COVID-19 DIARY – A BEAUTIFUL OLD TOWN CALLED MARYBOROUGH

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Copyright Lloyd Marken.

August 16

The World Health Organisation reported 21,570,528 COVID-19 cases globally with a daily increase of 253,701.

There had been 767,267 deaths with a daily increase of 5,374.

In Australia there had been 23,288 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 253. There had been 396 deaths with a daily increase of 17.

In Canada there had been 121,889 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 237. There had been 9,024 deaths with a daily increase of four. Spring was a good time in Canada in terms of decrease in numbers compared to earlier during the pandemic.

In the United Kingdom there were 318,488 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,040. There had been 41,366 deaths with a daily increase of five.

In India there had been 2,647,663 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 57,981. There had been 50,921 deaths with a daily increase of 941. This was the day the number of deaths in India reached more than 50,000.

In the United States of America there had been 5,312,940 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 54,375. There had been 168,345 deaths with a daily increase of 1,144.

August 17

Monday I was on holidays again during my secondment. Not something I particularly wanted to occur but there is not much the manager of that area can’t get me to do if she is the one telling me to do it.

I had worked on a story to be published about a retired Principal over the weekend, I went to the Queensland University of Technology on Monday or Tuesday to see if enquiries about records there would pay off in researching about former teachers who had studied at the old Kelvin Grove Teachers College. There were no specific dividends sadly but I had received gotten some insight into a time and a place.

I also attended a Doctor’s appointment.

I know how to party.

Things were further developing in Victoria while we all held our breath about what would would happen in Queensland.
The below clips are again the excellent ABC program Four Corners on the second wave in Victoria and the next is from 60 Minutes Australia for nurse Dan Collins who contracted COVID-19.

Dan Collins is one of many extraordinary heroes who have served us, saved lives, comforted others and suffered. The courage of him and all our health care frontline workers cannot be honoured enough and when people try to justify ignorance and risk they should ask themselves – would they do what our nurses are doing?

Dan Collins is 24 years old. 24 years old. I stand in awe.

August 19

With the number of active cases in Queensland still relatively low and on holidays I was keen to strike out and support local areas with tourism dollars.
I have travelled as far north as Longreach in my home state but had never driven in my own car further north than the Sunshine Coast.

So Karen and I drove up to a town called Maryborough for the day.

Maryborough is the hometown of Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers and a beautiful old town. I didn’t know it at the time but I was about to interview two teachers who live and work in Maryborough in the days ahead.

I chose to drive the 255 kilometres from Brisbane to Maryborough after a doctor’s appointment starting late so there wasn’t a lot of time when we got there. We walked around the town and looked for a place to eat but nobody would have us. We instead took in prawns from the Parkyn Parade co-op at Mooloolaba which was a real treat on our way home.

However we did get to see the Maryborough Colonial and Military Museum which has been developed by local volunteers into a first rate place in recent years. Nearby Hervey Bay famous for whale watchers is where a lot of veterans have retired too.

Model airplanes hung everywhere as well as some military vehicles and uniforms adorned the place. Most impressive was the number of medal collections of former serving members. Both military and civillians who had risked their lives and been recognised for gallantry.

These included Keith Payne who was awarded the Victoria Cross during the Vietnam War and served in Korea, Malaya and Oman. His work with veterans post military service saw him awarded the Order of Australia medal.

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Keith Payne’s Medals. Copyright Lloyd Marken.

Western Australia Police Constable Timothy Britten was on leave from his overseas posting to the United Nations Mission in East Timor in 2002 in Bali when the Sari club was bombed by terrorists. In a singlet top, shorts and thongs Constable Britten ran 800 metres to the club and went into the fire to try and retrieve a woman as gas cylinders exploded around him. Forced out by the flames Britten went back into the fire three times and with a man named Mr Joyes he got her out. He pulled survivors out of the club all night. 202 people were killed in the terrorist bombings including 88 Australians. Constable Britten’s efforts in saving lives and risking his own saw him awarded the highest civillian award for gallantry – the Cross of Valour.

Major Harry Smith served in the Malayan Emergency and the Vietnam War. He was the Commanding Officer of Delta Company 6RAR when it was pinned down in the rubber plantations of Long Tan in a desperate fight for survival from a numerically larger enemy force. A long contested battle over many decades saw the veterans of Delta Company recognised more appropriately for what they lived through that day.

James Runham witnessed a bank robbery and followed the robber being fired upon point blank and wounded. He received numerous death threats leading up to testifying at the trial. He has served in the Queensland Rural Fire Service through several natural disasters, been a Cadet Instructor for Naval Cadets and formed the Australian Bravery Association. His bravery in this particular incident saw him receive the Star of Courage.

Major General John Cantwell you may recall me writing about a long time ago. Cantwell served in the Persian Gulf War, the war in Iraq and commanded the deployment of Australian forces throughout the Middle East and during the horrendous Victorian bushfires of 2009. An extraordinary man who has worked through PTSD. I once went to a welcome home parade for troops from Operation Slipper, Australia’s operational deployments to Afghanistan. I was absolutely delighted to see a retired General Cantwell at the head of it marching in uniform. This will sound extremely stupid but I had wanted to give thanks to those who served and having him be one of them was such a delight and surprise.

All of these individuals have shown exceptional courage and shown lifelong service to the community at great risk to themselves. Just like nurse Dan Collins.

-Lloyd Marken

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Dinner at Parkyn Parade, Mooloolaba. Copyright Lloyd Marken.

SOME STATS FROM 2016

This is just a quick stocktake for the second quarter of the year to see where we stand heading into the last third of the year. Think of it as less a self-congratulatory pat on the back and more a shameless plug for previous posts.

Image result for united kingdomConsistently most of my views come from the USA ( who overtook the top spot from Australian readers early this year and don’t look like handing it back anytime soon), Australia, the UK, Canada and then Spain. Early this year Brazil powered ahead to No.5 but Spain has shot back in the past couple of weeks. Near the end of August Great Britain had the most views for the month but then the world turned, the East Coast woke up and America took out the No.1 spot just like they did in the Olympics. I wonder if the U.K. could take out a month though in the future.

Top 5 Most Views by Country 2016

  1. United States 1,209 Views
  2. Australia 922 Views
  3. United Kingdom 811 Views
  4. Canada 220 Views
  5. Spain 122 Views

Top 10 Most Viewed Posts 2016

  1. Captain Reg Saunders of the Australian Army 129 Views
  2. Eye in the Sky is Pure Perfection 77 Views
  3. The Heroes of Kibeho 76 Views
  4. 10 Pics from the Sticks Part IV: Flaxton Mill Road to Mapleton Falls and Back Again 66 Views
  5. South Vietnamese General Ngo Quang Truong’s War 56 Views
  6. 10 Pics from the Sticks Part V: Lake Baroon to Kondalilla Falls 55 Likes
  7. Youth is Wasted on the Old 54 Views
  8. Suicide Squad Will Test Your Will to Live 52 Views
  9. Deadpool: Finally a Happy Ending for Ryan Reynolds 45 Views
  10. Stars Wars Has Return to our Screen and Our Hearts 45 Views

Top 15 Most Liked Posts

15. A Couple of Nice Guys to Spend Time and A Brave New World with New Ghostbusters

Rounding out the Top 15 are the last two film reviews with 10 Likes equally. On paper one is a old school masculine driven film and the other a revived franchise that re-casts women as the central heroes. Both have similarities though, in The Nice Guys a young daughter is usually the most sensible and smartest person in the room despite the guys loudly throwing punches and shooting guns, she maybe the one who makes the biggest difference. Both are also about people having to face overwhelming challenges to find out who they really are and take up that mantle. In one two damaged but good men discover they can do the right thing and in the other women surrounded by naysayers prove they maybe the only ones who can save us from Ghosts. Sadly I found The Nice Guys a delight despite a third act finale that didn’t quite take off for me but Ghostbusters was another example of a tired old regular reboot blockbuster. Not bad by any stretch but lacking the laughs and confident subversion of Paul Feig’s previous films.

14. Hail, Caesar! A Lovely Film For Those Who Loves Films 10 Likes

As a film buff, Hail, Caesar! may speak to me more than the average cinema goer. There’s the usual clever Coen dialogue to be found here and even a lot of depth underneath the surface. I doubt it will go down as one of their classics, it feels very much like an inbetweener (yes I know this isn’t a real word) for them but I liked it quite a bit and you can’t deny what the heart wants – the heart wants.

13. Lance Corporal Michelle Norris MC 11 Likes

Those who may say women can’t serve in combat may want to look up Cpl Norris. A 19 year old medic when deployed to Iraq she became the first female soldier ever to be awarded the Military Cross. Subsequently 3 other female soldiers have earned the Gallantry Award.

 

 

 

 

 

12. 10 Pics form the Sticks Part V: Lake Baroon to Kondalilla Falls 11 Likes

1711Part of an ongoing series of blogs about hikes I’ve been on, I gained confidence from the excellent Cindy Bruchman’s series Five Shots to post these and they seem to have gone down well. When my sister came over from England with her Canadian partner I decided they would enjoy the spectacular views of The Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk. That day was even  more enjoyable for the opportunity to get acquainted with them. A wonderful memory.

11. South Vietnam General Ngo Quang Truong’s War 11 Likes

It may surprise some to find out that the South Vietnamese military had one particularly good leader who was respected by all sides and would eventually turn back a North Vietnamese invasion in 1962 when mass American ground troops had left South East Asia. He lost the war he fought and his country but he never stopped rising to every occasion including re-settling in America with his family and making a new life.

 

10. The Year of Blogging Dangerously 11 Likes

Well this is awkward, this was a similarly themed post from April and includes shouts outs to reviews from previous years like my love for About Time, Craig Ferguson and David Letterman.

 

 

9. Birth Days 11 Likes

A little short story I wrote for university that played with narrative structure. Essentially relating birth moments throughout a lifetime with certain patterns emerging again and again over the years. It means a great deal to me all the positive feedback I’ve received for it.

8. Alice Going Through the Looking Glass and the Sequel Motions 12 Likes

Not a particularly good film or good review but it’s nice to have fans.

 

 

 

 

7. Love and Friendship: Too Sorely Needed Attributes 13 Likes

Image result for love and friendship movieWhat I like to call a clean review. Fairly concise, not too boring to read hopefully and sums up what is good about a pretty decent movie. The number of likes probably reflects an interest in the film itself which has been getting good notices.

 

 

6. Central Intelligence – There’s Worse Films Out There 13 Likes

I felt inspired writing this review to touch upon this guy I knew in high school who became a bit of a success story. The film itself didn’t bowl me over but there were funny moments to be had and The Rock and Kevin Hart are two very likeable star personalities who played well off each other.

5. Suicide Squad Will Test Your Will To Live 14 Likes

Image result for amy adams vanity fairThe film depicts the character of Harley Quinn, Amanda Waller and Deadshot very well. I’m intrigued to see a better film with these performers playing off the dynamics of their core relationships. That unfortunately is not what this film was and a rant and Amy Adams Vanity Fairs photo shoots ensured. People seemed to enjoy reading which is a relief because it was one of my longer rants of late.

4. Star Trek: Beyond Covers Familiar Ground 14 Likes

star trek star review trek beyondStar Trek: Beyond has been well received by most critics and fans so pay to attention to my opinion but here it is for those that are interested and it seems to have intrigued some.

3. The Hunt for the Wilderpeople Turns up a New Zealand Gem 20 Likes

Out of the 2016 films I’ve reviewed so far the best ones have been Eye in the Sky and Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Those that have seen the film seem to have been enchanted by it and that good will meant people were just happy to share their joy of the film here on this post as well. It really is a gem, be sure to check it out.

2. 10 Pics from the Sticks Part IV: Flaxton Mill Road to Mapleton Falls and Back Again 20 Likes

1619Karen and I went hiking one day up at the Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walks and came across an echidna in the wild which was a real treat. I also touch upon a trip we took with her grandfather to the same area not long before he passed away.

1. Captain Reg Saunders of the Australian Army 51 Likes

Blame GP Cox and his amazing blog which started about retelling the experiences of his father as a Paratrooper in the Pacific during World War II and now is just a fine source of history from that period. When GP posts something within 24 hours he receives 100 Likes, goodness knows how many views. He’s built this following up over time with fine consistent work and consistent supportive interest in the blogs of his followers. As soon as he reblogged on his site my post about the first known Aboriginal to be commissioned as an officer in the Australian Army – the stats on that post shot up. Captain Reg Saunders was a war hero who endured much upon his return home and always overcame the racial indignities of his time with humour and resilience. We could learn a lot from his example.

 

For Your Consideration

I don’t think of myself as a particularly good writer but nonetheless sometimes I’m excited by what I come up with. Other times I can’t help but feel it is a bit messy and has nothing of interest to add. My review for Captain America: Civil War for example lacks any real hook. I list a few things I like and what narrative threads may have consequences throughout the franchise but it’s a joyless review for a film that was quite joyful. Suicide Squad an imperfect frustrating film on the other hand led to a funny review (an attempt at being funny anyway) and one that was relatively painless to write. Here are the posts that I’ve enjoyed compiling and seeing reactions to that you may have missed.

Cpl Bryan Budd VC

Published March 29 3 Likes

article-1216591-025CB87C000004B0-562_470x423[1]The closing paragraph I’m particularly proud of but at the end of the day this soldier’s story tells of extraordinary courage and sacrifice and should never be forgotten.

 

 

 

 

Eye in the Sky Is Pure Perfection

Published March 29 8 Likes

The first great film of 2016 has a lot to say without clamping down on one agenda either way. It will spark debate, discussion and thoughts about many aspects of modern warfare but in the end it is a poignant tale about one girl selling bread on a street corner and whether she will survive to see tomorrow.

 

Brooklyn: An Old Irish Tale for Our Times

Published March 21 6 Likes

Brooklyn maybe my favourite film of last year, maybe not the best I’m quite happy Spotlight won the Oscar, but my heart literally swells right now thinking about Brooklyn. I felt like I went to three different funerals while watching it. It’s about falling in love, chasing dreams and planting your feet about who you and where you’re headed in life. It made me think a great deal about my little sister and how much I love her.

Deadpool: Finally a Happy Ending for Ryan Reynolds

Published March 17 6 Likes 

I went for broke trying to be funny here and I’m quite happy with the results. It’s the first time I got to write about Jennifer Garner and I hold no shame in that. People have gone cold on the film already saying it’s not that original and the marketing sold it. Fuck them. Any idiot could say the filmmakers edited around a standard origin story but there’s wit here that you just don’t get in many blockbusters anymore and it punches above its weight in terms of budget and action sequences. In a summer of disappointments Deadpool stands tall against all odds as the little blockbuster that could AND DID.

Youth Is Wasted on the Old

Published January 10 3 Likes

Youth didn’t light up the box office or feature much in the end of year award shows. For me though Youth stays in the mind for a long time after. Michael Caine gives another stellar performance as an ageing composer facing up to what he’ll do with the time he has left and what he has lost along the way.

Thanks again to all those reading and have a great weekend.

-Lloyd Marken

CPL BRYAN BUDD VC

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Bryan Budd VC of 3PARA was awarded the Victoria Cross in 2006 for actions in Afghanistan. He was the first recipient of the Victoria Cross for British forces serving in Afghanistan. There have been three, two of them posthumous.

A Belfast boy born in 1977 Bryan Budd joined the British Army in 1996 serving operationally in Kosovo, Macedonia, Sierra Leone, Iraq and Afghanistan.  He was a member of the elite Pathfinder Platoon which carries out reconnaissance deep behind enemy lines. In JUN2006 Cpl Budd joined A Company, 3 PARA in the southern Afghanistan town of Sangin in Helmand Province.

The award was conferred for two cited incidents. In the first incident, on 27 July, Corporal Budd’s section was on a patrol when they identified and engaged two enemy gunmen on the roof of a building in the centre of Sangin. Without regard for his own safety, Corporal Budd led an assault where the enemy fire was heaviest. His gallant action allowed a wounded soldier to be evacuated to safety where he subsequently received life-saving treatment.

There was a second incident was from the 20 August 2006, when A Company, 3 PARA was located in the southern Afghanistan town of Sangin. Cpl Budd and his platoon were ordered to hold a small, isolated coalition outpost – dubbed a platoon house – to protect engineers blowing holes in a compound 500 metres away. The site was subject to almost daily Taliban onslaught for months. At the time in Sangin, British forces often embarked with a 70% chance of a fight. The platoon commander, Capt Hugo Farmer described patrols as “more like an advance to contact.” On the day, there were three sections on patrol, a total of 24 men, spread out in a head-high cornfield around the compound. Budd spotted four Taliban approaching, at a distance of 50 metres. With hand signals, Budd led his section in a flanking manoeuvre round to the cornfield’s outskirts to try to cut them off placing his men in an extended line to advance towards the enemy. But they were spotted and the Taliban opened fire on the troops. The British soldiers took heavy fire, kneeling or lying down trying to take cover. One soldier received a bullet in the shoulder, and another was shot in the nose.

Realising his section were taking heavy fire and were likely to be killed, Budd got up and rushed straight through the corn in the direction of the Taliban, now just 20 metres away. Budd opened up on them in fully automatic mode with his rifle, and contact was immediately lost, but the Taliban fire lessened and allowed the rest of his section to withdraw back to safety so the casualties could be treated.

After withdrawal, Budd was declared missing in action Capt Farmer, who had been hit by shrapnel, then reformed his platoon and led an attack on the Taliban positions with air support. An hour later, Budd was found beside three dead Taliban. Budd was badly wounded having suffered major internal haemorrhaging and had no pulse. The CSM recovered his body on a quad bike, but he was declared dead on arrival at the platoon house. Budd’s commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Tootal, described Budd at the time of his death as “an outstanding leader” who had a professional manner “that inspired confidence in all that worked with him“. Tootal said: “Bryan died doing the job he loved, leading his men from the front, where he always was. He was proud to call himself a paratrooper and we were proud to stand beside him.”

On the 14DEC2006 he was awarded posthumously the Victoria Cross and his widow Lorena Budd a clerk in 5 Regiment, Royal Artillery collected it at Buckingham Palace 07MAR2007.

29NOV2007 it was found by a military inquest that the fatal bullet on that day was a 5.56 NATO round which impacted on his back. Having acted quickly and selflessly Cpl Budd had charged forward into crossfire between the enemy and his men unfortunately being hit by one of their bullets. The covering fire which unfortunately proved fatal for him insured at the same time that his gallant actions were not in vain. Such things happen in war. It is nothing short of a tragedy. None the less Budd and the men he served with had done their jobs and performed bravely in a desperate situation. His actions were in keeping with the kind of selfless determined and brave deeds done by all VC recipients.

Bryan Budd was husband to his beautiful wife Lorena, father of their daughter Isabelle born in 2004. Lorena was 8 months pregnant with their second daughter Imogen. Lorena took great pride in him winning the VC but added when it had been revealed he had been put forward for the award “ He was a brilliant father and a brilliant husband. So regardless of what he is or isn’t awarded he will always be a hero to us.

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On the day that Bryan Budd stood up and charged the enemy turning the tide of the engagement he was due to return home to them in five days time. He never hesitated. His men lived. Such is the courage and acts of Victoria Cross winners.

-Lloyd Marken

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