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Footnotes:

 

Family Service Pin

 

Americans

When Singapore fell to the Japanese our prime minister at the time, John Curtain, realising that the Japs would soon be on our doorstep, sent an urgent request to Winston Churchill for assistance.  But England had their ‘backs to the wall’ and the request was denied.  It was then that John Curtain made a speech to the Australian public saying from now on we must all look to America for our salvation.  He also demanded that a large contingent of Australian troops, en-route from the Middle East to Burma to fight for England be immediately re-routed to defend Australia. 

Also in 1942 the Yanks ‘hit our shores’, commanded by one flamboyant General Douglas MacArthur, to be used as a base area before being shipped to places like Guadalcanal and Saipan.  Their arrival was very much welcomed by us because without them we would have very quickly ‘gone under’ to the Japanese. That was our initial response by all and sundry; but there were other benefits to be obtained, especially by the women who thought all their birthdays had come at once.

There was of course a lot of rivalry between the American and Australian servicemen, with the Aussies at a great disadvantage.  First off there was the typical Australian soldier, shabbily dressed, six bob a day, rough as guts and twice as salty.

By contrast the girls had never seen anything like this before in their whole lives. The Yanks wore these magnificent tailored uniforms; chocolate and fawn in colour with nice brass buttons on the officers.  A very nice American accent, well mannered, plenty of money and they knew how to treat a lady.

Then of course there were the sailors, also immaculate.  We used to call them Gobs. Gobs was slang for mouth (everything is big in Texas). Then there was the Battle of Brisbane when two trainloads of Yanks and Aussies were temporarily side-tracked opposite each other just outside of Brisbane.  At first there was friendly repartee which soon developed into a slanging match and then into open violence, when a couple of drunken GI’s started slinging about what they were going to do with our girlfriends while we were away in New Guinea.  It was a real free-for-all in which several were killed and many injured before both the civilian and military police were able to restore order.

 

Ross Smith

 

 

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Travel

In the footsteps of Marco Polo

 

 

 

 

Travels in Central Asia

 

In June 2018 we travelled to China before joining an organised tour in Central Asia that, except for a sojourn in the mountains, followed in the footsteps of Marco Polo along the Great Silk Road.

The term ‘silk road’ was first coined by a 19th century German historian and has stuck ever since to a series of somewhat flexible overland routes across Eurasia extending 11,000 km (7,000 m), a third of the way around the world, from Xi'an in China to the Mediterranean Sea.  It linked on ‘en route’ to the other great trade route that came from India, through modern Pakistan to Afghanistan, via one of five 'invasion routes' that included the Khyber pass and the Kabul River valley, that almost connects to the upper reaches of the Indus near Rawalpindi (and modern Islamabad). See our travels in Northern India for more information: Click Here... Today this whole network is called the Great Silk Road. 

The ancient silk road is by far the longest and oldest overland trade route in the world. Chinese silk has been found in the hair of Egyptian mummies that were embalmed around three thousand years ago, arriving there by some arcane series of trades.  But by Roman times, trade along the Silk Road was more organised, as the Roman historian Pliny wrote: 'so Roman women may expose their charms through transparent cloth'. Trade, often via India, grew after Genghis Khan conquered Central Asia and beyond in the 13th century.  Yet, hidden behind the veil of that great and feared Mongol Empire the existence of China was almost forgotten by medieval Europe, so many believed that silk originated in India. 

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Fiction, Recollections & News

His life in a can

A Short Story

 

 

"She’s put out a beer for me!   That’s so thoughtful!"  He feels shamed, just when he was thinking she takes him for granted.

He’s been slaving away out here all morning in the sweltering heat, cutting-back this enormous bloody bougainvillea that she keeps nagging him about.  It’s green waste tomorrow and he’s taken the day off, from the monotony of his daily commute to a job that he has long since mastered, to get this done.  

He’s bleeding where the thorns have torn at his shirtless torso.  His sweat makes pink runnels in the grey dust that is thick on his office pale skin.  The scratches sting as the salty rivulets reach them and he’s not sure that he hasn’t had too much sun.  He knows he’ll be sore in the office tomorrow.

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Opinions and Philosophy

Holden - The Demise of an Iconic Brand

 

 

I drive a Holden Commodore.  It’s a nice shiny black one.  A Lumina edition.

I have owned well over a dozen cars and driven a lot more, in numerous countries, but this is my first Holden.

I’m starting to think that I can put an end to any car brand, just by buying one.

Holden is to cease manufacturing in 2017.

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