Book Twelve

Book 12 – Chapters 177 to 192
available here in Adobe pdf for Kindle & iPad aficionados

The Twelfth and Final Book in The Private Papers of Crocodile Uppsala

A Telling in words and pictures based on the letters of William Shepherd and the sketches of Connie Lindqvist as told to Connie, Constanza, Elisabet, Linda, Sabine, Susan, Alan, Bob, Clifford, Edgar, John, John
Letters of William Shepherd written in November 1993
from Boulogne ‘twixt ‘Umber and Skagerrak & from Uppsala
and the final letter from Oz.
© William Shepherd 1993             © Connie Lindqvist 1993

177. Peace Studies
© William Shepherd 1993

Boulogne, Europe.
Sunday 7th November 1993.

Dear Crocodile Uppsala

We are told that October 1993 was the second sunniest October since 1909. Nobody here noticed, so in remembrance of missing it, Vemara and Skua 4 hopped across the channel to enjoy a sudden burst of late fall sunshine coast weather…and escape the king’s dragoons, celebrating yesterday’s capture of Guy…Fawkes that is.

Sketch 221 Abbey Quay

But today I feel like a good preach while Mervin is tied up in Kerovnia with Bluff Squire David.

In 1982 shortly after attending a Buckminster Fuller symposium in Philadelphia, I read a book by Peter Tompkins & Chris Bird entitled ‘The Secret Life of Plants’. Chris Bird was a leading American authority on dowsing.

Syncronicitously his writings had been added to my list after late night ‘aprés Bucky’ chats with Phil LaPerle. Phil knew his synergetics and he could dowse. A few months later while World Gaming at the University of Colorado high in the American Rockies, Phil showed me how…and conducted private tutorials on paraphysics.

Before the week was out I was being slipped top-secret papers on the US military’s psychotronic weaponry programmes…the evidence implying that the russkies were two decades ahead of the yanks in supernature research. KGB Disinformation, of course, courtesy of Boris Pankin at the Soviet Embassy in Stockholm.

I did some follow-ups in Los Angeles that year, producing some investigative pieces on bioelectricity for Marilyn Ferguson’s ‘Brain-Mind Bulletin’ and reviewing a trilogy of books on the soviet military for ‘Leading Edge’…her other newsletter.

But otherwise what with all that and August on Cape Cod with Daniel Ellsberg of Pentagon Papers notoriety learning the coarse art of neurolinguistic programmed hypnosis, courtesy of John Grinder (CIA), deportation via San Quentin…or divorce and black listing by the mandarins of MI5 and MI666 were the best I could hope for from 1982.

There was nothing new in ‘The Secret Life of Plants’ but by starting with Culpeper (Another Nicholas? 1616-54 perhaps? Mervin) and the plant lore of medieval monastery gardens and pre-Columbian Native American cultures and grafting on some western scientific laboratory results, a few more pagan phenomena sneaked back into the mainstream of Western Science…or at least West Coast Science.

Two years ago Tomkins and Bird published ‘Secrets of the Soil’. The Cinque Ports Letter lavishly praised the book, but outside this little corner of the quality press, the book was loudly ridiculed. But the reviews were too many, the abuse too loud and the campaign’s look just a little too ‘funded’…Methinks the lady doth protest too much.

Sketch 222 Three Horsemen

The reason became apparent shortly afterwards when the tabloids started ‘leaking’ the news that the Prince of Wales would be making a savage attack on Big Chemical Agriculture at the 1991 Annual General Meeting of the Royal Agricultural Society. Now to understand just why so zealous a pre-emptive info-strike should be made against a future crowned-head of the British Commonwealth, let me introduce you to the NPK Lobby.

178. Secrets of the Soil
© William Shepherd 1993

The Nitrogen-Potassium-Potash conglomerates uncomfortably straddle the world’s first and second corporate divisions. Under siege from the corporate raiders and in a dubious alliance with Imperial Armageddon Industries, they are, in short, modern chemical companies trying to survive in a fading smokestack world.

Already they have seen their napalm transport planes converted into winged computers bearing smart missiles. And biodynamic farming promises to pack a similar punch for their global pesticide, fungicide, herbicide and ferticide cartels.

As the ICIs of this world are only too aware, Rudolf Steiner represents Marx, Morris and Darwin all rolled into one, with an explosive impact in food politics comparable to the microchip in the information business. Peter Tompkins & Chris Bird had outlined the scientific parameters of a third wave horticulture…and there was not a genetic engineer in sight.

Now it should not come as a surprise to discover that those with large global vested interests in second wave agriculture and with mammoth sunk costs in smart genetically engineered milk producers (cows) do not welcome such a book. Indeed they have a duty to their shareholders to deploy whatever they have in their holsters, their wallets and their computers to defend their interests.

With feigned unawareness (FU) no longer tenable, contrived kontempt (CC) is launched, in which the vitally important is juxtapositioned with the gross, the obscene and the utterly ridiculous (VIGOUR) to manipulate and muddy the message (3M). For good measure, the character of any authority is also destroyed on the time-honoured principle of undermining the message by attacking the messenger. Now you know how they orchestrate their second wave media campaigns. But do you know how you should counter them? With a July 17th birthday I think crab and reach for the pincer movement every time.

A little bit of first wave face to face talking (FTFT) from Ilbereth and Aslak alongside some good ‘ole…Sven loves this. Go for it Sven…Yee-hah. Third Wave Interactive Mobile Convertible Connectible Ubiquitous Globalized Hypermedia. (If you mean fax, phone, satellite & video, say so. Mervin)

Sketch 223 Counter Insurgency Measures

The trouble is that media mind games like these are pretty superficial. The heart of the matter is modern western man’s disregard of the quality benefits that human tender loving care imparts to the plant kingdom and our separation from our food. We are all earth organisms. And replacing Goethe’s nature studies with Newton’s biological sciences in our primary schools did nothing to help matters. So we now have a culture that is deeply ignorant about what it eats and has no Philosophy of Soil.

Have you been taught anything about the monastery gardens of the medieval monks? Do you think that the rituals of the Catholic Church with its sacred places and its holy water are hooey? Are you not convinced by your scientific studies that water divining & exorcism, astrology & fairies, cold fusion & orgone energy belong in the several anti-scientific worlds that go to make up some magical Cloud Cuckoo Land where imaginations wallow when off-duty or under age? (‘Yes-No-Yes’ wins you a Mervin T-Shirt).

179. String Quartets
© William Shepherd 1993

Mervin! Hold your unicorns! There is more rhetoric! Have you ever considered the idea that bird song mighty help plants grow? (Tomatoes just lurve Beethoven’s string quartets. Mervin.) Do you think that Sean Connery’s insistence on discriminating between a drink which was shaken and not stirred is a mere affectation? (‘Yes-No-Yes-Yes-No’ and you will wear your Mervin T-shirt as Wally and Harold teach you the latest dance craze…The Duck & Plummet).

If instead you registered a dismal ‘No-Yes-No-No-Yes’ to all of the above then ‘Secrets of The Soil’ should be placed at the top of your scientific reading list for 1994. Here are a few highlights. Start with Henri Coanda and Patrick Flanagan. For several decades they have been trying to understand the behaviour of that most mysteriously anomalous substance…water. Have a guided tour through their work. You will find out why Leonardo da Vinci’s was fascinated with vortices, you will cease to mock the Catholic Communion…and you might start to take an unnatural interest in salmon.

However if bumble bees are more in your line you will be pleased to find that Philip Callahan has always been intrigued by the ways of the insect world. Insects have a way of tuning in to Nature. Tomkins & Bird describe Callahan’s research…making no bones about its implications for chemical company pesticide futures. Linnaeus and Goethe are the key.

Browse through the pioneering work of Ehrenfried Pfeiffer, Lily Kolisko, Alex Podolinsky and other bio-dynamic farmers. You talk about boomerangs and shaven men. You ain’t seen nothing to compare with the persecution of scientists struggling to pass on the intellectual inheritance that Goethe rescued from the collapsing civilisations of medieval Europe.

Rudolf Steiner was a Goethe scholar. Get hold of a copy of Colin Wilson’s biography of Steiner if you want to know more…or keep your mother company when she next visits Gunnar and Annika in the leafy groves of Chalmers University on Sweden’s West Coast…their children are Christopher and Waldorf scholars. After that, if you are still wanting to read around the subject, then you could try Paul Hawken’s ‘Magic of Findhorn’ and Tom Graves’ ‘Needles of Stone’.

By the end of all that you will have gone full circle, covered the ground, found your way back along the ley lines and the St.Michael-Apollo axis to the aquastats on Stonehenge and Uluru…and be about ready to read ‘Megaliths, Meis and Miners’ by William Shepherd.

Hold it! Hold it! Repetition! Anyway, this preaching’s gone on quite long enough.
You’ve told ‘im what you were gonna tell ‘im and you’ve told ‘im
so now wind it up by telling ‘im what you told ‘im. Mervin.)

What was that little one in the middle? Well. OK.

180. William Morris
© William Shepherd 1993

On 2 February 1886 a few weeks before his fifty second birthday, William Morris replied to a questionnaire by the Pall Mall Gazette as to his favourite books. He, at least, had come a long way since John Ruskin shocked the comfortable complacent mid-Victorian world with his talk of wealth and riches twenty five years before.

After a spell in the real world earning a living, you could do worse than devote the second quarter century of your life to understanding …through work and play…the theory and practice of life embedded in this Library of Wisdom. Life is after all the only wealth. Here’s a summary of his list:

Sketch 224 William Morris at Work

Homer; The Edda; Beowulf; The Kalevala; Norse Tales; Irish and Welsh Traditional Poems; Heimskringla; Icelandic Sagas; the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle; Danish and Scotch-English Border Ballads; Plutarch’s Lives; Herodotus; Plato; Aeschylus; Sophocles; Aristophanes; Renard the Fox; The Best Rhymed Romances; Morte d’Arthur; Shahnemeh and Mahabharata; Dante; Chaucer; Piers Plowman; Omar Khayyam; other Arab and Persian poetry; The Thousand and One Nights…

Shakespeare; Blake (the part of him which a mortal can understand. Mervin Poet Laureate); Coleridge, Shelley, Keats; Defoe; Scott; Dickens; Dumas; Hugo’s novels; More’s Utopia; The Pilgrim’s Progress; Ruskin; Carlyle; Grimm’s Teutonic Mythology; The Nibelungennot; The Mabinogian.

Scott and Dickens were specially praised while Milton was hated for his cold classicism and Puritanism. As for Morris’ own writings, his last works, after 1885, are best: ‘Pilgrims of Hope’; ‘Dream of John Ball’; ‘Tables Turned’ and ‘News from Nowhere’. While for background ‘The Life of William Morris’ by Edward Thompson in 3 Vols (1965) and ‘A Biography of William Morris’ by Jack Lindsay (1975) are well worth a read.

End of classes for today. Get that lot under your belt in 1994…even though you are overschooled and miseducated like everyone else from our North Atlantic industrialised nations…and you might just be able to hold your own against the well-educated citizens emerging from the Marxist colleges of Eastern and Central Europe. And if everybody read them, then we would have the European cultural renaissance some of us are hoping to see rising up from the debris of the most disastrous hundred year civil war ever waged on Planet Earth…that of man against mankind.

181. Crocodile Publishing
© William Shepherd 1993

But meanwhile why not start a local chapter of the Crocodile Uppsala Book Club. There are three classes of member: Writing Members; Reading Members and Subscribing Members…cunningly designed to turn the class war upside down by reclassifying Top, Middle and Lower class along Randian lines.

Writing members earn their status through a Crocodile Uppsala Book Club publishing their story about Wally and his friends. And to break out of the Topside-Takers attitudes to writing, the Crocodile Uppsala Book Club will be a contributing club with writer and illustrator services available to storytellers.

Reading members will review new tales and provide a reading democracy while the subscribing members will share the experience one year on…paying for the privilege.

Sketch 225 CrocUpp Book Club

Legends are not made. They are born…given birth by the likes of you and I…and then nurtured into adulthood. Legends have lives of their own, distinct from the lives of those whose lives and sagas bring human warmth and give human personality to these tales. Our legends live and die just as we do. But the best legends endure…often returning renewed to live some other life or to relive the old life. Perhaps the souls of men are the legends our gods make their dreams on? Your Australian aborigine friends might agree with that.

G’Day Mate!

182. Boulogne Trip
© William Shepherd 1993

German Sea…Sunday 14th November 1993.

Dear Crocodile Uppsala

‘Twixt ‘Umber and Skagerrak. ‘Here I am, somewhere in the middle of The North Sea’ as a gentleman by the name of Fyfe Robertson was wont to say on Cliff Michelmore’s Tonight programme in the 1960s in a broad Scotch accent. One day Fyfe Robertson will become famous again, not as a Down Your Way Broadcaster, but as the brother of Thomas Robertson, a Herriot-Watt university professor who wrote ‘Human Ecology’ in 1947 and 40 years later featured prominently in ‘The Rise and Fall of The Swedish Green Party (1982-1997)’.

Boating, you may recall from my other Boulogne letter…the one before last week’s…is, and I quote, ‘Slow. Slow. Quick. Quick. Slow…with the occasional pretty damn quick…like now! Fast!’ John Pierce and I had one of those little ones at the end on our way across to Boulogne last weekend. The u-bolt holding Skua 4’s back stay sheared in mid-channel under full sail in a force three. John was at the tiller and three minutes later as we continued on our way without our canvas engine…to all the world as if nothing had happened…I had occasion to reflect once again on the delight of travelling with a good skipper. John was at the helm when the bang came two hours out from Rye. I reckon it must have taken him about five seconds to figure out what had happened.

Tiller hard over. Kick engine throttle to low. ‘Take the tiller! Hold her into the wind!’ Foresail rolled in. Up onto the deck. Mainsail dropped. Back to the cockpit. Hanging bottle screw lashed onto the stern rail. ‘OK! Back on course!’ By the time Vemara shot her bowsprit across our stern to see what was going on, we were back on course for Boulogne. Well that’s boating for you. What part did I play in this drama at sea? Well, you shouldn’t underestimate it. I obeyed orders…on the instant. ‘Aye, Aye’ Sir! And did my duty well…adding half an hour later. ‘Think you forgot to do the topping lift, John!’ He hit me with the nearest rhythm stick.

John replaced the u with a U in Boulogne, Gilbert, for all his seeming casualness about his boat always having what is needed on board. I was at our Tabac with Connie, David, Paiwa and Laura at the time and returned to find everything shipshape for the return trip. No hassles with John. If there’s a job, he gets on and does it.

Sketch 226 Emergency at Sea

And here Laura deserves a mention in dispatches. We were about to set sail back for Rye on the Sunday morning at 0800 when she pointed out that our topping lift line was twisted around the back stay. Thank you Laura. Paiwa meanwhile impressed Connie on the return trip in quite a different way.

Vemara has been ferrying Barry Britten, a nephew of the great man, back and forth across the channel quite a lot of late. A man of means with a house on Mermaid Street in Rye and another on Rue d’Artois just below The Old Town in Boulogne. But at present his liquid means are in distinctly short supply whenever they’re demanded, cash right now, for mundane matters like keys ‘n locks. Barry was on the tiller nattering on to Connie about his last trip, and bewailing his misfortune at having ‘Howard’s father’ preaching Jesus-talk at him the whole way back.

Sketch 227 Vemara Removals Limited

Now Barry makes himself unpopular by sounding off a little too often, a little too negatively, about a little too many people. Rye is a small town. He lacks…hmm, what shall we say (social discretion? Mervin.) Thank you Mervin…the southerner’s social discretion.

But Paiwa loved it. She and Laura were rolling around the deck laughing their heads off, because, unbeknown to Barry, Howard is Paiwa’s brother…and hence the aforementioned preacher was none other than Paiwa’s Daddy. Their spirits buoyed by this merriment…it made a change from chaperoning David…the girls spent the rest of the trip playing their harmonicas for the migrating seabirds as they flew down channel.

At the end we concluded it had been a lot of fun having the two young teenagers aboard. David had his Neferdinghy along for the first time on a cruising trip, so that could have made a difference…the three of them spending all of Saturday sculling around Boulogne Harbour so that we hardly saw them all day.

183. Christians
© William Shepherd 1993

But a few words about these Bible Thumpers because they are becoming something of a public menace and a private nuisance. With Livets Ord’s world headquarters in Uppsala you will know the type.

The trouble starts with their ignorance of theology in general and of the place of their own faith in the ecology of all faiths in particular. We have The Truth.

A society endowed with collective wisdom would probably incarcerate their fanatical besser-wisers on bread and water for 40 days and 40 nights with a copy of Tom Paine’s ‘Age of Reason’ and Aldous Huxley’s ‘Ends & Means’…allowing them out only after they pass an exam and promise to hold all their possessions personally for ten years (…and for persistent offenders D. H. Lawrence’s ‘Apocalypse’ should be thrown in for good measure. Rev. Mervin).

Christians make the enormous mistake of burdening themselves with the Old Testament, which contains along with much fine poetry and sound morality, the history of the cruelties and treacheries of a desert people, fighting for a place in the sun under the protection of its local tribal deity.

Christian theologians do their best to civilize and moralize this tribal deity…by talking of King David’s god as the poetic muse…translate the Old Testament word ‘prophet’ with the correct translation ‘poet’ for a start recommends Tom Paine.

Sketch 228 The Anti-Church

But inspired in every line dictated by God himself the Old Testament is always there to refute them, the God portrayed being personal to the point of being sub-human. Ancient ignorance is sanctioned as revelation. The upshot is that The True Believer feels permitted to give way to every worst passion justifying the conduct by reference to a God who cannot control his rage and behaves like a ferocious oriental tyrant.

The frequency with which men have identified their own passions with the voice of an all-too-personal God is really appalling. Those whom it suited to be ignorant, along with the innocent and uneducated, find in this treasure-house of barbarous stupidity, justifications for every crime and folly…texts justifying such abominations as religious wars, the persecution of heretics and breaking faith with unbelievers being used again and again in the history of the Christian Church to mitigate the inconvenient decency of civilized morality.

Sketch 229 Red Sea Anchorage

All this folly and wickedness can be traced back to a mistaken view of the world. The ancient Hebrews once thought that the integrating principle of the universe was a kind of magnified human person, with all his feelings and passions. The theologians were always at pains to insist that the personal God was an absolutely perfect person.

But, in spite of their precautions, the deity tended to be thought of by his adorers as being like the only kind of person of whom they have direct knowledge…the human individual. It is one of the ironies of history that the modern world should have taken over from the Hebrews the worst of their cultural heritage – their ferocious Bronze-Age literature; their paeans in praise of war; their tales of divinely inspired slaughter and sanctified treachery; their primitive belief in a personal, despotic and passionately unscrupulous God; their low notion that virtue deserves a reward in cash and social position.

There are grounds for wondering if we are not the victims of the world’s best ever Jewish joke. After improving the Old Testament with The Talmud, the rabbis offloaded the unimproved version on the goyim…like giving somebody your out-of-date charts. Shipwrecks guaranteed!

184. Jews
© William Shepherd 1993

The Jews themselves meanwhile…individually amongst the most cultured and civilised of people…have retained the admirably sensible things like the rabbinical tradition of an all-round education. ‘He who does not teach his son a trade’, the Talmud says, ‘virtually teaches him to steal’. St. Paul was not only a scholar, but also a tent-maker…and there are some of us who wish he had stuck to his tenting.

1987 was my last year in Boston and I was closing up shop and selling off my goods and chattels. But on the side, I was doing various odd bits of scholarly research. One of these got as far as a 40-A4 page booklet on ‘The Jewish Question’. But it was too partial a treatment for so emotive a subject, so I never circulated it. Besides, I felt it needed complementing with essays on Celts, Catholics, and Moslems before I could put it out to the world…and I just wasn’t that interested. (My colleague A. Baccus informs me that in medieval times all good Christian missionaries were expected to read mark learn and inwardly digest Thomas Aquinas’ Gentiles Manual. St. Mervin of Toyland) Thank you Mervin. A gentleman and a scholar.

Every Jew I have ever met has been happy to talk at great length about their jewishness and the world’s anti-semitism, whenever I have shown the slightest knowledge of the subject.

But I have yet to encounter the detachment that would also see how little interest us of the goyim have in the matter. Nor is this blindness peculiar to Jews. It is actually a characteristic of The Bore…and he appears in many different disguises.

Sketch 230 Tavern Bore

For instance, I have no great wish to think, write or talk about The Irish Question, Apartheid, Abortion, Jesus, Classic Boats, Golf or any of the one thousand and one other private obsessions which seem to afflict others. My attention is directed elsewhere. Other things interest me.

But somewhere out there, homing in on me from afar, lurks always The Dreaded Great Bore …intellectual junk mail at the ready, poised, awaiting the chance to thrust it deep into my private cognitive space.

(Practice what you preach!…Oh and while you’re about it, preach only what you’ve p ractised! A few days curled up on the sofa with Charles Ashworth, Jon Darrow, Neville Aysgarth and Venetia Flaxton hardly qualifies you to dispute with the Regius Professor of Divinity at Cambridge University (1932-1950). Father Mervin.)

Oh, how right you are, Father Mervin. Yet you underestimate me. It was Aldous Huxley in ‘Ends & Means’, and not I that was disputing…and Susan Howatch’s sextet of novels about Christianity are destined to become my 1994 birthday book tips for Constanza. What more can a teacher do?

(Corrupt the youth with D. H. Lawrence’s Apocalypse…and dump The Book Of Revelations and its rule of second raters in the furnace of the nearest Pentecostal chapel. Thomas Mervin Paine Esq.).

But enough of theology. Back to basics!

185. Picts & Celts
© William Shepherd 1993

Returning from Boulogne, I found a typically cryptic letter from Bob Stuart in my mail that went like this. ‘Just a word to let you know we’re all fine. Dina and I will be here in San Antonio winters and parts unknown about 6 months of the year…at least that is what is planned.’

And it continued, ‘How about those Canadian Elections…flushed the toilet on the bastards. A party in Western Canada called The Reform Party…offshoot of something known as The Social Credit Party…won big in the western provinces. The Tory Party kept only two seats in their parliament. No one here is talking about any of this. The Economist are a sickening bunch. Enuf!’

The letter was addressed to The Crocko’guile Grandee and went on to let me know that Bob was ‘hard into the art thing’ so had not been keeping up with ‘events’. (Join The Club. Mervin) But otherwise, John & Celeste are still at Charles Street in Boston and Bob & Dina plan to visit them for a month in May after which they might head out this way…although I’ll probably be in South America by then.

Sketch 231 Bryts & Goys

Before settling on Crocodile Uppsala Letters as my writing for 1993, I considered an epistolic dialogue with Bob instead. But in the end I was persuaded to talk ’bout normal things. I figured the glimpses into my everyday being ‘n becoming lifestyle might encourage others to think about what they believe and what they actually do each day. Nothing is so well hidden…unless it is what every woman dreams every night. Hypocrisy has once again become local and personal. Life is 30 000 days.

Otherwise…Vi ses snarast! If in doubt, run away! Enjoy changing light bulbs! And watch your Ps and Qs. The Celtic people are one of the great founding civilisations of Europe.

There are sixteen million of them living in the Celtic lands and four million speaking a Celtic language…a quarter of them living outside the Celtic areas. There was an ancient Druidic prohibition against committing knowledge to written form and partly as a result, some 2 500 years ago, the Celts separated into two linguistic groups: the Goidelic Celts…the Irish, Manx and Scots and the Brythonic Celts…the Welsh, Cornish and Bretons.

According to Aslak it all began when the Bryts simplified their case endings, dropped the neuter gender and dual number and allowed their initial mutation and aspirations to drift. The Goys, in retaliation, replaced their Ps with Qs…pen and pryf in Welsh became ceann and cruimh in Irish. The English dived for their proverbial cover…and have been watching their Ps and Qs ever since.

Breakfast in Uppsala with Linda on Tuesday morning at 9 am.

G’Day Mate!

186. Girls
© William Shepherd 1993

 Uppsala, Sweden. Sunday 21st November 1993.

Dear Crocodile Uppsala

Congratulations on making it through to the end of the school year and the end of the Crocodile Uppsala Letters without once mentioning girls. This is a bit sad as you as a teenager are supposed to have no other interests than the females of your species (Coming next ‘The Secret Papers of Crocodile Uppsala’. Mervin).

One thing you must do before leaving Australia is find a 650lb. chunk of ore containing 130lb. of gold…forget this wimpy panning. One thing you mustn’t do is look over your shoulder.

Among the natives of the Pennefather River down your way, when a visitor has made himself very agreeable and taken his departure, an effigy of him about three or four feet long is cut on some soft tree, such as Canarium Australasicum, so as to face in the direction taken by the popular stranger. Afterwards from observing the state of the tree, the corresponding state of their absent friend can be inferred…falling leaves or the dying of the tree portending illness or death.

On this theory there will be plenty of dead trees in America this week after the sudden death of River Phoenix…the first hippy assassination from your generation. Our generation has on record: 1964 James Dean (24); 1971 Jim Morrison (27); 1980 John Lennon (40); 1992 Petra Kelly (44)…so let me add forthwith: 1994 River Phoenix (24).

187. Samizdat Times
© William Shepherd 1993

Kyllikki was supposed to be up at Whitby last week investigating the arrival of 400 Lapland buntings on Flamborough Head 35 miles to the south. But Aslak persuaded her to fly across the Holarctic and drop in on Southern California to look into the River Phoenix affair for The Samizdat Times. A few words about the Samizdat Lintu Telegraph (SLT).

Sketch 233 Muonio Gathering

Annikki came here to Uppsala to meet me on Friday, having flown up from Rye…or Colbart to be more precise. It had been a busy week. Last weekend when I was travelling across the North Sea with Scandinavian Seaways from Harwich to Göteborg, Annikki and Kyllikki were meeting with Valkko and Suivakka on the banks of Muonioälven.

Ilbereth’s highday shoes…the white ones with black heel patches…are made from the skin of Valkko’s grandfather so he has a special rapport with the ‘Pokka-Lokka-Poro’ as Harold calls the reindeer that range over Finland, Norway, Sweden and Russia in Finnmarksvidda on the 68th and 69th parallels. Annikki and Kyllikki are lesser black-backed gulls…larus fuscus…while Valkko and Suivakka are poro…domesticated rein-deer…they are waving you off on the cover of CrocUpp Book One.

I was hoping to meet up with Annikki and Kyllikki on our Boulogne trip. Kyllikki comes from The Island of Saari and Annikki lives on Simasalo Island lying off North Farm in Lover’s Bay. When down south, they like to meet up with Ilbereth around the Colbart Bank a few miles out from Rye.

Aslak once explained that it had to do with the power of the runes. Last week we watched Ps and Qs, so this week we’re gonna find ourselves all at sea. But not quite yet. Coleman coming up shortly. But first a little lecture on economics. I know it’s boring but I’ll make it snappy.

188. Real Economics
© William Shepherd 1993

I met Hazel Henderson briefly in 1981 at a World Future Society jamboree in Toronto. Her book ‘Creating Alternative Futures’ had triggered my retirement from Megamachine Wage Slavery in 1979. ‘The Politics of The Solar Age’ came out in 1985 and this year she published her third major book ‘Paradigms in Progress’. She was born in England but the last I heard she was pretty settled in North Carolina. She is perhaps best known for her three-layer cake. But don’t jump to conclusions because she’s a woman. The woman of only kitchen and bedroom is no longer woman.

Human Action, to use Ludwig von Mises term, or economic activity can be thought of as a layer cake…with jam filling, icing and all. Mother Nature, or the land and everything that lies beneath it and grows on it, makes up the base. From Mother Nature we draw our sustenance, and to her we return our wastes for disposal.

The upper layers depend ultimately on the land. Traditional Liberals sing ‘The Land belongs to the People’. New Age Liberals need to sing a new song ‘The People belong to the Land’.

Sketch 234 Economic Islands

Resting on the land is the personal layer of the economy where you find families and the groups to which we devote much of our time, energy and enterprise. Caring and sharing, do-it-yourself, sweat equity, and much of our leisure, is found here. It is where individuals are responsible for themselves and their families. Economic life here is cooperative rather than competitive. This is where people live. Some small-scale production of primary goods, rather than mass-production of manufactures, takes place here and this layer, like Mother Nature’s layer, is non-monetarised…far away from any GNP ledger sheets.

Our official bean counters ignore nature and disregard people. Only economic activities in the monetarised layers count. The first of these is the social layer. The idea of tax was invented to pump money into this layer. The physical and social infrastructure is here and this is where the community looks after its own. Here individuals work cooperatively sharing responsibility for meeting common needs. Some production, even some mass-production, takes place in this layer; but it is production of needed goods. Economists invented cost-benefit analysis to demonstrate the need…but have failed to find a way to put cash into needy pockets…markets going amok and hands going even more awol.

Between the non-monetarised and monetarised layers is a jam filling referred to as the underground or counter economy. Here activities which are cash based but not included in the GDP statistics of the monetarised layers will be found. It is made up of mostly person-to-person transactions within the local community. A small part of the counter-economy is the black economy where transactions are hidden away from the tax man…mostly by the rich with their offshore trusts and tax havens.

At the very top…as the icing on the cake…is industry and the private sector in which competition is the orthodox doctrine; things are mass-produced as commodities; money capital is accumulated and invested; only jobs count as work; officially life revolves around employment; and models of economic activity ignore 94% of useful daily economic reality.

Money-making is necessary, in some small measure, but the sane man seeks wealth, not riches…on which thought you will be pleased to know that my counter proposal to the Debt Cowboys was accepted so I’m paying ten pounds a month…a 12 year interest free loan of a £1000.

Spending your active years pursuing riches is irrational…a form of insanity. And rational conduct is something dear to Michael Oakeshott’s academic heart. ‘To work alongside a practised scientist or craftsman is an opportunity not only to learn the rules, but to acquire also a direct knowledge of how he sets about his business…including a knowledge of how and when to apply the rules…’

This is a quote from his October 1950 article ‘Rational Conduct’ in The Cambridge Journal. This, his ‘Political Economy of Freedom’ (1949) and ‘Science and Society’ (1948) being the most interesting of the ten articles Anthony Neville lent me. The 1948 issue was particularly interesting because apart from ‘Science & Society’, it also had an excellent article by Peter Drucker on ‘The American Political Tradition’…he it was who first predicted the dramatic long-term effect of occupational pensions when General Motors first thought up the idea.

But much more surprising was that there in ‘Books Received’ was ‘T.C.Lethbridge: Merlin’s Island. Essays on Britain in the Dark Ages. Methuen. 10s.6d. net’. Now what could that be about?

189. Real History
© William Shepherd 1993

Britain is drenched in history…much of it retained in old names. If you follow the old tracks, you find they constantly go to Cole Hills and pass through Coles and Colemans Farms on the way as well as Colebrook, Colebury, Cole Church, Cole Cross, Cole Well, Colwick, and Cole Harbour.

Cold names are also frequent, but Cold Ash, Cold Elm, Cold Oak were clearly not chilly trees. In the old records these places would usually be written ‘cole’, the ‘d’ being a later intrusion.

Coleharbour was the coleman’s shelter…a sighting point on his straight track. Colemen looked after the track beacons…the old lamp lighters of long long ago. The word ‘cole’ comes from the Welsh ‘coel’ and the Celtic ‘gole’…words of magical import meaning light or splendour.

The proverb ‘as black as coal’ describes the grimy appearance of the coleman…and suggests another name for a beacon tender. The word ‘black’ is of difficult history. In Anglo-Saxon times it did not mean dark, but pale and shining. In the Slavic languages it means ‘blessed’ or ‘light giving’. Names like Blakeway and Blakeley are found along the old tracks. The black man was the coleman’s mate.

That was Aslak’s explanation of Kyllikki’s love for the Colbart Buoy. And Annikki, peerless and splendid, the daughter of Ahto, is an old friend of Sotkotar, the water spirit who protects goldeneyes, fuligula clangula and extends her protection to birds of the Colbart Bank… fulmars, gannets, black-headed gulls, kittywakes and great black-backed gulls…and the little auk David spotted there last time we sailed past.

Sketch 235 Cole Harbour

Annikki told me that Calcarius Lapponicus…named by Linnaeus in 1758 …migrate from the northern tundra regions across the Hansa towns of the southern Baltic, navigating by either the stars or the earth’s magnetic field. Kyllikki’s trip to Flamborough Head was to confirm that a shifting geomagnetic field had diverted the buntings to Humberside.

190. Planet Science
© William Shepherd 1993

Earlier this century a Swedish scientist Otto Pettersson working out of his laboratory overlooking the Skagerrak…the narrow straits connecting The Baltic Lakes with the North Atlantic Ocean…discovered that the underwater waves that surged through these straits were synchronised with the phases of the moon. A paper I was working on at the time of writing the Swedish Green Party book entitled ‘Green Houses or Blue Moonwaves’ has the full story. More recently Gösta Wollin, a Swedish-American meteorologist discovered that the surface temperature of the oceans changes in harmony with fluctuations in the geomagnetic field.

However, because it takes 2-3 years for alterations in the strength of the field to be translated into changes in the speed of the Pacific gyre, the ‘perfect fit’ has a 2-3 year lag. What is happening is that the world is operating as a gigantic dynamo as the huge rivers of salt water carried along by the ocean currents cut across the earth’s field.

Then there is the sun. Whenever there are sunspots, there is a magnetic disturbance in the atmosphere, a strengthening of the Earth’s field, and a tendency for severe wind storms to break out over the sea. Sunspot activity follows an eleven-year cycle. Which brings us back to Kyllikki and the Lapland buntings.

Something seems to be disturbing the elegant feedback system in which temperature, ocean currents and electromagnetic fields are held in delicate equilibium. The upsurge in mis-migrations is the evidence…and The Samizdat Times has man as the suspect…and in particular military man.

Anyway Kyllikki wanted some research done in Uppsala to establish what Carolus Linnaeus and his colleagues knew about these cosmic connections back in the 1750s. This is basically what Annikki came to see me about. This fits in with another job, so I agreed…so much for my ideas of a rest and a vacation.

As it happens, Anthony Neville has given me copies of his Botany, Gardening & Natural History Catalogue which included a facsimile of the 1753 first edition of Carl von Linné’s two volume ‘Species Plantarum’…the starting point of modern botanical nomenclature. With this priced at £45 and a Göttingen 1787 edition of Linnaeus’ last work, ‘Systema Vegetabilium’, published in 1774 the year after his fatal stroke, priced at £125, Carl von Linné studies could yield their own reward…quite apart from dispatching Connie and sketchbooks to Lapland to relive Linnaeus’ Travels in Lapland.

Sketch 236 Bewick Sketchbook

Offloading these two books for SEK 3000 could give me a £100. Throw in some Thomas Bewick… ‘History of Quadrupeds’ (1791) for £130 and ‘History of British Birds’ (1797) for £175…and, well, perhaps we’re looking at a nice little earner. Gothenberg Book Fair here you come!

That’s all for now folks! Enjoy Ingrid’s visit! Have a fun trip home! The Good Life starts today…if you want it to! Vi ses! G’Day Mate! ( It was the koala bear wot done it. Check the fingerprints. Detective Inspector Mervin Morse, Queensland Police.)

Sketch 237 Street Sellers

191. Conflicting Lifestyles
© William Shepherd 1993

Palmwoods, Queensland, Australia. 15th November 1993.

Hi Dad!

It’s now mid-November and here in the country ‘down under’ the summer heat is beginning to be noticeable. Heat is good in small doses but when it rises to over 35 degrees centigrade and is combined with 90% humidity it is more like being locked in a sauna twenty four hours a day.

In the city they would at least have had the brains to accept the benefits of technology and bought themselves an air conditioner. But this is the bush. Even though Palmwoods is only 100 kilometers north of Brisbane, the lifestyle and attitudes of the people here seem to be light years away from Australia’s metropolitan ideas and values.

Sketch 238 Air Conditioned

But what is even stranger is that these same attitudes and way of life differ almost a half light year from those down at the coast with its casual…surfing …life style. For the average Australian family with two point three children and an equal number of cars… almost…they sure don’t seem to travel around much. And considering the quality of public transport in Queensland it is quite understandable.

My luck has been that there are actually two trains down to Brisbane a day so one doesn’t have to live in total isolation and ignorance of modern trends and styles.

192. Final Countdown
© William Shepherd 1993

You should have got my postcard from my Australian tour, but I don’t think that I have written to you since. But at least you and Nanna seem to read each other’s letters, so I don’t have to have all too bad feelings about not letting you in on my adventures in the Land of Oz. Lately I have just finished the longest of them…and probably one of the least exciting ones…and that is the Australian school system.

Like all the other suckers, I’m leaving high school and am supposed to be entering a tough and pressuring real world. But unlike the rest, I don’t have to head towards university or social security dole payments, but back towards family and friends at home in Sweden, giving me a few more months before having to face any such decisions.

You seem to be sticking to your training schedule, but I for one don’t have anything of the sort at the moment…it’s too hot to run. So instead I rely on an hour’s squash every Tuesday to keep me fit. And it does seem to do the job quite well. So even if your super frequent running scheme would make you faster than me…but hey I’ve still got age to my advantage and there’s nothing you can do about that…I will be able to pay you back through a game of squash…or so I hope at least.

For me the countdown towards my return is now fully on its way with less than five weeks left until I return to Sweden on the 18th of December…just in time for Christmas that means. But until then I’ve got 23 days to do everything that I wanted to do down here so it’s a case of getting as much in as possible for as little money as can be spent.

Have fun! Nicholas

PS. On the bus they played a song every day…at least twice…and its chorus just goes

‘Say G’Day, G’Day, G’Day and you’ll be alright’.

Isn’t that what you’ve been saying all along?

Well that at least is the philosophy of life in the outback down under.

Sketch 239 Bewick Bay

The End of
The Private Papers of Crodile Uppsala

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Book Eleven

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Book 11 – Chapters 161 to 176  available here in Adobe pdf for Kindle & iPad aficionados The Eleventh Book in The Private Papers of Crocodile Uppsala Words by William Shepherd and Pictures by Connie Lindqvist A Telling in words and pictures … Continue reading

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Book Ten


Sketch #200

Too Much Beaufort





 A Telling
in words and pictures

 based on the letters of
William Shepherd
and the sketches  of
Connie Lindqvist

as told to
Connie, Constanza, Elisabet, Linda, Sabine, Susan
Alan, Bob, Clifford, Edgar, John, John

Letters of William Shepherd
arriving down under in October 1993
an On The Road Summer Letter from Oz

Book Number Ten

Book 10 – Chapters 145 to 160
The Tenth Episode of the Private Papers of Crocodile Uppsala
Words by William Shepherd and Pictures by Connie Lindqvist
A Telling in words and pictures based on the letters of William Shepherd and the sketches of Connie Lindqvist as told to Connie, Constanza, Elisabet, Linda, Sabine, Susan, Alan, Bob, Clifford, Edgar, John & John featuring the Letters of William Shepherd written in November 1993 from Boulogne ‘twixt ‘Umber and Skagerrak & from Uppsala and the final letter from Oz.
© William Shepherd 1993 © Connie Lindqvist 1993
List of Chapters by William Shepherd
145. Vemara in Brixham
146. Rother Rides
147. Rother Water Life
148. K. F. Brede
149. Pendulum Research
150. Eternity
151. Libraries & Markets
152. Brixham-be-Sea
153. Big Boating Boys
154. Close Encounters
155. Topsail Ahoy!
156. Homeward Bound
157. Symposium
158. Roo’s Tale
159. Perchance to Dream
160. Travelling Lite

List of Sketches by Connie Lindqvist
Still Life With Custard
Breakfast With Triton
Rother Mills  
Up River185 King Fisher Brede 
Mood Pendulum
Science Shack       
Peace With Joy
Moon With Fishing Boat
Boys Will Be Boys
Trotting At First Light
# 193 Baccy Tin Navigation
# 194 No Place Like Home
# 195 Boat Guest Planning
# 196 Aerial Intrusion
# 197 Milne’s Garden
# 198 Sheep Shearing
# 199 The Ideal Tourist
# 200 Too Much Beaufort

Chapter158 – Roo’s Tale
© William Shepherd 1993

It all began one rainy day when Wally suggested I should have a chat with his Dad about the old times. Well, one thing led to another as one things do, so that before I knew it, I was reading about A. A. Milne who had introduced Roo to us when he was very young and still living in Kanga’s pouch…Kanga was hs mum though it is a little confused.

A. A. Milne had four highly successful careers after surviving the war to end wars. He was editor of Punch and then a very successful playwright before he won world-wide acclaim with Christopher Robin. But after creating Pooh he spent a year writing Peace with Honour a book which vied with Mein Kampf in the best seller lists of the 1930s.

Here in the tenth chapter he tells us of a letter from a woman in The Morning Post. It said: ‘I notice that Mr. Rudyard Kipling lays a great deal of blame for war at the door of the women. Does not the real blame lie at the door of our leading public men, who have for a period of years headed an intensive peace propaganda?’ How times change!

In his previous chapter, Ten Million-And Forty, A. A. Milne had explored the war convention…both wrong and silly…by asking what would happen were ‘certain people assured that, if there were another war in Europe on the scale of the last war, they themselves would be the first victims of it.’ He then selected his victims…and he was writing in 1934.

Mussolini, Hitler, Goering and Goebbels head the list. But turning to England for the next batch, he selected four politicians…Ramsay MacDonald, Baldwin, Simon and Churchill; two unnamed generals and two unnamed directors of armament firms…chosen by lot; and four media moguls…Lord Beaverbrook and Lord Rothermere, and the editors of The Times and The Morning Post. France meanwhile would furnish a corresponding equality of victims with England.

‘Now here are forty people who are all going to die as a preliminary to the next war,’ writes Milne. ‘Are the chances of another war lessened?’

Good question. (Mervin’s MindParks (2100) Inc.)




Chapter 145: Vemara in Brixham

Rye, Sussex, England. Sunday 26th September 1993.                                    Dear Crocodile Uppsala

I was brought up in England so I like the milkman, fish & chips, flower gardens, clouds, apples & custard, parks, lambs in a meadow, Indian restaurants, J.B.Priestley, seasons, Gilbert & Sullivan, A.A.Milne, Charlton Athletic, the Cutty Sark, the modesty, truthfulness and humour of ordinary people… and the seagulls on Rye’s Strand Quay.

Sketch #181

Still Life With Custard

Not much perhaps. But enough for me to understand the elation the Irish feel about their successful bid for the 2000 Olympics. Smart to keep the whole circus well clear of Waterford while cunningly splitting the Irish bid between Manchester and Sydney. Merv Hughes For President…sponsored by and for Fosters Special Brew. But now it’s serial time. Connie saga first. Then an august day in the Cinque…pronounced sinking…Ports.

We were up early on the Sunday morning. Just over a week ago I was in Rye, getting ready for my last day at work for two weeks. I like to sit and have a read and a few coffees well before anyone else is up, just to wake up quietly and pull myself together. A small fishing boat is approaching with two guys aboard. ‘Sorry to get you out of bed, but there is just a chance you are over our nets! We’ll start hauling now and see what happens’.

So off they go, pick up their buoy and start pulling in gently, hand over hand, the occasional fish glistening as the net goes into the boat over the roller. Closer and closer they come, while we stand by the anchor winch ready to shift the boat by pulling in cable or picking up our hook if necessary. They eventually pass about two to three yards from our stern. ‘Well, that’s the first bonus of the day. Want some fish for breakfast?’ ‘They can’t come any fresher than that!’ says me.

So having picked up the rest of her net, the Triton BM219 comes alongside. ‘Nice ole boat. See you are from my part of the world. I’m a Littlehampton man. Got a bucket?’ An assortment of fish goes in…mackerel, pollock, small bass and one baby herring. So we ate extremely well that day. We found the Triton in the inner harbour later and stuck a thank you note on board. With that generous welcome we were all kindly disposed towards Brixham well before we had even seen the place.

As it turned out, we had dropped hook just outside the entrance to Fiscombe Cove, where we had intended to go for a couple of days. After our fish breakfast, up came the pick and we motored gently in.

Fiscombe Cove is roughly semi-circular in shape and surrounded on three sides by steep red wooded rock with little gravelly beaches between just right to land with the dinghy.  After breakfast, the sun high in the morning sky, we rowed the few yards to the beach and walked the half mile into town for the first time.

We found the waterfront a typical holiday place with its usual assortment of cafés, ice cream stalls, arcades full of seasoned gamblers, buy crap-quick shops and the Bullers Arms pub, spilling its overflow of kids into the hot street and to the foot of the long-suffering statue of William of Orange.

Sketch #182

Breakfast With Triton

The Golden Hind is still there. In 1975 John Seymour wrote that ‘the only Brixham Sailing Trawler left in Brixham now is the poor degraded hull of one, which supports a ludicrous matchboard mock-up alleged to look like the Golden Hind’. Adding that ‘it is pathetic that the town cannot find it in its heart to keep one as a boys’ training ship, or just a floating museum piece.’ Well, that must have been the first one, because the one I spent half an hour taking David around was apparently a second replica…although John Seymour’s remarks are as pertinent as they were twenty five years ago. Afterwards we went shopping in Fore Street, pedestrianised and full of aimlessly wandering grockles.

But that done we could take a look at the town proper. Brixham sits perched high on two hills above the harbour with All Saints Church between. Row upon ascending row of ice cream coloured little houses with narrow winding lanes and steep, stepped ways. We roamed around for a long warm afternoon, up Overgang and Ropewalk Hill, along Higher Furzeham Road and back down Prospect Steps to the harbour.

As we have a sort of semi-professional interest in harbours, we spent a good deal of time loafing around the quays looking at the fine deep-sea trawlers that have their home base here. Around ten of them were in, all big handsome beamers around 80 feet long. One had about six scallop dredges slung from each beam. The Belgian connection still seems to exist. Names like Jacoba (BM77), Clasina (BM10) and Mevrouw Hendrika certainly sound very Flemish to me. Also alongside the fishmarket was the Donia of Nieuwpoort (N36), even larger at around 90 feet. Add to that a couple of Fleetwood and Lowestoft boats far from their North Sea fishing grounds.

But that is all we have time and space for this week. In the next exciting instalment, David finds a friend, Vemara picks up a hitchhiker and further evidence comes to light proving that boys never grow up. Now to the question that has kept you on tenterhooks for the past seven days. Why was David wearing a captain’s hat to go car riding? And what are boat people doing in the world of wheels and woads?

Chapter 146: Rother Rides

Well Gilbert started it. I came back from Boulogne expecting Gilbert to be beating down my door at dawn the following day. Brixham ahoy! But instead, a week later, a report arrived from a kingfisher friend of mine…one K.F.Brede by name…informing me that Skua 4 had been sighted, mastless, beneath the parapets of Bodiam Castle.

Aha, I thought, being careful not to think it too loudly and frighten Wally’s dad, Roo, who had bad memories of a little piglet saying ‘Aha’. Aha, I thought. Shades of Jocelyn Hicks and Nevers. I was right. There is a little village 25 miles west of here, and 500 feet above sea-level, called Five Ashes. Five catchment areas meet here, the water running off from Five Ashes in five different directions. This is the source of the Rother.

Sketch #183

Rother Mills

One of the first things the river does is to pay its respects to Rudyard Kipling, who lived in the Burwash Valley. Over in these higher parts of the county, 35 inches of rain falls fairly  evenly over the course of the year. Once the Rother has arrived at my Uncle Ted’s ranch…the Society of Brothers spread in Darwell…it has run past numerous mills and through many millstreams…all long since fallen into decay and disuse, such being the folly of nuclear energised man.

Come Robertsbridge, the river has run its upper course and dropped almost to sea level, its work done. It glides lazily in a wide arc past the Roman road signals at Udiam and heads merrily merrily down the stream for Bodiam Castle…doubtless murmuring life is but a dream.





Sketch #184

Up River

Bodiam is twelve miles upriver from Rye. During her summer cruise, Vemara sailed for 83 hours and put 393 miles under her keel in her thirteen days away. Skua 4 didn’t manage Vemara’s 4.73 knot average, but she did a healthy 3.28 knots, clocking up 82 miles in 25 hours of sailing during her seven days away from her moorings.

But then her mast came down, through the lock she went, and…the shame of it…in the next five days, this proud sea-going vessel did just twelve miles. Now slow might be beautiful when it’s Vemara’s five knots. But a tenth of a knot is something else. Not so much slow as stagnant. But there was no persuading Gilbert. They had a wonderful time.

Bikes on board. Pull into the bank. Offload the bikes. Cycle back to Military Road for supplies. Lazy afternoons lying on the river bank. Gilbert may never go to sea again. The Easy Life. Gilbert is smitten.

So much so, in fact, that when Mike Berry and The Bodiam Ferry Company were thinking of putting on a second boat between Newenden and Bodiam, there was Gilbert, services at the ready, crying:

‘Take Me! Take Me!’

‘Earned £220,’ he proudly announced the other day.

‘£12 a day and £30 on a good day with two boats going and me on half profits. Only uses half a gallon of diesel an hour too. Fill her up a couple of times a week.’

Anyway, to cut a long story short, Gilbert was so enthusiastic about the joys of river boating that I had to try it for myself.

Matthew volunteered the car. I volunteered Connie…business trip. And David was invited along to provide the Crocodile Uppsala Letters with some good copy when he tripped once too often and fell in the river. Thus constituted, our day tripping party set off for Newenden, a bustling centre of free trading and an important port in the 16th century.

Rudyard Kipling got it right as usual when he wrote:

Five and twenty ponies

                                                Trotting through the dark.

                                                Brandy for the parson

                                                Baccy for the clerk

                                                Laces for a lady

                                                Letters for a spy.

                                                Watch the wall my darling

                                                While the Gentlemen go by

Free means no protection money paid to the king’s dragoons. Free traders protect themselves & their own.

Chapter 147: Rother Water Life

The morning had been overcast and everybody had feared the worst. The Bodiam Ferry Company had responded by cutting out one of their two boats. Unfortunately, this meant no Gilbert greeting us at Newenden, even though by the time we arrived the sky was blue and the sun shining.

But Elsie May was there and Mike Berry was expecting us. So the carefree delights of a lazy few hours on the river were ours for the asking. Elsie May was moored just a short distance from the end of the Tenterden railway…a popular tourist attraction in the season. We clambered aboard and with a Toot! Toot’ we were away, ducking under the central arch of the old medieval stone bridge and chugging our jolly way upstream like some nautical floating alter-ego for Tom The Tank Engine.

I had expected the river to be teeming with wild life. But where was it?  David said he saw lots of fish and frogs, but I looked pretty hard and didn’t. A pair of red-caped lesser-monied anglers was the wildest life I saw apart from a motorcyclist and…adding insult to injury…a fleet of National River Authority lorries roaring along the river bank with piles of earth for NRA’s latest flood protection scheme. Does that ‘R’ stand for river or road? And the only authority worth a light is Nature.

River-borne traffic was once important for Rye. A serious canal scheme was proposed in 1800 to join the Rother and the Medway, and provide a water trail between Rye and Chatham…at that time one of the most heavily trafficed routes in the world. But the coming of the railways doomed the idea. Perhaps this was just as well, because canals joining two seaports can usually only compete with sea traffic when there’s plenty of traffic to be picked up on the way.


Chapter 148: K.F.Brede

There was more wild life on display on our return trip. Three tourists excited at meeting a real artist…Matthew landing Connie with the job of selling her book through our local agent, The Bodiam Ferry Company …and a few sheep. Clearly there was skullduggery ahoof. Harold…one of the usual suspects on such occasions…would be lucky to avoid the round-up. Perhaps Marley had been deployed to clear the area of witnesses. That would explain the absence of wild life.

Anyway it was not a pretty sight. David was at the wheel as we rounded the bend. ‘Dead Sheep Ahead!’ David edged Elsie May slowly past and on to the yellow water lilies and the pink water hyacinths beyond. Some very agitated flocks of linnets dashed about on the bank to bring sparkle back to our drooping eternal springs. It worked. Connie spotted her first. ‘Look! A wren! On the bank!’ Dreoilin the Celts call her. A bird of augury among the Britons. Our prayers were to be answered.

A few minutes later there was a sudden blur of blue, and K.F.Brede dashed out from the reeds, shot across Elsie May’s bow and skimmed away downstream ahead of the boat for a couple of hundred yards, just a fraction of an inch above the surface of the water. Then, as quickly as he came, he darted back into the reeds by the river bank. We had seen our kingfisher. Our trip was complete…even though David was still dry.

Sketch #185

King Fisher Brede

Farewells to Mike Berry…to be rewarded with a Lindqvist Design. Then back to town. Remember your hat Captain David! G’Day Mate!

Chapter 149: Pendulum Research

Rye, Sussex, England. Sunday 3rd October 1993.                                          Dear Crocodile Uppsala

Stories all the way today. Tom Lethbridge’s first. Bill’s Teatime Saga next. And episode five of One Boat For Cinque Ports tidying up the rear. But enough of this chitty-chitty-chit-chat. Take to the cars! See you down the moorings, K.F!. Our august day continues. Will it follow its appointed course at 1845 hours…as it was written in the Crocodile Uppsala Letter of Sunday 12th September?

Answers on the back of a sheep.? Mervin

Returning to Rope Walk, Matthew couldn’t stop. It was market day. Just  time to stop the car, push the passengers out and screech away, before the car horns started blaring out in earnest and the uniformed shock troopers of the traffic gestapo descended in curiously wrathful glee.

Connie couldn’t stop either. Feeling guilty about sneaking off work for pleasure trips. You’d never think she was self-employed, sole proprietress and boss person at Lindqvist Designs. Slavery, the feminists once told us…before they did their arithmetic…is all in the mind. (I thought you said it was a business trip. Tax reasons Mervin. Tax reasons).

Not being a pagan concept, this guilt, I was not so plagued…but nor did I stop either. Now that I have abandoned the easy life and have reclaimed responsibility for feeding myself, I have to shop. So to The Swiss Patisserie for a Crunchy Cob (£0.62). Up the cobbles of Conduit Hill to Ashbees the Butcher for half a pound of mature cheddar cheese (£1.06). Across the High Street for 250 gms of New Zealand butter (£0.72). Supper organised. Home again, home again jiggity jog.

There was a letter awaiting me in the hall downstairs. I recognized it immediately as a proper letter. Yes, Nicholas John, a real proper letter…handwritten. I recognized the hand…and sensed that it was written whilst in a mood somewhere between happy and sad.

Sketch #186

Mood Pendulum

T.C.Lethbridge discovered that personally written letters responded to his long pendulum, allowing him to read the mood of the writer. Since the pendulum is really no more than an instrument amplifying the response of a sensitive individual, the idea that we can tell a person’s mood at the time of writing from their letters may not be so silly.

This  means, of course, that your distaste for boring typed stuff is much more scientifically grounded than you realised. Changing from the Cinque Ports Letters last year to the Crocodile Uppsala Letters this year may have altered style and content, but may not be an adequate response to your real concern which was  the absence of a mood message with the absence of handwriting.

Chapter 150: Eternity

Lethbridge went on to discover a set of ‘rates’ for things, ideas, emotions and thoughts by measuring the length of the pendulum as its response shifted from a back-and-forward to a circling motion. The ramifications of all this are of course quite mind-boggling…and it gets worse before it gets better.

As the length of the pendulum increased above 40 inches, Lethbridge started getting repeats…and repeat repeats after 80 inches. But that was the least of it. Suddenly he located a rate for ‘time’. This seemed to make no sense at all. Even Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawkins would have started struggling at this.

Time, explained Lethbridge, should not be an ‘idea’ or ‘thought’ that could be ‘captured’ by a long pendulum. It should always be rushing away. So its appearance on the second whorl of the spiral must mean that here time is standing still. Lethbridge believed he had discovered Eternity. Now all this is so strange that I will do no more than suggest you get hold of  Linda’s copy of ‘The Power of The Pendulum’…and then climb to the top of your treehouse to check it all out for yourself.

Colin Wilson in Beyond The Occult…and Mysteries…writes respectfully of Lethbridge’s work. One more for your list of important research topics for 21st century gentleman scientists.  (Perhaps you’ll discover that 42 is a man-free robot zone? We think! OK! Mervin The Magician).

These thoughts and emotions can imprint themselves on everyday objects too if they are strong enough and the conditions are right.

Sketch #187

Science Shack

Lethbridge found a small round stone on the beach where there was once a historical battle. This tested positive to the rate for anger, suggesting that it had been hurled or slung in the battle. And like the rings in trees, it turned out to be possible to use the pendulum to date objects. Lethbridge used it to date Stonhenge and other megaliths.

And yes…thought you’d never ask. Lethbridge tried it. Moods don’t xerox. Copies don’t respond like the originals. (You expect your resident illustrator to draw this! Lucky she’s 43 years young in two day’s time so you can give her ‘Power of The Pendulum’ as a present! Mervin. Even luckier she’s not 42. Imagine the poor soul squaring circles and seeking answers to questions a year earlier. Mervin’s mate Marvin).

However, Connie and I were intrigued to find that the Cairns megalith photograph you sent me appeared to have an aura around it. I thought at the time it was just the light from the candle reflecting off a wine glass. But on reflection perhaps I was too hasty with my explanation.

So in future, please rub your hands gleefully over your letters and seal them with a loving kiss before popping them in the postbox. That way there will be a slight chance of counteracting the contaminating impact of automatic sorting machines and the negative emotional smears of sweaty, angry postpersons.

Better still get Wally to deliver by paw. Mervin

Chapter 151: Libraries & Markets

Anyway the good news from Constanza was that she now has a second daughter, Christina to keep Gabriela company. This news, of course, required an immediate hand-written reponse. By two o’clock this was done so I walked up to the library next to the church to take a copy for my files, later taking the letter down the hill to the post office.

I use libraries a lot. My typical library loan is either a political tract long since removed from anyone’s bookshelves or an obscure text that never rose above a few hundred sales. For these, the British, Swedish and American library systems have served me well over the years.

At Rye Library I pay 25p to place my order and exchange a further 20p later on for the object of my interest. Sometimes, if the book is in one of the East Sussex libraries, it arrives within a few days…often on the next van. Otherwise the request gets channelled through the national inter-library lending system, arriving in Rye two or three weeks later. The charm of the whole arrangement is its unpredictability.

Sketch #188

Peace With Joy

You don’t know exactly when the book will come in. In my case, as I will usually have a book or two on order, the chances are quite high that a book I  have longed for…perhaps for years…will be at the library awaiting collection whenever I pay a visit.

So it was on Thursday 26th August. ‘Peace With Honour’ by A.A.Milne had come in on the Lewes Thursday Library Van…retrieved from the Archway County Store I was told. But reading it could wait. It was two thirty and the market would be in full swing for only another hour or so. I rather like markets. I frequent this Thursday one in Rye and the Saturday morning one in Boulogne. It’s a temporary community. Here today gone tomorrow. And the magic of an empty open space transformed into bustle and noise and colour and people and crowds. Shops and boot sales don’t have this.

I snapped up a copy of Paul Theroux’s ‘Kingdom By The Sea’ for 30p. I had added his name to my mental bookshop browsing list earlier this year. There’s a fair amount of travel writing in the Crocodile Uppsala Letter, and Theroux is a master of the genre. My attention was also drawn to the collapsing shoe prices, courtesy of Third World workhouses…and First World bankruptcies. In recent years…to my mother’s horror, dead man’s shoes and all that…I have chosen to pay a pound at a shoe recycling shop…charity shop to you. But with shoes now selling at between £5 and £15 in Rye Market, perhaps it is time to shift my consumer preferences and wade into the world of new shoes.

After some more of this window-free window shopping, I managed a short study session with A.A.Milne before the friendly interruptions began. First Connie at four with holiday snaps. By 5.15 there were five people and three separate conversations going on…and on…in my office. Gilbert was last to leave. He was in high spirits after a visit the day before from his long lost nephew Ben, son of Cy..into computers, martial arts and university lecturing I was told. Last seen 20 years ago.

Another hours-worth of peace with Milne and then to the old Railway Hotel for an appointment with half a pint of lager. I’d promised to show up…but did so reluctantly…knowing that I had a run immediately afterwards. The lager was a big mistake. I thought it would be.

By the time I reached Admiralty Jetty, I was quite certain about it. I felt terrible. Lovely evening though. A few golfers out on the links as I staggered past. And looking down the Rother Channel to the sea there was a real harvest moon. Low in the sky on about a twenty five degree elevation and just ten degrees off the line of the channel on the Winchelsea side. As I took a breather, fishing boat RX 369 came out of the moon and continued upriver towards Fisherman’s Quay.

Sketch #189

Moon With Fishing Boat

Running back felt better and I clocked up a respectable 38 minutes in the end. Four minutes to come off before I’m at my 8½ target. By eight o’clock I’d cooled down, cleaned up and was tucking into my mushroom soup, bread, butter and cheese.

But I was not to be home alone for long. For unbeknown to me, a quarter of a mile away, Connie was stumbling over a flash of inspiration as she worked at her Wally’s World sketches.

But we won’t let her arrive and bully me into submission just yet. Instead we will banish her back to Brixham where there was work to be done. An Artist is needed to illustrate Brixham From The Water’s Edge. Three Good Day’s Pay were on offer. Would Connie get her man? And would s/he be wyf or karl? Let’s find out. Imagine it’s 4½ road-hours later.


Chapter 152: Brixham-by-Sea

We stayed outside at anchor for two nights, but then the breeze went to North East which made us pull up anchor and sail round the point into Brixham where we made fast to a short pontoon just underneath Brixham Yacht Club. It was here on this pontoon that we met David…soon to be dubbed ‘The Elder’.

Virago, a red catamaran, was moored on the opposite side of the pontoon, with Ian, the proud new owner…a local man…and his four man delivery crew, picked up in Eastbourne. We invited skipper and crew aboard for coffee, and one of them took such an interest in the boat that, after lunch at the yacht club…is this The New Vemara Way?…we all agreed that David The Elder should do the homeward trip with us on Vemara. Now you know how to hitch a ride on a boat. Play on the vanity of the owners!

Our invitation to Virago was soon reciprocated, to the delight of David The Younger. Virago was so comfortably fitted out for cruising that there was even a television on board. David’s eyes lit up! Within minutes, he was settled in, completely square-eyed, watching Harold Lloyd! What can you do? The youth of tomorrow!

Sailors are said to have a girl in every port. But less widely known is the fact that the youth of tomorrow have a friend in every port too. David spotted her first.’That’s Luke’s boat!’ he shouted, pointing across the harbour to the marina. And he was right. Nowadays we drag David out of his bunk to find buoys for us…his eyes are so sharp.

Sketch #190



We had met Bonnie and Gareth and their pretty Miller-Fifer motorsailer Trilleen in Barfleur last summer. We had a good time together, so we were more than pleased to see them again so unexpectedly. David and Luke, of course, carried on where they had left off, messing around in dinghies …and getting into trouble with their elders and betters, as boys will!

Chapter 153: Big Boating Boys

Next morning, as we were leisurely getting ready for the day, two familiar figures appeared on the quayside underneath the Yacht Club and waved. John and Carol had arrived. So into the dinghy goes boatman Mike and John comes aboard, Carol having gone back to town to have a quick look at the shops by herself. ‘Took 4½ hours to get here…and that included a breakfast stop,’ grinned John. ‘How long did you take?’ Later we all retired to the Yacht Club for lunch. This trip has been different in one respect. Normally we are flat broke on the homeward leg. But I had enough left to buy everyone a drink, which made me feel quite big-headed for a while!

Sketch #191

Boys Will Be Boys

Back to the boat while John went to unpack and launch his inflatable dinghy and outboard. He spent the next half hour flying around the harbour with a big grin on his face. Do boys ever grow up? Answers on a nice day. Final bits of Connemara and Lifeday next week.                                            G’Day Mate!

Chapter 154: Close Encounters

Rye, Sussex, England. Sunday 10th October 1993.                                         Dear Crocodile Uppsala

John Lennon’s 53rd Birthday. Before we do anything else, we must get Vemara home safely. It’s nice of the Queen to fork out some silver sixpences, but the truly indispensable part of the Crocodile Uppsala project is Connie’s picture sketchbooks. Until poets learn to draw, the picture makers are probably more important for moving minds and softening hearts. The poets should be spending their time and energy empowering these imagicians. Connie you have spent enough time in Brixham. Time to turn for home.

Wednesday 18th August 0655: Left Brixham at five this morning, after having had a bit of a do on board with John and Carol, big meal and quite enough to drink for home consumption.  Lady Muck has not been doing any work on the boat all day…which is just what the doctor ordered if I am going to finish this. Motoring again. I’m entertaining the idea of joining the RAC next season.

On our way out in the early dawn we spotted a large tanker steaming towards us into Tor Bay. Nothing unusual in that. We had seen several of them anchored deep in the bay on our previous visit five years ago. But this one had one specific purpose in mind…that of picking up a pilot. As we watched, the great ship swung across the wind, presumably to give a lee to the pilot boat, which we saw rushing purposefully towards her. At this point I went down below to make yet another coffee and at the shout of ‘Connie, look at this!’ I  looked through a porthole and nearly had a heart failure.

All I could see was the bulbous bow…she was empty…and a wall of red steel not 200 yards from Vemara. Then I noticed there was no bow wave. She was not moving at all. Out came the cameras. As we passed, we could see the propellors starting to churn the water. The rudder swings from amidships to
starboard and the great megalithic beast turns slowly and ponderously towards the bay and gradually disappears into the morning mist. That’s just about as close as I ever want to be to a tanker at sea!

2250: So here we are at Poole town quay once more stopping for tonight only in order to shop for provisions in the morning and diesel on the way out. Tomorrow’s forecast is actually for westerlies, albeit light, so we might yet get a decent sail. Still we’ll buy more diesel tomorrow. Have now learnt not to trust weather forecasts too much.

Sketch #192

Trotting At First Light







Thursday 19th August Morning: Spent a nice quiet night at the Town Quay. For a change the Dorset Police were not patrolling up and down all night so I could get a decent sleep. We were the fourth boat out. What usually happens is that some hasty sod further in wants to leave at two in the morning or some such god-forsaken hour. You crawl out of bed and everything is pandemonium for the ten minutes or so it takes for the other guy to get out and the outsiders to sort and slip their shore lines.

At least it didn’t happen to us this time until eight in the morning so we were sufficiently awake to cope. Even so David hurt his back and nearly went in fending off…the tide running like hell on both flood and ebb past the quay.

Sketch #193

Baccy Tin Navigation










Chapter 155: Topsail Ahoy!


Midday: This is more like it! Wind has, miracle of miracles, gone just west of south and we’ve got everything drawing…topsail, cruising chute and all. David The Elder and Michael are sitting on the end of the bowsprit taking photos, Martin and I in the cockpit, and David The Younger busy keeping communications going between both ends of the boat.

Navigation is an exact art on Vemara. As visibility was a little indifferent on departure, I plotted a course round St. Katherine’s with my baccy tin!

Afternoon: I think we must have gained at least three miles in so many hours, with a light wind and strong tide against us, but we don’t really mind. It has been a lovely afternoon in the sun and we’ve just enjoyed being here and having the engine off for a change. Why hurry? We’ve got ’til Monday to get to Rye. Mike, David The Elder and I are sitting on the forehatch yarning and Martin is in the cockpit with one arm lazily draped over the tiller, bottle of beer in hand. And the old cutter is bowling along comfortably with all sails drawing, nodding quietly to herself, as if to say ‘I’m enjoying this too’.

Evening: Tide in our favour now. Had looked at the atlas earlier and decided to motorsail at least part of the night to reach the tidal gate at Beachy Head before they close it in front of our noses. We’ve learnt in the past always to have the tide with us in that area. Struggling against it even with a fair wind is a fool’s game.


Chapter 156: Homeward Bound

I couldn’t believe the speed we made between the Outer Owers and Beachy Head…9-9½ knots at times. Had to check my bearings several times before I was convinced! Just shows you! The night was one in a thousand. The most brilliantly starlit sky I have seen for ages. A sky so low Vemara’s steaming light seemed to be lost among the stars.

We spent a long time hanging over the bow watching the phosphorescent bone in her teeth. About two feet down you could see her forefoot cleaving the water, illuminated by millions of little sparks that glow with intense green light for a second or two, quiver and then die away, making room for ever more.

Towards dawn, Dave and I…the others being off watch…were observing the subtle changes in the sky that herald the sunrise. The stars fade away one by one, the sky alters from inky black to dark blue, the sails and rigging are distinguishable once more, the topsail changes slowly from black to red and then, in a burst of glorious reds and golds, the sun shows himself. Good morning!

The rest of the leg was spent in breakfasting and tidying up, ready for homecoming in the ever increasing westerly breeze. We decided it was better to tack down wind than to try goose-winging, which can be tricky for long periods. You only need to lose concentration once and an involuntary gybe in a fresh wind is not to be recommended, especially not with an 18 foot boom!

Tacking downwind still involves gybing but you do it in a controlled way, hauling in the mainsheet so the boom moves gently from one side to the other. We managed fine all but the last time when we tried to gybe round and heave-to, to wait for some of the flood to subside. As we went round, the mainsail ripped along the leech and foot. Nothing too serious, but the noise of tearing material is always a bit unpleasant. David The Elder was upset. We told him not to worry.

The sail was elderly and probably going anyway. Mike pointed out, quite rightly, that it was good that it went now and not earlier! Besides, most of these funny boats with canvas engines, as our friend Duncan calls them, are also blessed with an auxiliary motor…and in our case with a particularly good one. So there was no need to make a mountain out of a molehill…or a storm in a coffee mug come to that.

We entered Rye about 1½ hours before high water, under staysail and engine. The flood was still very strong and occasionally we drifted, often nearly sideways, to allow the current to subside in Rock Channel where we made fast on our usual berth about 20 minutes later. Fond goodbyes to David The Elder who had to get back to work. The gear off the boat. And then sit down and think back.

The journey home from Brixham to Rye took us forty one hours…ten times as long as John’s overland trip. And that does not include an overnight stop in Poole. No wonder sailing has been described as the slowest form of conveyance known to man!

Sketch #194

No Place Like Home



But perhaps slow, like small, is beautiful. After all, we put the best part of 400 miles under the keel, most of it in good weather and all of it in good company. We got more or less where we wanted to go and got home in one piece and in good spirits. Who could ask for more?

Chapter 157: Symposium

Meanwhile six days ahead of herself, Connie is sitting at her drawing board sipping a glass of wine. ‘Aha!’ she cried. ‘A bonfire!’ What a bottle of wine will do for inspiration! She set off up Conduit Hill to command her publisher to go along with her idea.

Sketch 195

Boat Guest Planning

Her publisher had finished his supper when Connie arrived and was relaxing to the sounds of country on Radio Two. ‘Come down for a drink,’ the lady suggested casually, intent upon softening up her victim. ‘We’re gonna have ’em round a bonfire.’ Well a devious device, perhaps. But it worked…as you can see.

John Pierce was at Rope Walk and handed me the keys to his chandlers shop. Vemara was off to Boulogne for the bank holiday weekend the next day.

Organising boat guests is like arranging dinner parties…a lady’s delicate diplomatic skills are needed. John had received the invitation for this particular weekend. So I stepped in and volunteered to man Blocks & Tackle over the weekend. ‘Why?’ asked Carol. Well, why not?

A publisher’s work is never done. I talked shop with Connie on her work loads, worked shop with her One Boat For Cinque Ports and nodded shop as the virtues of the Finnish writer, Yrjö Kokko were extolled. My reward? I was given leave to attack the fish curry on the stove. Instant karma. At 2230 I left Rope Walk. A clear starlit night. The moon shining over Strand Quay. With backing by Nicky Campbell on Radio One, I settled down to a well-deserved peace with honour. But this is really Roo’s story.


Chapter 158: Roo’s Tale

It all began one rainy day when Wally suggested I should have a chat with his Dad about the old times. Well, one thing led to another as one things do, so that before I knew it, I was reading about A.A.Milne who had introduced Roo to us when he was very young and still living in Kanga’s pouch…Kanga was his mum though it is a little confused.

A.A.Milne had four highly successful careers after surviving the war to end wars. He was editor of Punch and then a very successful playright before he won world-wide acclaim with Christopher Robin. But after creating Pooh he spent a year writing ‘Peace With Honour’ a book which vied with Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ in the best seller lists of the 1930s.

Here in the tenth chapter he tells us of a letter from a woman in the Morning Post. It said: ‘I notice that Mr. Rudyard Kipling lays a great deal of blame for war at the door of the women. Does not the real blame lie at the door of our leading public men, who have for a period of years headed an intensive peace propaganda?’ How times change!

Sketch #196

Aerial Intrusion

In his previous chapter, Ten Million-And Forty, A.A. Milne had explored the war convention…both wrong and silly…by asking what would happen were ‘certain people assured that, if there were another war in Europe on the scale of the last war, they themselves would be the first victims of it.’ He then selected his victims….and he was writing in 1934.

Mussolini, Hitler, Goering and Goebbels head the list. But turning to England for the next batch, he selected four politicians…Ramsay MacDonald, Baldwin, Simon and Churchill; two unnamed generals and two unnamed directors of armament firms…chosen by lot; and four media moguls…Lord Beaverbrook and Lord Rothermere, and the Editors of The Times and The Morning Post. France meanwhile would furnish a corresponding equality of victims with England. ‘Now here are forty people who are all going to die as a preliminary to the next war.’ writes  Milne. ‘Are the chances of another war lessened?’ Good question.

Sketch #197

Milne’s Garden


Chapter 159: Perchance to Dream

‘Peace With Honour’ is still the best statement of pacifist positions  and the best reply to rebuttals of them. Shame about the tulips though. Such a beautiful garden…a glorious blaze of colour. But why did he need so many? Perhaps this was where it all started to go wrong…zzz…

I don’t believe it! He’s dropped off again! Oh well there you are. Figure it out for yourself. This fellow can’t help you anyway. He’s off to some island in the South Seas. Work finished he said. Time to lie on a beach and do some proper indolence for a while. Wally, Harold, Annikki, Kooka…are you packed yet? You’re going too you know. Kylikki, our intrepid reporter from The Samizdat Times, is already there teaching everyone to Duck & Plummet…taking over from the Lambada they say… Ah-ha he stirs…



Sketch #198

Shearing Sheep

Size matters. Number corrupts…yawn…the human scale is the right scale…so many tulips…yawn…one two…three four five…once I could catch a sheep alive…tickle…six seven eight nine…zzz…zzz. (Asheep again! I couldgetintothisrightritewriteingbusiness. No humans ordering me toget out ofmy softunderwear.Nomoresil lystorie saboutt heducktha ttaught Harold toplum metoverf ence sno moredumntalkaboutsmartfalklandsheepnomorejohnlennon)G’Day! G’DAY! G’RidDANCE Mate!

Chapter 160: Travelling Lite

Cairns, Queensland, Australia. 3rd October 1993.                                                                   Hi Dad!

Here’s some lovely sheep for your collection, from a country that has even more sheep than New Zealand. Right now I am sitting at our camping park in Cairns in the far north of Queensland. We are now in our third and final week of this Australian tour. We’re a hundred exchange students from thirteen countries who are having a great time while being the ‘ideal’ tourists. Either we’re spending entire days from early morning to sunset on the buses being transported from one place to another or, while at those places, we are being transported backwards and forwards like cattle.

This is mass tourism, the lifestyle of the coaches that tour round Australia 365 days of the year and the ‘product’ of the tourist industry, which today is believed to be the world’s largest industry. The real problem lies in that it is the only really practicable way to see the place under my circumstances and maybe it’s not something to be all too negative about. This isn’t being an Ozzie and understanding and experiencing Australia. The criticism of tourism lies only in making it into something it isn’t. So instead I’m just enjoying what we do get to see and experience under these three and a half weeks.

Since I left Brisbane on the fifteenth of September, I have seen the Opera House in Sydney; driven through New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia; frozen half to death in minus degrees so we could sweat in 30 degrees heat the next day; visited England’s old rocket sites in Australia (and unwillingly driven through their radioactive poisoned lands after the ‘Tommies’ nuclear tests that proceeded into the early sixties…what idiots to allow it!); seen the underground city of Coober Pedy which despite its unlivable climate stands for 95% of the world’s opal production; seen the big red rock (and climbed it); stayed three nights in Alice Springs; and now we’re enjoying ‘the tropical north’ and the
Great Barrier Reef. (And there’ll probably be twenty photograph albums and a six thousand word report to prove it…not that the report will help many people…it’ll almost certainly be in Swedish. Mervin.)

But you don’t go travelling to have a boring time. No, really it’s an excuse for doing the opposite. All the ‘experiencing’ and ‘seeing’ only requires a limited amount of the traveller’s potential capacity. So we’re mainly having a great time, singing on the coaches and sneaking out to the night clubs in the evening – that’s not what we are here for, but it’s perfectly possible to compromise it with the touristing bit and doesn’t harm it.

Sketch #199

Ideal Tourist

Our problem is just that our leader doesn’t fully understand that. He does partially but then again he is a cop and I am just longing to state a theory about that career affecting a person’s brain…or is it affected already from the start. No that’s all for now. G’Day from an ‘ideal’ tourist.                                Love Nicholas

Sketch #260

Roo’s Arrival

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