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Archive for the tag “Australia”

Book Review; The Digger’s Menagerie…

the-diggers-menagerie-mates-mascots-and-marvels-true-stories-of-animals-who-went-to-warBefore heading away on holiday to spend some quality time with the wife and kids I got a bunch of books out of the library to read…so pretty much sealed the fate of the holiday. Well, no, not really, I just love to read and also (before you start flaying me alive) had plenty of fun with the family.

So this was the first book I read while away which I wasn’t sure if I would get into; I love animals, no doubt being some sort of Dr Doolittle myself, and I love books on war too. However combining the two didn’t grab me, but this book is a very good read.

While the title (in full, “The Digger’s Menagerie – Mates, Mascots, and Marvels – True Stories of Animals Who Went to War) suggests it is a historical account of Aussie fauna doing its bit against evil and tyranny it does also drop the odd tale of famous animals from other nations, amongst them an American dog famous for sniffing out a German soldier and then chasing him down on the run, Napoleon’s Poodles (yep, you heard right), ‘Unsinkable Sam’, the survivor of no less than three sinkings at sea and so on.

Starting with the Boer War this is a very good record of the cost that our four-legged and winged friends also paid in the theatre of war – the stats of Aussie’s sought after horses in Sth Africa and WWI are shocking to say the least, the life expectancy (if they survived the trip) was less than six weeks alone. And those that did survive were left abroad due to Australia’s tough quarantine laws.

Pigeons had it tough too, used extensively in WWI and II it seems that both sides not only had a Pigeon Corps, but an anti-Pigeon Corps ranging from a barrage of rifles to trained falcons to bring them down in flight. The humble pigeon, the bane of town councils the world over is actually a remarkable bird. Second fastest in flight, it is also able to navigate its way by following actual roads and junctions!

The book continues into Korea, Malaya, Vietnam and finally into Afghanistan and Iraq where the horses and pigeons have moved aside for the most adaptable combat animal – the dog. As an owner of two dogs I am well aware of just how clever they can be, and trained right we see them as disposal experts, drug sniffers, guards, and rescue animals, but the thought of them actually being faced with enemy fire, being blown apart by mines or shells, or shot as spies can be beyond belief – we make a conscious decision to fight war, what choice do they have? However, unlike with previous wars, of late Aussie restrictions on overseas travel has allowed dogs of war to return home, to be repatriated with families after retirement. The anguish as handler and mutt are separated is traumatic, if necessary, and it is this bond between man and beast which makes this book…

A good, easy read, a recommendation for any animal lover.


Side Dish to Friday Drinks…

In my search for info on the Sydney-London beer drink I came across a truckload of facts and figures and great little anecdotes revolving around the beer drinking culture. This story is a fine example of a beer mixed with an Outback Aussie;

One not-so-bright Darwinite (that is, from Darwin) was having a few beers with his mate while driving from Mandorah back home (as you do). They were merrily driving along when this bloke (let’s call him Bruce), spotted a King Brown on the side of the road. Now given that a King Brown is one of the deadliest snakes in the world, how would you react? Well, Bruce could only think of his mates.

I remembered the guys at the Mandorah Pub wanted something to put in their fish tank. But I made the mistake of grabbing it with my left hand because I was holding a beer in my right one.

Ahhh, bad move Brucie. The snake, quite naturally after having been picked up by a beer swilling yobbo, “ripped” Bruce’s hand open with its fangs. Now most blokes would give up the ghost right then and there (after all, one bite is enough to kill you). But not our Bruce. Noooo. Not our Brucie.

I tore it off me and put it in a plastic bag and threw it in the back of the car. For some stupid reason I stuck my hand back in the bag, and it must of smelled blood, and it bit me another eight times.

Within seconds, our piss-loving larrikin was vomiting and having, let’s just say, unfortunate bowl problems. However, luckily for Bruce, his highly trained mate was there to give him a hand: as only Australian mates do.

My mate was trying to keep me awake by whacking me on the head and pouring beer on me.

The end result? Neither the beer nor the whacking was enough to keep Brucie awake and he ended up in a coma for 6 weeks. His arm withered and died and had to be amputated, and he no longer has the use of his legs. His final word?

I still can’t believe I had my arm chopped off just for one snake.

At least you can still drink with the other one mate. Hang in there. This guy is renowned for receiving the largest amount of snake venom and surviving.

Friday Funny…


Pretty damned accurate if you ask me

These were posted on an Australian tourism website, and the answers are the actual responses by the website officials, who obviously have a great sense of humour (not to mention a low tolerance threshold for cretins!)
Q: Does it ever get windy in Australia ? I have never seen it rain on TV, how do the plants grow? (UK).
A: We import all plants fully grown, and then just sit around watching them die.

Q: Will I be able to see kangaroos in the street? (USA)
A: Depends how much you’ve been drinking.
Q: I want to walk from Perth to Sydney – can I follow the railroad tracks? (Sweden)
A: Sure, it’s only three thousand miles.  Take lots of water.
Q: Are there any ATMs (cash machines) in Australia ? Can you send me a list of them in Brisbane ,   Cairns , Townsville and Hervey Bay ? (UK)
A: What did your last slave die of?
Q: Can you give me some information about hippo racing in Australia ? ( USA )
A: A-Fri-ca is the big triangle shaped continent south of Europe .
Aus-tra-lia is that big island in the middle of the Pacific which does not…
Oh, forget it.  Sure, the hippo racing is every Tuesday night in Kings Cross. Come naked.
Q: Which direction is North in Australia ? (USA)
A: Face south, and then turn 180 degrees. Contact us when you get here and we’ll send the rest of the directions.

Q: Can I bring cutlery into Australia ? (UK)
A: Why? Just use your fingers like we do.
Q:Can you send me the Vienna Boys’ Choir schedule? (USA)
A: Aus-tri-a is that quaint little country bordering Ger-man-y, which is…  
  Oh, forget it.  Sure, the Vienna Boys Choir plays every Tuesday night in Kings Cross, straight after the hippo races. Come naked.
Q: Can I wear high heels in Australia ? (UK)
A: You are a British politician, right?
Q: Are there supermarkets in Sydney , and is milk available all year round? (Germany)
A: No, we are a peaceful civilization of vegan hunter/gatherers.  Milk is illegal.
Q:Please send a list of all doctors in Australia who can Dispense rattlesnake serum. (USA)

A: Rattlesnakes live in A-meri-ca, which is where YOU come from. All Australian snakes are perfectly harmless, can be safely handled, and make good pets.
Q: I have a question about a famous animal in Australia, but I forget its name. It’s a kind of bear and lives in trees. (USA)
A: It’s called a Drop Bear. They are so-called because they drop out of gum trees and eat the brains of anyone walking underneath them. You can scare them off by spraying yourself with human urine before you go out walking.
Q: I have developed a new product that is the fountain of youth. Can you tell me where I can sell it in Australia ? (USA)
A: Anywhere significant numbers of Americans gather.
Q: Do you celebrate Christmas in Australia ? ( France )
A: Only at Christmas.
Q: Will I be able to speak English most places I go? (USA)
A: Yes, but you’ll have to learn it first

ANZAC Day – our day of disrespect?


Today I attended the parade in Rangiora with Katie and the kids to show our respect, however it was disturbing to see how little respect is actually shown on this, the day I consider to be one of the two most important days in New Zealand.

We turned up at the Cenotaph, in persistent drizzle and it was warming to see how many people attended the speeches, laying of wreaths, and of course The Last Post alongside the veterans of our Armed Forces and civilian alike. But to stand there as the National Anthems of NZ, Australia and Britain with the sound of boy racers in the background was the start of the realisation that the day holds nothing in our collective psyche. And walking back to the car it became a harsh reality – cafes were open, and Subway itself was packed…is it me or does this seem morally wrong?

I’m not a religious person and don’t celebrate Christmas nor Easter as the Christian community does but welcome the days off and allow the kids to do what kids do on such days, but these holidays cater to a percentage of the population and can be treated as such…if you don’t believe in Christ, why should you be obliged to observe as those that are believers? But for two days of the year, Waitangi Day and ANZAC Day, these are days that celebrate a country and all those in (or associated) that country regardless of sex, race and religion. Waitangi Day celebrates the birth of a nation (albeit with some controversy) but ANZAC Day is both a celebration and memorial of those who died for a cause (whether it was right or wrong) and it is our moral duty and obligation to respect that, and serving foot longs sandwiches or coffee for profit does not fulfill that. The Government need to take a stand on this; it is either all or none on these days (and this includes the religious holidays) as it has become ingrained in our community that what happened in times before do not warrant a place in our lives.

Sure, the soldiers, sailors, airmen (and women of course) plus the civilian population went through hard times and sacrificed the ultimate to ensure we had freedom to speak, protest, access booze and smokes, elect democratically, and be the individual souls that we all are, but I would expect that every one of those who perished in Gallipoli, Passchendaele, on HMS Neptune, and in the fields of Korea, Malay, Vietnam and more recent battlefields would literally turn in their collective graves seeing the world they fought for.

All of this has now been taken away by a succession of Governments, hairy-armpitted, hemp-wearing, electric pouha (sic) smoking, bleeding-hearts and artists through a series of politically correct (an oxymoron if I ever heard one), cynical and tyrannical changes to the way we should live our lives…we cannot shit without a permit nowadays!

And who can hand on heart actually say what ANZAC Day is about? And does it matter now?

“There are certain sacrosanct days that should not be contemplated for shopping … and I believe that includes opening early on Anzac Day.”

Government Enterprises Minister (Australia), Dr Armitage

Classic Comedy Moments – Australia – The Movie

Even the cow is leaving...

Last night me and Katie finally got to watch the Baz Lurhman epic Australia which had been on MySky for months…well in short, that’s three hours I will never get back! I have seen Gridiron games finish quicker and have more of a storyline…if it wasn’t for the fact that Nicole Kidman as usual looked so gorgeous, I might never have got through it (is it me or did she come across very Zellweger-esque in this movie?). In saying that, what is it with the human psyche that makes us sit through something we know we don’t want to, like watching a train wreck, or someone crushing his gonads on AFV?

No sorry Baz, it was a farce, but did provide some of the laughs, although I doubt they were laughs you weren’t looking for. At least they got the impression across to their American audience that we are in fact classy, well-rounded and well-educated folk Down Under, who like a ‘tipple’ now and then…well, the Aborigines certainly came across very well, not sure about the ‘other’ Aussies!

The biggest joke out of Australia since the 2010-11 Australian Cricket Team.

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