Home' Greymouth Star : May 29th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Thursday, May 29, 2014
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uLetters to the editor
1914 - The liner Empress of Ireland carrying
1477 passengers and crew collides with the
Nor wegian freighter Storstadt in the St
Lawrence River in Canada. At least 1012
people die in one of the worst maritime
1923 - Palestine constitution is
suspended by British because Arabs
refuse to cooperate.
1941 - The HMAS Perth is
damaged while evacuating Allied
troops from Crete, in World War
II. O ver 16,000 troops successfully
evacuate the island over four nights.
1942 - Bing Crosby records Irving Berlin’s
White Christmas. It becomes one of the best-
selling songs of all time.
1953 - Edmund Hillary of New Zealand
and Tensing Norgay of Nepal become the first
people to reach the top of Mount Everest.
1985 - More than 30 people are killed and
375 others injured at Brussels’ Heysel stadium
in riots involving Liverpool and Juventus
supporters before the European Cup soccer
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Charles II, British monarch (1630-1685);
Patrick Henry, US statesman (1736-1799); G
K Chesterton, English author (1874-1936);
Bob Hope, US comedian-actor
(1903-2003); John F Kennedy, US
president (1917-1963); Al Unser Sr,
US racing driver (1939-); La Toya
Jackson, US singer (1956-); Annette
Bening, US actor (1958-); Rupert
Everett, British actor (1959-);
Melissa Etheridge, US singer (1961-
); Lisa Whelchel, US actress (1963-); Noel
Gallagher, British musician (1967-); Melanie
“Scary Spice” Brown, British singer (1975-) .
“The first and great commandment is: Don’t
let them scare you.” — Elmer Davis, American
news commentator (1890-1958).
“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in
due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”
— (Galatians 6:9).
An appeal to West
Coast motorists to
pay special attention
to their driving over
the Queen’s Birthday weekend has been made
by Greymouth’s chief traffic officer, Mr T R
Hoskins. He pointed out this morning that the
West Coast had had an accident-free May 1,
and he hoped to see this record extended for
the whole of the long weekend.
At this time of year, said Mr Hoskins, driving
conditions were often bad, especially at night.
The main cause of accidents over Queen’s
Birthday weekend last year was failing to give
way. This was followed in order by excessive
speed, inattention, failing to keep left and
There is a possibility that Greymouth
will be on the schedule for another major
overseas stage show this year. The manager of
the Regent Theatre, Mr R A Kay, gave this
indication following the success scored by this
week’s visit of the Tibor Rudas production
Paris by Night, labelled as the best of its kind
to be seen here.
Mr Kay was unable to release any further
details on the new show because high level
discussions are still continuing and a definite
decision has not yet been reached. But he did
remark that if the tour took place as expected,
then Greymouth was very likely to be included
because of the strong response it provided to
Paris by Night.
With or without another major show there
is still plenty of live entertainment coming up.
Irish singer Patrick O’Hagan will be here next
Tuesday night. Joe Brown’s Miss New Zealand
show will arrive in June and the Vienna Boys’
Choir in July.
uFood for thought
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There is no show without Punch, they
say. But on the left of New Zealand
politics it is more a matter of there
being no show without Sue Bradford.
Hone Harawira and Vikram Kumar may
have been the ones up on the platform
announcing the formation of an electoral
alliance between the Internet and Mana
parties, but it was Sue who, once again,
gate-crashed the story.
Since the decision to join forces with the
German millionaire Kim Dotcom clearly
struck at the heart of everything Mana
stood for, Sue told the world, she was left
with no other choice but to quit the party
No other choice? Well, not exactly, Sue.
You could have decided to abide by Mana’s
democratic decision-making processes.
Having put for ward the case against an
alliance with the Internet Party to Mana’s
membership, you could have left the final
determination to them and accepted the
outcome with good grace.
But, you were not willing to do that,
were you, Sue? Right from the start, when
you very publicly hung the threat of your
resignation over Mana’s head, you made
it very clear that if the party rejected your
advice, made the wrong decision, then you
were out of there.
Now, an unkind commentator might
draw his readers’ attention to the
extraordinary condescension involved in
a middle-aged Pakeha and former Green
MP setting forth the correct moral path
for a party dominated over whelmingly
by young, marginalised Maori. He might
even obser ve that her refusal to be bound
by their votes, followed by the very public
repudiation of both their judgment and
their party, might give rise to considerable
speculation concerning exactly who Sue
Bradford thinks she is — much of it less-
While he was at it, that commentator
might also question why a person steeped
in the writings of Karl Mar x, Vladimir
Lenin and Mao Zedong, and possessing
an encyclopaedic knowledge of 20th
century revolutionary movements, should
be so down on politically motivated
Was it not the Belarussian millionaire,
Alexander Par vus, who bankrolled the
Bolsheviks into power? Was it not Par vus’s
gold that paid for Lenin and 30 of his
comrades to be spirited across Germany in
a sealed train to join a Russian revolution
that had had the temerity to start without
JFK’s father, Joseph P Kennedy once
quipped to his son: “A man only needs
three things to become President of the
United States. The first is Money. The
second is Money. And the third is . . .
Money.” The same formula clearly works
for revolutionary leaders.
Maybe, Sue, that is the real reason
behind your rejection of Kim Dotcom’s
money. That it might make Mana into
something more than a mere pin-prick in
the shins of power. That with the funding
Mr Dotcom will undoubtedly make
available to the alliance, Mana’s Annette
Sykes will have a better than even chance
of knocking Te Ururoa Flavell — and
with him the Maori Party — out of
Parliament. That with the Dotcom dollars
behind him, Hone Harawira will be able
to bring into the House of Representatives
your erstwhile comrade, John Minto.
(Not since the days of Harry Holland
will our Parliament have welcomed a
more revolutionary MP). Is not that the
unspoken explanation behind all your
many party entrances and exits over the
years, Sue? That, to remain pure, your
parties must relinquish any prospect of
If I am wrong, you have my sincere
apologies. It is just that, sometimes, I
think the entire New Zealand left would
rather cling to their principles in a state of
weakness than compromise some of them
from a position of power.
Revolutionary ambition is made of
many things. For Hone Harawira it was
the crushing effect of the Pakeha nation’s
economic and cultural power upon an
indigenous people beaten to their knees
by 150 years of settler injustice and racism.
For John Minto it was the obscenity of
apartheid South Africa.
For Kim Dotcom? Perhaps it was
the experience of having his home
invaded and his family terrified by 80
heavily-armed police officers acting on
information illegally supplied to them
by the Government Communications
Security Bureau, at the behest of
the United States Federal Bureau of
Investigation, and with the smug approval
of the New Zealand Prime Minister.
Sometimes, Sue, the story’s about more
than your principles.
Chris Trotter is an independent
left-wing political commentator.
L’État c’est Sue Bradford
istorical fiction is
booming. The much-
publicised success of
Hannah Kent ’s Burial
Rites, Eleanor Catton’s
The Luminaries and
Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall is just the tip of
the iceberg for a genre that rivals any other
in contemporary publishing.
As an author of some 30 books — of
which only one is set in contemporary
times — this pleases me, but also makes
me question why readers opt away from
contemporary novels to those focused on
the past. In my own case, the reasons are
I have always loved books set long, long
ago and far, far away.
When I was a little girl, I spent many
summer holidays with my great-aunts.
They owned two big old encyclopedias
called The World of Wonder: 10,000
Things Every Child Should Know. Unlike
most encyclopaedias, these books did not
arrange their topics in alphabetical order,
but rather grouped them under subject
headings such as Mar vels of Machinery,
Wonders of Animal and Plant Life,
Wonders of the Sky and Mar vels of
Chemistry and Physics.
My favourite section was always the
Romance of British History. I would flick
through, skipping the pages on how a
force pump works, to find stories about
how the minstrel Blondel found King
Richard the Lion-hearted when he was
kept captive in a tower, or how the Black
Prince won his spurs.
At school, I would scour the library
bookshelves for books with girls in quaint
costumes or boys waving a sword on the
cover. I loved the novels of Rosemary
Sutcliff, Geoffrey Trease and Leon
Garfield, and used to dress up in my
mother’s clothes and pretend I lived in the
As I grew up, I devoured all my
grandmother’s Jean Plaidy, Georgette
Heyer and Daphne du Maurier books, and
discovered writers such as Jane Austen,
Mary Webb and Charlotte Bronte whose
books — although set in the authors’ own
times — read like historical fiction to me.
All this time I was dreaming of being
a writer. I wrote novels all through my
childhood and adolescence (the one I
wrote when I was nine was called Far, Far
Away). In time, I was published, writing
books that spun together history, mystery
and magic. I kept on reading too, and my
collection of favourite historical fiction
takes up half my library.
So why do I — and millions of other
readers — love fiction set in the past so
much? For me, it is the feeling that I am
learning things I did not know about our
human past and what forces shaped us and
History textbooks can be a dry and
dusty collection of facts and figures. But
historical fiction brings the past vividly
to life. The reader is with the frightened
drummer-boy on the battlefield, hearing
the thunder of the cannon-fire and
smelling the blood and the smoke. The
reader is with the queen crouched in the
corner of her dank prison, waiting to be
dragged out to face the executioner’s axe;
they know her terror and despair as if it
was their own.
The reader lives in the past while they are
within the pages of a historical novel, and
when they return to their own times, they
do so with fresh eyes, understanding all
that we have gained and lost.
When I write historical fiction, I feel my
most important job is to bring the past
to lucid and vital life, allowing the reader
to be utterly absorbed into the world
of the novel. To do this, I need to know
everything there is to know about the
time and place and the people who lived
then. This means a great deal of intensive
research, which can be very difficult
sometimes if your subject is not very well-
My most recent historical novel The
Wild Girl tells the story of the forbidden
love affair between Wilhelm Grimm and
the young woman who told him many of
the world’s most beloved fairy tales. The
life of the Grimm brothers was well-
documented and they wrote many letters
and diaries which gave me a sense of both
their individual voices and their inner
The inner life of my heroine, Dortchen
Wild, was an utter mystery, however.
No one was even sure what year she had
been born, let alone what she longed for
and feared most. All I had of hers was
one letter written as a 13-year-old child
confessing her teenage crush on Wilhelm,
the handsome but impoverished boy-next-
door; and a brief memoir, dictated to her
daughter on her death-bed.
Oh, and her stories! I spent months
discovering what fairy tales she had
told Wilhelm Grimm, and when, then
building my novel around them. I knew
that Dortchen Wild had told him three
extraordinary tales — The Singing Bone,
Six Swans and Sweetheart Roland — on
January 19 1812, in her sister Hanne’s
summer house in Nentershausen, which
was a day ’s journey away from Wilhelm’s
home along terrible roads, in the snow.
She told him another dark and violent
tale — All-Kinds-of-Fur — on October
19 1812, only a few days before the first
edition of the Grimm brother’s fairy tale
collection was typeset. Later Wilhelm
was to rewrite this story to give it a happy
ending, and compared the story’s heroine
to a Wild deer, the capitalisation of the W
a clear reference to his beloved’s last name.
From the few facts I had, and from
what her choice of stories told me about
her, I spun a 500-or-so page novel told
totally from Dortchen Wild’s point of
view. As often as I could, I put words into
the mouths of my characters that they
had actually said, in letters or diaries or
articles. I studied their actions and tried to
understand their motivations.
I learned everything I could about their
lives, and then took the known facts and
used them as the pegs around which I
wove my fancy. All the time, I kept in
mind two often opposing necessities: the
need to be respectful of the truth as it is
known and the need to write an utterly
Did I make stuff up? Of course. Did
everything that I write about in the novel
actually happen? Of course not. Does the
novel tell what may have happened, and
make it plausible? I think so. I hope so.
I was determined not to change a single
known fact about the lives of Wilhelm
Grimm and Dortchen Wild, even when
it would have made a much better story
if I had. One thing I would have changed
is how long it took the two of them to
overcome all the obstacles in their way and
finally get married. 12 years! That ’s a long
time to sustain sexual tension in a book.
But I need my readers to trust that I am
truly bringing the past to life in the best
novel is a time-travel machine that has
transported them back to the terrifying
years of the Napoleonic Wars, when a
young woman named Dortchen Wild told
a young man named Wilhelm Grimm
some of the most beautiful fairy tales ever
Historical fiction deser ves this type of
attention from the readers and writers
who love it.
Kate Forsyth is a DCA candidate at
University of Technology, Sydney.
— New Zealand Herald
Historical fiction booming
Stephen Hawking has turned his
brilliant mind toward perhaps his
toughest challenge yet — helping
England win the football World Cup.
Britain’s most famous scientist, known
for his theories on physics and the
universe, has been commissioned by a
betting company to analyse data from
every World Cup England has qualified
for since winning the tournament in 1966
in the hopes of coming up with a winning
His conclusion: Roy Hodgson’s team
has the best chance of winning in Brazil
if it avoids high temperatures, adopts an
aggressive 4-3 -3 formation and wears red.
However, Hawking is not betting on
England lifting the trophy. The scientist is
backing the host to win the tournament,
saying “you would be a fool to overlook
Brazil. Hosts have won over 30% of the
The physicist used his science to produce
two formulas. The first one, taking into
account a host of variables, describes the
probability of England winning a match
while the other addresses the country’s
“Ever since the dawn of civilisation,
people have not been content to see
events as unconnected and inexplicable,”
Hawking told a press conference
in London. “ They have craved an
understanding of the underlying order in
the world. The World Cup is no different.”
Speaking through a voice synthesiser
from his wheelchair, Hawking, who is
almost completely paralysed by motor
neuron disease, said England should use
its red kit in Brazil to boost its chances
and play in a 4-3 -3 rather than in a 4-4-2 .
“Psychologists in Germany found red
makes teams feel more confident and
can lead them to being perceived as
more aggressive and dominant,” he said.
“Likewise, 4-3 -3 is more positive so the
team benefits for similar psychological
Hawking also came to the conclusion
that environmental and psychological
factors could play a major role on
England’s fate, pointing out that a
increase in temperature of 5degC would
reduce England ’s chances of winning
by 59% while the team is twice as likely
to win when playing at altitudes below
“And our chances of winning improve by
a third when kicking off at three o’clock
local time,” Hawking said.
Turning to penalties, he said the key
to success was velocity and that players
needed at least a three-step run to the
ball. But he added: “ Velocity is nothing
without placement. If only I had
whispered this in Chris Waddle’s ear
before he sent the ball into orbit in 1990.
Use the side foot rather than laces and
you are 10% more likely to score.”
Hawking, who is known for his sense
of humour, then said he found it more
difficult to make sense of football than
explain the mysteries of the universe.
“It is hugely complicated,” he said.
“In fact, compared to football I
think quantum physics is relatively
— New Zealand Herald
Stephen Hawking helping England win World Cup
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