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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Setting up house in Calcutta

Eleanor Reid's diary continues

[September 1800]

When my husband return I found he had procured a house in a street called Cossitollah, at eighty rupees per month, unfurnished.

Just before breakfast this morning, Mr. Muirhead informed me that a person had come from the shore with a present of fruit, &c. saying that he had got the house matted, and all ready for our reception, and that a couple of palanquins and bearers were waiting for us, at the ghant, or landing place. 

As my husband had gone on shore very early, and I could not think of quitting the ship before his return, I desired to see the person who had come off.  He advanced to the cabin door, took off his shoes, and made three salams with great apparent humility; he was dressed in fine white muslin, thrown loosely over his body and shoulders, over this he had a beautiful Cashmere shawl. His complexion was not very dark, and his person was upon the whole rather prepossessing; he appeared to be about twenty-five years of age; he had two attendants. I inquired if he spoke English: he replied, “not great much.” I soon however understood by his broken sentences that his name was Kissen Chunda Bose; that the Captain, then mate, had employed him as sircar, and that he wished me to speak in his behalf now, which I promised to do. 

At that instant the Captain came on board and informed me that all was ready on shore, and that it would be advisable to land before the sun got too high. We accordingly left the ship and proceeded to the spot where the palanquins were waiting; we seated ourselves in them, and as we passed along the winding streets new scenes opened to our view. Every part was thronged with natives, of whom I shall not attempt a description until I have been some time resident among them. 

We soon gained our appointed station in Cossitollah Street, where I was glad to rest, for in the narrow streets I found the heat very oppressive; the house was large and convenient, having on the first floor, which was the upper story, four good bed rooms, a spacious hall, with a veranda in front; apartments of the same size below, occupied by the ship’s stores, and a large piece of ground, called the compound, at the back, for the live stock, &c. A winding staircase led up to the flat roof terrace all round, to which we sometimes resorted after our evening’s ride for the benefit of the cool air.

We found ourselves obliged to submit to the custom of the country, in keeping up the following establishment: a Durwan, or porter, at the gate; a Sircar and two assistants for the ship; a Bobagee, or cook, and his assistant; a Beastie, or water carrier; a Mater, or linkboy, and a sweeper, for the house; a set of bearers for one palanquin, seven.

In addition to these we had the servants from the ship, and an ayah, or female attendant, for myself. All these, we were informed, were absolutely necessary in this place, we were therefore obliged to confirm. 

The same evening, my husband drove me round the circular road, Chouringa, and the course, to which all the fashionables of Calcutta resort morning and evening; the course is regularly watered in the dry season, which renders it by far the most agreeable place for an airing. I thought at first that all the Europeans here looked sickly and pallid, but this impression wore off after a short time. 

I was introduced to several very respectable women, amongst whom were Mrs. K., now Lady M. K. with whom I frequently took a morning drive; I found her pleasing, and well informed; she kindly explained every thing which appeared a novelty to me. She resided with her sister, Mrs. J., whose husband was a merchant, and from whom we received friendly attentions. We were under the necessity of limiting our morning’s exercise to an hour or two, for after seven o’clock the sun became so powerful that we were glad to return as quickly as possible to the house, and to remain there until evening, unless obliged to pay morning visits, which was generally done at the expense of a bad head-ache.

One morning the sircar told me we should have good fortune, for three argalls, or adjutants [cranes], had rested upon our house-top all night. They had no doubt been attracted by the rats, which were generally caught in a trap, and thrown out at night. The quantity these gigantic birds will devour is astonishing. One morning, nine large rats had been caught, which one by one were thrown to an adjutant, who picked them up and swallowed them as a pigeon would peas; after which a leg of Bengal mutton, from which only a slice or two had been cut, was thrown out, which he picked up in a dexterous manner, and bolted down his throat. 

The crows however, in this country, are the most daring of the feathered tribe; I have seen them come in at the windows of the dining room, and take cold meat off the table. So expert are they in thieving, that a watch is obliged to be set to prevent a surprise; a fine little English terrier, which we had was often annoyed by these depredators, as well as by the kites. When meat was sent out for the dog a battle generally ensued between her and the crows; while she was occupied in chasing one another came to plunder, the kites at the same time darting down from the house top, snatched up in their talons the bones of contention; those were in their turn attacked by their own tribe, and obliged to surrender the spoil in the air to others, who in their turn found themselves unable to resist some new competition.

A View of Government House from the Eastward," 1819. Engraved by R Havell Jr. In Views of Calcutta and its Environs by James Baillie Fraser (publ. 1824). Interestingly shows a large number of Greater Adjutant Storks perched on the buildings.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Pulitzer Prizes 2014

From Dianna Dilworth and GalleyCat @

Donna Tartt has won The Pulitzer Prize for fiction for her book The Goldfinch. The novel about an orphan, also won Amazon’s Best Books of the Month “Spotlight Pick” in October 2013 and was shortlisted for 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award.

The Flick by Annie Baker won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Alan Taylor‘s The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832 won the prize for History. Megan Marshall‘s Margaret Fuller: A New American Life took the Pulitzer for the Biography category. Vijay Seshadri won the Poetry prize for 3 Sections.
Dan Fagin‘s Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation won the prize for General Nonfiction. John Luther Adams‘ Become Ocean took the prize for Music.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Calcutta, City of Palaces


September, 1800

The next morning we got under weigh and proceeded towards Garden reach. The finest prospect burst upon our view as we rounded a point at the bottom of the reach; we behind a number of elegant detached mansions, surrounded by every indication of affluence and elegance; they are seated in the midst of beautiful meadows and pleasure grounds, where the grass is like velvet to the water’s edge. The appearance of this delightful spot far exceeded my expectation; it only wanted the variety of hill and dale to make it fairy land. 

The tide now rushed down with such force, that we were obliged to come once more to an anchor a little below the Botanic Garden, which was on our left; and as the Captain wished to inform Doctor [William Roxburgh], the Company’s botanist, that he had in charge the plants sent from Penang, the sun being low, I was induced to land, and take a walk in the fine gardens. We were most kindly received by the Doctor, who shewed us every thing worth notice. Mrs. R. did not speak English like a native; I understood she was a native of Germany. She was extremely civil, and requested that I would spend a few days with her as soon as we were a little settled in town. 

William Roxburgh

While passing through the different beautiful walks, I was surprised to see numbers of jackalls and foxes running about, as if they were domesticated, and asked the reason: the Doctor said that when the sun was down they always came from their lurking places; that they were so numerous in the country, it was impossible to keep them under. We then returned on board, after promising to make frequent visits to Doctor and Mrs. R. who gave us a general invitation.

Next morning the wind was adverse, and the freshes running so strong that the ship could not move. The river here was covered with vessels of all descriptions; many brigs and sloops, with large clumsy barges called burrs, were going down to the Indiamen with cargoes and provisions: there were also most beautiful pleasure vessels named budgerows, pinnaces, and snake boats, in constant motion. This scene was interesting.

Towards noon a breeze sprung up, which enabled the ship to proceed, when we soon came in sight of the flag staff of Fort William, passed quickly up towards it, and saluted it with nine guns. This compliment was returned from the saluting battery. The city of Calcutta was now in sight, with its stately buildings, appearing like so many palaces, particularly those about Chowringa. This, with the numerous masts of the shipping, lying off the town, which produced a grand effect, engaged all our attention and admiration. 

None on board were more pleased at our arrival than the Sepoys; they had been absent some years at Bencoolen. They were all landed in the evening; the Captain then went on shore to report the ship, and to hire a house while the ship remained. We came to anchor off the Banks Hall, where the master-attendant has an office, near what is called the old fort, but which retains no vestiges of a fortification as far as we could observe from the anchorage. On the opposite side of the river a number of handsome looking villas adorn Howrah, or Saulkea; this suburb is situated abreast of Calcutta. Conspicuous amongst the buildings is the large one called the Female Orphan School.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Blackwell's Paradise

Yesterday, I had a very pleasant surprise -- a well-packaged copy of V. E. Ulett's second episode in the stirring Blackwell series was sitting on my damp doormat.

Called Blackwell's Paradise, it is a very classy perfect-bound book.

Well worth reading for the characters -- Mercedes, a typical and yet atypical lady of the Georgian Age, really jumps off the pages.  She is a real asset to the Old Salt Press list.

Buy it on Amazon, or look for it in all good bookstores.  And enjoy.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Towards Calcutta

The Friendship works her way up the treacherous Hooghly River, while Eleanor Reid keeps a sharp eye out for tigers and alligators

We now crossed over the Kedgeree, and saw a neat-looking house, which belonged to the post-master. Some ships were lying off this station. We were visited by the dawk, or post-boat, for the conveyance of letters to town. Several country boats came alongside with plantains, pine-apples, oranges, pumelnoses [pomelos], bread, eggs, &c. which met a ready sale amongst our people, who had plenty of money from the sale of birds, &c. There appeared a number of straggling villages on the Kedgeree side, which looked like little thatched sheds, or mud cabins. We now passed up the river Hoogly, and anchored for the night off Hawkes’ Channel, so named from the Hawk Indiaman passing up that way to avoid an enemy’s frigate, during the American war.

Next morning we observed a number of beautiful deer grazing near our anchorage. This surprised us, as the place abounded with the tigers; Mr. P[arry] told us he had seen upwards of thirty in a herd near the same place. A gun loaded with grape-shot was fired at them; they instantly bounded into the jungle. Several alligators were seen this morning, and one was pointed out to me, but I could only observe a black floating log, which had it not sunk, and again rose to the surface of the water, I should not have imagined it to possess life; they generally kept close to the bank of the river. Mr. Parry told us, that the best swimmer would have no chance, if he had the misfortune to fall overboard, as the river abounded with sharks as well as alligators. A dead fowl, which was thrown overboard this morning, was instantly dragged under water.

About nine o’clock we proceeded up the river, the deepest water being near the eastern shore. We had a near view of the jungle and underwood, but saw no living animal other than birds. Notwithstanding the great heat which prevails at this season, the boughs of the trees are clothed with a beautiful evergreen; as the old leaves drop off, they are replaced by a succession of new ones, so quick and abundant is vegetation in this country. The beauties of the scenery presented to our eyes, might have been augmented by the rains that had just subsided; the dry season was just commencing. At this time the stream runs almost constantly towards the sea, in consequence of the great rains that had fallen, the effect of which, in causing the freshes, or constant accession to the ordinary volume of water, lasts for some time.

It was not expected we should reach town before the next spring tides; however, as the wind was favourable, we soon passed Culpee, which appeared a poor village. We next approached Diamond Harbour, where several Indiamen were lying taking in cargoes for Europe. We saw a number of square buildings, the saltpetre warehouse; the hospital, and the harbour-master’s house, appeared to be respectable edifices.

In ascending the stream, we came to an opening on our left, which is the entrance into a great river, called the Roupnaran, into which the rapidity of the tide had nearly forced the ship; but by the dexterity of the pilot we avoided this cross impulse. We had next to pass a shifting sand, called the James and Mary’s, on which a ship of that name, many years ago, was totally lost, with all the crew; the force of the tide was such when she ground that it turned her suddenly over, and completely round, carrying away her masts, after which she rolled upon the sand like a cask, and then disappeared in deep water. Scarcely a season passes in which ships are not lost on this dangerous quicksand.

By a favorable breeze we were wafted clear of this danger. The views on both sides of this fine river now began to grow interesting, particularly as we approached a village called Fultah, which before the war belonged to the Dutch East-India Company. Some of the houses seen through the openings of the plaintain and cocoa-nut trees, from being white-washed, were more picturesque than those nearer the sea. Hundreds of fine cattle were peacefully grazing on the banks of the river, which, with the paddy or rice fields at a little distance, gave us the idea of a land blest with plenty.

Whenever we anchored, numbers of native boats, called punchways, came alongside, with abundance of milk, butter, bread, eggs, fruits, and vegetables. Their approach was allowed until it was discovered that several of our people were intoxicated, and that something stronger than milk had been conveyed on board; farther intercourse with these boats was in consequence forbidden.
In our progress we saw on the left bank a large village, called Willoborough, at which was a cattle-market. A number of country boats were lying at this place, some laden with heaps of hay and straw, like floating stacks, and others with bricks and large earthern jars, all for the Calcutta market. After we had got beyond this place, a fanatic came alongside, with a very reverend devout aspect; his beard, white as wool, reached down his breast, which contrasted with his dark complexion, gave him rather a striking appearance. This sage personage was called Peor Serang; on inquiry into his office, I was told it was through his prayers the ship had come safe. Our Lascars seemed delighted to see him, and rewarded him liberally.

We next passed, on our left, a place called Fort Gloucester, and a village on our right called Budge-Budge, where stood an old ruin originally built of brick. Both banks of the river were now covered with little villages, and much cattle feeding near the brink. At a place called the powder mills is a large distillery and a respectable looking dwelling house. The wind failing, we were obliged to anchor at a place called Sangerale. Shorted after we were agreeably surprised by a handsome accommodation boat coming alongside, with a letter from Messrs. Hudson, Bacon, and Co. ship builders, saying that the boat and people were at our service, and that should any assistance be wanted they would with pleasure send it from town. This was not all; for a plentiful supply of fresh butter, bread, fruit, &c. was sent, with a fine round of corned beef, which would have done honor to an English table. This civility from a stranger was very gratifying to our feelings, as the only knowledge they had of us was by a letter from Malacca. However it was a good earnest of Indian hospitality, of which we had afterwards frequent experience. This boat was kept by the ship, and sent on shore for the little things wanted, until we arrived off the town of Calcutta.

All my pleasant thoughts were dispersed this evening, by seeing several human bodies floating down the river with the tide, and crows fasting upon the carcases. I could not at first conjecture what they were, but was informed by the pilot that those sights were so common as to excite no attention in the residents here; that he had often witnessed the horror with which a stranger from Europe was struck at first beholding them. We were told it was only the poorer class of Hindoos who throw their dead into the river, as those who could afford to purchase wood practised burning. Previous to committing the body to the sacred stream they swathe it in a piece of calico, and cause prayers to be said over it by their Bramins.

At this season of the year there is very little flood tide, so that the bodies are not floated up: but indeed this rarefy happens in any season, as they are food for the numerous sharks; or if cast ashore, they are devoured by wild dogs, jackalls, kites, vultures, &c. with which this country abounds. We happened to cast our eyes to a place in the mud, not far off, where lay a human body surrounded by crows. These were kept at a distance by three pariahs, or wild dogs, who were tearing the flesh; the sight made me shudder, and the recollection of it disturbed my repose, or deformed my dreams, during the night.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Picture books for a future king

From today's Dominion-Post

The royal nanny will now have a cache of Kiwi picture books to keep Prince George entertained while his mum and dad perform their duties.
Courtesy of the NZ Post Book Awards, the baby prince will receive copies of all five finalists in the picture book category.
He would also be sent autographed copies of the award finalists every year from now on, chief book judge Barbara Else (pictured with the books) said, as he graduated from picture books to young adult books.
"It's a wonderful opportunity to make it clear that children need books - who better to demonstrate that than the baby prince?"
The five books in this year's gift covered a wide age range, from newborn to 8, Else said. At his tender age, Prince George would probably gravitate towards Boats, by Catherine Foreman: "It's got lovely bright colours for a baby to respond to."
Gay Hay's Watch Out, Snail!, about the night-time adventures of a native Powelliphanta snail, would also teach the future king a little about New Zealand's unique wildlife. While the tales would be above the 8-month-old's head, he would still pick up a great deal from being read to, Else said.
"Even when a baby is very small, learning how to turn pages, learning that there's a surprise on each new page . . . Even when they're very, very little they can respond to the excitement and the drama of the voice - especially when it's a loved voice - and become very involved.
"When you see them patting the page for the first time, indicating they want it turned, it's one of those wonderful moments when you realise they're responding to reading and to story and picture and illustration."
Illustrator Donovan Bixley said it was "really cool" to know her book The Three Bears . . . Sort Of could potentially become a royal family favourite. "It's got some really nice voices that the parents can do."
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's visit coincided with the announcement of the NZ Post Book Awards finalists today.

Machines and Me: Boats by Catherine Foreman
The Boring Book by Vasanti Unka
The Three Bears . . . Sort Of by Yvonne Morrison and Donovan Bixley
Toucan Can by Juliette MacIver and Sarah Davis
Watch Out, Snail! by Gay Hay and Margaret Tolland
An Extraordinary Land by Peter Hayden and Rod Morris
Anzac Day: The New Zealand Story by Philippa Werry

Flight of the Honey Bee by Raymond Huber and Brian Lovelock
The Beginner's Guide to Hunting & Fishing in New Zealand by Paul Adamson
Wearable Wonders by Fifi Colston
A Winter's Day in 1939 by Melinda Szymanik
Dunger by Joy Cowley
Felix and the Red Rats by James Norcliffe
Project Huia by Des Hunt
The Princess and the Foal by Stacy Gregg
A Necklace of Souls by R L Stedman
Bugs by Whiti Hereaka
Mortal Fire by Elizabeth Knox
Speed Freak by Fleur Beale
When We Wake by Karen Healey

Up the tiger-infested Hooghly River

Eleanor Reid continues her sea-letter as the Friendship works her way to Calcutta

We now drew near the Sand-heads, formed by the rapid streams poured out from the great river Ganges, with his hundred mouths; the river Hoogly, where Calcutta stands, being only a small branch. 

On the morning of the 10th [September 1800], we got ground at fifty fathoms, and before night the soundings gradually decreased as we approached to ten fathoms. The weather continued very bad, while the ship was repeatedly tacking to keep off the dangerous reefs, and firing guns, and burning blue lights during the night.

The next day we were not more successful, but continued beating about. Towards evening the ship was in shallow water, having only seven fathoms; the flood setting in, impelling her fast towards the reefs, compelled us to anchor. This we did most opportunely; for when it was low water we were but a short distance from a quick-sand, left alternately dry, and alternately washed by the waves rolling over it furiously. Our condition may be conceived by those who have been exposed to similar dangers.

The ship was anchored on a lee-shore, in a hard gale of wind, during a dark and howling night, with heavy squalls and much rain; the captain, mates, and seamen were constantly putting mats and ropes round the cables, to prevent their being chaffed at the hawse-holes. Meanwhile, the ship frequently pitching a sea over the forecastle, the hatches were battened down, to keep the water from getting below. Occupied by these labours and precautions, we rode within half a mile of this dangerous sand, on which, had we been driven, there was little likelihood of any person on board being saved; the few who might escape the numerous sharks and alligators, had they reached the shore, would most probably have fallen a prey to tigers.

Kind Providence permitted the ship to ride in safety during this awful night, and next day we had the satisfaction of seeing a pilot vessel at anchor in the channel, behind the sand-bank. This proved to be Mr. Parry’s schooner. The proprietor came on board himself, and took charge of us, desiring his pilot vessel to lead on. He kindly brought some Bengal sheep, poultry, and vegetables. He informed us that many ships had been taken by French privateers off this Sand-heads lately, and amongst others, a pilot vessel which they used as a decoy. In consequence of this, the pilots were very cautious in approaching any ships.

We proceeded, and crossed the eastern sea-reef, and anchored in the eastern channel during the night. We were fortunate in getting Mr. Parry; he was a worthy good man, and knew his business well; he had sent all the junior pilots to town, in different vessels, and as his limited time was out, he intended taking the ship up to Calcutta himself; he said that the distance to town from the point where he came on board was upwards of two-hundred miles. 

There is perhaps no part in the world where professional pilots suffer more anxiety than those of this station; so perpetually are they exercised by the shifting of the sands. Sometimes a hard gale of wind, or rapid tide, will wash away a sand, and deposit it a shelving bank in another place; the pilot having a clear channel one month, may find himself obliged to take a fresh survey, in conducting a ship through the same passage the next month; still, notwithstanding every device of circumspection many ships are annually lost. At day-break a wreck of one was seen on Saugur sand, which had struck there a short time before. 

The persons employed in this service have every encouragement; for when they arrive at the situation of branch pilot, their emoluments are upwards of twelve hundred pounds per annum. They rise by seniority, but the occasional attainment of accelerated promotion as a reward for distinguished conduction leaves a field for emulation. There are about twelve vessels employed, each having a branch pilot on board, besides about ten juniors, who are termed masters, mates, boatswains, leadsmen, and volunteers. There are generally two vessels looking out at a time; which number is kept up by reliefs, or augmented, if necessary.

Next morning we proceeded towards Saugor Island. All eyes were directed to the shore, thinking we should at least seen a dozen tigers guarding the beach, but not one appeared. Our pilot informed us, that a fine young man, who was third mate of a Danish ship, had been lately devoured by one of these dreadful animals. He went on shore with a party to cut wood; having in an hour collected a sufficient load from drift timber lying on the beach, Mr. Parry cautioned them not to approach the jungle. Being armed, however, they thought they might with safety enter the woods, where this young man was seized by a tiger. The horrid roar of the beast frightened the others so much that they were prevented using their muskets, each man running to the boat as fast as he could. When their panic had subsided some wanted to return, but this was overruled, when they reflected that their companion must ere then have been destroyed; and the party returned on board the Dane with the sad tale. 

The pilot concluded by saying, that scarcely a season passes but some Europeans are taken away by tigers, in consequence of fool-hardiness; while many natives are devoured amidst the perils of their necessary avocations.—Saugor Island appeared an impenetrable forest, with much jungle wood and shrubs; the only clear part was at the Sandy beach.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Eleanor Reid, heiress.

For the last couple of months, I have been serializing the story of Eleanor, captain's wife on the East Indies merchant ship Friendship, transcribing the entries from The Asiatic Journal and Monthly Register for British and Foreign India, China, and Australia: volume 8 (July-December, 1819), pages 237, 344, 452, and 555; volume 9 (January-June, 1820), pages 37, 130, 255, 451, and 564; and volume 10 (July-December, 1820), pages 40, 249, 454, and 575.

The introduction to the first extract runs, “In this number we commence a series of extracts from an unpublished MS with which we have been favoured, bearing the following title: Cursory Remarks, on board the ship Friendship, H. R—, commander; or, the Occurrences of a Voyage from Ireland to New South Wales, the South Sea, the Spice Islands, and Bengal, and thence back to Europe; performed in the years 1799, 1800 and 1801.

So far in my serialization, we have got up to September 1800. The ship is on the verge of working up the Hooghly River, and Eleanor is on the verge of discovering Calcutta, city of palaces.  But first, I'd like to introduce some of her family history.

Eleanor's father, William Barclay, was married to Janet Hardie on October 11, 1767, in Edinburgh.  They had three children in that city -- William junior, Andrew (1770), and Margaret (1772), all of whom were baptised at St Cuthbert's.  Sometime around 1778, when Eleanor was born, the family moved to London, where Eleanor's youngest brother, George Dallas Barclay was born on June 8, 1782, and baptised at the  London Wall Scotch Church on 7 July 1782.  Some years later Eleanor's youngest sister, Jane, was born.  They were a very warm and loving family, and appear to have been prosperous, as all the children were well educated -- in the case of Margaret, Eleanor, and Jane, probably by governesses at home.

In London, the Barclays were part of a merchant class that was deeply involved with the ships that traded in the East Indies, many of them with commanders and officers who were fathers, brothers, sons, and cousins.  This would have been how Eleanor met another displaced Scot, Hugh Reid: as we know, he came home from voyage in 1798, and they were married at St Mary-le-Bone on 16 September, a ceremony that was witnessed by William Barclay and Hugh's brother, Thomas Reid.  A few months later, on June 23, 1799, her older sister, Margaret, married a merchant, Richard Porter, in the same church, the ceremony witnessed by both William Barclays, father and son, Thomas Reid, John Calvert and Stephen Knight. In the same ceremony, Stephen Knight married Richard Porter's sister, Elizabeth.

These merchants, along with their kin, seafaring merchant-adventurers like Hugh Reid and Eleanor's oldest brother, Captain Andrew Barclay, were looked down on by the nobility of England because they made their money by trade -- and this despite the fact they were stalwart and upright citizens, religious and charitable, and certainly prosperous. In the 1790s, when a fellow Scot, John Fordyce, who was the Surveyor-General for Crown Lands, realized the potential of the 500 acres of open farmland that became Regent's Park, these were the men who could afford to invest in the grand and beautiful buildings that were designed by John Nash.  Richard Porter, Margaret's husband, bought 19 Regent Street, and Hugh Reid purchased 16 Cornwall Terrace ... and were rich enough to do it, because of the profits of ventures like Eleanor's maiden voyage on the Friendship.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Daylight saving stops in NZ

Well, April Fool's Day has passed, along with its giggles, and the clocks went back last night.

Winter approaches, which is why friends are sending me cheer-up jokes, I suppose.


Maybe an American reader will tell me what WD-40 is?  A lubricant, I suppose ...

And, the Irish are always good for a giggle ... (along with all the other varieties of the human race)

Paddy phones an ambulance because his mate's been hit by a car.

Paddy: 'Get an ambulance here quick, he's bleeding from his nose and
ears and I tink both his legs are broken.'
Operator: 'What is your location sir?'

Paddy: 'Outside number 28 Eucalyptus Street .'
Operator: 'How do you spell that sir?'
Silence.... (heavy breathing) and after a minute.
Operator: 'Are you there sir?'

More heavy breathing and another minute later.

Operator: 'Sir, can you hear me?'
This goes on for another few minutes until....
Operator: 'Sir, please answer me. Can you still hear me?'

Paddy: 'Yes, sorry bout dat... I couldn't spell eucalyptus, so I just
dragged him round to number 3 Oak Street

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Print your house at a quarter the cost

Not only was it on TV

But it was a full-page advertisement in today's Dominion-Post

Have your house built by a 3D printer -- on site -- within ten days, plumbing and electrical wiring included.

And, what's more, it's intelligent.  If there's an earthquake, it heals itself

And it costs just 25% of the same house built traditionally.

What fun.  It makes you want to race out and buy a lot of land, just so you can watch the house 3D printer in action.  But ....

Yes, it is April Fools' Day downunder.   As the real estate agency who posted this elaborate hoax says on their website, "We hope we gave you a smile and a vision of the future."