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Sunday 6th of September 2020

On Tuesday, on the walk to Corrimal Beach, I came upon a nest made primarily out of mud. Was this a Pee-wee’s nest? On Thursday I found out for sure. There was a pee-wee making good use of it. Pee-wees, also known as Mud-larks, happen to be a common species in the Illawarra and also elsewhere in Australia. They do make a pleasant sound. The makers of Blue Heelers, a television cop show set in Victoria, thought so and used their call throughout the series.

On Friday I went to Port Kembla on the south coast of New South Wales with Andrew Wood. There was lots of street art to discover including Aboriginal Dreamtime. Pelicans vibrating their beaks were found and a moth making great use out of a rusting away fish statue was spotted. I saw the Five Islands and wondered if these islands would be home to pelicans. Andrew said yes. I got some good photos of pelicans and seagulls in flight plus a striated heron who posed nicely for the camera.

It seems that a great effort has been made to remind us of Dreamtime and of how local Aborigines viewed their world.

A hundred years ago, in 1920, Jazz was alive and doing well both in the USA and Australia. Back then this form of music had the power to bring people, black and white, together. Much of this is well documented in Ken Burns’ film series Prohibition.

In 2018 Kiama put on a display of street art with a 1920s feel to it.

There has been talk on social media in the UK of removing the statue of a Roman emperor from public view and possibly seeing to its destruction. This is in the name of Black Lives Matter. Why? This emperor most probably did own slaves. Were these slaves black, white or a mix? They were most probably a mix. Was Emperor Constantine even a good man? Legend has it he murdered his first wife and son.

So why make a statue of this fellow? He put an end to Christians being persecuted and made Christianity the official religion of his empire. He also converted to Christianity on his death bed and had a city named after him.

Should his statue remain? I say yes thinking of the man who created it so long ago and the history behind it. If we but use our imaginations the statue can speak to us of a time long ago when this creation had special meaning to those who saw it for the first time after it had been created. This cannot be possible if it is locked away or destroyed. And it has absolutely nothing to do with present day conflicts. Does it remind us of past wrongs? Yes I suppose it can do that but I see that as a plus rather than a minus.

In Sydney, Australia Captain Cook’s statue has been targeted by a hate group. Why? Captain cook was a famous navigator, explorer and map maker. He wasn’t a conqueror.

Statues and heads of Queen Victoria can be found in Sydney from Town Hall to Martin Place to Circular Quay. They are reminders of the Victorian age that ended in 1901. It was a time of industry and empire. Is this a problem? I say no. Did Queen Victoria ever visit Australia? The answer is yes. Despite being proclaimed empress she never journeyed to India.

So what can these statues and heads do for us? They remind us of the illusion of solidarity that was once the British Empire and it was an illusion. Our ancestors, whether they liked it or not (and some didn’t!), were part of this empire.

There is a statue of former minister for immigration, Al Grassby in Canberra. I think he was a terrible politician who made Italian migrants look bad. He didn’t get along with Paul Hogan and was not a fan of the send up Luigi the Unbelievable. I would like to believe that ‘Hogues’ will live on in the shows and movies he was involved in (even the bad ones) and, statue or not, Al Grassby will be forgotten. I don’t care for it but let the statue remain.

The BBC in the UK now believes that by altering what we know about the past will somehow magically make newcomers to the UK feel more at home and be more acceptable to those already living there. The truth is it won’t. Playing it straight and telling all stories, including the legends we have grown up with and love, with some honesty in terms of the story’s origin is more likely to do that. A case of you tell me your story and I will tell you mine is then possible. This is much more likely to lead to the spread of good will.

In Australia Aboriginal art and the Dreamtime stories are protected in the nation’s best interest. Other art and stories that form to make us who we now are should also have similar care and protection. The British should also think strongly about such measures.

I can imagine Mongols not being too happy with John Wayne’s portrayal of Genghis Khan in the 1956 American film The Conqueror. Not only was the script and acting lousy but the main cast were of European descent rather than Asian and the story of Genghis Khan is not told with any accuracy or meaning. No doubt Mongols who may have seen the film found it sad, stupid and disrespectful.

Getting Robin Hood and King Arthur (one modern film has elephants in pre-medieval England!) wrong on purpose is also definitely sad, stupid and disrespectful. It will not build friendships where friendships are needed in the UK or anywhere else. People don’t like to be lied to about who they are and where they came from.

I remember the first book I was ever given as a Christmas present was The Adventures of Robin Hood. It has the Saxons badly treated in England by Norman overlords who didn’t go to the crusade with Richard. It had Robin Hood and his band doing something about the injustices they came upon.

It was wonderful and so was the 1955-1959 black and white TV series The Adventure of Robin Hood starring Richard Greene. I also enjoyed the 1938 film by the same name which starred Australian actor Errol Flynn.

Robin of Sherwood (1984-1986), created by Richard Carpenter, was a fun look at the possibilities of how the legend had come about. It had a respectful British flavor. But the 2006 - 2009 Robin Hood TV series, starring Jonas Armstrong, is an abomination. No respect. Great costumes and scenery but too much against what I knew about Robin and his band.

Currently the BBC is allowing Doctor Who history to be re-written, making older viewers very unhappy. The ratings for the show in the UK are now not very good. Apparently Antiques Roadshow does better in the ratings game.

My folks came from England and not from Great Lords and Noble Ladies. For over three generations those I have come from have been born and have grown up in Australia. I am a proud Australian. Yet I strongly resent the people I originally came from back in England, lo those many generations ago, being erased from British legend and also from British history.

It starts with King Arthur and Robin Hood but where does it end? People need their foundations.

To quote from Human Kind - A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman (2020), Page 362: Among the most notable findings to come out of contact science is that prejudices can be eliminated only if we retain our identity. We need to realize it’s okay that we’re all different - there’s nothing wrong with that. We can build strong houses for our identities, with sturdy foundations. Then we can throw open the doors.

The editing on Dragon Queen continues.

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