A few words at JB’s 70th birthday party

December 7, 2010 at 6:41 am (Papua New Guinea, Parousia, Sepik Blu Longpela Muruk, theology) (, , , , , , , , )

70th Birthday Party of John Bowers held at Irene Graham’s house in Gordon on 7/5/10                        

John a true Victorian, in a sense a 19th Century man, he deals mainly with the respectable institutions in society: the Army, the Law and the Church

John Bowers, an Englishman abroad; I’m not in any sense comparing him with Guy Burges. 

It must be well over forty years since I first met John on the banks of the Sepik River at Angoram. From the start I could see that he was a man on a mission and a quest. There was no mistaking him for anything else but an Englishman. Another English friend of mine was once asked, was he English? To which he replied, ‘are there any other people?’ John, I’m sure, would not be so abrupt. But yes, he was in a sense a latter day Empire representative, if indeed the colonial outpost was Australian rather than English but we were all British in those days! 

It did not take me long to realize that John was a Sandhurst man and ex-British Army with intense spiritual interests with a dedication to the Authorized Version and the Book of Common Prayer. In Angoram he was a Patrol Officer and political educator. On my blog I describe JB as, An Englishman of many talents, John Bowers

John Bowers, British Army, Sandhurst Man, Patrol Officer, Teilhardian, He subsequently put aside The Phenomenon of Man by Teilhard de Chardin for McCann’s God or gorilla, Special Branch Officer, Judge’s Associate,  New-Age Fighter, Anglican Prayer Book Man, Premillennialist and Herbalife Consumer, A Most Extraordinary Man!

The fictional character, Ernest Spender, in Sepik Blu Longpela Muruk, shows a remarkable resemblance to JB.

His world-wide quest has taken him to many places, meeting many people: He shared a whisky with Field Marshal Alexander’s chaplain, a committee with Arianna Stassinpoulos, author of The Female Woman, alerted Brother George, a biblically inspired Cannon Hill Baptist to the dangers of the New-Age after his experiences at Findhorn and his reading of David Spangler, Revelation:The Birth of a New Age. He instructed Cheryl, an aspirant of the Cannon Hill congregation on New Light on the New Age. His intense instruction on one occasion caused Brother George’s wife to ask him what Cheryl and he were doing in the caravan. In no uncertain terms he told her that they were working on the New-Age for her husband.  Perhaps his instruction was not intense enough as it was said that Cheryl converted to Islam later He was washed in the waters of the Jordon with full Baptist rites while in no way turning his back on his Anglican tradition. He has discussed The Secular City with Harvey Cox in the Holy Land and been left by Brother George with an appreciation of the Dry Bones (Ezekiel 37: 4) He has revealed to Dr Patricia Brennan his position on the ordination of women at an Anglican Synod in Sydney and excused it with reference to the Sandhurst motto: Serve to lead.

But he had to admit to Dr Brennan at lunch that he didn’t support the ordination of women.

In the hills of Adelaide a holy father in a monastery took exception to John’s reference to finding the Special Branch in a cupboard, and took him by the throat. There was nothing Neanderthal about the holy father or John!

  John a red-blooded male has chosen, like the Lord the single state while being always drawn to women he always respects them In spite of, at times, the gloom and doom of his theology, he has always preserved an essential Joie de vivre. Even if we are in the Tribulation There is faith hope and charity and the rapture of the Lord.  

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6: 12) 

If I may say, on a more serious note, I would like to thank John on mine and my wife, Deborah’s behalf for all that John has done for us and our two sons, Andrei and David Augustus. When we returned from PNG John was a pillar of strength and support for us. 

 Ladies and Gentlemen I give you John Bowers, Alias Sir Ernest Spender!

Whether it’s breaking up a riot in PNG or saving a plane of returning military families in Karachi or refusing to cross the Tiber and remaining true to his Reformation ideals we can say with St Paul you’ve Fought The Good Fight,( nearly) Finished The Race, Kept The Faith (2 Timothy 4:7)

Like St Paul you have been all things to all men and may I add women (1 Corinthians 9:10)

Happy Birthday, 70 years and still going strong!

Not old age not new age but just John Bowers, A man for all seasons.

Perhaps I might be forgiven for saying that there is something of the Rapture about this convivial gathering here tonight! And for this we owe a lot of thanks to Irene.

 Thank you and God bless you, John.

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Inspirational Volumes for the Jungles of PNG

November 2, 2010 at 11:33 pm (David Wall, expatriates, Love on the Run, Papua New Guinea, Sepik Blu Longpela Muruk) (, , , , , , , , , )

I was recently asked by a friend that if I were marooned in the bush of Papua New Guinea for three months and was allowed to take four works of literature with me, what would they be? Without a moments hesitation I named them:

Love on the Run and  Love in a Hot Climate by A.C.T. Marke

Sepik Blu Longpela Muruk by David Wall

The Confessions of St Augustine

I would be interested to hear from anyone who can come with a better selection.

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Professor Hank Nelson comments

April 18, 2010 at 5:20 am (Angoram, David Wall, expatriates, Love on the Run, Pacific war, Papua New Guinea, Sepik Blu Longpela Muruk, Temlett Conibeer) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Letter from Professor Hank Nelson

I was so grateful to receive the above from Hank Nelson. The now late Professor Hank Nelson was a wonderful man and great academic.

See: http://ips.cap.anu.edu.au/ssgm/nelson-obituary/index.php

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Free online copy of Sepik Blu Longpela Muruk!

December 28, 2008 at 11:21 pm (Angoram, artifacts, expatriates, Fiction, malaria control, Papua New Guinea) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

A critique that is a fair measure of the book.

Just send me your email address in ‘comment’ and I’ll send you an online copy. The link to the online copy:


For $2 you can get the book from Amazon Kindle Direct:http://www.amazon.com/kindle/dp/B00BJKTFEM/ref=rdr_kindle_ext_eos_detail

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Word Document of Sepik Blu Longpela Muruk

September 18, 2008 at 6:49 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

If you are interest just send me $5 or 5 Kina with your email address and the revised version of Sepik Blu Longpela Muruk is yours on a Word Document.

My address: David Wall, 152 Wilson Street, Newtown 2042 NSW Australia

If you really feel you can’t afford $5 just send me your email address and I’ll see what I can do.

Hurry, a limited offer!

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Genre and Classification

September 3, 2008 at 1:47 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

.Genre and classification   French Letters and the English Canon by Mark Daniel  (Timewell Press 2007)


Two brilliant works of literature have recently hit the market: Sepik Blu Longpela Muruk and Love on the Run. Both are said to be works of fiction but are they? Do they go to the fiction or non-fiction part of a collection? Should a reviewer give them an artistic or intellectual complexion by naming them among other great roman à clef novels? To help me answer this I have referred to the above excellent work by Mark Daniel.

   Could it be we are dealing with boring didactic novels that are more like those of a roman a these classification? In Sepik Blu… the protagonist is James Ward and in Love on the… we have Temlett Conibeer. Both characters are anything but boring. James, tortured by religious scruples and sexual desires  wants to get a bit but still go to heaven. Temlett is not beyond getting a bit but what he really wants is a wife. In both cases their ends or purposes in life are left in the lap of the gods. Whether they knew it or not both were Aristotelean and Thomistic in their teleological life aspirations and because these aspirations are left somewhat up in the air: James’ flight to heaven is unknown and Temlett does not seem to get a wife, we might think that both tales are ones of hopelessness. However, both James and Temlett are on a life journey and as Stevenson said: “To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive…”

   Love on the Run has something of a roman fleuve about it but it’s not really about a family. The same applies to Sepik Blu Longpela Muruk. Both books are certainly not of the roman policier  variety. So back we are left with the old roman à clef.

   The PNG setting of both books adds to their exotic flavour.

   Whatever you might think of these books and of James Ward and Temlett Conibeer and it is probably all French to you, anyhow. I only hope, if they are real, that in their life activities they always practised safe sex and used a French Letter or several. Maybe on second thoughts it’s all Greek to you!

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In praise of Sepik Blu Longpela Muruk

April 28, 2008 at 1:46 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , )



As a former ASAG Officer I was privileged to live in PNG for over twenty years. I lived in this strange, beautiful land in Taim Bilong Masta. In those slowly declining years of Australian involvement in the then Territory of Papua New Guinea; those transition years leading to premature independence, the time proudly referred to by politicians as: PNG Lukim Nau or Black Masta Olgeta. The view about the untimeliness of independence depends on your assessment of the economy and the political situation when it took place. The point I am simply making is:  I was living in PNG roughly in the same period that the novel by David Wall was set in. Perhaps this fact gives me a certain kinship with the book in knowing the location settings and the type of characters he describes.


This novel by David Wall portrays a topnotch collection of sketches, psychologically impressive, masterfully collated and skillfully presented. The life stories of expatriates from many parts of the world in the administration and in private enterprise are described as they cope successfully or otherwise with living in PNG. In a land where over 700 languages are spoken they communicated with the indigenous as best they could in Pidgin English. One can criticize them and disagree with the attitudes of many expatriates, who are the characters in this novel, while understanding some of their motivations.


Some of the criticism of this novel centres on the attitudes of the characters and too strongly tends to identify the author with these same attitudes. I myself would not endorse all that went on in the PNG of old, however, all criticism should be impartial and not couched in poorly disguised envy.



As one of his admiring readers I sincerely hope that David Wall will continue writing more earthy fiction about far away places. Perhaps a big request but one I know he can fulfill and I extend to him my thanks and as they would say in Port Moresby: Bamahuta turagu (Goodbye my friend).




Frank Sibl

26th April, 2008

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November 19, 2007 at 6:23 am (Uncategorized) (, , , )

Sepik Blu Longpela Muruk   by David Wall  Paperback: 184 pages  Publisher: Swirl (January 23, 2007)Order from David Wall, 152 Wilson St., Newtown 2042 NSW Phone: (02) 95505053 Email mahal362000@yahoo.com.au Price $30.00 includes postage in Australia and PNG 


 If it’s Harrison Ford, blasting volcanoes or cannibals and crocodiles red in tooth and claw you are seeking, then don’t bother to read this quite excellent novel of the real life in out-station Papua New Guinea during the 1960s and 70s, as “colonials” came face to face with Self-Government and then, Independence.

David Wall, a modest thoughtful and perceptive narrator, draws upon his Papua New Guinea experiences spanning some eighteen years spent largely as a Health Officer in rural areas, to weave a tale based upon real and imaginary persons and situations and scattered with quaint but apt philosophical views and quotations.

In David Wall’s first novel we meet his enigmatic chief character, James Ward. James is an intelligent, questioning and perhaps fearful Roman Catholic, uncertain as to whether he seeks Lassiter’s Reef or the Holy Grail. His orthodox upbringing ill prepares him for his collision with the “freewheeling”, perhaps promiscuous life style of Angoram, the  factual Sepik River outpost which is the main setting for Sepik Blu Longpela Muruk.

James Ward’s would be lover, Laura Sheppard perceptively understands his psyche. When discussing their relationship, she says “It doesn’t do anyone’s self-esteem any good to be viewed as an occasion of sin and I wouldn’t want you discussing our sex life with some creepy old priest.” 

At Angoram and along the Sepik River, we are introduced to the residents: priests, patrol officers, traders and others whose occupations are less clearly defined — “a visiting sociologist from the USA described the Angoram expats as being sustained by some private dream of riches without labour.   This was perhaps apposite for some, but for others even the dream had gone.” This cast of eclectic characters is skillfully portrayed and was undoubtedly drawn from the author’s wealth of experience and shows his keen sense of observation and personality insight.

Around 1972, I met Keith and Jean McCarthy in Brian Bell’s Boroko store and it seemed that they were buying half the white-goods on offer. I asked Keith, “Surely you are not thinking of leaving?”  “Well,” he said, “it’s like this. We almost don’t know anyone anymore, so yes, we are going South shortly.” This was the dilemma faced by all long- term residents of “The Territory” and the dilemma faced by James Ward and his fellow expatriates in Angoram. Sepik Blu Longpela Muruk follows them through their difficulties and agonized decision making — to leave, or to stay! 

White Papua New Guinea residents will understand, appreciate and enjoy this book greatly, Australians devoid of the “PNG Experience” will perhaps be less convinced of its veracity but will be amazed if convinced that truth is indeed stranger than fiction. Anyway, they will also enjoy it. Papua Niugini nationals may have even more difficulty, but for the older literate citizens, it may help to provide some explanation for the odd behavior of the expatriates they observed in their youth; some may even nostalgically wish to turn back the clock! 

David Wall, like Somerset Maugham was a medical professional; Mr Wall is not yet an author of W. Somerset Maugham’s standing…but with his raw talent and wealth of material, one day he just might be! 


  ·        Reviewed by Peter Johnson,  Wewak, East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea                                                                  origin.wewak@global.net.pg   

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