New York, New York

Coincidentally I have been reading about the seamier side of New York City just lately: Alphaville.

The cocky and often triumphant confrontations with bad guys make "Alphaville" a strangely entertaining read. But the book is also a reminder of how far into danger and degradation New York fell in the late 20th century. Today New York is the safest major city in America. Yet the homicide rate so far this year is 15% higher than last, and the numbers for rape and robbery are rising, too. The watchword for urban safety, as for so much else, is eternal vigilance. We never want to return to the bad old days—which aren’t all that old.

That at least has made me more aware of the geography of the city, so recent reports have thus meant more to me.  I have never been there. I do know a few people who are there now. Here are two.

  • Philip Costello, a friend, and flatmate a couple of times in the 80s and 90s. “To all those who may be concerned. No damage, leaks or flooding at my home, but am affected by the big power outage that is affecting a large part of Manhattan. Have fled to the Upper West side to a friends apartment till power is restored.”
  • Jeremy Heimans – former SBHS student and all-round amazing internet person – #11 of the Top 100 Creative people in Business 2012, I see. “Sadly, #sandy is just the new normal. We’re going to face this more often & with growing severity for the rest of our lives. #climatechange” – Jeremy on Twitter four hours ago.

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Not a million miles from where Philip normally lives these days:

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There could of course for some be a “better” explanation. Jeremy tweeted on 27 October: “At a gay wedding in Garrison, NY and guess what has just appeared in the sky? A rainbow.” See? Winking smile 

But seriously… There actually is a tinfoil hatted preacher saying just that! When will they ever learn? No sane person will believe him, of course.

"God is systematically destroying America," McTernan writes. "Just look at what has happened this year."

Calling Sandy "the most powerful hurricane on record" that "could do catastrophic damage to the entire Northeast," McTernan adds, "Obama is 100 percent behind the Muslim Brotherhood which has vowed to destroy Israel and take Jerusalem. Both candidates are pro-homosexual and are behind the homosexual agenda. America is under political judgment and the church does not know it!"

Is it bad taste to mention that climate change may have played a clear part in the recent events? Normally I am very wary of linking specific events to climate change – the danger of that should be obvious. However, in this case I would ask you to consider:

1. The New Yorker 29 October 2012.

As with any particular “weather-related loss event,” it’s impossible to attribute Sandy to climate change. However, it is possible to say that the storm fits the general pattern in North America, and indeed around the world, toward more extreme weather, a pattern that, increasingly, can be attributed to climate change. Just a few weeks before the Munich Re report appeared, scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, in New York, published a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on the apparent increase in extreme heat waves. Extreme summertime heat, which just a few decades ago affected much less than one per cent of the earth’s surface, “now typically covers about 10% of the land area,” the paper observed. “It follows that we can state, with a high degree of confidence, that extreme anomalies”—i.e., heat waves—“such as those in Texas and Oklahoma in 2011 and Moscow in 2010 were a consequence of global warming because their likelihood in the absence of global warming was exceedingly small.” It is worth noting that one of several forces fuelling Sandy is much-higher-than-average sea-surface temperatures along the East Coast.

2. The Munich Re report of 17 October 2012

Nowhere in the world is the rising number of natural catastrophes more evident than in North America. The study shows a nearly quintupled number of weather-related loss events in North America for the past three decades, compared with an increase factor of 4 in Asia, 2.5 in Africa, 2 in Europe and 1.5 in South America. Anthropogenic climate change is believed to contribute to this trend, though it influences various perils in different ways. Climate change particularly affects formation of heat-waves, droughts, intense precipitation events, and in the long run most probably also tropical cyclone intensity. The view that weather extremes are becoming more frequent and intense in various regions due to global warming is in keeping with current scientific findings, as set out in the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as well as in the special report on weather extremes and disasters (SREX). Up to now, however, the increasing losses caused by weather related natural catastrophes have been primarily driven by socio-economic factors, such as population growth, urban sprawl and increasing wealth.

Among many other risk insights the study now provides new evidence for the emerging impact of climate change. For thunderstorm-related losses the analysis reveals increasing volatility and a significant long-term upward trend in the normalized figures over the last 40 years. These figures have been adjusted to account for factors such as increasing values, population growth and inflation. A detailed analysis of the time series indicates that the observed changes closely match the pattern of change in meteorological conditions necessary for the formation of large thunderstorm cells. Thus it is quite probable that changing climate conditions are the drivers. The climatic changes detected are in line with the modelled changes due to human-made climate change.

The Head of Munich Re’s Geo Risks Research unit, Prof. Peter Höppe, commented: "In all likelihood, we have to regard this finding as an initial climate-change footprint in our US loss data from the last four decades. Previously, there had not been such a strong chain of evidence. If the first effects of climate change are already perceptible, all alerts and measures against it have become even more pressing.” Höppe continued that even without changing hazard conditions, increases in population, built-up areas and increasing values, particularly in hazard-prone regions, need to be on Munich Re’s risk radar. All stakeholders should collaborate and close ranks to support improved adaptation. In addition, climate change mitigation measures should be supported to limit global warming in the long term to a still manageable level. “As North America is particularly exposed to all kinds of weather risks, it especially would benefit from this”, added Höppe…

3. Paul McGeogh, Leviathan: how Sandy links to a warming planet.

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4. The Midweek Wonk: What We Know About Sandy and Climate.

October 29 lecture by GeoScientist Christian Shorey at the Colorado School of Mines, describing the most current knowns and unknowns about Sandy in the context of climate change. 15 minutes long, good summary for anyone that needs an instant cliffnotes primer.

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5. And for sheer lunacy: “An endlessly rich source of denialist paranoia and craziness, Infowars, now suggest that President Obama is using secret technology to direct Hurricane Sandy up the East Coast…”

6. NY Governor  Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg.

NEW YORK — A day after New York City experienced its worst storm surges in recorded history, Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city may need to respond to climate change with steps like storm barriers. Such protections would be extremely costly, but climate change experts said Hurricane Sandy provided a first glimpse of the challenges all coastal areas will face as sea levels rise and extreme weather events become more frequent.

Cuomo said on Tuesday that he told President Barack Obama it seemed like "we have a 100-year flood every two years now."

"These are extreme weather patterns. The frequency has been increasing,” he said.

Of protections like levees in Lower Manhattan, Cuomo said, "It is something we’re going to have to start thinking about … The construction of this city did not anticipate these kinds of situations. We are only a few feet above sea level."

"I don’t know how practical it is to put gates on PATH tubes and subway tunnels," Bloomberg said in a separate press conference. "What is clear is that the storms we’ve experienced in the last year or so around this country and around the world are much more severe than before. Whether that’s global warming or what, I don’t know, but we’ll have to address those issues."

Although levees or other storm surge barriers might sound like fantasy to some, there are proposals on the table for introducing barriers across New York’s harbor or in the East River. Implementing them would cost at least billions of dollars — but infrastructure experts said the time to prepare for climate change is now, not after disasters.

Klaus Jacob, a climate expert at Columbia University, warned months ago that a major flood could result in $58 billion in economic damages from a large storm surge. An event on something like that scale appears to have come to pass….

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7.  Stephan Lewandowsky, Superstorm Sandy and the climate debate surge.

Please consider.

Our thoughts are with all in that vast area of the US North-East.

Later

Now we are seeing the extent of the damage: so terrible. Here are some posts I have encountered after writing this morning.

eureka8. 2012 SkS News Bulletin #1: Hurricane Sandy & Climate Change: “This is a round-up of selected news articles and blog posts about Hurricane Sandy, its impacts on North America, and its relationship to climate change. This bulletin supplements the regular SkS weekly News Round-Up which is posted on Saturday of each week.”

9. Peter Sinclair, The World’s Biggest Metaphor just Came Ashore.

10. Christopher Mims, How global warming helped transform Sandy from a hurricane into a Frankenstorm. Mims “is a former editor at Seed, Scientific American, Technology Review, Grist and Smithsonian, and in those roles launched blogs, redesigns, video series and other half-forgotten but otherwise influential experiments in new media. As a freelancer with the news metabolism of a hummingbird, he spent a decade writing news and analysis for the aforementioned, as well as BBC, Wired, Nature and the like.”

And an amusing post on Facebook from Philip Costello:

It’s the middle of a hurricane and when I look out the window, what do I see? A man jogging up the middle of 7th avenue wearing only his shoes and underwear!

1 November

11. Kevin Trenberth, Opinion: Super Storm Sandy, The Scientist.

…In many ways, Sandy resulted from the chance alignment of several factors associated with the weather. A human influence was also present, however.  Storms typically reach out and grab available moisture from a region 3 to 5 times the rainfall radius of the storm itself, allowing it to make such prodigious amounts of rain. The sea surface temperatures just before the storm were some 5°F above the 30-year average, or “normal,” for this time of year over a 500 mile swath off the coastline from the Carolinas to Canada, and 1°F of this is very likely a direct result of global warming.  With every degree F rise in temperatures, the atmosphere can hold 4 percent more moisture. Thus, Sandy was able to pull in more moisture, fueling a stronger storm and magnifying the amount of rainfall by as much as 5 to 10 percent compared with conditions more than 40 years ago.  Heavy rainfall and widespread flooding are a consequence.  Climate change has also led to the continual rise in sea levels—currently at a rate of just over a foot per century—as a result of melting land ice (especially glaciers and Greenland) and the expanding warming ocean, providing a higher base level from which the storm surge operates.

These physical factors associated with human influences on climate likely contribute to more intense and possibly slightly bigger storms with heavier rainfalls.  But this is very hard to prove because of the naturally large variability among storms.  This variability also makes it impossible to prove there is no human influence.  Instead, it is important to recognize that we have a “new normal,” whereby the environment in which all storms form is simply different than it was just a few decades ago.  Global climate change has contributed to the higher sea surface and sub-surface ocean temperatures, a warmer and moister atmosphere above the ocean, higher water levels around the globe, and perhaps more precipitation in storms…

…As human-induced effects through increases in heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere continue, still warmer oceans and higher sea levels are guaranteed. As Mark Twain said in the late 19th century, “Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” Now humans are changing the weather, and nobody does anything about it! As we have seen this year, whether from drought, heat waves and wild fires, or super storms, there is a cost to not taking action to slow climate change, and we are experiencing this now.

12. Foreign Policy, Joshua Keating, Don’t forget the storm’s other victims.

eureka13. Skeptical Science, Hurricane Sandy and the Climate Connection.

Extreme Weather on Steroids

The bottom line is that while global warming did not cause Hurricane Sandy, it did contribute to the "Frankenstorm" at least by causing higher sea levels (and thus bigger storm surges and flooding) and warmer sea surface temperatures (and thus probably a stronger hurricane), and there are a few other human influences on the climate which may also have contributed to the damage caused by the storm.

14. Skeptical Science: debunking “Hurricane Sandy had nothing to do with global warming”.

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My Asian Century

In 1962 I looked at a map and made a choice. The lesson of the map was bleeding obvious even then.

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In its own way World War II, during which I was born, spoke the same message: YOU ARE HERE! Get used to it!

So I chose to study Asian History at Sydney University in 1962 with two quite brilliant lecturers, Dr Ian Nish and Marjorie Jacobs. We galloped through China and Japan in two terms (Dr Nish) and India in one (Marjorie Jacobs) and never quite got to South East Asia though I had bought the textbook – D G E Hall in those days. I read it anyway. I wrote essays on Ram Mohun Roy and on the Sian Incident 西安事变. Turned out to be the one and only time I topped a subject at Sydney U!

Then at Cronulla High teaching History, among other things, from 1965 (student teacher) through 1966 to 1969, I always Asianised the curriculum – that is I took time out to make time lines showing, or devote a lesson to, what was happening in India, China, Japan, S-E Asia at the same time as, say, Elizabeth I. Indeed my first history job in 1965 was teaching Indonesian history to a Year 10 class – or 4th Year as we called it then.  And of course in the 1960s Cronulla High was a pioneer Indonesian teaching school – the place where I first heard an anklung orchestra – the school had one – or tasted nasi goreng.

Yes, the 1960s, folks.

And then at TIGS from 1971 to 1974 I taught mainly English, but also for a while I was History coordinator and in addition (under the Social Sciences Department) taught Asian Studies. Yes, Asian Studies, and there were even actual published text books and a syllabus and everything. Even before Gough Whitlam, if only just! in 1970 there was even a NSW  HSC subject called Asian Social Studies with 919 candidates. I remember having my class cooking (allegedly) Japanese food from recipes in an Asian Studies text book. We ate it and also fed it to the staff. First time I had ever used soy sauce or cooked bamboo shoots.

Wollongong High had a thriving Indonesian language group in the 1970s.

And so it goes.

Then of course we had the Keating era where the “Asian century” idea was first floated, though I am not sure the expression was used. We were reminded that we are part of Asia, and the map makes that quite incontrovertible, I would think. We sure as hell are not part of Europe. On the other hand, culturally and institutionally we draw on Britain plus, which also distinguishes us and is in my view something extraordinarily valuable we have to offer the region and something also to be cherished as part of what Australian has come to be. This has never struck me as a terribly difficult balancing act, though we did sadly get plunged into Pauline Hanson going totally batshit about being “swamped by Asians” for a while there and John Howard made sometimes worrying gestures in that direction, knowing where his votes were coming from but also by nature uncomfortable with the Keating era vision and with anything that happened before 1959. On the other hand in the Howard era we (and he) were busily engaged with Asian countries just as much as ever, simply because that is where we are and what is bound to happen. And of course we intervened in East Timor, something I for one supported.

And Sydney High, where I worked most of the time from 1985 to 2005, offered Mandarin as well as Ancient Greek. I even wrote a cross-cultural text, based on some class work at SBHS, called From Yellow Earth to Eucalypt (Longman 1995).

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Now here we are again. I haven’t read the White Paper yet, just skimmed. It is fascinating. It is also, as I said yesterday, pretty much what anyone leading Australia now would envisage, but as others have pointed out it is also less substantial than it could be. I guess it gives a bit of a vision which may even lead to outcomes.  I wouldn’t hold my breath about some of it though.

See also Ben Eltham, No Cash For The Asian Century, Richard Tsukamasa Green, Asian languages are essential because they are essential, Bill Mitchell, The Asian Century White Paper – spin over substance. Now that is a pretty diverse bunch with rather similar messages.

And there is the sad story of the decline of past promise, when it comes to Asian languages. I don’t think either Cronulla High or Wollongong High has Indonesian any more, and that is typical. See a report last year in the Herald.

Just 9 per cent of 72,391 [NSW] HSC students studied a language this year. Of the 34 offered, French was the most popular with 1471, followed by Japanese with 1376.

For all the rhetoric on the need to move closer to Asia, Indonesian was studied by only 232, Chinese by 1091 and Hindi, the language of a future powerhouse, by just 42…

Just checked: Cronulla High offers Japanese in the HSC; Wollongong High School of the Performing Arts (as it now is)  offers introductory Korean in Years 7 and 8; Heathcote High in The Shire (where my grandnephews and grandniece went in recent years) has Indonesian in Years 7 and 8 and a 15 year long linkage to schools in the Hitachi-Omiya district in Japan.

How different will things be in ten years time? Honestly, I wouldn’t hold my breath. See also Tim Lindsay Australia’s Asia literacy wipe-out.

Do also visit Dennis Wright and Maximos Russell Darnley – both extraordinary people who know much more than I do.

Meantime, enjoy the sight of an Illawarra Flame Tree in Figtree, just south of West Wollongong. They were taken yesterday.

Continue reading

The best TV you haven’t seen yet, and our Asian Century

I have downloaded the Australian Government’s Australia in the Asian Century White Paper. It strikes me as playing catch-up with reality. Further, whoever the government happened to be right now, I suspect they would have produced something so nearly identical that you’d have a hard time spotting the difference. That is why Tony Abbott, for all his trademark hairy chest pose on this, was actually quite kind to it.

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Australia’s trade links

Two-way trade with Australia

And an interesting one from the US conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation. Click to go to the full interactive version.

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Jim Belshaw has started his much more informed ruminations on the Asian Century White Paper.

The best TV you haven’t seen in Australia

Though this ought not to stop you seeing it. I have downloaded it from YouTube and have now seen it. Awesome and depressing. As someone notes on YouTube:

That’s really depressing. Fred Singer and Lord Monckton still being taken seriously.

America is sick, very very sick.

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If you still can’t see that a determined political and economic propaganda campaign has been deliberately and largely successfully undermining the impact of climate science in recent years then you really need to see this. Few things are more pathetic in this shallow world than those whose fetishes about one particular view of economics combine with self-interest, ego and often culpable blindness to hold us back from doing what needs to be done. When the infants of today are middle-aged in a world where climate change is no longer doubted because its effects will by then have been obvious and in many cases disastrous, they will curse these think tanks and batty British aristocrats and loudmouthed pundits and shonky PR hacks and the whole seedy pack of them. They’ll wonder why the rest of us could have been so stupid. As if something like climate gives a shit about our views on the free market!

See – after that little rant — "Climate of Doubt" — Money Buys Skepticism and Must See: Climate of Doubt.

Related: Why Is North America Behind The Curve On Climate Change and Energy?

mais où sont les neiges d’antan?

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Wollongong High’s Class of 1983 – looking towards thirty years on

There are a few people who read this blog who were in that class! I had gone by 1983, 1980 being my last year at Wollongong High – but I did teach some of these people in Years 8 or 9.

My time at Wollongong High teaching English, History and, would you believe, Photography was in two segments: 1975 to 1976 and 1979 to 1980. 1977 and 1978 I was working in Dip Ed at Sydney University.

But today I want to focus on 1979.

1979: Annus Mirabilis Horribilisque

There’s something about me and 9 years. 1989 was another case in point, 1959 was my last year of school, and 1969 my last year as a teacher at Cronulla High School. In 1979 I returned to Wollongong High after my Sydney secondment and the year was in fact pretty good in most ways. I had a very memorable Year 12 Class in 1979.

[There were rumours last year that Mr Smith was having it off with a Year 12 girl.]

– Would you like some coffee?

[There were rumours last year that Mr Smith was having it off with that spunky librarian.]

– Thanks, J.

[There were rumours last year that Mr Smith was having it off with the milkman. "Had your cream this morning?" the class wit, Carcase, used to ask him.]

That fictional version is true to the extent that there were such rumours which in fact were about me. None of the rumours was actually true, however, though I was in the company of the Librarian – a 20-something – and her friends more than once. And there was a boy nicknamed “Carcase”, though I fancy he spelled it “Carcass”…. And he was one of the more memorable people I ever taught.

Physically he was a stereotyped blond surfie, of South African background (or was it Dutch?), and a person with a long record of run-ins with authority. I had taught him before I went to Sydney, and in fact he was in a class I was inspected on for my dreaded “List 2” promotion in 1976. “That boy doesn’t like authority,” the inspector, Tom Dobinson, said afterwards – but congratulated me for the way I had handled him. And strangely enough when I found myself with a senior class of not the keenest students Wollongong High could offer, Carcase was in it. He had been skating on thin ice for some time, apparently, and there were rumours he had spent at least part of Year 10 working for Wollongong Council as a labourer while still at school. I won’t swear to the truth of that, but I can well imagine it.

I was younger and enthusiastic and determined to win this group over. In 1978 I had been in the Balmain Theatre Group, playing Clarrie, a Rugby League commentator, in Alex Buzo’s The Roy Murphy Show.

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Good to see it getting a run more recently.

Back in Wollongong with that senior class, we had something very daring for the time on our text list: David Williamson’s The Removalists. I thought it would play well with the group and it did, especially after a book-in-hand rehearsed class reading that almost went wrong but in fact went very right.

That’s the scene, but watered down somewhat.

In the original Kenny is handcuffed to the door when  the corrupt cop knees him in the nuts, to which Kenny replies with the C-word. Naturally I had cast Carcase as Kenny and myself as the corrupt cop. We didn’t actually have handcuffs and I didn’t actually knee him in the nuts, but Carcase, who was a great actor, gave a very loud and convincing response.

I had forgotten I was next to the Social Science staff room. The Head of Department, father of another ex-student of mine who is currently a Fairfax journalist, came in with several colleagues to rescue me, Carcase’s line not having lacked in projection. I held the book up and pointed to the line, while the class rolled on the floor laughing – well almost! Subsequent discussion with staff  along the lines of “Jeez mate, that was a bit fucken rude! You’ve got to remember there’s women about…” was somewhat ironic really, a fact I shared with the class later on before setting them an essay on whether the text was suitable for school study.

Carcase’s essay was so good it was later published in the English Teachers Association Newsletter.

Meanwhile the Balmain Theatre Group was putting on another Buzo play, Coralie Lansdowne Says No. To extend my class’s understanding of theatre and their knowledge of Australian drama, I arranged with the director for the whole class to travel up to Sydney several times to follow the play from casting to first night.

On the casting night I was wandering about by myself on the stage feeling more than a bit nostalgic – as I would have been in the play myself had I stayed in Sydney. Carcase appeared and said something totally unexpected: “You belong here, don’t you…”

Later  after the first night performance the class and I attended some of the after party. Alex Buzo was there and I spotted him and Carcase having quite a conversation about the nature of dramatic language. “What a lovely boy,” Alex said. I assured him very many people at Wollongong High would be shocked to hear such a thing.

Then came the HSC and one of the worst events in my career, as the students found – as did I – in the exam room that even though the fact had been known and indeed publicised that we were doing Huckleberry Finn, there was no question about Huckleberry Finn on the paper. Our texts had been chosen from the previous year’s list – easy to do as they were not very well signposted in those days. It is an English teacher’s nightmare and I was upset more than you might imagine. I was of course investigated but the Head of English is the one who was really hauled over the coals. Not a good time.

In the midst of all this when I was alone back in Church Street North Wollongong and feeling very low, there was a knock on my door late one night. It was Carcase and his then girlfriend, who just happened to be the Regional Director of Education’s daughter. Carcase had come to tell me that no matter what some might be thinking, as far as he was concerned I had been a fantastic teacher and I shouldn’t worry.  Of course in the end the students were not disadvantaged as “misadventure” provisions evened out the marks.

That was the last I saw or heard of Carcase, and I have no idea what he went on to do, though I have heard some of it involved music and he ended up in Queensland.

Earlier this month Stewart Holt, another Wollongong High ex-student who, had he stayed on, would have been in the class photo above, told me he had heard Carcase had died.

Saturday’s Mercury confirms that Mark Bosman, aged 51, had indeed passed away and the funeral is next week.

Hence these stories. RIP.

And also I note Friends mourn death of beloved GP. Condolences to the Khan family.

The Cartographer– Peter Twohig 2012

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Linked to book web site.

QI – for Quite Intriguing. It is set in 1959, a year I remember well, but in Richmond and Melbourne with which I am less familiar – though I did know Sydney’s Surry Hills (shades of Ruth Park) at that time. Much in Peter Twohig’s highly imaginative recreation I found chimed well with my memory, though the presence still of World War 2 less so, even if it still astounds me that the war, during which I was born, really was still so close then.

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Anzac drainage tunnel flowing into the Yarra with Melbourne Boy’s High School in the background.

This features in The Cartographer. You may care to click on the image to find out what the tunnels really were about!

An eleven-year-old boy witnesses a violent crime. Just one year before, he looked on helplessly as his identical twin died a violently. His determination that he himself is the link changes his life.

The Cartographer is a captivating novel about a tragic figure in a dark place. The nameless child who tells the story handles the terrors of his life by adopting the strengths of fictional pop culture characters he admires, drawing on comics, radio and television dramas, and movies, finally recreating himself as a superhero who saves himself by mapping, and who attempts to redeem himself by giving up his persona so that another may live again. His only mentors are a professional standover man, his shady grandfather, and an incongruous neighbourhood couple who intervene in an oddly coincidental way. 

In the dark, dangerous lanes and underground drains of grimy 1959 Melbourne, The Cartographer is a story bristling with outrageous wit and irony about an innocent who refuses to give in, a story peopled with a richness of shifty, dodgy and downright malicious bastards, mixed with a modicum of pseudo-aunts, astonishing super heroes, and a few coincidentally loving characters, some of whom are found in the most unlikely places.

See also Announcing: The Cartographer! and How to tell lies from Peter Twohig’s excellent writer’s blog.

Fiction writers are a bunch of liars. I don’t care how well you know them, which monastery they live in, which brand of polygraph they routinely flatline. Those people lie in their teeth. And what’s more, they’re damned good at it. Otherwise, you’d be reading their stories and saying to yourself with each turn of the page, ‘Oh my god, does she expect me to believe this drivel?’

Let me tell you something about the author: she doesn’t have to expect you to swallow it: she knows you will. She knows that you want to believe, that you want to be lied to. That you want to be conned — make that lulled. She knows you because she remembers all the times she allowed some author to enchant her. And how she didn’t want it to stop.

I could have danced all night,

I could have danced all night,

And still have asked for more

And so on.

Just occasionally, in my opinion, The Cartographer goes just that bit too far over the top…. But did I enjoy it? Sure did. And is there a hell of a lot of truth in its lies? Sure is! And the language is generally spot on.

See Patricia Maunder in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Indeed, The Cartographer is a genuinely dark tale at times. Richmond was a dangerous and depressed part of town when Twohig grew up there in the 1950s and ’60s, so placing his child protagonist in the thick of it sometimes reads like a cathartic nightmare. Yet this book oozes gentle humour, particularly through colourful, vintage turns of phrase and the boy’s observations of the adult world, which are either amusingly naive or hilariously on the money. It can also be a disarmingly poignant story.

The Cartographer is a remarkable first novel whose vivid descriptions, original, engaging voice and surprising hero-in-the-rough draws the reader into a labyrinth of danger and discovery.

Back then but in The Gong

This lovely shot appeared in the historical feature in today’s Illawarra Mercury.

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Yes, a C32 – remember them well – passing by Clifton in 1960. Note the Holden. Train travel was quite an adventure still in those days. Sitting in a train like that reading Sherlock Holmes went down rather well.