Just enjoy! Chinese doing unexpected things…

I like to post Chinese doing unusual things, as an antidote to the political norm these days. Preferably Chinese doing amazing and brilliant unusual things. Entertaining too, it goes without saying. Take the first one. I posted it on Facebook a couple of days back with this note:

More Chinese doing dastardly things to charm us with music. Careful. You might be lured into thinking they are actually human and immensely talented. That would never do! Or you might just sit back and enjoy something brilliant, and bugger the politicians!

And then there is Zhou Shen, whom we have met before. This is really unexpected, and it is in English:

Here he teams up with two others — and yes, I think you know the song:

The last offering on this post is local and classical, though it no doubt includes a number of Mainland Chinese background. I noted:

That Hall I have known so well! Been on that stage more than once over the years, from being in the choir way back in the 50s to occasionally getting a prize on Speech Night, to much much later sitting there in academic dress as a staff member on Speech Night…

The orchestra is so good nowadays! Much more than Rugby and Rowing at the old place, eh! Though I no longer mock those things either….

And a note to all those who have wrung their hands and had conniptions in recent years — Western culture, in this instance Mozart, is very much alive and well and being done proud even with so many Asian faces looking back at us from their instruments! Good stuff!

About that violinist in the first video

Since this post was published I have been looking into this amazing artist some more. A comment on one of his YouTube videos says: “Can this man get any more perfect? It’s not only that he’s talented as f but he’s also such a kind, fun and genuine artist.” I note also that he appears on South Korean as well as Chinese TV.

So, for more I checked (of course) Wikipedia.

Henry Lau (born October 11, 1989), commonly referred to mononymously as Henry, is a Canadian singer, songwriter, actor, entertainer and classical violinist based in South Korea and China. He debuted in 2008 as a member of Super Junior-M and launched his solo career in 2013 with Trap. His original soundtrack “It’s You” released in 2017 became the #1 top-streamed Korean OST on Spotify for two consecutive years in 2018 and 2019.

Henry made his Hollywood debut in 2019 with the film A Dog’s Journey produced by Amblin Entertainment, the sequel to the 2017 film A Dog’s Purpose. In 2020, the action/fantasy movie “Double World” nominated for “Best Visual Effects” and “Best Action Choreography” at the 39th Hong Kong Film Award starring Henry premiered on Netflix and China’s streaming service iQiyi, becoming the first movie in mainland China’s film history to achieve simultaneous global release…

And here is the young Henry Lau:

Just went back 5 years, now how about 1?

Not that (perhaps apart from Victoria) we in Australia have too much to moan about, but COVID does seem to me to have changed our perception of time itself, so there is now since 2020 and before 2020 almost as different ages! One bonus of course is that it also ended the weirdest rule in US history in my life time, the aberration — one desperately hopes — which was that clearly not a genius, and clearly not stable, charlatan Donald J Trump.

But enough of him.

In the latter stage of our COVID lockdown City Diggers here in Wollongong, thanks to the lovely Sharyn who was made redundant when the Golf Club took over the club later in 2020, had been running puzzles and games via Facebook. And in June I did rather well:

I’ve won, I’ve won! So that means a music post…

Posted on  by Neil

Books and gumbo did well for this blog yesterday! However, back to music because, you see, I won! At City Diggers that is. And a picture puzzle about Beatles songs during the lockdown. Thus:

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That means free meals! So I reckon I should honour the Beatles without whose songs this could not have happened.

And it looks as if that was also my first gumbo, mentioned in that post. Things were opening up. Of course I had another just two weeks ago.

Yesterday: books and gumbo in that order

Posted on  by Neil

Back at City Diggers after lunch with Chris T at Soco Kitchen (please book; COVID-safe capacity 14) I posted this on FB labelled “having a post-gumbo red wine.”

I do indeed look suitably replete. And no wonder! Here is SoCo Kitchen’s gumbo:


Before that I had been to Wollongong Library returning the crop of books I had had for months (except for two they posted to me when my reservations became available). The entire operation of visiting the library nowadays under COVID is rather like visiting a speakeasy in the Roaring 20s. Find the side door. Knock and wait….

And here are the books I returned. Quite a bunch, all but one really interesting and some outstanding.

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Now the ones I borrowed yesterday. Look how long the due-by dates are! Not expecting COVID to go anywhere soon, are they? It’s usually three weeks.

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I am going to frustrate you by not saying anything about the books yet. Perhaps you can try Goodreads out on them — they are probably all there.

I have quickly checked the books borrowed yesterday myself and it seems I am in for some good reads. My random choices quite often turn out well.

Of course there were many other things I blogged this time last year, but I will conclude with something musical as #3.

I discover Mongolian rock!

Posted on  by Neil

Well not really. It already existed before I came around, and its cultural roots long before that. But first: there are two Mongolias. The country Mongolia has a population of just 3.5 million.  Inner Mongolia (内蒙古) is an Autonomous Region of China, with a population of 25 million. Mongolia once dominated China.


That’s a Persian painting of  Genghis Khan in 1213-14. We’ve all heard of him, but most of  us know very little about him, despite his creating one of the most extensive world empires ever.  The Mongolian rock group The Hu certainly remember him. 5,156,745 views — premiered Aug 23, 2019! (The band is from non-Chinese Mongolia. Look again at the population! They tour a lot, in fact were stuck in Sydney because of the pandemic.)

… Another artist of Chinese Mongolian origin is Tengger. This video is part of a competition,  Singer 2018, which an English woman ended up winning. And this brings me to how I ended up watching all this.

Yesterday I posted on Facebook:

When you see comments like these — “One of the greatest artists alive and to have ever lived!” and “Appreciation and respect from USA. What a great singer!” — you sit up and take notice. Immediately I see the horse-head fiddle and know this is Mongolian, but in this case Inner Mongolia — that is in China. He [Tengger] really is AMAZING!

(The video below is the song that attracted those comments.)

And this is how I encountered Mongolian music just over a week ago, thanks to Michael Xu who posted some items from the modern Chinese music shows that appear on CCTV-3. (Trump never watches them. Xu Jinping probably does….) Then it just took YouTube’s algorithms to steer me to such as The Hu (Mongolian) and Hanggai (Chinese Mongolian), after which I told Chris Turner who was hooked, and yesterday Colin and Adam at Diggers. Overnight an ex-SBHS student said very nice things about one of my postings: “I doubt I would have ever come across that in any other way, as I have no connection to that culture or history and live in the philistine island oasis that is Australia.”

I have cut a couple of videos there, one because it has since disappeared from YouTube though I have now replaced it, and the other as less necessary.

Do go back and look at June 2020. There is a lot there!

Radio Daze…

Old bastards like me instantly know these faces — all three of them!

Top (he’d like that!) is Jack Davey (1907-1959) and below are Bob Dyer (1909-1984) with Pick-a-Box contestant extraordinaire Barry Jones (1932-), who later went on to become one of the most respected Australian politicians ever and a serious writer/historian.

Giants of radio in the 1950s, Davey and Dyer went on the TV after 1956, Dyer much more successfully. Davey by then was a sick man. I thought of them after reading a Facebook post by Warren Fahey: “Happy birthday BOB DYER. ‘Pick a Box’ Bob Dyer was born this day in 1909. He was great radio and as a kid I waited breathlessly for the quiz answers and, of course, a crack at ‘the secret sound’. I also liked Bob’s hillbilly singing and banjo uke playing….”

As for 10-12 years-old me in Vermont Street Sutherland, I was glued to Radio 2BL every afternoon from 5pm…

About really important matters, such as footy tipping….

You may have expected something about Prince Philip this morning. I have already done that — 10 April and 13 April. So I turn to other matters.

In the past I have occasionally shone at the arcane business of footy tipping — that is predicting who the winners will be in that week’s NRL (Rugby League) round. For example, look at 2016.

King of the tipsters, me!

Posted on  by Neil

Well, co-regent now with DL. Earlier this month I posted:

I am in the Diggers competition again this year, though it is smaller than last year. Believe it or not by the end of last week (Round 5) I was running equal second, just behind DL who was a mere two points ahead! Just shows real knowledge of the game is not essential.

Last week I scored 100% in Round 8 – but so did DL. Now Round 9. I offer you my picks:

  • RABBITOHS vs Tigers
  • EELS vs Bulldogs
  • PANTHERS vs Raiders
  • ROOSTERS vs Knights
  • Sea Eagles vs COWBOYS
  • Warriors vs DRAGONS
  • Titans vs STORM
  • Sharks vs BRONCOS

Let’s wait and see how that goes. You might like to compare with a site called The Thinker (NRL tips from the biggest mind in Rugby League.) I see there a guest set by one of the greats of the game, Wally Lewis.

Wally Lewis – round nine selections (in bold)
  • RABBITOHS vs Tigers
  • EELS vs Bulldogs
  • PANTHERS vs Raiders
  • ROOSTERS vs Knights
  • Sea Eagles vs COWBOYS
  • WARRIORS vs Dragons
  • Titans vs STORM
  • Sharks vs BRONCOS

Close, eh!

Next day

Not exactly a good start. Alas, poor Bunnies! South Sydney coach Michael Maguire furious as Wests Tigers send Rabbitohs to fourth straight defeat.

And this, a sad personal story as it is, could affect EELS vs Bulldogs.

And the results were:

  • RABBITOHS vs Tigers NO
  • EELS vs Bulldogs YES
  • PANTHERS vs Raiders YES
  • ROOSTERS vs Knights  YES
  • Sea Eagles vs COWBOYS YES
  • Warriors vs DRAGONS NO
  • Titans vs STORM YES
  • Sharks vs BRONCOS NO

As you can see, a fickle business. But I did rather well in the end:

Go the Sharkies!

Posted on  by Neil

Today Chris T and I are going to cash in my (third) prize for the City Diggers Tipping Competition: see Shakespeare and footy tipping. The prize turned out to be a $25 bistro voucher and a bottle of house wine.

The Rabbitohs of course are no longer in the 2016 competition, but my hometown team the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks last night got themselves into the Grand Final!


That really is something! The club is fifty years old. They have never won a Grand Final in all that time, The last time they played in a Grand Final was 1978, not counting 1997 when they were runners-up in the  inaugural – and only – grand final of the ten-team Super League competition.

My Cronulla connection.


They will play either Melbourne or Canberra, depending on the outcome of tonight’s game.


Turned out to be Melbourne.

In 2021 City Diggers, thanks to the takeover by the Wollongong Golf Club, no longer had a tipping competition, but my current club of choice, Collegians/Illawarra Leagues, did. There are 136 tipsters spread over all six Collegians venues. And I found a promising looking website to aid my choices: Footy Forecaster.

Looks scientific almost, what with those probability percentages! The Round 5 one above compares what they picked with what I picked using my favoured method — general ignorance. Footy Forecaster was slightly better than general ignorance in that round. Of the 136 Collegians tipsters only ONE selected all the winners!

Anyway I decided for the current round, Round 6, to look at what Footy Forecaster offered and furthermore I downloaded a list of the injuries affecting teams, and with all that in mind, plus my usual ignorance, I made my selections, hoping to score 100% this time and thus to add bonus points (lifting to 10/10) and hence rise above the pack from my current lowly ranking — I have oscillated thus far between 30-something and 100 out of 136.

The round is not over, but this is how it has gone so far:

At least it is a neat pattern, and I do have two more chances today…

I do think, however, that I will revert to general ignorance over homework for Round 7!

Some Wollongong history

The Facebook group Back in Time: Photos from the Illawarra posted this just now.

Robert Marsh Westmacott, ‘Wollongong from the stockade, April 20th, 1840’. Watercolour on paper, National Library of Australia.

The image may be found with a detailed history at the University of Wollongong. The stockade moved about over the years, but the issue here and in the Facebook group became where exactly was this one. You can easily see Mount Kembla, as can I from here in West Wollongong.

From the Introduction to the UOW page:

The story of the Illawarra Stockade is also the story of the first phase of European settlement at Wollongong, located some 50 miles south of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Beginning in earnest in 1826 – though with antecedents dating back a decade earlier to 1816 – the military presence was significant during the years of occupation, reflecting the frontier nature of Illawarra at the time, and the fact that a large percentage of the population was convict. By the time Captain Ramsbottom and the soldiers of the 99th Regiment of Foot (Lanarkshire Volunteers) left Wollongong barracks at the end of 1844, the region had been transformed from a series of dispersed land grants – used to depasture cattle, and occupied by a few isolated stockmen – into a thriving agricultural community with large estates, tenant farms, an Agricultural Society and District Council, the burgeoning township of Wollongong, roads and bridges, and a bustling harbour. The necessary infrastructure to accommodate this growth had been set in place during the 1830s by Governor Richard Bourke, and much of the subsequent work was been carried out by convict gangs under the supervision of various British military regiments.

During the 1830s and 1840s the town of Wollongong was laid out and cleared, based on an 1834 plan by Surveyor General T.L. Mitchell; roads and bridges were built throughout the district, and Wollongong harbour basin and breakwater were constructed – all with the aid of convict labour and military superintendence. Unfortunately the economic depression of the early 1840s put paid to some major public projects in the area, such as the Sydney to Illawarra road and further harbour works. However the foundations for the modern City of Wollongong were nevertheless set in place in association with the period of the stockade.

Previous histories of Illawarra have tended to concentrate on the role of explorers and free settlers in the development of the region. People such as C.T. Smith, Henry Osborne, Cornelius O’Brien and Robert Marsh Westmacott are some of the names which readily spring to mind – individuals who owned large parcels of land in the district and who were heavily involved in its transformation into ‘the Garden of New South Wales’ – a title allocated as a result of the botanical richness of the area and the fact that it quickly became a major supplier of food and other commodities to nearby Sydney.

An area of our Illawarra local history which has been little studied is the role of the military regiments and the convicts in this first phase of white settlement – beginning with the arrival of Charles Throsby in 1815 and coming to a close with the onset of the goldrushes in 1851. In the recent past we have celebrated Wollongong’s sesquicentenary (1984), the 200th anniversary of Bass & Flinders’ visit to the region (1996), the 50th anniversary of the City of Wollongong (1997), and the sesquicentenary of the shipping of the first load of coal from Mount Keira (1999). Having celebrated the explorers, ‘founding fathers’ it is appropriate that we consider the role played by soldiers and convicts in the development of this town some 150 years ago. I will leave the important role of women to some other valiant researcher.

Now I thought I had heard/read that the stockade in the picture was almost opposite where I now live. In fact it seems it is just a bit to the south, but well within walking distance down the Princes Highway. So I turn now to a feature in The Illawarra Mercury — Haunted places in the Illawarra and South Coast. That sounds promising! One of them, it turns out, is the Mount Kembla Hotel, not to mention also Dunmore House near Shellharbour. I knew about that ghost. But to the story of the Stockade:

Balgownie historian Carol Herben says its hard to go past Ghost Bridge when pinpointing sites of spooky significance in the Illawarra.

The bridge was at the foot of Geards Hill near where the Princes Highway passes over the freeway.

During the 1830s, the convict stockade was located at the crossroads and Lieutenant Otway was the officer in charge of the men guarding the convict road gang. It seems the lieutenant was fond of liquor.

As legend has it, Lt Otway returned to the stockade after consuming an excessive amount one night. When he refused to comply with regulations, the guards confined him to the barracks.

On April 7, 1836, Lt Otway held his prayer book in one hand and a pistol in the other and took his own life. It was presumed at the time that he was suffering from temporary insanity.

For the next 40 years or so, Lt Otway was blamed for the manner in which humans and animals became spooked when travelling that stretch of road late at night, Mrs Herben wrote.

Many a horse would baulk when approaching the bridge. There were stories of travellers who would see a ghostly image standing near the bridge.

A good yarn! So not far away, as I said:

Mount Kembla from my window:


But back to that 1840 watercolour — is that a beach in the foreground? No beach near Geard’s Hill — a creek, yes, as we have noted. But a beach? Artistic licence? Or is that Stockade not the one at Geard’s Hill, but down near Market Square and the old Court House, the original centre of Wollongong?