Sunday, 28 December 2014

Sunday, 2nd July 1837

Poor old Light came in to see me during the week. He is not looking at all well and I fear he will not be making old bones.

He tells me he has been busying himself surveying the port and has completed a survey of twenty nine sections and laid out a settlement at Glenelg (in a grid pattern, I write without surprise)

But the poor sod finds himself up against it in no uncertain terms.

More and more tongues wag about him and the time it is taking him to complete the survey of the country sections. The settlers bitch and moan about him...

"We were promised on our arrival immediate possession of our property." 

"The surveys were all to have been completed, and ready for choice." 

"We have now been in South Australia for half a year and more, waiting with our servants, for our town acres and country sections."

"The town acres have been sited at a place so far from the sea, that it costs us more money to bring our goods from the beach to them, than from England to the beach."

"It took the Surveyor General and his Staff four months to survey 1000 acres for the town, how long will the survey of at least 100,000 acres, occupy the same party?"

"Ooooo poor old us! Ooooo, we're being inconvenienced! Ooooo, we're left with nothing to do except sit on our fat backsides day in and day out, while the servants bring us tea and scones. Oooooo! Are we not hard done by?"

God rot them for the miserable whining curs the lot of them are! 

I gave Light a drink or two and once lubricated he told me that the problem was that when he took on the job he understood that the Surveying Party would be sufficiently staffed to do the job properly. The reality was that those penny pinching fat heads - our admired Commissioners of the South Australia Company - understood that the Survey Party would be sufficiently staffed to do the job as cheaply as possible.

Light, wanting to do the job properly, has embarked upon a trigonometrical survey - accurate to be sure, but time consuming also. There are quicker, easier and cheaper survey methods but they simply aren't as accurate and when you've laid everything out in grids and boxes things need to line up properly or the thing is shot to Sodom.

He has also sent Kingston back to England. Perfectly understandable to anyone who has spent longer than ten minutes in the same room as the little oik, but it has depleted his staff by one (By two, if you ask Durward) with the result that there are now even less men working with Light to get the survey done. 

Light tells me that the horrid man was not just sent back to London for the sake of peace and quiet, but to plead with the Commissioners for more surveying staff to be sent out so that the job might be expeditiously completed.

My advice to the man was simple. "Let them all go to buggery and to Hell with the Pope!"

We are, after all, trying to build a colony for the ages and an inconvenience of a few months is as nothing to a job done properly for a few hundred years. If these Moaning Minnies of settlers don't appreciate what Light is trying to do then they can bring their complaints here to me at Government House and I will personally shove them so far up their arses that they will be chewing on them for days.

Walter Bromley came during the week and spent an hour with me telling me, solemnly, that he had discovered that the natives have no taste for porridge. I must admit I sat and waited for him to get to the moment when he revealed that this was all a joke, but he went on at great length and with an ever more serious tone about the natives and porridge. I am now more fully informed upon the subject than any man has a right to be. He also told me that he approached Jeffcott for judgement on the matter of the native dog that was killed last month and our noble judge - "a Daniel come to judgement" - told Bromley that the thing was not in hid jurisdiction and that "the Governor is the only man who can deal with the matter". 

I took a piece of paper and scribbled in pencil: "Walter Bromley may obtain a new dog for the injured party." and the man went away as happy as a sandboy.

Widow Harvey seems set fair to achieve her long held goal and actually kill someone.

During the week it occurred to me that brewing some beer would be a sensible thing to do.

It would certainly be better tasting than the water from the Torrens River, which is developing a brackish quality now that more and more people are watering live stock in it and using it for the disposal of night soil.

It would be healthier than drinking water as beer is both nutritious food and cooling drink. Even the Widow's baby brat would grow rosy cheeked and fat -well, fatter - with a little beer each mealtime.

And finally,by laying in a good supply of beer in the winter months when water is plentiful we would have a decent supply of drink during the Summer, when, if last Summer is anything to go by, the river is reduced to a chain of muddy waterholes.

Bobby Cock, who has the happy knack of seeming to be able to sell you anything you want has offered to supply me with a decent quantity of dried hops. Barley, of course, is pretty much unobtainable, but there is wheat to be had at a reasonable price and no-one I know ever objected to a good wheaten beer.  In one of the outhouses I found a number of empty barrels from the Buffalo that held, I believe, sauerkraut, so I can put them to good use. And I can certainly pitch Widow Harvey's washing out of the copper to boil up a mash.

A test batch in the next week or so would demonstrate the efficacy of the exercise, especially to Mrs Hindmarsh, who seems to doubt my practical ability and has made disparaging remarks regarding the possibility of anything good coming of the enterprise.

It was at this juncture that Widow Harvey, with the inevitability of the tide, spoke up to share her wisdom with us. It seems that her "dear ole da", by which appellation I assume she means her father, made many a gallon of good strong beer using naught more than what he found in hedgerows. Haw berries, nettles, sloe, all made a decent drop. And if he could acquire (by which, I guess, she meant steal) enough apples or pears "of the right sort" then he might make scrumpy or perry. And she did not doubt that she could turn her hand to the brewer's art with all the success of dear ole da.

It fell to me to point out the flaw in her plan. We have no apples or pears of any sort and we are similarly ill supplied with hedgerows with a concomitant lack of the ingredients for dear ole da's foul concoctions. The Widow was undeterred. She was sure that there were plenty of berries and fruits "out there" that would make perfect substitutes. I told her that we had no idea of what the qualities of those fruits and berries might be. They might have the qualities of the finest strawberries. Or they might have the qualities of hemlock and kill us all.

'Well sir," she said, "we'll only learn through trial and error."

If she thinks she is going to be using me to test the poisonous nature of her experiments then I have news for her. And it is all bad.

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