Prince Crispian – Chapter the First

It is nearly three months since our last visit to the Land of Nadir under the aegis of the late Malcolm B. Duncan. Time, methinks, for another sojourn in that fair and mysterious land.

(Image Credit: Prince Caspian Movie Trailer)

An election was looming and the children had decided to leave politics altogether rather than face either defeat or bleak years on the Opposition benches. Little Johnnie was staying on and things were looking increasingly dismal. They’d tried children overboard, they’d tried the mortgage rate scare, they’d tried the no-one votes for the fat bloke anyway (and even that had now been taken away from them), and now it was looking like bipartisan support for old growth forest logging and nuclear power. Short of manufacturing a major terrorist attack in the lead-up to the election, prospects didn’t look good and – since the job of manufacturing was Brendan’s responsibility, given Brendan’s recent experience with manufacturing which made the fat man’s Collins submarine deal look like nothing more than a delayed delivery because the address got smudged in the mail – things were starting to look very grim indeed.

As they sat on the platform at Canberra Railway Station, gold passes in hand, they realised that they were the only passengers waiting for the train. After all, members of the public not only had to pay for the children’s travel but for their own as well which rather priced them out of the market really. The only other object on the platform was a piece of rail freight which had been waiting to be transported from Canberra to Goulburn since 1946. If only the children had known that it was a crate of mothballed Bren guns with 30,000 rounds of ammunition, they could have supplemented their anticipated super quite considerably as well as helping Brendan out.

As they waited and waited and waited (they were waiting for a train after all) and the hours turned into days and the vending machine was slowly running out of goodies, Alexander decided on one big stock-up. Then it began: not like the rush of wind from an approaching train or the increasing sound thrumming through the rails; rather it was a tugging like iron filings being drawn to a magnet. As the children were drawn into that familiar circular pattern that your old science teacher used to demonstrate with a piece of paper and explained was the magnetic field (and let’s face it with the current drought, a magnetic field was about the most productive anyone could get), Little Lucy said, “It’s as though we were being drawn away somewhere.”

“Yes,” said Amanda, “I can feel it quite strongly.”

Peter explained the inverse square law and gravitational attraction while Alexander rather unkindly, as was his wont, said something about gravity and mass.

“You should talk you, you, you … fat boy,” Amanda said.

“Now, now,” said Little Lucy, “It’s probably just the Adelaide water. Although Malcolm did say that at this rate there won’t be any water in Adelaide come Easter. Ouch,” she exclaimed suddenly. [Although this is a children’s story, the author is trying to discourage the use of exclamation marks as being entirely unnecessary even if Jane Austen did use them.]

There was a sudden popping sound and the platform disappeared.

The children found themselves, minus luggage and, most mortifying of all, without their gold passes, in a dense forest where, in spots, an incredibly harsh light shone down through the leaves. The humidity was unbearable.

“Where are we?” asked Little Lucy in a stunned and apprehensive voice.

“My guess,” said Amanda “is that we have just been magically transported into Book the Second.”

“Does this mean I can’t commute my super?” asked Peter petulantly.

“Looks like it,” said Alexander. “I think we’d better explore.”

The children set off through thick forest and finally came to water from which, they could see, in the distance, a facing shoreline.

“I wonder if we’re on an island,” said Peter.

I’ll look after affairs in the region thanks,” said Alexander.

“Well, as long as there are no boat people,” said Amanda apprehensively.

She didn’t know how prophetic her words were to be.

436 thoughts on “Prince Crispian – Chapter the First

  1. gigilene

    I liked the description by the ranger of it being “90% fluff 10% pointy ” . As you can see from their feet they can do serious damage if they get aggro , leg muscles like “Arnie” .

    That was a fairly young one but they are still pretty “fluffy” when adult.

  2. leonetwo

    That’s us kiwis , fluffy , cuddly and harmless looking but look out if we kick and scratch 🙂

  3. KK

    Yes, “fluffy” is the right word. As for the leg muscles … I think Mr Universe would get quite offended at those tiny muscles.

  4. Indonesia looks into claims Australia paid people smugglers to turn back

    “We are currently investigating this. If this is true, it is very concerning,” an Indonesian foreign affairs ministry spokesman, Arrmanatha Nasir, told the Guardian on Thursday, adding that the information was based on initial interviews with migrants on the boat and one crew member.

    Nasir said Indonesia would consider further action if the claim was proven true, including lodging a protest note with Australia or summoning its diplomats in Jakarta.

  5. gigilene

    Under the “fluff” there are mega thighs. All that muscle which would be breast muscle in flying birds has “migrated” to the legs.

  6. Whatever you think of kiwi birds the ‘ladies’ are truly heroic. I knew they had the largest egg by size but just saw this !!!!!!

  7. ” Has anyone heard from Ducky in the last few days?”
    Was just thinking the same.

  8. “Carmello Comes Home”

    ( I )

    “All journeys start in hope,
    So many end in despair.
    The migrant sets his mind to the first,
    Tho’ his heart overflow with fear.”

    Carmello Notori stepped off the boat at Outer-Harbour on a very hot February day. The year was 1958. The sharp sunlight cut daggers spark-ling off every bright object into his eyes so that he squinted continually and some obscure god had scattered wanton stars onto the sea that glittered and danced.

    “This is a pale country,” was Carmelo’s first thought. “I hope it treats us well”. By “us” he was referring to himself and his wife and two year old child who were to join him later, about six months later, after he had got a job and set up a house for the family.

    Carmello obtained employment with the city council and rented a small flat in a near suburb and wrote short informative letters to his wife back in the village in Italy about his progress in the new country. After six months, he wrote for her to come and join him, but she put it off as “the child was ill with influenza and she needed to rest him.”

    Three months after that it was something else that would delay her. His letters became a little more terse and then cajoling in the hope of persuading her to come out, but she stay put in the village. After a season of excuses which Carmello “saw through”, she finally confessed she was too scared to go away from her family, her friends in the village. Where would she get help with the child? Who could she talk to in the lonely hours that plague the mothers at home. No, she was too scared to be alone in a strange house in a strange land. He clutched that letter in his hand and rested his cheek on his arm on the kitchen table. He could see her point in his heart and he did not try to argue her out of it, for he too had felt the loneliness of a faster lifestyle, a more grasping lifestyle that left little time for friends to gather impromptu to savour the joy of a sweet moment. He changed the tone of his letters gradually to one of fatalistic acceptance and sent money back home on a regular basis.

    He would have liked to have gone back to his family but he remembered the acute poverty that drove him, and many others alike, away. He remembered too the bragging he had done in the local cafe of the good life he would have in the “new country”, so he stayed, though it was mostly the memory of the poverty that kept him at his work and he sent money back home to his family.

    Carmello worked for the council looking after a long stretch of garden next to a busy city street. It was a narrow piece of land that ran from the main city intersection by the Parliment House, a half a kilometer to end at the War Memorial. He would till the soil and plant shrubs in the autumn. He would rake the speckled yellow and red leaves from the deciduous trees that lined the street and shed their foliage in the cool autumn days. In the winter he would sweep the path that ran through the garden or sit quietly in his hut amongst the creeper vines when it rained. After some years he was left to be his own boss so that his schedule was a very obliging one that saw him through the years. When the spring buds came out he weeded and tilled between the flowers as they grew. A small fire always burnt in one corner near his hut, where he would incinerate twigs and leaves and bits of scrap paper people discarded on their daily commute through his garden.

    The softness of the small fire cheered him in some lonely times and sent a slim, scented plume of blue smoke twirling up, up over the trees into the city skyline. No-one noticed him so no-one bothered him. He was an anonymous immigrant in a big country, and so the years passed by and he sent money back home to his family.

    One day a woman stopped and admired a flowering plant just near where he was standing.

    “They’re nice aren’t they?” he spoke.

    The woman gave a little start. She hadn’t noticed him standing there. She gazed at him and blinked. He blended in so well with the leafy backgound that he almost seemed a part of it. His brown cardigan hung loose on his short nobbly frame.. a pair of bib and brace green overalls untidly covered his body, the knees of these overalls had been crudely patched as if he had done the job himself (which he had). His face was “chunky” with a big nose and his curly hair, though not dirty, was neglected so his general appearance looked as one who needn’t impress anyone.

    “You have a garden?” He asked.

    “Why, yes I do”, the woman answered cautiously.

    “Here, I give you one of these,” he spoke softly, confidentially.

    There was a small heap of cuttings of a green shrub with spikey blue flowers which he had been pruning. Kneeling down with a small trowel, he grubbed up a bulb of one of the plants, then rising and looking over his shoulder in a secretive way, put the bulb into a plastic bag supplied by the woman. They exchanged pleasantries about the flowers and gardens then bid each other cheerio. Once a month the woman would come down the path on her way to the library and they would chat and exchange details about their gardens and the weather and this and that…

    ” Fifteen years I have worked this garden now,” he told her one day. She seemed surprised she had never noticed him up to when they first met, such was his anonymity.
    “Soon I have my long service,” he smiled.

    One rainy winters day there was a ceremony going on at the War Memorial so that he wasn’t working just then. There were a lot of people standing around listening to the Governor giving a speech. The Governor and other dignitaries peeked out from under the broad black brims of umbrellas. Here and there you could see some old soldiers, medals and service ribbons on their coats and them just standing out in the pouring rain, the water streaming in little waterfalls over the brim of their hats and their gaunt faces streaked with the drenching rain so you’d think they were crying rivers of tears.

    Carmello stood under the lee of his hut. The woman stopped next to the gardener.

    “Oh hello missus”, he greeted her quietly and they stood there listening to the address. After a little while Carmello leant over to the woman and softly whispered: “I’m going back to Italy soon.”

    “For good?” the woman asked.

    “No, No,” he shook his head emphatically, “Only for a short while ; a holiday..I have my long-service leave.” He smiled at the thought.

    When he returned from his holiday he seemed unsettled, a bit more determined as though he were fighting an uneasy desire.

    “If I could go tomorrow, missus…,” he would say, shaking his hand in a gesturing way and he’d sigh. “But I must save, missus, I must save now”, he turned as he spoke, the rake in his hand with the head resting on the ground. “I must save now,” he spoke earnestly.

    He was sad at leaving his family back home. Another wet day she came along the path and saw the gardener sitting huddled just inside the door of his hut with a little fire of sticks burning by the door. He looked miserable sitting there.

    “Are you well?” She asked.

    “Ah! no missus, I have this cold..una raffreddore!..I should be home..but what is the
    use of staying alone in an empty house?” he stared at the fire as he spoke.

    The woman’s husband had a stroke at around that time, that knocked him flat and kept her home for several years so she never saw the gardener again. A long time after she was walking through Carmellos stretch of garden and she noticed the gardener’s hut was being pulled down by some workmen.

    A little way along the path another man was digging up the green shrubs with the spikey blue flowers. The woman stopped .

    “Where’s the little Italian gardener?” She asked one of the workmen there.

    “Oh him? He’s gone home, lady, back to Italy.”

    “Oh?” She queried.

    “Yep” the man continued. “Twenty years here was enough for him.” He laughed. The woman turned to go away, then stopped.

    “Tell me; what was his name?” She asked for he had never told her.

    “To tell you the truth madam,” the man scratched the back of his head “I wouldn’t know. We called him ‘Gino’ but we call all the ities ‘Gino’.” And he laughed again.

    ( II )

    Pellegrino Rossi sat outside on the footpath under the blue and yellow lighted sign that said “Tony – BAR”. The word “Tony” was smaller than the word BAR and was in the top left hand corner. Pellegrino Rossi sat out in the morning sunshine at a small round table drinking a cup of espresso coffee and observing the movements of the people of the village. The daily bus from the big provincial city pulled up over the other side of the road with a squeal of brakes and a hiss of air. Pellegrino could not see who had alighted as the bus was between himself and the far footpath. But he knew someone had got off as the driver too had alighted and there was a clatter of baggage doors opening on the far side of the bus. After a short time and a degree of muffled conversation, the driver sprung back into his seat and with a hiss of shutting doors, the bus accelerated away in a cloud of fumes, smoke and dust.

    A short nobbly man in his mid fifties remained on the far footpath where the bus had left him. He was escorted on both sides by two enormous tatty brown suitcases with large belts and buckles around their girth. His suit of clothes matched the colour of the cases. They were crushed and misshapen from being worn on a long journey. His belt, like the ones on the suitcases, was pulled tight around his girth so that his trousers were “lifted” high on his waist and left too much ankle showing down around his shoes. Pellegrino squinted at the man who remained standing there as though trying to comprehend his situation. A smile of recognition gradually crept over Pellegrino’s face. It had been a long, long time. He called out:

    “Well, well now, “Panerello” (for that was Carmello’s nickname), we were wondering when you would come home.” His hand was shaking at the new arrival in that flat openhanded on edge way that Italians do. Carmello smiled and nodded as he recognised his old friend.

    “Hey! “Dry as sticks”,” Pellegrino called into the doorway of the cafe. “Pour a glassfull of the fatted calf to welcome the prodigal home!” He laughed as he stood.

    At the mention of “the prodigal”, Carmello’s hand went automatically to the inside pocket of his suitcoat. There it felt a fatted packet. Fatted with banknotes of a foreign currency. Payment for all those years of tending the gardens. Payment for all those years of loneliness in a strange country. Payment for all those years of patience and endurance. He gave the packet a squeeze and it seemed a weight fell from his shoulders.
    “Payment for the children” he sighed.

    Carmello smiled happily as he surveyed the scene, the cafe, his friend, the round tables on the footpath, the yellowing paint on the house walls, the orangey-pink of the old church in the square, the cobblestone road, the sound of his friends’ greeting, the feel of the mountain air on his cheeks.

    “Carmello, Carmello!” a woman’s voice cried from down the narrow street, the sound rebounding off the walls of the canyon of houses. He recognised her sweetly,…the photos,…the memory of her longingly treasured in his heart…his wife called again in a gentle dropping inflection of voice.

    “Carmello…Caro Carmello” she came quickly down the street in little skips and runs as older woman do when they want to go fast on foot. He could see the tears in her eyes, a couple of people stopped and some popped their heads out of nearby houses. His friend, Pellegrino called again from across the road.

    “Ah Panerello, Panerello, it’s been too long.” He was smiling as he came onto the street. Carmello looked to him, at his approaching wife, a tall young man at her side..his son.. the young girl at her skirts…his daughter..has it been five years already? A sob of joy welled up inside him, he lifted his hands as though wishing to explain something with them but no words would come to his lips…his wife coming closer, his friend reaching out for his hands with both of his, his village shone bright in the morning sunlight, a shaft of sunshine snipped a star off the glass ashtray on one of the tables at the “Tony-BAR”. Carmello felt the tears run freely… He was home,…at last…he was home!

  9. I’ve just tried mobile and landline – no luck.

    Mr and Mrs Ducky may well be travelling. They often do at this time of year.

    I will try again in a few days.

  10. jaycee
    Thanks for your info this morning on native grasses. I copied your post and sent it to our team who were very interested.
    For your information as a result of the incredible feedback we got from our presence at the Mt Pleasant Show there are a couple of workshops on “Improving Horse Health through Native Grasses” on 25 and 27 June.

  11. Gigi’…I have nothing against the happy ending..I believe most of us strive for that in our lives.
    The “theory” behind that piece, is that while Andy Warhol may claim that one day everyone will have their fifteen minutes of fame, the working person will be lucky to get five minutes…that homecoming was ‘Carmello’s” five minutes after twenty years of exile.

    Bk. Thanks for that ..I hope the link is useful..the man there (John Endersby) is rather “full on”, but he does know his subject he is worth a listen to. His dissertation he had with him will not be up yet, but he said soon.

  12. Kaffee’..: ” Sigh, the background music of the best summer of my life.”…What was her name?

  13. A terrorism expert has warned that Prime Minister Tony Abbott is feeding Islamic State’s own propaganda machine by calling it a “death cult”.

    Abdul-Rehman Malik is the programs manager at Radical Middle Way, an outreach group for young Muslims.

    “I think to call [Islamic State] a death cult, as the Australian Prime Minister does, is a complete misnomer and it actually feeds in to IS propaganda,” he told Lateline.

    “The propagandists of the Islamic State, when they hear themselves referred to as a death cult hell bent on global domination, are patting themselves on the back because you know what? You’ve bought in to their narrative.”

  14. Jaeger,

    I’ve always been too much of a wimp to watch horror movies, but I do think Lee was superbly cast as Saruman.

    Thank you for bringing us the news hot off the press.

  15. Hi folks. I’ve just finished reading Malala’s story, a very good read.

    Her recovery after the attempted murder from point-blank range was nothing short of a miracle and says wonders for the dedication of surgeons in Pakistan and the UK. Although it is a bit of trivia, I was fascinated by the name of a Birmingham one: Dr Fiona Reynolds.

    Eerie thing, but “Dr Fiona” is revered by Malala. Ours is regarded pretty highly, too! Cheers.

  16. Re TLBD, I think I read last week that he and Mrs BD were travelling (to Perth? to see some relatives?), and that they may be out of contact for a few days.

  17. Helena,

    I think you are right – I’ve been extremely busy and that one slipped past me.

  18. Good morning Dawn Patrollers.

    These two pricks were made for each other! They are disgraceful ignoramuses.
    Waleed Aly, as usual, hits the nail right on the head. The cause of low housing affordability is that the markets is flooded by investors. He kills Hockey with Hockey’s own stupid words.
    Joe Hockey belongs to a class of wealthy landlords so he can’t see any problem with housing affordability.
    Here are the facts and figures on housing affordability.
    American Express with $8 billion in revenues over the last 6 years has paid ZERO tax! Our corporate tax base is vanishing. Surely this pathetic government must act now.
    So this is where the expression “his blood id worth bottling” comes from.
    Greenpeace accuses mining organisations of attempting to have dissenting environmental voices silenced.
    Abbott attains the scientific equivalence of an anti-vaxxer with his pronouncements on wind energy. This PM is an absolute embarrassment.

  19. Section 2 . . .

    Lenore Taylor analyses Abbott’s wind farm utterances.
    This reporter says that being at the wind farm inquiry has given him tinnitus!
    And the dill also shows his economic Luddite credentials by saying that negative gearing keeps rents down.
    Gareth Hutchens on how the government smeared the NATSEM study.
    Mark Kenny says Brandis might be the first man overboard.
    “View from the Street” – It’s OK because the PM’s daughter can buy a house. He also has a crack at the nutter Christian couple who say they will divorce if SSM gets up.
    Government ministers continue to heap scorn on Gillian Triggs.
    The TPP heralds soaring costs of medicines.,7815
    The 40 worst things the Liberals did yesterday.
    Nice work here by Mesma!

  20. Section 3 . . .

    Sorry, “Made in Australia” is not what you think.
    Michelle Grattan says Shorten has some tough times ahead.
    Geoffrey Robertson says the government will ignore the Magna Carta at its peril.
    These are the four questions Shorten needs to answer.
    Has our National Embarrassment gone right over the top?
    Glen Stevens calls for stimulus from the government. So is he the next to be branded a clown?
    Melbourne’s myki system kicks a huge own goal!
    Just have a look at the home page of The Adelaide Advertiser, our only newspaper. What a useless, puerile and shallow organ it is!

  21. Section 4 . . .

    Alan Moir introduces Hockey, the political suicide bomber.

    Ron Tandberg with unerring simplicity nails Abbott and Co.

    Andrew Dyson with more on Hockey’s gaffes.

    Pat Campbell haves fun with Abbott’s ears and wind farms.

    Mark Knight takes us to Scotch College.

    David Rowe goes mad on Abbott and The Parrot.

    John Kudelka tracks down wind farm noise.

  22. Tony Abbott is suffering from PTSD…..: Pre-poll Terrorist Sighting Desperation.

  23. I’m sure that Abbott threw out the Ugly Windfarm bit as a circuit breaker for Hockey’s housing buffoonery although Hockey has form there as well, but I think there is much more support for wind energy out in conservative farmer land than we think. Recently at a working bee for our
    Local show society we stopped for a cuppa and as I sat around with a group of older farmers the topic of wind farms was raised.
    I though this might be a bit anti- but to my surprise they all saw windfarms as a good thing especially as the income from them allows the farmer to reduce stocking rates so that the land is under less pressure.
    There are a group of farmers about who oppose them but as I have said in the local paper, they are mostly pissed off because they don’t have hills that would attract a turbine, so it’s just sour grapes.

  24. A very good comment fro the Bob Ellis site on that film by the was correspondent from Iraq..Peter Were (?).

    …: ” Hugh Weiss June 11, 2015 at 10:02 pm

    You & Chris H are both right, Jaycee423.

    The military teaches you to kill & makes it easier by dehumanising the enemy. It is easier to get people to kill ‘things’, than other humans in the first instance.

    The one the the military doesn’t really teach is, how not to kill, when they are finished with you.

    The eyes you talk about, the expressionless eyes with the thousand mile stare, are eyes which have seen too much. They no longer register pity or horror because they have seen too much of it. This was never more apparent to me than my time in Kampuchea (Cambodia), in the mid 1980s, before the Gareth Evan’s UN peace negotiation started. Young Khmer with no families, their eyes black vacant pools that saw, devoid of all emotion. There were no more tears left in them.

    The other eye, which Michael Ware had in many of his last reports from Iraq, are the dancing eyes. The eyes of someone living on the edge & conscious of the slightest movement anywhere in the arc of vision. It is a state I recognise in the eyes of people under great stress, who know the danger they are in & close to that water shed of breakdown or the fatalism Chris mentioned. If such eyes are left in situ, they invariably develop the thousand mile stare.

    My father recognised the symptoms developing in me. He had operated behind Jap lines in WW2, recognised the symptoms & made it his business to make me realise it was time for me & my suitcase to stop working in such places on my Pat Malone. I am forever grateful for his care, council & wisdom, jaycee, because there is really no coming back from that thousand mile stare. It is the thing of nightmare which not only affects you, but everyone around you. “

  25. I believe all of us now in this country are in danger of developing that “thousand mile stare” in regards to the gross cruelty of Abbott and his malicious ministers. Their “dog-eat-dog” policies are breeding a hunt and kill mindset amongst the next generations in the fight for jobs, status and housing and the rest..

    Cruelty has not been part of the contemporary politics of this nation until John Howard upped the ante against refugees and used fear as the motivator…the “unknown” fear now being bull-horned by this insidious govt’ .

  26. 12 June 1982:

    HMS Glamorgan hit by an Exocet. 13 crew killed but the ship is still functional.

    The airport at Stanley bombed.

  27. CTar1

    India has launched its first home grown aircraft carrier. A Falkland War ‘veteran’ gets a mention and is still going.

    The former British aircraft carrier Hermes — launched in 1944, veteran of the Falklands War and named Viraat in Indian service — is due to be retired next year. A refurbished former Soviet aircraft carrier, the Vikramaditya, was accepted into Indian service in 2013.

  28. What a sneaky way to increase the defence budget.

    Foreign Minister Julie Bishop: Military deployments and peacekeeping to count as foreign aid

    Australia will begin to count the costs of its military and police deployments in humanitarian disasters and UN peacekeeping operations as part of its overseas aid spend, Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop says.

    The new reporting system will be modelled on the United States’ “green book”, which tallies all forms of US assistance given to other countries, including economic aid and “military assistance”.

    “It’s vital in foreign policy terms that Australia receives appropriate credit for our support to other nations and that the true extent of our contribution is understood at home and abroad,” Ms Bishop said in a speech at the Lowy Institute on Thursday.

    Traditionally the OECD has prescribed what countries can officially report as foreign aid in the form of official development assistance. The “green book” is a measure that would considerably broaden what is counted to include certain aspects of military and security operations. Under green book accounting Afghanistan was the largest recipient of US assistance in 2014

    We invade your country, destroy your government, kill your innocent civilians, destroy businesses and livelihoods, and then bugger off and leave the place worse off than before the invasion. It all costs us billions so we write it off as ‘foreign aid’.

    You have to wonder what else they hide with creative book-keeping.

  29. “Daesh is coming, if it can, for every person and for every government with a simple message: submit or die”.

    If Abbott were asked this question, would he “submit” or “die”? In spite of his “deep” beliefs, I think he would submit.

    From BK’s link.

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