As you may know, I’m based in Auckland, New Zealand – the land (one of several) who beat COVID. As some may know, the Rona is back over here for a sequel – and we’re all in lockdown again.
If anyone is wondering, seeing I held up the Belzoni blog and podcast episode because I lost my voice due to a nasty cold – I was tested just before the lockdown. One of my flatmates brought some kind of virus into the house, then claimed his doctor told him he didn’t need a COVID test. Figuring either he was a liar, or his doctor incompetent – I got myself checked out. It was just a cold.
All the same, as the locations of interest have come up in the news this time, I’ve had six close calls (being at places COVID infected people were at hours before) and am, it appears, surrounded by what the media has dubbed ‘The Birkdale Social Cluster’.
I feel a little silly when writing about COVID. New Zealand has had a comparatively easy ride compared to much of the world. In the scheme of things I’ve got little to complain about…
But I did post that update with the plague mask picture a few weeks ago… So I figured some kind of update was in order. And yeah, following the example of Dolly Parton and Elvis Presley (pictured getting his polio shot on the set of the Ed Sullivan Show in 1956) I’ll be getting my first vaccine shot in a little over a week (New Zealand has been slow to roll the vaccination out)
Anyway, the lockdown does give me a little bit of extra time – no weekend shopping expeditions, or meals over at my parents’ place. No Thursday night foodcourt Chinese meal followed by grocery shopping. Certainly no Wednesday night pub quizzes till we’re a couple of lockdown levels down.
The day job just ticks along, however. I’ve been a work from home person for almost three years now, so the 9 to 5 is very much business as usual.
Given all that, I’m working away at a couple of extra things.
First, I’m spending weekends building up a stockpile of podcast episodes. I suffer from seasonal hay fever, so it’s guaranteed I will lose my voice again – some time in the future. I’m looking to record around two dozen of the older blog posts – will keep a handful in reserve + mix the others in with new episodes as we go.
On that I’m getting the sense those of y’all following the blog are as a rule not following the podcast – and vice versa. On those weeks where I drop an old episode I’ll generally drop a completely new blog post for my readers.
Second, I’m going to look to get weekly blog posts back up again + start stockpiling a few of those Tales, once I’ve got the podcast episodes well ahead. I’m putting a temporary hold on my ‘Today in history’ one minute video series. When I put the ‘pilot’ up on my personal Facebook, I got some really positive feedback from friends who aren’t history buffs – I can see a place in the world for that project – but it is taking away from this project at the moment so…
I’m still trying to work out how to get those Patreon episode scripts on here, please stay tuned for that. Next week’s Tale, and Patreon bonus episode are well on track for release. I’ll look to get a non-podcast week blog post in for the week after that – I want to try something a little different on those in between weeks.
Stay safe out there everyone. I’ll have a new Tale out next week – Simone.
Oh, the silly post title and picture? In 1797 the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge – trapped in his bedroom with a blistered foot due to his wife dropping a pot of hot milk on him – wrote a wonderfully melodramatic poem about not being able to go out on a trek with his friends. I believe there is more to it, truthfully – Mrs Coleridge had just suffered a miscarriage and I always got the sense the two were fighting at the time. If no underlying story it does make Mr Coleridge a rather melodramatic guy I’d dare say…
“Well, they are gone, and here must I remain, This lime-tree bower my prison! I have lost Beauties and feelings, such as would have been Most sweet to my remembrance even when age Had dimm’d mine eyes to blindness!….. “
The picture is of his library, from an article from some time back. His former mansion was up for sale last year for £7 million. The Devon property also of note as it was where Oliver Cromwell planned his revolution.
Hi everyone just a quick note, I should’ve really posted here first as most of Tales traffic comes directly here – sorry little fluey and not thinking clearly.
On that count, apologies – this week’s content is going to be a little late. I’ve caught a nasty cold and can barely speak outside of my vocal fry register at the moment. This week’s blog post is written. All the art is done. Most of the music for the podcast too.
Same for the Patreon episode.
I wasn’t able to lay down narration, however, before the dreaded lurgy struck. FYI I’m based in New Zealand, where we’ve had no COVID in the community since late February. It is a cold of some description.
In the meantime I’m doing the things I can – writing for the next couple of posts. I’ll bulk record a load of stuff when my voice returns, and try to use some upcoming annual leave to get an episode or two ahead so I’ve always got a little slack in the timeline moving forwards… And of course drinking lots of fluids, taking my medicine. Thumbing through a Selwyn Raab book from the dining room table – if you need a clue to the podcast topic/s for the second part of this month.
I’ll be back soon with Giovanni Batista Belzoni- Tomb Raider (and Otzi, for the Patrons).
Hey all just a quick update – I hope everyone’s well out there. I’m back with some new content on July 28th. First up is a podcast/blog episode on the guy I dropped a few months back – Baron Roman von Ungern-Sternberg.
In the first script – the one I binned – I played the Tale like Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch. A western saga following groups of irredeemable bad men facing off against other irredeemable bad men … well, except the Wild West was in fact the Wild East – Russia’s untamed frontier. Beyond the comparison, nowhere did I put a tin badge on Ungern, or make him out to be – keeping with movie comparisons – Will Munny in Eastwood’s The Unforgiven.
But, well you know, we’re conditioned to look at Westerns as binary – men in ‘white hats’ vs men in ‘black hats’. I didn’t wants to put a white hat on a monster, especially one who killed thousands of Chinese invaders (Xu and Duan’s army). Not at a time, especially when violence against Chinese is up in many places.
So… my revised Ungern is a very different tale. Same facts, very clear perspective on what he was. Stripped of all that fun cowboy stuff. Yeah, maybe a little preachy at times – I am very careful to point out the guy is a monster, and should not be idolised. I’m hoping I’ve hit the right tone for it this time…
Now, on 28 July I’m dropping my first Patreon only bonus podcast also … It’s just the extended version of the ‘Puyi’ tale I told on my (for now abandoned) personal blog. I’ve set the Patreon to $2 US a month. If some of you wish to support the show, and can spare the change, I’d love to have you onboard. If not, again – I won’t be offended… I appreciate you all for taking the time to read my diatribes.
But it does bring up a question. Most of the bonus episodes will be new material. I’m currently working through bonus tales on Ozti the Iceman, Jorgen Jorgensen (a man who fascinates me endlessly)… a wild tale on the last days of Idi Amin’s rule in Uganda. The beginnings of an on-again-off again series on Hollywood’s Hays Code and the scandals which led to it…
Is there an appetite here for the blog posts of those episodes? If so, what feels a fair price (per month/year/episode?) for those pieces as ‘premium content’?
Surely it has to be less than the podcast versions right? I’m providing less with a blog only post.
I’d love your thoughts on that, if anyone has any to share. Either shout out on the social links, or the contact form on the About/Contact page… Or below.
Now, all that said – From the 28th, till I’ve completed my proposed ‘Today in History’ videos, I’m going to be taking those ‘blog post only’ weeks off to work on those. I’m less active on social media than I’d like to be at the moment, and those pages are beginning to feel like nothing more than episode spam. Some people also just want some quick factoid or other from their pop-history sites. This, hopefully kills two birds with one stone. To give you a sense of time spent on those – I spend maybe 10 – 15 hours producing a podcast episode (on top of writing etc). The one minute Today in History pilot I made took me 20 minutes to record, mix and cobble together – so I’m hoping to have that project up and running in a few months’ time.
Hey all just a quick note today. I’m taking four weeks off publishing the blog posts so I can get ahead of other parts of this channel. In the meantime I’m hoping to get the podcast episodes back on Wednesdays.
I’m planning to record two already published blog posts to podcast this afternoon, once the neighbours have all put away their lawnmowers, and two further episodes for the next four week break (I’m sticking to my ten weeks on, four off schedule for now).
In the next block I’m going into Austrian pre-history, a convict king, some Mesopotamian history, circus strongmen, a murder mystery, and Benito Mussolini’s hat… among other things.
In the meantime, typewriters away! (I don’t really use a typewriter), microphones out! (I use an USB mic). The next two podcast episodes will be on Nellie Bly and eden ahbez.
Hey all, the You Choose episode for August will be a choice from one of the following.
The newspapers tell me Indy is turning 40 this year – Raiders of the Lost Ark of course released in 1981. My understanding is, while Spielberg and Lucas have spoken at length on the fictional influences on the character (everything from Charlton Heston in The Secret of the Incas, to early Scrooge McDuck.. in both cases check out that hat and jacket!), it’s always been assumed several real life adventurers were also in the mix.
Sooner or later I’m bound to write on Percy Fawcett and his Lost city of Z, so I’m taking him out of contention… Roy Chapman Andrews, Hiram Bingham III, Carl Akeley? etc I don’t know. Maybe we’ll get to those guys if Tales runs long enough… In a couple of decades maybe?
Ok, Carl Akeley in less than a paragraph. Akeley was the taxidermist who stuffed Jumbo the elephant, after Jumbo was killed by a train. He went on safari with Teddy Roosevelt; and once choked an attacking leopard to death with his bare hands – not getting at all wounded in the exchange (see picture).. A lot of the ‘real life Indy’s’, I think, could be similarly covered… Most of them are interesting, but few of them have ever struck me as being as interesting as a Henry Morton Stanley, Richard Francis Burton or even a Mungo Park.
Some characters however, seem very worthy of this own short Tale.
One – Frederick Russell Burnham.
Not only did he literally teach Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts, a thing or two, and serve as an inspiration for H.Rider Haggard’s Allan Quartermain, he got into a load of scrapes across the globe. Burnham was involved in the Pleasant Valley War (a Wild West feud mentioned briefly in the post on Tom Horn), and the Apache Wars before moving to South Africa where he… well, vote to find out.
Two – Giovanni Batista Belzoni.
An Italian giant, and one time circus strongman with a formal education in civil engineering – Belzoni made one hell of a grave robber. Among the items he stole away with is that famous 7 tonne bust of Ramesses II everyone has probably seen at some time or other. He had many adventures in Egypt, before travelling to West Africa… Want to know more? Vote Belzoni.
First, apologies ahead of time – this week’s blog + podcast post on rocket pioneer and occultist Jack Parsons may run a little late. It ran longer than expected and will be a two parter. Part one is written up. The podcast episode is recorded and waiting for second pass editing tonight. All going well I’ll release both on Wednesday… otherwise it’ll be a Thursday release?
Second, I’ve been thinking about doing a series of one minute ‘Today in History’ videos on YouTube. My plan is to do three or four month’s worth on my next break from the blog (in 6 weeks’ time) with a new video for every day of the year.
Check out the ‘pilot’ below. Please leave me some feedback on the video – Simone
Hey all I’m just doing some admin – setting up a category page made up of all blog posts with ‘Updates’ ticked. I’m then deleting the Updates page I built in January…. Hence the email full of old podcast/blog news. Sorry for the email tonight. The next real blog post is set for next week. – Simone.
P.S. The cover picture is just the fourth or fifth random image which came up when I typed ‘Giovanni Battista Belzoni moves heavy things’…. should the next You Choose be a narrative source for Indiana Jones, like Belzoni vs a source for Sherlock Holmes… say, Joseph Bell… or Walter Scherer (providing I can find sources on Scherer?)
Let me know in the comments?
Hi everyone, as Tales is picking up a number of followers who just come directly to the site every week – more than our total number of social media followers – and certain social media sites (I’m looking at you Facebook) are terrible at sharing updates to everyone anyway …. this page will be for updates for all things Tales of History and Imagination.
Blog posts drop 10am every Tuesday (New Zealand time) on 10 week cycles with a 3 week interlude. Podcast episodes drop fortnightly, 6pm Wednesday (New Zealand time), currently planned for a 10 fortnight cycle with 4 weeks’ downtime.
1st May. And the Winner of 2nd June’s You Choose Blog/Podcast is….
4th April. Lucan v Boggs… other things.
Hey everyone, just a quick update. First, go check out the Lucan v Boggs post of a couple of days’ back. I’m hoping to officially launch the Patreon some time this year, and one of the perks of helping me make ‘Tales’ will be getting to choose a topic (based on a certain theme). Until I have patrons though I’m opening this to all readers and listeners.
The first You Choose topic will be 2nd June, on a figure who vanished without a trace. Your choices – Lord Lucan, the murderous British peer who vanished after attempting to kill his wife, Veronica – and killing his childrens’ nanny Sandra Rivett… or Hale Boggs, the American Speaker of the House, who disappeared flying over Alaska. Go to the link above and vote. Check out the dodgy YouTube video I made while there.
Second, I’m taking a little time off to get the next few episodes, and blog posts ready to go. The next episode will be on Mithradates, enemy of Rome, ‘poison king’ of Pontus, projected date 21st April. I’m still sussing out a couple of topics for the next ten week run but expect a renegade mobster, a tale from old Hollywood, an obscure tale of men battling a ‘dragon’, an occultist with the party house from hell, a warrior queen, and the story of one of postwar history’s stranger pranks in the mix.
Third, sorry – I ditched on this last season an episode early. I had the script ready to go and podcast episode recorded for the tale of Baron Roman von Ungern-Sternberg. It seemed insensitive of me to be posting a story of a warlord who killed thousands of Chinese soldiers a few days after the murders in Atlanta…. not that I make a hero out of a monster like Ungern …. If there is a right time to do the Tale at some point I’ll release it. In the meantime, let me point you towards ‘The Bloody White Baron’ by James Palmer – my primary source. I’ll add in the Jstor articles I read on Ungern later.
21st February. Best laid plans….
Hey all just a quick note from me tonight – well it’s tonight – around 11pm – where I’m typing from.
The week has been a little odd over here – and I’m not talking about New Zealand’s brief re-entry into COVID lockdown. Truthfully, however I’m feeling at any given time during this pandemic, it feels petty and indulgent to be writing anything COVID related… at least while much of the world is so heavily hit by it.
I’ve been writing largely week to week on the blog in 2021. I used most of my time off over Christmas making a road map for 2021, rather than stockpiling blog posts. This is not the whole story – I had three podcast-able Tales pencilled in where, on doing all the research.
1.On one tale I knew my version would pale in comparison to the source material. To boot I don’t think my perspective on the tale was significantly different to that of the main author, nor could I come at it from a different angle.
2. On another tale, a true crime piece I picked up on maybe a decade ago – it had everything I could ever hope for ….. except I’d somehow forgotten how unbelievable – and not safe for work – the murder weapon was. Well…
3 doesn’t feel right at the moment. It might do down the line a little.
But hey, the time was not totally wasted right? I’ve got a plan. I’ve left a little wriggle room with a revamped ‘Gevaudan’ and the John Frum piece… I threw a spanner in the works – While finishing the Henry ‘Box’ Brown piece it struck me I’d mentioned the war between Portugal and the Kingdom of Ndongo – and given Women’s History Month follows – is it not a crazy idea to shelf the subject I had in mind for that, to do a piece on Queen Nzinga of Ndongo instead? We’ve already done some background in the other piece. Nzinga is super interesting. I never normally get to write about Africa, so there’s that too..
This caused a butterfly effect. I now had three weeks of blog posts in a row on royals – wildly different royals from different times, but still… and then a blog and podcast episode set for the same day about a mad baron. I’d now have to shelf this coming week’s topic for someone less aristocratic…
Yeah, I know, dumb stuff only important to myself – but building an online cabinet of curiosities I can’t have groups of similar things together… it won’t look right if things aren’t all jumbled up…
Well, anyway everything was still on track till I ended up in the A&E one day last week with excruciating stomach pains. The cause is currently anyone’s guess – front runner is a bout of food poisoning a month before that has left my gut very sensitive. This cost me a few nights, as I was too sore to be leaning forwards to write. I lost another day, this week, when my old tablet died. I’ve replaced it, but spent a night getting the new machine set up.
I’ll have a new post ready for Tuesday, though it’ll be short and sweet this coming week – well, OK short and a little gruesome. Check back in on Tuesday for some new material.
4th February: Yeah…. that thing Barrett Strong said…
Hey all just a quick update about a few things happening behind the scenes.
In coming days I’ll be launching a Patreon for the blog and podcast. I’m currently looking for a quiet day to do a little research on something I want to offer on the higher tier. The plan at present is to start by offering
▪︎an extra Tale each month (in both blog and podcast formats), ▪︎possibly e-books? ▪︎and voting rights (between two or three choices) for one Tale a month – starting from the next block in April, as I have all tales locked in for the rest of this block, or semester… or whatever a ten week sprint of Tales is called.
As I’ve no doubt it’s going to take a little time to build up patrons, even at my super low prices of $1 a month for the basic tier, $5 for the VIPs, I’m planning to make voting open for all readers and listeners – at least till it isn’t anymore. Keep an eye out for the Survey Monkey polls from around mid April.
Staying on the topic of Patron programmes – first stretch targets will be to help cover the costs of research materials, the rental on the WordPress and Podbean sites, and probably annual e-subscriptions to a couple of resources that keep coming up more in a month than the number of free articles I get from them. If I can get membership up to an amount which allows me less time at a day job I’m not exactly crazy for, I’ll use that time to create some more giveaways – but more on that IF we can reach those targets.
Meantime, folks please show me a little love by sharing a blog or podcast episode which resonated with you with just one person – someone you know will dig it too… which is good for all right? I grow the channel. You may get someone to discuss the channel with … well besides yours truly anyway – Simone.
19th January: The Beast Returns.
Hi all, I’ve written a little bit on my plans for the rebooted podcast on the social media channels. Here’s a quick rundown….. and an explanation why that damn cryptid is back again before Halloween.
The Podcast: I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but my original plan for Tales was primarily to make a podcast, and to have a blog on a separate website, with all the podcast scripts in the feed. Thankfully I had a couple of unexpected expenses crop up, which delayed my purchase of a Blue Yeti mic and a reconditioned laptop just long enough to write and publish a couple of dozen blog posts.
This is important, as it set Tales as a blog primarily, with an attached podcast. I think my writing was serviceable on the blog when I started… the first attempts at podcasting not so much so. They were word salads, my narration not great. By and large I was picking subjects which were episodic and meandering.
I also had a degree of imposter syndrome about podcasting which I didn’t feel about blogging.
As a result, I think I had a few listenable episodes towards the end of the first run – but I never promoted the show to anyone. I was happy to refocus on the blog at the end of season one.
A couple of things happened in 2020. First, my workplace announced they weren’t giving payrises that year – but they would make a series of online courses prepared for the management available to all of us. In one of those courses I think I heard the concept of ‘growth mindsets’ at exactly the right time; deciding I didn’t have the bag of tools needed right this moment for a good podcast – but I could obtain all those skills with a little effort. The second thing was Spotify signing Joe Rogan’s podcast to a contract then advertising they now had podcasts (they always did have them). My little show went from around 50 downloads to 450 in days, as a result, I guess of people searching their podcast listings. This was the prompt I needed to try my hand at podcasting again.
FYI none of the original run are still up. I’ve started with a clean slate that I’m much happier with. Just like writing, the channel is a work in progress but I think I’ve relaunched something quite listenable.
Why the Beast? In short the revamped season one will be a collection of existing blog posts. I’m hoping to make episode 9 the sole new Tale (the blog and podcast episodes to be released the same week). Subsequent seasons are likely to contain more synchronized episodes. Beast of Gevaudan is one of the more clicked on blog episodes, but when I recorded the script it really needed more than a few minor tweaks… so I completely rewrote it. This is why our Halloween staple is back this week.
Next week I’ll have something new; a quirky little tale from recent history.
Hey all – from the next season of Tales of History and Imagination (both the blog and podcast) I’m bringing in a semi- regular ‘You Decide’ episode where you – the reader, or listener – get to choose the subject of the Tale.
I’ll be completing, then advertising the Patreon – and when the Patreon reaches a tipping point these will become ‘Patreon Decides’. Until then everyone gets a vote.
The first You Decide will be released 2nd June 2021. The theme, mysterious disappearances. The two choices
Lord Lucan – a British peer who disappeared 7th November 1974 – having attempted to kill his estranged wife… and succeeded in killing the children’s nanny, Sandra Rivett. Rumours persist to this day as to the whereabouts of the murderous peer.
Hale Boggs – The House majority leader, and representative for Louisiana’s 2nd district who mysteriously vanished with Alaskan congressman Nick Begich – while aboard a small plane. Did someone want the men dead, and how much bother would they go to, to ensure Boggs and Begich never made it back alive?
Voting starts now (below), and will run till midday May 1st. Please check out the YouTube video I made for the vote also. – Lucan v Boggs, who do YOU choose?
Hi all, just dropping a quick note here today. Work on a rebooted podcast is going a little slowly – I think, like a lot of people, the US election has been the only show in town over the week just past. When your country, Americans, is the hegemon – the most powerful nation on earth – I think we are all in some ways de facto Americans. We live under the same neo-liberal experiment you ushered in. Our dollar is tied to yours due to the Bretton Woods agreement of 1944. Your nation exerts a soft power on other ‘western’ nations in a myriad of ways from the jeans we wear, hamburgers we eat and music we listen to – to some of the scarier stuff i.e. when I see people I know posting Ben Shapiro and other Alt Right grifters on social media. The world has, on some level, been watching apprehensively to see who our new president is this week. I’ll let you all guess if I’m pleased with the outcome (if you follow me here, you know that I am).
Anyway, I’ve got ten topics for the podcast, FYI all existing posts. I’m still hoping to launch in early December. So far I’ve recorded six scripts, mixed three of them. I’m looking to find some time next week to record the theme and background music for those episodes, then on to do the final four. I’m hoping to restart the blog series at the same time, and at least until Christmas, will be running week to week. I suspect my choices of blog topics will be swayed to Tales I think of as ‘oldies but goodies’ – stories that have been with me for decades now. I’m really not sure if they’re anyone else’s oldies but goodies however.
This week (yes I’m launching this a little early, I know this should have been Tuesday) I’m compiling some of my off the cuff Facebook ads into a post. At my day job this year my personal development plan revolves almost entirely around the blog and podcast, and one of the things which has come from that is to up my weekly social media game, including by dropping weekly ads. I normally write these in my morning tea breaks, fact check and find a picture at lunch, then release later that day. It’s still early days in rolling these out, check out the few I’ve done so far below.
There is a Tale goes thus… On 28th July 1900 Italy’s King Umberto I sat down to a restaurant meal in the town of Monza, Italy. Nothing seemed extraordinary about the meal until the owner of the restaurant came out to meet the king.
The two men were doppelgangers, mirror images of one another.
The king and the restauranteur got to talking. Both were named Umberto. They shared a birthdate, and birthplace (Turin). To add to the weirdness, both men had married on the same date – 21st April 1868. Both women were named Marghareta – though I’m not sure if Umberto the restauranteur also married a cousin. The day of Umberto’s coronation, 9th January 1878, was the day Umberto the restauranteur opened his business.
The monarch was deeply moved by the experience of meeting his brother from another mother he invited him to come sit with his party at a track and field meet he had to attend the next day.
Neither man would see that day’s end. Umberto the restauranteur was murdered by robbers in the wee small hours while locking up the shop. The king would be assassinated by the anarchist Gaetano Bresci, in retaliation for the brutal massacre of protesters in Milan in 1898…
Why a Tale of Doppelgangers, Facebook followers? This page now has it’s own evil twin… a Twitter profile If you are a Twitter person please follow our ‘evil twin’ profile also – Simone
Two: What’s His Line?
Next week. (sorry folks, I could only find one very murky black and white still to turn into a colour cartoon this week). The man in the white suit should be familiar to all right? Colonel Harland Sanders, a Kentucky gas station franchisee who began selling fried chicken at his store… and who subsequently founded what we now call KFC.
The other man is John Charles Daly. Daly was the reporter who, on December 7th 1941 informed the USA of the attack on Pearl Harbour. As a special reporter he covered a lot of big news during World War Two – and moved on to host a gameshow in 1950 called What’s My Line?
On What’s My Line? a panel of very sharp media personalities would try to guess the occupations of the contestants. Most were everyday Americans. One contestant would always be a celebrity – and the panel would wear blindfolds in that round.
Sanders appeared on the show in 1963 as an everyday American. He had around 600 stores across the USA at the time, but had yet to sell the business to a corporation who took KFC worldwide- it was only when he sold in 1964 that he became a brand ambassador, and everyone came to know his face.
Daly and Sanders make a cameo in the next tale, which will likely run for two weeks. Next week will be a whodunnit that touches on a number of infamous deaths.
Three: I was tardy…
Hey all I really wanted to share a picture with you all today of Myron T Hendrick, but I guess the man’s tardiness knew no bounds, including having his photo taken? Instead I find myself sharing a picture of this man, Robert Bacon.
And yes folks I know I could make the same point, a very similar one at least, using Seth McFarlane – of whom there are a load of photos… Seth didn’t seem old-y World-y enough…
My mini Tale today: The rather stern looking man in the photo is one Robert Bacon; a former businessman turned secretary of state for the William Howard Taft and Teddy Roosevelt governments. In 1909 he served as the American ambassador to France – concluding his term in 1912, with a plan to return to the USA and run for senate. In early April he had his voyage home booked in… but his return was delayed till April 20 by his late replacement – the aforementioned Mr Hendrick. When I look at Mr Bacon’s stern visage I can imagine him wanting to cuss Hendrick out as every kind of lazy, shiftless bastard imaginable. I bet he was all smiles however – I can even imagine a big old hug for Hendrick – when he finally arrived. Hendrick’s slowness saved Bacon’s life. The ship he was forced to miss was the Titanic. This is my way of saying sorry, this week’s tale is likely to be a little late. This one took me days in working out how I structure this tale. Some time tomorrow evening NZ time I’ll drop part one of my tale on What’s My Line’s Dorothy Kilgallen.
Four: House Moving…
Hi all just a quick update. We’ve been packing up and lifting so many boxes, tables, chairs and wardrobes here that…. well we’re probably a long long way from having guns like strongwoman Katie Sandwina (1884- 1952) …. but if we stopped the takeaways we definitely would.
The house/office move continues. Writing remains on pause. In the meantime I am finding time here and there to edit some already done, and half done pieces.
Normal service will resume shortly. Keep yourselves all safe out there – Simone
Five: Swan’s Arch.
Hi all just a quick note. The picture today is local to me …. Westies will perhaps recognize it as that weird arch sticking out of the grass in Central Park Drive, on the way to Henderson. It’s known as ‘Swan’s Arch’. It was built by British immigrant Henry Charles Swan early in the 20th Century.
We don’t know when exactly Henry arrived in New Zealand with his wife Edith, but we know the couple moved to the leafy North Shore suburb of Devonport. Henry, it appears bought a large plot of land around Henderson creek in the 1890s without telling Edith, and a sailing boat. Swan jumped on his boat in 1900, telling Edith he was off to sail round the world alone, just like Joshua Slocum had done a few years earlier. Instead he sailed up the creek, moored his boat there, and engaged in an affair with his true love – growing fruits and vegetables…. It appears Henry loved gardening more than he loved Edith.
Swan lived on his boat, but built a brick shed to house his library. The archway was the entrance. Edith lived till 1940 in a house in Devonport, completely unaware of her husband’s dishonesty – believing he must have been lost at sea.
Why do I tell you this today?
Well, for one I have a rare New Zealand tale to drop next week – followed by a week’s worth of Halloween Tales to drop….. and I’ll be taking a month off the blogs to restart the Tales of History and Imagination podcast. There are a couple of things I need to develop that are in my can’t do yet bucket, to do a podcast some justice. I was going to do that over Christmas – but it seems since Joe Rogan has signed up with Spotify, the podcast episodes already made have been accruing dozes of listens + I should really fix + re-launch sooner rather than later.
I’ll be back, I’m no Henry Swan… though all fairness to Henry I bet he told Edith he’d be back too.
Unlike Henry Swan, I will drop in with something new next week. Have a great week all.
Hi all just a quick note today. I normally do mini tales like this on the social media accounts – sometimes weekly, and try to keep the blog for blog posts, but I’m mindful the page is getting a lot of traffic from other places at the moment.
This man is Robert the Bruce, (1274 – 1329). In 1306 he was crowned King of Scotland, and would go on to throw off the shackles of English rule. His decisive moment, the Battle of Bannockburn, 23 – 24 June 1314, where Edward II’s much larger force was destroyed by the Scots. His victory was fraught with struggle, with a few missteps and defeats.
There’s a legend, if true it lacks things like dates which could classify it as history – that after an early defeat from which he was lucky to survive – Robert the Bruce hid out in a cave for three months. Utterly dejected, and thinking of fleeing for the continent, Robert observed a spider weaving a web. The spider would run a line out, then pitch off for another angle. Sometimes it succeeded. Often it failed, crashing to the ground. Every time the spider would dust itself off and get back on the web though, till it had the entranceway covered. It’s said, most notably by 19th century author Sir Walter Scott, Robert the Bruce learned a lesson in the cave, telling his followers “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again” while recalling the spider to them. I’m choosing to ignore that particular phrase seems to come from an educationalist called Thomas Palmer, in the 19th century… and choosing to ignore that Robbie probably had to knock down the spider’s handiwork so he could escape the cave. One could conclude a spider can achieve just fine – till some lumbering man with a sword comes through, knocking your whole web down. But I will leave it to you to cast those lines. I’m really only using the tale as a plot device to say I’m planning a little casting myself in November – not lines but pods. I’ve felt quite unhappy about my own attempts to run a Tales of History and Imagination podcast in the past – The format of those first few episodes is far from great. As some aspects tightened up, I all but lost my voice… then it appears I went and hid in a cave for a while. In November I’m putting together a series of ten podcast episodes, and we’ll see how it goes from there. The plan at the moment is to record and mix a season at a time during four week breaks from the blog – and material from the blog to mostly fill the podcast. I’m hoping to get some blog posts in reserve over the Christmas break, so the blogs are seamless moving forwards.
Spotify signing Joe Rogan to their platform, then announcing they suddenly had podcasts (well, you know, they’ve had podcasts on there for years) has led to a spike in clicks on the old episodes, and has lit a fire under me in this regard. Otherwise I’d have left this till Christmas/New Year.
In the meantime, check out my Daily Halloween series, from tomorrow, till Halloween itself, 10am New Zealand time. – Simone.