Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Looking Back - Seven Killed In Sydney Biker Shootings

On this day in 1984, a 14-year-old-girl and six bikers were killed in a gun battle between rival gangs in a suburb of Sydney, Australia. More than 20 other people were wounded in the attack at Milperra and were taken to hospital where they were put under armed guard.
The shooting began in the car park of Milperra's only pub, the Viking tavern, where bikers had organised a party to celebrate Australia's Fathers' Day. It was believed that the shootings were related to a bitter feud between the Comancheros and the Bandidos gangs. The gang members attacked each other with guns, knives and baseball bats. The young girl who was killed was selling raffle tickets outside the pub when the violence started. The fighting stopped briefly to allow paramedics to attend the dead and wounded. It took police another hour before they gained control of the situation.
The residents of Milperra were shocked that their usually peaceful suburb could be the scene of such bloodshed.
The court case following the 'Milperra Massacre' was at the time one of the largest in Australian history. Forty-three people were charged with seven counts of murder. The judge in the case named the instigator of the violence as William 'Jock' Ross, the 'supreme commander' of the Comancheros. "Ross was primarily responsible for the decision that members of his club go to Milperra in force and armed," he said. Ross received a life sentence for his part in the violence. Seven other members of the Comancheros gang received life sentences and 16 Bandidos served 14 years for manslaughter.

Poem - Extract From Summoned By Bells (John Betjeman)

Last week's Betjeman poem talked about his new found life at Oxford University. The story continues today, as he continues to live the good life. An extract from Chapter IX of Summoned By Bells. (Written in Blank Verse to be read as prose, by following the punctuation).

Silk-dressing-gowned, to Sunday morning bells,
Long after breakfast had been cleared in Hall,
I wandered to my lavender-scented bath;
Then, with loosely knotted shantung tie
And hair well soaked in Delhez' Genet d'Or,
Strolled to the Eastgate. Oxford marmalade
And a thin volume of Lowes Dickinson
But half-engaged my thoughts till Sunday calm
Led me by crumbling walls and echoing lanes,
Past college chapels with their organ-groan
And churches stacked with bicycles outside,
To worship at High Mass in Pusey House.
Those were the days when that divine baroque
Transformed our English altars and our ways.
Fiddle-back chasuble in mid-Lent pink
Scandalized Rome and Protestants alike:
"Why do you try to ape the Holy See?"
"Why do you sojourn in a halfway house?"
And if these doubts had ever troubled me
(Praise God, they don't) I would have made the move.
What seemed to me a greater question then
Tugged and still tugs: Is Christ the son of God?
Despite my frequent lapses into lust,
Despite hypocrisy, revenge and hate,
I learned at Pusey House the Catholic faith.
Friends of those days, now patient parish priests,
By worldly standards you have not 'got on'
Who knelt with me as Oxford sunlight streamed
On some colonial bishop's broidery cope.
Some know for all their lives that Christ is God,
Some start upon that arduous love affair
In clouds of doubt and argument; and some
(My closest friends) seem not to want his love-
And why this is I wish to God I knew.
As at the Dragon School , so still for me
The steps to truth were made by sculptured stone,
Stained glass and vestments, holy water stoups,
Incense and crossings of myself-the things"
That hearty middle stumpers most despise
As, all the inessentials of the Faith'.
What cranking-up of round nosed Morrises
Among the bicycles of broad St Giles'!
What mist of buds about the guardian elms
Before St John's! What sense of joys to come
As opposite the Randolph's Gothic pile
We bought the Sunday newspapers and rush'd
Down Beaumont Street to Number 38
And Colonel Kolkhorst's Sunday-morning rout!

D'ye ken Kolkhorst in his artful parlour.
Handing out the drink at his Sunday morning gala?
Some get sherry and some get Marsala-
With his arts and his crafts in the morning.

The overcrowded room was lit by gas
And smelt of mice and chicken soup and dogs.
Among the knick-knacks stood a photograph
Of that most precious Oxford essayist,
Upon whose margin Osbert Lancaster
Wrote 'Alma Pater' in his sloping hand.
George Alfred Kolkhorst, you whom nothing shocked,
Who never once betrayed a confidence,
No one believed you really were a don
Till Gerard Irvine (now a parish priest)
Went to your lecture on Le Cid and clapped.
You swept towards him, gowned, and turned him out.
I see the lines of laughter in your face,
I see you pouring sherry-round your neck
A lump of sugar hanging on a thread
'To sweeten conversation': to your ear
A trumpet held 'for catching good remarks.'
An earlier generation called you 'G'ug':
We called you 'Colonel' just because you were,
Though tall, so little like one. Round your room
The rhyming folklore grew luxuriant:

G'uggery G'uggery Nunc
Your room is all cluttered with junk:
Candles, bamboonery,
Plush and saloonery-
Please pack it up in a trunk.

You loved the laughter at your own expense:

That's the wise G'ug, he says each thing twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
That first fine careful rapture:

How trivial and silly now they look
Set up in type, acknowledgments and all,
Those rhymes that rocked the room in Beaumont Street,
Preposterous as th' apostrophe in Gug,
Dear private giggles of a private world!
Alan Pryce-Jones came in a bathing-dress
And, seated at your low harmonium,
Struck up the Kolkhorst Sunday-morning hymn
"There's a home for Colonel Kolkhorst"-final verse
ff with all the stops out:-

There big nose plays the organ
And the pansies all sing flat,
But G'ug's no ear for music,
He never notices that.
The stairs are never smelly,
The dogs are well behaved
And the Colonel makes his bonus mots
To an audience of the saved.

Perhaps you do. Perhaps you stand up there,
Waiting with sherry among other friends
Already come, till we rush up the stairs.

Extract from Summoned By Bells
John Betjeman

Interesting Headstones

Walk around any graveyard and the selection of
headstones will usually look much the same.
Here are some of the more unusual ones.

I Had An Inkling This Was The Case

Have you noticed how quickly your ink cartridges seem to run out, especially when you print off colour photographs? Ink cartridges take up a large share of your consumable computer costs.
Zoe Kleinman finds out why printer cartridges are being replaced before they completely run out of ink. Watch her report by clicking on the following video link:

Butterflies and Buddleia

September is upon us and another summer is gradually drawing to a close. One of the memories I shall take from this summer is the number of butterflies that have visited the garden. Despite the amount of wet weather we have experienced in recent months, the butterflies have not only survived but thrived. Several years ago we planted two buddleia bushes in the garden, with the sole intention of attracting butterflies and they have been arriving ever since. We all see and enjoy butterflies but do we know much about them? Here are some interesting facts:

Butterflies are notable for their unusual life cycle with a laval caterpillar stage, an inactive pupal stage and a spectacular metamorphosis into a familiar and colourful winged creature. Butterflies are important as agents of pollination, whilst a few species are pests, because they can damage domestic crops and trees in their larval stage. The lift generated by a butterfly is achieved by using a wide variety of aerodynamic mechanisms, these include wake capture, vortices at the wing edge, rotational mechanisms and clap-and-fling mechanisms. They are able to change from one mode to another very rapidly.
It is a popular belief that butterflies have very short life spans. However, depending on the species some butterflies can live for up to a year. Butterflies may have one or more broods per year.
Butterfly eggs consist of an outer shell containing a thin lining of wax to prevent the egg from drying out before the lava has developed. Each egg is fertilized through tiny funnel-shaped openings at one end of the egg. Butterfly eggs are fixed to a leaf with a special glue. The egg stage lasts for a few weeks. Depending on the species eggs may be laid just prior to winter, to hatch in spring. Others lay their eggs in spring to hatch during the summer. From the eggs emerge caterpillars, which mainly spend their time consuming plant leaves although some species are insect eating. Caterpillars mature through a series of instars. Near the end of each instar the caterpillar undergoes a new change in its development as a butterfly. Development of butterfly wing patterns begins by the last larval instar. When the caterpillar is fully grown it stops feeding and begins wandering in its quest to find a suitable pupation site, often under a leaf. The caterpillar transforms into a pupa or chrysalis by moulting for the last time. The pupal transformation into a butterfly through metamorphosis has held great appeal to mankind.
The adult butterfly has four wings covered with tiny scales. The fore and hind wings are separate, permitting a more graceful flight. As the butterfly emerges from the pupa it has to unfold and inflate its wings before it can fly.
The body of the butterfly is made up of three segments. The head, thorax and the abdomen. They have two antennae, two compound eyes and a proboscis. The coloration of butterfly wings is created, not by pigment, but by the microstructure of the scales. This structural coloration is the result of coherent scattering of light by the photonic crystal nature of the scales.
Butterflies feed primarily on nectar from flowers. Some derive nourishment from pollen, tree sap, rotting fruit, dung and dissolved minerals in wet sand or dirt. Some species are attracted to sodium in salt and will sometimes land on people attracted by human sweat.
Many butterflies, such as the Monarch, are migratory and capable of long flight. They migrate during the day, using the sun to orientate themselves. The Monarch butterfly will migrate from Mexico to North America, over 2,500 miles. Butterflies are also territorial and will attack other butterflies invading their patch. Basking is common in the cooler hours of the morning. Many species will orient themselves to gather heat from the sun.
Perhaps after reading this article you may see butterflies in a different light. Don't forget to plant those Buddleia shrubs in your garden, they grow very quickly, I guarantee next summer you will have a garden full of butterflies.
Butterflies Pictured (from the top): Cabbage White, Giant Swallowtail, Red Admiral, Regal Fritillary.
Photographs reproduced by kind permission of Jay Cossey

Thought For Today

Faith is taking the first step, even when you don't see the whole staircase.
Martin Luther King Jr

Today's Smile

Five surgeons from big cities are discussing who makes the best patients to operate on. The first surgeon from New York, says "I like to see accountants on my operating table because when you open them up, everything inside is numbered.
The second from Chicago, responds. "Yeah, but you should try electricians! Everything inside them is colour coded."
The third surgeon, from Dallas, says, "No,I really think librarians are the best, everything inside them is in alphabetical order."
The fourth surgeon, from Los Angeles chimes in: "You know, I like construction workers ... those guys always understand when you have a few parts left over."
But the fifth surgeon, from Washington, DC shut them all up when he observed: "you're all wrong. Politicians are the easiest to operate on. There's no guts, no heart, no balls, no brains and no spine, and the head and the ass are interchangeable.