10. An auction to raise funds.

‘No plough stops for the dying man.’

1. While Mr B was setting up chairs around the place and chatting to your scribe, Uncle Pete took the initiative and the Ladder of Knoweldge, and started speaking.

(Did you notice the zeugma? Here’s another: ‘The man took his hat and his leave.’)

Uncle Pete quickly drew a crowd, but I don’t know what he was talking about because I was chatting with Mr B. It must have been good though, because when he finished he received a round of applause. Good work, Uncle Pete!

2. Some time ago Mr B asked his grasshoppers for some moola. He wants a custom-made stepladder that’s three to four metres wide. He wants to strut back and forth like Benito Mussolini. However, he received nothing from his grasshoppers. Not one cent. They are indeed right royal tightwads.

Well, today he came with a fund-raising item for auction. Unfortunately, the winning bid, $1,000, was not honoured. The buyer backed out. Poor Mr B.

2. We heard the third part of Mr B’s trilogy about how the mind affects the body. (The first parts in previous weeks were ‘Placebos’ and ‘Nocebos’. This part was ‘Dissociative Identity Disorders’, otherwise known as ‘Multiple Personalities’.
Apparently, a person’s alters can differ in:
– age
– gender
– their handwriting
– artistic talent
– height (no, that’s a fib)

‘What has this to do with the mind affecting the body?’ No one bothered to ask Mr B that question, but he told them anyway. Apparently, some personalities:
– can be allergic to things, but other personalities aren’t allergic to those things!
– they can have different food tastes. Some might like coffee, for example, and others, not.
– different responses to drugs. For example, tranquilizers would affect one personality, but have no effect on another.
– One personality could be colour blind, another, not.
– One personality can have good eyesight, while another can have poor eyesight. (And, one ‘young’ personality had a ‘lazy eye’ but the older personality didn’t.)
– One patient had a blood pressure of 150/110 when one personality was in control, and a pressure of only 90/60 when another personality was in control.
– Some can run faster than other personalities, and open jars when other personalities can’t. It’s not that their muscles grow larger, like they do with the Incredible Hulk; they have better control over the muscles they do have.

It’s fair to say that Mr B was not believed. That’s putting it mildly. Midst the mocking he asked, “What’s the point of me giving you material you would believe? That material would be boring.”

Here is a famous case of multiple personalities having different physical characteristics.

3. For reasons unimportant, Mark the Grinner spent more time on the Ladder of Knowledge than did Mr B. Laden with irony, Mark wore a genuine American T-shirt that said, “Make America Great Again”, and he told us how Australians should start thinking for themselves, instead of blindly  following the Americans.

Throughout the discussion comaprisons were made between the U.S.A., China, Russia, the Scandinavian countries, Australia and New Zealand.

Mark didn’t care much for labels. He said it’s not the system that’s important (democracy, socialism, communism, dictatorships and monarchies), it’s how the system is implemented. If those in power are bad people, then the country is stuffed; if they’re good people the country will do well, regardless of the system or the politics.

This stirred up a hornet’s nest, and at one point Mark accused the delicate Mr B of being a boring old woman. Mr B took the insult like the trooper he is, but a woman at the back was angry with Mark the Grinner for suggesting that being a woman is a bad thing. Mark the Grinner pointed out that he insults everyone, and had he not insulted women he would have been discriminatory.

Oh dear.

The hornets got even angrier, and from then on, no holds were barred.

Speakers’ Corner: it’s martial arts for minds.

4. Other topics discussed:
– Next week: The Ides of March. Look out! Mr B expects bad things to happen next Sunday, but he hasn’t planned anything, he tells me. He’s just hoping.

– The distribution of bushfire-relief money in East Gippsland is disappointing, said Mr B. There are rorts, he explained, and gave examples. Sigh.

– Mark the Grinner explained Thomas Malthus’s ideas about the relationship between population and food production. Your dear scribe doesn’t know why, because in the 200+ years since Malthus wrote his ideas, he hasn’t been right on that part.

– Mark the Grinner claimed that the U.S.A. thrives on war to booster its economy. More on that next week, folks, because Mr B doesn’t agree!
(An American soldier’s uniform costs $30,000, we learned.)

– According to an article in the ‘Australian Skeptic Magazine’, someone under hypnosis for a past-life session had spoken Russian. They had not learned Russian and had never been to Russia. The person, and the hypnotist, had then concluded that in a past life, the person had been Russian.
The American Skeptics examined the case and discovered that when the person was an infant growing into a child, they had lived in a block of public housing flats. The walls were paper-thin. Next door lived . . . you guessed it . . . a Russian family.

5. This week’s unusual creature in our Unusual Creature Series is the Camel Spider. Camel spiders are not reallly spiders, and they’re not really camels. They are an arachnid though. This one thinks our Facebook page is the best thing since the invention of the wheel, though why camel spiders are impressed with wheels is unclear.

6. Steve Maxwell is the world authority in soapbox speaking and we are lucky to have him here in Sydney’s Speakers’ Corner. He has written another article for his Passing Parade.

The Faire Tree

Perhaps the most famous tree in Australia is the “Faire tree” in the Fitzroy Gardens, East-Melbourne. It is a favourite attraction for children and the young at heart. The tree has a series of carvings of fairies, dwarfs, gnomes, koalas, flying foxes and a host of typical Australian animals and birds. The tree was once a mighty Red Gum, well over 300 years old, and one of the original trees in the Fitzroy Gardens. Now it’s a stump.

Author and sculptor Ola Cohn (MBE) (1892-1964) worked in bronze, stone and wood. Between 1931- (Victoria’s Centenary Year) and 1934, Ola carried out work on the tree stump. The work was donated to the children of Melbourne. In the centre of the work is a blue butterfly. It is a talisman of wishes. Make a wish on the blue butterfly with secret hope. Tell your wish and it does not come true.

Cohn had a serious intention: a message of conservation saying, “I have carved in a tree in the Fitzroy Gardens for you and for the fairies, but mostly for the fairies and those who believe in them, for they will understand how necessary it is to have a fairy sanctuary – a place that is sacred and safe as a home should be to all living creatures.”
In 1977 the trunk was extracted from the ground for chemical treatment and the removal of rotted wood. During the process a mummified brush-tail possum over 40 years old was found perfectly preserved within the trunk. The tree was remounted on a concrete base to prolong the life of its remnants.

Ola Cohn was inspired by Ivor Innes’ fairy tree, the Elfin Oak, in Kensington Gardens, London. The Elfin Oak stump was in a poor state. The late comedian, Spike Milligan. is largely responsible for preserving it.

A good summery of “Faire lore” can be found on https://rbkclocalstudies.wordpress.com/2017/06/22/the-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ola_Cohn    elfin-oak-of-Kensington-gardens/



Bendigonians associate the Cohn Family with cordial and preserves as a family business that was established in Bendigo during the Goldrush by the three Danish Cohn brothers. And those of us who like a beer will know that it was the Cohns who introduced lager (served very cold) to the Australian public in 1882. (vic.gov.au) That’s another good reason to pay homage to the “Faire tree”!

Steve Maxwell.