Sunday, December 25, 2011

Looking in the newspaper...

The other day I was browsing through a website called PapersPast which is run by the National Library and gives online access to a range of NZ newspapers from the period 1840 to 1945.

So of course I searched for Mulligan in the Dunedin papers - the Otago Daily Times & the Otago Witness. And found a bunch of items - from reports of Lodge meetings to death notices, from the results of Sunday School exams to an accident report. A trove - small but valuable to a family historian nonetheless.

So I have added the key text from the items to the Mulligan Family History site.

And what does it all tell me?

Firstly, James had found a joined a 'community' relatively quickly after arriving in Dunedin. That community appears to have been based around the Loyal Orange Lodge. Not only did he join the Lodge, but he took a number of active and significant roles within it and associatedn aggregations. Clearly, he felt, and was seen to be, competent and worthy of performing the roles he assumed.

Secondly, there was a an affiliation with his Church. Evidence from Ireland indicates the family had a reasonably close connection with their local Church of Ireland congregation (see the pictures of memorials); the emphasis in his Lodge on Protestantism and his children's attendance at Sunday School indicate that continued in Dunedin.

Lodge membership probably reflected three strands of James communal life: firstly, an identification with militant Protestantism ('No Surrender'), and an attachment to British imperialism (evenings finishing with the singing of God Save the Queen); secondly, an opportunity and vehicle for social entertainment, especially musical (see the 1884 story); and thirdly, a need for 'social welfare' provision (the Protestant Alliance Friendly Society and the Medical Dispensary), probably felt more acutely as he aged (and so began to see old age and the need for support around the corner) and as his family grew and grew up.

From where I stand today, that's quite a shift! A militant Protestantism does not sit well with me; nor does the imperial attachment; nor an apparent unwillingness to acknowledge one's Irishness.

But it does cast an interesting light on my family and upbringing. Lodge membership and ingrained Protestantism are traits still part of the wider family. I remember talking to one of my father's cousins about Lodge membership (although, foolishly I didn't question him about it in any depth!). And the family are at least nominally Protestant - apart from the renegades like me who have no religious affiliation and married a Catholic.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

You know you're getting old ...

When your children start giving you a hard time over your diet!

Case in point: last night, after our weekly family dinner (a highlight of our week, I have to say), Charlotte was tidying up and asked me about some lettuce which hadn't been eaten.

She looked at me hard and asked "If I put this in the fridge, will you eat it?" So of course I said yes. After all, how could I say no to Charlotte?

She looked at me again; "Are you sure?" she said. Yes, I assured her. "I'll make a salad and take it to work for lunch."

She looked at me dubiously (after all, she has known me for 23 years now), but put the lettuce in a plastic box and put it in the fridge anyway.

So, Charlotte: this morning I got out the box of lettuce you saved for me, added some grapes, sliced up a tomato, chopped up some salami, added a couple of good-sized dabs of mayonnaise, put it all in a sealed lunch-box, and took it for lunch.

And, yes, I did eat it for lunch! So there!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Now the election is over ...

The farcical moment: Keys and Banks holding a 'media event' to show the voters how they should vote, then trying to convince everyone that their conversation was 'private' and they hadn't noticed the unusual black bag on the table beside them!

The Oh, dear! What a bugger! moment. The ACT Party's irrelevance is confirmed - down to just one MP, and he's unlikely to remain independent of National for the whole of the term.

The Damn! moment: Winston Peters persuades 8% of voters to cast a vote in his favour, bringing with him 7 clowns pretending to be MPs.

The 'Will we have to put up with this for 3 more years?' moment: Winston Peters back to his obnoxious, ranting best.

The biggest relief: We don't have to listen to either Hide or Brash again.

The wisdom of the crowd moment: Key & his Tories win just 48% of the vote, despite being streets ahead in the polls throughout the entire term of the last Parliament. They may the biggest single party in the House, but they are a long way from having a "mandate" from the electorate for radical or unpopular change.

The 'There is hope after all' moment: The Greens win a record proportion of the vote and number of MPs.

Thank heavens my vote wasn't wasted moment: Lower Hutt's Holly Walker makes it into Parliament as a Green List MP.

The worst outcome: Sarah Rose loses her job in Parliament - at least until someone else has the good sense to employ her.

The most boring ad campaign: The Tories with their plethora of billboards despoiling the countryside with Key's smug smirk beaming at you at every turn.

The most brave ad campaign: Labour's decision to focus on policies and relegate Goff to a minor role only.

The stark contrast: National vs Labour billboards: smug smirk versus heartfelt emotion

The saddest change: The Greens go mainstream and lose their radical edge. Let's hope they still make an impact.

The most irreverent campaign feature: the phantom graffito in Auckland: Mo-Town and the Battle of the Babes in Central Auckland

The funniest commentary on an otherwise lacklustre campaign: These pictures were sent to me, and are terrific:

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A career in public service

One stumbles upon some odd things when doing family history research.

Recently, I came across this letter in the military file of a great-uncle, one Arthur William Mulligan.

Turns out he was a life-long public servant (42.5 years!), and for many years worked at the highest levels of our government.

So maybe there is a family history of public service in our family histories.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

It's nearing Christmas

We have some clever folks here in Wellington, as this Advent Calendar proves.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Living in the material world

The late great George Harrison, used to say to those in pain "We are not these bodies - just souls having a bodily experience".

Yet one of his great albums was called "Living in the Material World".

He died 10 years ago today - 29 November 2001.

But - Here Comes The Sun is still one of my all-time favourites - as played at the Concert for Bangla Desh in 1972:

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Tuis in Town

You will already know that I delight in seeing, watching, and listening to Tuis. Usually, they are observed in our back yard.
But I work in Wellington City, and while it is hardly the largest city in NZ, it's CBD is distinctly a 'city'. My route each day emerges from the Railway Station and proceeds to Stout Street. In doing so, it passes by an area of flax plants separating the footpath and a service driveway into one of the University buildings.
At this time of year, the flax is flowering. And so is visited by Tui seeking food in the flowers.
I was struck by how lovely it is to see these glorious birds in the midst of the urban fabric, oblivious to me and other passersby, almost all of whom barely notice them.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

It was 38 years ago today ...

Is it any surpise I fell in love? Or that we got married?

I don't think so!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

It's all in the genes

I have been tracing my family history (or histories, in fact) as well as those of Desiree, for many years now. So long, in fact, I cannot recall what it was that sparked my interest or got me started.

One of the outcomes has been a cluster of websites (because I can).

Another has been what my daughters call their "Another graveyard look". This expression is a mix of bored tolerance and indifference and accompanies a glazed and distant look in the eyes. It usually appears when ancestry is mentioned, or a graveyard which may contain headstones of interest (to me and/or Desiree) is sighted.

It has also produced a not inconsiderable database of relations - near and distant - and some obstruse connections. Related is a library of photographs, most inherited from my parents.

And lurking in the not-too distant horizon is an attempt to document the stories - not just the dry and (admittedly somewhat dusty) recitation of the 'trees' but, where possible, some of the human stories. I fondly envisage a 'novelisation' of the pictures. Such are plans for 'retirement'!

Does anyone else care about all of this? Not really, is the short answer. My brother Ron & sister Barbara aren't really bothered; Ron, I suspect is pleased someone has done it; and Barbara is deeply involved in tracking David's family. Nephews and nieces? Probably not; I've never inquired.

And yet, in a very real sense, that's who I'm doing it for.

I'm confident, that at some point, each of the next generation will want to know the answers to questions of ancestry - who, where, when, why. So while, I've never really bothered to try and inflict upon them tales of the past ("I remember when I was ..." or "You grandfather was ..."), they are aware that there is a fund of knowledge built and recorded, and that all they have to do is ask.

After all, what underpins the whole endeavour, is a sense of the value of continuity. It is not everyone's interest, and even when the interest is piqued, it may be narrowly focussed, or merely a passing curiosity. But the Internet has been a god-send in this sense. It can be treated like a giant 'archive' and will linger, and be accessible when the inevitable questions arise, even if I'm not.

Already I receive sporadic emails from more or less distant relations, from around the world, who stumble on the sites and have further questions, or provide information or corrections, or merely say 'thank you'.

So, do I care if the kids don't take an interest in the pastime? No. They also don't care about basketball, and have different tastes in music and food. What is important to me, is that it is done; preserved; ready to be used or read as, when, and if, they are ready.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Our local candidate

Holly Walker

Greens candidate for Hutt South.

Check her profile. Ex-Hutt Valley High, and former pupil of Desiree. So she's got to be good! Deserves both votes.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Who goes there?

One of the delights of my life is being able to sit on the deck and watch birds hopping around the lawn, hunting worms.

The other evening, this thrush came a-calling. I suspect it is the same one who was hopping around after me when I was mowing the lawn at the weekend, coming within a couple of metres of me.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween in the neighbourhood

We don't really 'do' Halloween - never have, although the kids when they young used to dress up.

Not like one of our neighbours, who really dress up their place!

I especially like the spider above the gate - very nervy!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Roll on summer

Last weekend we had our first barbecue of the new 'season':

It may not look very promising, but we had 2 flavours of chicken, sausages, salmon, kumara, and lamb chops. A fine repast!
And then this weekend, I enjoyed mowing the lawns surrounded by some vibrant colours.

The yellow of the last of the kowhai, the pink & white of the rhododendron, the last red of one of the camelias, the bright green of new growth, and the purple of a plant who's name always eludes me.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Summer is nigh!

We've just had a few days away, & I had the weekends either side of those days, so it felt like a holiday.

Sunday was the Final of the Rugby World Cup.

And Monday was a holiday. The kids came around for dinner, and although it was bit blustery, we decided to have the first Barbecue of the summer.

Roll on the warm days!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

One of the all-time greats

While travelling back from Taranaki recently, we listened to two LPs by Dr Feelgood - Sneakin' Suspicion and Down By The Jetty.

I tried to explain to Jayne why the guitarist, Wilko Johnson, was so good, and failed at doing so. So I figured the best solution was to show you one of the tracks which best captures his playing style - Roxette:

The official website is HERE and Wilko's site is HERE.

Their respective Wikipedia entries are HERE and HERE.

And there are a whole lot more clips on YouTube.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Re-treading failed views of education

You would think they would know better by now!

I mean, how can someone claim to be "disappointed that @PPTAWeb are so afraid of backing up their assertions over School Choice that they refuse to debate @Steve_Whttngton"

That is one of the spurious tricks used repeatedly by the Right in their puerile efforts to discredit those who disagree with them. This assertion is made with no evidence that PPTA is "afraid of backing up their assertions". Why should they be "afraid"? Of what, for heavens sake?

Ask yourself this: why should PPTA give a fringe player in a fringe party on the ranters' right of NZ politics a platform to air his half-baked ideas?

As PPTA says: Their views are already in the public domain and well-known.

ACT's views are likewise already well-known, and have been consistently rejected by 90-95% of the electorate in every election since 1987. However, ACT candidates are either slow-learners (they still haven't got the message after 7 elections) or are so divorced from reality and messianic they want to impose their views on everyone else.

I say: good on PPTA. Polls tell us almost no-one* else is listening to ACT, so focus your efforts on the slash-and-burn Tory/Tolley government.

* OK, so 2% isn't "no-one" but it is within the 'margin of error' - and the pun IS intentional!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Snow effects

One of the nice things about the snowfalls last month, apart from their novelty, was the effect the snow produced when it fell on individual flowers or corners. Like these:

Monday, August 22, 2011

R i P

Goldie, we'll not see your like again.



Read Goldie's profile and occasional exploits.