*take nothing for granted!
Unless otherwise indicated all photos © Richard McKie 2005 - 2015

Who is Online

We have 54 guests and no members online

Translate to another language

 

 

Or coming down to earth...

 

When I was a boy, Turkey was mysterious and exotic place to me. They were not Christians there; they ate strange food; and wore strange clothes. There was something called a ‘bazaar’ where white women were kidnapped and sold into white slavery. Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, or was it Errol Flynn, got into all sorts of trouble there with blood thirsty men with curved swords. There was a song on the radio that reminded me over and over again that ‘It’s Istanbul not Constantinople Now’, sung by The Four Lads, possibly the first ‘boy band’.

 

 

 

And of course every 25thof April we commemorated Anzac day, remembering Gallipoli; when the Aussie and New Zealand troops, as a result of a British cock-up perpetrated by Winston Churchill, fought without result then heroically withdrew from under the guns of the cleverly duped Turks, who when attacked, had suicidally thrown themselves at our Vickers machine guns, and when we counter-attacked, inhumanely mowed down our brave boys with their Maxims; as well as remembering all our other battles since. It was soon after the war with Japan had ended and the suicidal Turks and the suicidal Japanese were conflated in the media and our schoolboy minds.

 

Later when I was in high school, our school cadets alternated with cadets from Barker and Knox College to provide the catafalque party at the Hornsby Cenotaph on Anzac day. Comparisons would be odious, so our drill had to be perfect: present arms; rest on arms reversed; and so on. Our .303 rifles were well oiled, their barrels agleam against any inspection; so much harder to clean after blanks than live rounds. I hated blanks. Our bugler was note perfect for the last post and reveille. Our gaiters and belts were blanco’d khaki-green; our boots and brass shone like mirrors. If it came to another fight we would be ready. The Turks, the Japs and Hitler got a good kicking in the speeches.

 

By the time I was at university attitudes were softening towards the Turks. Quite a few had emigrated to Australia and Turkish food was exotic and trendy. We began to hear that they were brave soldiers protecting their homeland and the whole First World War was a terrible misunderstanding. Anzac day itself fell into temporary disrepute in the 60’s, as the war in Vietnam escalated, and was satirised in plays like ‘The One Day of the Year’.

 

Today it is commonly understood that troops that were sent to Gallipoli were the lucky ones as the chance of survival there was far higher than that of the troops who were sent to France to fight on the Somme or at places like Villers Bretonneux. Australia lost 8,709 dead and 19,441wounded at Gallipoli over eight months of fighting; in a fifth of this time at just one location, Pozières and Mouquet Farm, on the Western Front, three Australian divisions suffered 23,000 casualties including 6,800 deaths. Whichever way you say it the loss of life in World War One, the loss of the cream of Australian and New Zealand youth in particular, was appalling.

 

Turkey was still a mythical place when I discovered Ian Fleming’s James Bond books at University. They provided a welcome relief from more serious study. In ‘From Russia with Love’, James finds himself in Istanbul where even he is hesitant about going into the backstreets for fear of the evils in the shallows. But on the way there Bond is scared half to death because his plane flies through a lightning storm. We deduce that these are Fleming’s fears; not Bond’s.

 

So later, after I was working, and a colleague told me that Istanbul had been one of the most interesting and pleasant places he and his wife had visited, I thought them both amazingly brave.

 

 

Add comment


Security code
Refresh


    Have you read this???     -  this content changes with each opening of a menu item


Travel

India

October 2009

 

 

 

 

In summary

 

India was amazing. It was just as I had been told, read, seen on TV and so on but quite different to what I expected; a physical experience (noise, reactions of and interactions with people, smells and other sensations) rather than an intellectual appreciation.

Read more ...

Fiction, Recollections & News

Egyptian Mummies

 

 

 

 

Next to Dinosaurs mummies are the museum objects most fascinating to children of all ages. 

At the British Museum in London crowds squeeze between show cases to see them.  At the Egyptian Museum in Cairo they are, or were when we visited in October 2010 just prior to the Arab Spring, by far the most popular exhibits (follow this link to see my travel notes). Almost every large natural history museum in the world has one or two mummies; or at the very least a sarcophagus in which one was once entombed.

In the 19th century there was something of a 'mummy rush' in Egypt.  Wealthy young European men on their Grand Tour, ostensibly discovering the roots of Western Civilisation, became fascinated by all things 'Oriental'.  They would pay an Egyptian fortune for a mummy or sarcophagus.  The mummy trade quickly became a lucrative commercial opportunity for enterprising Egyptian grave-robbers.  

Read more ...

Opinions and Philosophy

Energy and a ‘good life’

 

 

 

Energy

With the invention of the first practical steam engines at the turn of the seventeenth century, and mechanical energy’s increasing utility to replace the physical labour of humans and animals, human civilisation took a new turn.  

Now when a contemporary human catches public transport to work; drives the car to socialise with friends or family; washes and dries their clothes or the dishes; cooks their food; mows their lawn; uses a power tool; phones a friend or associate; or makes almost anything;  they use power once provided by slaves, servants or animals.

Read more ...

Terms of Use                                           Copyright