Now that the “shocking” new evidence in the Sky News documentary MH370: The Untold Story has been revealed, I write to report a disappearance. Of the various theories and leads that have been advanced since the tragedy on 8 March 2014, there is one that has gone missing, never sighted by any investigating team including, now, Sky News. I refer to an early lead offered by an Australian scientific exploration company which was presented in good faith but which, irrespective of its merits, fell prey to cancel culture.
In his new book, The Brothers York: An English Tragedy, Thomas Penn patches over an important detail relating to Edward IV, who reigned from 1461 to 1483. Penn describes Edward as having been the legitimate son of Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York, and his wife Lady Cecily Neville. However, Edward’s legitimacy was a point of contention even in his own time and evidence discovered in 2003 goes a long way to proving, firstly, that Edward could not have been fathered by Richard, and secondly, that if the monarchical line had followed its true genealogical path through Edward’s younger brother, George, it leads eventually to rural Australia. Continue reading “My kingdom for a horse in Australia”→
As a member of the School Council of the public primary school in suburban Melbourne attended by my two boys, I supported my fellow councillor’s motion to arrange for a sex education speaker to give a talk for parents on how to speak to their children about sex. The speaker in question came highly recommended and on the night itself I arrived early, introduced myself, helped her set up, and took a seat in the front row. Then as she began, eager for her to feel welcome, I gave little nods of encouragement whenever she glanced my way. Continue reading “School Council Diary”→
We all make mistakes. To quote the Augustan satirist Alexander Pope, “to err is humanistic”. But we also like to point out other people’s mistakes and in the written form we do this with ‘sic’, the term inserted into a sentence (in parentheses) to make it clear that the mistake is not ours. It is a word with Latin roots although its origins in the English language, as recorded in the Oxford English Dictionary, are mistaken. According to the OED the first known appearance of it was in an Anglo-Saxon Reader of 1887, but I have found an instance of it in the 1876 edition of the same book. The OED, therefore, needs to correct its “1887 (sic)” citation for ‘sic’.
At the time of writing, December 2020, the #newedition movement can be considered a true global phenomenon. As it sets about the work of re-writing world history in the manner it should always have been written, it represents the most significant mountain that our noble progressive movement has yet climbed. But the one thing that I hope is always remembered is that this movement owes its origins to a small group of people, including my son and myself, in Melbourne. Yes, it is a phenomenon we can proudly call Victorian. It all began in 2018 at the High School that my son attends.
Joint-winning entry in the ALIA (Australian Library and Information Association) flash fiction (200 words) competition to celebrate Valentines Day 2019…
A Lover of Alliteration
That never-ending book, There was Love to be Found in the Library, will hopefully find a place for the story of my friend Ally. She was a woman who always spoke with alliteration. When asked about the novel she was reading, for example, she described it as “a tepid and tedious tome that talks of tensions in today’s technological times”. I once heard someone say to her that her way of speaking was pompous. She replied, “what’s wrong, I wonder, with a widowed woman with a wonderful way with words?” Ally had embarked on this mode of speech in memory of her husband, Dudley Dirk den Delden, of Dutch descent. I was with her that day soon after he died when she found a book on alliteration in the basement of the library. “Ally”, I said, “you have found love in the library”. She corrected me, “I have located love, in the local library – lower level”. She reverted to her maiden name, Allwood. It was “a difficult decision that does not diminish my devotion to my dear departed Dudley”, but she wanted her great-grandchildren to be able to read aloud at her grave, “Ally Allwood, A Lover of Alliteration”.
When King George V died on 20 January 1936 the world was led to believe that he had died entirely of natural causes. Little did people know at the time that his death had been hastened by his physician in order to ensure that the news was reported first in The Times rather than the afternoon newspapers. It is a matter that can be explored with the help of Gale Primary Sources.
Golf has a long and rich history, with countless books having been written on the origins and development of the game. But if a new history was to be written today with the help of Gale Primary Sources, how much would our knowledge be improved? My suspicion is that it would be improved a good deal, for even a relatively short period of research using Gale Primary Sources unearths thousands of interesting references to golf from the fifteenth century forward, many of which may never have been seen before. Here follows a select sample of the references to golf in the Gale historical collections that could potentially give us a better appreciation of the history of the game and the role it has played in society.
This is the true story of a compositor working at The Times in 1882 who deliberately and maliciously inserted a ribald comment when setting the type for the newspaper. Who would have thought such a scandal could happen at such a newspaper? The Times of London, which began in 1785 and the archive of which was the first digitised primary source collection produced by Gale, has always been an establishment newspaper and still today is known as Britain’s ‘newspaper of record’. Scholars and researchers use the digital archive for purposes of studying contemporaneous reports of historical events, being reports that are written from the newspaper’s traditionally conservative perspective ─ which is something that would only add to the shock when these scholars stumble across this incident from 1882.
Television advertisements in the lead up to Australia Day on 26 January 2017 have been telling the Australian people to celebrate the day “how you want to”. It is an interesting message from the Australian government. A typical Australian reaction to it might be to ask, if now we are to celebrate it how we want to, what was the prescribed method beforehand? Another broad section of the community might wonder whether the day has ever been celebrated at all – isn’t it just another public holiday? But, taking it in good faith, clearly this message is intended as an open and friendly acknowledgement of the fact that, for many of the people of Australia in 2017, Australia Day is not what it once was. Although the Queen of England remains our constitutional head of state, in today’s multi-cultural, multi-faith community the observance of Australia Day as a celebration of its anniversary is becoming more marginalised every year. The fact is that, quite apart from the ancient claim of the aboriginal people, many countries and cultures can say they have had a part in the creation of modern Australia. Some have done so during the 20th and 21st centuries with contributions to culture, cuisine or the arts. Others have done so by virtue of a particular historical incident.
Here is a story of the latter kind. It is a little-known historical incident that gives one particular country – Holland – a small but meaningful stake in Australian history. Most Australians know that the first British settlement arrived on 26 January 1788. Many Australians are also familiar with the fact that there were previous European landings, such as by Willem Janszoon in 1606 and William Dampier in 1688. But few Australians know that the first Europeans to actually live permanently in Australia were the two Dutchmen, Wouter Looes and Jans Pelgrom, from 1629.