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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

Denmark

 

 

  

 

 

In the seventies I spent some time travelling around Denmark visiting geographically diverse relatives but in a couple of days there was no time to repeat that, so this was to be a quick trip to two places that I remembered as standing out in 1970's: Copenhagen and Roskilde.

An increasing number of Danes are my progressively distant cousins by virtue of my great aunt marrying a Dane, thus contributing my mother's grandparent's DNA to the extended family in Denmark.  As a result, these Danes are my children's cousins too.

Denmark is a relatively small but wealthy country in which people share a common language and thus similar values, like an enthusiasm for subsidising wind power and shunning nuclear energy, except as an import from Germany, Sweden and France. 

They also like all things cultural and historical and to judge by the museums and cultural activities many take pride in the Danish Vikings who were amongst those who contributed to my aforementioned DNA, way back.  My Danish great uncle liked to listen to Geordies on the buses in Newcastle speaking Tyneside, as he discovered many words in common with Danish thanks to those Danes who had settled in the Tyne valley.

Nevertheless, compared to Australia or the US or even many other European countries, Denmark is remarkably monocultural. A social scientist I listened to last year made the point that the sense of community, that a single language and culture confers, creates a sense of extended family.  This allows the Scandinavian countries to maintain very generous social welfare, supported by some of the highest tax rates in the world, yet to be sufficiently productive and hence consumptive per capita, to maintain among the highest material standards of living in the world. 

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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

Whither Peak Oil

 

 

The following paper was written back in 2007.  Since that time the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) struck and oil prices have not risen as projected.  But we are now hearing about peak oil again and there have been two programmes on radio and TV in the last fortnight floating the prospect of peak oil again. 

At the end of 2006 the documentary film A Crude Awakening warned that peak oil, ‘the point in time when the maximum rate of petroleum production is reached, after which the rate of production enters its terminal decline’, is at hand. 

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