February 19th

The 19th of February is the 80th anniversary of the Bombing  of Darwin.

Courtesy of Gary Luck:

This coming Saturday, the 19th February 2022, commemorates the 80th anniversary of the Bombing of Darwin by the same Japanese Imperial Force that had attacked Pearl Harbor only ten weeks earlier. My late father fought against them in Darwin on the 19th of February 1942. Not long before he passed he told me his story of the bombing. I got to record it last year with The Lightfeet Band. Recorded by Fred Pilcher, arranged, mixed and mastered by Keith Potger (The Seekers) and managed by Liz Hawkes, I offer this song in loving memory of all those who fought and died that day and in the many months thereafter and right across the Top End, from Broome to Townsville, in the hope that we never see such an attack on our shores again. ‘Blood On The Frangipani – When The Bombs Rained Down on Darwin’.


Darwin Harbour

The Week That Was And Old Age

It was Melbourne Cup earlier in the week, Australia’s iconic horse race which literally stops a nation. Melbourne, in lock down for some 280 days due to Covid, opened up for 10,000 questionably fashioned party-goers at the racetrack – as opposed to the usual 100,000 plus- none of whom looked like they were a day over 25 years of age. I didn’t watch the race, didn’t pull a cork out of any bottle, and am unable to name the winning horse.

Is this a sign of old age?

The Beersheba Re-enactment ( for the anniversary of the Charge in 1917) at the Laidley Pioneer Village was interesting and well done, though I was disappointed with the lack of spectators. These dedicated horsemen and women are passionate about both their history and their horses and I would have thought that the event would have attracted scout groups, girl guides, and high school groups as history via a whiteboard and text book never worked for me. Neither did Shakespeare.

Saved a baby crow fresh out of the nest. Spent the morning on the phone to the Wildlife mob as he was wobbly on his feet and the other larger birds were overly interested. Did you know that walking on the ground for a week or two is what baby crows do? It was just unfortunate that this was the same day the first Brown Snake of the season slithered by the back door.

Went to the theatre to see Mamma Mia last night. Wonderful to get caught up in the joy of the music, and….da da…enjoy it maskless. Last live performance was four months ago when masks were compulsory. Do you know how depressing it is not to be able to sing along with a favourite performer? And I mean depressing. I would have been happier listening to a CD and ordering a pizza at home it was so sad.

So energised by the music and dancing – and that was just the audience, not those on stage – that I vowed to open a bottle of bubbles when I made it back home.

Didn’t happen. Too tired.

I’m just getting old, I tell you.

What’s Your Funeral Song?

I’ve had my mind on music for my funeral this week. No, I’m fine, thank you. No impending doom and gloom – at least that I’m aware of. Health situation remains static. Sprained back muscle from carrying a bag of potting mix gives me the odd twinge but other than that I am fine. Fine and dandy.

I’m off to a musical performance on the weekend : Australian country singer John Williamson. Old guy, not to be confused with that other Aussie country singer, Keith Urban. * Be still, my beating heart….

There was a time when there was a rush on funerals and they all seemed to feature John Williamson songs. If it wasn’t True Blue it was Flower On The Water which Williamson wrote and performed for the first anniversary of the Bali Bombing. In Bali. Where friends, family and strangers gathered to throw flowers on the water. I appreciate his songs much more now that I’ve reached mature aged status -the simple structure allows me to remember all the words.

To hear your voice, to see you smile

To sit and talk to you awhile

To be together the same old way

That would be our greatest wish today

To hear you laugh, to hear you cry

Or just a chance to say ‘goodbye’

To say the things we didn’t say

That would be our greatest wish today

But all we can do is throw a flower on the water

Look for the sun through the rain

Lay a little frangipani gentle on the water

Remember how we loved you.
– J Williamson

Lists of popular Funeral Songs include many that you would expect:

Frank Sinatra : My Way
Vera Lynn : We’ll Meet Again
Sarah McLachlan : Angel
Ed Sheeran : Supermarket Flowers ( which he wrote for his Mum)

All good songs. Fine sentiments. But not my kind of music for a rollicking good Wake.

I am selecting a tune by Irish band Flogging Molly : If I Ever Leave This World Alive.A tune which works well with a glass of bubbles in your hand, in song, and on the dance floor.

What’s your funeral song?

P.S. Umm, not game to share the song I got married too. That might give you the wrong impression.

Spirit Of The ANZACS

Country singer, Lee Kernaghan, along with other Australian singer/songwriters Garth Porter and Colin Buchanan, were given access to the diaries, letters and stories of Australian and New Zealand diggers held by the Australian War Memorial as a project for the 100th anniversary of Gallipoli. These letters covered 100 years of ANZAC history from the First World War right through to Afghanistan, resulting in the CD Spirit Of The ANZACS. Many of the lines in the songs on this CD have been directly lifted from letters written on the battlefield.

The booklet which accompanies the CD includes pictorial evidence of the individuals, a brief history, and what it was about their letters home which inspired their adaptation to music.

To The Top Of The Hill has its origins in a letter by Roy Denning ( No 1 Field Company, Australian Engineers) who wrote of his first day of the Gallipoli Campaign on 25 April, 1915 – the dawn, the landing, and the charge “to the top of the hill”. Oh Passchendale is based on a 40 page letter written to his parents and sister by Private Leonard Hart, 2nd Battalion, Otago Infantry Regiment, NZEF, describing the horrific events of 12 October 1917 in Belgium, near Passchendale. Inspired by a letter from Private Allen May, forward scout with D Company, 6th Battalion, 6RAR, in Vietnam Tell Carmelita derives from a missive home about a battle he had survived the week before – at Long Tan.

Surprisingly these songs aren’t depressing but rather a celebration of the human spirit. It’s music that can be enjoyed at any time, not just on military anniversaries. 

With Remembrance Day next week I’m sharing I Will Always Be With You.

courtesy of youtube

Commando Private Benjamin Chuck signed the last letter to his wife :

I Will Always Be With You, Ben.

Hey Brother by The Wolfe Brothers

Last weekend Wounded Heroes held their annual major fundraiser to assist (ex)servicemen and their families. This year because of Covid 19 Exercise Stone Pillow morphed into a Backyard Sleep Out. Brisbane turned on more rain than we’ve seen in 12 months and there are still Emergency Services out there removing fallen trees from roads and rooves. No casualties, thank goodness.

Courtesy Wounded Heroes

This is the mob for whom I raise and sell a few succulents to raise a few bob.

With Remembrance Day in a matter of only weeks I thought I’de share some recent Australian tribute songs to our men and women of the services over coming days.

The Wolfe Brothers are an Australian Country Rock  band, formed of brothers Tom and Nick Wolfe and childhood friends Brodie Rainbird and Casey Kostiuk, all from Tasmania.

Courtesy of You Tube

There are no actors in the video for Hey Brother. “Just real people, real stories, real life”.

If you are interested in hearing some of these stories go here: https://www.awm.gov.au/get-involved/after-the-war-cd/hey-brother

Travel During The Time Of Pandemic

Crawling out of a funk after another planned trip cancelled due to Covid. Here in Queensland we are living in a bubble, the positive being only 6 plague related deaths over the the last seven months. The negatives are multiple and soul destroying though we continue to move forward, even though we are really going backwards.

Qld Tourism has been spending big bikkies to encourage us to travel around our home State. It’s a big State with an area of 1,727,000 square kilometres, making it nearly five times the size of Japan, seven times the size of Great Britain, and two and a half times the size of Texas.

Most of the population live along the coast and nearly 902,000 square kilometres is considered “Outback”.

Anyway, advertising is obviously working as accomodation is at a premium as are the numbers of Grey Nomads ( retirees driving around in mobile homes and caravans). Good luck to them : they bring a lot of money to townships that would otherwise be doing it tough. But good luck trying to book a motel along the coast……

I pulled this beaut little guide to Queensland from the weekend newspaper and highly recommend it.

What makes this brochure different to other guides available encouraging travel around the State?

As well as separating the regions and the Must Do’s to visit, it provides
the title of a book to read which is based on that region, as well as a piece of music for the play list.

These are the reading and recommendations if visiting the Mackay area :

I figure that despite our current circumstances there are still opportunities to spend the kids’ inheritance.

Queenslanders, and pseudo Queenslanders, get your copy now.

Five Concept Albums Based On Books

I’m a bit of a sucker for Lists. I mean reading lists – not creating them. I don’t even write a shopping list.( C’mon people, how hard is it ?)

Because I have relied heavily on music to ease me through these past seven months of Covid I’ve been reading more than my share of Lists. In no way mind expanding and generally in one ear and out the other, which sums up all I can deal with during these times…..

I’m borrowing this information from Steven G from Weekend Notes who is a listophile extraordinaire as well as ad libbing.

War Of The Worlds by Jeff Wayne (1978), based on War Of The Worlds by HG Wells (1898)

The two-disc album remains a bestseller, having sold 15 million copies worldwide. It has spawned multiple versions including video games, DVDs, and live tours. You’de have to be living under a rock not to be aware of this album.

Journey To The Centre Of The Earth by Rick Wakeman (1974), based on Journey To The Centre Of The Earth by Jules Verne (1871; English)

Can’t say too much about this one : it evokes memories of Saturday nights spent in beanbags drinking Blackberry Nip.

Diamond Dogs by David Bowie (1974), based on Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell (1949)

This album includes the hit song 1984, originally intended for a stage musical based on the novel, which was never produced because permission was refused by Orwell’s widow Sonia.

Animals by Pink Floyd (1977), based on Animal Farm by George Orwell (1945)

The album’s lyrics describe various classes in society as different kinds of animals: the predatory dogs, the despotic ruthless pigs, and the “mindless and unquestioning herd” of sheep. Described as “ the apparent social and moral decay of society, likening the human condition to that of mere animals”. Has there ever been a Pink Floyd concert which did not feature a flying pink pig?

Leviathan by Mastodon (2004), based on Moby Dick by Herman Melville (1851)

Songs  from this album, “Iron Tusk”, “Blood and Thunder”, “I Am Ahab” and “Seabeast”, were released as singles. Three magazines awarded the album Album of the Year in 2004 and in 2009 and 2015 MetalSucks named Leviathan the best metal album of the 21st century.

Might be time to listen to a little Dean Martin…………………..

Food and Music Save The Day.

The times they are a changin’. – Sir Bobness

Music from the 70’s has been my companion this week. When I downsized I tossed the Wedgewood and retained my vinyl collection. When I divorced I tossed the bloke and retained the music. Best decisions I made in years.

The music has kept me sane after having had our Prime Minister declare that there would be no overseas travel until 2024 – by which time, I wailed, that I would be dead- and the Northern Territory will keep its borders closed for eighteen months ( to provide biosecurity for the Indigenous population). I have no issues with being realistic but holy guacamole, a little hope goes a long way.

So lots of Donovan, Carpenters, Carly and Sir Bobness. In a different lifetime Sir Bobness ruled my house. I remember seeing him perform at the Sydney Opera House, one of those dreadful concerts for which he is renowned. I was decked out in smart work clobber, he and the rest of the audience wore cheese cloth. Some months later, having learned my lesson, I wore cheesecloth and little else to the Opera House to enjoy an evening with Donovan. He performed in a three piece suit.

So of course I’ve been cooking 70s style to go with the music. No fondues because I use that these days as a peg basket, though meatloaf stuffed with hardboiled eggs and plenty of stuffed cauliflower. My daughters don’t know whether to be appalled, impressed or alarmed.

No recipe books required – it’s all there in the wings which is a bit of a worry.

Next week we’ll move on to the 80’s. You’ll be pleased to learn I skipped the 90’s.

Up Lit and Movie Musicals

One of the fastest growing genre of books is Up Lit, or Uplifting Literature, which can help to elevate your mood. The cause of its current popularity is not rocket science.

It has been said that the trend started in response to the current climate leading for a desire to read about “everyday heroism, human connection, and love.” 

Generally Up Lit books “track quirky, offbeat protagonists on their journeys to creating a fulfilling web of relationships.” The books keep any possibility of saccharine sentimentality in check by also offering up healthy doses of melancholy.

So although there may well be tears and disappointments by the final pages of books of this genre “you’ll be left with an appreciation of the good in the world, and the wonderful people in it.”

Think A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman and Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, two really good reads (although with the former there was a period where I considered cutting my wrists during the first few chapters. Thank God I was not listening to Leonard Cohen at the time.)

Here’s a list from Goodreads of the most popular Up Lit titles:

www.goodreads.com › shelf › show › uplit

My attention span is that of a gnat lately. Minimal focus. My study program has been pushed aside, so I’m giving Up Lit a go.

Ditto my movie watching habits. You know, I nodded off in the chair during Casablanca last week, did not shed a single tear when Heath Ledger died by the sword in The Patriot, and cannot even contemplate a swashbuckler at the moment. These are bad days…..

You know what’s soothing the beating heart?

Movie Musicals from the 1940’s and 50’s. Bizarre, I know. I guess there is a correlation as these were popular in Hollywood during the Depression and after World War 2. They were light, colourful and importantly for some of us – ME – you could leave the brain at the front door.

I’m finding myself singing some of the songs when I get up first thing in the morning. Today it was “ Take Me Out To The Ball Game”. Sure beats listening to the news.