under the linoleum
Old newspapers show Mussolini's imperialism looked a lot like today's
I sat on the floor and picked through the tragedy of the country we now
call Ethiopia laid out on the yellowing pages. It was eerily reminiscent
of the current Iraq adventure.
tale for our times
The December 1934 assassination of Sergei Kirov
Seventy years on, the killing of Sergei Kirov casts an eerie light on
the events of 11 September 2001, the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan,
the war on Terror and the state-sponsored hysteria surrounding
the shadowy figures of Osama bin Ladin and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
years of bombing the Arabs
It was the Italians, hell-bent on acquiring an African empire, who got
the ball rolling. In 1911 the Libyan Arab tribes opposed an Italian invasion.
Their civilians were the first people in the world to be bombed from the
all over again
After spending nearly two months in the West Bank the pull towards my
village was growing stronger, especially after being detained twice and
threatened with deportation
an Australian Palestinian returns to
her ancestral home.
tragic inevitability of a forlorn hope
slides further into the Iraq quagmire
Cabinet documents recently released under the 50-year rule show that,
in 1954, Liberal (conservative) Prime Minister, Robert Menzies, and key
figures in his Cabinet were extremely gloomy about the prospects for success
in an American war against nationalists in Indochina. But eventually they
went to the Vietnam War anyway.
One mans freedom fighter is anothers terrorist
Some historians date the beginning of modern terrorism from the 1946 bombing
by Zionist terrorists of the British military HQ in Jerusalem.
loiter near the exit
Military debacle and economic decline haunt the Bush regime
When I was just a young possum in the school cadet corps there was a hoary
old war story that we all knew. It was almost certainly apocryphal, but
it ruefully expressed a nasty historic truth about the US role in the
demise of the British Empire.
We've been online since 1997.
Check out the archives
on the Indian Pacific
often do matrimonial investigations, but this one was hard to resist.
Just for starters the clients husband was a prominent developer
and she was absolutely loaded.
Any PI will tell you that when the client says their husband is cheating
on them theyre almost invariably right the thing, however,
is to prove it.
He booked a sleeper on Saturdays Indian Pacific to Perth.
Im absolutely certain hes going to rendezvous with some
woman on board, she said.
Well, it was plausible, and itd certainly be a novel way to
conceal an affair, I thought. Besides, I love train travel and doing
it at the clients expense appealed to me.
like to take a female associate along, I said, Partly
as a cover, and partly cos it makes round-the-clock surveillance
easier and less obtrusive. But mostly, I felt that Joadja needed
Whatever. I just want the evidence.
And when he gets to Perth?
I doubt if hell try anything there. When he isnt
attending to business hell be hanging out with my sisters
family. Then hes flying back. If hes up to mischief, itll
be on the train.
Sweet. I rang a woman I knew at the train company booking office.
The subject had booked a Red Kangaroo sleeper and theyd put
him in one by himself. I booked for two and my contact put us in a
cabin opposite his.
The Indian Pacific rolled out of Central at 3.00 pm. Wed checked
in at 1.45 and watched the subject arrive and take his bag to his
cabin. I knew there was one woman travelling unaccompanied in the
sleeper, but when I eyeballed her she looked much too old to appeal
to our man. That left the possibility that his woman was travelling
in the day-nighter class a sleek young backpacker perhaps
and he was going to smuggle her into his cabin. That would make sense
of the odd fact that a man who could easily afford to travel the spiffy
Gold Kangaroo class was slumming it in a cramped second-class sleeper.
I guessed hed make contact with the woman in the lounge or maybe
the diner after we left Sydney. We staked them out but the subject
stayed in his cabin.
I was half absorbed in an old sci-fi novel when Bob Ellis slouched
into the diner, clutching a bottle of red from the buffet counter.
He was dressed in his trademark cheap black double-breasted suit,
voluminous inexpensive white business shirt and sandals. The self-styled
dusty national icon and gloomy bard of the ALPs
moral decline set up at a vacant table and began dictating notes into
his mobile phone in a deep sepulchral voice. Holy Mother of Marx,
I thought here I am on a matrimonial investigation and who
should turn up but the countrys most celebrated adulterer. What
is it about paunchy, depressive, balding, rheumy-eyed writers that
women find so fatally attractive?
Just then, Joadja came back from the lounge. Ohhh
theres Bob Ellis! she whispered.
Get back to the cabin, right now I said, Im
gonna tape your ankles together and lock you in.
As the train rolled relentlessly west it transpired that our subject
was just enjoying time out. I did see him look longingly at a blond
German backpacker, but he didnt even try to buy her a drink.
The great writer didnt score either. He left the train at Adelaide,
and slowly shuffled away, dragging his little suitcase.
Not that the expedition had all been my idea, of course, but by the
time we rolled into Perth Terminal I was feeling faintly embarrassed
by the lack of a result. I walked out into the carpark and rang the
client on the mobile.
I thought I should tell you right away I said, He
hardly spoke to another person during the whole trip. We never saw
him do more than exchange pleasantries with anybody else, and nobody
was ever in his cabin. She sounded crestfallen.
maybe, just maybe, youre right, I
said. Bob Ellis was on the train, he got off in Adelaide. Maybe
your husbands trollop made a bee-line for Bob instead.
not the Bob Ellis? Bobs so lovely.
Ill bet thats what happened!, she replied. sounding
happier already. She thanked me for my work and promised to pop a
cheque in the mail forthwith.
Sometimes its kinder to leave the client with a little ray of