Britsh Pathe on You Tube

Wot larks!  Here’s yet another way to avoid working on my thesis-  the British Pathe archive of newsreel footage has been released on You Tube.  You can see it here:

Pathe News started in Paris  and had opened a London branch by 1910.  The four-minute newsreels were issued bi-weekly and ran in cinemas as part of the mixture of features that were shown during a ‘night at the pictures’ .  They increased in length after 1918 and were silent until 1928.  It amazes me that they  were still in production until 1970.

‘Reflections on Biography’ by Paula R. Backscheider


2001,  235 p. & notes

It’s not hard to find biographers writing about the act of researching a biography.  One of my favourite biographers, Richard Holmes has done it here and here, and there’s a whole literature on the theory and practice of biography. This book, however, looks at the writing of biography, rather than the researching of it. It concentrates on the creation of the biographical text as completed artefact, rather than the ‘journey’ that the biographer undertakes in an attempt to understand and convey the subject’s inner life.

In her preface, Paula Backscheider notes with frustration that reviewers of biographies often retell the subject’s life gleaned from the very biography that they are reviewing without engaging in questions of selection, organization or presentation. These questions are the focus of this book. Continue reading

‘Age’ article on Banyule Homestead

Today’s Age (19 April) had an article about Banyule Homestead too.  Expressions of interest to buy the homestead close on 7th May.

As you might expect, the Secretary of Heidelberg Historical Society had much more to say than this little snippet here.  Oh well.

Charcoal Lane

There was a birthday in our house yesterday: Mr J’s, not mine. Even though it didn’t end in ’0′, it was the birthday that the Beatles sang about, so that calls for a celebration, I reckon.

We went to Charcoal Lane, in Gertrude Street.  I haven’t been to Gertrude Street in a while and my, my- hasn’t it changed! The restaurant is situated in the old Aboriginal Health Service building, which is very appropriate.  The building is no longer decked out in its proud black, red and yellow but is instead a very stark white.  The building itself has had an interesting history: first the ES&A bank, then the VD clinic, then the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service where it served as a central spot for the local Koorie community.


The restaurant is run under the auspices of Mission Australia as a training venture for Aboriginal and other disadvantaged young people- similar I suppose to those Jamie Oliver type enterprises.  The food is bushtucker-inspired and very good.  We had a tasting platter first which included a fantastic kangaroo chorizo, followed by emu fillets as a main course.  I’ve never had emu before- a bit chewy in places, but an interesting flavour, served with little brussell sprouts with kaiserflesch , potato gratin and a red wine jus. Then a double chocolate and wattleseed cake which was just a sliver, but a very rich sliver.  It ended up being $120.00 for the two of us.

The service was good-  enthusiastic and very attentive.  It was just right. The interior and fittings are beautiful- you wouldn’t recognize the place.  It’s a win all round.


The local newspaper on the sale of Banyule

A good article today in the local newspaper about Banyule Homestead quoting (ahem) Yours Truly, who doesn’t represent the Heidelberg Heritage Society, but DOES represent the Heidelberg Historical Society.

See it here:

Five million eh?  Given the money that the Council is going to put towards the arts ‘space’ on Banksia Street, thereby stealing public parkland for a restaurant and carpark with an arts ‘space’ attached, five million is a good buy, I reckon. I’m always worried by anything that is planned that has ‘space’ attached to the title.

A photo in the paper

There was a striking photograph in yesterday’s ‘Sunday Life’. It’s a double page spread as you open the magazine,  showing a smiling, short-haired, blonde topless woman sitting on a chair, with her daughter in a ballet tutu playing on the floor beside her. The woman has had a double mastectomy.

It’s a breath-catching image. At first I felt guilty even looking at it, and turned the page quickly with an ‘Oh! as if I’d disturbed her, and seen something that I shouldn’t. Then I turned back the page and looked more closely. I’ve never seen a double mastectomy before. It’s confronting, but became less so the longer I looked.  You see her smile more clearly than anything else.

The caption reads:

This is what matters to Lisa Wilkinson. Lisa took this photo of Marina and her daughter Sydney to capture the beauty and incredible strength of women. Visit to upload your own image and shine a light on what matters to you.

I really don’t know what to think.  It’s a beautiful image: stark, positive and you sense that Marina is in charge of the situation.  But I wish it wasn’t tagged as part of some advertising campaign by a camera company.

What is its purpose of this campaign?  (quite apart from the licensing and ownership questions that arise). Would a photograph of someone with a colostomy bag have had the same effect from an advertising point of view?  It probably would have on me as a viewer- that instant flash of feeling like an intruder, followed by an almost guilty sense of curiosity – but would the camera company so ready to embrace it?

I’m trying to imagine the conversation around the board table when planning this campaign. I suspect that this blog post is exactly the reaction they were hoping for.  That (and not the photograph itself)  makes me uncomfortable.

‘What’s Wrong with Anzac?’ Marilyn Lake and Henry Reynolds.


2010, 167 p.
I doubt that this book will be reissued in the next two years. I’m sure that the publishers have had an asterisk against 2014 and 2015 as bumper years for military history, with the centenary of WW I in 2014 and the Gallipoli centenary in 2015. This book, originally published in 2010, is not likely to sit comfortably on the shelves with big books with big blokey authors that would have been scheduled specially to take advantage of all this interest. But many of the sentiments expressed by the historians who have contributed to it will continue to bubble along underneath all the ceremony, emotion and hyperbole.  You can find it manifested in the Honest History website.

In 2009 historian Marilyn Lake was invited by the History Teachers Association of Victoria and the University of Melbourne to give a lecture on ‘The Myth of Anzac’ in a series on mythologies. A condensed version of the address was published in The Age soon afterwards.

In it, she argued that in the 21st century Australia should reclaim the values of equality and justice which in an earlier era was thought to define a distinctive ‘Australian’ ethos. She suggested that it was inappropriate for “a modern democratic nation to adopt an Imperial, masculinist, militarist event as the focus of our national self-definition in the twenty-first century.” (p.3)

A furore erupted online- a “mixture of hostility and support, personal abuse and thoughtful reflection”. In her introduction to this book, she briefly mentions the abuse but outlines in more detail some of the more reflective responses posted onto the Comments section of the Age website.

This book is a compilation, then, of chapters written by a number of authors (both male and female) in response to the questions raised by Lake’s article and the commentary that surrounded it. Continue reading