‘The golden fleece did not power the boom, but it did provide the main life-raft when the boom ended.’ This is the end of a section called ‘The Golden Fleece’ from James Belich’s ‘Replenishing the Earth’. I had understood the merino flocks were the cause of the prosperity of 19th century Australia. Belich paints a different picture.
Belich as always is stimulating. He provides an economic history underpinning to a story I roughly knew. Jan Morris’s history of the British Empire was guns and glory. Belich’s account of the Anglo settlement of what he calls the British West is data and detail while his description of the similar American West migration fills in large holes in my knowledge of USA history.
He’s slow going though. Very dense and so jam-packed is his narrative that I have to consciously remain in a slow reading gear. My reading life is getting complicated. Tom dropped four books off last night. I have three of Pam’s. Bill has lent me another on Venice. Anne has four review novels which I want to read, plus the Kingsolver I gave her for Christmas. My 'to read' shelf is over-flowing.
As it is life is fairly topsy-turvy at present. Anne’s away in Tauranga so Jo is house-sitting. Then Susanna my care-giver is on leave. Christina her temporary replacement comes early, before eight-o-clock. So I’ve had to rearrange my morning. It’s hard for an old dog to change his habits. I’m out of kilter and forgetting to shave or take my tablets.
To complicate matters the hospital has just rung. Tomorrow’s appointments have been transferred from two in the afternoon to eight in the morning. Christina is coming now at 6 30. Anne will be back but is seeing someone from Waikato University so I’ve made arrangements for Paul to take me. It was an exhilarating half an hour on the phone.
As well as reading Belich, I’ve been watching the Winter Olympics. Last evening I watched breathtaking free dance ice-skating, The American pair were unbeatable I thought. But then a Canadian couple Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir outdid them before an ecstatic home crowd. The previous day a Russian pair had won the compulsory dance section but they couldn’t compete with the two North American couples in the free dance.
I’ve also been pigging out on nostalgic DVDs, especially ‘Dad’s Army’. I have joined up with Fatso in a scheme where I am able to have three disks out at a time. But I’ve enjoyed re-seeing ‘The Cruel Sea’ and ‘Genevieve’ while Deborah Kerr as a nun in ‘Black Narcissus’ (which I hadn’t seen) was miles more erotic than most modern actresses. I must say I found Woody Allen’s latest 'Vicky, Christina, Barcelona' very disappointing. So life is full.
Words - Douglas McLennan
1 hour ago