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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Don't call me I'll call you

Mobile Phone Numbers Go Public next month.

All mobile phone numbers are being released to telemarketing companies and you will start to receive sale calls.


Below is a link where you can enter your phone numbers online to put an end to telemarketing calls. Don't just delete those calls otherwise you will find that you have been signed up for all sorts of extra services that you didn't want or know about. Like special chimes, music etc.

Register at www.donotcall.gov.au
or call 1300 792 958.


This is another public service from your friends at "Riverbend" ☺

In memory of Tom Neale

Islands have long held a deep, abiding fascination. Everyone who has grappled with getting along with their fellow human being understands the phrase ‘can’t live with them, can’t live without them’. Everyone has at some time mused on what life would be like on a remote deserted island, alone with only the sound of the gentle wash against the sunbleached sands.

Perhaps it’s because so few have dared make this daydream a reality that such men as Tom Neale and his book An Island to Oneself take on an almost mythical role in our collective consciousness, as though they carry upon their shoulders all our yearnings for a simple, solitary life in tune with the tides of nature.

Tom Neale's book still fires the imaginations of all those who have dreamt of a simple life of solitude on a remote deserted island. It may be true that no man is an island, but it is also true that many a man has desperately wished it were so.

Tom left his beloved island in December 1963. As he writes in the postscript to his book:

"I realised I was getting on, and the prospect of a lonely death did not particularly appeal to me. I wasn't being sentimental about it, but the time had come to wake up from an exquisite dream before it turned into a nightmare. I might have lingered on the island for a few more years, but soon after the Vesseys left, a party of eleven pearl divers descended on Suvarov - and, frankly, turned my heaven into hell. They were happy-go-lucky Manihiki natives, and I didn't dislike them, but their untidiness, noise, and close proximity were enough to dispel any wavering doubts I might have had. Then, when I heard that more natives might be coming to dive for a couple of months each year in the lagoon, I resolved to leave with the divers. I did so - and I have not regretted the decision. I am back in Raro now, and you know, having proved my point - that I could make a go of it on a desert island and be happy alone - store-keeping doesn't after all seem such a monotonous job as it did in the years before 1952. I have a wealth of memories that no man can take away from me and which I have enjoyed recalling in these pages. I hope you have enjoyed them too".

That's where the book ends but not Tom's fascination with his island to which he returned a third time, in June 1967, to remain there for ten more years until a visiting yacht, the "Feisty Lady", informed Rarotonga that Tom is seriously ill. The schooner "Manuvai" evacuated him from the island in March 1977.

He died on this day 34 years ago in Rarotonga where he lies buried at the RSL Cemetery. A life well lived!

I'm just full of beans ...

... after my morning's work in the vegie patch. Bean there, done that, and now it's back to a cup of tea and a spot of reading.

Time for a commercial break:

I use Seasol on all my plants.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Here's another dog story

Just in case there's a local re-run of the child-in-the-manger story this Christmas, I decided to run electric power out to the horseshed.

According to regulations, the cable must be sheathed in orange conduit 500mm below the surface. That's quite a bit of digging, especially on a day when the thermometer went above 30 degrees, so I called in the Dingo - the K9-3 Dingo, to be exact - and the whole thing was done within an hour.

The 'horseshed' now has power and lights as befits the unofficial 'Embassy of Papua New Guinea' as evidenced by the national coat-of-arms at the top of the shed.

Click here to zoom

The final stage of the European crisis

Gloom and doom has gone mainstream but human beings are made to be resilient. And there is truly nothing new under the sun when it comes to human nature. Today's events may seem like the most important ever in human history, and our lives the most important human lives ever. But surely everyone alive has always thought that about themselves and the world they live.

Red Dog

I just love Australian movies! The sceneries, the people, their laconic humour ... everything! Here's a heart-warming tale for every man and his dog:

Based on a true story, the film is set in the mining town of Dampier in the Pilbara where the real Red Dog lived in the 1970s, so endearing himself to those who knew him that his exploits have achieved the status of legend. A bronze statue honours his memory and his fame was further enhanced in the late 1990s when the British novelist Louis de Bernieres (the one of "Captain Corelli's Mandolin" fame) arrived on an author tour and stuck around long enough to hear some of the Red Dog stories. Two years later he was back for more and the result was a novella published in 2002.

Perth producer Nelson Woss (Ned Kelly) picked up the rights and Australian director Kriv Stenders and American screenwriter Dan Taplitz have worked de Bernieres's vignettes into an engaging movie about a town where red dust is such an indelible feature of the landscape that a red kelpie risks invisibility. Not that this happens to Red Dog, an animal intent on making an impression wherever he goes. He's just as dogmatic, so to speak, about the company he keeps. An intrepid hitchhiker, he has to approve of the driver before he'll accept the lift.

Not everyone is a dog-lover, however, and the film's opening scenes have him in serious trouble.

He's been poisoned by a strychnine bait and while the vet is doing his best, the prognosis is grim. As they keep vigil, the miners of Dampier and their families reminisce about their friend for the benefit of Tom (Luke Ford), a visitor. So the flashbacks begin.

He arrived, we learn, with Jack the publican (Noah Taylor) and his wife, Maureen (Loene Carmen). They tell of having found him on the highway, waiting for the right travelling companions. Deciding that they'll do, he leaps into their car while they're still wondering where he's from and he doesn't look back. His inquiring gaze proves an instant hit and it's not long before half the miners in town have adopted him as a confidante - privy to all the secrets they're too macho to share with anybody on two legs.

Tone is all-important in a film as determinedly good-natured as this one. Make it too cute and the result is a very shaggy dog story. But Stenders keeps up a jaunty rhythm with a lot of help from his editor, Jill Bilcock, together with a soundtrack full of 1970s hits and a cast who all look as if they're having a great time. Setting the pace is Arthur Angel as Vanno, an Italian miner who has been banned from further boring his workmates with his effusions about the beauties of his home in Abruzzi. He turns to Red Dog and finds an instant cure for his homesickness in his unblinking and uncritical gaze. For a while, he cherishes the illusion that he's made the dog his own. But it's only when John (Josh Lucas) arrives in town from the US to become the bus driver that Red Dog finally chooses a master.

A star is born. And for once he's a redhead.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Australia's G.R.O.G. Party

The Tea Party? Nothing as tame as that here in Australia where we have the G.R.O.G. party!

You haven't heard of the ‘Australian G.R.O.G Party?’ It’s a bumper sticker that’s starting to gain viral attention through the inboxes of many Australians.

What started as a joke over 6 months ago has finally gained momentum. Anyone can email Alex Werchon at australiangrogparty@gmail.com for stickers and shirts. Or look here. And you can also contact Alex via facebook and twitter.

The Sense of an Ending

“In those days, we imagined ourselves as being kept in some kind of holding pen, waiting to be released into our lives. And when that moment came, our lives – and time itself – would speed up” recalls Tony Webster, now 60ish, middle class and middling, the ideal narrator in this book. He is bright, but not too bright; likeable but not a saint; and a survivor confident that he has stumbled upon most, if not quite all of the answers. “We live in time – it holds us and moulds us – but I’ve never felt I understood it very well.”

He is resigned to his ordinariness; even satisfied with it, in a bloody-minded way. In one light, his life has been a success: a career followed by comfortable retirement, an amiable marriage followed by amicable divorce, a child seen safely into her own domestic security. On harsher inspection, "I had wanted life not to bother me too much, and succeeded – and how pitiful that was." Barnes is brutally incisive on the diminishments of age: now that the sense of his own ending is coming into focus, Tony apprehends that "the purpose of life is to reconcile us to its eventual loss", that he has already experienced the first death: that of the possibility of change.

“What did I know of life, I who had lived so carefully? Who had neither won nor lost, but just let life happen to him . . . Who avoided being hurt and called it a capacity for survival? Who paid his bills, stayed on good terms with everyone as far as possible, for whom ecstasy and despair soon became just words once read in novels?”

Who are you? How can you be sure? What if you're not who you think you are? What if you never were? These are the questions this book asks. You arrive at the end of this book breathless and befuddled, duped into the idea that a life's conclusion brings some kind of wisdom. Not always. Apparently sometimes there are simply just more questions.

Cleverly, Julian Barnes compresses a story with long temporal sweep into a scant 150 pages. (You can imagine a younger or a less confident author taking about three times as long to make the same points.) The cleverness resides not only in the way he has caught just how second-rate Webster's mind is without driving the reader to tears of boredom but in the way he has effectively doubled the length of the book by giving us a final revelation that obliges us to reread it. Without overstating his case in the slightest, Barnes's story is a meditation on the unreliability and falsity of memory; on not getting it the first time round - and possibly not even the second, either. Barnes's revelation is richly ambiguous.

Read this book. It may help you to make sense of it all, or at least realise that it doesn't make sense.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Australian Politics


It's that time of year again when you wonder ...

... what to give the little woman for Christmas!

My wife already has the latest iPhone, iPad, and iPod, so I thought I surprise her with a new iRon which nicely integrates with her iWash, iCook, and iClean.

If you want to visit me for Christmas, you'll find me in the Batemans Bay Hospital's Emergency Ward. Merry Christmas!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

South Solitary

South Solitary is another excellent Australian movie, set on South Solitary Island off Coffs Harbour on the New South Wales coast, about the lives of three lighthouse-keepers whose work was "unrelenting drudgery and tedium but you do catch the odd nice sunset ...".

Back in the 1920s, most lighthouse lanterns were in the form of temperamental kerosene mantles, and the revolution of the giant prism lens was controlled by a clockwork mechanism, which had to be re-wound continually throughout the night at regular intervals. The night was divided into three shifts, with the Head Lightkeeper always taking the first shift, thereby being responsible for the lighting up of the lamp, always fifteen minutes before sunset, and ensuring that it was indeed "all running correct". Each shift was between four and five hours long, and the Assistant Keepers would do a weekly rotation on the remaining two shifts - the least popular one being from 10 pm till 2 am. During his shift, a keeper had to maintain the burning of the lamp, re-wind the clockwork mechanism as required, and keep the pressure up in the kerosene cylinders. He would also check for passing ships, which were duly noted in the logbook, and note also three-hourly checks of barometer, wind and thermometer readings. The light would be extinguished fifteen minutes after sunrise, and a curtain pulled across the lantern room to protect the prism lens, and prevent fire. From 9am till noon, all the keepers were required to do routine work around the station.

Location map of South Solitary Island

A good story line and stunning photography!

This little pig went to the club ...

... and, doing my best Sir Lunchalot impersonation, had a lovely big Sunday roast.

I thought I'd pass up the obligatory glass of wine as I didn't want to feel too good. But then I discovered Squealing Pig Pinot Noir, described by grape nuts as

"cheeky, bold, irreverent, but also really tasty! Drinkers can expect nothing but an unsurpassed taste. Having spent 10 months in French Oak, this Squealing Pig Pinot Noir is deep red in colour with vibrant purple hues and a hint of cocoa aromas on the nose. The palate is rich and generous with velvet like tannins, followed by an intense burst of blackberries, dark cherries and dried herbs with a wonderful length to the finish."

Well, I had a 'wonderful length to the finish' because I drank three whole glasses after which I drove home as I was too pissed to walk!

They've just written a book about me ☺

Peter Watson's virtuoso sweep through modern German thought and culture, from 1750 to the present day, will challenge and confound both the stereotypes the world has of Germany and those that Germany has of itself.

From the end of the Baroque era and the death of Bach to the rise of Hitler in 1933, Germany was transformed from a poor relation among Western nations into a dominant intellectual and cultural force — more creative and influential than France, Britain, Italy, Holland, and the United States. In the early decades of the twentieth century, German artists, writers, scholars, philosophers, scientists, and engineers were leading their freshly unified country to new and unimagined heights. By 1933, Germans had won more Nobel Prizes than any other nationals, and more than the British and Americans combined. Yet this remarkable genius was cut down in its prime by Adolf Hitler and his disastrous Third Reich—a brutal legacy that has overshadowed the nation's achievements ever since.

How did the Germans transform their country so as to achieve such pre-eminence? In this absorbing cultural and intellectual history, Peter Watson goes back through time to explore the origins of the German genius, and he explains how and why it flourished, how it shaped our lives, and, most important, how it continues to influence our world. As he convincingly demonstrates, it was German thinking — from Beethoven and Kant to Diesel and Nietzsche, from Goethe and Wagner to Mendel and Planck, from Hegel and Marx to Freud and Schoenberg — that was paramount in the creation of the modern West. Moreover, despite World War II, figures such as Joseph Beuys, Jürgen Habermas, and Joseph Ratzinger ensure that the German genius still resonates intellectually today.

This study, at almost a thousand pages a real door-stopper, reminds us that our modern Western worldview has deep German roots. The U.S. and Great Britain, says Watson, “may speak English but, more than they know, they think German.” The book is comprehensive, erudite, ausgezeichnet.

What the world needs is more geniuses with humility; there are so few of us left.

Listen to the ABC Radio National broadcast.

The Ralum Country Club

I've just read in the latest issue of UNA VOCE that he Ralum Club at Kokopo, just outside Rabaul, is celebrating its 50th anniversary next month. It brings back lots of memories of my time in Rabaul which was my first 'port of call' when I arrived in New Guinea in the dying days of 1969.

Rabaul was everything I had expected of the then Territory of Papua New Guinea: it was a small community settled around picturesque Simpson Harbour. The climate was tropical with blazing sunshine and regular tropical downpours, the vegetation strange and exotic, and the social life a complete change from anything I had ever experienced before! And to top it all, I loved my work in a firm of chartered accountants which offered challenges only available in a small setting such as Rabaul where expatriate labour was at a premium. The firm was small: the resident manager, his wife as secretary, and two accountants (both still studying) plus myself. One of the accountants was a real character who was destined never to leave the Territory. For him the old aphorism came true that "if you spend more than five years in New Guinea you were done for, you'd never be able to get out, your energy would be gone, and you'd rot there like an aged palm." He and an accountant from another chartered firm and myself shared a company house (which was really an old Chinese tradestore) in Vulcan Street and a 'hausboi' by the name of Getup. "Getup!!!" "Yes, masta!"

Each of us took a turn in doing the weekly shopping. I always dreaded when it was their turn as they merely bought a leg of lamb and spent the rest of the kitty to stock up on beer! We spent Saturday nights at the Palm Theatre sprawled in our banana chairs with an esky full of stubbies beside us. The others rarely spent a night at home; their nocturnal activities ranged from the Ambonese Club to the Ralum Country Club to the RSL. When they were well into their beers, mosquitoes would bite them and then fly straight into the wall! Then, next morning, they were like snails on Valium. How they managed to stay awake during office hours has always been a mystery to me!

Memories are made of this!

Friday, November 25, 2011

The best electrician in Batemans Bay

Do you want to get some electrical work done quickly, efficiently, and NOW?

Call David Berkrey of Berkrey Electrical Services (Lic. 119125C) on his mobile 0412 120 235 or email him at berkrey[AT]exemail.com.au.

You'll be glad you did!

I have had my experiences with electricians: some never answer their phones; others are booked out for weeks and months ahead; some promise to come but never do; and then there are those who do come but are so much in a hurry that they take shortcuts or do the work shottily.

Not so Dave! He answers his phone, he makes time to see you, and he shows up on time. And then he gets to work, almost on the trot, doing everything quickly and efficiently, and at a reasonable price.

He's just now installed a new 4-burner cooktop in the kitchen, six lights on the verandah, and two wall lights in the living room, and it's all looking good and working well.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

I am 66 and I am tired

I am 66. I've worked hard since I was 14. I put in long working hours, and never - and I mean NEVER, except for one urgent appendectomy at Christmas 1973 ☺ - called in sick. I made a reasonable salary, but I didn't inherit my job or my income, and I worked to get where I am.

I am tired of being told that I have to "spread the wealth" to people who don't have my work ethic. I'm tired of being told the government will take the money I earned and give it to people too lazy to earn it.

I am tired of being told I must lower my living standard to fight global warming, which no one is allowed to debate.

I am tired of being told that drug addicts have a disease, and I must help support and treat them, and pay for the damage they do. Did a giant germ rush out of a dark alley, grab them, and stuff white powder up their noses or stick a needle in their arm while they tried to fight it off?

I am tired of hearing wealthy athletes, entertainers and politicians of all parties talking about innocent mistakes, stupid mistakes or youthful mistakes, when we all know they think their only mistake was getting caught. I'm tired of people with a sense of entitlement, rich or poor.

I am tired of people who don't take responsibility for their lives and actions. I'm tired of hearing them blame the government, or discrimination or big-whatever for their problems.

I am tired and fed up with seeing young men and women in their teens and early 20's bedeck themselves in tattoos and face studs, thereby making themselves unemployable and claiming money from the Government.

Yes, I'm bloody tired. But I'm also glad I am 66. Because, mostly, I'm not going to have to see the world these people are making. Thank God I'm on the way out and not on the way in.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

An 'inverted roof' (in inverted commas)

There's nothing quite like a warm summer's evening on the verandah, watching the river, with a glass of Pino More in hand, and wondering what the rich people are doing. ☺

I am weather-proofing it by covering the underside of the balcony above the verandah in corrugated iron.

The work is progressing well and should be finished sometime tomorrow. Send 'er down, Hughie!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Looking up to a great painter

A cool and overcast day; a perfect day for painting the newly-renovated balustrades and rails on the upstairs balcony.

However, then came the rain and the big sleep:

Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?

You know how screwed up Europe is when you have a German Pope and an Italian central banker ...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Plan B

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Another flashback to Thursday Island

I had never heard of, let alone met, Gösta Brand when in 1977 I lived and worked on Thursday Island, commonly known as TI, although at that time he was still alive and living on Packe Island.

I came across his story many years later and had it confirmed by my old TI-friend David Richardson, now retired in Babinda. Balfour Ross, a long-time TI resident and regular visitor to this blog who now lives in Malaysia, may also be able to confirm it.

The story reminds me of Somerset Maugham's short story German Harry although that particular character is said to have been a Danish fellow by the name of Henry Evolt who lived on Deliverance Island and died there in January 1928, aged 79.

Extract from "Den överkörda kängurun" published 1975
Author: Tore Zetterlund (1915-2001)
Photo and photo texts: Eino Hanski (1928-2000)

Every boy's

dream comes true

I was sceptical until the last moment.

It was Eino who had heard about him and had contacted the man's brother in Sweden who confirmed that the story was true.

He had read the story in a book by a Danish travel writer. It was about a modern-day Swedish Robinson Crusoe who was said to live alone on a tropical island to the north of Australia. A real Jack London figure who had left Sweden more than 50 years ago and had lived a life of adventure as a sailor, pearl fisherman, crocodile hunter and hermit.

"It sounds like a piece of fiction" I said. "That sort of things doesn't happen anymore. It's as dead as the brontosaurus. It's just the boy inside all of us that still dreams of such adventures."

Gösta Brand

But Eino could produce evidence that this modern-day Swedish Robinson Crusoe existed. He had contacted the man's brother, a Viktor Brand, a farmer who had lived all his life on a farm in Simlångsdalen in Sweden. Viktor confirmed that he had a brother named Gösta who had left Sweden fifty-one years ago.

He had received the occasional short letter and card from his adventurous brother. The last one had been postmarked "Thursday Island", but that was more than a year ago. He thought he had been sick. Maybe he wasn't even alive any more.

Just in case we ever got as far as Thursday Island and found our modern-day Swedish Robinson Crusoe, we recorded a greeting from Viktor on Eino's tape recorder.

Thursday Island was almost as far away from Sweden as one could get. Our first stop after a long international flight was Sydney in Australia, then a domestic flight to Horn Island in the Torres Strait between Australia and New Guinea. Then a short ferry ride across to Thursday Island. (There was also a Friday Island nearby which made me think of Robinson Crusoe again) We had brought with us the cassette recording of Viktor's greetings and a bunch of family photos.

The community on Thursday Island was as large as a Swedish fishing village. It reminded me somewhat of Byxelkrok on the island of Öland. The population consisted mainly of coloured people, not Australian aborigines but South Sea islanders from Melanesia. There were no racial barriers as there seemed to be on the Australian mainland.

Inside the Federal Hotel

On our very first evening on the island we freely mixed with snooker-playing and beer-drinking blacks and whites alike in the hotel bar and were able to ask questions about Gösta. Nobody knew a Gösta Brand but they had heard of an old Swede called Ron Brand who lived on Packe Island, an hour away from Thursday
Island by fast boat. But he was supposed to be seriously ill, and nobody knew if he was still alive.

Next day the postmaster confirmed that Ron was identical with Gösta - Gösta had simply been too difficult to pronounce for the local people. Two hours later we were on our way to Packe Island in a small boat owned by a South Sea Islander. About twenty minutes into our bumpy ride he yelled, "There is his boat! I am sure he is on it!"

Ron on his boat

At the risk of capsizing our little dinghy and turning us into shark-food, Eino took out his camera and started filming. The boat, an average-sized sailing boat with an auxiliary motor and a dinghy tied to her stern, lay at anchor a few hundred metres off Horn Island. We spotted the bare torso of a man inside the cockpit who disappeared into the cabin as we approached.

"I think he is sick," mumbled our boatman. However, as we got closer, he re-appeared from the cabin and we saw an emaciated, wiry, brownish man wearing a slouch-hat as protection against the sun.

I called out in Swedish, "Are you Gösta Brand? We have come from Sweden to bring you greetings from your brother Viktor."

He answered in a mixture of Swedish and "Sailor's English." Yes, he was Gösta Brand. He lived on Packe Island but had anchored his boat here because he was ill and had wanted to come a bit closer to civilisation. He thought it was his lungs, but he wasn't interested to go to a hospital. And he definitely didn't want our help to return to Sweden!

" I would die on the spot," he laughed. "I have lived far too long in the tropics. If I should die, it has to be on my island or on the boat here."

He was friendly and happy and not at all unsociable as we had anticipated. We suggested that he should follow us out to his island, so that we could film him there. He didn't seem unwilling but was probably too sick to be in front of a camera and also afraid of leaving his boat. With the help of a bottle of whisky
he finally agreed to wait for us until the next day when we would come back in a larger boat to tow him back to his island.

Towing Ron's boat

Next day we managed to hire a twin-engined speedboat that bounced along at more than 30 knots. I helped Ron lift the anchor and sat next to him in his boat while we were towed out to sea, with Eino filming from the speedboat. It turned out to be a more dramatic film than we had anticipated as the waves became bigger and wilder until they completely drenched us and filled the dinghy with water. Close to capsizing, we desperately waved our arms to tell the speedboat to turn back.

We were wet, depressed and angry as we dropped Ron and his boat back in the same spot where we had found him. So much for our efforts to film this modern-day Robinson Crusoe's existence on his tiny island!

I don't know whether it was the influence of the whisky or the prospect of appearing on Swedish television but suddenly Ron did agree to leave his boat and come with us to his island in our speadboat. "As long as you bring me back here afterwards," he said.

Ron's hut and beach

An hour later, after having passed other deserted islands, we stepped ashore on a South Sea island straight out of a "Boy's Own" setting. The calm waters of the bay in front of Packe Island were absolutely clear and blue, and the sand was soft all the way up to the palm trees. Palm trees that Ron had planted himself while he had built his hut and the bamboo fence surrounding it. The hut was painted white and had a roof of corrugated metal. For almost twenty years he had lived here totally alone after having cleared a piece of land and the beach in front of it. For all this he paid a peppercorn rent of ten dollars a year to the Australian government.

He regretted that a group of cultured-pearl farmers had moved in at the other end of the bay. We thought he would have welcomed having some other people nearby but he regarded them as trespassers on his island.

Gösta being filmed by Eino

He told us about the many adventures he had had and showed us some nasty scars on his legs from crocodile bites. He had become an Australian citizen and for the last few years had been getting a government pension which took care of all his material needs. But he still went crocodile-hunting on occasions or fished for barramundi, always accompanied by a native from one of the other islands. "They are my best mates," he said.

On the beach sat his canoe, named "Minnehaha"", meaning "Laughing Water" in some Red Indian language. Yes, he had lived amongst Red Indians, too. That was in Canada, before he came to Australia.

"Why did you choose this life?" we asked.

Gösta inside his hut

"Because I love my liberty!" he answered quickly and without hesitation. He had obviously considered this question many times.

"Didn't you ever miss a woman?"

"Yes, of course, but then I also have to get hold of a woman. I have never lived with a woman. I love my liberty!"

It sounded self-assured but by the time we had finished our filming and were to leave, we thought we knew the price he had paid for his freedom - what he called his "liberty" - and his carefree existence. He had seemed strangely touched by our visit as we recorded his message to his brother in Sweden.

Inside Ron's boat

"You are both welcome to come back and stay on my island," he said as we were about to depart. "Bring your wife and kids with you."

We could tell that he meant what he said although he knew quite well how unlikely another visit would be. Not many people ever come this far.

I had one last look into the cabin of his boat before I climbed down the rail. There were three guns, two with telescopic sight, a cracked mirror, an old radio, some cans and a pair of old-fashioned spectacles. The sum total of his life, plus loneliness, hardship, and the occasional sickness.

As we left, the outline of where he sat in the boat waving goodbye was getting smaller and smaller. Very soon it would be hard to believe he existed at all.

But both Eino and I had the tooth of a crocodile he had given us to prove that he was real!


And here is W. Somerset Maugham's story "German Harry" and here are some photos of my time on TI in 1977, and here is the story of my return in 2005.