom of Information Act now of course but certainly not everything is available for the general public to know, and the mysteries surrounding my Father’s death is hidden away. It is hidden away, under a War Secrets folio that cannot be scrutinised until 2046 and even I won’t last that long.

I can intuit that whatever the secret, it is best to remain so simply because if something needs to be hidden so well and so long probably no good will come from exposure.

So even though I don’t know the ins and outs of Dad’s death and never will, I know he loved me, in at least six languages sometimes I was told this twice a day in three languages, so even though I was only eight when he left us, I knew he loved me then, I also know his spirit loves me still.

My mother, the Bermondsian beauty, didn’t play the part a mother should in the life of her only offspring, she was also killed as a result of the War.

In a more romantic story, I might write, she would have died of a broken heart following my father’s death and she might have if she survived a little longer. Mum was killed in London after visiting her dead husband’s and my grandparents in Wopping.

I was not present and can only be thankful that I was not, but at the time I heartily wished I was, l was a normal little boy and loved my Mother with her own share of my heart and the part that was reserved for my living Father, had been transferred to her as well.

I don’t really know if Mother’s relationship with Jimmy Wilkins’s parents was good or bad and I never really found out, certainly they didn’t tell me so when I did occasionally see them, I do remember they had a low opinion of Bermondsey and some of the characters to come from there, who, incidentally I do know a little about.

The threat of V2 bombs had stopped with the last attack on London in May 1944 and the days of the blitz in 1941 although never to be forgotten had eased into memory and the wounds of the mind were not quite so raw. Irene Wilkins was also a victim of Adolf Hitler in her own tragic way, after visiting Dad’s parents in Nesham Street near the northern bank of the River Thames a few months after my Father’s death.

The second of June 1945 was unseasonably chill, the afternoon was wet and windy and anyone outside hurried to their destination. My Mum was the same as she scuttled against the rain on her way to the tube station.

The report said the rain must have loosened a brick on the second story of a bombed out house and combined with a strong gust of wind, the brick was dislodged to strike my Mother a glancing blow to the head, which was only protected against both wind and rain by a flimsy headscarf such as the fashion allowed in the London of the day.

The report claimed she died of a brain haemorrhage caused by falling debris, I disagreed with the report and as a seven year old blamed wholly and solely one Mr. A. Hitler of the soon defunct Third Reich in Germany.

When I was a little boy I believed in magic, actually, I still do. I am not a little boy any more, in fact I am nearly seventy two years old and aging every minute. This story takes place over that same nearly seventy years, so sit back and make yourself comfy because that was so long ago and a very long way from here.

I was born in 1938, for those of you who struggle like I do with simple maths and don’t wish too admit it, lets just check that, it’s now 2010 so, 2010 minus 72 equals ahh……..1938, good, I got that right and without a book or even a calculator.

So I was really born in May1938, and I suppose the next thing to tell where, well that one’s even easier, I was born in London, the great European Capital. Oh I know its the capital of Great Britain but in 1938, a great many people mostly Continental Europeans were glad of the fact.

It had to do with a megalomanical person named Adolf Hitler, Oh dear I just realised I mentioned someone’s name and forgot to tell you mine, Bertram Wilkins is the personal handle, but you may have seen the name with lots of garnish behind it. Bit like a tough old steak on the plate that needs lots of bits and pieces around it to make it better than it really is. Garnish like Sir, which actually goes before the Bertram but other bits like KCB/DCB which really means I have done the job required over quite a few years.

The job generally is to advise Political figures about the very things they take responsibility for and act upon one way or another. I am a background boy as we were once called in the halls of Whitechapel.

I tell you all this, not for self aggrandisement or to give weight to the tale but simply so that you may understand why I was involved in the first place. I am or was, after all a grey man of the British Civil Service. Old Bertie was a ‘Special Adviser’ on secondment to the British UN team for whatever was happening at the time.

One reason I had some modicum of success was the fact I have an unusual and incredibly retentive memory, which I am saddened to say lets me down a bit nowadays, at least as far as the very recent past is concerned, you see I can remember an extraordinary amount of detail from say 1950 but I am lucky to remember what I put on my toast for breakfast or even if I had toast.

This is not only not uncommon for a person of my years, but a rather good thing for me, as I see so many unpleasant things happening in today’s world that my lack of up to the minute memory is not constantly reminding me of it all the time.

I am though, often reminded of my own Father as I think my father had special talents of his own, his ability in linguistics was exceptional he soaked up language as a dry sponge soaks up water.

I remember him bamboozling me as a small child of five or six in our last year together when he would speak to me in the same three different languages all day. I think the purpose was to see if I had his ability, if it was, then he must have been sorely disappointed as I hardly have a multilingual bone in my body.

My father’s exceptional gift with languages led him to his particular fate and because of a singularly strange gift to me, led me to mine. It has led me to have all the garnish behind my name and all the peeks in on the actual events of the last sixty five years and the advice I was to give, when accepted has given me a cache I do not deserve.

Mind you it was really all a sham, especially as I had so much very special help, now that I have the time to look back at it all and see it all for what it really was, and it really did start with that man Hitler. He took away Jimmy and Irene Wilkins, my Parents and gave me more than anyone could ever wish.

                          * * * * * *

My father (1912-1942) was a Roof Tiler, you notice I use capital letters with Roof Tiler as a matter of respect rather than the usage of proper nouns, Dad was a Roof Tiler and proud he had established his own little business in the London district of Wapping, he supported Chelsea, the soccer team I mean, Chelsea is a toffs neighbourhood and one where I currently reside, although the heart and soul of the Chelsea Football Club club is actually in nearby Fullham, a not so toffy area, the other confusing fact is the name of Chelsea’s stadium. Stamford Bridge is the name of the Stadium and not to be confused with the battlefield known as tamford Bridge in York, 1066 and Vikings and all that.

The best my Dad’s team ever did in his lifetime was as runners up in the FA Cup in 1915 when he was three and I doubt even if he had my memory, that was one he wouldn’t be able to revive to rejoice over.

So a working man from Wopping met a beautiful young girl from Bermondsey, the roughest area in London, an area whose poverty bred criminals by the gaol full, but that didn’t make all Bermondsians bad, and certainly not my Mother.

They met, fell madly in love, and I need not tell you the rest, except they did not live happily ever after, but at least their ever after here on earth was a short and loving one.

Dad promptly volunteered for the Army in the summer of forty nine and was promptly rejected for service because of a badly injured neck which he had suffered from a fall from a roof.

The fall was entirely his own fault and comprehensive insurance was not so comprehensive in 1935. He did succeed in becoming a Fire Warden and a Home Guard Officer and always felt a slight unjustifiable shame for it.

As you know I was born the year prior to the declaration of war when my Dad and much older heads than his, laughed at Mr. Neville Chamberlains naive ‘peace for our time’ speech was made on his return from Munich in Germany in the year of my birth in September 1936.

My civil service and advisers background prompts me to say, going to the lion’s den to give him a gift, in this case, Czechoslovakia is not the way toward peace, but encouragement for war. Bullies are never appeased by weakness.

The army was in a different state with high casualty rates in 1941than previously, when the slightly unjustifiable shame led him to volunteer again. This time they accepted his request and this time promptly made him a spy.

This didn’t really happen so very promptly as he was still not fit for active service and they started him out on code breaking at which he was at least adequate for a man with linguistic skills.

Armies, like the Civil Services have pathways for advancement and the pathway makes career positioning a matter of basically staying on the pathway till someone needs somebody else on that or another a branch of the pathway. This is also called fate sometimes Kismet and sometimes even Karma.

Dad’s fate was to be sent to an hush, hush espionage centre at, Dorking House, that years later would house a young and callow Bertram Wilkins on his own path that led to so many adventures.

My Father was taught such things as morse code, and radio technology, psychology, and unarmed combat at which, I am told, he was hopeless, mainly because of his neck, but the path is the path and if unarmed combat was required unarmed combat was learned.

The path also meant to have him as a backroom boy, and that he was until his special skills with language led him away from the hearth of England into the maelstrom that was the Near East in 1944.

I was never able to break the silence that surrounded the deaths of five brave young men of the special services unit that was sent to Algiers in July 1944, we have the Freedom of Information Act now of course but certainly not everything is available for the general public to know, and the mysteries surrounding my Father’s death is hidden away. It is hidden away, under a War Secrets folio that cannot be scrutinised until 2046 and even I won’t last that long.

I can intuit that whatever the secret, it is best to remain so simply because if something needs to be hidden so well and so long probably no good will come from exposure.

So even though I don’t know the ins and outs of Dad’s death and never will, I know he loved me, in at least six languages sometimes I was told this twice a day in three languages, so even though I was only eight when he left us, I knew he loved me then, I also know his spirit loves me still.

My mother, the Bermondsian beauty, didn’t play the part a mother should in the life of her only offspring, she was also killed as a result of the War.

In a more romantic story, I might write, she would have died of a broken heart following my father’s death and she might have if she survived a little longer. Mum was killed in London after visiting her dead husband’s and my grandparents in Wopping.

I was not present and can only be thankful that I was not, but at the time I heartily wished I was, l was a normal little boy and loved my Mother with her own share of my heart and the part that was reserved for my living Father, had been transferred to her as well.

I don’t really know if Mother’s relationship with Jimmy Wilkins’s parents was good or bad and I never really found out, certainly they didn’t tell me so when I did occasionally see them, I do remember they had a low opinion of Bermondsey and some of the characters to come from there, who, incidentally I do know a little about.

The threat of V2 bombs had stopped with the last attack on London in May 1944 and the days of the blitz in 1941 although never to be forgotten had eased into memory and the wounds of the mind were not quite so raw. Irene Wilkins was also a victim of Adolf Hitler in her own tragic way, after visiting Dad’s parents in Nesham Street near the northern bank of the River Thames a few months after my Father’s death.

The second of June 1945 was unseasonably chill, the afternoon was wet and windy and anyone outside hurried to their destination. My Mum was the same as she scuttled against the rain on her way to the tube station.

The report said the rain must have loosened a brick on the second story of a bombed out house and combined with a strong gust of wind, the brick was dislodged to strike my Mother a glancing blow to the head, which was only protected against both wind and rain by a flimsy headscarf such as the fashion allowed in the London of the day.

The report claimed she died of a brain haemorrhage caused by falling debris, I disagreed with the report and as a seven year old blamed wholly and solely one Mr. A. Hitler of the soon defunct Third Reich in Germany. 

 Further along in the story

 

 Dearest Bertie;                     May 1944

It has been quite a while since I have seen your smiling face, and I hope you remember mine, big nose and all, I am away still in the East and doing silly things, silly things I hope will help stop the even sillier war. I have written separately to your Mum and I hope she gets her letter too.

I expect you have thoroughly inspected your gift and want to know if it is a box and how to open it. Well dear Son it is a box and only you can open it and it contains a book, a very special book, a book that is even more remarkable than your memory, both of which God has given you for a purpose. A purpose for which you are intended.

To open the box you must find the key, the key lies within the box as does the book. I will not see you again dearest boy, my duty is in my fate and my fate is my duty, it is MY purpose.

Love opens all doors, love can make us laugh and cry and sometimes both, think of me with love and let your tears open all before you.

Your loving Father

James Wilkins (Dad)  Somewhere in the Middle East

  

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 Please enjoy this excerpt from

 

              ENTWINED

                                                                                                     AUDIO LINK

 1944 SYDNEY

Streetlights created shafts of light striping the rain sodden city road in a dark night that prevented most sane people from wandering the streets of Newtown in Sydney’s Inner western suburbs.

Sergeant McNeilly turned to the young probationary Constable huddled beside him in the shelter of the entry into the newly opened Wilson’s Radio Emporium in King Street

The two policemen had, like many of Sydney’s residents been interested in seeing the new range of Motorola portable Radio receivers that had been adapted from the miniaturisation achieved in technology since the beginning of the War.

The Sergeant boomed, to the impressionable young man beside him, “truth to tell, I can’t see em giving the same quality sound as me Kriesler, had it fifteen years and I don’t reckon it can be beat for depth of sound.” Bill Evans, the younger man sheltering from the wind driven rain had adjusted quickly to the Sarg’s booming voice and had been relieved to realise that the level of the Seargants spoken word was not indicative of a threat, simply a voice that brooked no opposition even conversationally. Certainly this quality had served him well both in the army in the thirties and now for the last seven years in the NSW Police Force.

The rain continued in sheets and the younger man soon became bored with domestic articles his Probationary wages would never allow him to buy.

Glancing down the hill, as a extra busy gust lashed and whistled through the retail canyon, his quick eye saw a movement. He moved from the drier entry in Wilsons and recognised the shape of a woman hurrying away from them past the entrance to the Railway Station. Hunched against the rain and wind, the bedraggled figure disappeared by turning right into Mitchell Rd.

“Wanna take a stroll Sarg” enquired young Bill, knowing the Sarg would agree simply to show he was manly enough and not past pretending to be comfortable in the rain. “Watcha see Bill” the voice was not booming now, as regardless of protocol the Sarg actually thought young Bill had what it takes and was ready to sign his papers to make him a fully fledged copper. “suspicious was it’

woman going round the corner toward Sydney Park”

lets go see” said the Sarg and with that left young Bill a few paces behind, the huge shoulders swaying along the pavement as they set out to find the woman ‘skulking’ about on such a night.

It didn’t take long as they found the shivering figure of a young woman obviously and hugely pregnant, arms hugging her swollen belly as she sheltered in the first covered shelter near the entrance to the well keep park, just before the swings and the sandpit, now looking more like a tiny tropical beach in a hurricane.

Both Policemen ranged above the tiny huddled, drenched figure of the girl as now they could plainly see she was a slip of a girl and it was the Sergeant who reacted to see this tiny young thing rather than a street wise working girl.

what the hell are ya doing out here dear” he was back to the booming persona as this was surely going to become official.

Without raising her head she croaking in a wavery rasping whisper “just looking to get out of the rain Sir” The Sarg. sighed, he had seen this sort of thing far to often especially since the war started. “This is no place for you M’dear” The booming voice had been replaced with the compassionate father’s tone he used with his own two grown daughters. “Are you lost? where do you live? You shouldn’t be here y’know, not out in this at this time of night” all this in a staccato rapid fire tone that although gentle to the ear, brooked no opposition and was meant to be answered.

The shivering voice replied in a torrent, ‘No I’m not lost, I come from Cooma and I haven’t anywhere to go. The Lady said the boarding house near the hospital was always open and when I got here it wasn’t even there.”

The younger policeman piped up addressing both now wetter than ever figures, “ Probably Polly Kernigans joint in Missenden Rd. shut down about two weeks ago”

Yeah that sounds about right”

Polly Kernigan was one of those hearts of gold ladies that were the savior of many young women over the past decade or so. Polly had been a prostitute from the wild streets of Belfast who found herself, through quite mysterious circumstances, apprenticed to the notorious Tilly Devine by her drunken Father, who took some comfort into fooling his drink addled brain that he was actually doing her a favour and the word apprentice could be accurately replaced by the term white slave.

The life of the Sydney prostitute in 1935 was not what young impressionable women like Polly Kernigan may have thought and she was sensible enough to stay away from the stupefying drugs which Tilly provided to numb her charges to the horrendous situation in which they found themselves and she profited so much from.

Polly saved the money that came to her over the three years and eventually paid her way out from the clutches of the vile Miss Devine whose real name was the less suitable Madam’s handle of Matilda Twiss. In her time in the Brothels of Sydney’s Woolloomoolloo Polly saw the heartbreak and horror of the decline in health and the slewing of any moral compass they may have had before falling into the clutches of Miss Devine.

The rest of the horror revolved around the nature of their work, contraception was nothing like today and the likelihood of pregnancy was greater the longer the girls were ‘on the game’

Miss Devine made an extra bob or two along the way by offering a condom free ‘Go” for just a little extra. Such was the vile nature of this creature that she was happy to gain profit from not only placing her woebegone charges into almost certain pregnancy but made money from the dreadful backyard abortionists she kept in employ in the back lanes leading up to Kings Cross.

 

Further along in the story

 

Thomas Shortland was also bought up in a Leafy suburb about ten kilometres south of Hornsby in Epping. Epping was in most part, better established than Hornsby and more middle class in nature and boasted more Chartered Accountants than most suburbs in the confines of the city of Sydney.

His parents were desperate to have him after ten years of happy but uneventful marriage. Sadly his Mother was lost to both baby Thomas and her adoring Husband Telman. The doctors of the Ryde Districts Soldiers Memorial Hospital in the Maternity Ward called Denistone House, a converted Victorian Sandstone edifice around which the sprawling hospital had been built.

Wilimena, as that was what Telman’s wife was called, had died unpleasantly of septicemia three days after the confinement. Telman was quite naturally distraught and for the first few years found it difficult to tolerate the presence of little Thomas as his own son became a constant reminder of the cruelty of this world.

Thomas was farmed out as much as possible for the next six or so years to the abundant and locally sityated family of Telman Shortland. The Shortlands were not reminded of Wilema’s death by the angelic looking Thomas and bought him up with in a variety of ways and with a variety of outlooks all of which had Love and kindness at its core. Some of these outlooks, the main one was Christianity but also included Buddist teachings and the idea of the continuation of the soul and even the concept of Karma

The coolness towards his own son was spectacularly reversed when Telman met and married again, this time to the saintly Elizabeth who at one time was destined to be a Nun, but destiny as we all know steps in for a reason and that reason was to fall in love with and to accept into her heart a little motherless boy with a broken but open hearted father.

Elizabeth completed the filial education of Thomas as far as the loving extended family was concerned, so much so that she took over from all the different forms he knew and through practical love welded them into one comprehensive whole.

The new, united and reunited family moved to the slightly less leafy suburb of Hornsby when Telman opened a new office in his slowly growing accountancy practice. The sprouting Thomas became a strong and caring young man and this was apparent to a young girl he met at the Local Sacred Heart Annual formal dance.

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    Please enjoy this excerpt from         KIRBY AND KIRBY           AUDIO LINK

James Lestrade Kirby and Bryce Holmes Kirby were products of both their parent’s desire for a family, and their fertile bodies and imaginations. John and Leslie Kirby had both been Police Officers from the very outset and had graduated two years apart from the NSW Police Academy. Both attained the rank of Detective Inspector after twenty five years in the service during which Leslie had taken a years leave of absence with no pay to have the twins.A five million dollar lottery win prompted a change of occupation for the charismatic couple from active Police to not so active retirees. The twins had both joined the service after finishing University degrees, James in Psychology and Bryce in a special combination of Physics and Chemistry which made up a Degree in Forensic Science. The brothers had both been selected for the Detective Bureau mostly because of the intellect and expertise. Though it would never be admitted as such but their rather small stature had also been a factor. It was only a few years ago that they would not have been recruited as policemen at all as there had been physical restriction and they would certainly not have made the height requirement.Their height and the identical appearance of the twins led to much mirth amongst other policemen and the nick name flowerpot men was the one that stuck. They were unofficially Bill and Ben and casual acquaintances could only tell them apart by the way they wore their hair, Bryce short and parted in the middle and James with his swept back longer style. Five years ago and after eight years in the service, the boys had expressed a desire to their parents, to change direction in their career path from police Officers in the public to Private Investigators in the private sector. They had reasoned quite sensibly that another five years in the NSW police force would gain them a better retirement package and they both wanted to reach Detective Sergeant and have a complete understanding of the machinations of the Detective Bureau.James concentrated on the CID and Bryce in the Science and Pathology Division. Leslie and John had used the lottery winnings wisely and in fact there was now more money than they started with even though they had enjoyed the benefits of a well funded retirement and had broadened their own horizons by traveling the world as their industrious sons made their way forward in the force.Policing Investigating in the twenty first century had changed in recent decades. The burden of proof required by the legal system was greater than ever before. This and the availability of scientific equipment and technology changed the landscape of the investigation of serious crime entirely.

In the past the police were presented with the results of the crime the body or the open safe, the smoking gun. The second stage was the suspect and this person had to have motive, opportunity and means, there may have been ten suspects that qualify using these criteria and this has been the cause of the greatest dilemma in recent history.

With the increase in both serious and violent crime in the past century the resources of the community have not been able to keep up with the increase in individuals who perpetrate crime.

One hundred years ago most crime was of a petty nature with theft being the main category of offense and poverty being the main motive. There were also murders of course and mostly these generally fell into two categories, Murder for gain and murders of passion. There was a lesser and better hidden category of course that of murder due to mental illness, mental illness also which covers the whole gambit of criminal offenses.

Today however the scenario is very different, our communities are plagued with an increasing array of criminal offenses such as drug related crimes, including manufacturing, dealing and the myriad smaller offenses perpetrated bu the habitual users of drugs.

So called white collar crime has grown from the office clerk who may have stolen from the cash tin to sophisticated international crime rings who expertly steal identities of the victims and empty their accounts sometimes from another country.

Socially we are faring badly too, alcohol (also a drug related crime) is making the streets unsafe and the seeming necessity for alcohol related companies to make more and more profit through longer and longer trading hours and the advertising that conveniently omits the heartbreak and pain caused by drunkenness ties up police resources and causes some to live in fear.

All these things and many more are now firmly on the police agenda and the communities they serve simply cannot keep pace with the resources required to find and prosecute the overwhelming tide of offences and offenders.

There is a terrible downside to this increase and the lack of resources to tackle it that has changed the nature of policing in recent decades and it has two forms, firstly the police have a greater evidential burden than ever before. Secondly the unfortunate trend to find a suspect and focus all resources on that suspect until enough evidence is found (sometimes manufactured) or the suspect is unequivocally proven to not be involved.

 This was sharply defined in the Northern territory when the territory took exception to the reaction by a young mother who was going through the horror of having her baby daughter taken by a Dingo near Ularu in the Northern territory.

She was not reacting in a manner they thought an innocent person might under such circumstances. The police in this case were so out of touch that they manufactured a crime when there was only a tragedy and focused all resources on one suspect until confusion reigned and a guilty verdict was obtained.

Common sense prevailed and eventually the woman Ms. Lindy Chamberlain was released after spending years defending herself and actual time in goal.

The Kirby brothers had also seen this from the inside and had been aware of the greater need for the new wave of forensic sciences to form a new and more equitable delivery of Justice.

Five years had past and now, financially backed by their willing parents they had achieved two of the first things they needed to have their idea for an agency unlike any other in Australia.

The first was to trade on their reputation as better than average investigators within the discipline of the NSW Police force, the second was to sink every penny they had saved from their time in the force and a considerable amount of their parents wealth as well.

The manner in which the whole family had gone about this was in its own way a stroke of genius. The sources of Forensic Investigation by police were generally only available from privately owned Laboratories or University facilities which were not designed for the purpose or the bureaucratic necessities of the Justice System.

It is no secret that thousands of cases are backlogged in the Judicial systems of each Australian State and one reason for this is the lack of facilities to processing evidence.

In Queensland cases even those concerning serious potential offenders have actually been dropped not through lack of evidence but through lack of facilities to process it.

Bryce and James Kirby had seen a commercial opportunity, the model for which that might result in a fairer judicial process for both sides of the judicial equation.

The result was the firm of Kirby and Kirby,

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         The Tiger and the Devil 

                                      AUDIO LINK

Now before you get all excited over the possibility of a an expert’s story of good and evil or God’s plan for redemption from the Devil’s wicked plans or anything like that, hold hard and listen, or more accurately read.

This story is not about those sorts of things at all, and it is true I’m no expert, but it is about the thylacine or more correctly the Thylacinus Cynephalus which means roughly wolf headed, pouched dog, and known to you and I as the Tasmanian Tiger. This sad, well he can’t be sad because he is extinct, fellow is or was, the largest know marsupial dog.

In the days before the last Ice Age melt that separated, what was a huge peninsula and turned it into the Island of Tasmania the thylacine roamed over the vast Australian continent along with several smaller cousins. They even extended to what is now New Guinea or Papua New Guinea and Irian Jaya or Indonesia, no matter what mankind has done to the place or calls it, I mean the Islands to north of mainland Australia. No doubt the thylacine was cut off from its own gene pool by the rising seas just as in Tasmania the original people were cut off from their mainland cousins.

At some later stage the people who were to become known as Australian Aboriginals were also to travel South from the Asian regions. They reputedly came on top of the water rather than wander across what was to become the Arafura Sea. They also bought along with them the first semi domesticated dog the magnificent Dingo. The dingo also had a fancy name (as do all species of everything) known as Canis Lupus. I say semi domesticated because this was originally a wild animal that became domesticated and then over the millennium reverted back to the wild, well almost.

Nevertheless this is a story about the thylacine and so we shall return to this extraordinary creature, he was not alone in all this and had a number of cousins all of whom it is believed were smaller and to save you from getting confused I will not enter their names into the story, but it is thought they all died out due to the increased competition for food particularly on the mainland.

There was also another marsupial mammal, yes marsupials are mammals, they are warm blooded, not necessarily warm hearted, have live young and are born basically as a work in progress and fed from the mother with milk. The other marsupial that belongs on these pages is the very aptly named Tasmanian Devil, the Tasmania part of his name is obvious and the devil part is because when the white men first came to the southern Isle, they were astonished to hear a, please forgive me here, but God forsaken cry, part wail part threat, and entirely frightening. If the sound was forsaken by God it was a fair bet it was the devil himself, or so they thought.

This creature was really quite small and probably needed the terrifying noises it produces at levels, high levels to match the faux ferociousness of its nature. When not in competition or threatened it really is a bit of a paper tiger.

This particular denizen of the Tasmanian bush is also known as Sacophilus Harrisii which, by my appalling Latin standards might mean Phil Harris has a bad back or that someone with a name like that had this small yowling creature named after him. In any case it doesn’t say much for Mr. Harris one way or another. Phil Harris was in fact a well known actor and bandleader in the 1940’s.

Another reason for the tasmanian devils fearsome reputation is his habit of opening his mouth wide, really wide so wide it is in fact ….well fearsome.

Another Australian creature separated from the mainland to form a subspecies and to figure in this story is, not a marsupial this time but a bird a very large bird, a bird of prey that can stand over 1.4 metres high or 5 feet tall in the old language used when this story happened. It is the Tasmanian Brown Wedge Tailed Eagle and if you must know it’s species name is Aquila Audax and I don’t have a clue what it means.

When white settlers came to Australia there was some evidence though sketchy that the thylacine was around but apparently on its last legs as a mainland species. It was still in abundance in Tasmania though and it is here the story really begins.

Our story takes place in 1922. In the district of Westbury in rural Tasmania about fifty kilomteres west of Launceston. Westbury is situated north west of the central mountainous spine of the Tasmanian central region. I think it is only fair to point out that I am only telling the tale as seen through another’s eyes, Jim’s eyes actually and so sometimes I use my voice and sometimes Jim’s, either, or……. Tomato, tomayto

 Cornwellia was a small sheep holding a few miles from the renowned Marakoopa Cave and if you were to travel out there today you would take what is now known as Lienna Road.

In 1922 the wilderness was just over the way. Cornwellia was also the farm owned by the Davies family and named after Cornwall, the County. Pa Davies’s grandfather was so fond of talking about this place he was said to give corns in the ears of his listeners, such was the volume and effusive praise, he gave to his little corner of Olde England.

It was well noted that he never actually made any effort to return to his Great British paradise and ended his days in the shadow of the mountainous Great Western Tier.

 FURTHER ON IN THE STORY

 

 Although we have met some of the humans who are part of the story there is one we need to at least know more about than Jim Davies and Pa and that Gary Peterson kid, the smart Alec who thinks he knows about cars and stuff. That person of course is Macy Gerdin.

Jim Davies spoke to the stranger in the pub after finally finishing the fences in the new pasture and concluding Macy was a strange egg. He had tried to figure out his strange accent, but no amount of head scratching helped. As turned out Macy Gerdin was a Canadian and the name was a bastardisation of something french, or so Gary Peterson figured.

Actually he was pretty close to being right Macy was abbreviated from Marceau and the Gerdin part was actually Gerdain with one of those slanty bits over the i, sort of pronounced as if it had a couple of z.s in it and without the n, pretty strange name anyhow. As it happens the locals found out his real name (and how to say it) during the enquiry later the following year.

Macy Gerdin had blown in to Westbury after trying his hand in North Queensland cutting sugarcane but could not keep up with the locals. They seemed to have been born wielding the great slashing cane cutting knife with its wicked little hooked end.

The weather, he was heard to say, was as hot as Hades and them Queenslanders actually set the lot ablaze before they cut the stuff, I’ve never seen anything like it in my life.

Now a sentence like that would actually sound far stranger than I am able to write it, as Macy’s accent was between the Americanised Canadian, with a sort of British upper class and a Frenchman from Marseilles thrown in just to add a bit of flavour.

The locals of Westbury got to hear this pretty often because while Macy worked hard at any job and was very quiet during the day, as he offered hardly more than a grunt by way of conversation. He certainly came alive after a few pints of the malty brews from nearby Perth. In fact after more than a couple he could be downright difficult to handle and because of this Macy Gerdain was not all that popular in Westbury.

Still and all if you wanted a casual labourer for the day, he was your man right enough. It was at night the grog got him and it must be said he was always bright and sober by six the next morning. His popularity had not improved when he returned after massacring The brown eagles over Bill Stanley’s way.

Now if a fellow were to stay at the Westbury pub with nothing to do every evening and sat up at the bar, he might have pieced together the story to date of Macy Gerdin. As it was, between everybody in town and especially the barman, Barney Tilders, who heard nothing but remembered everything, the story was pieced together after a few months, and repeated often ever since.

* * * * *

Macy Gerdin was born in Edmonton in Canada’s Alberta Region, his father was believed to have killed a man in an hotel Brawl and had fled with his family in tow including little Macy to Pelly crossing, a minute speck on a very big map.

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2 Comments

  1. Roger Crates says:

    Hi Roger,
    Love your website and can’t wait to read your stories. Give me more!!!
    Joan