Monthly Archives: April 2015

Excerpt from “ANGAU One Man Law” by Clarrie James ~Pourri Pourri~~

Clarrie James volunteered for the Australian New Guinea Administrative Unit and operated as a patrol officer during World War II.

picture-ANGAU-JamesI suspect that the slaying of a villager by Karai had its sequel in sorcery involving my three ‘cook’ boys. In Australia with the Aborigines it’s ‘pointing the bone’. In New Guinea with the natives it’s ‘pourri pourri’.
The New Guinean view of death is different from that of the European. With our scientific knowledge we are generally able to diagnose the cause of death. We cannot defy its inevitability but mostly we accept it. Not so the stone-age New Guinean. He does not accept the inevitability of death – to him the cause is imagined, not real. The result is he seeks revenge – ‘payback’ – for a wrong which he believes has been perpetrated against his kin and resulted in a death.
Enmities have their origins in minor problems, and like the lowly acorn which grows into a mighty tree, the little problems become ‘big troubles’ if they remain unresolved. With the primitive, there is cause and effect – the difference being that he conceives a fanciful idea of the cause and brings about an effect.
My first experience of ‘pourri pourri’ came quite unexpectedly one bright sunny morning. As I proceeded to the outside toilet – the haus pekpek – I passed Bonkora, Ghia, and Anuhti, none of whom were locals, sitting in the sun against the rear kitchen wall, laughing and joking.
A short time later, as I returned, I noticed a dramatic change in their demeanour. Gone were their laughing faces. They sat in silence, glum, crestfallen. I could not help but notice the difference. I asked, “What’s the matter with you fellows?”
“’Pourri pourri’ has been made against us,” Bonkora replied and opened his hand to disclose a small parcel made from a tanket leaf. He unrolled it to reveal three or four blackthorns. Ghia and Anuhti produced similar packages. These three were as good as dead.
“But who gave you this?”
“A man from the village of the warrior whom Karai killed,” said Bonkora.
“Where is this man now?”
“He has gone.”
I realised that the sorcerer could not have gone far because it happened such a brief time before. I sounded the alarm and the police went in pursuit. A little later they returned with a villager in custody. By this time, too, a number of interested onlookers had gathered.
“Is this the man?’ I asked.
“Yes.”
With that I drew my revolver and pointed it at the ‘poison-maker’.
“Don’t! Don’t shoot him,” they exclaimed, but little did they know I was putting on a big act.
“If you kill him, we will die,” Bonkora added.
“What is the remedy?” I asked.
“This man who made the ‘pourri pourri’ must take this poison and put it in running water before we are free.”
The little channel running past the house was but a few steps away. The parcels were given back to the sorcerer and when we moved to the running water, he placed them one by one into it. The effect on the victims was immediate. The death sentence had been lifted and the trio relaxed and became as normal. Then I released a very scared sorcerer.
Karai was ‘my’ policeman and as I was of another kind and untouchable by ‘pourri pourri’, the ‘payback’ had been made against my servants instead.
Now I too, knew naked fear at night. Unconsciously, it had built up within me from the time the Garfukus had begun to challenge my authority, saying that it was Japan’s time and they would help them. Probably, their stalking of my people and the threat of Japanese patrols had accelerated the conditioning process.
I slept alone on the plateau with a primed hand-grenade and a loaded revolver under my pillow and my rifle beside the bed, with a round in the breech. During most nights, I would flash into wakefulness at the slightest sound. My ears would strain to capture even the softest of noises, while my memory reached desperately into my brain to identify it and associate it with its cause. I would lie there completely motionless, not wishing to create a competing sound, sweating profusely. My heart thump, thumped, until finally my ears rang with the intensity of listening and I no longer possessed the capacity to hear what was happening in the external world.
Before me would pass a vision of a native throwing a lighted stick on the grass-thatched roof of my house, followed by a Japanese hunting me down. In the end, I would find that it had been a rat responsible for disturbing me with its noise and leaving me mentally and physically drained. Night after night I lived through that dreaded experience, with no one else to share it.

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Excerpt from “A Farewell To Arms” by Ernest Hemingway ~~Waiting~~

picture-FarewellToArms-HemingwayI went out the door and down the hall to the room where Catherine was to be after the baby came. I sat in a chair there and looked at the room. I had the paper in my coat that I had bought when I went out for lunch and I read it. It was beginning to be dark outside and I turned the light on to read. After a while I stopped reading and turned off the light and watched it get dark outside. I wondered why the doctor did not send for me. Maybe it was better I was away. He probably wanted me away for a while. I looked at my watch. If he did not send for me in ten minutes I would go down anyway.
Poor, poor dear Cat. And this was the price you paid for sleeping together. This was the end of the trap. This was what people got for loving each other. Thank God for gas, anyway. What must it have been like before anaesthetics? Once it started they were in the mill-race. Catherine had a good time in the time of pregnancy. It wasn’t bad. She was hardly ever sick. She was not awfully uncomfortable until toward the last. So now they got her in the end. You never got away with anything. Get away hell! It would have been the same if we had been married fifty times. And what if she should die? She won’t die. People don’t die in childbirth nowadays. That was what all husbands thought. Yes, but what if she should die? She won’t die. She’s just having a bad time. The initial labour is usually protracted. She’s only having a bad time. Afterward we’d say what a bad time, and Catherine would say it wasn’t really so bad. But what if she should die? She can’t die. Yes, but what if she should die? She can’t, I tell you. Don’t be a fool. It’s just a bad time. It’s just nature giving her hell. It’s only the first labour, which is almost always protracted. Yes, but what if she should die? She can’t die. Why would she die? What reason is there for her to die? There’s just a child that has to be born, the by-product of good nights in Milan. It makes trouble and is born and then you look after it and get fond of it maybe. But what if she should die? She won’t die. But what if she should die? She won’t. She’s all right. But what if she should die? She can’t die. But what if she should die? Hey, what about that? What if she should die?

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“Waiting For My Real Life To Begin” released by Colin Hay

Any minute now, my ship is coming in
I’ll keep checking the horizon
I’ll stand on the bow, feel the waves come crashing
Come crashing down down down, on me

And you say, be still my love
Open up your heart
Let the light shine in
But don’t you understand
I already have a plan
I’m waiting for my real life to begin

When I awoke today, suddenly nothing happened
But in my dreams, I slew the dragon
And down this beaten path, up this cobbled lane
I’m walking in my old footsteps, once again

And you say, just be here now
Forget about the past, your mask is wearing thin
Just let me throw one more dice
I know that I can win
I’m waiting for my real life to begin

Any minute now, my ship is coming in
I’ll keep checking the horizon
And I’ll check my machine, there’s sure to be that call
It’s gonna happen soon, soon, oh so very soon
It’s just that times are lean

And you say, be still my love
Open up your heart, let the light shine
Don’t you understand
I already have a plan
I’m waiting for my real life to begin

On a clear day I can see, see for a long way
On a clear day I can see, see for a long way.

 

picture-Topanga-Hay

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Excerpt from “Doctor Who: Touched by an Angel” by Jonathan Morris ~~Trapped~~

picture-DrWho-TouchedbyanAngelRory backed away from the two Weeping Angels in front of him, flashing his torchlight from one to the other. He backed into the Doctor, busy trying to keep his own two Weeping Angels at bay. ‘It’s no good,’ said Rory. ‘I can’t reach the “On” switch. I messed up, and now we’re trapped and are probably going to die.’
‘It’s not over yet, I should be able to activate it with this,’ said the Doctor, deftly raising his sonic screwdriver. Which failed to light up or make any sound. ‘Oh. That would’ve been a lot more impressive had it actually worked. No, you were right with the first thing you said.’
There was another boom of thunder and crackle of lightning. It lit up the Angels’ faces. They were snarling hungrily, their jagged teeth bared, their tongues lolling, their foreheads ridged in scowls of hatred, their eyes hideous staring blank orbs of stone.
Rory held them back using his torchlight. The light grew dimmer. Rory shook the torch and banged it with the palm of his hand, but it didn’t get any brighter. ‘Doctor. The torches –’
‘The Angels are draining the energy,’ said the Doctor. ‘I know. Hence my sonic trouble.’
Rory flashed the feeble beam back toward the Angels. They were now less than a metre away, reaching towards him with their long, claw-like fingers. The torchlight was now so weak he had to strain his eyes just to make out the shape of the Angels in the darkness.
‘Rory,’ said Amy. ‘I don’t think I can keep them back much –’ She gave a short scream.
Rory spun around to see Amy standing perfectly still, her eyes wide with terror, a Weeping Angel’s arm coiling around her neck, almost but not quite making contact with her skin. The Weeping Angel’s mouth hung open lasciviously, like a vampire about to sink its fangs into her jugular.
‘Don’t stop looking at it, Rory’, begged Amy. ‘Don’t look away. And please, whatever you do, d-d-don’t blink!’
Rory kept his eyes glued to the Weeping Angel, but as the light from his torch faded away, it slowly but surely disappeared into the darkness.
Suddenly the roar of a car engine filled the air and Amy and the Weeping Angel were caught in the lurching beams of an approaching pair of headlights. Rory didn’t dare look away from Amy, he didn’t dare blink, even as he heard the car draw nearer and come to a halt, even as he heard the sound of the car door slamming and someone running toward them.

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Excerpt from “Dragonflight” by Anne McCaffrey ~~Thread~~

picture-Dragonflight-AnneMcCaffreyCrisply he ordered the dragonriders to fan out in a staggered formation, keeping a distance of five wings’ spread up or down.
The sun came up.
Slanting across the sea, like an ever-thickening mist, Threads were falling, silent, beautiful, treacherous. Silvery gray were those space-traversing spores, spinning from hard frozen ovals into coarse filaments as they penetrated the warm atmospheric envelope of Pern. Less than mindless, they had been ejected from their barren planet toward Pern, a hideous rain that sought organic matter to nourish it into growth. One Thread, sinking into fertile soil, would burrow deep, propagating thousands in the warm earth, rendering it into a black-dusted wasteland. The southern continent of Pern had already been sucked dry. The true parasites of Pern were Threads.
A stifled roar from the throats of eighty men and dragons broke the dawn air above Nerat’s green heights – as if the Threads might hear this challenge, F’lar mused.
As one, dragons swivelled their wedge-shaped heads to their riders for firestone. Great jaws macerated the hunks. The fragments were swallowed and more firestone was demanded. Inside the beasts, acids churned and the poisonous phosphines were readied. When the dragons belched forth gas, it would ignite in the air into ravening flame to sear the Threads from the sky. And burn them from the soil.
Dragon instinct took over the moment the Threads began to fall above Nerat’s shores.
As much admiration as F’lar had always held for his bronze companion, it achieved newer heights in the next hours. Beating the air in great strokes, Mnementh soared with flaming breath to meet the down-rushing menace. The fumes, swept back by the wind, choked F’lar until he thought to crouch low on the lea side of the bronze neck. The dragon squealed as a Thread flicked the tip of one wing. Instantly F’lar and he ducked into between, cold, calm, black. The frozen Thread cracked off. In the flicker of an eye, they were back to face the reality of the Threads.
Around him F’lar saw dragons winking in and out of between, flaming as they returned, diving, soaring. As the attack continued and they drifted across Nerat, F’lar began to recognize the pattern in the dragons’ instinctive evasion-attack movements. And in the Threads. For, contrary to what he had gathered from his study of the Records, the Threads fell in patches. Not as rain will, in steady unbroken sheets, but like flurries of snow, here, above, there, whipped to one side suddenly. Never fluidly, despite the continuity their name implied.

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Excerpt from P.O.W. by Ian Ramsay ~~Escape~~

picture-POW-RamsayWe were very cold and I was very scared as we waited for the searchlights to scan the area and then swing away. Lance was the first one to brave the escape.
‘Okay, I’m off,’ he said. ‘see yous later.’ He climbed out, scaled the fence and tore off into the night towards the haystack. Soon after, the light swung on to the hole again, but without revealing the contents, due to the depth of the hole and the angle of light. We cowered in the corner nearest to the tower from which the light had come. No one knew why the hole was being dug, but we now suspected it was for potato storage or for a new washhouse to be joined to the Russian compound.
As soon as the light had gone, Lofty followed Lance’s example without mishap. The guard with the Alsatian had passed just before Lance had made his escape. They were heading away from the river along the perimeter.
‘I think you’d better go next,’ said Les to me.
‘No, you.’
‘Do as I say,’ said Les, as the searchlight swung back over us.
As soon as it was dark again, I nervously rose, climbed out and ran to the fence, climbed to the top, but before I could swing over and jump to the ground, my tunic caught on the barbed wire and it tore a button off as I fell. Nobody heard the thud and I ran off to the haystack, joining the others.
Soon after the light had swung around again, Les arrived, stumbling through the paddock, puffing heavily.
‘We can’t stay here,’ he panted. ‘Let’s get off to the river,’ and he ran out into the darkness, followed by the three of us. We got into the water, but unfortunately there was no shallow margin along which to walk. Before we knew it we were neck deep in freezing, fast-flowing water. I had no time to express my relief that no one had been killed during the escape so far. I was quite amazed that such a foolhardy escapade had gone without any hitch apart from tearing my ill-fitting and bulging tunic.
‘Jesus, it’s cold,’ said Lofty. ‘It’s about a mile to the bridge and I’m going to get there just as soon as I can and get out. I’ll wait for you there.’
We all waded silently and quickly downstream through the water, sometimes forced to swim, until we came to the bridge. Here it was dark and there was very little space between the bottom of the bridge and the bank of the river. We crouched there, shivering, and listening to the noises above, largely drunken singing by German soldiers returning to their barracks from the town. ‘Lili Marlene’ was the most popular number. This went on spasmodically for about two hours. Occasionally a lorry also crossed. We shivered and froze.
‘Perhaps we should cross and go down the left bank,’ said Lance.
‘It’s far too broad with a strong undertow, probably,’ said Lofty. ‘We’ll just have to wait until the traffic on the bridge has gone. Then we’ll cross the bridge and go down the left side of the river and cross the railway and turn left. Ian can go first. If we meet anybody, we’ll just say ‘Heil Hitler’. If we get challenged we’ll just have to charge the guy, knock him out and chuck him in the river.’
‘That’s a good plan,’ said Les. It sounded silly to me.
After another half an hour we had not heard anyone on the bridge for twenty minutes, so we decided to cross.
In the middle of the bridge we encountered a bicycle-riding drunken soldier proceeding towards the camp from the town. The bike was swinging about with a light on the handlebars.
Heil Hitler,’ I said.
’litler,’ replied the intoxicated cyclist. We hurried along. It was a long bridge and before we reached the end of it the cyclist came back towards us with a drawn pistol.
Halt,’ he said in German, waving his pistol, ‘who are you and where are you going?’ He had sobered up, apparently.
We were about to turn and charge him when I noticed a staff car approaching from the town with the headlights on us and the guard behind. I quickly realised that the escape was over, so I turned and addressed the guard coolly in German, saying that we were returning from a working camp. I lie well when frightened, I found.
By this time three soldiers had alighted from the staff vehicle and, realising that the bicyclist was drunk, they asked us where was our postern and why we were out so late. I replied that the postern had deserted us to urinate just before we started crossing the bridge. I didn’t think this sounded very convincing.
‘But you’re going the wrong way if you’re returning to the Stalag,’ said one of the Germans from the staff car, drawing his pistol also and demanding that we hold our hands above our heads.

Comment:
Ian Ramsay (VX10100) was born in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on 18 August 1919, enlisted in January 1940 as a twenty-year old, and subsequently was captured by the German army in Greece in 1941.
He was discharged in July 1945.

Frank ‘Lofty’ Mcdonald (VX1015) was born in St Kilda, Victoria, Australia on 20 November 1917, enlisted in November 1939 just before his twenty-second birthday, and subsequently was captured by the German army in Greece in 1941.
He was discharged in September 1945.

Les Ridge (VX1428) was born in Denilquin, New South Wales, Australia on 6 September 1905, enlisted in November 1939 as thirty-four-year old, and subsequently was captured by the German army in Greece in 1941.
He was discharged in 12 April 1944.
The author writes, “He had snowy white hair due to shock and distress from the time when he had accidentally killed his wife while driving home from a party. This had quite deranged him causing an addiction to alcohol and a sadistic enjoyment of disorderly conduct.”
“He was always prone to talking in his sleep, but soon he started shouting wildly and fell out of bed and tore about like a lunatic until he was hospitalised and later repatriated.”
Further, “Les bought a pub, became an alcoholic and died in the repatriation hospital four years after the war ended.”

Lance Pepperill is somewhat of a mystery as his name doesn’t appear on the Nominal Roll. The author writes that Pepperill and Les Ridge “had been forever Absent Without Leave”, prior to their capture. Pepperill did escape and made his way to Budapest, “Lance was able to get in touch with a relative, his mother’s cousin. She had married a Hungarian while teaching English at a school there just before the war. She and her husband were able to shelter Lance and finally provide him with papers enabling him to stay.”

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Excerpt from “Of Human Bondage” by W. Somerset Maugham ~~Art~~

picture-OfHumanBondage-MaughamPhilip went out and wondered what he should do with himself till dinner. He was eager to do something characteristic. Absinthe! Of course it was indicated, and so, sauntering towards the station, he seated himself outside a cafe and ordered it. He drank with nausea and satisfaction. He found the taste disgusting, but the moral effect magnificent; he felt every inch an art-student; and since he drank on an empty stomach his spirits presently grew very high. He watched the crowds, and felt all men were his brothers. He was happy. When he reached Gravier’s the table at which Clutton sat was full, but as soon as he saw Philip limping along he called out to him. They made room. The dinner was frugal, a plate of soup, a dish of meat, fruit, cheese, and half a bottle of wine; but Philip paid no attention to what he ate. He took note of the men at the table. Flanagan was there again: he was an American, a short, snub-nosed youth with a jolly face and a laughing mouth. He wore a Norfolk jacket of bold pattern, a blue stock round his neck, and a tweed cap of fantastic shape. At that time impressionism reigned in the Latin Quarter, but its victory over the older schools was still recent; and Carolus-Duran, Bouguereau, and their like were set up against Manet, Monet, and Degas. To appreciate these was still a sign of grace. Whistler was an influence strong with the English and his compatriots, and the discerning collected Japanese prints. The old masters were tested by new standards. The esteem in which Raphael had been for centuries held was a matter of derision to wise young men. They offered to give all his works for Velasquez’ head of Philip IV in the National Gallery. Philip found that a discussion on art was raging.

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