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When George VI died unexpectedly in February 1952, I was just 6 years old, so the impact of his death on me, despite my parents' laments for a good wartime leader and their sitting up to listen to his funeral on the radio, was not great.

At Thornleigh Primary School school assemblies I was aware that there was a change because the National Anthem changed and we now sang God Save The Queen.

Usually, we would just sing the first verse, accompanied by older children playing recorders, but on special occasions we would sing the third verse too. Yet for some mysterious reason, never the second.

The Coronation was a big deal in Australia, as well as in Britain and the other Dominions (Canada, South Africa and New Zealand) and there was a lot of 'bling': china; tea towels; spoons; and so on. The media went mad.

In our household, two gold booklets to celebrate the forthcoming Coronation, arrived in the mail from Grandma (my mother’s mother) who was, at that time, a member (Chair?) of the Newcastle upon Tyne Education Committee, one each for Peter and for me.





In 1600, that loyal City, that would later fight off the Scots, particularly the Jacobites, three times, had received its Letters Patent from Queen Elizabeth I. Now, my grandma and her fellow councillors enthusiastically welcomed a new Queen Elizabeth to the throne.

I, like most people of English nativity, made the assumption that the two Elizabeths were related in some discernible line of succession, although I soon learnt that Elizabeth I was the Virgin Queen (well not actually, if the historians are correct, but she had no offspring). But at least her little son, one day to be King Charles III, must be in a direct line of succession from the previous two Charles. So, that was all as it should be.


Letters Patent from Queen Elizabeth I


Accompanying the gold booklet was a larger folder of thin colour-printed cardboard sheets that could be cut-out, carefully, to assemble, in three dimensions, the royal coach and horses (tab A goes into slot A and so on), together with various royal accoutrements: the orb; crown; sceptre, mace (rod) and sword that were also assembled, and the whole placed, in pride-of-place, on the wide sunroom windowsill, where it sat, until reduced to confetti by the Australian sun.

We were invited to get to know our young Queen and her attractive family, Prince Phillip, young Charles (Heir Apparent) and little Anne.


The Queen and her attractive family, Prince  Phillip, young Charles (Heir Apparent) and little Anne


A little later, another parcel came from England, this time from Granny Welsh (my father’s mother). Incomprehensible to me at the time, it's been of much more lasting utility. It’s a special edition of the Book of Common Prayer, containing the Coronation order of service. It also contains Elizabeth I’s 'Articles of Religion' (the 'true' religion as it says in Latin on her tomb in Westminster Abbey), as well as containing that mysterious second verse of the National Anthem.


Coronation edition of the Book of Common Prayer


Dedication of the Book of Common Prayer containing the  Coronation order of service


That mysterious second verseThe second and third verses of God Save the Queen


Thus primed, we all sat up, on a cold June evening in 1953, around a roaring fire in the living-room, for the Coronation broadcast. Later, we would travel into the city to see highlights, in colour, at one of the several newsreel cinemas that then existed.




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Soon our coins (shillings and pence and their divisions) and paper currency (ten-shilling notes) bore another head.


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In May 2015 four of us, Craig and Sonia Wendy and I, bought a package deal: eleven days in Taiwan and Hong Kong - Wendy and I added two nights in China at the end.  We had previously travelled together with Craig and Sonia in China; Russia, India and South America and this seemed like a good place to do it again and to learn more about the region.

Taiwan is one of the Four Asian Tigers, along with Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong, achieving the fastest economic growth on the Planet during the past half century. Trying to understand that success was of equal interest with any ‘new sights’ we might encounter.

Read more: Taiwan

Fiction, Recollections & News

The Book of Mormon





Back in the mid 1960's when I was at university and still living at home with my parents in Thornleigh, two dark suited, white shirted, dark tied, earnest young men, fresh from the United States, appeared at our door.

Having discovered that they weren't from IBM my mother was all for shooing them away.  But I was taking an interest in philosophy and psychology and here were two interesting examples of religious fervour.

As I often have with similar missionaries (see: Daniel, the Jehovah’s Witness in Easter on this Website), I invited them in and they were very pleased to tell me about their book.  I remember them poised on the front of our couch, not daring or willing to sit back in comfort, as they eagerly told me about their revelation.  

And so it came to pass that a week ago when we travelled to Melbourne to stay with my step-son Lachlan and his family and to see the musical: The Book of Mormon I was immediately taken back to 1964.

Read more: The Book of Mormon

Opinions and Philosophy

More nuclear medicine




As a follow-up to my radiation treatment for prostate cancer, that I reported here as: Medical fun and games, I recently underwent a PET scan, to check that all is well. 

When I first heard of them I imagined that a PET scan was a more generic all-encompassing version of a CAT scan - perhaps one involving dogs and rabbits; or even goldfish?

Read more: More nuclear medicine

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