Posted by: jkirkby8712 | December 27, 2010

Monday, 27th December 2010 – holiday for a holiday!!

I finally had a morning when I had no need to be up early, so took advantage of it, though needless to say, I was up and about before 9am but had been reading for an hour or so before then.  As I mentioned here on Christmas Day, I was presented with a couple of missing Wilbur Smith novels by Susan, and putting aside one or two other books that I was currently in the process of reading, decided that a bit of  ‘light’ reading was called for during this holiday period. Not that you would necessarily refer to Smith novels as light reading – usually quite dramatic, with a strong flavour of historical fiction, and a strong mix of violence, politics, intrigue and sex, yet all within the context of his stories.  I will always remember a section from what I think was his first novel [or at least the first one I read] – ‘When the Lion Feeds’, and there was a vivid description of a wild dog with rabies, and the potential threat that posed for humans.

Rabies is a disease that is transmitted to humans from animals that is caused by a virus. The disease infects domestic and wild animals, and is spread to people through close contact with infected saliva via bites or scratches. Amazingly, I read somewhere recently that up to 55,000 die from rabies each year!! Obviously only in certain parts of the world would most of those deaths occur, but it is an astonishing figure, with some 40% of those bitten being children aged under 15 years.  Dogs are the source of 99% of human rabies deaths.  It’s not incurable, and with wound cleansing and immunization within a few hours after contact with a suspect rabid animal,  the onset of rabies and death can be prevented.  Nevertheless, it is a most disturbing affliction, even just to read about it, but strange that is the first thing I recall reading about in a Wilbur Smith novel..  Anyway, with respect  to my two new books –  the only two Smith has written which I did not previously possess –  they are both set in Africa, as have been most of his novels, these two in ancient Egypt and are basically written in sequence. Called ‘Warlock’ and  ‘The Quest’, I am  already well into the former, finding as with all of this author’s books, that they are very difficult to put down!  As for the author himself, Wilbur Smith was born in Central Africa in 1933, and became a fulltime writer in 1964, after the successful publication of ‘When The Lion Feeds’. It would be nine years before I ‘discovered’ his novels. It’s no surprise that most of his writings reflect Africa as their theme – he owns a farm and game reserve in Africa, and has an ongoing concern for the peoples and wildlife of his native continent. As far as I can tell, ‘The Quest’ was his 30th novel, I’m not aware of another since then, remembering that he is now 77 years old!

Anyway, reading finished,  when the cricket began this morning. I found it interesting listening to the TV commentators, all of them ex-test cricketers – at one stage, we had three generations on together – Richie Benaud [now in his 80s I think], Bill Lawry, and Ian Healy –  the memory of Benaud in particular was amazing, his ability to reflect back on individual incidents in matches played back in the early 1950s, eg, his story about a test match of that era, when Australia were overnight, sitting on a score of 2 for 75, needing about 160  to win, and next morning, were all out for 111, with England’s fiery fast bowler Frank Tyson, collecting 6 wickets  for 15 runs, Benaud being the first of his victims, describing completely, the type of bowl that got him out, and the two balls that were bowled at him prior to that. Of course, he could have been making the whole description up, because I doubt that any of the younger commentators in the Channel 9 commentary box could argue about it!

Meanwhile, Day 2 of the Test Match, apart from a few bright moments for our bowlers, when a few wickets were picked up, ended up being another day of ‘victory’ for England, who were still batting at Stumps tonight, with their score having moved from 0 for 157 to  5 wickets for 444 runs, a lead of  346 over Australia’s miserable total of 98. And to add insult to injury,  Australia’s captain, Ricky Ponting, was fined 40 per cent of his match fee tonight after pleading guilty to breaching the International Cricket Council’s code of conduct.  Ponting’s fine of $5400 came after his furious arguments with umpire Aleem Dar over a disputed decision during today’s second day’s play of the fourth Ashes Test against England at the MCG. Ponting was charged with a Level One offence under article 2.1.3 (h) of the code which relates to arguing or entering into a prolonged discussion with the umpire about his decision. Ponting had ugly clashes with both umpires as England pushed ahead to a commanding 346-run advantage after day two of the fourth Ashes Test. I think he deserved the fines, in fact was lucky not to have been suspended, as the whole incident did not look good for the sport of cricket!  Frustration boiling over into disrespect for the authorities!   If I were the English, I would simply keep batting, and put Australia into an impossible position with no chance of winning – still three days available to play, and the English team know that if they win this match, they will defeat Australia for the Ashes on Australian soil for the first time for decades!!

Incidentally, because both Christmas Day and Boxing Day fell on a weekend,  public holidays have been declared for both Monday and Tuesday in lieu thereof.  Next Monday will be the same situation, with New Years’ Day being a Saturday. So, with the addition od a few days annual leave, I don’t need to return to the office until the 4th January.

A brief visit this afternoon from my son Adam, and his cricket friend, Brent. Both of them are flying out to Paris, Scotland, and London tomorrow – a brief visit to those parts, on a short tour I believe – will be in Paris for New Year’s Eve!!  Brent has done the trip before – for Adam, the opportunity of a lifetime, as unlikely he will get another opportunity to travel overseas for some years. Although his visit to Scotland will be relatively short, I’m somewhat envious of that portion of his trip, particularly in view of the family history research relating to that country that I’ve been investigating of late!  I doubt we will receive much feedback whilst they are away, but will be interested in his reactions upon their return in a couple of weeks. Brent’s parents are taking them down to the airport tomorrow – I plan to visit Adam briefly late morning, before they leave Sunbury.

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