Indiana Jones and Gilbert & Sullivan

Ok, so I have not exactly hidden my opinions of Indiana Jones and Gilbert & Sullivan under a bushel. While one has been a unmitigated mainstay of my upbringing and imagination, the other remains, IMO, a unreservedly awful amalgamation of Victoriana nonsense and whimsey, if with a couple of catchy tunes, oft whistled by retired high-ranking Naval-types as they step out from South Coast guesthouses to pick up a copy of their morning Argus. No beating round the bushel here. I even have the fedora (thank you Oxford Risk), and I am never, ever, sick at sea…

So as I enjoyed watching Raiders of the Lost Ark for the 897th time last week (it’s on iPlayer again) I was amazed to discover a snippet from those masters of musical malaise had been cunningly slipped into one of the finest films every to grace the silver screen. It was as if Turner had painted a cunningly disguised turd floating down the Thames past the Fighting Temeraire as she was gently tugged to her last berth to be broken up, or Constable slipped in a silhouette of some rogue pissing up the side of the hay wain in his depiction of the Suffolk bucolicism. So while I have the greatest of respect for Salah and his choice of natty headgear (few men can pull off a Cairo tarboush (‘fez’, if you must) as he can) I have to wonder about his obsession with Gilbert & Sullivan early operetta HMS Pinafore.

When Indi tells him that the Nazis are digging in the wrong place in order to find the Well of Souls, the map room that will locate the resting place of the Ark of the Covenant, he busts into the the opening lines of “I am the Monarch of the Sea“. He even does it with some gusto. He compounds the error later in the film when he blurts out “A British Tar” from the same operetta as Indi and Marion board the Bantu Wind alongside Port Said. Mercifully we are spared more than the opening lines on both occasions. Well… we all make mistakes.

Incidentally, if you want a really good account of what the Well of Souls might actually be like, without the musical interruption and worrying about snakes, look no further than your old friend and mine, Sir Richard Francis Burton. He explored it in 1871, and his wife gives a really good account in The Inner Life of Syria, Palestine, and the Holy Land: From My Private Journal. See pages 376-377.

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Seems like a fair trade to me!

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October 26, 2017 · 3:22 pm

Viz Tax Return

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Someone just sent me a photo of this Bulgarian banknote… no idea why!

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“This guy tied hundreds of balloons to his house & travelled to South America to find a bird – that is why I am awarding him a bigly honour”

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May 24, 2017 · 5:38 pm

Traffic Jams on Everest

This is an excellent article on some of the dangers associated with climbing the word’s highest mountain.

Mid May usually marks the start of the climbing window for Everest, and this year the government of Nepal has issued climbing permits to 373 climbers, the most since 1953 in a single season.

I especially like the government’s suggestions to solve some of the traffic issues on the mountain (yes, even on Everest there are traffic jams!), save lives, and boost the mountaineering industry of the country as a whole by weeding out inexperienced climbers. The suggestion to make it mandatory for climbers to ascend either two 6,000 meter summits or one 7,000 meter summit in Nepal before initiating an Everest climb seems entirely sensible to me.

Find the full article here, and best of luck to all 800 climbers, including Sherpas, who  are currently siting at BC waiting for the window to climb Everest.

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Anna Creek, Australia 

Almost as big as England, this 11 million-hectare piece of land is said to the ‘the largest private, non-monarchical, non-state landholding on earth.’ The property, which is up for sale for $325 million, belongs to Australian pastoralist Sir Sidney Kidman, who bequeathed it to his family. The area, which is said to be the home of cattle and 150 people, is said to be so vast that the shortlisted bidders will need one week of flying inspections to see the entire holding.

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