Before the lights go out!

July 22, 2013 at 11:54 pm (Aborigines, Commentary, Indepentence for PNG, Papua New Guinea, PNG Health)

 Dave Wall with Graham Greene

Dave Wall with Graham Greene

Some years ago, James, a Greek builder, said to me he wanted to  finish the work in building houses next door to me and get among the Spanish women on the Island of Majorca before the lights go out!

He spent about eight years in building and he then suddenly went to earth. For the life of me, I don’t know if the lights had gone out for him, or if indeed, he ever got to Majorca. As to the Spanish women, who can say?

Looking at my picture above you can certainly see that in my case the lights have gone out! Reflecting on Graham Greene could perhaps be of some help. Hold your breath though!

If all those years ago James didn’t make it as a good-looking Greek with a ponytail, what chance would I have as a broken-down Anglo Australian? I’d say my school friend the Silver Fox in spite of his years with his mixture of German, Irish, and Gallic charm would leave many old would-be fellows like me for dead!

The thing I share with Graham and his life is certainly not his talent, but something of his Catholicism, and the way it continually gets in the way of desire in matters of the flesh. My saving grace has always been a lack of opportunity. Graham in his life didn’t have this problem.

My years have taught me to walk softly in the footsteps of the Aboriginal elders. In fact this came to me years ago when Deborah, my wife, was living in the Block in Redfern. If you didn’t walk with care there was always a good chance you would be robbed. Over the years There were some splendid fellows in the Block in those days. If you did feel an urge to be part of the indigenous spiritually there, it was always possible to arrange a smoking ceremony, and what an experience that was!

The smell of burning gum leaves and the mumbling of incomprehensible words left many in a heavenly state and in touch with the dreamtime and the songlines.

Some of those bag snatchers of old in the Block were probably only preserving the old indigenous tradition of hunters and gatherers!

Deborah, my wife has encounted a variety of robbers and would be robbers: The hunter and gatherer type in the Block, a dysfunctional Anglo-Celtic with a hypodermic syringe full of blood near Broadway in Sydney. In Madrid she was mugged and robbed by a North African follower of the Prophet, well, perhaps a follower!

From the Dept of Planning and Community Development we are given a format in acknowledging our first people:

“I acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land [or country] on which we are meeting. I pay my respects to their Elders, past and present, and the Elders from other communities who may be here today.”

This of course is to be commended, but I would like to see from time to time that some sort of recognition  be given to the eary settlers in building the Australia we have today.

Many of our younger generation seem to have the idea that all the early settlers did was slaughter Aborigines. I must admit that to my shame a lot of this was done, but they also did many noble things.

I approved of Kevin Rudd’s apology to the First Australians for the way they had been treated in the past. But at least today they live in a country that offers them a reasonable level of law and order, access to education and to a good medical service and social security, and generally speaking work if it is really wanted.

On the other hand let’s look at Papua New Guinea, and if any country needs an apology from Australia it’s PNG. The so-called Independence  given to PNG in 1975 has lead to a breakdown of law and order in the country. Fostered a bunch of corrupt politicians and ruined the health service, and disadvantaged the majority of the people. There’s practically no system of social welfare in the country, and the whole place is on the verge of chaos.

Please Mr Rudd apologize to the people of Papua New Guinea for the bad and misguided actions of John Gorton and Gough Whitlam for their part in getting Australia out of PNG.

You have to remember it was the famous Gough who gave Suharto the green light to take over East Timor, need we say anything more!

Many years ago two relations of mine in an RSL were well and truly under the weather, one said to the other pointing to two women:Take your pick they are both goers! I don’t know what happened, maybe they didn’t take a pick, but I don’t think the fate of nations depended on whatever they did. But Whitlam giving Suharto the green light had dire consequences!

If I die or I should say when I die, I want to be buried with Mungo Man – what a splendid end to a life. I wonder when the lights went out for Mungo? Did Mungo pre-decease the Aborigines in Australia, and is of a special race apart? I don’t think the scientific proof is there for this!

On the other hand if the Captain can give me a time within a year period of the Rapture I’m prepared to wait around for this.

I did dare to tell the Captain that his Eschatology was a load of rubbish. I advised him to return to the faith of his pre-Reformation ancestors and bent the knee to Rome. Eliminate all those generations of heresy from his mind – read: Europe and the Faith by Belloc.

We all often think of spiritual places and in the Sydney of old the Block in Redfern often comes to mind. Daryl and Narelle true hunters and gatherers in the old Aboriginal way. Val adding to the charm of the place.

I can’t move on without mentioning an Aboriginal who I have a lot of respect for. In the big protests against Australia getting involved in the Iraq war Shirley Lomas made an impassioned speech in Hyde Park and she ended by stating that we are all Abos!  Sometime after I met her at St Vincent’s in Redfern,and she told she had put her name forward in ATSIC. I don’t think the community realize what a gem they have in Shirley. Her efforts came to nothing. What I like about Shirley is that she tells it as it is without any bullshit. Good luck to you Shirley, wherever you are!

My thoughts go back to a Bible-based community in Queensland under the leadership of Brother George. At the time in the 1980s Brother George and his followers were doing ground-breaking work on the New Age. One of the most enlightened researchers with the community was Brother John. Brother John lived in a caravan at the back of Brother George’s house and did a lot of work with a Sister Cheryl.

Apparently the wife of Brother George was concerned with the amount of time Sister Cheryl was spending with Brother John. One day she knocked on the door of the caravan and said: “What are you two doing in there?” To which Brother John answered: “Working on the New Age for your husband!”

It was to be commended that the purity of the Bibical message was not being undermined by any hanky-panky!

I think in the evolutionary story the poor old Homo Erectus and the Neanderthals get a rough spin. I have it on good authority that both these groups were blessed with immortal souls. So that when we are welcomed into eternal life by St Peter there also with him will be numbers of Neanderthals and others. Life and death are covered with mysteries!

Of course we all know that Jesus has returned in the person of A.J. Miller. Do I need to say anything more? As A.J. says “I’m Jesus deal with it.” Yes, A.J. I will deal with it, by saying you are not Jesus!

One may not always agree with what the famous journalist Helen Thomas, recently deceased, said, but her words in 2010 should be considered concerning Israel and Jews to “get the hell out of Palestine” and “go back home to Poland, Germany, America and everywhere else.”

The geopolitical decision in creating the state of Israel after the war has destabilized the Middle East every since!

Let’s look at the agreement between Rudd and O’Neill, the so called PNG Solution:

I would imagine that what was said privately between Rudd and O’Neill probably went along these lines:

‘Don’t worry Peter, after we announce our policy hardly any boats will turn up anyhow, after the refugees fully realize that if they arrive by boat PNG is where they will finally end up, and just think of all the perks we are giving in exchange for your agreement!’

O’Neill in answer would have said:

‘Good point Kevin, I’ll go along with it provisionally for a year, and see what happens.’

Claire Harvey’s piece in The Sunday Telegraph gives us food for thought:

But also, and perhaps most importantly, Rudd’s PNG plan has exposed the intellectual dishonesty of the “refugee lobby”.

“But but but but but but but,” they have spluttered, “but but but but … ” But PNG is a shithole?

Yeah. It is. And now it’s our shithole – and you know what else? It’s a signatory to the United Nations’ 1951 Refugee Convention.

I must say that I agree with Henry Reynolds that the the Aborigines who died fighting against the white invasion of their land should be honoured like other Australian soldiers.

This blog rant of mine started with a reference to James the Greek builder. It has now come to my notice, and it is rumoured that James is seriously considering taking Holy Orders in the Greek Church – a Church from the Roman point of view that is schismatic but not in heresy – the continuity and validity of their Orders have been maintained throughout the Ages.

I’ll end by posing this question: Have the lights gone out for James?

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Beautiful Wewak is being Trashed

June 25, 2013 at 8:53 am (Commentary, Corruption in PNG, East Sepik District, Papua New Guinea, PNG Health, Wewak)


See: Click on Doc14 below


Mosbi Mauswara lived in Wewak for some years.   He was there recently, and he sadly reports:-

The once attractive and leafy tree lined centre of Wewak is being

“trashed”    There is filth everywhere.   Either Health Inspectors are

hibernating, or have been “bought off”

     Young children hawk cheap (and often nasty) Asian goods on the

crowded streets, whilst their employing merchants lurk behind dingy

trade-store counters, with chop-sticks and ill-gotten work permits at

the ready.   Officers of the Labour Department follow the same work

ethic as their health demoting brothers, and do absolutely nothing to

prevent this outrage.

     Youthful pick-pockets abound; policemen do not.   Their station is

some fifty metres away – much too far to walk!

     The town’s new and modern garbage truck “became unserviceable”

a month after delivery – a victim of enthusiastic and 24- hour daily usage.

     In the main street people push and shove their way past other

shoppers; opportunistic bystanders; hundreds of angry and un-serviced

bank clients – many of them on duty public servants; and of course the

ubiquitous tubercular buai spitter.

     But all is not lost, for our local M.P. has just announced a Wewak

 District Road Map 2013-2017…so all this will change in the coming weeks, or will it?

   Sadly whatever happens, the former beautiful avenue of raintrees

 will not be there to watch! 


Mosbi Mauswara

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Floods along the Sepik River

May 23, 2013 at 7:24 am (Angoram, Chu Leong, East Sepik District, East Sepik Province, Fr Mihalic, Norm Liddle, Papua New Guinea, Peter Johnson, PNG Health, Sara David, Sepik floods, Vivien Liddle)


Recently I accessed Sara David’s blog:

Sara is an Australian midwife, and she is doing wonderful work helping and training Sepik River women in all aspects of birthing and child care.

One of her main trainees is Vivien Liddle of Kambaramba Village. In the old days when I lived in Angoram I knew Vivien’s father, Norm.

Vivien managed to get in touch with Sara in Australia and tell her about a terrible flood they were having now in the Sepik River area. This reminded me of the 1973 floods as reported in the above article in the Post-Courier.

I can imagine the difficulties this would be creating for the people, particularly the young mothers.

A look at Sara David’s blog is strongly recommended.

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Lunch at Dreikikir, East Sepik District, Papua New Guinea

May 16, 2013 at 4:29 am (Commentary, David Wall, Dr Jan J Saave, Dreikikir, East Sepik District, expatriates, Fr John O'Toole, Jock McIntyre, Kami Raymundus, malaria control, Maprik, Papua New Guinea, PNG Health, Robert Desowitz, Salata Village, Wally Trueman or Truman)

A luncheon party in my spacious bush material house, with remarkable guests, some fifty years ago at Dreikikir Patrol Post.

The fare was not remarkable, but more than adequate given the time and place.

Baked beef served cold with potatoes in dressing and lettuce, washed down with a good supply of Victoria Bitter. There was an ample supply of bread and butter. The main course was followed with tropical fruits and coffee.

A good part of this food was flown in by Catholic Mission planes once a week, on a landing strip that was rather famous in having a church at one end, and a hospital at the other – given the shape and nature of the strip, physical and spiritual succour were more than needed!

In attendance serving the guests were two memorable house boys: Kami and Kitahi.


The guest of honour was Professor Robert S. Desowitz, then with the University of Singapore as Chair of Medical Parasitology. He was an authority in his field and subsequently he became world famous.


Professor Desowitz

Professor Desowitz was a congenial and appreciative guest, and he was accompanied by Dr Jan J. Saave.

Desowitz and Saave came up from a village called Salata, some distance away towards Maprik where they were involved in research into immunity factors in malaria.


Another guest was Father John O’Toole, who lived in the Catholic Mission Station at the end of the airstrip. O’Toole was a Bostonian and a man of impressive qualities.


Another guest, Jock McIntyre was the patrol officer in-charge at Dreikikir Patrol Post. Jock loved a social gathering and a drink.


With the others was Wally Truman or Trueman. Wally was the primary school teacher stationed at Dreikikir. He was a very obliging man, and an excellent teacher. At the lunch, Wally did a lot assisting with the catering. He was to see out his term teaching in PNG, and the last I heard of him was that he married and settled in Queensland, where, as far as I know, he continued teaching. His whereabouts now are unknown to me.

During the lunch a lively conversation was carried on. The Professor and Fr O’Toole got on very well being fellow Americans.

Dr Saave referred to the camping site in Salata Village as the Salata Hilton, and Professor Desowitz sat with an amused look smoking his pipe.

As the afternoon progressed, Dr Saave excused himself to check on the patients in the hospital and to lend assistance if it were needed.

Things about Dreikikir were fairly quiet on this day as it was a Sunday.

Looking back it was a privilege for me to have been the host to such a distinguished group, and a sobering thought for me that it is I who is probably the only one still alive, that is if Wally is no longer here on earth.


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Oh, cry for PNG, a cherished land & people; some random thoughts!

May 4, 2013 at 6:50 am (Angoram, Commentary, East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea, PNG Health, Wewak)

“War on Corruption or Crime”


“The rest of the country has joined the bandwagon of the government and the opposition to declare war on crime in Papua New Guinea – in response to the recent surge in violent crimes across the country. Sadly, we have waited too long only to react after so many innocent and precious lives have been taken away prematurely by those who have no regard for human life nor understand their own existence in our human society. Nothing we say or do now will ever replace nor return those lives. Only time will tell if our (as usual) reactive measures by legislating and imposing tougher penalties will deter future offenders or not – the most server being the death penalty.”

“To conclude, to address the root cause of crime in the country, corruption must be equally treated as a worst crime against the State and her people. It has been and is still responsible for most of the social problems in the country which eventually leads to worst crimes. Therefore, whatever penalties applied to murders, rapists, drug edicts, and alcoholics, state criminals or white collar criminals whoever they are must also be treated in the same manner.” See:

In this piece Lucas Kiap writes with a lot of sense. Corruption in PNG is a real problem, and it leads directly to bad government at all levels. For anyone who visits PNG the truth of this is obvious: dirty towns with appalling government services, disparity between the elites and the ordinary people, escalating crime, and in the rural areas an almost total government neglect of villager needs. This, I think, was pointed out in almost the same words by Allan Patience, an internationally recognised scholar, some years ago, and if anything things are worse today!

According to the United Nations Human Development Index, PNG is one of the most poorly governed states in the Third World.
You only have to go to some villages in the Sepik River area to realise how little government attention they get. Hospitals that were major providers of health services, like the Angoram Hospital, in colonial times, are now little better than aid posts. I don’t think a proper census has been conducted in rural areas for years, and perhaps not even in the towns. Most informed people in the country suspect that the population is actually a million more than is officially stated.

For some of my further reflections see:

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Mr & Mrs Kenny

April 28, 2013 at 5:03 am (Biography, Commentary, East Sepik District, expatriates, Maprik, Papua New Guinea, PNG Health)

It’s a funny thing in life how past doings and friends long since forgotten suddenly return to your consciousness.

Well, the other early morning when I awoke from my night’s sleep thoughts suddenly turned to Jim and Madge Kenny.

It would be getting close to fifty years since I’d seen or heard of this captivating couple.

It was in Maprik, in the then East Sepik District, in 1964-65 that I became acquainted with them. We were then all employed by the Public Health Department. Madge was a trained nurse in charge of maternal and child health, and Jim was an EMA (European Medical Assistant) at Maprik Hospital. I was with Malaria Service.

With thoughts about them I had occasion to look at the PNGAA Obituaries, and I came across Madge’s name. She died in 2000 after a distinguished career in nursing and health service management both in PNG and Australia. She left PNG in 1975. For her service there she was awarded an MBE. In Australia she held senior nursing positions, retiring in 1980.

I found no mention of Jim in the said Obituaries. I think I can safely say that like the old soldier he was, he simply faded away.

The stories about Jim were and I’m sure still are legend. What an extraordinary fellow he was.

He was a fighting medical orderly in the AIF with a Mention in Despatches to his credit. Jim carried out his medical duties in many different postings throughout PNG with skill and dedication.

By the time I knew him, he was no longer a young man, but still the dapper, clean and spruce gentleman that I’m sure he’d always been.

I remember him arriving at the Maprik Hotel after work in a PHD chauffeur-driven Land Rover, and stepping out onto the path to the bar ready for a convivial drinking session. If only I’d taken a picture, but alas, I have no snap of him.

We had many meetings together discussing important questions of state and health, lubricated with alcoholic beverages. In fact we used to call these meetings conferences.

On one occasion a young trainee medical assistant was heard to remark that when Mr Wall suggests to Mr Kenny a conference this is not what it really is, but only another name for a drinking session! I dare not comment on this assertion.

Going back some years before I knew Jim, he was on one of his periodic leaves from the Territory, in, I think, Sydney. His mind turned to the medical needs of the Territory’s  Health Department, and he decided he’d visit some medical supply companies. But prior to this he had a card printed that went thus:

 James Kenny, MA LLD                                                                               

Department of Public Health

Territory of Papua & New Guinea

He then duly visited a number of medical/pharmaceutical suppliers, and made extensive orders of products and drugs that he knew were urgently (in his opinion) needed back in the Territory. He signed all the necessary papers for immediate despatch, and everyone accepted his signature as sufficient authorization. You must remember that Jim had the gift of the gab, and he looked the part of a distinguished medical administrator.

Well, after sometime the equipment and drugs arrived by ship in Port Moresby, and the Public Health officials there were amazed to see the wonderful, including x-ray machines of the best and latest, and drugs arrive. The doctors were overjoyed by the products, but then they read the paper work with the consignment, and noticed the authorization approval by the one and only James Kenny. After that there were frantic phone calls to the Sydney companies pointing out that there was no money to pay for the supplied items and no authorization. They were told in no uncertain terms from Sydney that if there was no payment legal action would be taken out against the Health Department.

To make a long story short there was no way the doctors were going to send the supplies back because they were indeed items that were really needed.

At this time Dr John Gunther was the Director of the Health Department, and one of his senior officials had Jim up as it were on the mat.

It was pointed out to Jim that he’d put the Department in a very embarrassing position, and he had no permission to make these purchases, and then one of the officials said to Jim: “What’s this James Kenny, MA LLD?” Jim informed him in so many words that James Kenny was his name, and the MA LLD stood for Medical Assistant liklik dokta.

Being of Irish descent Jim was always eager to make a visit to Ireland. He did make a trip to Dublin, and meet up with some distant relations, and off they went to a pub.

When at the pub one of the customers after hearing Jim speak was reputed to have said: “What’s that Englishman doing in the bar?” – referring to Jim, to which one of his relations answered: “He’s no Englishman, that’s Jim Kenny, the son of Daniel Kenny!” After this a great night was had by all.

In his school years Jim attended Xavier College, Kew, Melbourne. I could not describe him as a fanatical Catholic, if indeed he practised at all. But I never heard him critical of the Church. I suppose his Irish blood was thicker than water, and there’d be inbuilt residual loyalty to Catholicism in his veins.

In both of us I detected some sort of affinity which may have been moulded by our shared Jesuit education – I went to St Ignatius’ College, Riverview. Be that as it may, but in many areas we both saw eye-to-eye, perhaps the drink helped a bit.

Madge, I would suspect was traditional C of E, Jim & Madge’s son, Michael, was sent to Trinity Grammar in Sydney.

Madge was a particularly generous hostess and one was often asked to the house for a meal or a party. Jim was also very generous, but he often found it difficult to stay awake for the arrival of guests.

On arrival at their house it was not unusual to see Jim fast asleep on a chair, and remain so for the duration of the social gathering, and just as the guests were about to leave Jim would wake up thinking the party was just about to start.

Poor Madge once said to me that it would be far easier to be married to a philanderer than to one who drank too much.

Jim, no doubt like us all had his faults, and perhaps at times he was in the grip of the booze, but from my perspective he was always a gentleman.

As I write this piece I’m listening to a recording of Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending, and I think back to those Maprik days, and the remarkable Madge and Jim couple. Both contributed a lot, and expats and the people of PNG are the better for their contact with them.

I think of the young Jim in his military days carrying a loaded 303, and a medical kit bag into battle, ready to fight and render aid – the EMA Jim, and Nurse Madge, in Misima, battling against a polio epidemic. Both rendered so much over the years to an emerging nation.

I often think even to this day that I’d love to again be in conference with Jim, and to be received so graciously by Madge at a dinner party given by her.

Madge Kenny MBE, and James Kenny MID, like Vaughan Williams’ lark, you two are ascending in my consciousness and appreciation.

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Last Tuesday I returned from PNG!

February 4, 2013 at 5:50 am (Angoram, East Sepik Province, PNG Health, Wewak)

Sorry state of Wewak

The National, 30/01/2013                                     Perhaps Gabriel Fito’s description of me as a veteran doctor is over generous!

Stories and pictures will be shortly posted, but for the present I’m suffering from the deadly kus!

I’ve just returned from a month in the Sepik. My many friends there realise what a terrible mess the country is in! The common call I heard in Angoram was, expressed in various Pidgin phrases, but all meaning that the country has gone to the dogs,and when is Australia coming back?

The greatest disservice Australia did to PNG was granting independence in 1975.

Matthias Toliman, Tei Abal, Pita Simogen, and Michael Somare’s father, Ludwig, could all say from the grave, ‘we told you so!’

When I get over the kus mi kisim, I want to write about what the Sepiks really think about the so-called colonial time, and their present ‘elites’, who have largely presided over the demise of government services, and enriched themselves and their families – they can go overseas for medical treatment and educate their children in prestigious institutions abroad.

It’s about time Australia recognises the near chaos in its neighbour, and forget about places like Afghanistan!

Excuse me for going on,and my comment might be immaterial as appropriate to Anthony Radford’s book, but the colonial period compared with the present PNG situation was utopian!

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An excellent review of A.C.T. Marke’s latest novel

November 23, 2012 at 1:51 am (A.C.T. Marke, Adolf Hitler, Book review, Commentary, East Sepik District, expatriates, Famous Old Wellingtonians, Fiction, Israel, Love in a hot climate, Love on the Run, malaria control, Papua New Guinea, PNG Health, Sepik River, Somerset, Temlett Conibeer, Third Reich, Twixt Semites and swastikas: Temlett Conibeer's greatest challenge)

Click on the links below:

Book review 1

Book review 2

Book review 3

Twixt Semites and swastikas…

Frogmouth Press

187 Low Head Road,

Low Head Tas 7253

$30.00  Posted $35.00


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Last Wedesday I suffered a slight seizure!

October 19, 2012 at 10:00 pm (A.C.T. Marke, expatriates, Famous Old Wellingtonians, Fiction, Love in a hot climate, Love on the Run, Papua New Guinea, PNG Health, Temlett Conibeer, Twixt Semites and swastikas: Temlett Conibeer's greatest challenge)


Book cover – A.C.T. Marke’s novel

The trouble was that it happened when Deborah and Shirlita were in the house, and I was immediately put on the hospital/medical treadmill — I’m totally OK now!

What could I put this down to? There were probably some vague physical reasons, but I firmly believe that it was caused by a highly-charged and intensely emotive piece of reading I was doing at the time. I had reached page 71 of A.C.T. Marke’s Twixt Semites and swastikas: Temlett Conibeer’s greatest challenge, and I was finding the sexual physical control and restraint of Temlett when faced with the willing and beautiful East German woman, Lena Adler, quite remarkable!

While saying nothing about the occasion of sin that Temlett had placed himself in, but given this, and his super-human powers in the rejection of temptation; one can glean the excitable strain on the ardent reader, indeed on me!

So, to those intending to purchase this combustible novel, be warned!

It’s just as well that I know that Marke underwent the surgeon’s knife yesterday, or I would have considered suing him for being instrumental in causing serious palpable harm!


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October 15, 2012 at 12:51 pm (artifacts, Commentary, Papua New Guinea, PNG Health)

Brewery unveils new label

One approving resident of PNG wrote thus to me:

“This bit of shattering news appeared recently in The National, but it was of such major import that both papers made mention.   Are you going to second my Nobel nomination?

” I knew we could have confidence in the new government; just look at the attached, this will do wonders for the nation, what an advance…Nobel Peace Prize for the innovative Mr. Harwood!”

Since the introduction of country-wide drinking in PNG in 1962 the wonders of alcohol have been an ever-present feature of the nation!

Should we congratulate the SP Company for the nation-building potential of every greenie can & brownie bottle of their fine amber fluid?

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