Days 887-932: A Heavy Wait

Days 887-932: A Heavy Wait

06.06.11-21.07.11:

 

“What’s going on with this boat, Graham?”  I must have heard that question over a hundred times in the last few months.  Before today I was unable to give a clear and concise answer – the situation was completely out of my hands.  Delays enforced by paperwork and red-tape meant that every time I thought I had a real, tangible “I’ll be leaving by date x” to tell people, I’d end up looking no end of a fool by still being here in Melbourne watching that very date whoosh by.

 

Of course, my first preference – to spend the bulk of 2011 by hopping from one Pacific Island to another, living off fish and coconut milk and entertaining you all with my tales of leaky canoes and rusty banana boats facing down tempests that would make The Perfect Storm look like a drizzly afternoon in Wales – would require more funds than I currently have access to… and it’s not like I’m going to get an advance for the second series of Graham’s World any time soon.

 

I could, if being honest, have made more of an effort to find a sea-faring philanthropist who was sitting on his or her yacht moored on the east coast of Australia just waiting for his or her next big adventure.  But instead I chose to put all my chips on black – to focus my intentions on the one best offer I’ve had – a catamaran that will take me back to Wewak in Papua New Guinea and then on to each and every country in Oceania.  

 

A boat that would be provided for three months, a 17,500km journey, free of charge, with one of the most knowledgeable catamaran captains in the Southern Hemisphere at the helm.  I would be joined on this voyage by an independent camerawoman who works for National Geographic, a guy who works for a TV network in The States and Steve Crombie, the presenter of Nat Geo Adventure’s ‘Natural Born Traveller’ and the ‘Lost on…’ series.

 

A boat that sounded too good to be true.

 

But that also sounded too good to miss.  This could well be my only way of completing this journey – a journey I started over 30 months ago.  So I chose to wait until I received a definite YES or NO before I put in motion Plan F.

 

Today, after waiting by the phone for the past 200 days, I finally got a final, concrete, be-all-and-end-all answer…

 

And the answer is…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NO.

 

Now I could give up at this point.  I could chuck in my chips and bugger off home, go to sleep and pray to wake in some better time.  But that would be letting you down, it would be letting me down.  And if the past two and a half years have proven anything, I hope it’s that I ain’t a quitter.

 

So next week I’ll be heading up to Sydney to go on national television to put out a plea to find a yacht captain willing to answer the call of adventure.  I mean, if a mad German cannibal can find somebody on the internet who actually wants to be eaten, surely I can find somebody who wants to go on a swash-buckling record-breaking voyage around the Pacific Ocean.

 

MEN WANTED: FOR HAZARDOUS JOURNEY.
SMALL WAGES, BITTER COLD,
LONG MONTHS OF COMPLETE DARKNESS,
CONSTANT DANGER, SAFE RETURN DOUBTFUL.
HONOUR AND RECOGNITION IN CASE OF SUCCESS.

 

 – advert (supposedly) placed by Shackleton before one of his expeditions.

 

 



Days 933-935: The Tragedy Of Big Numbers

Days 933-935: The Tragedy Of Big Numbers

July 25, 2011 by  
Filed under Norway, The Odyssey Expedition

22.07.11-24.07.11:

In the wake of the Norway massacre I want to share with you some of the things I’m feeling right now. Revulsion at the crime, pity for the victims, sadness that such a thing could happen in any country, let alone one as peaceful as Norway. There are other things too; the media’s response, our response: stuff I would like to address in this blog entry.

 

Firstly, I find it morally abhorrent that the man’s name, manifesto and pictures of him posing with a gun were posted by the media. In any crime in which the motive is fame (and infamy) to grant the perpetrator the very platform he craves is not just wrong, it’s sick. In my mind, it’s the equivalent of a man murdering for money and the media paying him that money. The names that should matter are those of his victims, the only photos that should be published are pictures of those that have been killed, in happier times.

 

A few years ago in the UK a baby was brutally murdered by his mother and her boyfriend. Due to another ongoing inquiry involving the male perpetrator, the child was only known as “Baby P” and the names of the mother and boyfriend were not disclosed by the media “for legal reasons.” I suppose if you really wanted to know who they were you could find out, but you certainly weren’t seeing their photos splashed all over the front pages of the tabloids, television and Yahoo News.

 

I didn’t see the decision to withhold the names from the public sphere as the beginning of a ‘slippery slope’ towards state censorship, and this most inhumane (and inhuman) of couples didn’t do this most despicable of acts for the publicity – unlike the Norway terrorist. They didn’t have an 1500 page manifesto that they wanted to be thrust into the public eye. The Norway terrorist did.

 

The censorship of some news stories for the greater good is something we all experience, but few of us probably notice. Newspapers routinely censor the reporting of suicide. Mental health charities like CALM draw a direct link between detailed reports of suicide to an increase in suicides of that particular method. As a result of this (fairly uncontroversial) fact, news sources, when reporting a suicide, usually skimp on the details – and can even face a fine if they don’t. And what is lost to society? Details only morbid rubberneckers would be interested in? The newspapers can (and do) still report the story, but it will be written in such a way that will passively discourage some of the most vulnerable people in our societies from killing themselves.

 

And talking of copycats, what do you think is going through the minds of the few (mercifully few) people that think along the same lines as the Norway terrorist? Shit, I better not do what he just did, I mean, it was all for nothing…? Bollocks they’re thinking that, because I’m not. I’m thinking, as far as this terrorist’s twisted little goals are concerned, it was job well done. He spread terror by bombing Oslo, he brutally and mercilessly shot defenseless children dead AND he scored the mother-lode: worldwide publicity for himself and his fucked-up agenda.

 

The media couldn’t have done anything to prevent the murders, but it could – and SHOULD – have robbed him of the ‘glory’ he sought through the taking of dozens of innocent lives. And the same should go for any killers, rapists, criminals that do it for the fame. We don’t need to know their names, we don’t need to see their faces: all we need to know is what they did and that the system is dealing with them in a fair and transparent manner according to the laws of the land. Anything else is playing into the hands of psychotic self-publicists.

 

Before I slag off the media some more, and so you don’t think I’m some rabid journo-hater, let me spend couple of paragraphs defending the media. I read at least two opt-ed pieces (one by Charlie Brooker and the other by Christopher Hitchens) which criticised the so-called ‘experts’ who were drafted onto the 24 hour news channels to pontificate about the situation. As much as I enjoy Brooker and Hitchens, I found these criticisms a little unfair. I have to admit that when I first heard about a bomb going off in Oslo my first thought was ‘Al-Qaeda‘. I’m not ashamed of it. These loonies have a list of priors as long as my arm, and although this piece attempted to make me look like a big racist loon by skewing the statistics with a cunning use of geographical and temporal gerrymandering and “incidents”, rather than looking at the global picture over the last ten years and – you know – actual deaths, whenever I hear of a large indiscriminate bomb in a city centre killing innocent civilians I’m afraid I’m going to think Al-Qaeda until proved otherwise. I doubt this slurring of Al-Qaeda‘s good name is going to upset them too much, I just feel that given the track record of islamic fundamentalism in recent years, thinking ‘it might be Al-Qaeda!’ is nothing to be ashamed about.

 

It therefore follows that the smugness of some pundits when it turned out to be the work of a lone white Christian nutcase made me feel sick. Okay, the ‘experts’ and I got it wrong for a few hours. Hell, even some muslim fundamentalists in Norway thought it was Al-Qaeda – at first. But what is this? A pissing contest? Seventy kids are still dead. Pretending that even after 9/11, the London bombings and Madrid you’re so super-smart that your first impressions of the situation was that it definitely wasn’t Al-Qaeda isn’t going to bring them back. And for heaven’s sake: once more facts came to light, the reportage and punditry was amended accordingly. If you don’t want people who aren’t in possession of all the facts to speculate on the probable causes, don’t watch rolling news!

 

But once it became clear that this was the work of a lone nutcase, for some news outlets, it ceased to be regarded as an “act of terror”. WHAT? Am I missing something here? This guy BOMBED the city centre of Oslo, then ran around an island brutally murdering schoolchildren. If that’s not an act of terror, I really don’t know what is. Does it only become terror now when muslims do it? Should FARC, ETA and the Real IRA be seen as “spree killers” or loose collections of “lone nutcases”? No, the guy is a terrorist, he sought to spread terror, and sadly succeeded. Calling him anything else is dishonest journalism.

 

It wasn’t long before the blame game begin. Looking for reason in an unreasonable act is never going to get you very far, and this act of terrorism is no different. “He liked video games” screeched an Australian priest. He also seems to like Christianity, father, and you might not like where I can go with that one. The media, as always, were quick to distance themselves from the parts of his manifesto that readers of The Daily Mail would find overly familiar. But then you could argue that the over-toleration of conspiracy theorism is as much to blame. How many times have you found yourself in the pub being confronted by the most blatant barrage of bollocks you’ve ever heard (ie. ‘the muslims are planning to take over Europe!’, ‘you can’t call it a blackboard anymore!’, ‘9/11 was an inside job!’)?

 

This murdering wingnut believed similar such claptrap: global conspiracies, hidden agendas, shadowy governmental departments, the lot. He believes himself to be not a terrorist – which he most definitely is – but the vanguard of a fictitious war – saving you and me from the invisible demons that run the world and seek to overrun Europe with their nefarious ways. Maybe it would have only taken one person on one internet forum to say “sorry mate, but that’s the biggest load of shite anyone has ever inflicted on my brain.” But the sad fact is that we’ll never know.

 

But, ultimately, any kind of finger-pointing diminishes the responsibly for the actions of an individual and I can’t help but feel like there is little we can do to stop this kind of thing from ever happening again. Although banning guns would be a good start.

 

Finally, I want to say a few words about the tragedy of big numbers. There’s no nice way of putting this: the more people die the less we care. We don’t mean to, of course, it’s not a conscious decision, but it is a very real phenomenon that has been recorded by psychologists all over the world. A study in which volunteers were asked how much they would give to save the life of one single child revealed that they would give substantially more money than they would to save the lives of 20 children. Stalin summed it up when he said “one death is a tragedy, a million is a statistic.”

 

This is something we should all be aware of, and a mental trap into which we should endeavour to avoid. Each death should double the tragedy, not half it. Every single boy, girl, woman or man murdered by this madman had a family, friends, a life to look forward to – something that has been cruelly taken from them. Even when a tragedy seems too vast to comprehend, we owe it to the victims to try. Here is the list of all those who were lost: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-14276074. Long may they live on in the hearts of those who knew them.

 



Days 936-940: A Terrible Shamey

Days 936-940: A Terrible Shamey

July 30, 2011 by  
Filed under Australia, The Odyssey Expedition

25.07.11-29.07.11:

Amy Winehouse passed away this week. I was never really a big fan (of the 500+ ‘songs of the day’ on this site, hers isn’t one of them), but I was given to wonder if the idiotic “pictures or they’re not dead” brigade that floated around the internets in the wake of Bin Laden’s demise would resurface.

I doubt they will, it was hardly something of a surprise that somebody who had lived so close to the edge for so many years finally shuffled off this moral coil. But, look at the facts: she was past her prime, she hadn’t done anything halfway decent in years, her recent performance in Serbia did little to suggest she was on the road to recovery… AND her so-called ‘death’ has made her record company a fat load of wodge.

We have MOTIVE, people! This looks like a case for The CIA, The Illuminati and the International Jewish Conspiracy!! After all, Amy was Jewish, maybe she was becoming an embarrassment, you know, like Princess Diana. Maybe ‘they’ decided to do her in. ‘They’ do things like that all the time, you know.

We have two options: to believe the meedja’s LIES… or attempt to uncover the TRUTH, you know, teach the controversy! It’s MUCH more likely that she is  still alive and is being housed in a warehouse in New Mexico (like the Ark of the Covenant) OR she was murdered by her record company, the Elders of Zion, Fred Flintstone and Courtney Love.

These are FACTS. There is no scientific evidence for them, but they’re facts.

Of course, Winehouse’s family and friends seem to think she’s dead and look remarkably upset an’ all, but that just means they’re in on it… you know, like Bin Laden’s family, Al Qaeda, The Queen and the 9/11 widows.

Oh well, here’s a tribute video from a very rude man: