Alan Pretty’s Photos

January 30, 2009 at 7:02 am (Uncategorized) (, )


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Collected Short Stories

January 25, 2009 at 6:45 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

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Nancy Bird-Walton: State Funeral

January 21, 2009 at 11:35 am (Uncategorized) (, )


State Funeral.jpg

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Nancy Bird-Walton: State Funeral

January 21, 2009 at 5:41 am (Uncategorized) (, , , )


View photos from the bottom up for a correct time sequence of the service.

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Goya Henry (Steve Meacham’s article)

January 15, 2009 at 3:46 am (expatriates, Papua New Guinea) (, , , , , , )


Once a jolly daredevil … pilot’s legacy is museum’s trophy

    Pride of the fleet … Ian Debenham with the Jolly Roger, which the Powerhouse Museum bought for $125,000.Pride of the fleet … Ian Debenham with the Jolly Roger, which the Powerhouse Museum bought for $125,000. Photo: Brendan Esposito
    Sydney Morning Herald
    Steve Meacham December 21, 2007

    BETWEEN the wars Henry Goya Henry was the acknowledged pirate of the Australian skies. Not just because of the skull and crossbones painted on his bright red Genairco plane, nicknamed the Jolly Roger, which he used for joy flights over Sydney Harbour. Nor because, like Long John Silver, he had lost one of his legs – the result of an accident in July 1930, when his monoplane crashed at Manly, killing his passenger. His piratical reputation was mainly the result of his perpetual flouting of aviation laws – most dramatically in 1936 when he became the first pilot to fly (illegally) under the newly built Sydney Harbour Bridge, at a time when his licence was suspended. Henry – Goya to friend and foe – died childless in 1974. But his daredevil legacy lives on thanks to the Powerhouse Museum, which has paid $125,000 for the Jolly Roger, his most famous plane. According to Ian Debenham, the museum’s transport curator, the Jolly Roger deserves to be as much of a celebrity as the man who flew it. “Genairco VH-UOG is a very significant plane,” he said. It was one of nine designed and built by the General Aircraft Company in Mascot between 1929 and 1933, when the company folded. And that makes the Genairco the first aircraft series to be designed and manufactured in Australia. Only three Genaircos survive. Originally they were designed to house the locally made Harkness Hornet engine – the first Australian aircraft engine to be considered for airworthiness approval by the Department of Civil Aviation. Unfortunately, the Australian engine was not as good as its overseas rivals, so was never commercially viable. However, the original prototype is also in the Powerhouse collection. Henry’s father bought the Genairco for him in 1935, a year after his first conviction for contravening air navigation regulations. By July 1936 the authorities were so exasperated by his maverick ways his licence was suspended again. A few days later he flew under the Harbour Bridge to spite them. That same year the High Court ruled in his favour against the Commonwealth, which had sought to suspend him indefinitely. But his flying days were nearly over. After another crashwhen taking off from Mascot, Henry was bankrupted in 1938. He tried to join the Royal Australian Air Force at the start of World War II, but was ruled out because of his artificial leg. Instead he joined the small ships unit of the United States Army in 1943, based in New Guinea where he spent most of the rest of his working life.

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      The phone rings!

      January 14, 2009 at 11:01 pm (Short Story) ()

      The phone rang at four in the morning and I thought to myself, ‘who the hell is that? Maybe it will stop ringing and I can go back to sleep.’ But it didn’t and I had to answer it:

      Hello and a vaguely familiar voice answered: James here, I thought I’d better get in touch. I’ve been away for a while and I want to catch up. In my still sleepy half conscious state it came to me that I’d not heard James’s voice for years. Well he went on: I’ve been about quite a bit since I left and I’ve run into some interesting people. Dad and Mum are fine. Joan said that if I meet you to say she is thinking about you.


      By this time I was wide-awake and I was starting to think that the voice sounds just like James or Fells as we used to call him; but could it be? Fells, where are you now? He answered: I’m half way to Canberra from Melbourne; Uncle and Auntie asked me to check on something they left in Merton. Which I’ve done and I now want to get to Canberra and fill Geraldine in about a few things. What was it you had to check on in Merton? I asked him. Oh, it was just a pigskin sidesaddle that Em was worried about.


      Em was our great-aunt and the toast of Melbourne as a horsewoman but when was this, I wondered. Merton, the family house in Brighton had long since gone. So I said: Fells, you’re not making any sense. Oh, yes, I am, it’s all in the poetry of essence, which you’ll know about eventually.


      By this time the conversation with my brother, James, was taking on a surreal character and I didn’t know why. I said to him: Where exactly have you been and how is it that you saw Mum and Dad? He answered: Well, I’ll tell you. When you are completely free you can see and meet whom you like. You know our great grandfather, Thomas Mason, the one who lost his finger, he wasn’t too pleased when he heard about the photo of him being burnt. Mum’s brother, Reg, is still into growth and he told me he has more money than he knows what to do with.


      You can’t tell me, James, that you have spoken to all these people. The next thing you’ll be telling me is that you have spoken to the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Without any hesitation he answered: Yes, I have. You can’t avoid them! To which I said: So, there are three of them? No, he said. But I can’t expect you to understand that. To help you, I can tell you that the power is as one.


      By this time I was inclined to agree that the moon was made of cheese and that pigs can fly, but then James came out with a long dissertation-like flow of rhetoric:

      David, imagine you are in a state where you don’t need to know anything. Every question you may care to ask has been answered. You know that almost everything you have been told before is at  best incomplete. You remember my book? What do we know, what can we believe? Well I can now tell you, sweet bugger all. It’s not that everything is wrong but all people with their closed minds can’t see the forest for the trees and they can’t see the trees for the woods. You’re not on the red? I asked. No way! There’s no time. I’ve met hundreds of people who have come into their own. Like poor little kids from the slums of the world, the aborted and the mistreated, and many others.

      Was Fells some sort of an oracle? Before he left I always thought that he was the most intelligent one in the family and his years away could have only improved his mind, or that is what I figured. I asked him had he spoken to our father lately. Oh, yes, I saw him speaking to Hilaire Belloc recently. Belloc seems more than ever convinced that he was right many years ago when he wrote:”The Faith is Europe. And Europe is the Faith.” The Faith is, of course, the Catholic Church. And Europe must return to it or “perish” You can imagine that Dad would have been in complete agreement with this though their ideas on the Faith are not so defined these days. Oh, I almost forgot to tell that your houseboy, Kami, from Papua New Guinea wondered how you were. He was telling me he had received a lot of credit for the thousands of cups of tea he had made for you. Anyhow, he’s doing well now. But he is a bit worried about his family in Torembi, a village in the Sepik. While talking about the Sepik; our brother-in-law, Kevin was telling me about those Indian prisoners of the Japanese that he rescued in 1945. He has run into most of them around here and they were very pleased to see him.

      James, what do you mean by around here’? He answered: Here is here and there is there and around here is something of little importance.

      He might think that but to me it was very important as I was trying to focus on a context of persons and places in the drift of our conversation. I left this as it were and went on talking: I suppose you’ve heard about Caitilin getting a PhD. Caitilin is James’s daughter. You don’t say, David. I knew she always had it in her to do well. Talking about degrees; Reg Morrison, you know the brother of Morrison of Peking, told me that he was most upset when he heard in the twenties that Melbourne University had not granted Dad an MD. Fortune does not always favour the deserved.


      James asked me about his sons, Dominic and Jamie and I was able to tell him that they are doing well. I then mentioned that, Geraldine, his wife had been missing him over the past years. He then said: We’ll all be together eventually.  I then went on to tell him that at least he could have made a greater effort to keep contact but I suppose he had his reasons:

      I certainly have my reasons. You be interested to hear what our sister Madie’s husband, Knut, had to say about the family situation. According to him he didn’t want any split in the family but for him things were so hard to handle s0 he more or less left it to Madie. The truth of the matter or otherwise no longer seemed to count. And it seemed easier not to talk about it. Sufficient to say on the matter is that he now regrets many things and is very sorry.


      I told James about my family, sons, Andrei and David Augustus. Andrei teaching in Kuwait and Augustus writing a fancy story that has great promise. Deborah, my wife, is still very interested in social research into race and identify, especially of Aboriginal and Filipino people. James then told me that he had recently spoken to Charlie Perkins and exchanged stories about the old days in Canberra. Charlie said that he knows that a lot more work needs to be done for his brothers and sisters and by them but some good things had happened. He was heartened by the election of a black president in the USA.

      Do you have any regrets about leaving, James? He answered: I didn’t have much choice about it, if you will recall. But as things have worked out it was all for the best. That film, “The Passion”, we saw together, you know Mel Gibson’s, in a funny way prepared me to leave. John Henry Newman and Augustine were quite complimentary about it. The Lord just smiled when it was mentioned.


      Now I knew that James must have lost it. One does not just run into Newman, Augustine and the Lord. Fells, if you’re not on the red, you must be stoned. He came back and said: In a funny way you are right if stoned explains a heightened sense of awareness. You are limited by time and space, so all that has been is out of your reach. Why do you think it strange for me to meet people? I let this pass and just went on listening and talking.

      I have to tell you about something great. Joan, our sister, Kevin, her husband and Adrienne are so happy together. They no longer get headaches. They want to be remembered to all their loved ones: Sarah, Becky, and Elaine’s family. Thienette de Berigny,our great grandfather, has a homoeopathic remedy for Sarah’s medical problem. He hopes to visit her soon and dispense some sort of mixture. Mum and all of us around here know that ‘The price of wisdom is above rubies.” Even Aunt Connie agrees with this.


       By this time the Bard’s thoughts came to me: “Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t.” By the way, James, while you’ve been away I wrote a novel: “Sepik Blu Longpela Muruk”. Not much really but I enjoyed writing it. Some expats from PNG like it. Well, that’s good, David. You always liked PNG.


       I looked at the clock, it was 4:30. We had been speaking for half an hour. I was reluctant to put the phone down. James when can we meet up? You say you are on your way to Canberra. Sydney isn’t far from from Canberra. And then he said a strange thing: Distance has nothing to do with time and space. It’s really important to give your heart to others. By helping others, you help yourself. We’ll meet up soon enough, maybe sooner than you think. A lot of my friends regret not living better lives while they had the chance.


      James, you’ve been away for over four years; have you given your heart away and have you seen any women you fancy? David, life begins in your seventies but the answer is no. But I did recently talk with Margaret More, you know Thomas More’s daughter.

      Now wait a minute, James, what are you on about? Do you mean Henry VIII and all that? Yes, yes, yes, that’s what I mean. All right, I suppose the next thing you’ll tell is that she gave her father’s side of the story. He than went on to say what Margaret had said. Her father really had no choice in the matter. He understood the dictates of his conscience. But his conscience was formed by considering the whole of Christendom; The King’s good servant, but God’s first. We don’t see much of Henry or Rich around here. He said.


      I thought to myself; let him go on there is a bit of sense here but he is the first person I know who has spoken the Thomas More’s daughter.

      Suddenly I became aware that I was watching television; someone was talking about Hillary Clinton and a new diplomacy on the Middle East. I realized that I must have been sleeping and on the table near me I noticed some writing in a journal: “James de Berigny Wall (1929-2004) The editor wishes to apologise that this important obituary was overlooked in 2004.”

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      An encounter on the shores of Lake Victoria

      January 13, 2009 at 11:13 pm (Short Story) (, , , , , )

      Many years ago, in my younger days, I spent a bit of time travelling and hitchhiking around Africa. Most countries in the continent were still under colonial rule and one could still travel in relative safety and sleep cheaply here and there. Along the way I met interesting people of different races and creeds. But it would be hard to meet a more likeable and charming fellow than Patrick Cassian, an old boy of Stonyhurst College, a Jesuit school in Lancashire. Pat exuded all the charm of the Irish with the refinement of an English education. His handsome black Irish good looks and his polished manners were like a magnet to expatriate colonial women. 

          I ran into Pat while trying my hitchhiking luck outside Nairobi in Kenya. I waved to a grey Peugeot 403 and it stopped. I explained to the driver, who was Pat, that I was making my way to virtually anywhere in East Africa. He informed me that he was going towards Uganda and he could give me a lift. I jumped into the car and we ended up travelling together for about three weeks. 

         It transpired in the course of our conversation that Pat was a travelling salesman for Marshalls East Africa, selling Peugeots and heavy equipment. At this time I would have been in my early twenties and Pat would have been in his middle thirties. I mentioned to Pat that I was Australian, to which he replied: “I can see that.” Then for some reason the question of where I went to school came up and I told him I went to a Jesuit school in Sydney: St Ignatius’ College, Riverview. “Ah, do you remember your school’s motto?” He asked. Not being a terribly bright student and by no means a classical scholar it was a bit of luck that I did: Quantum Potes Tantum Aude “As much as you can do, so much dare to do” “Strange, ours was similar but not in Latin, in French: Quant Je Puis, which translates: As Much As I can. The same old Jesuit mark, I guess. I went to Stonyhurst.”

          Not that our old schools formed much of the topic of discussions, from memory the main subject of conversation was women. 

          Travelling around East Africa, one is struck by the natural beauty and contract of the scenery. The mountain stretches and deep drops of the Rift Valley in Kenya, the tropical splendour of Uganda and the savannah stretching to the immensity of Tanganyika’s Mt Kilimanjaro; all surrounding great Lakes like Victoria and crowned, as it were, by the Mountains of the Moon or Mt Rwenzoni, located between the border of Uganda and the Belgian Congo. All the great mountains of East Africa are snow-capped: Mt Kilimanjaro, Mt Kenya and the Mountains of the Moon. 

          Pat had to visit dealers at a town called Bukoba in Tanganyika on Lake Victoria. After he had conducted his business we decided to spend the day by having lunch at the local hotel on the Lake and then just to play it by ear; visits to local African, shall we say, beer drinking stores. 

          By mid-afternoon we were both pretty well primed. We had started drinking with an Englishman who was leaving Bukoba by a Lake Victoria steamer/ferry for a port in Uganda. We were both determined to see Fred, I think that was his name, off in style.

          This consisted in Pat driving him to the ferry and having a few more drinks with him on board. This was duly done and Pat and I, at one stage, decided that we would dive off the deck rather than disembark in the normal way. Fortunately this course of action was not followed as I’m sure we would have been killed in the attempt. 

          It was early evening by the time the boat left. Our friend was waved off with gestures of eternal friendship. After this we made our way to Pat’s trusty Peugeot. 

          We did get to the car, but Pat was only able to drive it for about 50 yards, and then he more or less collapse at the wheel. 

          The car was still parked near the lake and I decided to put the seats in a reclined position, and in this makeshift bed two intoxicated gentlemen passed out. 

          The next thing I became aware of was the sound of sniffing and nosing around the car. I looked out of one of the windows and all I could see were gigantic animals peering in.

          At first I wondered if I were suffering from delirium tremens. The dawn was just starting and my senses were returning and I realized that what I was seeing was hippopotamuses or hippopotami, whatever you prefer. Pat was still dead to the world. 

          Looking at the size of these animals I wondered if their sniffs would become shoves and the car and we would go rolling over; but in time they lost interest in us and the car, and moved on. 

          Shortly after this Pat awoke and we drove to the hotel where we were staying. 

          I was later told that hippos are very aggressive animals. When one considers that they can be 2 tons in weight; the Peugeot would have been little protection if they had decided to attack us. 

          After this eventful experience we drove back to Nairobi, and from there I parted company with Pat and continued on my travels, however, we did meet up briefly once again in Mombassa just before I left by ship for Europe and the UK, but that is another story.    

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      James’s obituary, Ignatian, Dec. 2008 Vol. 17 No. 3

      January 11, 2009 at 7:13 am (Uncategorized) ()


      James's obituary

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      Sepik Blu Longpela Muruk

      January 11, 2009 at 3:53 am (Uncategorized) ()

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      Somare makes Hawke a Chief

      January 8, 2009 at 11:15 pm (Grand Companion of the Order of Logohu (GCL), Papua New Guinea) (, , , , )

      Source: Solomon Times Online 08/01/09

      Sir Michael’s letter read:

      “Dear Bob, As you may be aware, PNG now has its own national honours and awards system – The orders of Papua New Guinea. “Having our own honours system enables us to honour both citizens and non-citizens who have made special contribution to Papua New Guinea’s development, both before and after Independence. Your support for Papua New Guinea extends from the time you assisted in the development of our trade union movement, and basic workplace conditions, to the strong support you gave us during your term as Prime Minister of Australia. I believe your contribution more than marks your being awarded the highest honour available to a non-citizen, namely the Grand Companion of the Order of Logohu (GCL) with the title of ‘Chief’. Logohu is the Bird of Paradise in the Motuan language.”

      Sir Michael invited Mr Hawke to visit Papua New Guinea at the time of the investiture ceremony tentatively set for the first week of March.

      Papua New Guinea Post-Courier:

      Copyright © 2009 PNG Post-Courier. All Rights Reserved

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