Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Sunday, 21st May, 1837

I was left flummoxed this week in council when the final cost of the building of the Government Hut was tabled for approval.

The cost? Four thousand, six hundred and twenty six pounds and tuppence.

As I sit here in my cosy office writing up my diary I look around and can certainly see where the tuppence was spent. But for the life of me I cannot image how they spent over four and a half thousand pounds on this hovel.

At a stretch I suppose that shipping the cottage that proved useless might have cost six hundred pound, but that still leaves four thousand pounds to be accounted for. I noted that the account stated that part of the cost was for furnishing, but since we brought our own I cannot see this as correct. And even if the sum was for other public buildings, a few bark huts about the place seem unlikely to have cost that much.

I can only imagine that the cost of the beer and spirits the Marines consumed whilst building the thing might have been added to the total, in which case I can begin to see where the money was spent.

But just in private I suspect that someone might have had their fingers in the till. An inflated account here, a few pounds extra there. It all adds up.

I have my suspicions and they rhyme with Ham Snuggery Heavings. No.. Unevens. Odds and evens. Oh damn it: Sam Buggery Stephens.

Wouldn't put it past him.

I cheered myself up this week however, with the news that the Colony is now certified entirely free of Durward Kingstons. It appears that Light had some urgent errand in London - I'm not sure what... shoes to be collected from his maker? A cake left in the oven? A candle left burning in his parlour? Whatever it was, the surveying party decided unanimously that the only man they could spare was the pestilential Kingston. And so Durward finds himself on his way back to England with his instructions in his hot hands and the rest of us find that we are left to carry on with out him as best we can.

So. Happy days all round I think.

We have a new hospital in the colony. Up until now Dr. Tom (Thomas Cotter, Colonial Surgeon) has been operating in a tent across the road from us here at Government House. An old piece of canvas strung between two trees has afforded little protection for patients in all weathers, there is dust and mud everywhere and a lack of even basic sanitary conditions. Dr Tom has been seen standing outside the tent during the day accosting passersby in the street and begging them for donations of money for hospital supplies. I think many people have preferred to take their chances with illness rather than take their lives in their hands and report to the Colonial Infirmary. 

Dr Tom has hardly endeared himself to the sick either. He is not a man to suffer malingerers and many of the brave souls who have mustered the courage to go to the infirmary have been met with little sympathy from Dr Tom and received a pre-emptory order to bugger off and not waste his time. He seems to be a great believer in the healing powers of moving the bowels, advice he dishes out to all he deems to be malingering. 

These arrangements have hardly been satisfactory and so the Company has bought a new building for the care of the sick.

It is a small thatched cottage located further down North Terrace towards the corner. The building cost seventy one pounds and there has been talk about town that this seemed unduly extravagant. Since they pay Tom Cotter the princely sum of one hundred pounds a year and he is expected to buy his own medical supplies, I think they are getting a bargain, but the colonists are all as tight as a dolphin's arsehole

I was surprised to hear the Dr Tom has also made clear.his displeasure about the building. What with a dirt floor and a scantily thatched roof Dr Tom and his patients have found themselves ankle deep in mud for much of the time and with no cooking facility or privy, there is some discontent. 

Well, it will be an incentive to stay healthy I suppose.

For the past week we have been meeting with regard to finally naming the streets and parks of the City. Or rather: write names on the map Light has drawn up because to be honest you'd be hard pressed at present to actually distinguish and streets, named or otherwise, from the uncleared scrub. So far we have managed to name South Terrace and West Terrace and East Terrace. There was some discussion over what to name the northern extremity, because Light, with his mania for straight lines and in order to follow the line of the stream made what might otherwise be "North Terrace" as crooked as a dog's hind leg. Some thought that, bent as it was, we should just pretend it was all one road and call it North Terrace while others thought that each short section should have a different name.

It was at this point that we realised that we had the map facing in the wrong direction and it was actually East Terrace that was crooked and we had written South Terrace on West Terrace, East Terrace on North Terrace and West Terrace on South Terrace.

Brown thought this a huge joke and suggested that we just leave it the way it was and give future generations something to puzzle over. I couldn't help but think that it would just give future generations a chance to think we were buffoons and, to be honest, there's probably more than enough evidence of that already, so I insisted that common sense prevail and that we change it.

Fortunately we were only writing on a rough copy in pencil because that damned fool Hack tried to erase our error by spitting on his shirt sleeve and rubbing the paper vigourously. Of course all he did was cause a great smudge which rendered much of the thing unreadable. We gave up after that and just named the damned thing east Terrace to be done with it.

It has also been decided that since the settlement is to be named "Adelaide" - with the gracious permission of our beloved Queen, Old Eagle Beak - the wide road that runs through the centre of the town should be named after His Majesty and so King William Street it is.

Someone - I suspect Morphett - rather crudely (and unnecessarily) opined that "it wouldn't be the first time King William had gone up the middle of Adelaide" but I quickly put a stop to that kind of smut.

And I am afraid that that is about as far as we have got. Four Terraces and a road down the middle. Three meetings and that's all we've agreed to. We are supposed to be meeting on Tuesday to finalise the plan and I don't hold out much hope.

Fisher, of course, stuck the knife in. He suggested that two of the public squares be named after Light and myself which we thought was a most magnanimous gesture and agreed to gratefully. Then he said, "Of course I am quite modest and have not the need of such public recognition as you two do." and named one of the squares "Hurtle" after, he said, "an old family name". Old family name my eye! It's the sod's middle name and is every bit as obvious a bit of recognition as Hindmarsh Square or Light Square. But he has to be smarmy and clever.

Of course once Light and Fisher and I had places named after us it was a free for all and I suspect that our naming committee will end up naming streets principally after each other; secondly after any Company Commissioners back in England we are trying to toady to; thirdly then after just about anyone else we can think of.  Jeffcott, for instance, has decided to give Miss Kermode, his fiancee in Hobart, a wedding gift by naming a street after her. This seems no satisfactory way to establish a city! I fear Tuesday is going to be a most undignified business.

I have discovered why Lucrezia Harvey has been sneaking out at night. It appears she has a daughter. Mrs Hindmarsh is rallying round and sees a cause in it. No doubt the poor child will be the victim of my wife's charitable attention. I pity her.

I also record that it was my birthday yesterday. I  might as well record it, because no-one else remembered it!

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