Posted by: maximos62 | March 23, 2020

While following the science I contine to pray COVID19#

Recently I posted links to both the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Singapore Ministry of Heath (MOH). The objective was to provide a jump site mainly in the hope that visitors would chose to follow those other sites, or at least rely on them for updates about COVID19.

Whenever there is a major challenge facing humanity, one that confronts us with our mortality, whether it’s war of pandemic, there are physical strategies adopted to confront and overcome the threat. In this case of a pandemic, there is a science driven response that is being implemented with varying degrees of success.  Some leaders have been extraordinarily remiss, others incautious in the way they have responded to the threat of COVID19. Gradually science is prevailing but in some cases far too late.

Emotional stress

As with all great threats there are  significant emotional stressors whether precipitated by the loss of loved ones, being locked down, unemployment, inability to operate a business, being unable to return to one’s own country because of border closures or anxiety around guaranteed access to food and medical attention. There are numerous instances of fearful people reacting in ways that, in less troubled times, would be seen as extremely anti-social.

The World Health Organisation makes a number of suggestions for dealing with in nits publication Mental Health and Psychosocial Considerations During COVID-19 Outbreak. In summary they are:

  1. Do not attach COVID-19 to any ethnicity or nationality. Be empathetic to all those who are affected. Get the facts; not the rumors and misinformation. Gather information at regular intervals, from WHO website and local health authorities platforms, in order to help you distinguish facts from rumors. Facts can help to minimize fears.
  2. Do not refer to people with the disease as “COVID-19 cases”, “victims” “COVID-19 families” or the “diseased”.
  3. Minimize watching, reading or listening to news that causes you to feel anxious or distressed. Gather information at regular intervals, from WHO website and local health authorities platforms, in order to help you distinguish facts from rumors. Facts can help to minimize fears.
  4. Protect yourself and be supportive to others. Assisting others in their time of need can benefit the person receiving support as well as the helper.

These are 26 more. Consult the remainder in the document Mental Health and Psychosocial Considerations During COVID-19 Outbreak


Several days ago someone I know quite well was very critical of me because I posted comments on my Facebook page from His Eminence Archbishop Makarios. He was addressing COVID19 liturgy and Holy Communion. I found myself reacting quite self righteously to the comments before realising that both the comments from my contact and my reaction were part of the problem. Fear and anxiety can be very damaging to personal relations.  So I offer another prayer in this time of the Corona Virus crisis.




Posted by: maximos62 | March 21, 2020

Treating COVID-19 Patients in China – Inside an ICU

Here in Singapore we have excellent digital connections. At my place the internet speeds on the optical fibre connection approach 1Gb/second. There seems little digital divide in the sense that from the young through to the elderly, connectivity is common and expected.

A few weeks months back I met a neighbour by the swimming pool in the complex where I live. The complex consists of six separate structure each of 20 storeys with eight apartments on each level. A lot of people live here. It’s a small village.

My new friend connected me with a WhatsApp group. I think I’m the only member who isn’t of Chinese descent.  A lot of feeds from CGTN (China Global Television Network), are circulated through this small WhatsApp group.

Some of the material is in Mandarin, but our discourse is largely in English.  One of the most interesting items recently was this excellent video ‘Treating COVID-19 Patients in China – Inside an ICU’

Click on the image to visit the CGTN site


Posted by: maximos62 | March 20, 2020

Corona Virus #COVID19

This is intended to be a resource. I will draw heavily on the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Singapore Government and other relevant media outlets. I will try to post regularly while I take a break from Facebook and Twitter

Q&A on coronaviruses (COVID-19)

When I began gathering information about the Corona Virus COVID19 my first source of information was the WHO and it’s page, Q&A on coronaviruses (COVID-19). This answers the following questions:

  • What is a coronavirus?
  • What is COVID-19?
  • What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
  • How does COVID-19 spread?
  • What can I do to protect myself and prevent the spread of disease?
  • How likely am I to catch COVID-19?
  • Should I worry about COVID-19?
  • Who is at risk of developing severe illness?
  • Are antibiotics effective in preventing or treating the COVID-19?
  • Are there any medicines or therapies that can prevent or cure COVID-19?
  • Is there a vaccine, drug or treatment for COVID-19?
  • Is COVID-19 the same as SARS?
  • Should I wear a mask to protect myself?
  • How to put on, use, take off and dispose of a mask?
  • How long is the incubation period for COVID-19?
  • Can humans become infected with the COVID-19 from an animal source?
  • Can I catch COVID-19 from my pet?
  • How long does the virus survive on surfaces?
  • Is it safe to receive a package from any area where COVID-19 has been reported?
  • Is there anything I should not do?

Moving deeper

There is an excellent WHO page titled simply Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak  that gives the latest updates.  Here is a video from 18 March.

They don’t always update the video but everything else updates constantly today. From this

From this page you can link to a COVID19 Situation Dashboard with a large zoomable map

There is so much there.

The Ministry of Health (MOH), Singapore

Following is an outline of resources available through the Ministry of Health, Singapore site.


Updates on COVID-19 (Corona Virus Disease 2019) Local Situation

Singapore has been a model of the proactive approach to the COVID19 pandemic. The Ministry of Health website addresses:

  • Case Summary in Singapore (as of 19 March 2020, 1200h
  • Public Health Preparedness Clinics
  • COVID-19 Situation Dashboard
  • Health Clearance Application Forms
  • Latest Updates in Singapore
  • The Global Situation
  • Travel Advisory (Updated 18 Mar 2020)
  • Health Advisory
  • Measures which apply to Inbound Travellers
  • Info graphics and Posters

The ministry provides a series of other links

Posted by: maximos62 | March 19, 2020

A Prayer during the coronavirus

This is a prayer from Bigorski Monastery of St John the Baptist

The Lord Jesus Christ, Healer of our souls and bodies

Lord Jesus Christ our God, the Supreme Healer of souls and bodies, who has become human for us, to heal the great wound of man; Who did not despise the ten sick from incurable leprosy, but by Thy saving grace cleansed them; Who came as a Godman in the days of Your presence on earth, doing good and healing all the sick and the afflicted; Who did good and healed the paralyzed, the blind, the great sinners, the possessed by demons and passions, both physically and mentally; receive our prayer graciously and drive away, with Your power, the murderous crown-like shaped virus and causes fear, but also death to the infirmed and insufficiently cared for. Although you have allowed this temptation because of our many sins, we pray that you remove it from us and from every family. Although You have allowed it to spread for the testing of our faith, stop the wavering of the powerless because of this epidemic. Although it has spread because of the atrocity of the enemy or the carelessness of superficial people, destroy its power as God Almighty. Save the youth and fence the powerless, heal those who are old from this damned virus, and deliver them all out of the distress of the heart, and instead give us health, relief, and breadth, through the prayers of Our Lady Theotokos and all Your Saints. Amen

With thanks to

Argireta Ateva

Posted by: maximos62 | December 19, 2019

The Case for the Return of the Parthenon Marbles

Emanuel J. Comino OAM, is the founder and Chairman of the International Organising Committee – Australia for the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles which was formed in Australia in 1981 to work towards securing the repatriation of the famous marbles.  Mr Comino has been campaigning for 30 years throughout Australia and the world for the return of the marbles. The following article is adapted from an illustrated presentation given by Mr Comino to the Macquarie Ancient History Association in 2005.

It is now over 200 years since Lord Elgin, British Ambassador to Constantinople at the beginning of the 19th Century, arranged for the removal of many of the magnificent sculptures from the Parthenon in Athens to England, where they remain to this day. These sculptures, otherwise known as the Elgin Marbles, but better known today as the Parthenon Marbles – even by the British Museum and the British Government – belong to a unique building that still stands after wars, earthquake and plunder. Despite a mounting international campaign, the British government has refused to return the marbles to Greece. Their return is one of the most important cultural property disputes in the world today. When we speak of the Parthenon, we are speaking about the birth of civilisation, the birth of democracy and the symbol of Greece.

The Parthenon and its sculptures

The Parthenon, the Temple of Athena was built in 15 years between 447 to 432 BC by Iktinos, the architect and Phidias the sculptor. The man responsible for the project was the great Athenian statesman, Pericles who began a huge program of building works to give Athens the magnificence of a great imperial city. In these few years Greek literature, philosophy, architecture, politics – in fact the whole of the Greek civilisation – suddenly burst into flower.

Those of you who have visited Greece will have your own recollections of that magic moment when you walked up the Acropolis and saw the Parthenon for the first time. It is a Doric temple built entirely of white Attic Pentelic marble with a row of 17 elegant Doric columns on either side, eight at either end and a double row of six in the porches at each end. The internal eastern chamber or cella of the temple once housed a 12 metre-high statue of the goddess Athena wrought in gold and ivory. The Parthenon sculptures featured in the triangular pediments at each end, in the 92 metopes running the length of the temple on either side outside the building, and in the magnificent 160 metre long frieze high up on the interior of the building.

The pediment sculptures were huge statues in the round depicting the story of the quarrel between the goddess Athena and Poseidon over the naming of the city of Athens and the birth of Athena with all of the other gods looking on in amazement. The metopes were sculptures in high relief telling stories from Greek mythology, and the frieze, wrought in low relief, represented the ancient week-long festival of the Panathenaia. It consisted of 400 human and 200 animal figures.

Most of the statues from the pediments are now in the British Museum along with fifteen of the original 92 metopes. Many others were smashed during the removal of the sculptures. Of the original 160 metre long frieze, more than half is now in the British Museum.  Huge 10 metre long saws that were used to cut and slice the heavy one-metre deep marble into sections in prepaartion for their transportation to London caused irreparable damage to the building and to the sculptures. One of the most magnificent marbles is of the great sculptor Phidias himself. The details of his eyes, nose, beard, lips, robes and muscles are all rendered to perfection; including the shades on the sculptured marble which in ancient times were coloured with reds, blues and golds.

After the classical period, the Parthenon became a Christian church and in AD 450 it was dedicated to the Virgin Mary. In 1204 the French occupied Athens and turned the Parthenon into a Catholic church and in 1458 when the Turks arrived, the Parthenon became a mosque. In 1674 (13 years before the explosions which damaged the building), a French artist visiting Athens made drawings of the Parthenon sculptures. These drawings provide important evidence of how well preserved the marbles were at this time and how well the Turks were looking after the Parthenon – despite later claims to the contrary. The first significant damage in 21 centuries occurred on 26 September, 1687 when the Venetian General Francesco Morosini laid siege to Athens. During the siege, a Venetian cannon hit the Parthenon and blew up part of the roof but the majority of the sculptures remained fortunately, intact.

After capturing the Acropolis, Morosini attempted to remove the statue of Poseidon in his chariot which formed part of the west pediment sculptures. However, as they were being lowered to the ground, the ropes holding them broke and the figures were smashed. One hundred and fifty years later, when Elgin was removing the sculptures, he missed seeing the torso of Poseidon’s body and that is why this magnificent piece is now in the Acropolis Museum and not the British Museum.These treasures were taken between 1801 and 1803 while Greece was under Turkish rule. Elgin’s main reason for taking the marbles was to decorate his Scottish mansion, not to save them from the ‘barbaric hands of the Turks’ as was claimed by the British Museum trustees and supporters. After Elgin returned to England in 1806 and after getting into financial difficulties, he eventually sold them to the British government, who in turn placed them in the British Museum where they remain today.

Lord Elgin (1766-1841)

 Thomas Bruce, the seventh Earl of Elgin, was a Scottish aristocrat who had served in the British army as an officer, and as a consul before being appointed British Ambassador to Constantinople in 1799. Before leaving England to take up his post he married Mary Nisbett, the only child of wealthy parents. He took his team with him including Dr Rev. Phillip Hunt, his secretary Sir William Hamilton and others. Before he left England he was renovating his mansion in Scotland. It was his architect, Thomas Harrison who suggested to Elgin that he take advantage of his position of Ambassador to Constantinople to take with him artists and painters to make architectural drawings and plaster casts ‘to improve the arts in Great Britain’..

Lord Elgin took up the idea with the enthusiasm of a crusader but there was no suggestion that the originals (of the buildings and artworks) should be removed. He even asked the government of the day, the Prime Minister Mr Pitt and the foreign secretary, Lord Grenville to provide him with qualified men to make architectural drawings but was advised that any such activity needed to be funded from his own pocket.  He left England for Constantinople in August 1789 on the HMAS Phaeton. Just one year before his departure Rear Admiral Sir Horatio Nelson had destroyed the French fleet in Egypt.  Elgin stopped in Italy on his way to Constantinople and hired the services of an Italian artist, Giovanni Battista Lusieri, who was initially contracted for the three-year period of Elgin’s Ambassadorship. But the association was to last for twenty years – during which time Lusieri served as Elgin’s chief accomplice in the looting of Greek antiquities which only ceased with the outbreak of the Greek War of Independence in 1821 and Lusieri’s death in the same year.

Elgin was very warmly received on his arrival in Constantinople – thanks to the assistance Britain was giving to Turkey in defeating Napoleon’s forces in Egypt. His party was taken on golden chairs to the palace and lavishly entertained with two weeks of receptions and banquets during which he was served coffee in diamond cups and showered with gifts, including the use of a 200 tonne yacht for his private exploration of the Greek Islands. In August 1800, 12 months after his departure from England, his artists arrived in Athens to ‘improve the arts in Great Britain’. Athens was the 43rd city of European Turkey at this time; it was ruled by two officials, the Turkish Governor and a military governor called the Disdar.

Elgin and the Parthenon Marbles

In 1800 during Elgin’s term as Ambassador to Constantinople, his artist Lusieri and others were at first given permission to make drawings and casts of the Parthenon sculptures. However, they were ordered off the Acropolis by the local Turkish commandant who claimed that the British would be able to spy on the Turkish women in the nearby houses from their vantage on the Acropolis. It took a lot of persuasion (sweetened by bribes), on Lord Elgin’s part, to regain permission for his artists to resume their work which they did in February 1801. However, they were ordered out again in May 1801. Elgin’s agents, Lusieri and Rev. Hunt wrote immediately to Lord Elgin in Constantinople, begging him to obtain a firman, a letter from the Ottoman governor addressed to the local official in Athens, requiring him to grant a favour by allowing the artists to resume their work.

As it turned out, events far away in Egypt conspired to deliver to Elgin exactly what he was seeking. In June 1801, the final victory of the British expedition over the French in Egypt made Elgin one of the most highly favoured men in Turkey. The Ottoman government could not do enough to show their appreciation of the country that had made this victory possible and they showered gifts on Elgin and his officials. The success in Egypt brought Elgin to the pinnacle of his diplomatic career; he now enjoyed a position of influence at Constantinople such as no other ambassador has ever approached. The government in Britain was pleased and they told him so in an official letter.

Lord Elgin could never have removed the Acropolis sculptures without the following three conditions: Firstly, Greece was under Turkish rule. Secondly, it was that era when the big powers, Britain and France  took whatever they wanted from the less powerful  countries such as Greece and Egypt. And thirdly, Britain was the dominant power in the eastern Mediterranean at the time.

Lord Elgin and the firman

Back in Athens, where Elgin’s agents had in May, been ordered out of the Acropolis, Elgin was on the point of giving the whole enterprise away, such was his frustration with the Turkish officials. But who happened to be in Athens at that very time: his very rich in-laws, the Nisbets. When his father-in-law saw the magnificent work that had been done in those 3 months (February-May) by his artists, he wrote to Elgin in Constantinople, urging him to obtain the firman at all costs so the work could continue. Elgin opened negotiations with the local Pasha on the day he received his letter, 14th June 1801. Two days earlier Rev. Hunt had arrived back in Constantinople from Athens and was able to give Lord Elgin an eye-witness account of developments in Athens. It was Rev. Hunt who drew up the memorandum of 1 July 1801 for the firman. The text of the original memorandum is important because it became the text of the firman that was shortly issued. It sought permission for the following activities:

It is interesting to note that no specific permission was sought to remove sculptures from the building. The removal of the sculptures only took place as a series of accidents, all of them involving Dr Rev. Phillip  Hunt. Firstly, the firman would not have been drafted in the form it was had not Rev. Hunt been in Athens in May when the trouble started and back in Constantinople in June/July when the good news from Egypt came through. Secondly, the firman would not have been interpreted in the way it was, had not  Rev. Hunt himself, delivered it to Athens. When he arrived in Athens on 22 July he immediately asked the Turkish governor for permission to go up on the Acropolis to start the drawings and plaster casts. The authority was given for work on the Acropolis to be carried out from sunrise to sunset within the terms of the firman.

After this triumph, Rev. Hunt acted quickly. All the inscriptions lying about the Acropolis were collected and extensive excavation was begun. A few days later, Rev. Hunt made the decisive move. He asked the Turkish governor for permission to take down the metopes. But the governor hesitated, saying there was nothing in the firman that gave permission for sculptures to be removed from the building. However, with the aid of threats and bribes, Hunt managed to win the day. ‘With no great deal of difficulty, the vital twist to the firman was given on 31 July 1801’.[2]  The metope sculptures were removed in just two days – causing in the process, significant damage the building and to the sculptures themselves.

Lord Elgin wrote in a letter to Lusieri and Rev. Hunt, ‘I should wish to have examples in the actual object, of each thing and architectural ornament – of each cornice, each frieze, each capital- of the decorated ceilings, of the fluted columns – specimens of the different architectural orders and of the variant forms of the orders, -of metopes and the like, as much as possible.’ [3]  It seems clear that his intention was to decorate his castle in Scotland not save the sculptures ‘from the barbaric hands of the Turks’.

As the work of clearing and excavation was being carried out on the smaller adjacent temple, the Erechtheum, Hunt wrote to Elgin suggesting that the whole building could be removed and relocated in England. ‘If your Lordship would come here in a large Man of War that beautiful little model of ancient art might be transported wholly to England.’[4]  Elgin was keen to act on this advice and wrote to Lord Keith in Britain requesting ‘a ship of war .. to stop a couple of days at Athens to get away a most valuable piece of architecture …for the Arts in England. Bonaparte’ he added, ‘has not got such a thing from all his thefts in Italy. Kindly attend to this my Lord.’[5]  It was indeed fortunate for the future of the Erechtheum that no such ship was available at the time and so the little temple with its beautiful Caryatid Porch remains in situ although a piece of its cornice, an Ionic column and one of the Caryatid statues were taken. They are now on display in the British Museum. Once an ancient piece of art is removed from its original and historical context, it loses its aesthetic value and becomes a piece of archaeological interest and nothing else.

On the Acropolis, Hunt and Lusieri had engineering problems removing sculptures from the building. The damage caused by their work was remarked upon by a number of British travellers to Athens at this time. One, Edward Dodwell, an artist who spent time sketching on the Acropolis wrote ‘ I had the inexpressible mortification of being present when the Parthenon was despoiled of its finest sculpture, and when some of its architectural members were thrown to the ground…’ [6] Another British traveller commented in October 1801, on the damage to the building. He was Edward Daniel Clark and he noted that as one of the sculptures was being lowered to the ground the ropes holding it broke and the sculpture was smashed into a thousand pieces.

In April 1802, Lord Elgin made his first visit to Greece to see the work. He was so pleased with the progress that he hired more men and architects to complete the removal of the sculptures. Elgin arranged for 22 ships to transport 220 cases of the marbles and other antiquities to England. One of the ships was sunk in a storm and the marbles it was carrying lay in twelve fathoms of salt water for three years before they were recovered and sent on to England.

The Marbles in England

Between their arrival in England in 1804 and their sale to the British Museum in 1816, the marbles were stored in a coal shed in the grounds of Elgin’s London home. Elgin’s marriage failed during this time and when he found himself in extreme financial difficulty he began to negotiate for the sale of the marbles to the British Government. The Government eventually acquired them for the price of £35,000 and an Act of Parliament transferred ownership of the marbles to the nation. And so they found their way into the British Museum.

One of the very first to criticise Lord Elgin was none other than Lord Byron. In 1828, four years after Byron’s death, his poem ‘The Curse of Athena’, in which he refers to Elgin as a robber, was published for the first time in England. In another publication dating to 1818, we find Byron and other Englishmen – travellers and historians who have visited Greece, calling Elgin ‘a shameless thief’.  Sir John Hobhouse, a friend and travelling companion of Byron noted on a chapel under the Acropolis the inscription, ‘What the crooks did not do here, the Scot did here’, an obvious reference to Elgin who was a Scotsman.

In 1890, an eight-page article entitled ‘The Return of the Elgin Marbles’, by Franklin Harrison appeared in the magazine Nineteenth Century. The writer appealed to the gentle feelings of the English people and maintains that ‘even if Elgin’s looting is excused, [note the first use of the word looting], the retaining in London of parts essential to the Parthenon is no longer tolerable or convenient. Their restitution is urgent both as an act of international justice and as an act beneficial to science and the arts. In the same article, Harrison also maintained the sculptures ‘were more dear to the Greeks than to the British and that for 2,400 years they had formed an integral part of Greece and were therefore much more sacred than the Tower of London or Westminster Abbey. What would be our feelings’ he wrote, ‘if some one had deprived us of our national monuments?’ [7]

In November 1928, Phillip Sassoon, Private Secretary to the British Prime Minister of the day, wrote to The Times, saying that when he visited the Acropolis ‘I found myself wondering whether, after all, the noble ruins of the Parthenon and the glorious atmosphere of Athens would not be a better setting than Bloomsbury for the most exquisite marbles in the world.’[8]

British Damage to the Marbles

The sculptures from the pediments and frieze now on display in the British have suffered considerable damage since their removal from the Acropolis in the early 1800s. William Sinclair, the British historian has exposed the cover up by the British Museum Trustees of the enormous amount of damage they caused to the marbles. The building of a special gallery at the British Museum to house the Parthenon sculptures was funded by Lord Duveen – on condition that his name be attached to it. In the 1930s ,chemicals and wire brushes were used to scrape and ‘clean’ the marble. The only pieces that retain the natural honey colour of aged Pentelic marble are those that were not cleaned because they were considered too fragile.

The Case for the return of the Marbles

 In 1941 Sir Winston Churchill was asked in Parliament whether Britain would consider returning the Parthenon Marbles ‘in some recognition of Greece’s magnificent stand for civilisation against the might of Hitler’s army’.[9] Churchill neatly sidestepped the issue by replying that he would ‘look into it favorably after the war’.  And that was where the matter rested for the next thirty or more years.

In more recent times, during the 1980s, the former actress and later Minister of Culture in the Greek Government, Melina Mercouri, brought the issue of the return of the marbles to world attention.

More than any other manifestation of human genius, the monuments of Athens reflect a form of life and an attitude that put man in the centre of the world, that made beauty and proportion divine. The Parthenon, built by free men on the Acropolis rock, has for more than two thousand years continuously expressed the grandiosity of simplicity, the passion of wisdom, the love of beauty.  The marbles define our soul. And the struggle for the return of pieces that were pillaged in the past is not cahuvinistic; it is a struggle that must be undertaken in the name of humanity, civilization and justice.”

Two years later in 1983, Melina Mercouri was instrumental in establishing a British committee in London, called The British Committee for the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles whose current Chairman is Professor Anthony Snodgrass. In the same year the International Council of Museums, including the British Museum, met in London and overwhelmingly passed a resolution to initiate dialogue with an open minded attitude concerning requests for the return of cultural property. One thousand delegates voted in favour of the motion, nil against and ten abstentions, five of which were from the British delegation.

[1] St. Clair, W. Lord Elgin and the Marbles, Oxford University Press, 1998 p. 87

[2] Ibid., p.93

[3]Ibid., p. 99

[4] Ibid., p.100

[5] Navy Records Society, The Keith Papers, 1927-1955, II. p.405, cited in St. Clair, p. 101

[6] Op. cit., p. 102

[7] Hitchens, Christopher, The Elgin Marbles, p 67

[8] Ibid., p. 75

[9] Ibid.

Posted by: maximos62 | December 8, 2019

An anthology

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Protesting against the Vietnam War in 1966 during a campaign rally held by Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt, at Randwick Town Hall.

Recently I completed three stories about my own reactions to Australia’s involvement in the American War against Vietnam.

  • A prelude to war
  • We don’t want war
  • Darkest before the dawn

My interest is in producing an anthology of writings, perspectives on this period of conflict. I’m hoping that my modest efforts might attract other writers with something to say about this period.

Please drop me a note in the comments section for this post, if the proposition interests you

Here is a short segment from the first in the series. I’ve included the YouTub video that inspired the first part of this story.


A prelude to war

Thang sent a link to a YouTube video.

“Somewhere on this Danish refugee boat, which saved us from the damaged Truong Xuan is my family,” he explained. “We entered Hong Kong from Saigon right at the end of the Viet War.”

He had mentioned the escape but never in as much detail as the video revealed, but then he was only around four when they left, on 30 April, 1975. Thang and his family were in the first phase of a mass migration as North Vietnamese tanks entered the Presidential Palace, ending countless years of war..

Some 3,628 other refugees crammed onboard the Truong Xuan sailing from Saigon with a skeleton crew. Somewhere in the South China Sea its engines stopped and its pumps failed Captain Pham Ngoc Luy realised his vessel was in danger of capsizing. He sent out a distress signal. A Danish container ship M.S. Clara Maersk answered.

Captain Anton Olsen explained, “We get an SOS early in the morning, and then we turn around right away to the given position. Of course the given position was not right in the beginning, but after around three hours we found the ship.”

People were draped everywhere. Engine room crew managed to start the engines again the pumps began working but the ship was leaking too fast for the pumps to cope.

“So, finally we got alongside,” Captain Olsen continued. We put everything down, nets, gangway, they came up all over. It took us six hours to get everybody on board.”

Three babies were born on board, and the first, Clara, was named after the ship.

As the YouTube video ended another message from Thang accompanying grainy photo popped up on my iMessenger stream. “My dad made a poster of media coverage. The picture is of my sis and I at the Hong Kong refugee camp early May 1974.”

“Then we flew from Hong Kong to Sydney with Qantas in June, the first few hundred to come after war finished. I was like winning first prize in the Jackpot Lottery,” he added.

Meeting Thang has caused me to reflect on my own earlier understanding of the Vietnam War. Travelling through Vietnam with him in 2014 deepened my sense of the conflict, though my most unexpected perception was the people’s resilience in surviving the massive United States bombing campaign that spilled out into Laos and Cambodia.

Coming from a strong Labor[1] family, my great grandfather a founding member, I was introduced to politics over the dinner table. Countless party functions from annual picnics, and sports days, to fund raising nights when the living room was transformed into a mini casino were common. My political reality was grounded in neighbourhood networks and a strong commitment to democracy. Politics was a natural part of conversation, so it came as a surprise to me when I discovered others who considered my preoccupations either eccentric or incorrect.

“It suits Menzies to portray Labor as a party allied with the Communists,” said Dad, in one discussion.  “He sees votes in making things very simple, goodies versus baddies, and he’s trying to associate Labor with the Communists.”

Under Prime Minister R G Menzies, Australia’s immediate post war support for the decolonisation process was steadily eroded. Under his successors, Holt, Gorton and McMahon, independence movements were refracted through a new prism of paranoia, xenophobia and fear of Communism. Clarity and precision in international matters was distorted.  Even the non-aligned movement of countries was seen as aligned with the baddies because they weren’t explicitly aligned with the goodies.

Entering high school in 1960 brought contact with diverse yet predominantly European mix of fellow students. Post war Australia drew refugees and migrants from the breadth of the European continent.  Amongst them were families with direct experience of Nazism and Soviet oppression. Another refugee influx occurred after the 1956 Hungarian uprising. Against this backdrop the Cold War politics of fear, practised by the Menzies, resonated sympathetically.

I was an unselfconscious Labor supporter.

“Russell you must admit that the Labor Party is just that much closer to the Communism than the Liberal Party,” said Edward, a school friend whom I’d known since Primary School.

“Edward, I don’t see it that way. The Australian Labor Party supports democracy and freedom, it doesn’t support banning other parties.”

“Yeah but it’s closer to Communism Russell,” Edward insisted.

“It was formed by people who were just defending their rights as workers and has nothing to do with Communism.”

“It’s closer, that’s all I’m saying.”

I couldn’t blame Edward for having these views. His family was from Czechoslovakia and being Jewish ensured they had suffered under Nazism and Stalinism. I didn’t understand the term Stalinism then it was all just Communism, and whatever it was, it all went on behind the ‘Iron Curtain’.

[1] Australian Labor Party.

In May 2017 I visited Sungai Tohor on the Island of Tebingtinggi. The visit was organised by with the Singapore group People’s Movement to Stop the Haze – PMHaze.

A view of the port at Sungai Tohor

This area is within the Kabupaten of Meranti in Indonesia’s Riau Province. I’ve written numerous pieces and a short story about the challenges faced by the people who live in this area.

While there I met a man whose insight into the problems facing his community impressed me greatly.


Izul Azri Fatra and Russell Darnley

Later, I will be writing more about the work of PMHaze in the Sungai Tohor area, this post is devoted to the work of GEMAST, but I will let Izul Azri Fatra tell the story.

The Story of GEMAST

I am Izul Azri Fatra, often called Azri, I am the head of Gemast (Young Generation Sungai Tohor)

A few GEMAST members

GEMAST (Generasi Muda Sungai Tohor) is an organization engaged in the environmental field. In this context, over recent years I have frequently encountered peatland fires in several villages, especially in the vicinity of the Tebingtinggi Timur. I for one have been directly involved in firefighting.

Azri fighting a smouldering peatland fire. Such fires can burn for weeks beneath the surface

In evaluating the situation I believe that the fires have been the work of human hands, so I hope in future the area where I live is no longer responsible for smoke blowing to other areas. Much damage is sustained when a fire occurs, its impact on health is bad, its destroys forest sustainability and beauty, and many habitats within forest are burned to extinction .

Replanting peatland rainforest trees

Given these circumstances GEMAST began carrying out environmental awareness campaigns by planting natural timber in several places of peatland to:

  • motivate the community,
  • protect the environment and
  • develop awareness of the importance of protecting the forest.

We also plant natural timber species in the vicinity of community settlements. We have also developed a mangroves nursery to overcome coastal erosion and work in agriculture.

We advance according to our ability, because there is a lack of funds to carry out these activities, this is because to the purchase the seeds for natural timber species and the other activities requires substantial funds.

Plant nursery for peatland rainforest trees in Sungai Tohor

I aspire to campaign for this activity in every village, especially in villages in the Tebingtinggi Timur District, so that in the future all of the community will realize how important it is to protect peatland forests.

Planting peatland rainforest trees by the roadside in Sungai Tohor

What’s more our area has deep peatland soil as much as five metres deep, so if there is a fire it is very difficult to extinguish.

Through relating this story GEMAST hopes to encourage support from people who love the environment, because we are also unable to move to protect the environment without involvement. and the help of others, and related parties.

Supporting this project

Izul Azri Fatra can be contacted via WhatsApp. He needs our support in this ambitious project. Please feel free to contact him.

If you don’t speak Indonesian or Malay use Google Translate to post your messages to him


Sungai Tohor is not well marked on maps. In time more images of the locality will be added to this map.

Related posts



Seen and Unseen: a century of stories from Asia and the Pacific’, is 29 short stories in the genre of creative non-fiction. Tracing Australian connections with Asia and the Pacific through three generations, it is published in 2015 by Glass House Books an imprint of Interactive Publications (IP) ISBN: 9781925231182. Also, in Kindle and as an Audio Book. (Pecha Kucha about the book)

Influencing this collection is an acceptance that interactions with people from our own culture are generally tangible and familiar. By contrast, when beyond our immediate culture meaning and understanding must often be negotiated in intangible, non-rational and unseen ways. Foucault’s notion of the third space has influenced this work. Another influence is the Balinese belief that reality is an interaction of Sekala (The Seen) and Niskala (The Unseen).

Precisely what comprises the unseen realm varies throughout the region. What might be understood as mere micro ecology, in the ‘developed world’, can have spiritual explanations in some Asian and Pacific cultures. In rational secular society people commonly eschew magic as mythology or superstition, yet in parts of Asia and the Pacific what might be seen as myths and misconceptions can possess the power of reality.

The basic and enduring interplay of the seen and the unseen worlds is of great significance to those of us from Australia, the land that’s girt by sea. While we might choose not to see, to look inwards and to rejoice in the notion that our land abounds in nature’s gifts, regional and planetary systems are unfettered by such introspective cultural constructions.

A short biography 

‘Born in 1947 Russell Darnley had grandparents who were children when Australia achieved its independence, lived through World War I, and struggled as parents through the Great Depression of the 1930s.

His parents found their first paid employment as World War II broke out. Growing up in Sydney by the shore of the Pacific Ocean, and with a seafaring father, gave him an interest in what lay beyond. His childhood saw the birth of multicultural Australia, which he embraced, and ended with Conscription and the Vietnam War, both of which he resisted. As a young adult he travelled the world and discovered that his interests lay in South East Asia. Working respectively as teacher, administrator, researcher, director of an Indonesia based field study centre, consultant to the Australia Indonesia Institute, educational writer and digital education pioneer, he was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his voluntary work after the 2002 Bali Bombings.

Russell’s outlook is eclectic and interdisciplinary, passionately scientific yet profoundly spiritual.’

He has lived in Singapore since January 2014.

What the reviewers say

Associate Professor David Reeve, Visiting Fellow UNSW, School of Humanities and Languages

In launching the book, David had this to say: “This is partly creative fiction though it’s based on his own life and I think of it of keeping to a tradition of writing on Asia. I remember the excitement back in 1978 when Chris Koch published The Year of Living Dangerously then in 1980 Blanche D’Alpuget published Monkeys in the Dark and in 1981 Turtle Beach. Robert Drew in 1981 published A Cry in the Jungle Bar.

When I look at the similarity of those four novels in each of those Australians go forward full of high ideals and anticipation but in fact come home defeated, physically wounded or psychologically wounded or in the case of the hero of A Cry in the Jungle Bar actually dead.

So, I think this is a new and more mature and more realistic mood in Russell Darnley’s book. The Australian doesn’t go out with high hopes to Asia, gets defeated and returns partially destroyed, certainly damaged. In him it’s a much more complex engagement, it has of course it fears, it’s dangers, its sicknesses but it’s much more mature in its approach to the complexities of these enmeshments.”

T. D. Luong, author of The Refugee Wolf

Sometimes distance can help us recast our perceptions of the world. They can be based on unspoken and wrong assumptions about culture and identity. The Australian author, currently based in Singapore, but who is fluent in Indonesian because of having provided extensive cultural tours in his former career, is well positioned to recast such perceptions. He forces us to ask: is Australia’s relationship with Asia working well enough to bridge the cultural divide?

The opening and closing chapters are deftly written book-ends. They are set at Coogee beach and it is the author’s emotional connection to this place and relationship with his grandfather that helps us look outwards to inviting places like Bali, then inwards to ruminate upon the darkness and trauma that fell upon us after the 2002 bombings.

Darnley’s exceptional debut work reframes Australia’s relationship with Asia and Melanesia in a myriad of ways.

There are entertaining stories over 50 years, which traverse Australia, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, Vietnam, PNG, just to name the main places. There’s a story set in Bali about adultery and told through the prism of magic; another one reflects upon Baby Boomers and their perception of the Japanese after WW2, and there’s a hilarious one about an activist uni student who dodges the Vietnam War draft.

The book also reframes Australia’s identity. Does Australia lean more towards being progressive or conservative or vacillate between both, and how might this impact on our relationship with Asia?

Through many personal journeys, observations and interesting characters, he illuminates and expands upon the notion, which is at the heart of the book. What we sometimes see in an empirical way is not necessarily what lies underneath. There are intangible structures such us cultural practice, memory, spirituality and power relationships which intersect, weave and give rise to more nuanced complexity than what we can fully rationalise or even articulate at a given point in time.

Seen and Unseen is an insightful, intelligent and very significant book which helps us learn more about the Asian region and ourselves as Australians.

With his hard-won insights and descriptive powers of observation, Russell Darnley is a cultural interpreter of the first rank.

Kim Patra, Author, In the Arms of Angels

It’s a very candid and wonderfully written account of the Bali Bombings. Pretty hard to read actually, emotionally, I guess the ghosts never really go away, do they?

Bill Dalton in Toko Buku, Bali Advertiser, (for Ubud Readers’ & Writers’ Festival) October 2016.

This entertaining and enlightening book of short stories spanning 100 years is a work of naked and unflinching honesty. The subject matter perfectly compliments the spirit of this year’s UWRF whose dictum is Tat Tvam Asi, translated as ‘I am you, you are me.” Darnley’s experiences help us understand the lives of others and recognize our common humanity. As the writer himself puts it, “Seeking meaning across cultures we each absorb a little of the other and enter a new cultural space where I am you and you are me.”

Emeritus Professor Stuart Campbell author of Cairo Mon Amour

‘Seen and unseen’: testimony of a man who kept faith with his vision for Australia in the world.

I bought Russell Darnley’s Seen and Unseen some months ago and tucked it into a corner of my Kindle, dipping into some of the ‘stories’ in the gaps between my backlog of novels-to-read.

With some holiday time on my hands, I decided to start at the beginning – and I couldn’t stop reading. I now saw that the ‘stories’ formed a coherent narrative woven from threads of spirituality, self-discovery, and an expression of one man’s understanding of Australia in the world.

The motif of the seen and the unseen, drawn from the Balinese notion of sekala and niskala, signifying the ubiquity of the spiritual world, is the strongest of these threads: How else to interpret the first and last sections of the book, when Darnley converses with his dead grandfather on the cliffs at Coogee.

But Seen and Unseen isn’t an extended navel gaze. There’s wonderfully powerful and evocative material about intellectual life in seventies Sydney, about student parties in inner city flats, about the study of Bahasa Indonesia in the brief period when the Australian Government was prepared to fund it generously.

In reading Darnley’s book, I realised that he and I had moved in intersecting circles in the seventies and eighties but had (perhaps) never met. As a university languages school head, I rode the crest of the Indonesian studies movement for a few years, but Darnley’s book brought back uncomfortable memories of my having to close an Indonesian program as funding tightened and the popularity of the language waned in the face of Japanese and Chinese. I was also reminded of the hopes for deep engagement with Indonesia during Gareth Evans’ tenure as Foreign Minister, and the dashing of those aspirations under his successor.

For a newish Australian (I arrived in 1977), Darnley’s account of a childhood in Coogee was fascinating; I’ve lived mostly on the north side of the Harbour Bridge, and Coogee is foreign territory for me. Indeed, the biographical thread running through Seen and Unseen is subtly and tenderly handled. While the ‘stories’ follow chronologically, there are gaps, but the reader is given to understand that each story tackles a new stage in the author’s progress through his professional, personal and spiritual life. The middle section of the book is set mostly in south-east Asia, from which I drew two main impressions: One was Darnley’s wonderful work in establishing and running an overseas study centre for Australian students; the other was his extensive knowledge of Indonesia, and especially Bali, based on his years of residence in the region.

But the core of the book – in my view at least – is the section dealing with the author’s voluntary work in the immediate aftermath of the 2002 Bali bombings (for which he was awarded the OAM). The description of those days is the most harrowing and powerful writing I have encountered in a long time. I had the strong impression that Russell Darnley’s life up to that moment in 2002 was a preparation for the awful work that he volunteered to do, including searching body bags for identification evidence. Russell Darnley surely was the right man in the right place.

Ian Burnet author of ‘Where Australia Collides with Asia

Russell Darnley seeks to cover an extensive time span in his book Seen and Unseen: a century of stories from Asia and the Pacific.

I have read it as a memoir written as 29 stories, beginning when he was a boy growing up in Coogee in Sydney, Australia. Here, his stories begin with him exploring the headlands and rock pools around this beachside suburb with his grandfather.  They delve into the early years of the 20th century and then on to descriptions of his childhood, family and friends.

He tells stories of his student days at Sydney University and of his first travels through South East Asia in the 1970’s. I can identify with this period as we would have travelled around the same time to Singapore, Malacca, Kuala Lumpur and Penang.

Years later in 1984, Russell is involved in setting up Asian Field Study Centres for Australian students in Bali. It is here that he first becomes aware of the interplay of the ‘Seen and the Unseen’ and begins to realise that it has always formed part of his life. Here, in Bali, he experiences just how the Balinese are immersed in both a physical and a spiritual world, and some practice ‘black magic’ as well.

In Indonesia in 1999 to deliver workshops for [Indonesian] teachers whose students are studying Australia meant he happened to be in Surabaya and Jakarta during the tremendous outburst of joy and energy of the nation’s youth, after 35 years of suppression under Suharto’s military dictatorship. He is present in the middle of the excited masses and vividly describes the political campaigning for the first democratic elections after this long period.

Russell’s description of his response to the 2002 Bali bombing in the immediate aftermath of this tragedy and his volunteer work in aiding the victims and their families at the Sanglah Hospital, must be highlight of his book (if that is the right word). Personally, I had to pause several times to recover my emotions while reading his descriptions of these traumatic events.

Seen and Unseen concludes where it starts with the now elder Russell in conversation with his long-departed grandfather around the headland of Coogee, while trying to understand his life experiences and the significance of the seen and unseen. The strength of Russell Darnley’s writing is his ability to position himself as an observant outsider. Central to his work is the idea that interactions with people from cultures other than our own, in particular those of Asia, allow us to challenge many of our own assumptions. His engaging memoir will be a ‘must read’ by all those who have an interest in Asia and wish to follow his footsteps.

Posted by: maximos62 | July 16, 2019

Geomorphic reflections

One of the main reasons I’ve moved house was the absolute racket emanating from the building site next to my old place.

At first the disruption was modest preparation, over a month or so. It involved clearing a former parking lot, felling trees, building site huts, planning and constructing site drainage, installing generators, lighting and ground level sound barriers, Once complete cranes and boring equipment were moved on site and the slow task of sinking footing shafts begun.

The building site at Jiak Kim Road

The building site on a bend (once a slip-off slope) in the Singapore River, the heritage godown can be seen in the top left

The site was on what would have once been on a slip-off slope, a bend in the river. Although levelled and the river banks secured with stone walls, beneath the surface depositional layers remained much as they once were.

Close to the river the bores yielded alluvial deposits and then clay. On higher land and places further from the river it was thinner alluvial material, shale like dry clay and eventually a soft light gray rock. This was a moment of surprise an encounter with the familiar and the primal. 

Tuff, or paras as it’s called in Indonesian, was a stone I’d often seen hewn from Balinese river valleys. There the grey rock is used in carving a pantheon of religious objects, decorative landscaping features and tourist souvenirs. To a geologically trained eye it is instantly recognisable as tuff, a volcanic sandstone. In Bali swift rivers have carved a radial system of ridges and valleys, deep into its layers. Yet now its sighting yielded memories beyond such geomorphic reflections.

CIDH piles

Preparing the CIDH piles for a 36-story twin tower building required a lot of boring. Pile drillers equipped with soil augers were used first, as they bored deeper more robust rock augers were needed. As each load of debris was brought to the surface and the augur lifted from the hole its contents had to be spun off. This wasn’t a smooth rotation but a stop start action. At each jarring stop in the rotation the equipment generated a load percussive noise. With as many as three rigs going at once days were punctuated with this jarring cacophony. Retreating to the local mall was an easy option. 

Tuff is a volcanic sandstone, consolidated ash fall. A soft rock that can sometimes be scored with a fingernail. There it was below, and Krakatau immediately came to mind.



An 1888 lithograph of the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa. Image published as Plate 1 in The eruption of Krakatoa, and subsequent phenomena. Report of the Krakatoa Committee of the Royal Society (London, Trubner & Co., 1888). Creative Commons lic.

Krakatau’s cataclysmic eruption, in August 1883 blew the cinder cone off its small island in the Sunda Straits. In rushing sea water induced a massive explosion of rocks and superheated steam.  So loud was the explosion that stockmen driving cattle across Western Australia’s Hammersley Range thought it was artillery.

Reverberating from Bangkok to Manila, and from Saigon to Perth, tsunamis were recorded as far away as the West coast of the USA. In the now more connected world of the telegraph and undersea communications cables, reports of the eruption spread rapidly. Dutch authorities estimated the death toll 36,417 but with all such events, there can be no certain figure. Some suggest, more realistically, as many as 120,000 deaths.

Volcanic eruptions in historic times are well documented. Mt St Helens’ 1980 eruption in the Pacific Northwest is considered the most disastrous in US history. Extensively documented, it was a small geological event compared with Krakatua, yielding a mere 1.5 cubic km of tephra.  In comparison Krakatua ejected 18 cubic km. Such catastrophic events have an impacts far beyond their immediate regions. Krakatau produced tsunamis that swept through the Sunda Straits.  Yet none of these compared with the magnitude of the Tambora eruption.


When Tambora erupted in 1815-16 it ejected 150 cubic km of tephra. At first its impact on a wider region was unnoticed but by the northern summer of 1816 Spanish records reveal a summer that never was. In Madrid, temperatures fell below 15ºC from July through to August. Rivers froze and peaks usually snow free bore white mantles. Tambora’s eruption was the largest in recorded history.

Mounds of tuff grew

Mounds of tuff grew beside the boring machines along with the realisation that these events were not likely responsible. One possibility remained shrouded in the uncertainties of prehistory.


Drilling rig beside a pile of what appears to be tuff, spun off the augur

Mount Toba

About 600 kilometres away on the island of Sumatra Mt Toba erupted in these prehistoric times. Somewhere about 75,000 ago it produced 1000 cubic km of tephra in the first nine days of its eruption, and over the course of this eruptive phase ejecting a total of from 2500-3000 km3.

Mapping the three volcanoes

Toba’s eruption

Toba’s eruption had planetary consequences triggering a volcanic winter, the Pleistocene Ice Age, and burying vast areas, along with their emerging megalithic cultures, under hundreds of metres of tephra.  Sea levels fell as much as 150 metres and island hopping through the Indonesian archipelagos enabled human passage first east, and then south to Australia.

Map of Sunda and Sahul showing lower Pleistocene sea levels with Wallace, Lydekker Line and Weber Lines. Map by Maximilian Dörrbecker (Chumwa). Republished under CC BY-SA 3.0

After the fall in sea level it was likely possible to walk from what is now Merauke to Darwin in about three weeks.  The biophysical continuity is still is obvious, the ancient land connection documented in the cave art of Kakadu.

Toba today

Now the Toba caldera contains a huge lake.  Visiting it some 20 years ago I captured these images.

This view is from the north of the lake looking over the village of Haranggoal, 500 metres below.

The nearby Sipisopiso waterfall tumbles over 300 metres high cliffs comprising tuff from the ancient eruption.

My friend Wayan Cemul

This post is born of research for a short story I’ve just written about my friend I Wayan Cemul.

Cemul with some of his work. Photo by Chris Hazzard. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International

No longer with us, he was one of the best teachers and communicators I have ever met. Shortly I’ll post the audio version of the story, on this blog.

The following YouTube video was made while Cemul was still alive. I thank Hans and Fifi for this.


Posted by: maximos62 | July 2, 2019

Moving House

Sitting at the local Zion Riverside Food Centre, my local food hall, there was time for reflection. This was the first opportunity to relax here in about 2 weeks.
Moving apartments seems to get harder as the years pass. So far I’ve only moved 17 times, hardly an example of itinerancy.


Pioneers of itinerancy

Itinerancy is a feature of life for some.
Kazakh yurt, shown on a horse-drawn cart. Wikicommons
The nomadic communities of the Eurasian steppes moved at least twice a year.  These movements generally coincided during the summer and winter. Severe winters made finding shelter for animals essential. In the summer they moved to grassed areas where animals could graze.


Development of languages

While nomads tended to move in the same region over time they also drifted further west. As they moved they made contact with more settled communities, acquiring new languages and participating in a linguistic synthesis that produced what we came to know as the Aryan language group, though the tainting of the term Aryan through its misuse by European Nazis, ensured the more neutral term Proto-Indo-European came into common use.


Linguistic evolution
Another way of looking at it.

The burden of possessions

Modern humans, at least those of us in the First World, are burdened by goods. We’ve long lost the economy of living a frugal life with few possessions and with tools and comfort that were enduring.  This angsting over moves is a First World problem.

One week after the physical move I managed to move our own kitchen one step closer to being functional. I’m still working on my office, though out of the mess I’ve finished a new story.


Exhaustion set in

What was to be a highlight in June, the 10th anniversary of the Acropolis Museum’s opening, came and went. Somehow I managed to cobble together an audio-visual piece to mark the occasion.
The launch of a song by Héllena Micy, The Parthenon Marbles (Bring them back) came and went. I managed to watch its launch, in the British Museum, live. Yet all had an air of unreality about it.


To dry clean or not dry clean

Preparing for the move had taken a while. The end game, the handing over to an agent, came yesterday, but not before they insisted on us dry cleaning some flimsy IKEA curtains. After numerous attempts at negotiating with dry cleaners who wanted outrageous prices and 3-4 day waits, I realised the curtains were marked ‘Do not dry clean’. Next step was to wash, dry and hang them. Easy enough and a great view from the second top rung of a step ladder up against the window on the 19th floor


Stuffing up the optical fibre

So fatigue has been an issue in setting up the new place. At first, I was so tired I stuffed up the fibre internet connection. I had more robust optical fibre on hand, than the length our provider ‘Star Hub’ had supplied. In my fatigue, I reasoned that it might be like a water pipe. My piece was thicker. Maybe this would let more light in, so we’d get faster speeds/more bandwidth. Well, that was the theory. It didn’t work, and since ‘Star Hub’ retained the pin for activating the connection, my new configuration failed. Eventually, they came and reconnected us. Next was the challenge of the smart TV. It should have been a pushover, but in my fatigued state if took far longer than usual.

Needless to say, we’re connected. The speeds are not quite as good as our last place, but still way ahead of Australia.

I almost forgot to mention that in the midst of the process there was a day with a funeral in the morning and a wedding in the afternoon.

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