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Published on November 20th, 2017 | by Ken Gargett

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November 11th | A momentous day in history

November 11th. A momentous day in history.

In Australia, it has relevance for two reasons. More recently, in 1975, it was the day when the Gov-Gen, Sir John Kerr, sobered up long enough to sack the elected Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam. I know people think we have divisive politics today (and I am not crossing the pond with this), but for those who do not remember (and I was only a kid back then, but it is eternally imprinted on my mind), today is kindergarten stuff compared to back then. Looking back, I deplore the manner of the dismissal, but like the vast majority of Australians, thought it was necessary for Gough to go before he damaged the country any further (not that I had a vote). It was a government of such chaos that the keystone kops efforts under the muddled leadership of Gillard, Rudd, Abbott and Turnbull look like Thomas Jefferson in his prime. The difference though, is that Gough managed to make some key changes for the better. Hard to think of much those four Wiggles have ever done.

Far more important is, of course, Armistice Day. It does make one think of so many courageous men and women who have fought and very often died in the various conflicts. I’ve touched on some of the family history on the forum, but the Day does allow one to think more deeply about the contributions made and how grateful we should be.

On Dad’s side – he was always very sorry he missed the chance to join the Navy as WWII was long over before he left school, though I’ve always thought he wanted to join the Navy as he probably thought he’d get a chance to have a fish off the back of the boat – he had two beloved uncles who both fought and died in WWII in different parts of the world. One was a tail gunner in a Lancaster (possibly a Wellington?) which was shot down over the Baltic Sea. It was one of the very few to wash up, apparently, and we visited his memorial in Copenhagen many years ago.

The other was his uncle Ken, after whom I am named. He was shot and killed on the Kokoda Trail. It was always assumed by all the family that his body was simply lost in the jungle but some years ago, when I was still working as a lawyer, I was in PNG with the firm and had the chance to visit the Cemetery on the edge of Port Moresby (I had no idea that the Trail came down so close to the edge of Moresby), which is sacred ground for Australians and superbly maintained, I am pleased to say. While there, I managed to find his grave, which was incredibly moving. Of course, I never knew him but when I returned with photos, it seemed every older member of the family was in uncontrollable tears.

My grandfather was prevented from enlisting as he was co-opted by the American Army to work in Brisbane with MacArthur as their architect. It is quite extraordinary what extensive plans were in place for Brisbane, if needed. One small example for locals – Nudgee Junior was to be turned into a massive hospital (hospitals were one of his specialities – if you have been in a hospital in Brizzy, every chance he and/or his firm designed it). General MacArthur apparently was involved in a car accident when based in Brisbane and I remember the family talking about my grandfather being in the car, but I have no evidence of that.

The other side of the family? Well that story is longer and even more interesting, I think, so best left for another time.

So, as I sat down in the evening to ponder these matters, this family history and the sacrifice of so many, I pulled out a Partagas D4 from a Vintage Collection box – SEU Nov 04. Not many left in what has been a glorious box. And this was as fabulous as any. Cream, roasted nuts, moved into delicious and quite strong caramel notes. Concentrated and ever so balanced. Lots of flavour. Burnt well, though there was a little lopsidedness in the latter third. For me, 95.

To match it, I’d been trying to make a weird Mexican Tequila chocolate dessert/cocktail (not my greatest success), which included some Grand Marnier. I had no idea if they even still made the stuff but at the very back of the spirits cupboard, there was a bottle. Must be near decades old and it had been half drunk. Lord knows when? So, I settled in with that. I should state here that this morning, when I went to take a pic of the bottle, I was a smidge embarrassed to find out that in fact, it was not Grand Marnier. Rather, it was Tia Maria. Who knew I even had a bottle, or again, if it is still produced? But, what a lovely match with a good cigar. A real surprise. A little research shows that this coffee liqueur is based on coffee (obviously) with Madagascan vanilla and Jamaican rum. You’d think it was specially designed for a cigar. It works. It really does.

A nice way to relax and think of so many brave and generous souls.

RIP.

KBG


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