On This Day – 26th January 1788

View of Port Jackson (Matthew Flinders)

On the 26th of January 1788, Captain Arthur Phillip planted the British flag at Port Jackson on what is now Sydney harbour.  Phillip had arrived with 11 ships comprising 732* convicts, marines and a handful of other officers. The holds were stuffed full of goodies that the Powers-That-Be in the UK thought would be necessary to establish a penal colony.

Contrary to popular belief this was not the first land-fall for the expedition, which had left England some eight months earlier. Following the advice of Joseph Banks, who had  been part of James Cook’s expedition, Phillip had been told to set up his colony at Botany Bay where he landed on the 18th of January. Having decided that the place was unsuitable, he decided to go elsewhere. Continue reading “On This Day – 26th January 1788”

Voices from the commentary box

Bill Maclaren was perhaps the last of my Saturday Club of companions from the days when I followed sport in the company of my family.

It’s a select gathering: Bill Maclaren and Eddie Waring, John Arlott and Brian Johnston. Like favourite pieces of music or songs they conjure up cameos of some old times worth remembering. Catch phrases too that added spice to their soundbites.

And I was reminded of them only a few weeks ago when my youngest daughter sent me a text from the All Blacks match v. the Barbarians at ‘Twickers’. She was recalling some girlhood days when we’d watched such games together with the help of these special voices.

Thank you, Bill. RIP

Do We Have a Right to Self Determination?

The original concept of Athenian Democracy was to give the citizens of the City-State a say in key policy decisions of the nation.

Should we have that same right today? Or is it right that parliamentary democracy acts in what others believe are our best interests?

Let’s have your views.

I hope this makes for an interesting debate.

You can read background source material on the structure and methods of Modern Parliamentary Democracy and about the Athenian System on my http://wordpress.enfranchise.com political site resource.

First impressions of Gibraltar

The view from our window.

The realisation when one lands in Gibraltar that the whole place is only about six square kilometres and that a road has to be closed when a plane is landing or taking off because it goes across the runway is surprising.  The first impression is of a bigger town, though of course it’s hard to judge properly with that enormous rock in the middle.

Gibraltarians speak English and Llanito, which is apparently so close to the Spanish of Andalucia that it takes a native Andalasusian to tell the difference. Relations with Spain are now more relaxed than they were. But if a passenger aircraft cannot land at Gibraltar because of weather conditions, the departing passengers go through all the formalities here and are then bussed to Malaga airport where they are decanted straight into the aircraft. Arriving passengers are bussed straight off the tarmac at Malaga with baggage to go through all the formalities here.  This is an improvement on the previous arrangement whereby the plane had to fly on to Tangier and sit on the tarmac until permission was obtained for it to land at Malaga.

We experienced one of the bad weather conditions on Friday when a thick mist called the Levanter, settled on the top of the Rock lowering the temperature considerably. Whether it was that that drove some of the apes down to sea-level, I don’t know, but I had my first meeting with one of them, sitting on a wall by the roadside chewing  something and totally uninterested in passing humans.

On this Day – 25th January 1533

Anne Boleyn (Holbein)

January 25th 1533 is reputed to be the day that Henry VIII married Anne Boleyn. The wedding was held in secret – hardly surprising since Henry had not had a formal notification from the Pope that  his first marriage to Catherine of Aragon had been annulled!  A notification that Henry would never get, although the Pope had earlier suggested that Henry marry Anne without having his first marriage annulled. The wedding was necessary since it is clear that Anne was already pregnant with the future queen, Elizabeth I.

Anne was an extremely intelligent and beautiful young woman, she was also ambitious. She certainly set her sights higher than marriage to an Irishman in order to resolve a family dispute over the Earldom of Ormand.  But her attempt to marry Henry Percy, the son of the Earl of Northumberland was quashed, not because Henry VIII already had his eyes on her, but because Henry Percy was already betrothed and Anne was simply not of the right ‘class’ to marry into such an illustrious family. Continue reading “On this Day – 25th January 1533”