Tuesday, April 20, 2021




Aesop's Fables, or the Aesopica, is a collection of fables credited to Aesop, a slave and storyteller believed to have lived in ancient Greece between 620 and 564 BCE. Of diverse origins, the stories associated with his name have descended to modern times through a number of sources and continue to be reinterpreted in different verbal registers and in popular as well as artistic media. The fables originally belonged to the oral tradition and were not collected for some three centuries after Aesop's death. By that time a variety of other stories, jokes and proverbs were being ascribed to him.


The Hawk and the Nightingale


A NIGHTINGALE, sitting aloft upon an oak, was seen by a Hawk, who made a swoop down and seized him. The Nightingale earnestly besought the Hawk to let him go, saying that he was not big enough to satisfy the hunger of a Hawk who ought to pursue the larger birds. The Hawk said: I should indeed have lost my senses if I should let go food ready to my hand, for the sake of pursuing birds which are not yet even within sight.


A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.


The moral 'A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush' means that it's better to hold onto something you have rather than take the risk of getting something better which may come to nothing.


The allusion of a bird in the hand being worth two in the bush may be to falconry where a bird in the hand (the falcon) was a valuable asset and worth more than two in the bush (the prey).

This proverbial saying is first found in English in John Capgrave's The Life of St Katharine of Alexandria, 1450:

"It is more sekyr [certain] a byrd in your fest, Than to haue three in the sky a‐boue."

The earliest English version of the proverb is from the Christian Bible translated into English by William Tyndale in 1528 and before Tyndale, by John Wycliffe in 1382:

Ecclesiastes IX - A living dog is better than a dead lion.

The Bird in Hand was adopted as a pub name in England in the Middle Ages and many with this name still survive.

English migrants to America took the expression with them and 'bird in hand' must have been known there by 1734 as this was the year in which a small town in Pennsylvania was founded with that name.

Other modern day European languages and cultures have their own version of this proverb:

In Czech - 'Lepsi vrabec v hrsti nez holub na strese'.
(A sparrow in the fist is better than a pigeon on the roof.)

In German - 'Der Spatz in der Hand ist besser als die Taube auf dem Dach'.
(The sparrow in the hand is better than the dove on the roof.)


I remember once having read a modern day equivalent that makes more sense:

A hair on the head is worth two on the brush.


I also remember a poem from my youth:

Here’s to America,
The land of the push,
Where a bird in the hand
Is worth two in the bush.

Here’s to Australia,
My own native land,
Where a push in the bush
Is worth two in the hand.


Monday, April 19, 2021




Paul Laurence Dunbar

From Wikipedia:

Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872 – 1906) was an American poet, novelist, and short story writer of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Born in Dayton, Ohio, to parents who had been enslaved in Kentucky before the American Civil War, Dunbar began writing stories and verse when he was a child. He published his first poems at the age of 16 in a Dayton newspaper, and served as president of his high school's literary society.

Dunbar's popularity increased rapidly after his work was praised by William Dean Howells, a leading editor associated with Harper's Weekly. Dunbar became one of the first African-American writers to establish an international reputation. In addition to his poems, short stories, and novels, he also wrote the lyrics for the musical comedy In Dahomey (1903), the first all-African-American musical produced on Broadway in New York. The musical later toured in the United States and the United Kingdom. Suffering from tuberculosis, which then had no cure, Dunbar died in Dayton, Ohio, at the age of 33.

Much of Dunbar's more popular work in his lifetime was written in the "Negro dialect" associated with the antebellum South, though he also used the Midwestern regional dialect of James Whitcomb Riley. Dunbar also wrote in conventional English in other poetry and novels. Since the late 20th century, scholars have become more interested in these other works.

Two brief examples of Dunbar's work, the first in standard English and the second in dialect, demonstrate the diversity of the poet's works:

From "Dreams":

What dreams we have and how they fly
Like rosy clouds across the sky;
Of wealth, of fame, of sure success,
Of love that comes to cheer and bless;
And how they wither, how they fade,
The waning wealth, the jilting jade —
The fame that for a moment gleams,
Then flies forever, — dreams, ah — dreams!

From "A Warm Day In Winter":

"Sunshine on de medders,
Greenness on de way;
Dat's de blessed reason
I sing all de day."
Look hyeah! What you axing'?
What meks me so merry?
'Spect to see me sighin'
W'en hit's wa'm in Febawary?

Paul Dunbar, c 1890.

Howard University 1900 - class picture with Dunbar in the rear right

One of the areas of concern and interest for Dunbar was in the relationship of law as both an instrument of justice and as a means of maintaining the segregationist status quo in Jim Crow America. His works deal with scapegoating of African Americans for crimes not committed by them and lynching as an extension of the scapegoating. Despite this, he maintained faith in the law.

Dunbar’s poem The Lawyers’ Ways, posted below, is an interesting work which parallels what Richard Gere as Billy sings in the song Razzle Dazzle in the musical/film Chicago: lawyers can create images with words the way artists paint pictures, to promote their clients and case, at the expense of the truth.

Give 'em the old razzle dazzle
Razzle Dazzle 'em
Give 'em an act with lots of flash in it
And the reaction will be passionate
Give 'em the old hocus pocus
Bead and feather 'em
How can they see with sequins in their eyes?
   - Billy Flynn (Richard Gere), Chicago

See the clip of Billy Flynn singing Razzle Dazzle by clicking on:

Hear a rendition of the poem by clicking on:

The Lawyers' Ways

by Paul Laurence Dunbar

I've been list'nin' to them lawyers
In the court house up the street,
An' I've come to the conclusion
That I'm most completely beat.
Fust one feller riz to argy,
An' he boldly waded in
As he dressed the tremblin' pris'ner
In a coat o' deep-dyed sin.

Why, he painted him all over
In a hue o' blackest crime,
An' he smeared his reputation
With the thickest kind o' grime,
Tell I found myself a-wond'rin',
In a misty way and dim,
How the Lord had come to fashion
Sich an awful man as him.

Then the other lawyer started,
An' with brimmin', tearful eyes,
Said his client was a martyr
That was brought to sacrifice.
An' he give to that same pris'ner
Every blessed human grace,
Tell I saw the light o' virtue
Fairly shinin' from his face.

Then I own 'at I was puzzled
How sich things could rightly be;
An' this aggervatin' question
Seems to keep a-puzzlin' me.
So, will some one please inform me,
An' this mystery unroll --
How an angel an' a devil
Can persess the self-same soul?


Sunday, April 18, 2021


"I thought as long as he's the Minister for Foreign Affairs, I might as well give him one he'll never forget."

- American actress Shirley MacLaine 
on her affair with Australian politician Andrew Peacock, 
from her book I'm Over All That And Other Confessions.

Peacock, who died last week aged 82, served twice as leader of the Liberal Party (1983–1985 and 1989–1990), leading the party to defeat at the 1984 and 1990 elections. He had earlier been a long-serving cabinet minister, including as Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Keating with MacLaine




Cobbitty is a rural town of the Macarthur Region near the town of Camden, southwest of Sydney, and is located 60 kilometres (37 miles) from the Sydney CBD.

Name origin:

One explanation is that the name is of Aboriginal origin, first recorded as Kobbatty and is said to have referred to nearby hills. Another explanation is that Governor Macquarie named the area Cobbedee and, when Gregory Blaxland was given a grant there in 1812, he called it Cubbady Farm.


The area is largely farmland and agricultural, with houses along Cobbitty Road forming a small village.

Main street

At the 2016 census, Cobbitty had a population of 2,063 people. A large proportion (79.0%) of these people were born in Australia.

At the southern end of the suburb, bordering the Nepean River is Camden Airport, a site for gliding and skydiving.

Camden Airport

The fertile land of Cobbitty was granted to settlers by the mid 1810s and became a rich farming area. The Hassall family had a number of farms in the area.

View of the farm of J Hassall, 1825

In 1827 the Reverend Thomas Hassall was given the parish of Narellan, which included Cobbitty. There was no church building from which to conduct his ministry and he stayed with his brother at Macquarie Grove. Following the death of Charles Hook, Hassall acquired Denbigh, and as the house there was almost completed he used the materials he had been acquiring for a new house to build Heber Chapel on Pomare Grove (named after the Tahitian chieftain Pomare), a grant obtained for him by his father in 1817. Heber Chapel was dedicated in 1828 by Hassall's father-in-law, the Reverend Samuel Marsden.

Reverend Thomas Hassall, c 1866

Rev Thomas Hassall was known as “the Galloping Parson” for his fondness of fast horses, Thomas Hassall was an early minister, and landowner, in Cobbitty.

Reverend Samuel Marsden, 1833, father in law of Reverend Thomas Hassall.

Marsden (1765 – 1838) was an English-born priest of the Church of England in Australia and a prominent figure in early New South Wales and Australian history, partly through his ecclesiastical offices as the colony's senior Church of England cleric and as a pioneer of the Australian wool industry, but also for his employment of convicts for farming and his actions as a magistrate at Parramatta, both of which attracted contemporary criticism.

Although dubbed “the Flogging Parson” and so remembered by history for the harsh punishments meted out by him as a magistrate, there are contrary views:

In 1817, Governor Macquarie alleged that Samuel Marsden was an especially severe magistrate, a claim widely repeated in subsequent histories. And yet, if measured against other magistrates in the Macquarie era, Marsden sentenced convicts to a flogging less frequently and ordered typical numbers of lashes. The myth of Marsden as the flogging parson developed in the writing of Marsden's political enemies, grounded in his popular reputation as a brute and a hypocrite. In a context of growing humanitarian and criminological opposition to corporal punishment, Marsden's incongruous responsibilities to preach and punish convicts became a scandalous anachronism.

- Abstract of an article by Matthew Allen, 2017: The Myth of the Flogging Parson: Samuel Marsden and Severity of Punishment in the Age of Reform

Australian Historical Studies


St Paul's Anglican Church, Cobbitty c1880
The church was consecrated in 1842 and is one of the earliest intact church buildings in NSW.

St Paul’s Anglican Church and Cemetery today

Inside St Paul’s

Denbigh at Cobbitty

The original owner was Charles Hook, who had been imprisoned by the rebel government for supporting Governor Bligh's attempt to control the military in New South Wales. He received his grant in 1812 by Governor Macquarie (Bligh's successor). The construction of Denbigh house was completed c1822. Hook died in 1826 and the property was then purchased by parson Thomas Hassall who began extending the homestead in 1827. It has been used as a working farm & Clydesdal horse stud, dairy farm, vineyards and Ayrshire cattle stud. The current use is as a working farm & Hereford stud. Denbigh has heritage classification and is of State significance as an intact example of a continuously functioning early farm complex (1817-1820s) on its original 1812 land grant.

Marge McIntosh in her bridal gown photographed in the garden of her home at Denbigh Cobbitty for her wedding on 25 August 1928. Denbigh remains owned by the McIntosh family.

Interesting fact:

Popular Australian drama series Doctor Doctor is partly filmed on the historic Denbigh homestead in Cobbitty. 

Featured Doctor Doctor sets at Denbigh include the homestead, the front yard, the dam and barn brewery. The show follows the high-flying heart surgeon Dr Hugh Knight as he is forced to work for a year as a country GP in his hometown of Whyhope as punishment from the Medical Tribunal.

Picnic at Cobbitty, NSW in the 1930s by Sam Hood
Interesting that men wore ties and suits in those days to go on a picnic.

Cobbitty Bridge by Arthur Baker, 1954

Cobbitty Bridge, 1920s

View along Cobbitty Road, 1928

Heber Chapel School at Cobbitty, 1868.
Heber Chapel was constructed by Reverend Thomas Hassall and was dedicated by Reverend Samuel Marsden in 1828.


As a result of conflict and reduction in accessible lands, most Aboriginal people scattered out of the region. Some stayed mixing work on settler’s properties with a traditional lifestyle. Thomas Hassall, an Anglican Clergyman and owner of the property ‘Denbigh’, supported the Aboriginal people who came to him. He was something at odds with other landowners and his father-in-law Samuel Marsden, who viewed Aboriginal people with contempt. Hassell hosted the Aboriginal people who occasionally worked on his property in exchange for food. His son, James Hassall, also recalled witnessing a corroboree on the property attended by around 200 Aboriginal people (Hassell, 1902), the vast majority of which would most likely have been from other areas.

By 1858, the magistrate in Campbelltown stated that the last of the Aboriginal people in that area had died from natural causes and the magistrate in Picton mentioned that only 67 of the original population remained. Those that survived to the beginning of the twentieth century were placed on reserves such as La Perouse, on the north shores of Botany Bay that was established in 1878.

Some Aboriginal people who stayed in the area adopted European practices, such as ‘Nellie’ who liked to dress in European clothes.

The number of Aboriginal people in the area has increased considerably since 1970, with the 2011 Census indicating 1118 people identifying as Aboriginal in the Camden LGA. A keen interest in the culture has also begun to thrive. A person of particular impact is Frances ‘Aunty Fran’ Bodkin, a Tharawal Elder who was named as one of the 100 most influential Aboriginal women in the last 100 years by the National Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander Women’s Alliance (Armstrong, 2011). She has been particularly active in recent years with workshops to inform residents of the first people of the area. In 2011, the Mygunyah Camden Aboriginal Residents Group was formed, the aim of the group being to raise the profile and awareness of Aboriginal people and culture in the Camden area.

Cobbitty Village Markets
held 1st Saturdays of the month March to December

Saturday, April 17, 2021





About the song:

  • The song is also known as “The Queensland Drover”.
  • The song has been in circulation in a number of versions for over 150 years, the earliest surviving one being current in the 1840s.
  • It was published in the Queensland Camp Fire Song Book in 1865 with text by one Russel Ward that the lyrics "All sorts of men I had, from France, Germany and Flanders, Lawyers, doctors, good and bad, in my mob of overlanders" was an indication of the mixture of educated and professional men among outback workers and the high standard of outback literacy. It also states it shows the nomadic habits of these people and their disrespect for policemen and the law.
  • Some versions use the phrase “pass the billy ‘round boys”, in others, the bottle or the "wine cup" are used.



Someone who travels overland, that is, off road and usually in isolated country.  In Australia, its past meaning was one who drove livestock overland.

the Gulf

The Gulf of Carpenteria, located on the northern coast of Australia between the northernmost parts of Queensland and the Northern Territory.


Drover is the Oz equivalent of the US cowboy, persons who moved mobs of animal stock overland via a road or track from one place to another. In the olden days, before semi trailer road trains and rail,  huge herds of cattle and mobs of sheep would be moved about in this manner. Thousands of miles would be covered.


A billycan, often shortened to billy, is a lightweight cooking pot in the form of a metal bucket commonly used for boiling water, making tea/coffee or cooking over a campfire or to carry water.

Swaggie with billy

The term "billycan" is derived from the large cans used for transporting bouilli or bully beef on Australia-bound ships or during exploration of the outback, which after use were modified for boiling water over a fire.  There is also a suggestion that the word may be associated with the Aboriginal billa (meaning water; cf. Billabong).

In Australia, the billy has come to symbolise the spirit of exploration of the outback and is a widespread symbol of bush life, although now regarded mostly as a symbol of an age that has long passed. (Although, back in my bushwalking and camping days, the billy was the numero uno requisite, along with a sleeping bag and pack).


A container, typically with a handle, that holds a pint (of beer, etc) for drinking.


Anger, temper


A horse, from the late 18th century altered form of Dutch paard, meaning ‘horse’.


In Australia, a collective term for cattle, kangaroos etc


Area in southwest Queensland


Performances of the Song:

Version by famous Oz folk singer Gary Shearston, who was singing folk songs when Noah was a lad and long before folk songs became popular:

The following rendition is by the Botany Bay Singers:

Paul Carroll:


The Overlander


So pass the billy round boys,
Don't let the pint pot stand there
For tonight we'll drink the health
Of every Overlander.

There's a trade you all know well
And it's bringing cattle over,
On every track to the gulf and back
Men know the Queensland drover.

I come from the Northern plains
Where the girls and grass are scanty
Where the creeks run dry or ten feet high
And it's either drought or plenty.

There are men from every land
From Spain and France and Flanders
They're a well mixed pack, both white and black
The Queensland Overlanders.

When we've earned a spree in town
We live like pigs in clover
And the whole dam cheque pours down the neck
Of many a Queensland drover.

As I pass along the road,
The children raise my dander
Shouting "Mother dear, take in the clothes
Here comes an Overlander".

There's a girl in Sydney Town
Who said "Please don't leave me lonely"
I said "it's sad, but my old Prad
Has room for one man only.

But I'm bound for home once more
On a Prad that's quite a goer
I can find a job with a crawling mob
On the banks of the Maranoa.

Friday, April 16, 2021


From the vault, a recent post . . .

At a reception to honour Australians, Philip met the husband of Gill Hicks, who lost her legs in the July 2005 London bombings. 

‘You’re not Australian!’ said Philip.

‘No, actually I’m not important, I’m just here because of my wife,’ he said.

‘Tell me about it!’ said the Prince.




Some humour for the end of the week and, as usual, a caution that there is risqué content ahead.

This week they're all short jokes and items.  

Stay safe, readers.



I hate ladders, my father fell off one and died, I'll never forget his last words,

"Stop shaking the ladder you little shit"

I arrived early to the restaurant. The manager said do you mind waiting a bit?

I said no.

Good, he said. Take these drinks to table nine.

The worst thing about this pandemic is all the restaurants apparently using lower quality ingredients to save money.

I'll keep eating out every day, but I haven't been able to taste anything for weeks.

Yesterday I accidentally sent a naked picture of myself to everyone in my address book.

Not only was it embarrassing but it cost a fortune in stamps.

I asked the librarian if the library had any books on paranoia.

She leaned over and whispered, "They're right behind you. . ."

Don't give me excuses, I wrote the book on excuses!

Well, I started to, I mean, it’s hard, and I’ve got a lot to do...



What did the elephant say to the naked man?

"Cute, cute, but can it pick up peanuts?"

What's the difference between deer nuts and beer nuts?

Beer nuts are $1.50 and deer nuts are under a buck.



(Note: Worcester is pronounced “Wooster” in England)

In the quaint English village of Worcester
Lived a little red hen and a rooster.
A coquettish glance
She acquired in France
Gave him ance in his pance, and he goosed her.

Some alternatives:

A sensitive lady from Worcester
At a ball met a fellow who gorcester;
A lecherous guy
With blood in his uy.
So she ducked out before he sedorcester.

There was a young lady of Worcester
Who complained that too many men gorcester.
So she traded her scanties
For sandpaper panties,
Now they goose her much less than they yorcester.





A man was admitted to the hospital today with 20 plastic toy horses inserted in his rectum.

Doctors have described his condition as stable.

My wife just nudged me and said, "You weren't even listening, were you?"

I thought, that's a strange way to start a conversation.

I’ve got the world's best homing pigeon.

How do I know he's the best? I've sold him 87 times this week.

Why is it so hard to get a qsn stick in the right way?

Shit ! I mean a usb stick !

My waiter asked me how I like my steak.

So I told him “I like my steak like me winning an argument with my wife.”

So the waiter said “Rare it is.”

My wife rotates playing her guitar, drum, or flute once a month.

It’s part of her minstrel cycle.


Thursday, April 15, 2021





“The Beautiful Impossibilities that We Want to Live In” is a website that is dedicated to posting pics and images of impressive architecture, structures and buildings, so much so that it subtitles itself Architectural Porn. Visit the site at:

Photographs from that site were featured in a recent post on Bored Panda at:

Here are some gorgeous pics of impressive works, with the captions and some reader comments, from the Bored Panda post . . .

Semi-Destroyed In 1979 By The Earthquake In Albania. Rebuilt Two Years Ago:

Some reader comments:

It's beautiful, I won't argue that, but hopefully the new architect thought of future earthquakes and made this house more structurally stable so it doesn't happen again! That glass doesn't look too earthquake-proof...

Looks great. Such a cool way of having Old Style meeting Modern Style.

Some people have great vision. This is fab!

Reminds me of kintsugi-the Japanese tradition of repairing broken things with gold. By integrating the modern glass into this building, they've managed to preserve a part of its history (the earthquake)

Yes, exactly what I was thinking. They could have repaired it so it looked undamaged but they retained the damage so it tells that part of its story proudly.

I would love to see the inside.

Love that window! Bet if you change your clothes in front of it, with only interior lights, you can see right through it.

This looks like part of the actual design or the planned architecture of the house, love it!

The Russian Ministry Of Agriculture, In Kazan:

Awesome building, Always liked it. Whoever decided to put mirrored glass behind the tree made the right choice ;)

Reminds me of the tree of Gondor :) gorgeous!

That is a sculpture of a tree, right?

Looks like the entrance to a magical land!!

Fantastic design and illustrating roots of humans in trees

EXQUISITE...... I thought architecture like this was dead. This century has been nothing but boxes. This is so so so amazing.

A true tree of life.

That’s so beautiful! It’s like nature’s natural guard of a beautiful building

The Art Nouveau ‘Gran Hotel Ciudad De México’, 1899, By French Architect, Jacques Grübe:

Wow!! Is it real??

Looks like the ministry of magic or something! Wow

Older architecture is just better... it looks way better than the straight lines and lack of colour we have these days

This kind of work takes a lot of craftspeople detailed time and significant investment. It would add millions to the cost of a new building. It's too bad we don't value it nowadays.

I know the architects deserve commendation for such neat designs but TBH I'm more impressed with the people that actually built it and figured out how to install it.

The Sistine Chapel of stained glass!

Hah, puts me very much in mind of the remark that "If Michelangelo was straight, the Sistine Chapel would have been painted cream, with a roller".

I would love to see that lite up at night

This Spiral Staircase Carved From A Single Tree In 1851 - Located In Lednice Castle, Czech Republic:

From a single tree?? That’s impressive.

Presumably not in one piece though

Oh, my goodness, what an absolute wonderful piece of art, that will last and last . I’d love to walk down this

It’s amazing, but I cant’ help but think how magnificent that tree must have been before it was killed to make a staircase

In the castle park (worth to see, it is beautiful park) there are oaks (I think it's oaks) so huge that four of us barely hug it...that magnificent

The craftsman who created this were geniuses and probably didn’t get paid nearly enough.

It is also carved in an irregular oval to fit in the space, rather than circular, which requires much more complex engineering

In person it must be breath taking

Absolutely stunning and a testament to human determination and creativity, though I'm certain that tree must have been a stunning creation as well. If I were a tree and my time was over, I would want to be turned into this.