Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Sunday, 9th April, 1837

Word came to me during the week that made all as clear as crystal.

Last week the Buffalo topsail disappeared during the night to the puzzlement of all.

This week the Reverend Charles Beaumont Howard set up his church in the settlement of Adelaide, intending to bring succour and spiritual nourishment to the people. His church, I discovered today, consists of a ship's sail strung up between trees. A SHIP'S SAIL!!!

The miserable thieving mongrel son of a whore! I'll give him succour! He'll need to suck his food through a tube by the time I get through with him!

This morning at service, as I sat under the pilfered canvas the little gobshite had the unmitigated gall to give an interminable sermon on 1 Timothy 2:1-4 "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth."

Pray for those in authority so we may live a quiet life of honesty? Honesty? Clearly the man knows nothing of it! A quiet life is just what he won't be having, the larcenous bitch's bastard

I sat seething throughout his sermon while all around me slept on, my temper not helped by the warm temperature, the flies and the sunshine. Because, whether by accident or design - thought I suspect the latter - my Vice Regal chair was placed directly beneath a hole in the sail, meaning that while everyone else could doze in the shade, I had the sun beating down on me full force.

After the service was finished Howard approached me and asked what I thought of his improvised shelter. "The view of God's own nature", he simpered. "So much finer than any stained glass in the great cathedrals of Europe."

I simply grunted at him then said: "Perhaps next week you tell us what you think about 1 Thessalonians 5:2?"

He thought for a moment then recalled the verse. "For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.  A splendid verse."

"Isn't it?" I hissed menacingly. "Or perhaps  Zephaniah 1:9?"

This one had him stumped, so I took the victory.

"In the same day also will I punish all those that leap on the threshold, which fill their masters' houses with violence and deceit."

And with that I left the hypocrite to wallow in his depravity and turpitude.

I have heard reports that the swine had an accomplice in Osmond Moneybags Gilles.The two of them were seen loading the sail onto a handcart and then pushing and dragging the thing up the track from Holdfast Bay to the town. It was a stinking hot day and I hope it nearly killed them.

No doubt Howard got Gilles, the poor old duffer, suitably marinated in order to get him to help, tempting him like the serpent in Eden.

The man is a bounder and a thief and I shall ensure that his life is a living Hell.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Sunday, 2nd April, 1837

Difficult as it is to imagine, but the Marines sunk to new lows this past week.

For some weeks now I have been aware that there has been resentment simmering between them and William Williams, the part time policeman appointed by Gilbert. Their feeling was that Gilbert and Williams (or "Billy Bill" as they refer to him) were encroaching on the Marines' duties and responsibilities.

Sergeant Strugnell told me that: "It's us that's meant to be the peacekeepers, sir. Not some popinjay with a pea shooter and a letter opener." The which curious allusion referred to the pistols and swords conferred upon Williams by Gilbert upon his taking the job on. I did point out to the sergeant that most disturbances of the peace in the Colony seemed to be caused, not rectified, by his Marines, but he replied that people needed to make allowances for their youth. "They have spirit, sir"

Indeed they do - bottle after bottle of it.

But when Gilbert appointed young Bob Hill to the post of Assistant High Constable, the Marines could scarce contain themselves in their derision of "Bill and the Hill".

Things came to a head earlier this week when several Marines, emboldened by brandy and the encouragement of the equally shickered Coromandel escapees they were guarding, set off to determine the matter once and for all.

Unfortunately for Hill and Williams it happened to be the one day on their monthly schedule that they were on duty together and the Marines found them at the Paddy will Linger Lagoon giving people the benefit of their impersonation of comedy policemen. "'Ello 'ello. What's all this then?"

Of course a fight soon broke out, though not between the Constabulary and the Military. It appears that the Marines disagreed between themselves as to whether Hill or Williams was the bigger son of a bitch's bastard and fell to work pugilising each other to prove their point.

At this point Williams made the stupid error of trying to intervene.

I don't blame him, but I do point out that a more experienced man might well have stood back and allowed the situation to resolve itself as the Marines pummeled each other into unconsciousness.

But intervene he did and, as a result, I cannot help but feel that much of the responsibility for what happened is his alone.

It seems that he began by foolishly blowing a whistle, thus attracting the attention of the Marines. Fortunately the whistle was on a lanyard, which gave the surgeon who later pulled the thing out something to grip.

Having attracted the attention of the brutes Williams and Hill did not take the obvious course of action and run like hell. Instead they attempted to subdue the Marines and place them under arrest, with the result that Williams received a black eye and was then folded up like a Bavarian pretzel; Hill was knocked unconscious from a blow to the head with a handy cast iron skillet and a perfectly good whistle on a lanyard was nearly lost for good.

In fact, if it hadn't have been for the intervention of Charlie Mann, Advocate General and welter weight champion, the whole thing could have turned particularly ugly.

Mann flattened the Marines with one or two swipes, gathered them up under his arm and returned them to the shore. They have now joined the Coromandel prisoners they were meant to be guarding for a short stay on the other side of the bars.

Once Hill could remember his name he promptly resigned from the position of Assistant Constable, saying that when he signed on he had thought the job was to be mainly ceremonial.

Williams has been unfolded and is due to return to solid food shortly.

Still, there's always a silver lining. Several witnesses have reported that they have never heard a sound quite so lovely as the muffled, melancholy tone of the whistle, which sounded each time Williams broke wind.

A most strange occurrence this week, when it was discovered that the topsail from the Buffalo had disappeared during the night.

Things like a topsail don't just vanish by themselves and so I can only conclude that it was, in point of fact, stolen.

My daughter Susan has told me that she suspects it was stolen by thieves, so clearly the mystery is as good as solved with her on the case.

But I cannot work out how it was done. A topsail weighs a goodly sum as any AB who has had to hoist one aloft will tell you. So I cannot help but think it was the work of two or even three interlopers. And then, having got the thing off the Buffalo they then had to get it ashore. And all the while they had to go about their nefarious deed while several marines, several of the Buffalo crew (the rest live ashore), the Coromandel prisoners (Jeffcott hears their case on Tuesday) and my family and me all slept undisturbed,

Now I admit, the Marines couldn't spot a turd in taffeta, the crew were almost certainly in a drunken stupour and the prisoners probably lent a hand. But Mrs Hindmarsh can hear a Marine slip loose a silent fart when she is at the far end of the ship in order to admonish him, so how the thieves managed to lug a sail over the side without her hearing I do not know.

And then, having acquired this great wad of coarse canvas there remains the question "Why?" A great lump of weather worn canvas... why would anyone want it? Once again Susan had the answer. "Perhaps the thieves wanted to make curtains."

Tis mystery all - both the topsail and the way my daughter thinks.

We finally prepare to say farewell to the Buffalo this week. I will sign command over to Captain Wood at the end of the month and this week we headed ashore to find the house the Marines have built for my family and me on the shores of the lagoon.

For the past few weeks the Buffalo crew and the Marines have been engaged, whenever there was a free moment in their busy daily programme, (a jest!) in moving furniture and effects belonging to me from the ship to the shore.

It would seem that at no point when building our new residence did they considered that the furniture might need to go inside the house and still leave room for people.

What they have given us is one large room and an outhouse, built of wood, reeds, wooden packing cases and drift wood, all plastered with mud. From what I can see they piled all our furniture and effects together and then constructed (I use the term loosely) the walls around them. How else to explain the irregular shape of the floor plan and crazy angles of the walls? Certainly we will need to pull the walls down in order to move our furnishings out when the time comes.

Since we are unable to move the furniture without tearing down the building, we have had to do the best we can as to find places to sleep and to live.

The girls have set up a boudoir inside the Linen Press and young Johnny has found a bedroom inside the pianoforte. The strings, he says form a quite comfortable mattress.

Mrs Hindmarsh and I have found our bed, but it has the dining room table siting on it. However, but by draping a mosquito net over the table we have created something like a four poster bed. As long as one does not roll over too quickly in bed and hit the table's central wooden pillar it is quite comfortable. And the central pillar does form a barrier between Mrs Hindmarsh and myself, so we both feel reassured.

There are no cooking and washing facilities, so Widow Harvey has had to do all the meals outside; the which, no doubt, will suffice during the Summer, but if the winter months prove rainy then she will have a damp time of it. I refuse to have the mad poisoner sleep in here with us. She would need to sleep in the sideboard for one thing and the thought of sharing a bedroom her does not allure me. As a result she is currently sleeping in the outhouse which naturally brings other problems to the fore when one of us wishes to avail themselves of the facilities.

But seriously, if this is the job the Marines do of the "temporary residence", then God's bollocks, what sort of hatchet job will they make of Government House?

Of course the Marines came to me to ask what I thought of their work in building for me and they looked at me like  a little puppy that had bought back a dead rat and laid it at my feet and expected a "well done". Of course I should have given them the dressing down of a lifetime. but really, they looked at me with such innocent stupidity that I had to let it go.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Monday, 27th March, 1837

What a week it has been. So exciting that I have been unable to write my usual Sunday night summary of the week and have had to put off its writing until this Monday evening.

On Wednesday last the Council gathered at Light's cottage for his unveiling of the city plan.  We all dutifully "oohed" and "ahhed" at the thing, while Whatshisface Kingston pointed out the bits that were his idea and everyone ignored him.

No doubt the plan is a good one and will suffice, but there are rather too many boxes for my liking. "More curves," I kept telling him, but Light (as usual) seems to have done exactly what he wanted. I suspect the influence of Light's housekeeper, Miss Gandy in this. It is rumoured that she gave Light an engraved ruler and set square last Christmas and insisted in his using of it throughout his work on the plan.

Still, we all congratulated the Colonel, slapped him on the back and I made a small speech saying, "You've all done very well", or some such tomfoolery. Buggerlugs Kingston spent the rest of the afternoon telling all who would listen (and that number was few) that "His Excellency said that I had done well." Vulgar little oik.

The next day those of us who had purchased land back in England returned to what, I suppose, must now be called the intersection of the Northern and Western Terraces and the Port Road for the allocation of purchased acres.

It had been decided by Fisher that the fairest way of going about this would be to put all the numbers of the available acres in a hat and then each landowner to take turns in pulling out a number which would then be recorded in the Company Ledger.

The whole thing seemed rather undignified and smacked a little of the Lucky Sticks stall  at a Country Fair and I said so in no uncertain terms. Stephens, damn him, had the gall to make some comment about me being too grand to condescend to attend country fairs and warm words were exchanged between us. I believe I may have suggested that no country fair allow him attendance lest he turn it into a drunken orgy and he seemed to take exception to this. I might have also suggested that he could get yet another wife through the lucky sticks since he seemed to not be too fussy about who he married and this too was not received well. At length he calmed down and since there seemed to be no other choice available we agreed to this Cheapjack affair.

Of course, Fisher bollocksed the whole thing by not having a hat set by, but to no-one's surprise Whod'yamaycallhim Kingston pressed forward eagerly shouting "You can use my hat! Use mine!" The man was born in Ireland I believe, which explains a great deal.

Someone - I believe Brown - made the pretty comment that over five hundred numbered papers fitting in Kingston's hat proves what a bighead he is and all agreed.

In the event the draw of numbers was quite exciting and all who took part agreed that it was a fair way of dealing with the matter. Although Fisher, who wrote out the numbers, seems to have done particularly well, causing some to suggest that he marked the backs of the acres he specially wanted. I make no judgemental comment, but such sneaking and deceit would certainly not be beyond the wiles of the loathesome bastard.

Today we finally had the sale of unallocated town acres and great was the excitement. All week there were rumours of bargains to be had; of the South Australia Company being short of money and unable to meet its financial obligations and hence being forced to sell off vast swathes of land at knockdown prices. As a result of these rumours, the land sale was overflowing with people of the less wealthy sort, hoping to strike a bargain.

It seemed to me that this could only go in the favour of those of the better class of buyer, If the sale was full of bidders bidding at rock bottom then those with a copious supply of coin of the realm would need only bid what was, to them, a modest price in order to be the winning bidder. Hence, those who were at the sale hoping to buy land for next to nothing would be sure to be disappointed, whilst those who could afford to pay a realistic price might well pay less that they expected.

That, at least, was my thinking when I started the rumours.

In the event the sale went wonderfully well. Several hundred settlers gathered outside Mr Fisher's hut, some arriving the night before and camping out in order to be the better able to bid for prime lots. I am informed that Fisher was not best pleased when, at about three in the morning, some seventy settlers began singing songs of a bawdy and comic nature at his front door, like dirty minded carol singers. No doubt his herd of children discovered some new words with which to enliven their conversation.

To add to the misery, in the morning Widow Harvey arrived on the back of the Company dray, having travelled up from the Bay during the night. She was offering to supply the assembled settlers with breakfast and had made pies to try and sell from the cart. This had the twin effects of driving people in to the sale and also ensuring that the notion of a "pie cart" will never catch on in Adelaide.

Mrs Hindmarsh and the girls with their ceaseless preparations meant that we did not leave Holdfast Bay in good time. I had informed Fisher that the sale was not to start until my arrival and I thought I detected an air of some impatience when I entered the sale at about eleven.

I detected also an air of disappointment when the lower orders realised that the knock me down bargains that had been rumoured were not to be had and there was a deal of muttering and grumbling which I thought most ill humoured and impolite. Really, if people are so foolish as to believe every baseless rumour they hear they have no-one to blame but themselves.

Though let me add, I am gladdened that they do believe every baseless rumour they hear. Otherwise, what would be the point of starting them?

The outcome of the sale was that, for an outlay of just under 75 pounds, I am now the owner of a fair portion of North Adelaide and some delightful acres in the southern section as well. Add these to the acres I bought before leaving England and the country acres to which I am entitled once Light finishes his survey and I have become owner of a swathe of land that will, I do not doubt, increase in value manyfold.

I see this as some small recompense for the trials of Governing the colony and her people. If I have to put up with them I might as profit from them.