John Wayne, Seaweed and Phobias.

I admit to several major fears.

I don’t like spiders. I particularly don’t like spiders when you are standing naked under the shower shampooing your hair, and one of those eight legged hairy arachnids is sitting on the shower curtain spying on you. You know, the ones that follow you with their eyes and can jump at any moment. I must apologise to those house guests who have witnessed my naked, screaming self retreat into other, safer, parts of the household.


Visits to the Dentist are another thing I really don’t enjoy. I have a superior Gag Reflex and refuse to open my mouth when Dentists need to probe the interior of my mouth.

Thankfully, I have the ability to face these fears and am more than capable to suck any spiders in my way up the vacuum cleaner .

Dentists. If a glass of Rum and Milk before bed doesn’t allow eight hours solid sleep then I do find the intestinal fortitude to visit the Dentist. It may not be fun, but I can rally enough courage to make an appointment. I may burst into tears when I get to the Dental surgery but I get there, okay.

And then there are phobias. Phobias are totally different to being merely fearful of something. According to Wikipedia , “ a phobia is a type of anxiety disorder, defined by a persistent fear of an object or situation.The phobia typically results in a rapid onset of fear and is present for more than six months.The affected person will go to great lengths to avoid the situation or object, typically to a degree greater than the actual danger posed.If the feared object or situation cannot be avoided, the affected person will have significant distress. Typically onset is around the age of 10 to 17 years of age.”

I suffer a Seaweed phobia. Terrified of the stuff and always have been. For the daughter of a Surf Life Saver who learnt to swim at Sydney’s foremost beach at Bondi this is not a good thing.


On my latest fishing excursion I was reminded that although I can can catch fish, gut fish, clean, scale and fillet fish, if there is seaweed in attendance, my skills are invalidated.

And I lay the blame squarely on John ( Duke) Wayne.

When I was a child, back in the days of black and white TV, we would watch the Friday night movie as a family. A box of Fantail lollies to share, knee rugs on chilly nights, and usually a cat or dog, or both, on our laps demanding attention.

One of those movies, a 1942 black and white, crippled me for life. Reap The Wild Wind starred Susan Hayward, Ray Milland, and a very young John Wayne. Always a family favourite the Duke played a part in the salvage business thriving on the lost cargo of wrecked ships. This movie contained all the usual suspects : a beautiful and busty female, the suspicion of foul play, and a gorgeous 6 foot 4 John Wayne. ( Aside : I have also always blamed my personal preference for tall men on Wayne).


Bottom line, the Duke ends up getting killed by a giant squid on the ocean floor.

I repeat : John Wayne, six foot four, gets taken by a giant squid. Gone. Dead. Finito.


And this little black duck has never, ever, trusted seaweed in her life since in case there is a giant squid lying in wait…..lurking in the shallows…..

Illogical, irrational.

Thankyou, Hollywood, although I don’t have any issues with the occasional meal of Calamari and Chips






McLintock with John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara , with a touch of Michael Pate.

The relentless heat continues so I am maintaining my position near the book shelf, DVDs, and bar fridge.

I’ve just watched a 1963 movie called McLintock starring John Wayne as G W Washington, cattle baron. Maureen O’Hara plays his feisty wife, from whom Duke has been separated for two years. It’s a fun little flick, requiring little thinking, though I suspect it’s political correctness may well get the thumbs down big time these days. You see, McLintock replicates a wonderful little movie made a decade earlier, also starring both Wayne and O’Hara, called The Quiet Man. Filmed in Ireland, The Quiet Man is renowned for its fight scene, its humour, and the taming of the shrew in Ms O’Hara with a spanking and public humiliation.


( Confession : I adore this movie. Always have. I have even undertaken The Quiet Man tour whilst holidaying In The UK. Yeah, my daughters are quite embarrassed by it).


What piqued my interest in McLintock was Australian actor, Michael Pate, who played Puma, one of the last of the Apache chiefs, whom G W represents at Council (and who arranges a little mutiny).

Michael Pate. Remember him? He was in a couple of those dreadful Aussie cop shows in the 70’s before moving into directing. Back in the 40s he was in the iconic Australian movie, Sons of Matthew, with my work pal, Megan’s, Aunty Laurel.


I’ve just read Michael Pate’s, “An Entertaining War”, published in the 1980s, which I rescued from a friend who was in decluttering mode, and God Forbid, tossing a box of books into the bin.

Pate was involved in radio plays from a young age. He enlisted during WW2 though after suffering a debilitating bout of Maleria in the jungle of PNG transferred to the entertainment division where he helped boost the morale of the troops throughout the remainder of the war, both home and abroad. Singing,dancing, magic tricks, and jokes amused the soldiers and gave them a short break from the pressures they endured.

Pate gives a good account of the history of Australia’s endeavours to keep the troops chipper throughout both WW1 and 2 and drops names of many of those whom I have heard of, though never seen; old vaudevillians and radio star types. It wasn’t always as cushy as it may sound and the entertainers often put themselves in real danger.


This is an interesting read, full of personal ancedotes and the memories of other wartime entertainers. It also includes information about how soldiers liked to keep themselves entertained, particularly the POWs of South East Asia, who regularly performed their own theatrical productions using virtually nil props.

I tended to skim read this book as the information became overwhelming, including the details of the crude playhouses built in the jungle of Rabaul to facilitate performances.

Some of the personal stories of the entertainers are fascinating and I particularly enjoyed the photo of Australian actor Peter Finch, another member of the services can you believe, who later played Ringer Joe Harman in A Town Like Alice.


Michael Pate did do a fine job as an Indian, though I’m not sure he’d ever win the heart of Maureen O’Hara.