Ten years ago in my blog world the Royals also featured

Some more highlights from the April 2011 archive.

Last of April 2011–notes

Posted on  by Neil

Royal Wedding

Watched it, loved it. No apology.

Richard Allen made a perceptive comment on Facebook.

For those who love myth, the royal wedding is myth in the making. Amazing to see a tradition like this so perfectly re-enacted in the 21st century…and yes, let’s say it, good luck to them!

It also has to do with sheer talent in mounting pageantry properly. The Brits really know how to; the Yanks don’t.

Pedants among you please note:

  1. The Bible translation used for the reading was the New Revised Standard Version. Looks as if the King James is over, despite the fact a 400th anniversary edition is apparently selling extremely well at the moment.
  2. The service was essentially Book of Common Prayer, but modified not only in the “obey” department. Here’s a taste of the current revision of the original.

At the day and time appointed for solemnization of Matrimony, the persons to be married shall come into the Body of the Church with their friends and neighbours: and there standing together, the Man on the right hand, and the Woman on the left, the Priest shall say,

DEARLY beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God, and in the face of this Congregation, to join together this man and this woman in holy Matrimony; which is an honourable estate, instituted of God in the time of man’s innocency, signifying unto us the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and his Church; which holy estate Christ adorned and beautified with his presence, and first miracle that he wrought, in Cana of Galilee; and is commended of Saint Paul to be honourable among all men: and therefore is not by any to be enterprised, nor taken in hand, unadvisedly, lightly, or wantonly, to satisfy men’s carnal lusts and appetites, like brute beasts that have no understanding; but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God; duly considering the causes for which Matrimony was ordained.

First, It was ordained for the procreation of children, to be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord, and to the praise of his holy Name.

Secondly, It was ordained for a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication; that such persons as have not the gift of continency might marry, and keep themselves undefiled members of Christ’s body.
Thirdly, It was ordained for the mutual society, help, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity. Into which holy estate these two persons present come now to be joined. Therefore if any man can shew any just cause, why they may not lawfully be joined together, let him now speak, or else hereafter for ever hold his peace…

You may also have noticed something called the Australian State Coach – Charles and Camilla travelled back to the Palace in it. It was created by W.J. “Jim” Frecklington here in Oz, who is  the only person living to have built a State Coach for the British Royal Family.



Royal Wedding post by British Muslim blogger Indigo Jo.

OK, well I’m up London — right now, in the Apple Store in Covent Garden — where I had intended to take some pictures of the scenes surrounding the royal wedding. I wouldn’t have done so otherwise, but my friend Claire Wade, who runs a company organising virtual holidays and other events for the house-bound, asked me to take some pictures and, if possible, send them to their Facebook event page. Sadly, I arrived near Parliament Square about 11:15am and the way was blocked at the junction with the Victoria Embankment. There was a space in between the police cordon and the square itself, and I couldn’t actually see what was going on in the square. Every way into the area was blocked, with a few people being allowed through the cordon (mostly away from the proceedings). Basically, only the dedicated few who got there early could even see what was happening, so you might otherwise have stayed at home and watched it on TV…

…I’ve never been particularly fond of the monarchy, but I’m not a dyed-in-the-wool republican either; all of the most prominent republics have various myths that they like to repeat again and again, usually about “liberty” that turns out only to apply to some citizens and not others. But the expensive pageantry going on at a time when the most vulnerable people in society are having their much-needed services cut to the bone is pretty incongruous. Ironically, a lot of disabled people were watching the proceedings avidly and I’m not going to give political lectures to them, but if we are going to hold a big party at a time when the public are facing hardship, then it’s better that we can all go to the party rather than having to watch at a distance

On refugees

Full marks to Leunig in today’s Sydney Morning Herald.


I haven’t been watching any of the Royal Wedding lead-up coverage

Posted on  by Neil

Instead I have turned the TV off and watched some DVDs instead, and propose to continue to do so.

However, I did watch The Queen in Australia (1954) again. Such a wonderful time capsule of the Australia of 1954 when I turned 11. I will watch the wedding itself, if only because I do like Westminster Abbey pomp and circumstance – and I do like Prince William.


I wouldn’t have bothered with the smart-arse version of the wedding on ABC-2 anyway, or with any of the commercial channels, but it seems we now have something to beat our breasts over:

Just two days before Prince William and Kate Middleton are due to tie the knot, ABC TV has been forced to cancel The Chaser’s one-off live coverage of the event due to what it says are restrictions imposed by the royal family. The Chaser’s Royal Wedding Commentary was due to air on ABC2 from 7:00pm AEST on Friday, offering viewers a satirical take on the royal wedding. But now the live special – promised to be “uninformed and unconstitutional” – has been reluctantly pulled due to restrictions imposed over the Easter break.

ABC TV was initially advised by the BBC, and subsequently by Associated Press Television News (APTN), there were no coverage restrictions that would prevent The Chaser’s wedding commentary.

But new conditions of use issued by APTN over the Easter break state footage cannot be used “in any drama, comedy, satirical or similar entertainment program or content”.

ABC TV director Kim Dalton says he is disappointed…

The Chaser’s Julian Morrow says the team accepts the ABC has been put in an “impossible position by people acting on behalf of the royal family”. “For a monarchy to be issuing decrees about how the media should cover them seems quite out of keeping with modern democratic times… but I suppose that’s exactly what the monarchy is,” he said. “It’s traditional for the condemned to appeal to the monarch for a stay of execution, so that’s what we’re going to do. Unfortunately it’s also traditional for people who appeal for clemency to be executed.”

Morrow says the move goes against free speech.

“It seems a bit crazy for the royal family to be trying to dictate the way they get represented in the media,” he said. “It seems a bit out of step with a modern democracy, but I suppose royalty is out of step with a modern democracy, so there you go.”…

I really am considerably less outraged, though no doubt the freedom to exhibit bad taste and terminal smugness is worth sticking up for… On either side I suppose.

Honestly in my old age I am finding it harder to discern just what essential freedom has ever been denied me by the fact we have a shared head of state who lives somewhere else. I even include the sacking of Whitlam in that – after all, we did get to vote. And Malcolm Fraser is these days on the left of Julia Gillard!


Compare Jim Belshaw’s Monarchy, republics & the royal wedding.

And if ever you have an hour to spare, this is the documentary I referred to above.

From our man in Yarralumla to all who mark the passing of Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

David Hurley, the Governor-General of Australia, is a Wollongong boy.

Australia’s Governor-General and political leaders past and present were among the first to pay tribute following news of Prince Philip’s death.

The royal family revealed that the Duke of Edinburgh had passed away peacefully on Thursday morning local time at Windsor Castle.  

He had been battling health issues in recent years and was released from a month-long stint in hospital on March 16.

As the Queen’s representative in Australia, Governor-General David Hurley announced Prince Philip’s death in a video message as a “sad and historic day”.

He described Prince Philip as a “popular, engaged and welcome visitor to our shores”.

“On behalf of the Australian people, I extend our deepest condolences to Her Majesty and family, the people of the Commonwealth and to all those who share in this sad news.”

Born in August 1953, the Governor-General can hardly be expected to remember much from 11 February 1954. But I, born in July 1943, certainly do! I was a besotted Royalist in 1954! Cheered them on their way to Wollongong, waved like crazy (with my grandfather) at the Royal Train at Sutherland on their way back.

Now you may wonder about the appropriateness of the next video:

Well, consider this image of a teenage Philip, Prince of Greece and Denmark…

Second from the left, front row.

For detail, see The man who wouldn’t be king.

He and his family were poor compared to other members of the European aristocracy.

And as a young prince of the house of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glucksburg, Philip was also too German for the liking of a Britain which had recently fought one world war against Germany, and was on the brink of a second.

While Philip had been taken in by his British relatives, the Mountbattens, when he was seven years old, his four sisters were married to Germans, three of whom had links to the Nazi party.

Philip was also related to Elizabeth — although most European royals were at the time..

He was her second cousin once removed through King Christian IX of Denmark, they were third cousins as great-great-grandchildren of Queen Victoria, and among his uncles was King George V of England, also Elizabeth’s grandfather.

But none of it mattered to Elizabeth, who had come to see not an impoverished distant relation, but a man who towered above her, boasting a head full of blond hair and a promising naval career….

His wartime career, summarised as follows in Wikipedia, was quite substantial. In the course of it Prince Philip visited Australia twice. In his life-time he revisited over twenty times.

After leaving Gordonstoun in early 1939, Philip completed a term as a cadet at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, then repatriated to Greece, living with his mother in Athens for a month in mid-1939. At the behest of the Greek king, George II (his first-cousin), he returned to Britain in September to resume training for the Royal Navy. He graduated from Dartmouth the next year as the best cadet in his course. During the Second World War, he continued to serve in the British forces, while two of his brothers-in-law, Prince Christoph of Hesse and Berthold, Margrave of Baden, fought on the opposing German side. Philip was appointed as a midshipman in January 1940. He spent four months on the battleship HMS Ramillies, protecting convoys of the Australian Expeditionary Force in the Indian Ocean, followed by shorter postings on HMS Kent, on HMS Shropshire, and in Ceylon. After the invasion of Greece by Italy in October 1940, he was transferred from the Indian Ocean to the battleship HMS Valiant in the Mediterranean Fleet.

On 1 February 1941, Philip was commissioned as a sub-lieutenant after a series of courses at Portsmouth, in which he gained the top grade in four out of five sections of the qualifying examination. Among other engagements, he was involved in the battle of Crete, and was mentioned in dispatches for his service during the battle of Cape Matapan, in which he controlled the battleship’s searchlights. He was also awarded the Greek War Cross. In June 1942, he was appointed to the V and W-class destroyer and flotilla leader HMS Wallace, which was involved in convoy escort tasks on the east coast of Britain, as well as the Allied invasion of Sicily.

Promotion to lieutenant followed on 16 July 1942. In October of the same year, he became first lieutenant of HMS Wallace, at 21 years old one of the youngest first lieutenants in the Royal Navy. During the invasion of Sicily, in July 1943, as second in command of Wallace, he saved his ship from a night bomber attack. He devised a plan to launch a raft with smoke floats that successfully distracted the bombers, allowing the ship to slip away unnoticed. In 1944, he moved on to the new destroyer, HMS Whelp, where he saw service with the British Pacific Fleet in the 27th Destroyer Flotilla.He was present in Tokyo Bay when the instrument of Japanese surrender was signed. Philip returned to the United Kingdom on the Whelp in January 1946, and was posted as an instructor at HMS Royal Arthur, the Petty Officers’ School in Corsham, Wiltshire.

Hence the song….

Of course he was famous at times for “putting his foot in it”. Some of that you may see on this more dissenting post from the United Kingdom.

It’s the Queen and the younger royals that people have actual feelings about; when there’s a moment of national crisis, we hear from the Queen and some of us tune in and listen and some of us don’t.

Social media, of course, didn’t stop and I saw a thread of the various racist remarks Phillip had made during his life — asking a woman in Kenya who was presenting him with a gift if she were actually a woman, a comment about “slitty eyes” in relation to the Chinese — as well as a remark to the Paraguayan dictator Alfredo Stroessner that “it’s a pleasant change to be in a country that isn’t ruled by its people” as well as the father-of-four’s comment that, if reincarnated, that he would like to come back as a deadly virus so as to reduce the human population — the ugly face of environmentalism, the type that favours ‘cuddly’ big animals over poor people driven from their homes for wildlife reserves and whose livestock these animals often menace. 

But most I think would endorse Stephen Fry:

I am marking the passing of the Duke of Edinburgh with a consciousness too that it marks the distance down the track my own journey has come, as I actually do remember King George VI and the marriage of then Princess Elizabeth to Philip Mountbatten, as he was then best known.

And I must congratulate my Dad’s cousin Lilian Lee who back in February actually made the century! Still going as far as I know!

Lilian May Graham was born on 10.2.1921 at Lidcombe N.S.W. her Parents being Ruby Ruth (nee McInnes) & Stan Graham. Lilian’s Grandparents were Susan (nee Whitfield) & Jonathan McInnes.

Lilian married Raymond Lee on 24th October 1942.Their children were Alan (Sadly was killed in accident at 37 leaving 3 children and a wife.), Graham & Jennifer.Lilian has eight grandchildren, and nine great grandchildren and looking forward to the arrival of another two.

Lilian is still a dedicated member of the Gunnedah Country Women’s Association where she held various positions such as President, Vice President, Treasurer, International Officer, Cultural Officer, Land and Cookery Officer. 

I met her in 2014:

So here is a Whitfield relative who has cracked the ton! And I can vouch for her being an amazing woman and a fount of family history. I was privileged to have met Lilian at Stanwell Park in 2014. She recalled my father as a bronzed beach god — from her memories of Shellharbour in the late 1920s!

“At Stanwell Park yesterday. She had a shopping trolley of Whitfield family pics, photos and documents going back to the 1830s! Amazing stuff! The four hours I could spend didn’t do it justice. Lilian Lee. 90+ and sharp as… She has been a TAFE teacher in her time. Recalled I met her father and mother too sometime around 60+ years back and he gave me a ride in his buggy.”

She really was just wonderful. And I am sure you can see the intelligence and humour in her face. She had at 90+ walked up the hill to Stanwell Park Station to meet me — and it is quite a climb.

When she was a little girl she saw William Joseph John Whitfield (b. 1836), the son of William Whitfield, in his turn the son of Jacob Whitfield, the convict who arrived in Sydney from Ireland in 1822. When you contemplate that….

Which brings me to mortality again….

I have been doing some interesting reading lately, but also 10 years ago — thanks to Wollongong Library

Lately will come later! Let’s look at 10 years ago:

Books read lately — 1

Posted on  by Neil


First one is bloody brilliant!

 smiley-happy005smiley-happy005[5]smiley-happy005[7]smiley-happy005[7]smiley-happy005[7] Ashley Hay, The Body in the Clouds (Allen & Unwin, September 2010)

What if you looked up at just the right moment and saw – out of the corner of your eye – something unexpected? What if it was something so marvellous, so extraordinary, that it transformed time and space forever?

The Body in the Clouds tells the story of one extraordinary moment – a man falling from the sky, and surviving – and of three men who see it, in different ways and different times, as they stand on the same piece of land. An astronomer in the late 1700s, a bridgeworker in the 1930s, an emigrated banker returning home in the early 21st century: all three are transformed by the one magical moment.

The Body in the Clouds explores the stories we tell to define who and where we are. It’s about the stories we’ll tell for the people we love. And it’s about our secret longing to be up in the air.

You’ll never see Circular Quay and the bridge in the same way again!


The second is brilliant too – but what can you expect from this man?


smiley-happy005[13]smiley-happy005[15]smiley-happy005[17]smiley-happy005[19]smiley-happy005[21] See this great post: The Charming Quirks of Others: Alexander McCall Smith and the art of fiction. How can anyone resist the sheer wisdom of this guy?

It is not because you are  beautiful; not because I see perfection in your features, in your smile, in your litheness- all of which I do, of course I do, and have done since the moment I first met you. It is because you are generous in spirit; and may I be like that; may I become like you – which unrealistic wish, to become the other, is  such a true and revealing symptom of love, its most obvious clue, its unmistakable calling card.

A very witty offering from India next.

smiley-happy005[13]smiley-happy005[13]smiley-happy005[13]smiley-happy005[13] Vikas Swarup Six Suspects

This Indian reviewer — Jai Arjun Singh, a freelance writer and journalist based in Delhi — found faults:

Six Suspects is ridden with caricatures – from corrupt Indian politician, perpetually manipulating strings, to dumb, insular American who comes to love a third-world country (“where cows are worshipped like Goddesses rather than turned into steak”). It would be a mistake to over-stress this aspect of the novel – and to forget that people like Jagannath Rai and Larry Page really do exist – but the book’s use of these character types precludes any lasting insights into the workings of a very complex society struggling with injustice and disparity. Every nexus, every command issued by an oily politician is dealt with in straightforward cause-and-effect terms. The investigative journalist and the TV reporter (a Barkha Dutt stand-in, named – if you must know – Barkha Das) are sanctimonious. People speak in platitudes and articulate their flaws and motivations as if they were pinning easy-to-read labels on themselves for the edification of the reader. (“We hit people not to show our strength but to mask our weakness,” philosophizes a police inspector after an interrogation, “we pick only on the poor and the powerless, because they cannot hit back.”) Rarely do the bad guys bother to delude themselves that they are in some nebulous way working not for self-interest but for the greater good (which is something that happens all the time in the real world).

He’s right, no doubt, but I have to confess the book kept me thoroughly entertained. Some may also be sorry to hear that I feel it gave me a rather good picture of contemporary India.

Vikas Swarup is now best known for writing the novel on which Slumdog Millionaire is based.

Revisioning our history: Books read lately — 2

Posted on  by Neil

One thing I like about history is that it never quite runs out, is never quite settled. Some find this disturbing. I would find it disturbing if it were not the case.

Take Mahroot for example.

In 1789 a devastating outbreak of smallpox swept through the Aboriginal people of Sydney. The true impact of the arrival of Europeans on the Aboriginal people became clear to all. It remains unsure whether the British or French brought the disease that killed countless Aboriginal people or whether it was already in the local population.

Obed West in his 1822 account The Bays of Sydney documents meeting an Aboriginal elder called Mahroot in the 1840s who as a young boy, witnessed the Lapérouse expedition’s camp at Botany Bay and the pox that erupted shortly after their departure. In 1789 people refused to return to La Perouse for the fear of the pox and set up what was referred to as the ‘blacks’ hospital’ at Little Bay. Here the sick and dying were isolated and brought provisions of fish and water.

Well Mister… all blackfella gone! All this my country! Pretty place Botany! Little piccaninny, I run about here. Plenty blackfellow then: Corrobory: Great fight: All canoe about. Only me left now…
Mahroot c.1845

Well. not quite ALL gone. Here is a descendant of Mahroot’s people.


And his descendants are still with us, together with plenty more like them. That’s one of the lessons of smiley-happy005smiley-happy005[3]smiley-happy005[5]smiley-happy005[7] Rivers and Resilience: Aboriginal People on Sydney’s Georges River by Heather Goodall and Allison Cadzow,  UNSW Press 2009.

From colonisation through to the present, Rivers and Resilience traces the social and cultural history of Sydney’s Georges River and its interaction and connections to Aboriginal lives. The authors assert the centrality of this beautiful river, comprised of sandstone escarpments, overhangs and plateaus; a network of creeks and marshy swamps that yield all manner of produce from fresh and salt water fish, eels, crabs, yabbies and oysters and an abundance of berries and wildflowers. If you have an association with the Georges River you’ll really enjoy this book, as you could slot your own story into the stream. The intellectual contribution continues Goodall’s thesis about the centrality of land demands to the everyday social, cultural and economic lives of Aboriginal people. But there is an extra dimension that details both the production of locality – that is the active process of connection to place – and the significance of the past, as it is permanently etched in the land (and water) and continues to shape relations among the river people.

Heidi Norman
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences UTS

There’s a related photographic exhibition doing the rounds at the moment. It’s currently in Hurstville.

The rivers? The Cooks River, but especially the Georges River, the northern border of The Shire – among other things.


Quite a long river, actually, running from all the way out from past Campbelltown and Appin. Again, as I noted with Grace Karskens’s The Colony, much is gained by setting different territorial frames for our histories.

I found again, as I had with The Colony, that things I had heard of or even seen suddenly came into focus as I read much that is in such books as these but has hitherto escaped much notice.

Endlessly fascinating.

Related: PDF on Aboriginal Sites in South-East Sydney. No longer works: go instead to Sydney Aboriginal Sites.

Check out Resilience Science as well.

The last book ties in very well with what I have been reading in the past month….

Recent eBooks — 2

Here is another just out from ANU Press. I stored it because I am curious about it, and as I said I did at age 7 want to be a scientist! So in fact I do read a bit in such areas.

$60 printed or eBook free again!

Cooperative Evolution offers a fresh account of evolution consistent with Charles Darwin’s own account of a cooperative, inter-connected, buzzing and ever-changing world. Told in accessible language, treating evolutionary change as a cooperative enterprise brings some surprising shifts from the traditional emphasis on the dominance of competition.

The book covers many evolutionary changes reconsidered as cooperation. These include the cooperative origins of life, evolution as a spiral rather than a ladder or tree, humans as a part of natural systems rather than the purpose, relationships between natural and social change, and the role of the individual in adaptive radiation onto new ground. The story concludes with a projection of human evolution from the past into the future.

‘Environmental studies courses have needed a book like Cooperative Evolution for a long time. It is a boon for those teaching the complexity of the evolutionary story.’
— Dr John A. Harris, BSc(Hons) MSc PhD, School of Environmental Science, University of Canberra

‘As a regenerative, holistic-thinking farmer I daily witness the results of cooperative evolution as the seasons unfold. A pleasure to read, Cooperative Evolution gives entry to recent thinking on evolutionary processes.’
— David Marsh, MSA, ‘Allendale’, Boorowa, New South Wales, 2018 National Individual Landcarer Award recipient

‘This book is an engaging new look at ideas about evolution as we know it today. In the hands of two eminent biologists, it presents an approachable yet challenging argument. I heartily recommend it.’
— Emeritus Professor Sue Stocklmayer AO, BSc MSc PhD, Centre for the Public Awareness of Science, The Australian National University

Looking forward to getting into that.

The next one is from Project Gutenberg, and is just a delight — lovely to look at. And very short!

By P. N. Boxer and Dorothy Woollard, originlly 1920. Here is one sketch. I think you will know the building.

Finally, also from Project Gutenberg, a book I will never read, but will browse in, partly because of my past membership of — indeed Eldership in at 21! — the Presbyterian Church. Historically this is important, but at the moment it is its language which appeals to me. It eschews London in favour of Edinburgh when it comes to dialect.

That, people, is










…and published M.DCCC.XXXIX. which I believe is 1839. Now for a gobbet:

May 29, 1561.

The whilk day, touching the sclander taken be the horrible fault and impietie committed within this burgh under silence of night be Marquies Dalbuife and his Colleagues, in breaking up of Cuthbert Ramsay his ʒetts and doors, and searching and seeking of his daughter in Law to oppress her, as appeared: It is thought good be the whole Kirk that ane Supplicatione be made and given in to the Queen’s Majestie, in name of the Professors of the Evangell, and the persons before nominat present the samen, to seek the answer thereof: the forme of the Supplication followeth:—

To the Q. Majestie, her Secret and Great Councill, her G. faithful and obedient subjects, Professors of Christ Jesus his holy Evangell, wishes the Spirit of Righteousness and Judgement.

The fear of God conceaved of his holy word, the naturall and unfained Love we bear unto your G. the dewtie quhilk we owe unto our Countrey, and terrible threatenings quhilk our God pronunces against every realme and citie in the quhilks horrible crimes are openly committed, and then be the Committers obstinatly defended, compel us, an great part of your subjects, humbly to crave of your G. upright and trew Judgement against sick persones as hes done what in them lyes to kindle God’s wrath against this realme. The impietie be them committed is so hainous and so horrible, that as it was a fact most vyle and rare to be heard of within this realme, principallie within the bounds of citie, so should we think ourselves guiltie of the samen if negligently, or yet for worldly fear, we pass it over with silence, and therefore your Grace may not think that we require any thing. All that we crave, open malefactors condignly to be punished, But that whilk God hes commanded us to crave, and has also commanded your G. to give to every one of your subjects; ffor be this Link hes God knitt together the Prince and the people, That as he commands honor, fear, and obedience to be given to the Powers established be him, so does he in express words command and declare what thing the Prince aught unto the subjects, To witt, that as he is the Minister of God his word, bearing the Sword for vengeance to be taken on evil doers, and for the defence of peaceable and quiet men, swa ought he to draw the samen without all partialitie swa oft as in God his name he is required thereto. Seeing so it is, Madame, that this crime so recently committed, and that in the eyes of your haill realme now presently assembled, is so hainous, ffor who heretofore hath heard within the bounds of Edinburgh, ʒetts and houses under silence of night bruised up, houses ryped, and that with hostilitie seeking ane woman, as appeared, to oppress her:—Seeing, we say, this crime is so hainous, That all godlie men fear not only God’s sair displeasure to fall upon you and your whole realme, But also that sick libertie breed contempt, and in the end seditione, if remeed in tyme be not goodlie provyded, quhilk in our Judgement is possible, if severe punishment be not execute for the cryme committed. Therefore, we most humbly beseech your Grace that, all affection laid aside, ye declare yourselfe so upright in this case that ye may give evident demonstratione to all your subjects, that the fear of God, joyned with the love of common tranquillitie, have principall seat and dominion in your Grace’s heart. This further, Madam, of conscience we speak, that as your G. in God his name does crave of us obedience, quhilk to render in all things lawful we are most willing, swa in the samen name doe we, the whole Professors of Christ’s Evangell within this realme, crave of you and of your Councill sharp punishment of this cryme, and for performance thereof, that, without all delay, the principall actor of this most hainous cryme, and the persewars of this pretended villanie may be called before the Chief Justice of this realme to suffer ane assyse, and to be punished according to the Lawes of the samen, and your G. answer we most humbly beseek.

Did you get all that? I think Mary Queen of Scots is being roundly told what’s what….
Mary, Queen of Scots

In fact I think I have discovered what that was all about — perhaps! It is complicated by the fact that Mary was still in France in May 1561, her husband, Francis II, the King of France, having recently died. She arrived back in Scotland in August. (She was 18, by the way, in May 1561.)

Here is what may have been the “the horrible fault and impietie committed within this burgh under silence of night” referred to by the General Assembly of the Kirk held on 27-29 May 1561.

A custom, dating far back in Catholic times, prevailed in Edinburgh in unchecked luxuriance down almost to the time of the Reformation. It consisted in a set of unruly dramatic games, called Robin Hood, the Abbot of Unreason, and the Queen of May, which were enacted every year in the floral month just mentioned. The interest felt by the populace in these whimsical merry-makings was intense: At the approach of May, they assembled and chose some respectable individuals of their number, very grave and reverend citizens perhaps, to act the parts of Robin Hood and Little John, of the Lord of Inobedience, or the Abbot of Unreason, and ‘make sports and jocosities’ for them. If the chosen actors felt it inconsistent with their tastes, gravity, or engagements, to don a fantastic dress, caper and dance, and incite their neighbours to do the like, they could only be excused on paying a fine. On the appointed day, always a Sunday or holiday, the people assembled in their best attire and in military array, and marched in blithe procession to some neighbouring field, where the fitting preparations had been made for their amusement. Robin Hood and Little John robbed bishops, fought with pinners, and contended in archery among themselves, as they had done in reality two centuries before. The Abbot of Unreason kicked up his heels and played antics like a modern pantaloon. The popular relish for all this was such as can scarcely now be credited. ‘A learned prelate [Latimer] preaching before Edward VI., observes, that he once came to a town upon a holiday, and gave information on the evening before of his design to preach. But next day when he came to the church, he found the door locked. He tarried half an hour ere the key could be found, and instead of a willing audience, some one told him: “This is a busy day with us; we cannot hear you. It is Robin Hood’s day. The parish are gone abroad to gather for Robin Hood. I pray you let [hinder] them not.” I was fain (says the bishop) to give place to Robin Hood. I thought my rochet should have been regarded, though I were not; but it would not serve. It was fain to give place to Robin Hood’s men.’

Such were the Robin Hood plays of Catholic and unthinking times. By and by, when the Reformation approached, they were found to be disorderly and discreditable, and an act of parliament was passed against them. Still, while the upper and more serious classes frowned, the common sort of people loved the sport too much to resign it without a struggle. It came to be one of the first difficulties of the men who had carried through the Reformation, how to wrestle the people out of their love of the May-games.

In April 1561, one George Dune was chosen in Edinburgh as Robin Hood and Lord of Inobedience, and on Sunday the 12th of May, he and a great number of other persons came riotously into the city, with an ensign and arms in their hands, in disregard of both the act of parliament and an act of the town-council. Notwithstanding an effort of the magistrates to turn them back, they passed to the Castle Hill, and thence returned at their own pleasure. For this offence a cordiner’s servant, named James Gillon, was condemned to be hanged on the 21st of July. — Source: Domestic Annals of Scotland.

Such punishment was presumably what the Assembly was asking of the Queen. And who was Cuthbert Ramsay, whose “ʒetts and doors” were broken by a mob “searching and seeking of his daughter in Law to oppress [rape?*] her“? Well, according to this:

*Indeed oppress did have that meaning, according to my ancient but beloved 3rd edition of the Shorter Oxford Dictionary.

The Ramsays of Dalhousie figure large in Scots history. And there is of course a ballad, known variously as “Mary Hamilton” or “The Four Maries”, which is uncertain when it comes to historicity, but does date from the 16th century most likely.

Last night there were four Maries;
Tonight there’ll be but three:
There was Mary Beaton and Mary Seton
And Mary Carmichael and me.

The song may not have had anything at all to do with Mary, Queen of Scots — but it is lovely anyway! And Joan Baez!

The following does, though it too takes quite a few liberties, I am told. But it certainly captures the viewer! Even if Mary and Elizabeth in fact never met!

Such are the sometimes pointless, but unfailingly interesting, byways my Calibre eBook library can take me down. Back in the 60s at Sydney Uni I used to pass many an hour reading all sorts of irrelevant stuff in the Fisher Library book stacks. Fun, in a nerdish kind of way, but now I do it on my laptop.

The joy of Calibre….

So I am sitting in Collegians/Illawarra Leagues after a lovely $7.90 meal of chicken schnitzel, salad and chips, reading my library book — and tomorrow’s blog post becomes obvious to me. Today’s blog post, I suppose, though I am writing it yesterday, if you know what I mean….

Ah, Gleebooks! What memories!

Again, so fascinating….

Both videos have closed captions available.

You have to realise that tales of the Hunter and the LIverpool Plains beyond were the stuff of my mother’s reminiscences — a series beginning there — and of her father’s young days. Thus they were part of my imaginative world too, but the Australian history I learned at school really taught me nothing about the area.

And of my great-grandfather John Hampton Christison too, about whom my cousin Ray has so ably written.

So I come upon an interesting footnote in Mark Dunn’s book, concerning an Aboriginal guide named Harry Brown. The reference is the the Journal of Aboriginal History 39 2015. Sure — that is in my Calibre Library, I say to myself, one of the 2,767. And, sure enough:

There it is!

Great, eh! Next time I will introduce you to three more recent e-Books.