One in Five

Just after returning home from having the latest batch of suspected melanomas and carcinomas biopsied, I received a phone call from the Black Dog Institute, of which I am a supporter.

Odd coincidence. My mental state fluctuates of course, but lately I’ve been having thoughts of “what if” my recent worry about myeloma had been real, and I faced chemotherapy. Or what if one of (or all of) these biopsies came out with a similar prognosis.

But I digress.

Of course they were asking for an increase in my admittedly modest contribution. I had to point out that I’m a pensioner now. I choose my charities carefully and allocate what I can. There’s no spare change.

I told them they shared my best regards along with the Flying Doctors, the Cancer Foundation, and Water for Survival, of which I was a founding member.

The young lady had a prepared spiel designed to lure me through a series of affirmations to a final commitment to donate. It started with the statistic that one in five Australians have mental health issues. I confirmed I was aware of this, and in fact had only recently met with four of my imaginary friends to discuss which of us it might be.

This did not draw a laugh, or put her off her stride, so I let her continue through her script. At the end I could only repeat what I’d said already about my budget.

However. I do feel strongly supportive of this organisation. Their website provides a lot of help . So I would like to recommend readers share it. Links below. If you have a friend who, well, you know. Help.

Black Dog Institute, Fact Sheets

Black Dog Institute. Support.

Black Dog Institute, Depression

The President’s Brain is Missing.

I doubt there is a sane person left who believes Trump has any sense, or any credibility, whatsoever. Following the news as it unfolds in the US is like watching some surreal black comedy.

It’s something Peter Sellars might have made with Stanley Kubrick – Dr Kidglove, or How I Learned to Stop Thinking and Follow the Trump.


Last updated: April 25, 2020, 09:17 GMT
Coronavirus Death Toll

197,694 people have died so far from the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak as of April 25, 2020, 09:17 GMT.
There are currently 2,836,338 confirmed cases in 210 countries and territories . The fatality rate is still being assessed.

Follow the world-wide statistics, or country by country, here.

At the risk of being considered crepidarian: There is no doubt this COVID19 pandemic is just as scary as WHO said it could be. We are seeing now that the countries with the lowest infection and mortality curves are the ones with the best, and quickest lockdown response. Go New Zealand.

Now that testing is becoming more prevalent, and more reliable, many countries are finding evidence there is a significant proportion of asymptomatic infectious carriers among the apparently healthy population. These are not all being numbered among confirmed cases.

In our current world, this is about as apocalyptic as it gets.

I’m sure they said the same thing during the great flu pandemic of 1918 when about 500 million people or one-third of the world’s population became infected and the number of deaths worldwide was estimated to be at least 50 million.

The population of the world is exponentially greater now. So is the risk.

Stay safe out there. Good Luck.

The Times, They Are A Changin’

Bribie Island Caravan Park is closed to people wishing to camp or who want to rent a cabin. Only we permanent residents remain. The pool, kitchen, tennis court and common room are closed, as are half the ablution blocks. Visitors are discouraged. Social distancing is encouraged. It has been suggested we have a “social period” now and then in which we sit outside our own homes and talk to our neighbours.

The doctors at my practice are now doing consultations by phone in all cases when the patient does not need to be physically present. My next consultation, to discuss my last pathology lab test results, will not require me to make the usual two hour round trip.

Federal Police are confining international travellers in motel rooms and standing guard. The first person has been jailed for breaching self-quarantine requirements three times in less than a week.

Body bags have been delivered to remote communities in anticipation of an outbreak there, which, if it happened, is expected to be far more devastating than among the general population. Some see it as sinister that resources for body bags are more easily found than for sending free supplies of soap and sanitising chemicals and cleaning equipment.

Unemployment has spiked since so many businesses must close.

The cost of food has spiralled out of control. Especially in the outback. Drought, fire and flood have no doubt contributed to this.

Grey nomads have been requested to forego travelling to remote areas. Their response so far has been selfish, along the lines of “But we want to visit the Argyll diamond mine before it closes down”.

The public pools are closed. Hotels, clubs and restaurants, also. Only takeaway fast foods are open. Gatherings of more than two non-family members are forbidden.

Sales of duct tape have skyrocketed as shops and banks and pharmacies mark out queuing areas and 1.5 metre spaces with lines and crosses.

More and more old people are appearing in public wearing masks. No one makes a fuss as they did over niqabs and hijabs. Yet these folk terrorise supermarket checkout staff in a manner unprecedented over matters completely beyond their control.

Goanna still drops by…

MacPherson’s Rant


A song about an injustice.

Fareweel, ye dungeons dark and strang, fareweel, fareweel tae ye,
MacPherson’s time will no be lang on yonder gallows tree


Sae rantinly and sae wantonly, sae dauntinly gaed he
For he played a tune and he danced aroon, below the gallows tree

It was by a woman’s treacherous hand that I was condemned tae dee
Above a ledge at a window she sat and a blanket she threw ower me

There’s some come here tae see me hang, and some come tae buy my fiddle
But before that I would part wi her I’d brak her through the middle

And he took the fiddle intae baith o his hands and he brak it ower a stane
Sayin, nay other hand shall play on thee when I am dead and gane

The reprieve was comin ower the Brig o Banff tae set MacPherson free,
But they pit the clock a quarter afore, and they hanged him frae the tree.

Additional verses

The Laird o Grant, that Hieland saunt, that first laid hands on me,
He pleads the cause o Peter Broon, tae let MacPherson dee

Untie these bands frae aff my hands and gie tae me my sword,
And there’s no a man in all Scotland but I’ll brave him at a word.

The story of the song is largely true.

James MacPherson was an outlaw in the North East of Scotland, one of the travelling people and the leader of a band of robbers. He was said to have been generous to and popular with the poor people, but he was the enemy of Lord Duff, the Laird of Braco.

MacPherson was caught in Keith and hanged at the Cross of Banff on 16 November 1700, 300 years ago. The story tells that no-one would arrest him because he was such a fine swordsman, but as he came into Keith through a narrow street a woman sitting at a window overlooking the street threw down a thick heavy blanket which entangled him so he could not draw his sword. The court jury was packed with the dependants of Lord Duff, the Laird of Grant, who found him guilty, but a friend of MacPherson rode to the higher court in Aberdeen for a pardon. The Laird saw the rider coming with the pardon, so ordered the town clock to be put forward so they could legally hang MacPherson before it arrived.

MacPherson was a fine fiddler, and he composed this tune the night before he was hanged and played it on the scaffold. Then he offered to give his fiddle to anyone who would play the tune at his wake. No-one would, so he smashed the fiddle. Anyone who had accepted it would have shown themselves to be a relative or friend of his and so liable to arrest themselves.

The song is also known as ‘MacPherson’s Farewell’. Robert Burns rewrote the song, but these are the traditional lyrics. The tune is very popular amongst Scottish fiddlers.

The pieces of MacPherson’s fiddle are displayed in the MacPherson Clan House Museum in Newtonmore.

Twelve Monkeys

It’s happening.

Good for NZ.


Many people consider the things government does for them to be social progress but they regard the things government does for others as socialism.

Earl Warren, Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court (19 Mar 1891-1974) 


I was not so foolish as to believe the first two melanomas Mehdi removed would be the last. But I am surprised at how quickly the next ones showed up. In less than three months I’ve grown more than half a dozen lesions that were either innocuous at the first inspection, or weren’t there at all. Plus a suspected carcinoma. And that is just on my arms and shoulders. We did not complete the full body check as we ran out of time.

I was already becoming paranoid, regularly noticing what I suspected may be new, or changing, lesions that I should keep an eye on, but now some of my suspicions seem to be confirmed, I’m even more so. Particularly about those itchy spots on my back that I cannot see and which won’t go away.

I’m not worried, yet, because I believe I’m in the hands of someone who knows what’s what. If I had not been attending this particular doctor, however, who knows how things may have gone? He is the one who instigated the checks, not I.

The estimated five-year survival rate for patients whose melanoma is detected early is about 99 percent. That’s encouraging. The survival rate falls to 65 percent when the disease reaches the lymph nodes and 25 percent when the disease metastasizes to distant organs.

So my advice to family and friends and anyone else reading my blog is to get checked.

At least learn how to check yourself. Especially if you live in Australia or New Zealand, which have the highest exposure to UV and as a result the highest skin cancer rates.

This has been a public service announcement.

For more information