Monday, 23 May 2016


Litter at the end of our street, 11 am, Monday May 23rd 2016.
Hope you had a good night, guys.


ASBOs - remember them? In terms of anti-social behaviour in Mansfield, I call Sundays and Mondays ASBO days. Living in the town centre, close to numerous clubs and pubs, we find Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights make central Mansfield a no-go area for grown-ups. It’s also the time  when the takeaways do their best business, as bawling, immature feral drunks stagger though their midnight delirium in search of kebabs, pizzas and burgers. Probably due to an intoxicated lack of co-ordination, half of what they buy misses their noisy mouths, and is destined for the pavement, along with the packaging which held it, despite litter bins within sight. And so, on Monday mornings, I have go out with my bin bag and grabber and collect the cans, bottles, half-eaten pizzas, scattered chips, noodles, fag packets and assorted prawn crackers carelessly thrown down by these anonymous nocturnal inebriates. On the one occasion I did see litter being tossed on my pavement, using the most diplomatic reasoning I could, I challenged the culprits, only to be threatened with maximum potential violence. This is what you can expect in modern Britain; a good kicking or even a knifing for daring to engage in dialogue over something as prosaic (to them, at least) as turning your town into a shithole.

It seems that in Mansfield, once you’ve had a few beers, dropping your rubbish is your God-given right, wherever you are. If you’re one of those people who can’t abide this anti-social criminality (there’s still a £2,500 fine for littering), and give up your time to clear up the mess, you’re regarded as some kind of interfering old busybody with nothing better to do. Well, that’s me, guilty as charged, m’lud - I just like living down a clean street. It makes one wonder; when these irresponsible oafs finally blunder into their own homes, do they throw the remains of their meals onto the living room floor, or toss the packaging into their gardens? Or were they brought up in a skip? 

Britain is the second dirtiest country in Europe - only Serbia beats us for rubbishy streets. Despite numerous powers and responsibilities for local councils enshrined in legislation,  litter remains an issue of  public concern, with levels of littering and fly-tipping failing to reduce substantially. Campaigns aimed at changing public behaviour don’t seem to work. Keep Britain Tidy places a £1 billion plus annual price tag on managing litter and its knock-on impacts nationally. The website drove along 1 mile of country lane and found 147 items of litter including 40 drinks cans, 30 plastic bottles, 20 bits of fast food litter, 20 crisp packets, 20 chocolate bar wrappers, 10 Cigarette packets, 6 Carrier bags and 1 hub cap (there’s always a hub cap). So it is hardly surprising that this ‘let somebody else clear it up’ mentality reaches its pinnacle with fly tipping, perhaps the most disgusting offence of them all.

If you’ve any pride in your civic environment, the only answer is to be a busybody. Pick it up, bag it, bin it. But whatever you do, don’t challenge the perpetrators - you too could end up on the pavement.

Friday, 13 May 2016


Mansfield's Kings Mill Hospital

No profit: Just Care, Just People.

As our work-worn physiques begin breaking down, those of us in the older generation need to visit a hospital more often than we’d wish. In my case an overweight lifestyle of drinking and scoffing gargantuan plates of food has resulted in 4 hernia operations, trapped bowels and assorted complications. One of these kicked in this week and I was in some agony. If we believe the constant barrage of anti-NHS propaganda issued from UK Plc’s ‘privatise everything’ media, then rather than passing through the doors of a hospital we might imagine we’re entering the gates of Hell.

Yes, there are long waits in A&E at some hospitals. Yes, some people do spend time lying on trolleys in corridors. On some wards around the country perhaps mistakes are made by staff working exhausting 13 hour shifts. However in my opinion, all the negative hype and deliberate underfunding has one underlying purpose - to destroy the NHS and replace it with a US-style private Insurance system. Those of us who use the service regularly are fully aware that the NHS is one of Britain’s finest surviving world-class social achievements - the other is the BBC, also fighting on under the same sinister commercial intimidation from corporate-minded Philistine politicians.

So having just returned from another spell in Kings Mill Hospital, what can I report? Did the NHS work for me? The negative aspect is that I had to go to A&E simply because my local surgery had no GP appointments available. I was in pain, yet couldn’t see a doctor when I needed one. The receptionist suggested Kings Mill’s Primary Care facility. I telephoned the NHS 111 line first to see if my condition warranted my bothering the overworked staff at A&E. After many questions and answers, the nurse on the line decided I should definitely go to the hospital. At 1 pm I arrived in A&E expecting a wait of several hours, but was seen in 20 minutes. Once in the Primary Care department, I spent 45 minutes with a wonderful, highly skilled nurse who gave me the most thorough examination: blood pressure, temperature, samples taken.
They're not called Angels for nothing ... and they're not looking for my credit card here ...

Still in pain, I knew I might not be going home. She rang the surgical ward, and within minutes I was being pushed there in a wheelchair. The ensuing 24 hours were a textbook example of medical routine, care and attention. The ward was subject to a cavalcade of honest care. Conscientious nurses, two junior doctors followed by the no-nonsense superiority of the consultant surgeon. Ladies brought tea, coffee and food from the impressive cosmopolitan menu. I was in overnight for observation. I slept well. The pain subsided, I went home. I’ll return soon for a scan.

     Therefore I conclude; in Britain’s increasingly unequal society created by the privileged rich, our NHS survives as a true bastion of equality. When that nurse takes your temperature and your pulse, she’s not checking your bank balance or credit card. She’s sharing the basics of humanity; care and compassion. The NHS, created by and for the people, still belongs to us all. Perhaps those initials stand for something else; the National ‘Humanity’ Service. Respect, support and defend it - don’t let them steal our last national treasure.

Friday, 22 April 2016


23.4.1966 - 23.4.2016

Is fifty years a long time? Perhaps, if you say it’s ‘half a century’ or take into account our biblically allotted lifespan of three score and ten. Maybe being married for fifty years has made the time pass more rapidly. Marriage has its own agenda and momentum; it demands commitment, faithfulness, and responsibility. Yet maybe it takes all of fifty married years to realise these requirements.

That day, April 23rd 1966 dawned damp and dull. With my Best Man and another friend we awoke with hangovers from the previous night’s excesses. I donned my £10 Burton’s suit and we staggered in my unsuitable brown suede shoes through Hull to Quarton’s, the florists, to collect the buttonholes for the guests. Memory does not serve me well. I can’t remember the full scope of what occurred in the registry office. I know people applauded and were stood around, I know we signed registers, and I know we went outside to be photographed in the garden.

The so-called honeymoon, following an embarrassing post-wedding buffet at Wendy’s parents’ house where we were going to live, got off to a bad start. I had booked a weekend in Scarborough, and checked the train timetable. It was all planned, or so I thought. But at Paragon Station the railway ticket office reminded me that I’d looked at the summer timetable, and as it was still April, the summer timetable had not yet started. There was no train to Scarborough to be had, so we went by bus. We felt pretty dumb, flecked with confetti, the conductress issuing affectionate ‘Aaah, bless..’ noises.

After ham and chips at the B&B we went out for a walk through Scarborough and a massive thunderstorm broke out. I wondered if it was some portentous comment on our future together. But here we are, half a century on, me 73, Wendy 69, with five decades of emotional highs and lows behind us. We knew poverty. I tried to be a businessman. I was a labourer. I was a printer, a hospital porter, a salesman, in fact there wasn’t much I didn’t do over 32 jobs. But we always had a warm roof over our heads, the love of a family, and were never hungry. We knew grief when my mother died suddenly aged 58. Then my father, then, in later years, Wendy’s parents.

The crowning moments of our togetherness were the birth of our daughter Sarah in October 1966, and our son Martin in November 1973. But the biggest, darkest tragedy was Sarah’s long struggle with cancer and her death on December 23 2012. This event has burned a hole in the tapestry of our marriage which can never be repaired.

So now what? Dare we hope for 60 years? And if so, what demands will the increasing blight of old age wreak upon us? All we can do now in our dotage is live for each day, accept what life offers, and, as ever, carry on loving one another. As the saying goes; every day is a bonus. Today is one of many.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

URGENT MESSAGE To All British People


The video below, URGENT MESSAGE To All British People seems pretty convincing and manages to hide its political identity behind some good old-fashioned British jingoism, as personified by that late, batty old interstellar traveller, Patrick Moore. Moore was a true British eccentric and a very entertaining character, but there’s a lot of the old ‘Colonel Blimp’ about him. Making our minds up over how we vote in the EEC Referendum on June 23rd is extremely difficult and frustrating, because from my unashamedly Socialist viewpoint, it is confusing that Cameron, Hunt and Osborne want to stay in whilst the equally obnoxious Gove and Boris Johnson and other assorted right wing band-waggoneers want out. So if your grasp on UK politics is not as strong as it might be, watching this video with its ‘sensible’ presenters and sinister undertones could well lead you to the ‘Out’ vote. Yet it makes sense to see who all these presenters are and what their beliefs and backgrounds are.

CHRISTOPHER BOOKER (left) and the others are all involved in some way with either UKIP or the ultra-right-wing Freedom Association. This organisation has been virulently anti-trade union and supported Apartheid in South Africa. Booker himself is a Climate Change nonbeliever. He also campaigned that asbestos was not harmful, and that passive smoking was not a  health risk, and he believes in the same things US ‘born again’ evangelists believe - creationism and intelligent design. Yet he was one of the founders of Private Eye magazine, which gives us pause for thought. Most of the members of the Freedom Association are right wing Tories, such as
Chief Executive Simon Richards, (above) and one council member is the man who hates the BBC, culture secretary John Whittingdale. The female journalist in the film, Lindsay Jenkins, (right)
has worked for US and UK Investment banks and the Ministry of Defence. Freedom Association Director Ray Broomfield is another right wing Tory with links to Theresa May. Christopher Gill is ex-UKIP and a former Tory MP, and Trevor Colman (below) was a Police Superintendent 1962-95 and a UKIP MP until 2014. There are all sorts of suspicious right wing political links here, such as the Taxpayer’s Alliance which perfectly justify the sinister soundtrack music.

However, doomy though this all is, it still doesn’t help a political mind to settle on a decision. I can see the advantages of leaving the EU, but does this mean I’d be aligning myself with this bunch of closet brownshirts? Jeremy Corbyn wants us to stay in. So explain yourself, comrade - what do we get? One point in the film is the cumbersome size of the EEC today, and this was filmed before the idea that Turkey might come on board. And if Obama gets the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, now generally known as TTIP signed off (it’s all being discussed in secret - no democracy there, then, or Cameron’s promised ‘transparency’) we might well lose the NHS. TTIP is primarily a deal to cut tariffs and regulatory barriers to trade between the US and EU countries, making it easier for companies on both sides of the Atlantic to access each other's markets. Industries it would affect include pharmaceuticals, cars, energy, finance, chemicals, clothing and food and drink. If we try and introduce our own legislation, for example, to prevent corporations buying the NHS for privatisation, the corporate lawyers can take our government to court and we have no power of legal sanction. Is this why Health Minister Jeremy Hunt wants us to stay in the EEC? He’d get a good place on the privatised NHS Plc private board! Maybe this fact alone is enough to vote ‘out’, but I still haven’t made up my mind, although I did vote against joining in 1973.
So, enjoy the video. Eat your heart out, Hammer Films!

Friday, 1 April 2016

A Complete Hunt

Yes, suckers - this is about how much I believe in the NHS ...

BREXIT and the NHS.

As the European ‘stay in’ and ‘opt out’ debate rumbles on, both sides of the argument continue to scrape the bottom of the political barrel looking for scare stories. One of the latest ‘stay in Europe’ campaigners is Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who has warned us that if Britain pulled out of Europe then the NHS would be under serious threat. This seems an odd argument, considering that the NHS did quite nicely for a healthy 25 years before Britain joined the EEC in 1973. So why is the man so unpopular with doctors and nurses suddenly posing as the champion and protector of our NHS? What does he really think about Britain’s health service, which, when surveyed by the American Commonwealth Fund, came out top of 17 countries for cost effectiveness, with the American system at the bottom?

If we read Hunt’s comments as the co-author of two books, Direct Democracy and The Plan, we might even question why he’s the Health Minister at all. In one of these books he campaigns for the privatisation of the NHS and the use of a USA style insurance scheme. He mockingly refers to the NHS as "the national sickness service". He also states "Our ambition should be to break down the barriers between private and public provision, in effect denationalising the provision of health care in Britain." He refers to the organisation he is in charge of as “a 1940s monopolistic structure no longer relevant in the Twenty-first Century." Yet now Jeremy Hunt tells us that the NHS is safe - provided we stay in Europe.

Like most of his cabinet colleagues, Jeremy Hunt is a millionaire with personal worth listed as £4.8 million. He knows that if Barack Obama manages to conclude the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with Europe before he leaves office, then the corporate world can move into Europe with mergers and takeovers, and one of the juiciest morsels the international bankers are seeking is the NHS. Hunt is already a 49% shareholder in the £35 million education listings firm, Hotcourses. As the man in control of our NHS, should the global players get their hands on it, he’ll no doubt have a top seat on the board. None of these TTIP deals can be interfered with by EEC nations because they will be covered by an investor state dispute settlement (ISDS) system, under which corporations can legally challenge decisions made by governments. In short, if we issue laws democratically to protect our NHS, the corporations can take us to court and we have no right of appeal. Is this why Hunt wants us to stay in the EEC?

If so, have your credit cards ready. Based on average American health insurance figures, here’s a sample of what you could end up paying with a privatised UK NHS:

Ante-natal care: £20,000.
Ante-natal care with ‘C’ sections £35,000.
A broken arm: £3,200.
Hernia: £4,200.
Breast cancer treatment starts at £16,000 ...
and if you need brain surgery, £75,000.

Monday, 21 March 2016



The Bizarre Mystery of the Somerton Man

I remember walking through Somerton Park, a suburb of Adelaide in South Australia, back in the early 1960s. The mainly residential seaside suburb is home to the Somerton Park Beach, and whilst enjoying a cold beer there that hot day, I had no idea that this was the location of what remains as the most perplexing mystery in Australia’s criminal cold case records; the enduring enigma of the ‘Somerton Man’, or as they refer to him down under, the ‘Unknown Man’.

In an age of high-tech CSI, DNA and advanced forensic science, we like to think we’re pretty clever at solving murder cases. There’s usually a clear motive, a list of potential suspects soon builds up. Was it the wife/husband? Was there a girlfriend/boyfriend? A mugger, a robber? The starting point is usually the identification of the victim. Yet what happens when absolutely no-one knows whose body it is? This is a mystery laden down with curious clues, hints and false leads, none of which provide an explanation or a conclusion.

Perhaps no-one noticed the smartly dressed middle aged man who stepped from the Melbourne train at Adelaide station at 8.30 am on the morning of November 30th 1948. It had been a long journey. He bought a one-way ticket for the 10.50 am train to Henley Beach, but the ticket was never used. He was carrying a small brown suitcase which he deposited in the station’s left luggage room at around 11 am. At 11.15 am he bought a 7d (seven pence) bus ticket outside the station for a bus going to Somerton, but he got off somewhere along the route. Some researchers suggest that he alighted at Glenelg, close to the St. Leonard’s Hotel. Between 7pm and 8pm that night several witnesses claimed to have seen the man. He stopped somewhere to buy a pasty. This much is known so far. Now the mystery kicks in.

December 1st in southern Australia is regarded as the first day of Summer. It was warm on the evening of Tuesday November 30 when a couple decided to take a stroll along Somerton Beach. John Bain Lyons was a local jeweller and as he ambled along the sands in the direction of Glenelg with his wife at 7 pm, 20 yards away (18.22 m)   they spotted a smartly dressed man reclining on the sand, his head propped up against the sea wall. He seemed quite relaxed with his legs outstretched and crossed. Mr Lyons had the impression that the man might be drunk, as the reclining figure lifted up his right arm which then fell back down. It seemed as if he may have been attempting to light a cigarette, but abandoned the idea. Half an hour later, a young couple were out for a walk along the Esplanade, and they had a view of the beach from above, and the reclining figure was still there with his left arm laid out across the sand. His shoes were clean and well-polished, his suit looked immaculate, yet it seemed an odd sartorial choice as beachwear. He appeared to be sleeping, but with a swarm of mosquitos around his face, inspiring the young man to comment “He must be dead to the world not to notice them…”

But the man on the beach was in the deepest sleep of all. He was dead. The following morning, when the jeweller John Lyons emerged from the sea after a cooling swim, he was joined by two men and a horse as they gathered around the dead man, still in the same position as Lyons had seen him the night before, legs crossed and outstretched. There was an un-smoked cigarette behind his ear, and a half smoked stub resting on his collar. There were no signs of violence.

Three hours later the body was taken to the  Royal Adelaide Hospital, where Dr. John Barkley Bennett estimated the man had died, possibly from heart failure, at around 2 am. There was a dramatic twist, when the Doctor announced that he suspected the man had been poisoned. The dead man’s pockets were emptied but did not reveal much. To begin with he had no cash or wallet. What was found were two combs, a box of matches, a pack of chewing gum, a pack of Army Club cigarettes and seven Kensitas cigarettes. But there was another puzzle. Any maker’s name labels or tags in his clothing had been carefully cut away, and one of his trouser pockets had been stitched with orange thread.

The police had no leads as to the corpse’s identity. The local press reported that the man found on the beach was ‘E. C. Johnson’, but Johnson turned up alive on December 3rd[1]. A full autopsy and a post mortem were carried out. John Dwyer, the pathologist, found a quantity of blood mixed with the remains of the pasty in the man’s stomach. Further examination revealed the dead man had unusually small pupils, his liver was distended with congested blood, and the spleen was three times normal size. With these results, suspicions of poisoning arose. Yet no cause of death was found, and expert chemical analysis on the man’s organs revealed nothing. So who was this dead man? At the subsequent Coroner’s inquest, the evidence of one expert, who had inspected the man’s legs and feet, suggested his well-developed calf muscles and oddly shaped, pointed feet hinted that this man may have even been a ballet dancer.  The cadaver was preserved with formalin and a cast was made of his bust for future examination. The corpse’s fingerprints were taken and circulated around the world, but with no result.

Christmas 1948 came and went with the Unknown Man resting in the morgue. Then, in January 1949, the suitcase he had left at the railway station was discovered. When police opened it, the mystery deepened. There was a reel of orange thread. Of the few items of clothing, the name tags had been removed, but on three the name ‘Kean’ and ‘Keane’ remained. There was a stencil kit, the kind of thing used to stencil names on packing crates, a coat, stitched with a peculiar feather stitching, and a table knife with the shaft cut down, and six pence. Although the names ‘Kean’ and ‘Keane’ looked like good leads, the police could trace no-one, and the local press suggested that the labels were deliberately left as red herrings. Once again the investigation was stalled.

But the strangest evidence, which would give this case its mysterious title, came when the Emeritus Professor of Pathology at the University of Adelaide, John Cleland, was brought in during April 1949 to examine the corpse. Sewn into the waistband of the trousers was what has been referred to as ‘a secret pocket’. It contained a tightly rolled, small piece of paper bearing the printed words, ‘Tamám Shud’.  A reporter for the Adelaide Advertiser, Frank Kennedy, recognised the words as Persian. They were from a popular work written in the 12th century, The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám. The two words come at the very end of the English translation by Edward Fitzgerald of this popular book of poetry, after the final verse, and mean, literally, ‘It is over’. The slip of paper appeared to have been torn from a book, and the seemingly fruitless hunt for the original copy began. The police began to suggest that this may have been a suicide. But there was much more yet to come.

In June 1949 the body was buried in a plot of dry ground and sealed under concrete, a precaution in case it needed future exhumation. On July 23rd a man from the Glenelg area visited the Adelaide Police station and presented a a very rare first edition copy of Edward FitzGerald's translation of The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám published in 1859 by Whitcombe and Tombs in New Zealand.. His odd story was that the book had been tossed into the back seat of his car by persons unknown. The torn extract matched the ripped space in the book. The identity of the man who found the book was kept secret, and has remained so.  In the back of the book police found five lines of letters written in pencil, and a telephone number. The number was that of a 27 year old nurse who had trained in Sydney's North Shore Hospital and now lived not far from where the body had been discovered.  Soon local media began to refer to the mysterious lines of letters as ‘code’. Was our man a spy?

Attention now focused on the new lead, the nurse. Her real name was Teresa Powell, but was referred to by the media as ‘Jestyn’. She appears to be as mysterious as the rest of the case, as her real name was not revealed until 2002. In 1949, when police interviewed her she gave a false surname, ‘Mrs. Thompson’, although it turns out that she wasn’t actually married. When shown the plaster cast of the deceased man’s bust, she thought that it might be a man she knew called Alf Boxall, yet wasn’t certain, although she claimed she once gave a copy of  The Rubáiyát to Boxall at the Clifton Gardens Hotel in Sydney in 1945 when he was serving as a lieutenant in the Water Transport Section of the Australian Army. Apparently she behaved very oddly when questioned, and almost fainted[2]. She need not have worried, because Boxall turned up, very much alive, and he brought his copy of  The Rubáiyát, a 1924 Sydney edition, with him. He knew nothing of the dead man and had no connection to him.

The extensive international publicity[3] rolled on as detectives around the globe investigated, but the man remains, to this day, unidentified. Yet as the Cold War developed, the attention focused on the possibility of poisoning, a favourite weapon in espionage circles,  and the strange ‘codes’ written in the back of The Rubáiyát.  The Adelaide coroner, Thomas Cleland, was informed by an eminent professor, Sir Cedric Stanton Hicks[4] that it was possible that a very rare poison had been used which would have decomposed ‘very early after death’. When Hicks appeared at the court hearing, he stated that the poisons he had in mind were so deadly and secret that he would not speak their names out loud, so jotted them down on a slip of paper and passed them to the coroner. They were digitalis and strophanthin. Hicks suggested the latter as the culprit. It originates from Ouabain, a Somali "arrow poison" which is also named            g-strophanthin,  poisonous cardiac glycoside. Extracts containing Ouabain have long been used by Somali tribesmen to poison hunting arrows[5].

So, who was the Unknown Man and was he a spy? At Woomera, they were testing missiles and gathering intelligence. Our man died in Adelaide, which is the closest Australian city  to Woomera. Many see this as a connection. It is also possible that he caught his train at Port Augusta, which is much closer to Woomera. Then there is the bizarre pencilled ‘code’ in the back of The Rubáiyát. What does it mean?






Code specialists around the world, including some of the best intelligence experts, even astrologers, have been wrestling with these random characters for decades, so far, without success.  

There is still an aura of uncertainty around the nurse, ‘Justyn’ and her relationship with Alf Boxall. It seems that Boxall’s army career may also have involved military intelligence. Justyn died in 2007 and some believe that her real name was kept under wraps as it (or perhaps even her nickname) may have been a key to decryption of the ‘code’. Also, according to a 1978 TV documentary[6], when she gave Boxall her copy of The Rubáiyát she had written out verse 70:

Indeed, indeed, Repentance oft before

I swore—but was I sober when I swore?

And then and then came Spring, and Rose-in-hand

My thread-bare Penitence a-pieces tore.

 Just a young, romantic gesture - or something more cryptic?

In 1947, the year before the mystery man alighted in Adelaide, the United States Army's Signal Intelligence Service was carrying out Operation Venona, during which they discovered that the Soviet embassy in Canberra had been in receipt of top secret information leaked from Australia's Department of External Affairs. In 1948 U.S. banned the transfer of all classified information to Australia. Spies would have had to work much harder that year.

The more you dig into the murky undergrowth of Tamám Shud the denser the tangled roots become. For example, three years prior to the death of the ‘Unknown Man’ the body of Joseph (George) Saul Haim Marshall, a 34 year old from Singapore, was found in Ashton Park, Mosman, Sydney in 1945, with an open copy of the The Rubáiyát (reported as a seventh edition by publishers Methuen) laid on his chest. It was recorded that he’d committed suicide by poison. However, Methuen only issued 5 editions of The Rubáiyát, so either this was a reporting error or a copy of the NZ Whitcombe and Tombs edition. It may be some kind of synchronicity or simple loose association, but a quick look on Google Earth reveals that Sydney’s Ashton Park is a short walk from Clifton Gardens. It was in Clifton Gardens, just two months after the dead Marshall was found with a copy on his chest that Jestyn gave Alfred Boxall a copy of The Rubáiyát. So who was Joseph (George) Saul Haim Marshall? It transpires that his brother was the famous barrister and Chief Minister of Singapore David Saul Marshall. Joseph Marshall’s inquest was held on August 151945. A woman testified at the inquest. She was Gwenneth Dorothy Graham. Within a fortnight of testifying,  she was found naked and dead in a bath face down, with her wrists slit. Omar Khayyám seems to have had a lot to answer for.

Also in 1949, as the Adelaide police were still scratching their heads over the Unknown Man, at Largs North, just 12 miles (20km) along the beach from Somerton, where he’d been found, another bizarre case unfolded. A two-year old boy named Clive Mangnoson was found dead, his body in a sack, on 6 June 1949. It was established that the child had been dead for 24 hours. Keith Waldemar Mangnoson, his unconscious father, was lying alongside him. The man was taken to hospital suffering from exposure and weakness, then ended up in a mental institution. Father and son had been missing for four days. It gets even weirder; the two were discovered by Neil McRae, who said he had established their location in a dream the previous night. As with the Unknown Man, the coroner did not believe the boy had died from natural causes.

Then came the revelation by the boy's mother, Roma Mangnoson, that she’d been threatened by a masked man who almost ran her down outside her house in Largs North’s Cheapside Street. The man was driving a battered, cream coloured car, saying that "the car stopped and a man with a khaki handkerchief over his face told me to 'keep away from the police’ or else.'" She believed this to be connected with the fact that her husband had been to identify the Unknown Man at Somerton, who he believed to be someone he had worked with in 1939 named Carl Thompsen. Local dignitaries, including the mayor of Port Adelaide, A. H. Curtis, and J. M. Gower, the Secretary of the Largs North Progress Association received some strange, anonymous phone calls, threatening an ‘accident’ should they ‘stick their nose into the Magnonson affair’. The distraught Mrs. Magnonson was so affected by her meetings with the police that she required subsequent medical attention.

South Australia’s Major Crime Task Force still regard this as an open case. The Unknown Man’s bust is held by The South Australian Police Historical Society, and it contains strands of the man's hair. Unfortunately, after being embalmed the chemicals used may have destroyed much of the DNA. In any case, a recent request to exhume the body was refused. Witness statements appear to have disappeared from police files, and the suitcase found at Adelaide Station and its contents were destroyed in 1986. There have been approaches from people in Eastern Europe who believe the Somerton man might be one of many missing from the area during the Cold War. But it looks as if we may never know who he was and how he came to die on that beach. So let’s give the last word to our 12th century Persian poet, Omar Khayyám;

‘They change and perish all - but He remains…’ Tamám Shud; ‘It is ended.’


ON LINE: As this is an Internet cause célèbre with dozens of links a simple Google of Tamam Shud will give you all you need.


Feltus, Gerald Michael The Unknown Man, Klemzig, South Australia, 2010, ISBN 978-0-646-54476-2.

Greenwood, Kerry Tamam Shud - The Somerton Man Mystery, University of New South Wales Publishing, 2013 ISBN 978-1742233505

Stephen King frequently refers to this case in his novel The Colorado Kid, which in turn inspired the series Haven.


[1] By early February 1949, there had been eight different "positive" identifications of the body. Some thought it was a missing stablehand and two men from Darwin thought the corpse was of a friend of theirs, and others suggested he was  a sailor or a Swedish man. Police from Victoria suggested the man was from their state, as his the laundry marks were similar to those of dry-cleaning firms in Melbourne. Following publication of the man's photograph in Victoria, 28 people claimed they knew his identity.
[2] Retired detective Gerald Feltus interviewed Jestyn in 2002 and found her to be either "evasive" or "just did not wish to talk about it," He agreed not to disclose her identity or anything that might reveal it. Feltus believes that Jestyn knew the Somerton man's identity.
[3]  this site offers a selection of press coverage on the case.
[4] Often mis-named as ‘Stanford Hicks’, Sir Cedric Stanton Hicks came to Adelaide in 1926 after an outstanding student career at the University of Otago in New Zealand, war service and a research studentship at Cambridge. He was appointed Professor of Human Physiology and Pharmacology from 1927, a position he retained until 1958 when he became Emeritus Professor. He was knighted in 1936 for his services to medical science.
[5] A sufficiently concentrated ouabain dart can fell a Hippopotamus causing respiratory and/or cardiac arrest. Only one creature is immune to its effects; the Galapagos Tortoise.
[6] Inside Story, presented by Stuart Littlemore, ABC TV, 1978.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

The Oblivion Express


So, the so-called ‘quiet man’ of the Tory party, Iain Duncan Smith has, somewhat belatedly in life, found something lurking in the recesses of his ice-bound brain - a conscience. Or has he? Is this some ruse to enable him to fade away without the reputation of being the most pantomime-villainous Baron Hardup of modern times, the man who kicks the poor and disabled in the teeth? Shall we all say “Ah, he wasn’t so bad after all…”  Well, IDS, it’s too late for that. Too many of your callous utterances made on behalf of your rich stable mates Osborne and Cameron will not be obliterated by challenging ‘Call me Dave’’s  phoney mantra, ‘We’re all in this together’. Go off and enjoy your millions, slaver over your stocks and shares, happy in the knowledge that the cruel crucible which forged you has plenty of hard cast copies waiting to do the City’s bidding.

   I have spent a lifetime living in hope. Hope for what? Fairness? Equality? Compassion? Consideration? Mutual care? Public Ownership? After George Osborne’s March Budget 2016, how meaningless these concepts seem today. I’ve joined parties, been a shop steward, I’m still a union member, I’ve marched, petitioned, protested, spoke at meetings, written for the press, the lot. I make no apologies for my Socialism. Yet it’s a dream, a figment of a hopeful imagination. I can say this now with confidence because as I approach 73 I am aware that whatever I and thousands like me have grown up believing in and fighting for, it has been steam-rolled flat, ground into the earth by the bulldozer of capitalism. As the tax threshold for the rich is favourably adjusted yet again, to be paid for by cuts to disability benefits, the NHS is savaged by deliberate neglect and vicious propaganda, and the corporate world and parliament squabble among themselves over how much money they’ll make or might lose over Europe, all the rest of us can do is stand by in despair and watch the richest bastards become increasingly richer.
Sure, we’ve got Jeremy Corbyn, but the media will roast him alive if he approaches anything close to success. Murdoch controls the public mind like Orwell’s Big Brother. The hoi polloi are happily distracted from everything around them as they clutch their precious I-Phones and text one another into stupefying oblivion. Why spend a few quid supporting the Red Cross or a refugee charity when you need that cash for your next tattoo? What used to be the proletariat will now happily pay £40 on a Saturday to watch a dozen obscenely paid young men kick a football around, most of them earning more in a week than a nurse earns in two years. We can hoot our car horns in support of striking junior doctors, but that will not faze Jeremy Hunt. He knows his long term covert plans inside out; give his government another term in office after 2020 and the Tory dream of a credit card, private health system can be fulfilled. PFI: Profit from Illness. Cameron told us three years ago that he was aiming for ‘financial transparency’ with the markets. Where is it? It will not happen for the offshore tax dodgers with their accounts in the Virgin and Cayman Islands. That’s a transparency too far. The so-called High Speed Rail Link will cost billions of public money, and for what? So that the same rich, greedy hedonists can travel in comfort between their investments. The ordinary minimum wage earners can scarcely afford the most expensive rail tickets in Europe. And how can a man have a full-time job as Mayor of London yet be an MP at the same time? Boris Johnson seems to manage it. But if you’re working on a production line in a factory, or on a zero-hours contract, try asking your boss if you can knock off at 11 am for four hours to ensure your ‘other job’ is going OK - and see what happens. The 2- job shuffle only works for lawyers, PR gurus and hedge fund managers.

There is another puzzle about the wealthy. HOW MUCH MONEY DO YOU NEED, for Chrissakes? If someone gives you a million as a bonus, usually for failure in your job, how come you also get another million when they fire you, and how come someone else in the City offers you a new job with a golden handshake? How many cars, houses, swimming pools, Bermudan villas, wine cellars and helicopters does it take for you to stop and think - hang on, this isn’t fair! But that’s a four letter word which has dropped away from your lexicon of avarice.

And what happens in America is what eventually affects us here. Joe Public of the USA voted for Obama, and as soon as he took power, his wings were clipped. Yet now they flock in their thousands to pay homage to a loud-mouthed, misogynistic racist thug with the world outlook we imagined had died with Hitler. But that’s fine, because he’s what he needs to be to create an impression with a dumbed-down world - he’s stinking rich. And he will no doubt ascend to the Presidency. Thus will the lunacy of capitalism have its complete and overall victory.

Probably, in the next ten years, if I am lucky, I will expire, and shuffle off this crazy coil into the darkness of oblivion. All I can hope is that in a hundred years’ time, someone will remember that there was always a possible alternative to this world, and that they will scuffle in the ashes to try and discover what it was. But for me, it’s over. I’m sure that will make Cameron, Hunt and Trump very happy indeed. Welcome on board the Oblivion Express. The edge of the cliff is just ahead.