Tag Archives: men

Characters in Family History…Thomas Waterhouse Takes on One-Eyed Bourke 1857.

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know that I’m passionate about history and research. Moreover, I’m quite the Sherlock Holmes when it comes to delving into our family history. That means that I’m not only a good sleuth, but I’m also obsessed. I pursue these mysteries like a hound.

Yesterday, I came across this gripping tale of rivaling sides of Sydney Harbour coming together in a bare-fisted, illegal fight and as much as I’m a gentle soul who deplores violence, the story drew me in.

Sydney Harbour 1860

Sydney Harbour 1860.

The year is 1857 and Europeans had only been living in Sydney for 69 years, and it was still a fledgling settlement. Indeed, you can take away the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, and Sydney Harbour cut the city in half with North and South divided. Indeed, only a ferry connected the North Shore with the city. There was no bridge. Yet, the physical divide was only part of the issue. There was also quite a social divide, resulting in a fairly intense rivalry between the North and South, which at times turned to violence and a need to prove virility and manhood. Without these elements, I wouldn’t have a story.

View Sydney Harbour 1870

View Sydney Harbour circa 1870

To be perfectly honest, my connection to this story is a little tenuous. The story centres on a fight between Thomas Waterhouse from the North Shore and One-Eyed Bourke  from  The Rocks, a notoriously rough area on the South side of the Harbour. I am connected to the Waterhouse family through Jessie McQueen White (mother Elizabeth Johnston) who married Thomas Gerrard Waterhouse, grandson of Thomas Waterhouse and Lucy Huin, who owned the Green Gate Hotel in what is now modern Killara. However, back then, the pub was nothing but a bark slab hut.

Apparently, the Waterhouses were great fighters:

“Fight was the one particular subject of conversation at this place; it was a veritable atmosphere of fight, for the simple reason that the Waterhouses had made their mark in the colonial fighting world, and so had some of their neighbors, and fight was all they thought of.”

 

Anyway, there’s no point me repeating the story, as the newspaper story below provides a gripping account both of the fight itself, and its social context.

Four Sisters in Killara 1909

Four Sisters in Killara taken later around 1909. Their finery contrasts to the dire poverty in The Rocks.

The Rocks

Playfair Street, The Rocks…Image Archives Office.

 

 Our Strange Past by George Blaikie:

“Sydney’s magnificent harbor does not exist, as some rude critics contend, solely to prevent the harbor bridge from looking silly. It also acts as a barrier between the north side and the south side of Sydney.

As you may well imagine, there has been intense rivalry between the two social stratas. Back in 1857, relationships between the two sections were in a particularly bad state. Rough and tumble characters from the Rocks , —spiritual home of the toughies on the south side —strained matters even more by making raids over the water and, in a spirit of high fun, belting up the steady citizens living on the north side.

Toughest and nastiest of the raiders was One-Eyed Bourke, a professional pugilist, who added embarrassment to battery by freely issuing challenges to ‘any man on the north side’ to stand forth and meet him in single combat. Around this time Mr. Waterhouse arrived down from the bush with his eight sons and took over the Green Gate Hotel at Lane Cove.

A strong team of highly experienced bashers called at the Green Gate and had a beer each. They demanded more. ‘You may care to pay for the first round before having more,’ it was suggested.

‘We’re from the Rocks,’ snarled the visitors. ‘We ., gets beer or we takes it.’ ‘Send for young Tommy,’ someone said calmly. The call went out and, soon, into the bar bounded a fresh, handsome young man who looked as though he spent all his waking hours in performing good deeds and eating vitamin Bl. Tommy addressed the Rocks push: ‘Would you gentlemen please retire?’ ‘Yaah!’ chorused the louts. ‘Turn on the grog or we’ll bust this joint up.’ I do not know how many southsiders were involved in this unhappy affair, but I am pleased to announce that clean-living Thomas knocked over every one of them who happened to be ‘ present.

The news spread quickly round the north shore: A champion fighter had risen up in the ranks! When the first rush of rejoicing had calmed, men began asking one another: ‘But is he good enough to accept the challenge of One-eyed Bourke?’ It was regretfully decided that Thomas would be no match for the professional pug. Hope, which had flared for one magnificent moment in the bosoms of the oppressed northerners, subsided.

Over at the Rocks, the I doings at the Green Gate Hotel were carefully analysed. Most popular conclusion was that the bashers Thomas had bounced must have been drunk and defenceless at the time. There was no other possible explanation to the miracle of one northern softie successfully laying the knuckle on several tough southerners. Special representatives from the Rocks went over to the Green Gate to attend to Thomas. They came back bruised and tattered with a story of a soft-spoken toff who moved on his toes like thistle-down and hit with both hands like a trip hammer. Once more hope flared in the northern camp. A deputation of good citizens called on young Thomas. They explained how One-Eyed Bourke had hurled many taunting challenges which no one had the muscle or the nerve to accept. ‘Would you care to accept the challenge, Thomas?’ ‘Certainly, gentlemen,’ agreed Thomas. ‘I’d be delighted. I enjoy a bout of fisticuffs.’

‘In that case,’ declared the deputation happily, ‘we’ll back you for 100 guineas.’ ‘Thank you, gentlemen. Please accept the challenge, and I’ll go into training.’ One-eyed Bourke was both pleased and amazed a hear that he had been taken up at last — particularly with a wager of 100 guineas tossed in for good measure. Bill Sparkes, the then champion of Australia, was imported at considerable expense to the north shore to train Tommy.

Officially, prize fighting with bare knuckles was illegal in Australia in 1857, and the details of the Bourke -Waterhouse battle had to be kept secret from the police. But, as all Sydney was talking of the project, Ted Cowell, of the Water Police, couldn’t help hearing about it. ‘I’ll stop it, if it’s the last thing I do,’ declared Cowell. From early on the appointed Saturday morning almost everyone in Sydney capable of movement began trooping to the Green Gate. By 2 p.m. a great mob milled around the inn. Word came out to them: ‘The ring will be set up at the top of Lane Cove river.’ The ring stakes were being driven when Water Policeman, Ted Cowell, turned up with a crowd of officers. ‘The police! Move to Pearce’s orchard!’ came the cry. The day was hot. Ted Cowell was a very fat gentleman not designed for cross-country running. ‘You’ll go ahead and stop the fight,’ he instructed his officers. ‘I’ll get back to headquarters.’ Eagerly the police went after the crowd. Once out of Ted Cowell’s sight they doffed their caps and took off their tunics. They were as anxious to see the clash of the northern and southern champions as anyone else.

A roar went up as One-Eyed Bourke stepped into the ring cockily. He was a heavily built, vicious looking character with the marks of his trade heavy upon his face. Taking off hat, coat, and shirt he tossed them out of the ring. Stripped he looked a magnificent fighting machine. He was in perfect nick. Thomas Water house hopped lightly over the ropes and waved to his supporters. Quickly he stripped to the buff. He was a good 12 stone but appeared light in comparison to Bourke from the Rocks. His face was fresh and unmarked. The boxers came to the centre of the ring and tossed for corners. Thomas won. Calmly he glanced at the sun and chose to fight with his back to it. Time was called and Bourke came out heavily from his corner. Thomas moved out on his toes, his left fist held well forward and his right across his chest. Bourke suddenly belied his heavy build by leading so fast with his right that Thomas couldn’t dodge the blow and in a moment blood was running from his nose. The Rocks mob cheered, the gentlemen from the north side groaned.’ Thomas backed away and began circling.

Thomas kept dancing until Bourke was facing into the setting sun, then sniped his left hand twice into his opponent’s one good eye. He repeated this manoeuvre a few seconds later. Bourke ignored the blows and continued to move forward. The spectators slowly began to realise that Thomas was fighting to a scientific plan — to close Bourke’s one good peeper. Not one of his scores of opponents in the past had ever thought of trying this tactic on Bourke, and the tough pug didn’t realise what his young opponent was up to until he found he wasn’t seeing him too well. Bourke had to hit out at where he thought the target was and rarely landed a blow. He tried to get in to close quarters and pin Thomas in a corner. The boy was too smart to fall into this obvious and dangerous trap. He kept Bourke at arm’s length.

A left turned Bourke’s head to one side, a right took him neatly behind the ear and he hit the ground. The northerners were now shouting wildly. Their dreams were coming true. There was the terrible, taunting Bourke looking sick in his corner while young Thomas Waterhouse sat up primly on the knee of one of his seconds smiling cheerfully as Bill Sparkes poured wisdom into his ear. These days, referees promptly stop any fight in which one of the contestants starts to show signs of severe wear. In 1857, the fight game was quite different. The mere fact that One-eyed Bourke had been reduced to No-eyed Bourke didn’t result in anyone, including Bourke himself, thinking for one moment that the show shouldn’t continue. The pugilists of those days had peculiarly lasting qualities.

For two hours young Thomas rejoiced the hearts of the northerners by hitting Bourke with every punch he could devise. He knocked the Rocks man down often enough, but he couldn’t knock him out. Dusk came and deepened. At the end of a round Bourke’s seconds came forward with a proposition. ‘It’s almost too dark for the spectators to see,’ they said. ‘What about postponing the rest of the fight until tomorrow morning?’ The mob favoured this proposal and Thomas agreed even though the move was to his disadvantage. Still, one can’t help being a gentleman, I suppose. Next morning, at the appointed time, Thomas and his seconds were at the ring and so was the crowd. But where was One-eyed (or No-eyed) Bourke? Without generally announcing the fact, Bourke had retired from the fight game. That a pretty boy should have trounced him was too much for his fighting heart. Furthermore, his backers had renounced him and decided to call the 100 gns. wager off. It is fair to assume that Thomas won the fight on a technical knock-out even though there was no official result. The The Rocks push ceased coming over the water to sport the knuckle on pleasant Saturday afternoons. And life on the north side has been pleasant ever since.” Newcastle Sun (NSW : 1918 – 1954), Wednesday 13 January 1954, page 15

Have you done much research into your family history and have you found any gripping stories you’d like to share? Please leave a message and any links in the comments below.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Mother & Daughter, Father & Son…

Lately, activities in our household have been shifting gears and new alliances are being forged.

Traditionally, we had something of an unwritten division along the lines of adults in the front, kids in the back. Now, when we’re not doing things altogether, we seem to be splitting up along gender lines with my husband going out with our son, and my daughter and I pairing up. Quite often, this is purely pragmatic.  I always do the dance run, and Geoff does the sailing run. While I love sailing, unfortunately I can’t be in two places at once.

DSC_6288

Like father, like son. The vrroom of a V8 is music. 

Today, was a case in point. The guys went off to watch the V8 Supercars at Eastern Creek, while my daughter and spent a relaxing day at home before heading off to meditation at our dance school in the afternoon. My husband did consider taking our daughter along, but wanted to give our son a special day out. Our daughter and I, also each had a meditation class at the dance studio. So, we were doing our own thing.

That’s not to say that women don’t enjoy and support car racing. Or, that men don’t do meditation. Indeed, I think half the participants in our class were male.  I should also mention that our son has done some meditation before, and that meditation is hardly part of my life. “Maditation” is more my thing. I’ve always struggled to sit still and resemble something of a fidget spinner. Actually, make that a malfunctioning fidget spinner on turbo. That describes both my mental and physical state pretty well. So, you could well say that I’m an alien when it came to meditation. Moreover, our daughter says she would’ve liked to go to the car racing, while it’s not my scene at all.

Rowena with Coffee 2

My usual meditation technique.

I enjoyed my meditation session. We were doing  Kelee meditation was very effective. I recommend that you click through and read more about this. I’m planning to go back for more of a read later. I felt quite energized at the end, although it’s also lifted a partial lid on Pandora’s Box. Stuff’s escaped and is flapping in my face.

While it’s great to let this stuff go, it rarely just flies out into the ether. Rather, it stops and stares me in the face, hovering with threatening, menacing stares. Prods me in the guts. Naturally, it’s very tempting to quickly lock it all back up again. Leave well enough alone. Get it all out of my face. However, it’s easy to forget , that bringing stuff up is the hard part. That it might only take a final boot, to send the lot packing.

My daughter and I arrived home from meditation feeling energized, relaxed and calmed. We also picked up fish and chips on the way home, so were feeling hungry as well. I felt like a treat after a difficult week. We were watching the news when my husband and son walked in from the car racing with beaming smiles, discussing fast cars, deafening engines and flying rubber. Not only that, the photos and video footage were quickly uploaded onto my laptop and my son was perched on the edge of my chair talking me through their day. I felt like saying: “You do realize that we’ve just come from meditation…peace, calm, relaxation.” However, to be fair, the TV had already broken the mood. A seven year old Australian boy is missing feared dead following the terrorist attack in Barcelona. It’s gut wrenching. Evidently, watching the news straight after meditation wasn’t the best medicine either.

I need to lock myself up in a sound proof box.

Make that a dark, sound-proof box. I’ve also just noticed the mess.

 

This is why meditation is a case of “Play it again, Sam” -Casablanca. Most of us can’t live in a state of calm.

Have you got into meditation? Car-racing? None of the above?Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Rowena xxoo

Rowena & Jonathon cooking

A Mother & Son moment when Mr made me pancakes on my birthday. 

 

 

The Great Breakdowns of Travel Legends.

When your home is your vehicle and your vehicle is your home, your worst nightmare is a break down! Well kid’s, hate to tell you this but nightmares do come true. This last week I noticed our 1978 Toyota Chinook was starting to act up on a daily basis. Of course it’s normal to have […]

via Mishap of the Month : Our Toyota Chinook Chinooked! — roamwildandfree

Mummy…The Breakfast Ballerina.

On Thursday night, I attended my first adult ballet class and absolutely loved it!

The kids were in bed when I arrived home and I had to wait ‘til breakfast to share my unbridled exhilaration and gauge their responses. I knew it was going to be priceless.

After all, Mummies don’t do ballet. They drive taxis!

Being the consummate drama queen and loving a bit of theatre, I arrived at the breakfast table standing in 1st position. My face was beaming. I was absolutely chuffed. Like magic, the heffalump had metamorphosed into a swan in Swan’s Lake. I was dancing at the Sydney Opera House…albeit in my pyjamas! No ballet bun, the birds were still tweeting in my hair.

dancer box

Yet, reaching for the stars, I could have been that dainty plastic ballerina turning magically inside my childhood jewellery box. Turning round and round in circles to Love Story, she might have been plastic, but for so many little girls, she was the ultimate ballerina launching a thousand dreams.

“He was not bone and feather but a perfect idea of freedom and flight, limited by nothing at all”
― Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull

So there I am beaming in 1st position when my daughter pipes up:

“Mummy, did you really look like that?”

“I did,” I replied, feeling like I’d confessed to wearing the Emperor’s New Clothes down the main street. Clearly, I’d broken through quite a few barriers and the look on her face was priceless…a mix of confusion, disbelief and horror. What had I done?

To her credit, she didn’t laugh, giggle or make fun of me, although she was clearly struggling to know quite how and where to file this revelation. It didn’t fit anything she’d ever filed under “Mummy” before.

Amelia with ballet shoes

Miss with dancing Shoes

Miss is ten years old and she’s been dancing since she was three. She’s currently doing ballet, modern and jazz. Dainty and petite, she looks like a dancer and the flame burns in her heart and her feet.

 

Rowena Wamberal

Mummy

On the other hand, I’m 5ft 10inches tall, mid-40s, disabled and let’s just say I’m no twinkle toes. I last did ballet back in 1980 when I was her age. That was a sobering 36 years ago and a lot of water’s flowed under (and over) the bridge since then.You could say an entire ocean!

However, rather than being upset by her response, it’s probably a good reflection of just how many barriers I smashed taking on that class. Indeed, I’d totally shattered my daughter’s concept of Me, my capabilities and what it means to be a dancer. Mind you, to be perfectly honest, I’d also amazed myself. I fully expected to spend much of the lesson in a chair. If I could hold my hands properly at the end of the 6 weeks, I’d be stoked. Instead, I’d even attempted the basics of a pirouette.

Mummy & Amelia

Mummy & Miss

“Why, Jon, why?” his mother asked. “Why is it so hard to be like the rest of the flock, Jon? Why can’t you leave low flying to the pelicans, the albatross? Why don’t you eat? Son, you’re bone and feathers!” “I don’t mind being bone and feathers mom. I just want to know what I can do in the air and what I can’t, that’s all. I just want to know.”
― Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull

Being my usual theatrical self, I couldn’t stop at 1st position. I had to demonstrate a pirouette. Well, I don’t think I managed to turn or quite get my raised leg in the right spot but the intention was there.

“That’s that thing with the eyes,” said my son.

He leaps out of his chair and perfectly demonstrates how you focus on a spot while you’re turning and quickly turn your head around.

Jonathon Hip Hop

Mr at Hip Hop aged about 6.

What THE? How did my gaming son find out about the fine art of pirouettes? I shouldn’t have been surprised. He did a boys’ hip-hop class at the dance school and the kids have watched a few dance shows. My son’s friend is also in Dance Team at the dance school.

Besides, as I said, ballet isn’t just for petite little girls. It’s equally for boys and men and is incredibly athletic. Why shouldn’t he take an interest?

Moreover, boys and men need and deserve to express their creative, emotional sides just as much as girls and women. They shouldn’t be repressed with their wings clipped anymore than I!

“We can lift ourselves out of ignorance, we can find ourselves as creatures of excellence and intelligence and skill.”
Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull

It’s all very well to talk about equality, acceptance and respect but the rubber needs to hit the road. Ideals must translate into action.

“Instead of our drab slogging forth and back to the fishing boats, there’s reason to live!
We can lift ourselves out of ignorance, we can find ourselves as creatures of excellence and intelligence and skill. We can learn to be free! we can learn to fly!”
― Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull

May we all stretch our wings and learn to fly beyond the confines of our minds!

xx Rowena

K:Keats Replies #atozchallenge

Dear Rowena,

A thing of beauty is a joy forever: its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness.

John Keats

So lovely to receive your letter. It’s been such a long time since I’ve heard from the land of the living. However, our Royal Society of Dead Poets recently accepted a new member…a  David Bowie. Although he says he’s a musician, we’ve had to relax our criterion.There aren’t so many poets anymore. Keep calling themselves “song writers”.

While you haven’t exactly heard of our Royal Society of Dead Poets, you and other living poets have been popping in and eavesdropping on our meetings. That force you call “the muse” is actually all our whisperings and wonderings.

“The poetry of the earth is never dead.”

John Keats

Anyway, we’ve all been talking about these letters you’re writing and I’m so honoured to be chosen. Kipling is feeling mortally wounded and is vowing to write to you himself. Says he has a poem for your son and to stay away from that Hemingway. The man had too many cats.I don’t know what that all means. I haven’t had much to do with Hemingway. He’s always out fishing and Shelley doesn’t want to drown again.

I am also trying to find a poem for your daughter. Trust me, I’m keeping an close eye on that Dorothy Parker. Anyone who thinks fish ride bicycles, has overcooked their imagination. There’s also a Sylvia Plath. I’m not too sure about her either. I’ll have to keep looking. I have heard of a Maya Angelou and but you’ve already been through A but you still have M ahead.

By the way, I’ve been taking a course in contemporary writing. It’s so cool, man!

Warm regards,

John Keats

Banjo Paterson Replies #atozchallenge.

No sooner than I’d finished my letter to Australian poet, Banjo Paterson, I received a reply. Moreover, it wasn’t some lame: “Out of Office Autoreply” either. He actually wrote to me.

Dear Rowena,

Thank you so much for your philosophical letter. It’s been such a long time since anyone has asked me for advice or even been in touch. Your letter really made my day.

While you asked me what it means to be a man, what I say holds true for both boys and girls, men and women.So, I’m addressing what it means to be a man, a woman…a person.

I understand that the Man From Snowy River has been held up as the ideal Aussie bloke but that was never my intent. So, I guess I should warn you, in case you ever decide to get something published, that once it’s out there, your work gains a life all of its own. You can’t control what happens to it or how the public might interpret it. It’s very much like watching your children grow up and move out in the world. They do what they like and you’re just a by-stander.

Anyway, getting back to your letter, this is the very first thing which came to mind…

There is no prescription. No “one size fits all”.

Tell your children: “You are who you are”. We each need to spread own wings to follow our dreams, wherever they take us.

They need to pick up the pen and write their own stories. Don’t  let someone else do it for them, even if that means losing a friend and walking alone for awhile. It’s not worth giving away your soul, your very self. The price is too high.

However, as their Mum or Dad, you’re also quite a guiding light. As individuals, we don’t always see ourselves all that clearly and a bit of a reality check is a good thing…especially when we sell ourselves short and don’t see ourselves in all our technicolour beauty.

Keep venturing beyond what they know, exploring all sorts of nooks and crannies instead of simply staying between the lines.  One of the very first things children learn at school, is to stay between the lines. Conform to the rules and only colour in between the lines. Be contained. Don’t venture out or break the rules and restraints which confine you. Rather, stay put and do as you’re told.

Why is this so important and has anyone ever truly learned anything sitting down? I learned so much out on the horse’s back.

Being an individual is important. After all, nobody has the same fingerprint. We are our own unique self.

At the same time, there is a commonality among us. Something which unifies people. Makes us human. Goes beyond our DNA. Somehow, while we’re all individuals, we are also Human. As the saying goes: “The geese go barefoot everywhere.”

So I guess that leaves us with quite a conundrum. We each have our own unique fingerprint and yet we are one and the same. How is this so?

Unfortunately, dying hasn’t made solving these conundrums any easier.

So, on that note, I would like to wish you all the best for your remaining travels. However, I should warn you that I’ve met a few of these dead poets at poetry readings and cafes up here. Quite a few are rather intense. They’ve been keeping me rather busy but somehow a good horse ride through the bush calms them down…the magic of horses!

On that note, I’d best be off. Monday’s poet is trying to push me off my perch!

Best wishes,

Banjo

DSC_0793

That was quite a reply with so much food for thought. I guess that what he’s saying is that there isn’t some ideal prototype which we should be striving to become. That, as tempting as it might appear to walk inside someone else’s shoes and even become them, that we need to resist. Be ourselves and follow our own path…even when it heads cross-country, seemingly disappearing in the bush. That’s the fun of going bush-bashing! Exploring the great unknown!

What I am struggling to understand is how we can be unique individuals and yet one human race. Is it like all the difference pixels coming together to form a picture? There’s that diversity and yet when it comes together there is unity.

Anyway, as Banjo said, all of this is a conundrum.

One of those great questions which only generates more questions.

What are your thoughts? Any ideas? Look forward to hearing from you!

xx Rowena

 

Banjo Paterson…Letters to Dead Poets #atozchallenge.

G’day Banjo,

Of course, I couldn’t possibly write my series of Letters to Dead Poets without including you.  Walzing Matilda has long been Australia’s unofficial national anthem and The Man From Snowy River is an iconic Australian poem illustrating values of mateship and community which have made this nation strong.

Banjo_Patterson

Back when  was 10 years old in primary school, we all strived to remember the lines of: The Man From Snowy River, which has since been made into a film. I remember going over and over those lines almost hearing the sound of pounding hoofs in the metre:

There was movement at the station,

for the word had passed around

That the colt from old Regret had got away

And had joined the wild bush horses –

he was worth a thousand pound,

So all the cracks had gathered to the fray.

All the tried and noted riders from the stations near and far

Had mustered at the homestead overnight,

For the bushmen love hard riding where the wild bush horses are,

And the stock-horse snuffs the battle with delight.

There was Harrison, who made his pile when Pardon won the cup,

The old man with his hair as white as snow;

But few could ride beside him when his blood was fairly up –

He would go wherever horse and man could go.

And Clancy of the Overflow came down to lend a hand,

No better horseman ever held the reins,

For never horse could throw him while the saddle-girths would stand –

He learned to ride while droving on the plains.

That was as far as all my memorising ended up…the end of verse 2.

So, after that rather lengthy introduction, I suppose I should get on to the reason for my letter. Why am I bothering to contact you from the 21st Century, when you’ve been resting in peace for so long?

Well, I have one simple question:

What does it mean to be a man?

After all, for so many years the Man from Snowy River was consciously or unconsciously held up as the ideal Aussie bloke…especially after the movie was released. With his rugged, bushman’s physique, he was Australia’s answer to the American cowboy.While this image wasn’t exactly accurate with most of our population living in urban areas, it was consciously or unconsciously reinforced by strength of the Australian Lighthorse units during World War I.

Somewhere a long the way, the legend was born.

Man-From-Snowy-River-aus-dvd

Since you created this iconic Aussie bloke, that’s why I asked you what it means to  be a man. Not for me but for my son. I know things have changed quite significantly but surely some of the fundamentals are still the same? I’m hoping for some man-to-man advice please. Well, make that man-to-man-via-his-Mum advice.

As I mentioned in my first letter to AA Milne, our son recently turned 12 and started high school. While this is hard enough, he is also about to enter the swirling vortex of pubescence. While I could well have asked Milne the same question, I forgot.

So, what are your thoughts? What does it mean to be a man beyond time and place? Is there something at the core? Or, are there so many themes and variations, that there are no underlying truths? No “Essence of Man” which I could simply put in a bottle and sell?

I wonder…

Yet, as much as I’m getting into this whole writing letters to dead poets idea, I do have my concerns. Thinking about how much things have changed, your advice could well be out of date. Your Man from Snowy River would be stonkered by how much things have changed. He wouldn’t even know what a computer was, let alone how to send an email or connect up with people all around the world via the Internet. He might know how to ride a horse but what good is that, trying to get through the main streets of Sydney now? He’d end up underneath a bus. That is, if a bicycle courier didn’t get him first.

Yet, at the same time, there must be qualities, characteristics, actions which transcend time and are part of the human condition and that’s what I’m searching for.

While I was thinking about all of this, I suddenly realised how little I know about you. You are such a household name throughout Australia and yet I barely know anything about you at all. You’re a bit like that person who’s always been living just down the road that you keep seeing yet, you don’t really know. You just think you do. So, I really should have done my research before we engaged in such lengthy conversation. I know nothing about you the man. You’re a name without a face lost in the misty passages of time.

Isn’t that the same with most writers, poets, artists? We admire their work without knowing the first thing about them. Without finding out whether they’re an inspiration after all?

Perhaps, we need to pick our role models more carefully.

Anyway, the sun has now well and truly set on what was an exceptionally warm Autumn day and I need to return to the land of the living.

I don’t know if there is any way you could possibly reach me at all but I’d love to hear from you!

Yours sincerely,

Rowena

 Notes

Banjo Paterson was born 17 February 1864 at “Narrambla”, near Orange,
New South Wales, Australia and died of a heart attack on 5 February 1941 (aged 76)
Sydney, Australia.

He is best known for his quintessential poems: The Man From Snowy River, Waltzing Matilda and Clancy off the Overflow which you can read Here.

 

Letters to Dead Poets for the A-Z Challenge So Far:

Inspired By A Living Poet: Flying With A Living Poet.

Letter from A Dead Poet: Don’t Sit By My Grave and Weep!

A- Letter to AA Milne