*take nothing for granted!
Unless otherwise indicated all photos © Richard McKie 2005 - 2015

Who is Online

We have 12 guests and no members online

Translate to another language

 

 

Or coming down to earth...

 

When I was a boy, Turkey was mysterious and exotic place to me. They were not Christians there; they ate strange food; and wore strange clothes. There was something called a ‘bazaar’ where white women were kidnapped and sold into white slavery. Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, or was it Errol Flynn, got into all sorts of trouble there with blood thirsty men with curved swords. There was a song on the radio that reminded me over and over again that ‘It’s Istanbul not Constantinople Now’, sung by The Four Lads, possibly the first ‘boy band’.

 

 

 

And of course every 25thof April we commemorated Anzac day, remembering Gallipoli; when the Aussie and New Zealand troops, as a result of a British cock-up perpetrated by Winston Churchill, fought without result then heroically withdrew from under the guns of the cleverly duped Turks, who when attacked, had suicidally thrown themselves at our Vickers machine guns, and when we counter-attacked, inhumanely mowed down our brave boys with their Maxims; as well as remembering all our other battles since. It was soon after the war with Japan had ended and the suicidal Turks and the suicidal Japanese were conflated in the media and our schoolboy minds.

 

Later when I was in high school, our school cadets alternated with cadets from Barker and Knox College to provide the catafalque party at the Hornsby Cenotaph on Anzac day. Comparisons would be odious, so our drill had to be perfect: present arms; rest on arms reversed; and so on. Our .303 rifles were well oiled, their barrels agleam against any inspection; so much harder to clean after blanks than live rounds. I hated blanks. Our bugler was note perfect for the last post and reveille. Our gaiters and belts were blanco’d khaki-green; our boots and brass shone like mirrors. If it came to another fight we would be ready. The Turks, the Japs and Hitler got a good kicking in the speeches.

 

By the time I was at university attitudes were softening towards the Turks. Quite a few had emigrated to Australia and Turkish food was exotic and trendy. We began to hear that they were brave soldiers protecting their homeland and the whole First World War was a terrible misunderstanding. Anzac day itself fell into temporary disrepute in the 60’s, as the war in Vietnam escalated, and was satirised in plays like ‘The One Day of the Year’.

 

Today it is commonly understood that troops that were sent to Gallipoli were the lucky ones as the chance of survival there was far higher than that of the troops who were sent to France to fight on the Somme or at places like Villers Bretonneux. Australia lost 8,709 dead and 19,441wounded at Gallipoli over eight months of fighting; in a fifth of this time at just one location, Pozières and Mouquet Farm, on the Western Front, three Australian divisions suffered 23,000 casualties including 6,800 deaths. Whichever way you say it the loss of life in World War One, the loss of the cream of Australian and New Zealand youth in particular, was appalling.

 

Turkey was still a mythical place when I discovered Ian Fleming’s James Bond books at University. They provided a welcome relief from more serious study. In ‘From Russia with Love’, James finds himself in Istanbul where even he is hesitant about going into the backstreets for fear of the evils in the shallows. But on the way there Bond is scared half to death because his plane flies through a lightning storm. We deduce that these are Fleming’s fears; not Bond’s.

 

So later, after I was working, and a colleague told me that Istanbul had been one of the most interesting and pleasant places he and his wife had visited, I thought them both amazingly brave.

 

 

Add comment


Security code
Refresh


    Have you read this???     -  this content changes with each opening of a menu item


Travel

Egypt, Syria and Jordan

 

 

 

In October 2010 we travelled to three countries in the Middle East: Egypt; Syria and Jordan. While in Egypt we took a Nile cruise, effectively an organised tour package complete with guide, but otherwise we travelled independently: by cab; rental car (in Jordan); bus; train and plane.

On the way there we had stopovers in London and Budapest to visit friends.

The impact on me was to reassert the depth, complexity and colour of this seminal part of our history and civilisation. In particular this is the cauldron in which Judaism, Christianity and Islam were created, together with much of our science, language and mathematics.

Read more ...

Fiction, Recollections & News

The McKie Family

 

 

 

Introduction

 

 

This is the story of the McKie family down a path through the gardens of the past that led to where I'm standing.  Other paths converged and merged as the McKies met and wed and bred.  Where possible I've glimpsed backwards up those paths as far as records would allow. 

The setting is Newcastle upon Tyne in northeast England and my path winds through a time when the gardens there flowered with exotic blooms and their seeds and nectar changed the entire world.  This was the blossoming of the late industrial and early scientific revolution and it flowered most brilliantly in Newcastle.

I've been to trace a couple of lines of ancestry back six generations to around the turn of the 19th century. Six generations ago, around the turn of the century, lived sixty-four individuals who each contributed a little less 1.6% of their genome to me, half of them on my mother's side and half on my father's.  Yet I can't name half a dozen of them.  But I do know one was called McKie.  So this is about his descendents; and the path they took; and some things a few of them contributed to Newcastle's fortunes; and who they met on the way.

In six generations, unless there is duplication due to copulating cousins, we all have 126 ancestors.  Over half of mine remain obscure to me but I know the majority had one thing in common, they lived in or around Newcastle upon Tyne.  Thus they contributed to the prosperity, fertility and skill of that blossoming town during the century and a half when the garden there was at its most fecund. So it's also a tale of one city.

My mother's family is the subject of a separate article on this website. 

 

Read more ...

Opinions and Philosophy

A new political dawn

 

 

The State election on 26th March saw a crushing political defeat for the Australian Labor Party in New South Wales. Both sides of politics are still coming to terms with the magnitude of this change.  On the Labor side internal recriminations seem to have spread beyond NSW.  The Coalition now seem to have an assured eight and probably twelve years, or more, to carry out their agenda.

On April 3, following the advice of the Executive Council, the Lieutenant-Governor of New South Wales, gave effect to an Order to restructure the NSW Public Service. Read more...

It remains to be seen how the restructured agencies will go about the business of rebuilding the State.

 

Read more ...

Terms of Use                                           Copyright