Archive for December 2018

Sunday. The Canberra Balloon Spectacular, day one. Balloons drift over Lake Burley Griffin. 8th. March 2014 Canberra Times photograph by Graham Tidy. News. The changing face of Braddon. Lonsdale Street Roasters took over the Civic Smash Repairs building in Lonsdale Street.April 29th 2015The Canberra TimesPhotograph by Graham Tidy.
Nanjing Night Net

Here’s a top tip for travel writers: you don’t get columns about your list of top tourist destinations if you made it, say, a list of actual top tourist destinations.

After all, a brief survey of Australia’s most popular tea towels already gives an elegantly accurate overview of our nation’s top sightseeing spots. And let’s be frank: saying “why, the Uluru place seems like it might be worth a gander – and how about that Sydney Harbour, eh? Apparently there’s some sort of bridge there!” isn’t going to get incredulous journalists sending your destinations of the year column viral.

And that’s why Lonely Planet is enjoying all sorts of Google Alert pings thanks to multiple articles, including this one, that are all essentially variations on “Canberra? You’re recommending that the one must-see spot in Australia is Canberra?”

Yes, according to said list, Canberra is the No.3 city to visit on our great blue-green globe (after Seville in Spain and ??? um, Detroit in the US? Really?), and the No.1 spot to see in Australia. And this, obviously, is a barking mad claim to make.

This is not because Canberra is a terrible place, mind. It’s because its charms are not exactly geared toward tourists.

There’s no shortage of stuff for the keen visitor, of course. Canberra boasts amazing galleries, great museums, and at least one more NASA-run Deep Space Communications Network than any other city in Australia.

The architecture is amazing, the (artificial) Lake Burley Griffin is picturesque, and the parking is ample. And Parliament House, it has to be said, is genuinely beautiful – or at least was until the hideous fences were put up to stop people walking over the lawns above the heads of our lawmakers, as designed, and thus help eliminate any pesky implication of Australian egalitarianism.

But Canberra also has a lot of baggage. Related: Real reason Sydney’s not liveableRelated: A house or a life?Related: Should we let country towns die?

After all, while all our other cities were hewn by stalwart pioneers hacking civilisation out of the unrelenting bush, Canberra was arbitrarily invented as a national capital as a way of providing plausible cover for Sydneysiders who wanted to sneeringly tell Victorians “well, it’s the same distance from Melbourne as Sydney – what are you whining about? What do you mean it’s in NSW – it’s in the Australian Capital Territory, obviously. Sheesh, there’s no pleasing some people!”

(And depending on who you believe, it was named as a joke by the local Ngunnawal people, who assured the designers that the word for the spot meant “meeting place” and definitely not “the bit between a lady’s boobs”, since the settlement was placed between Mount Ainslie and Black Mountain.)

Canberra is also tiny. You can be in open farmland or an isolated bush vista inside of a 15-minute drive from Parliament House, which goes some way to explaining why people, such as Tasmanian senator Eric Abetz, don’t seem to understand how most Australians think and behave.

If most of your time was spent in Hobart and Canberra, suddenly being confronted with Brisbane would seem like dropping into a sci-fi wonderland what with its locomotives and ethnic foods and people walking around without scarves.

The main thing about Canberra as a tourist destination, though, is something that it shares with the other butts of the nation’s jokes such as the aforementioned Hobart and (especially) my old hometown of Adelaide: it’s a nice place to live, but you wouldn’t necessarily want to visit there.

That’s not because it’s not got stuff going on or places to go, but because those things are not necessarily obvious and easy to find. In fact, I’m prepared to bet that Canberrans are less than delighted with having their favourite haunts and secret treasures hauled out into the open, because part of the joy of living in one of the smaller cities is feeling like it’s your own special place and that it also somehow loves you back.

That doesn’t happen in the big metropolises nearly as much. I still adore Sydney like a lovestruck teenager, but I’m perfectly aware that when I die it will leave my corpse for the ibises and never look back. Conversely, I was deeply hurt to discover during a recent visit that Adelaide didn’t lovingly preserve that P my first housemate drew upon the sign for the tiny inner-city alleyway Andrew St in 1993.

Be honest, residents of Canberra. You don’t want hipster blow-ins clogging up your favourite wine bars and snug microbreweries. We got so sick of that happening in Sydney that we had to destroy our entire night-time economy with lockouts just to get them to move to Melbourne.

And obviously it’s a long time until Lonely Planet’s next list, and it’s impossible to guess if another Australian city will make the top ten. But on current form, the smart money would be on Blinman, jewel of the Flinders Ranges: the most underrated tourist destination in Australia! Come for the 50-plus daytime summer temperatures, stay for the ??? um, bit where it gets cooler at night.

Just imagine the outraged thinkpieces that’ll inspire!

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

US actor Anthony Rapp has accused Kevin Spacey of making a “sexual advance” towards him when he was 14.
Nanjing Night Net

Rapp, now 46, claims Spacey invited him over to his apartment in 1986 after the two met while they were working on different shows on Broadway.

At the end of the house party, Rapp alleges, Spacey – then 26 – placed him on a bed and climbed on top of him.

BuzzFeed first published the allegations, but Spacey’s representatives did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

But on Monday afternoon, Spacey released a statement saying he was “horrified” to hear Rapp’s story.

“I honestly do not remember the encounter, it would have been over 30 years ago,” he said. “But if I did behave then as he describes, I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behaviour, and I am sorry for the feelings he describes having carried with him all these years.”

It is the first time Rapp has spoken publicly about his interactions with the Oscar winner.

The star of Star Trek: Discovery, who was catapulted into the spotlight after starring in the original musical Rent, said he was going public with the allegations to try to “shine another light” on Hollywood following the Harvey Weinstein scandal.

“He picked me up like a groom picks up the bride over the threshold,” Rapp told BuzzFeed.

“But I don’t, like, squirm away initially, because I’m like, ‘What’s going on?’ And then he lays down on top of me.

“He was trying to seduce me. I don’t know if I would have used that language. But I was aware that he was trying to get with me sexually.”

Rapp said he eventually managed to push Spacey off him and to leave the apartment.

“My head was spinning,” he said. “I have a memory of turning around and [thinking to myself], ‘What was that? What am I supposed to do with that? What does it mean?’

“The older I get, and the more I know, I feel very fortunate that something worse didn’t happen.

“And at the same time, the older I get, the more I can’t believe it. I could never imagine [that] anyone else I know would do something like that to a 14-year-old boy.”

Rapp said he had never talked to Spacey about that night in 1986, and is thankful he hasn’t had anything to do with the House of Cards star since.

However, he told BuzzFeed he did walk past Spacey during a rehearsal for the 1999 Tony Awards.

“He looked at me, and I thought I saw some form of recognition, and I quickly looked away,” he said.

“I passed him and went out the door. In retrospect, I’m very grateful that I wasn’t alone with him. I don’t know what the f— I would have done.” pic.twitter南京夜网/X6ybi5atr5??? Kevin Spacey (@KevinSpacey) October 30, 2017This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Jarryd Hayne’s Facebook post about Newcastle bloke | PHOTOS Jarryd Hayne’s Facebook post about Matt and Ray Shipway.
Nanjing Night Net

Matt Shipway scoring a try for the USA against Fiji. Picture: AAP/Michael Chambers.

Jarryd Hayne playing for Fiji against the USA.

Sonny Bill Williams in action for the Kiwis. Picture: AAP/Dan Peled.

TweetFacebook The Hayne Plane’s Facebook post.Jarryd Hayne has a lot of followers on Facebook.

So when the rugby league star, who’sknown as the“Hayne Plane”,reposted a message from a bloke named Ray Shipway, lots of people took notice.

Rayis the brother of Matt Shipway –a 32-year-old Merewether tilerwho plays forSouth Newcastle. At the moment, he’s playing for the USA intheRugby League World Cup.Hequalifies toplay for the USA because his mum was born there.

A few years back, Matt was nicknamed the“Red-haired Sonny”–a joking reference to Sonny Bill Williams, theKiwi footy legend.

Anyhow Ray sent a Facebookmessage to Jarryd Hayne,before Mattlined up for the USA against Hayne’sFiji side on Saturday.

The message went like this [wegenerouslycleaned up theFacebook-style punctuation and grammar]:“Hello MrHayne, congratulations on your recent selection for Fiji for the upcoming game against USA. I would like to bring to your attention a certain player nicknamed Red-haired Sonny. He is the number 12 for USA, weighs 102kg and stands at an impressive 195cm, studied engineering at UCLA, was drafted to the Cleveland Browns where he learnt some impressive agility and power skills, before making the dramatic switch to rugby league. [Ray was pulling Jarryd’s leg here. None of thisistrue, except that Mattis number 12 for the USA]”.

Ray’s message continued:“Be wary Mr Hayne, he is a destroyer and will do anything to win. Squirrelgrips [this relates to testicles], hoppas [this relates to John Hopoate] and eye-gouging are normal for this man-mountain. I would consider tearing a hammy in the warm up. Have a good day”.

The Hayne Plane reposted the message to Facebook, with this comment:“This was too funny not to post. Thanks for the tip, I appreciate you @rayshipway”.

Ray told Topics thatJarryd’srepost shows he’s a“quality bloke”.

“Guess he takes the time to look at his messages,” Ray said.

As for the message itself, Ray joked:“I just thought I’d warn him about my brother, that’s all”.

Ray watched the match in a pub at Alice Springs over a couple of beers. Fiji beat the USA 58-12 and Matt scored his side’s firsttry.

Ray willbe at Townsville Stadium on Sunday to watch his brother’snext match for theUSAagainst Italy.

“I’ll try and get a photo with the Red-haired Sonny,”he said.

Hairdressers have an eye for detail. But rarely is a hairdresser’s eye as significant as it could be for convicted murderer Sue Neill-Fraser.
Nanjing Night Net

Neill-Fraser is serving a 23-year prison sentence for killing her partner, Bob Chappell, in 2009.

She faced the Tasmanian Supreme Court in Hobart on Monday in a final bid to overturn her conviction.

Her legal team must convince Justice Michael Brett there is new and significant evidence for an appeal to proceed.

A hairdresser who saw a teenage girl and two men in the area where Mr Chappell went missing on the night he disappeared provides such evidence, Thomas Percy QC, for Neill-Fraser, argues.

The hairdresser, Brent Brocklehurst, saw the trio with his neighbour.

He was told the neighbour had picked them up after they had been on a dinghy near the Marieville Esplanade foreshore.

Mr Chappell went missing from the Four Winds, a yacht he and Neill-Fraser owned which was moored 300 metres off the same esplanade in Sandy Bay.

“[The neighbour] said ‘I bumped into these guys, they’ve come out of nowhere, on a dinghy’,” Mr Brocklehurst told the court on Monday.

Neill-Fraser claims she left her partner of 20 years alone on the boat about 2pm on January 26, 2009 as he worked on repairs.

His body has never been found, and, apart from a blood sample found to belong to Mr Chappell, there was no forensic evidence relied upon for Neill-Fraser’s conviction.

But a DNA sample from Meaghan Vass was found on the Four Winds.

Mr Brocklehurst could not be sure, but believes the girl he saw the night Mr Chappell vanished was Ms Vass, who was 15 at the time.

It was about 7pm, and the girl was not wearing shoes, he said.

He is more certain that one of the men the girl was with was Stuart Russell, who committed an unrelated murder two years later.

His evidence adds weight to a theory developed by Neill-Fraser’s legal team: that locals who were known to steal from yachts in the area boarded the Four Winds with Ms Vass and killed Mr Chappell after he disturbed them.

Earlier this year, Ms Vass signed a statutory declaration that also supported this theory, but in court on Monday she withdrew it in sensational fashion.

Police could not confirm how Ms Vass’ DNA had been found on the Four Winds, and Ms Vass has also been unable to explain its presence.

Neill-Fraser was found to have bludgeoned Mr Chappell with an unknown object, used rope and a winch to lift his body from the cabin to the deck, and then weighed it down with a fire extinguisher before dumping it in the Derwent River.

She was motivated by the knowledge the relationship was over, and that Mr Chappell – a wealthy Hobart doctor – was worth more to her dead than alive.

An attempt was then made to sink the Four Winds to destroy evidence.

Neill-Fraser has maintained her innocence, despite police finding significant inconsistencies in her alibi.

She has sat quietly in court during Monday’s hearing, even during the evidence of Ms Vass, who screamed, and repeatedly stood and banged the witness box, while she was questioned by Mr Percy.

She said during Neill-Fraser’s trial that she did not know how her DNA had come to be on the yacht.

But in April, lawyers for Neill-Fraser obtained a signed statutory declaration from Ms Vass saying she was on the Four Winds on the night Mr Chappell went missing.

She also said she was with other people she would not name.

But she recanted that statement in dramatic fashion, leaving the courtroom in tears after requesting a five-minute break.

“I had been made to sign that statement out of fear,” she said.

“I was threatened to be put in the boot of a car.”

Ms Vass told the court she is still homeless, as she was when Mr Chappell disappeared.

Shortly before asking for a break, she cried out for her mother and a senior Tasmania Police officer.

She told Prosector Daryl Coates she had been offered money to make the statement, but later conceded that could have been a reference to a $40,000 reward for information offered by Neill-Fraser’s supporters.

Ms Vass said a woman who met Neill-Fraser in prison and was an associate of a Devil’s Henchmen bikie.

Victoria Police forensic scientist Maxwell Jones, said the DNA sample belonging to Ms Vass that was found on the Four Winds was far more likely to have come directly from her saliva or blood than a secondary transfer or via contact with her skin.

Another witness, who claims he was on the foreshore on the night of the disappearance also gave evidence on Monday, saying that he believed a former friend who was living on a yacht at the time had murdered Mr Chappell and three other people.

But he also claimed he was working for ASIO at the time of the disappearance and admitted he would lie to help Neill-Fraser.

The appeal before Justice Michael Brett will continue on Tuesday. iFrameResize({resizedCallback : function(messageData){}},’#pez_iframe’);

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Towards the end of Alex Miller’s new novel, The Passage of Love, there is an email sent by a woman in Paris to the French translator of the book’s leading man, Robert Crofts, a novelist. She is introducing herself as the person to whom Crofts refers on his website when writing about one of his novels.
Nanjing Night Net

But eagle-eyed readers of the uncorrected proof copy would have noticed that the short burst of French doesn’t refer to the novelist as Robert, it calls him Alex, and the book the woman is writing about is titled Lovesong, one of Miller’s most popular and admired novels. “We picked that up. Jesus, nobody noticed,” Miller says.

Mind you, it wouldn’t really have mattered had the name stayed as it was because, as he says a moment later, “the whole thing is totally true”.

The Passage of Love is the story of a young man from England, Robert Crofts, who has migrated to Australia and worked as a stockman in Queensland. After three years he goes south to Melbourne and decides he wants to write. If you are vaguely familiar with Miller’s biography, this will ring a bell.

Crofts becomes involved with Wendy, a left-wing activist working as cleaner in Myer where he too is employed, who tells him: “You’re a writer if you write.”

But the relationship doesn’t last and through a man in his boarding house he is introduced to Lena Soren, the daughter of a wealthy family in a bayside suburb and “probably quite as mad and as dangerous as you are”. Lena’s widowed mother encourages both his relationship with her daughter and his desire to write although she argues the latter would be impossible without first gaining a university education.

So Lena and he marry and begin a tempestuous relationship that eventually founders, although they both acknowledge mutual love and need. Lena is trying to find some sort of meaning to her own life free from the restrictions of class and upbringing. But it is through Lena Robert meets Martin and Birte, two Germans who become crucial to his imaginative sense of the world.

Lena and Robert buy a farm in Araluen in the south of New South Wales, a world that he initially finds to be some kind of agrarian Arcadia, but where eventually he is left on his own, brooding, desperate to be published and sliding into gloom. He is pulled out of this dismal state of affairs when he begins an affair with Ann, about whom he has long entertained erotic fantasies.

For Robert Crofts, the name of the hero in Miller’s first novel, Watching the Climbers on the Mountain, read Alex Miller. For Lena, read Ann Neil, his first wife. For Martin Bloch, read Miller’s great friend Max Blatt, and for Ann the woman in Paris, read Ann the woman in France who wrote to his translator.

Yes, he says, the whole thing is totally true and although the book is called a novel, he describes it as autobiographical fiction.

“It’s the same as Virginia Woolf with To the Lighthouse. People said it isn’t a novel, it’s just you and your family on holiday. And she said it’s ‘autobiographical fiction’. It’s rather like Helen Garner’s The Spare Room and, perhaps, Drusilla Modjeska’s Poppy, although she called that a memoir.” Other recent examples might include the works of Karl Ove Knausgaard or Michael Sala’s first novel, The Last Thread.

For Miller the fiction comes in his collapsing of time, largely to suit the narrative. While stressing everything is real, he has changed some people’s names and when some things happened. “Robert makes it as a writer in the sense that he does get his first novel published but I would have had to go a bit longer – quite a bit longer than that – whereas that’s a nice moment to end it where he comes back to Australia to sell the house.”

It’s all a question of truth and Miller claims always to have written the truth in his novels. There is the material truth – as evidence he produces three pictures that have been important in his life and feature significantly in the book – but “emotional truths are the absolute grounding of any novel. Historical truth is secondary to the intimate lives of us.

“The truth of the intimate lives of us is not available to the historian or the biographer. The biographer strives to get there and can be challenged on those things. There’s always a sense in writing history or biography of being defensive to a degree in your bibliography or your note ??? Whereas as a novelist you are at liberty to plumb the depths of the human emotions. You’d better get that right though.”

He says he has wanted to write this moral accounting of his early years for a long time but it was only after his wife, Stephanie, pointed out the crucial distance old age provided that he was really able to get to grips with it.

“Steph and I have been together for 43 years. I came back to Australia to sell my house and move to Paris and buy the apartment. But I met Steph in my first week and we just knew at once and I never wrote to Ann and she didn’t know where I was so she couldn’t write to me.”

I wondered whether that had played on his mind for 43 years.

“Yes. I always felt a bit guilty about it. As you do. A number of things I’ve felt guilty about until now.”

If the book is an accounting of his early life, it is as much an account of his development as a writer. He wrote three what he calls pre-novels – “I thought you had to write socially responsible novels” – before his friend Max, the model for Martin, asked him bluntly on reading one: “Why don’t you write something you love?”

Miller had always told stories; his Glaswegian father had been a great storyteller and as a boy Miller had developed a great intimacy with his brother by making up stories for him about a little green elf. But writing was a different matter.

When he told his father that he’d written a book his response – and here he mimics his father’s accent -was “what d’you do that for?”

“I’d lost my audience as far as he was concerned. What I’d lost was the social context of storytelling. He grew up in that context. They handed their stories down when he was a boy from the old people in the Highlands.

“The idea of writing it, being alone in a room with the door closed telling a story – it wasn’t telling a story; telling a story was having the response of the people around you.”

But writing is Miller’s way and has been since well before his first published story, Comrade Pawel, appeared in Meanjin in 1975.

The distress he describes when Robert Crofts’ first novel is rejected in The Passage of Love is utterly his own experience even if the rejection letter, which is the one Miller himself received, is as generous as possible and includes a glowing reader’s report.

“Writing isn’t a complacent way of life but a way of life in which I am constantly challenged. When I’m not writing, a strange kind of loneliness comes over me and by strange I mean I can be in among my family, with my family or close friends and something in me cries out and I can’t answer that cry whatever it is.

“Writing is my way of answering this silent cry within. I’m not sure what it means or how it might be explained other than in this way, but I’m grateful for it. It lies in me like a mystery that I will never fully resolve so that I am always drawn back to it.”

Miller’s first novel was published in 1988. Since then he has won the Miles Franklin twice – for The Ancestor Game in 1993 and 10 years later for Journey to the Stone Country. He turned 80 last year, but is confident he has more books in him and time to write them. The next one will be Max Blatt’s story.

Perhaps that confidence comes from a strange encounter he had a while ago in South Melbourne when a tiny Indian man stopped him in the street. Miller offered him some money. “No, no,” said the man, “I don’t want money. I want to tell you that you will live to 94.”

“And I said, ‘oh thanks very much’. I said ‘will I be all right?’ and he said, ‘I don’t know, I can’t tell you the details, I just know that you will live to be 94. Thank you and good day’, and off he went. It was a very convincing encounter.”

The Passage of Love is published by Allen & Unwin at $32.99.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.