Monthly Archives: July 2012

Eyre today, gone tomorrow

I will be off the air for a few days; I am heading north tomorrow for Lake Eyre. It is rare thing to see the lake with water in it – it is normally bone dry, albeit that is is 50 feet below sea level. It is where Donald Campbell set the world land speed record at just over 400 mph in 1964. It is a couple of days’ drive from Adelaide.

This being the outback, I am taking a tent, a shovel, some water and some fuel, an English Setter, a gas ring burner, a billy can, an Akubra, serious walking boots, a Kindle, a sleeping bag, a saxophone, my iPod loaded with many podcasts, several torches, a camp chair, binoculars, etc.  The Jeep is surprising full, ready for a start tomorrow morning.



Filed under News from at home

The Triumph of Hope over lack of Experience

There is something weird about the gay marriage debate.

Let me say straight away that, by and large, I could not give a monkey’s either way.  If people want to get married, fine, regardless of their sexual orientation. If people with churches say, “Not in our church”, fine.  There are plenty of other places for people to get married.

But it seems to be that the debate is missing the point. It is not really about gay marriage at all. If a gay or lesbian couple get together and want to commit to each other, I doubt if it really matters very much if they call each other husband, wife, civil partner, significant other, boss, she who must be obeyed, her indoors, bitch dog, darling, the old cow, the old man or anything else.

What matters is the DIVORCE. Continue reading

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Filed under Culture, Politics


In my book 500 Fenwicks, I am proposing to mention that the USA has tried to invade Canada 3 times. Each time – obviously – without success.

I can see that that might be objections to this analysis. Continue reading


Filed under History

Brigadier General John Roger Fenwick -They didn’t ask; he didn’t tell

I have been looking at John Roger, the young brother of Ned and Tom Fenwick of Fenwick Hall, and lifelong bachelor.

It is hard to avoid the conclusion that he was gay.  As was George Washington and his aide-de-camp Friedrich von Steuben.

What a long way the American Army has travelled, these last 200 years.

The current draft of what I have to say in the book is here: John Roger Fenwick Continue reading


Filed under History

Sir John Fenwick: The Flower Among Them All

For my book on the Fenwick family history, I am including a section of Fenwicks in Song and Verse.  There is a pretty Northumberland tune called Sir John Fenwick; Flower among Them All (probably nicked from the Scots) which is usually played as an instrumental these days. See eg Alistair Anderson, Richard Thompson & Kathryn Tickell at for a lovely performance.

But we know that there were once lyrics, when the tune was used as a rallying song for Sir John Fenwick 3rd Bart in his fight with William of Orange (later King William) at the end of the 17th century.  Bates’ History tells us that John Fenwick of Rock was singing it the night before his fatal duel with the MP Ferdinando Forster in Newcastle in 1701: Continue reading


Filed under Culture, History


Here is a photograph that looks very moving.  It was posted by or on behalf of someone called Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche (or, any rate, a Facebook page bearing his name) on 18th July 2012 on with this caption:

Compassion: This incredible photo marks the end of Matador Torero Alvaro Munera’s career. He collapsed in remorse mid-fight when he realized he was having to prompt this otherwise gentle beast to fight. He went on to become an avid opponent of bullfights. Even grievously wounded, the bull did not attack Munera. Continue reading

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Filed under Culture, Politics, Sport

Dog Collar

Perdita is a hardly a vicar. But she does have a new dog collar.  It comes from Tierisch, which is a rather charming of collar company in Germany, which makes smart dog collars to order. Good for Bavaria, I say.

The new collar is with ducks.  Since she is a gun dog.  She seems to like it. Continue reading

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Filed under News from at home


Australian television is pretty tame. Anything with any much nudity is simply not screened, and neither is much else with any controversial content.

And so I was surprised and impressed when SBS – the best of the Australian channels, screened a programme called Death of the Megabeasts last night.

It was not the content that surprised me – I had read about it at some length before – but that they prepared to screen it.  For the gist of the programme was that the Australian megafauna were all wiped off the face of the earth, not by global warming, not by the big oil companies, not by modern industrial society, but by the aborigines. Continue reading

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Filed under Climate, Culture, History, Politics

Here Comes the Sunscreen

Well, here is a first.  My daughter Annabel, who edits the iPod/iPhone magazine Citizen New York, asked me to write a piece on the sunscreen, which is a small interest of mine.

I did. She “NewYorkified” it. They published it. And here we are, father and daughter, on the same credits page.  Probably a bit cheesy to be unduly proud of one’s children, but one cannot help it.

The idea of having a magazine that has no print manifestation – but relies on the expectation that all its readers have an iPad or at least an iPhone – is interesting. Personally, I have neither.  My smartphone is an HTC, which runs the Windows operating system, and I am very happy with it.  So I have to borrow Jeanie’s iPad if I want to read Annabel’s stuff. Hey ho. Continue reading

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