A short Sunday reminder to us all…

First something you won’t see but I do every time I post. Thank you WordPress for making the interface here behind the scenes much clearer, getting rid of the tiny font I had to work with until a few days back!

Now a memory on my Facebook feed that is that reminder to us all. I do my best in this regard, but do now and again slip up. Let us all promise to avoid this sin, eh, making social media especially a lot healthier! So far as we can.

Been listening a lot lately to Josh Turner and friends…

…and also sharing songs via Facebook with my niece Christine who is still in hospital. I have been in the habit of sending her some music every morning. Yesterday it was Josh Turner back in 2014 singing in French and as always playing a mean guitar.

That is a cover of Georges Brassens — and a good one too.

Je n’avais jamais ôté mon chapeau,
Devant personne,
Maintenant je rampe et je fais le beau,
Quand elle me sonne J’étais chien méchant, elle me fait manger,
Dans sa menotte J’avais des dents d’loup, je les ai changées,
Pour des quenottes
Je m’suis fait tout p’tit devant une poupée,
Qui ferme les yeux quand on la couche
Je m’suis fait tout p’tit devant une poupée,
Qui fait Maman quand on la touche

That is:

In this song, Georges Brassens describes his total subjection to his partner, Joha Heiman, with whom he shared his life from 1947 until his death in October 1981. This song has been described as a love song, but although it was addressed to a woman whom he loved sincerely, it is hard to find any expression of love in it. A more accurate classification would seem to be “Lament of a hen-pecked husband”. It made me think of known relationships that chug along, fuelled by mutual hostility and of good relationships that have bad patches. But then it occurred to me that as Joha would be standing in her usual position in the wings as he sang, if this song was serious,he could expect a number of projectiles from the side. A blogger wrote to tell me that he was sure that Brassens was joking…

I had never taken off my hat
To anyone
Now I grovel and I sit up and beg
When she calls me.
I was a fierce dog, but she has me eating
From her teeny hand
The wolf teeth I had, I’ve changed them instead
For baby’s peggies

I’ve made myself real small, up against a doll
Who shuts her eyes when you put her to bed
I’ve made myself real small up’against a doll
Who goes « Mamma » when you touch her.

Josh noted: “Alex Cazares on Bass. Apologies for my French, I’ve never had one lesson.” Well I tell you what — as one who long ago did study French in high school I envy Josh his accent! His ear is amazing — for music obviously, but also it appears for language.

Yes, I have posted about Josh before, It must have been just last year that I first encountered his work, and then the work of a number of other young musicians connected with him one way or another. See my post Music career built through YouTube — and very impressive!

I have recently come upon 28-year-old multitalented musician Josh Turner and his former classmate and collaborator Carson McKee. Together they comprise The Other Favorites. I see Australian concerts booked there, but do not know how that stands with the pandemic. Wait and see, I guess.

Of course that Australian tour never happened. Josh Turner was born in June 1992 — so not yet 30. He has on his YouTube Channel music going back to age 15! Here is one from November 2008.

And here he is with another musician just four days ago.

One comment on YouTube: “I’ve concluded that Josh knows, and works with every musician on YouTube lol!”

This is the song that went viral for Josh — first uploaded in 2012 and now with over 12 million views!

Do explore his growing opus! You won’t be disappointed. And this personal note from April 2009:

Meanwhile I am really happy to see Michael Xu posting songs again on his FB. His favourite lately is a Russian singer, Diana Ankudinova.

Diana Dmitrievna Ankudinova (Russian: Диана Дмитриевна Анкудинова, born May 31, 2003) is a Russian singer. Much of her initial fame resulted from her winning two consecutive seasons of You Are Super!, a talent competition show on the Russian NTV network for children who have spent some significant part of their childhood without parental care. Diana Ankudinova’s performances were posted on the NTV web site and the NTV YouTube channel, where they soon gained hundreds of millions of views around the world. Diana Ankudinova sings mostly in Russian, English and French. She has also sung in other languages including Spanish, German and Arabic.

So she is only 18 — and quite a story so far!

I have long been a Peter Hadfield (Potholer54) fan

June 2011 for example.

Let the man introduce himself.

Peter Hadfield (2014). Some people find him annoying, apparently; I don’t (obviously). It should also be mentioned that he is in fact more conservative than leftist, as some of his videos make plain.

See also this 2010 article from The Guardian.

…they unsceptically believe dubious sources like Fox News, the Daily Express and amateur blogs. A parade of scientists (never mind if they have degrees in microbiology or metallurgy) tell them that ocean cycles are reponsible for global warming, or that there is no warming at all, or that even if there is there is nothing to worry about.

Spend just a few days in this bizarre world of disinformation and it is hard to understand how the audience could not come to the conclusion that anthropogenic climate change is a hoax. And if it is a hoax, the next obvious conclusion is that climate scientists must be either stupid or in it for the money. Deconstructing all this spurious guff, one myth at a time, means checking it back to its source, finding the errors, and then pitting it against proper research studies. No need for condescention, insult, or appeals to emotion…

Naturally in recent times Covid-19 has been a focus. I have to confess that I realised this very recently.

Excellent stuff in my view! And one more:

See also Wikipedia — and I note Hadfield now lives in Australia.

You might also consider an actual climate scientist, Katherine Hayhoe. She is originally Canadian, but currently is a professor of political science and co-director of the Climate Center at Texas Tech University, where she has worked since 2005. She is also an evangelical Christian, on which see Sojourners 20 April, 2021.

…If individuals or organizations haven’t previously promoted climate justice, Hayhoe believes there is always an invitation for repentance. It’s an opportunity to grow closer to God and to the core of one’s faith beliefs. After all, climate justice is never the priority in itself, rather it’s a consequence of caring about what we each already care about.

“Whatever you care about, you already care about climate change,” Hayhoe said. “You just didn’t realize it, maybe you haven’t connected the dots yet … the only thing we have to be to care about climate change is a human living on Earth.”

She has, in partnership with PBS, had a YouTube series called Global Weirding.This is a 2019 example:

Something new on Potholer54!

Thanks to the YouTube algorithm for bringing it up just now.

Seems the descendants of Jacob Whitfield are a clan really…

Jacob Whitfield’s crime occurred in 1820, for which eventually he was transported for life to NSW, leaving on the Isabella 1 from Cork two hundred years ago and arriving in Sydney on 10 March 1822. Looking closely again at information I have already posted about the Isabella I see I could have “celebrated” a family bicentenary last week!

There are lots of details about the “Isabella” here.

The vessel was moored at Cowes on Thursday 2nd August 1821 when the detachment of the 24th regiment under orders of Lieut. Harvey from Albury Barracks embarked. There were 28 Privates and Corporals and three women. The following day at noon they weighed anchor and passed through the Needles under light and variable winds. On the next Friday (10th) they arrived at the Cove of Cork after a rough passage when the Guard and women suffered very much from sea sickness. They remained at the Cove of Cork for some time during which time several of the guard became unruly and rebellious. A court-martial took place on board and six soldiers were sent back to shore.

On October 14th forty-seven convicts were received onto the vessel making the total to 200 men. They were divided into messes and sent on deck during each day in two divisions. This routine continued until nearly the end of October when rain set in and the men were kept below. The surgeon reported that the prisoners were orderly and well behaved. The bad weather continued and the men were allowed on deck intermittently. By November they had set sail and most of the convicts, guard and women were all experiencing sea sickness in the boisterous weather.

Over the next four months Surgeon Price kept a daily record of the position of the vessel and weather experienced as well as the various illness of the convicts.

There were light winds on the 10th March when they came to anchor in Sydney Cove. The convicts were mustered on deck and divine service performed. The following day the Colonial Secretary came on board to muster the men.

On the 14th March at daylight the guard and the convicts were all disembarked and at 11am Governor Sir Thomas Brisbane inspected the prisoners in the gaol yard.

This is where Jacob was first housed in Sydney. It is the Convict Barracks, and is still there. I have visited and tried the hammocks…


Jacob was later given permission to bring his family out from Ireland. They came on a ship called the Thames, sailing via Cape Horn, reaching Sydney on 11 April 1826. Sadly, Jacob’s wife died. Four of their children did survive the voyage, one of whom was my direct ancestor William Whitfield, born 16 March 1812 , Parish of Drumgoon, Cootehill, Co. Cavan, Ireland.

The population (non-Aboriginal, and rounded figures) of Australia was: c. 1815 – 25,000; c. 1825 – 35,000; c.1835 – 128,000. The present population of Wollongong is c. 282,000.

This was an interesting decade for my Whitfield ancestors. The convict Jacob got his Ticket of Leave in March 1834.

Then, as I have noted before:

[Jacob] witnessed the wedding on 20 June 1836 at St Andrews Presbyterian Church of William Whitfield and Caroline Philadelphia West, along with the other witnesses Maria Burgess and William Burgess. On 18 September 1836 (yes, I can count!) the baptism is recorded at St James Church, King Street, of William Joseph John Whitfield, son of William and Caroline. William gave his profession as carpenter, and his address as Elizabeth Street. The child had been born on August 14. (By the way, it snowed in Sydney on June 28 1836.)

From William a clan does indeed seem to have sprung — large families, lots of survivors. William in the 1840s settled in Picton, and there are still plenty of descendants in that area, though my immediate family, springing from William Joseph John’s son Thomas, settled in Shellharbour, where my father was born in 1911.

I have long been aware of the existence of the Braidwood branch of the Whitfield clan but I don’t recall meeting any of them, nor have I travelled to Braidwood. But it is a good story, how they got there. So this is about two of my father’s great-uncles, Jacob 2 and Richard Whitfield.

The information in Jacob 2’s entry is more evocative: “Jacob was farming in the Picton district of NSW until 1875 when with his wife, Eliza and five children, his brother Richard, his wife, and other family members, he left Picton to walk to Araluen NSW to the gold fields. They took with them a cow and horse and cart with their belongings. After three years in Araluen they went to Braidwood NSW where they set up their first blacksmith shop in 1879. Jacob died six years later on 22 Oct 1885…” His wife became a midwife in the district.

By the way my great-grandfather William Joseph John Whitfield, who stayed in the Picton district, and his brothers Jacob and Richard all married sisters from the Ratcliffe (Radcliffe) family, respectively Elizabeth, Eliza, and Mary Ann.

Note in the extract from  Australian biographical and genealogical record series 1, 1788-1841, with series 2 supplement, 1842-1899 / series 1 edited by John T. Spurway, assistant editor Allison Allen; series 2 edited by Kenneth J. Cable and Jane C. Marchant above the story about the blacksmith shop in Braidwood, particularly the story from the Sun-Herald.

You see the point this is leading to is that I have recently added a friend to my Facebook list, a request from someone I had never heard of, one Merrick Bailey. Looking at his face and what I could see of him I accepted, and then came the explanation.

Hi Neil, My name is Merrick Bailey, Grandson of Richard John Whitfield, who with his brother Bill had the blacksmith Shop on the corner as you left Braidwood. I was looking at some family history stuff and came across you in a blog post. I grew up between Braidwood with my grandparents and parents in Baulkham Hills during the war. So I have a few memories of the Blacksmith Shop as a small child, and living at Fairview with them. Good to make contact. I now live in Moruya on the South Coast.

Turns out he is an absolutely brilliant photographer. Look at his site!

And there is a side-note here too, Looking at his branch of the family tree, compiled some years ago now by Bob Starling, I see a grandson of William (“Bill”) the Braidwood blacksmith — a Robert Whitfield. Is that another mystery solved? But the birthdate was not available.


I am, I think, indirectly acquainted with the Robert Whitfield who gives his details in the comment below. Thanks again, Robert. And for the email as well.

Bob Starling’s very thorough family tree is enormous. The Robert Whitfield I found fits into descendants of the Braidwood branch thus. Keep in mind that the Richard John Whitfield (1840-1929) — who is the link to him — is my great-grandfather’s brother, in other words my Dad’s great-uncle.

Family history can be such fun!

The threads in our lives, eh! And a cracking critique of the FB algorithms…

All this entry in various ways links back to this man. And The Shire.

It all starts with a FB post I did on Saturday.

All those who are so fond of stereotyping The Shire, read this and suck it up! Good on The Shire and this organisation which has been around for years! I am sure our old friend Bob Walshe had quite a bit to do with it back in the day. (In fact he was its founder!) Bob was as leftie as — but deeply loved The Shire and made a point of immersing himself in the place, its environment and its history. He was not alone.

It is not all ScoMo and Craig Kelly! Far from it! And large swathes of it once had Gough Whitlam as its local MP!

Sitherland Shire Environment Centre has posted:

How do you feel about climate change?

We care deeply about our environment and the livelihood of our children, grandchildren and future generations. Without a healthy planet, we can’t have healthy, thriving communities and a healthy future for all.

Yesterday, thousands of students from around the country put their learning on hold, to demand that us grown-ups take more meaningful action to secure a safe and healthy planet for their futures.We 100% support our children in their fight.

CLIMATE. CHANGE. is. not. and. should. not. be. a. political. issue.

But here we are…

On Monday, 18 October MP Zali Steggall will table a revised draft of her Climate Change Bill to federal parliament.The bill will introduce a new, short-term emission reductions target of 60% by 2030 vs 2005 levels. We need our leaders to introduce policies and take actions to mitigate climate change now, this decade, in order to halt the effect that fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions have on the environment and our lives….

I then noted that there is an annual RD Walshe Memorial Writing for the Environment Prize awarded by the Environment Centre.

Sutherland Shire Environment Centre holds an annual, national Writing for the Environment prize in honour of our founder, Bob Walshe, who passed away in March 2018.

Writing was a passion and a skill of Bob’s. He taught and inspired many people to write and write and write!  And he believed writing was an important tool in the work of building a sustainable world.

Bob was an educator, historian, journalist, and environmentalist. He authored many books on history, English, and writing, and he wrote articles on the environment for many years for the newspaper Shire Life, and for a number of other environmental magazines. Bob produced Australia’s first global warming poster for the Commonwealth Government in the late 1980s. The origins of the Sutherland Shire Environment Centre are proudly traced back to writing courses Bob ran in the Sutherland Shire.

Through the R D Walshe Memorial Writing for the Environment Prize, Sutherland Shire Environment Centre continues to value the role and place of the art of writing in helping to shape a sustainable world – healthy people living on a healthy planet.

Then on Sunday I posted:

I mentioned Bob yesterday in relation to the Sutherland Shire Environment Centre. He was a major influence on the way I approached the teaching of writing and grammar — yes, I always taught some grammar but only as part of a larger scheme of English teaching than the traditional one. In the 70s when I was in The Gong I would quite often call on Bob in his unit overlooking the park in West Sutherland whenever I came to Sydney. In 1979 or 1980 we both participated in a staff development conference at Gilgandra. I was along with Rowan Cahill a member of the English Teachers Writing Group, which Bob organised. A big influence on many of us, was Bob.

I then recalled that it was Bob who introduced us all to the great work on the teaching of writing being done in the 70s and 80s in the USA, particularly in New Hampshire, associated with Donald Graves and Don Murray. Indeed in 1980 (I think) when Donald Graves was in Australia he, Bob and I had a picnic atop The Saddleback overlooking Kiama, a fact not mentioned as far as I know in the book Bob edited in 1981 for the Primary English Teachers Association.

Seek and ye shall find! After several drafts of this post yesterday I took a punt on YouTube and look what I found! Sadly, Part 2 does not appear to have been uploaded.

See also Rowan Cahill’s An Activist for All Seasons — thorough, excellent!

During his lifetime Robert Daniel “Bob” Walshe (1923-2018) was many things, variously factory labourer, soldier, communist, organiser, activist, pamphleteer, teacher, editor, publisher, historian, educationist, environmentalist.  He was the author/co-author/editor of some forty books.

Born in Sydney’s Eastern suburbs in 1923, Walshe once described his family life as “not very harmonious”. His father, a milkman in the Bondi area, was a severely wounded World War 1 veteran, in and out of hospital during the 1920s. To his mother, Walshe credited his lifelong love of books. Outdoors there was joy, and Walshe, his two brothers and sister enjoyed their childhoods in the environs of Bondi and Bronte beaches, and Waverley Park….

Speaking of Rowan Cahill, it is thanks to his post (ironically, really) on Facebook that I read this amazing essay on the Facebook algorithm by John Birmingham, Kill all you see.

You really MUST read it!

…For weeks before the five nomadic travellers arrived for market day, the village and surrounding hamlets had seethed with fearful rumours of ‘outsiders’ kidnapping local children and harvesting their organs, which is to say that Facebook and WhatsApp, the Zuckbot’s global messaging platform, were boiling with hot content.

There were memes. It mattered not to the Zuckbot or his algorithm that the most popular memes featured images of children killed in the Syrian civil war, rather than locally farmed for their sweet meats by some locavore Slender Man. The images were powerful, engagement was high, and organic reach was off the f*cking scale, bro. Facebook’s Vision Statement, which is slightly gushier than its Mission Statement, speaks of people using the platform “to stay connected with friends and family, to discover what’s going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them.”…

See John Birmingham’s other blog Cheeseburger Gothic.

More on Bob