Sunday, 30 October 2011

How do you feel when the bells begin to peal?

From ERIC SHACKLE, in Sydney, Australia.<>

You'd have to be pretty long in the tooth to remember a
catchy pop tune of the 1920s called Ever So Goosey.

It was written by two Australians, Wright Butler and
Raymond Wallace, and was performed by Ray Starita
and his Ambassadors Band.

Here are the lyrics of what was called a comedy song:

How do you feel when you marry your ideal?

Ever so goosey, goosey, goosey, goosey.

How do you feel when the bells begin to peal?

Ever so goosey, goosey, goosey, goosey.

Walking up the aisle, in a kind of daze,

Do you get the wind up when the organ plays?

How do you feel when the parson's done the deal?

Ever so goosey, goosey, goosey, goosey.

Ray Wallace also composed an equally popular song, "All good friends and

jolly good company
" in 1931.

It has been recorded by many artists including Randolph Sutton, Ella Shields, Paul Whitman and Jack Hylton and his Orchestra with vocalist Pat O'Malley.

Here we are again, happy as can be

All good friends and jolly good company

Driving round the town, out upon a spree

All good friends and jolly good company

Never mind the weather, never mind the rain

Now we're all together, whoops she goes again

La Dee dah Dee dah, la Dee dah Dee Dee

All good friends and jolly good company

When those songs were in their infancy, errand boys 

would whistle the tunes while riding their bikes.

Today's boys still ride bikes, but they don't run errands. 

Sadly, some of them don't even know how to whistle a lively tune.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Who Really Wrote Shakespeare's Plays?

From ERIC SHACKLE, in Sydney, Australia. <>

Was Edward de Vere or Christopher Marlowe the real author of the plays and poems that most of us attribute to William Shakespeare? Two films, one American. the other Australian, suggest that the answer may be "Yes."

Hollywood Dishonors the Bard was the headline the New York Times gave to James Shapiro's review of Roland Emmerich's latest film, Anonymous.

The film's distributors claimed it “presents a compelling portrait of Edward de Vere as the true author of Shakespeare’s plays."

Shapro commented, "That’s according to the lesson plans that Sony Pictures has been distributing to literature and history teachers in the hope of convincing students that Shakespeare was a fraud. A documentary by First Folio Pictures (of which Mr. Emmerich is president) will also be part of this campaign."

The case for Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, Shapiro wrote, dates from 1920, when J. Thomas Looney, an English writer who loathed democracy and modernity, argued that only a worldly nobleman could have created such works of genius.

Shakespeare, a glover’s son and money-lender, could never have done so. Looney also showed that episodes in de Vere’s life closely matched events in the plays.

His theory has since attracted impressive supporters, including Sigmund Freud, the Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia and his former colleague John Paul Stevens, and now Mr. Emmerich.

"Promoters of de Vere’s cause have a lot of evidence to explain away," said Shapiro, "including testimony of contemporary writers, court records and much else that confirms that Shakespeare wrote the works attributed to him.

"Meanwhile, not a shred of documentary evidence has ever been found that connects de Vere to any of the plays or poems.....

"Perhaps the greatest obstacle facing de Vere’s supporters is that he died in 1604, before 10 or so of Shakespeare’s plays were written...

"The most troubling thing about Anonymous is not that it turns Shakespeare into an illiterate money-grubber. It’s not even that England’s virgin Queen Elizabeth is turned into a wantonly promiscuous woman who is revealed to be both the lover and mother of de Vere.

"Rather, it’s that in making the case for de Vere, the film turns great plays into propaganda.

"In the film de Vere is presented as a child prodigy, writing and starring in 'A Midsummer Night’s Dream' in 1559 at the age of 9...
Anonymous weds Looney’s class-obsessed arguments to the political motives supplied by later de Vere advocates, who claimed that de Vere was Elizabeth’s illegitimate son and therefore the rightful heir to the English throne.

"By bringing this unsubstantiated version of history to the screen, a lot of facts — theatrical and political — are trampled.

"Supporters of de Vere’s candidacy who have awaited this film with excitement may come to regret it, for Anonymous shows, quite devastatingly, how high a price they must pay to unseat Shakespeare. 

"Why anyone is drawn to de Vere’s cause is the real mystery, one not so easily solved as who was the true author of Shakespeare’s plays."

So much for de Vere.. But another band of scholars and researchers are convinced that the real author of the most famous plays and poems in the English language faked his own dramatic death, after conspiring with a village actor for his plays to be published as the work of that actor, one William Shakespeare.

They claim that Elizabethan playwright Christopher Marlowe, officially reported to have been killed in a knife fight at the age of 29, had in fact faked his death and fled to Italy.

There, they believe, he continued to write, his work being published in England in Shakespeare's name.

Many others have doubts about the bard, and have suggested a wide range of other men who could have written Shakespeare's works.

If the Marlowe conspiracy theory is ever proved, millions of the world's text books will have to be rewritten, and the British tourism industry will have to shift its focus from Stratford-on-Avon to Canterbury, where Marlowe, "duelist, scapegrace, genius, and poet" (and probably homosexual atheist) was born in 1564, the same year as Shakespeare.

For centuries, doubts have been expressed about Shakespeare's ability to write the works attributed to him. 

Another film has a different explanation and  presents a different contender.

To quote Australian film-maker Michael Rubbo: 

"The doubts centre mainly around Shakespeare's education, or lack thereof. The plays and poems are very learned, the vocabulary gigantic, and yet there is no evidence he went to school, and he certainly did not go to university, the training ground for many of the best playwrights of the day.

"Shakespeare was so uninterested in culture that he appears to have owned no books, to have not educated his own daughters, and made no cultural contribution to the town in which he lived and died."

Back in 1955, Calvin Hoffman, a Broadway (New York) press agent and writer, published The Murder of the Man Who Was 'Shakespeare. In his book, long out of print, Hoffman claimed that Marlowe did not die young, that his "death" was a ruse to escape the 'English Inquisition', and that he fled to live in Italy. 

There, he continued writing plays, to be published at home under the name of a front man in the London theatre world - William Shakespeare.

Michael Rubbo became so engrossed in the theory that he explored it for five years. Wondering whether Hoffman had exposed what might be "the biggest cover-up in literary history," he made a film called Much Ado About Something.

His documentary has been shown several times in the US by the PBS (Public Broadcasting Service), twice in the UK by the BBC, in other European countries, and at least three times in Australia.

In New York, where the film had a two-week season at Film Forum, a West Village art house, it received mixed but generally favorable reviews.

Here in Australia, Mike bought a projector and toured New South Wales and Victoria with Much Ado as well as presenting one-night screenings in the State capitals.

After the film was shown in London, Britain's best-selling history monthly, BBC History Magazine, said: "Michael Rubbo takes a rather weary topic... and gives it a hugely entertaining new lease of life."

And in Melbourne, Melanie Sheridan wrote in Beat Magazine: "The story contains espionage, conspiracy theories, faked deaths, cover-ups, identity theft, homosexuality and sex... it's so outrageous Hollywood would love it. It could be re-written as the next Bond flick: Murder, He Wrote."

The film plays as a road movie as Rubbo goes to England into the very heart of what he calls bardolatry to debate the academics in their dens. He uses actors and recreations to test his version of the Hoffman Theory. He gives screen time to the Marlovians, some persuasive, others somewhat eccentric.

"I began to shoot my documentary, working solo with a small digital camera, making a vow that I would stop at any point," says Rubbo. "I was quite ready to cut my losses if anyone could convince me that Hoffman's thesis was silly.

"I took several years, on and off, shooting the film. I slept at a friend's house in south London, and made frequent visits to Italy, where Marlowe might have gone in exile.

"Then, I spent a very long period editing, coupled with approaches to broadcasters who were hostile at first but gradually came around. 

"As the editing progressed, I circulated many copies, asking for feedback from scholars and lay viewers alike. I was obsessed with eliminating all errors.

"I continue to read on the subject and wake in the middle of the night with a new angle on the mystery, or a new reason to doubt the bard.

"Just as some people become obsessed with this authorship question, others find it profoundly upsetting. As Sue Hunt says in the film, the English, and not just the English, take in Shakespeare with their mother's milk.

"All over the world, he is loved beyond all questioning, beyond all doubts. And yet once you know a bit of the story, the doubts may begin. Also, the more one is told that one must blindly believe in Shakespeare, the more the doubts multiply.

"It is human nature I suppose for the forbidden to fascinate, and to doubt Shakespeare is virtually forbidden, certainly in academic circles. Not only forbidden, but very upsetting. 

"One famous scholar, Tucker Brooke, said in a candid moment, 'Even if Shakespeare stood up in his grave and said he was not the author, we would not believe him.'

"In unguarded moments some fierce defenders of Shakespeare do show some puzzlement. Harold Bloom, author of the magnificent book Shakespeare, the Invention of the Human, wonders why the man is so colorless. It does not seem to fit with the huge power and personality of the Bard.

"And Sam Schoenbaum, the great American scholar, author of Shakespeare's Lives, wonders why Shakespeare cut such a low profile in his time. One would think that such a towering talent would have attracted much interest from his contemporaries, and yet he did not.

"Mark Rylance, director of Shakespeare's Globe theatre, says William could not have done it alone. He joins a long line of intellectuals and theatre people, including Henry James, Mark Twain, Charles Chaplin, Sigmund Freud, and Derek Jacobi, who have doubts. The list grows by the day."

Distinguished English historical researcher and writer Katherine Duncan-Jones in her book, Ungentle Shakespeare, said Shakespeare was not the divine William of legend, but a rather unlikable man, a money-minded fellow who dealt eagerly and profitably in real-estate, and lent money to people at high rates of interest.

At a screening of his film in Australia, Rubbo was asked if he believed Marlowe was the real Shakespeare. "I'm not sure," he said. "But if Shakespeare didn't write his own works, Marlowe seems to be the most likely alternative." 



Tuesday, 18 October 2011

How Far Can a Ball Be Thrown?

From ERIC SHACKLE, in Sydney, Australia  <ericsdhackleATbigpond>

Irish-born James Patrick Garvan (1843-1896), who migrated to Sydney, once threw a cricket ball a record distance of 121 yards 1 foot (98.75 metres). Does that record still stand?

Apart from his ball-throwing prowess, Patrick Garvan was a remarkable man indeed. He was a competitive sculler and amateur heavyweight boxer. He was an insurance entrepreneur who founded today's MLC insurance company, and a politician who was Minister of Justice, Attorney General and Colonial Treasurer of New South Wales in the late 1880s.

His daughter later donated 100,000 pounds towards the cost of establishing The Garvan Institute of Medical Research.

But we digress. We tried to find how far a cricket ball or baseball (they're much the same size) - or even a golf ball - has ever been thrown.

Scouring the internet, we found that British Olympic javelin-thrower Roald Bradstock holds the world record for throwing an iPod (154 yards), an egg (118 yards) and a goldfish (56 yards). And he has thrown a golf ball 170 yards (160 metres).

Back in 1884, another Englishman, Robert Percival, threw a cricket ball 422 feet (128.6  metres) at Durham Sands racecourse.

On August 1, 1947, a Canadian, Glen Gorbous, hurled a baseball 445 feet 10 inches (135.89 metres). It has been estimated that Glen's "muzzle" velocity would have been around 120 mph (193 kph), with a running start.

The Gorbous drill, a special training technique developed for baseball throwing, was named after him. It involves throwing the ball straight up in the air as a way of developing the muscles used in distance throwing.

World-famous athlete Mildred "Babe" Didrikson threw a baseball 296 ft. (90.22 metres) on July 25, 1931, and that probably is still the furthest a woman has ever managed to throw a ball.

You might think that a cricket ball, being slightly heavier and smaller than a baseball, would fly further, but that's not borne out by past statistics.

 Spectators at The Oval (London) in 1878 wildly applauded cricket icon, Dr. William Gilbert Grace, when he threw a ball more than 116 yards (106.07 metres) three times with the wind, and more than 100 yards (91.44 metres) in the opposite direction.

In a profile of the great doctor, Duncan Hewett, who lives in Bristol (Dr. Grace's home town) says: "W.G. Grace was a legend in England in his lifetime. The nation admired him. 

"He perhaps could have been an even better player if is wasn't for food. He enjoyed his lunch at matches too. A number of times he got out shortly after a big meal.

"A whiskey often accompanied his food. He was once compared to Henry VIII.

"Grace scored 54,896 runs at an average of 39.55. He is still the fifth highest scoring player of all time. He wasn't just a batsman though. He took 2876 wickets at an average of 17.92 - the sixth highest wicket taker of all time.

"On two occasions (1873, 1876) he scored 2000 runs and took 100 wickets in one season. He also make 887 catches, which is still the second highest number of catches taken by anyone in their career. 

"All of this was done in 43 years between 1865 and 1908 when he eventually retired, aged 59."

By throwing a cricket ball more than 116 yards (106.07 metres), Grace narrowly beat what may have been the record, set by a famous bare-knuckle fighter, William Abednego Thompson (1811-1880), better known as Bendigo.

Naturally lefthanded, Bendigo fought as a southpaw, but used his right hand to throw a cricket ball 115 yards (105.16 metres). On another memorable occasion, using his left hand, he hurled half a brick across the River Trent - a distance of 70 yards (64.01 metres).

Bendigo, the youngest of 21 children, was one of triplets named Shadrach, Mesach and Abednego, after the young men in the Old Testament who emerged unharmed from the fiery furnace of Babylon.

A biographer wrote "He excelled at all outdoor sports - running, somersaulting, cricket and stone throwing, and like many others indulged in badger-baiting and cock-fighting at local pubs... His angling gained him a few prizes and he was also known to swim a bit, pulling three drowning folks out of the River Trent during his lifetime."

Bendigo became so famous that an Australian goldmining town adopted his name (with a population of 92,000, Bendigo is now Victoria's fourth largest city). 

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote a ballad entitled Bendigo's Sermon which can be found on the internet at Wikisource

You can see Roald Bradstock throwing a golf ball 170 yards in this video:
or google "longest golf ball throw"

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Adventurers Reach Remote Rotuma

From ERIC SHACKLE, in Sydney, Australia.<>

The intrepid band of treasure hunters led by Australian adventurer Don McIntyre in the icebreaker ICE have landed on Rotuma Island, one of the Fiji group. Here is Don's account, copied from his website:

Rotuma island appeared at first light on Wednesday, completing the 900 miles in exactly 6 days and 210 gal. fuel including all the head currents, so happy about that.

This place is heaven…We anchored in crystal clear ‘special’ blue water at 0700, with no sign of civilisation, in a beautiful bleached white super fine sandy bay beside a small outer island,,, coconut palms, black volcanic rocks… just incredible!

At 9am .Customs, Immigration, Quarantine and Doctor all turned up from the other end of the mountain's volcanic island that is very spectacular. We were happy about that as Jane and I were about to land and make the 3 hr walk in the sun to visit them.

There is no anchorage by the village they are in…2000 people live here but we have only seen five people in the last two days..and one was a 56-year-old guy who was asking Mark about Jane! He lives with his mum and has never left the island…and there are no available women as they all go to Fiji!

So we have been catching fish, making awesomely spectacular scuba dives, snorkeling and spear fishing , beachcombing, night time crayfish spotting, having barbies etc. all on a place that seems deserted..Very few people come here and they get one supply boat a month…

The plan now is to leave on Saturday..It is just too good here..

Tomorrow we are going to try getting around the island..about a 12-mile circuit on a dirt road/track..There is one car here in this bay and the driver may be able to take us... sort of a trip to town too....not sure what we will find.

We should get to the Yasawas on Monday, stay for a few days there and then head to the marina at Vuda Point..Mel has apparently gone on a holiday and not back till Tuesday, so no problem for us….this is so good after Tarawa!

Will blog again on Saturday night once we are under way..Turtles cruise past every day now instead of oil slicks and is how it should be.


Don has promised to donate 20 per cent of any treasure he finds to the Sheffield Institute Foundation for research into Motor Neurone Disease and other Neurological disorders.

You can follow Don's adventures or email him  by visiting his blog, 

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Bhutan Enters the 21st Century

From ERIC SHACKLE, in Sydney, Australia.  <>

Bhutan, a tiny landlocked kingdom perched high in the Himalayas, between India and China, will take a giant step into the 21st century on November 1, with the official inauguration of its first  IT (Information Technology) park.  

An impressive three-storey building constructed in the traditional Bhutanese style but with 21st century technology, Thimphu TechPark has been built by Thimphu Techpark Pvt Ltd, a joint venture of Druk Holdings and Investments and Assetz, a property development firm with headquarters in India and Singapore.

It's similar to Singapore, where the government provides liberal economic laws and ancillary features (water, sewerage, electricity and fibre connectivity) to attract foreign companies to operate within its borders.
Assetz employed an Australian, Ian Shackle, formerly from Mudgee, New South Wales, to oversee construction of the park. (Disclosure: I'm his father). I asked him about plans for the official opening in an email. to which he replied:
"We have guests coming from 103 countries, heads of state from several, the Prime Minister and five other Ministers from Bhutan. Even Bill Gates is invited. And our officiating VIP is the King's mother."
This will be the second important milestone in Bhutan's recent history. The first was on October 13, when King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, 31, married 21-year-old Jetsun Perma 

The ceremony was broadcast live in a country where television and the Internet did not exist until 1999.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Treasure Hunters Set Sail for Fiji

From ERIC SHACKLE, in Sydney, Australia.   <>

Australian adventurer Don McIntyre and his doughty crew have set sail from
Tarawa, and are now heading for Fiji, on the first leg  of a global search for lost treasure.

They are travelling in an icebreaker named ICE,
a 15.2metre  40-tonne steel ice-strengthened motor sailor dive support vessel.

"Jane is on watch now till 2100 hrs" Don reports on his website, "then me for three hours,..then Mark at midnight. We are running three four-hour watches during the day and four
  three-hour watches at night... we had meat pies for lunch, and microwave dinner followed by the free ICE cream you get when you buy 5-litre yellow buckets in we will havetwo of those! 

  "Looks like we will cross the equator again at about 2200hrs tonight ... so all good for now... we are very alert doing the hourly engine room checks..for now 1600rpm and 1.5gall fuel per hour..making 5.8 knots with the main and mizzen up into 18 knots apparent wind and 40degrees on port bow..

"Hopefully I will get some sleep tonight....with one eye open!"

Don has promised to donate 20 per cent of any treasure he finds to the Sheffield Institute Foundation for research into Motor Neurone Disease and other Neurological disorders.

You can follow Don's adventures or email him  by visiting his blog,