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The House

 

History changes according to the teller.  Some time ago I took a free tour of Government House where a volunteer guide gave an idiosyncratic version of NSW history; Federation; Jack Lang; and the Constitution Australia.  From my perspective nothing in this account was glaringly wrong but nothing was precisely right either.  I can't imagine what the overseas visitors took away.  

Having taken similar tours around overseas palaces the most striking thing for me about the House is its intrinsic modesty.  You could fit the entire ground floor area into the grand ballroom of a typical European palace.  It is far less grand than many private homes in England.  It was built after abandoning the two, even more modest, Government Houses of the initial business-like governors, who were relatively junior working sailors and soldiers.  In British terms the house is appropriate to accommodating a minor royal relative in the antipodes or military high achievers, past their child rearing age, as a modest retirement sinecure. 

Initially the entire botanical gardens and the domain were set aside for the Governor's private use but in egalitarian NSW these private grounds were quickly drawn-in to the present much smaller area and the remainder made public.  Today the Governor is treated like any other senior official and lives in her private home.  The House shouts égalité from the very top of its modest staircase.

The contradiction with the actual importance and implicit status of the Governor is palpable.  Had I been explaining the history to tourists I might have said, 'the Governor is the highest official in the State.  New South Wales is similar in economic size and wealth to Switzerland and ranks in every physical and economic measure above Denmark, Norway and Finland.  The Governor, in council with her ministers, is at the head of our government, appoints the judiciary and senior public servants and signs every act into law (the guide did mention this signing as a responsibility of the role).  She can dismiss these ministers and parogue the Parliament; should the advice she receives from them be sufficiently inappropriate in her opinion; by convention after seeking qualified independent advice.' 

At a similar point in his story our guide mentioned Jack Lang and linked his dismissal as Premier in 1932 to a refusal to pay for the Sydney Harbour Bridge.   Two months prior to the dismissal the Bridge had been opened by Lang when he was temporally gazumped by Captain De Groot on his horse, who was incensed that it should instead be opened by the Governor on behalf of the King.

De Groot was dragged from his horse by irate police and taken to the notorious Darlinghurst reception centre, where he was unsuccessfully charged with a range of extreme offences; culminating in an attempt to have him declared insane. 

With the collapse of these charges he was finally convicted of offensive behaviour and fined five pounds.  He responded by serving a writ on the New South Wales police alleging wrongful arrest, securing an out of court settlement reported to have been 'a tidy sum'.

 

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Travel

Southern England

 

 

 

In mid July 2016 Wendy and I took flight again to Europe.  Those who follow these travel diaries will note that part of out trip last year was cut when Wendy's mum took ill.  In particular we missed out on a planned trip to Romania and eastern Germany.  This time our British sojourn would be interrupted for a few days by a side-trip to Copenhagen and Roskilde in Denmark.

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Fiction, Recollections & News

Stace and Hall family histories

 

The following family history relates to my daughter Emily and her mother Brenda.  It was compiled by my niece Sara Stace, Emily’s first cousin, from family records that were principally collected by Corinne Stace, their Grandmother, but with many contributions from family members.  I have posted it here to ensure that all this work is not lost in some bottom draw.  This has been vindicated by a large number of interested readers worldwide.

The copyright for this article, including images, resides with Sara Stace. 

Thus in respect of this article only, the copyright statement on this website should be read substituting the words 'Sarah Stace' for the words 'website owner'.

Sara made the original document as a PDF and due to the conversion process some formatting differs from the original.  Further, some of the originally posted content has been withdrawn,  modified or corrected following requests and comments by family members.  

 

Richard

 

 


 

Stace and Hall family histories

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Opinions and Philosophy

Bertrand Russell

 

 

Bertrand Russell (Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell, OM, FRS (18 May 1872 – 2 February 1970)) has been a major influence on my life.  I asked for and was given a copy of his collected Basic Writings of Bertrand Russell for my 21st birthday and although I never agreed entirely with every one of his opinions I have always respected them.

 

In 1950 Russell won the Nobel Prize in literature but remained a controversial figure.  He was responsible for the Russell–Einstein Manifesto in 1955. The signatories included Albert Einstein, just before his death, and ten other eminent intellectuals and scientists. They warned of the dangers of nuclear weapons and called on governments to find alternative ways of resolving conflict.   Russell went on to become the first president of the campaign for nuclear disarmament (CND) and subsequently organised opposition to the Vietnam War. He could be seen in 50's news-reels at the head of CND demonstrations with his long divorced second wife Dora, for which he was jailed again at the age of 89.   The logo originally designed for the CND, the phallic Mercedes, became widely used as a universal peace symbol in the 60s and 70s, particularly in hippie communes and crudely painted on VW camper-vans.

 

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