Beyond the Internet: Week 21 Pensions

Beyond the Internet

This is Week 21 in my Beyond the Internet series in which I explore the sources of information beyond our computer screens. This week the topic is Pensions (Australian and Ireland).  Please do join in and add your comments or better yet, your own post, on your experience with pension records.

This topic probably falls into the peripheral category because it is not necessarily going to add a great deal to your knowledge of your family. Still every little snippet helps to round out the story so it’s worth looking to see what’s there.


The Australian state-based pensions ceased mid-1908 when the Commonwealth took over this responsibility. In the early years of the 20th century you will need to look at your state archive. PRO Victoria has a searchable index here and this is the reference for Queensland State Archives. Queensland’s pensions only cover the very narrow period of 1908-1909, but you never know you might be lucky. I have found only one of my ancestors in these records and while it doesn’t tell me a great deal it does tell me that he was sober and responsible and had minimal assets, because these were among the conditions under which the pension was provided.

Queenslanders will once again find Judy Webster’s research contributions heaven-sent with her guide to the pensions and pension indexes. If you find an ancestor’s name in there, you can also get Judy to provide a copy for a relatively small fee.

Please add your experiences with other states, we’d all be interested to hear about it.


Ireland’s “pension records” can be invaluable, as in claiming the pension people had to establish their year of birth. The pensions took effect from 1909 for those over 70 years of age. Due to the late start of civil registration (1864), the evidence used was often the 1841 or 1851 census returns. The individual had to provide parents’ names and their residence at the time of the census so that these could be checked.  There are a couple of good online guides here, definitely worth reading. One option for searching is here.

When I first learned of this research opportunity, I was very excited! It seemed like this would be the doorway to learning about my Mary O’Brien’s family at the time of one of these two critical censuses (finding 1851 would have been like winning the lottery). Mary’s sister, Honora, had remained in Ireland and lived on a poor piece of land in the townland of Ballydonaghan near Bodyke, Co Clare. There’s little doubt from the estate records that their economic condition was vulnerable but perhaps it improved sufficiently over time that she was not eligible for the pension. I was very sad that her name did not appear in the list at the National Archives of Ireland, and so I could not use this gateway to resolve the 1841 or 1851 composition of my O’Brien family. It now seems that even had I found her listed it may have only provided her own details and not the whole family’s.

So if you have Irish ancestry, don’t forget to see if you also have the luck of the Irish and can find your relatives among the pension verification documents.


I have no real experience with these, but of course there are also military pensions like the Chelsea Pensioners. Anyone want to add something about these?

A thought: don’t forget that most of our ancestors will have done hard physical work throughout their life. For them the pension was about not having to struggle on as their strength dwindled.

Beyond the Internet: the big picture

Beyond the Internet

Have you been wondering where I’m going with this series of topics about family history resources beyond the internet?

Earlier in the year I planned out the topics I wanted to write about. I clustered them into broad, self-declared, themes, and this week’s pension post will end my “health” theme. So far we’ve covered church, homes, school, war and health. Next up is Law & Order (legals), Archives (miscellaneous), the last farewell (death and related topics), migration, occupations and land.

I’m really only drawing on my own experience to highlight the resources I’ve found useful beyond the internet, though the line is a bit blurred as  records are progressively digitised.

It would be great if you felt like joining in either by commenting or by writing your own posts, as your experience will almost certainly be different from mine. My thanks to those who have already participated in some or all of the posts, and to those who add new tips, and their support, through the comments.

My hope is that by talking about these topics, there’ll be a wider understanding of just how much remains tucked away in archives, libraries or other repositories. It will be a very long time before digitisation reached beyond the most commonly used resources.

If you’re wondering why I don’t use images of the documents to illustrate my points,  it’s because in almost all cases I’ve signed a document with the relevant archive/library indicating that I will not use the document/image in a publication without prior written consent. I’d love to show you some of the documents but frankly it’s just not worth the hassle for a weekly post.  It was enough grief to obtain the same permissions for my published family history. On the plus side, it encourages you to go and see the documents for yourself 😉

Family History Alphabet: C is for….

Alona Tester from Gould Genealogy has proposed a Family History through the Alphabet series over the coming 26 weeks. I decided that my theme would be the Attributes we need as family historians: the skills, experience and talents you bring to your research.  Let me suggest some Characteristics I think we need.

C is for COMMITMENT: think of this as a long voyage not a quick dash to the shop. We won’t finish our family history quickly and we need commitment every step along the way to explore options and learn new information and skills.

It’s a climb to work through our family history but we can learn from, and share with, others on our journey. Cartoon from Microsoft Office online.

C is for COURTESY: we’re all in the same boat trying to learn more about our families. Sometimes it’s difficult to remember that not everyone is as obsessive dedicated as we are, and we need to recognise they may need more time to engage with us and our research wish list.

C is for CITE: another important way to show courtesy for fellow researchers is by always acknowledging their work when using their photos, writing or findings.

C is for CONTRIBUTE: we can help out our research mates by cheering them on, supporting their endeavours, helping them with tips and skills or brainstorming.

When a language creates as it does a community within the present, it does so only by courtesy of a community between the present and the past. Christopher Ricks[i]

Sharing memories: New Friends

OliveTree Genealogy is celebrating the 3rd year of Sharing Memories – A Genealogy Journey with the goal of writing our memoirs and childhood memories for our descendants. The topic for week 19 was New Friends.

My life as a young child was very socially homogenous in a way that was more traditional, and old-fashioned if you like, than today when it’s usual for children’s horizons to potentially be international. I, on the other hand, saw the same children in the neighbourhood, at church or at school. The only difference was that there were two streams of school: those who went to the Catholic school and those who went to the state (public) school. Girl Guides added a little leavening to the mix, but even many of those lived not too far away.

Penpals were the new friends who opened a window into the wider world: a couple in the States and one in the Netherlands. I often wonder what happened to Ria from Hilversum or Patsy from Arkansas or Carole from….. In turn this reminds me of a book by Geraldine Brooks called Foreign Correspondence, a double entendre on her occupation as a foreign correspondent when she sets out to trace what had happened to her penpals in the intervening 20 years.

The transition to high school, aged 14, was a significant turning point in my life. For me it was like throwing open the doors, largely through books and learning, but also through exposure to different people and classes of society. It was quite daunting to go to a new school of about 1000 students after my little primary school of under 200. Only two of my primary school colleagues went to the same school and neither was in my class and we had never been close friends anyway.

The order of nuns who ran my high school were also a different “brand” and had their own particular ways so it was a bit fraught learning all the new protocols: a curtsy as each nun passed, calling each one Sr Mary XXX rather than just Sr XXX.

View over All Hallows’ from nearby rental accommodation.

The school was also in Fortitude Valley, an offshoot of the Brisbane CBD, so I travelled by bus each day along with boys going to Church of England Grammar (Churchie), St Joseph’s Gregory Terrace, Grammar or St James in the Valley. Not that they were among the friends we were allowed to cultivate, since it was forbidden to speak to boys at all, even if they were relatives, so we had to settle for covertly eyeing them off (the Churchie boys were our favourites).

It suddenly occurs to me that I’ve made an assumption but readers won’t know that my high school was an all girls one.

In the first week of school, one of my classmates came up to me and to my surprise, announced we were cousins. She had recognised my surname as being her grandmother’s maiden name and gone home to verify we were related. We didn’t really become mates though we were friendly and swapped notes and cards as teenage girls do, and she was a link to a family history that at the time I knew nothing whatsoever about.

It didn’t take long before I made a few friends with whom I stayed best mates over the course of high school and on into university, or for a couple, through their nursing training. We had sleep-overs, went to the movies or occasional concerts, supported each other through early romances and generally did lots of girl talk.

Over the decades the friendships diluted as we married, got jobs or moved around.  A couple of us still keep up loose links and when in the same city, which is rare, we catch up. The long links of our experience make it easy to pick up the threads of our friendship and two of our daughters have become friends, despite distance.  But I still treasure the memory of my new teenage friendships with Maria, Sue L, Sue B and Margaret.

Planning for the A to Z challenge in 2013?

It was Julie from Angler’s Rest who kick-started my involvement in the A to Z challenge 2012. She’s written a great guest post on the Challenge pages on tips she’s learned from completing and surviving two challenges. If you’re  at all interested in the challenge for next year, do pop over and have a look.

Quite honestly it wouldn’t have occurred to me to start 12 months out but Julie’s certainly got me thinking.

The big advantage of prior planning and writing, apart from not running from pillar to post, is that it leaves you with time to visit other bloggers, something I failed to do adequately this year.  I confess I found some downright weird, but then they probably were bored to tears by my family history posts.  I found others I really enjoyed reading but haven’t necessarily added them to my Google Reader list which is heavily focused on family history. However I’ll probably pop in from time to time and see what they’re up to.

Julie’s great tips and strategies could be applied to other series as well eg Geneabloggers Quarterly calendar lets you know which topics are coming up for the Abundant Genealogy series

Beyond the Internet Week 20: Orphanages

Beyond the Internet

This is Week 20 in my Beyond the Internet series in which I explore the sources of information beyond our computer screens. This week the topic is Orphanages.  For some reason this week I’ve been procrastinating and it was tempting to defer this topic to later in my schedule. Is it because the topic is over-whelming? Too sensitive? I don’t know enough? Not sure……but it’s now technically week 21 so I need to get on with it.

Are you aware of any family members you’ve researched who spent time in an orphanage? Of course, the very name is something of a misnomer, as at least some of the children who entered these institutions were definitely not orphans.

I think I first became aware that one of my grandfather’s siblings had placed her illegitimate child in the orphanage when I letter-dropped all the Kunkels listed in the Australian phone book, or perhaps it was one of those confidential conversations family historians sometimes find themselves privy to. I did know that another child had been placed in a baby farm at New Farm and had died as an infant, because he was listed in the Archives inquest indexes, but I hadn’t known about this one. The descendants had little information about their ancestry and wanted to know more. I provided them with the contact details for Nudgee Orphanage so they could apply for access to any information contained in their father’s records. They received no response so the matter was in abeyance for some time.

It may have been Judy Webster’s blog post on this topic that alerted me to the fact the records had been opened. (Judy also highlights other sources for records of children who may have been taken into care). On the next visit to Queensland State Archives I checked out the admission details,  not only open now but also available online. I don’t plan on highlighting any names in particular but I’ll give you a sense of some of the comments found in the St Vincent’s (Nudgee) Orphanage admission records:  “illegitimate, father not known”; “Parents in lockup, incorrigible drunkards,” “mother dead, father deserted”, “mother insane, father unable to look after”, “father dead, mother unable to support”. This latter mother admitted two children first, then over the next few years, another two. Only one of the four has any annotation that they were taken back from the orphanage.

In short, tragedy condensed in almost every line of these documents.  I remember as a young girl going to the Anglican children’s home, Tufnell Home, in Brisbane with the Girl Guides. I assume they were trying to teach us charity and how well off we were, but I wonder if they thought how it must have felt to the children living in the home to see us visit then be able to go away to our parents and safe, secure homes.

But back to the practicalities, what these records do is provide you (if you’re lucky) with the name of the father, perhaps the only place it will be recorded. As a result I was able to tell my relatives the name of their biological grandfather. This in turn poses many challenges for us as family historians, especially around issues of privacy (for our own and the other family) and the impact of the news on the family members concerned (with no options for counselling). In this particular case, I knew the family were all very keen to know anything about their father’s history but I still had to give it a lot of thought, especially as relatively brief research showed that both families still lived in comparatively short distance from each other in rural Queensland. What would it mean to the other family if they found out? Illustrating six degrees of separation (or less), I was talking to my closest friend about this on the flight to Darwin. Blow me down, but another of her family friends was actually descended from this same family on the Darling Downs.

So perhaps you can see why I’ve been dragging my feet about this post. Perhaps it should have been called “family history ethics” and not just “orphanages”. There are so many layers of social and moral obligation around this sort of issue.

Each state, and country, will have different records for orphanages so it’s wise to investigate the catalogues of the relevant archives and it’s quite possible there may have been multiple orphanages or homes, so you do need to look in your region of interest. You may also find police records, government allowances, case files, police gazette desertion notices, or other records which will bear investigation.

In the British records, for example, you may need to look at workhouse or hospital records, assuming you can gain access to them.  I’ve been singularly unsuccessful helping a friend to find her father’s original birth information as he was fostered out before adoptions were formally recognised.

As a tip, too, you may find that particular parishes are associated with an “unmarried mother’s home” as they were once called, or even more judgementally a Magdalene Home. Of course the birth indexes are likely to tip you off that a child is born illegitimately, but it’s then worth checking the most likely parish for their baptism records to see what further information you can find. In Brisbane Wooloowin Catholic parish is one that is definitely affiliated in this way, and you will find entries of children coming from there to the Nudgee orphanage.  Also don’t forget to search under the official name of the orphanage if you know it to ensure you get the full list of resources.

Wherever you look, be prepared and wear your best emotional armour because these truly are incredibly sad documents.  So much human misery for defenceless little children…it breaks my heart. “Suffer the little children to come unto me” seems pertinent.

Genealogists for Families on Kiva – making a difference world-wide.

Since its inception in September 2011, the brainchild of Judy Webster in Queensland, the Genealogists for Families (GFF) team on Kiva has achieved:

  1. A growth to 168 team members lending money to help other families grow economically strong.
  2. 553 loans of $25 or more have been made
  3. A total of over $15,000 has been lent
  4. GFF won the 2011 GeneaBlog Award for ‘Best New Community Project’

It’s worth knowing that this is an entirely virtual community of genealogists and their friends or families, who have teamed up to make a difference.  Some of us know each other in the real world, some know each other through social media, others have never met.

This is where we’ve lent our money (click to enlarge):


So what’s so special about Kiva?

  1. Funds are lent to individuals or collaborative groups who are trying to establish themselves economically and support their family: this is grassroots assistance and really makes a difference.
  2. These are LOANS not donations, so when they’re repaid you can choose to relend or get your money back. I suspect most supporters would relend, so your money keeps on doing good, year after year, without you doing another thing, or potentially giving another $.
  3. These are loans through organisations which work to overcome poverty, establish savings plans, support entrepreneurial activity, and assist women and children to a better life.
  4. The repayment timelines vary depending on the business or industry (agriculture has longer timelines), so you can choose whether you want your loan to rollover quickly or slowly.
  5. You can choose whether to top up repayments as they come in and make new loans.
  6. $25 per lender is combined with $25 from other lenders to reach the borrower’s goal amount. Repayments are pro-rata at each payment point until the loan is fully repaid.
  7. There is a minimal default rate: these are people who really want to succeed. Very occasionally the payment might be a little late. We have made the decision that even if an occasional loan defaults, we can absorb that level of risk.
  8. You, the lender, gets to choose who you want to support, what type of business, in which country or region.
  9. You also get to feel a sense of ownership and a “feel good” glow!

How do people raise their loans:

  1. Nearly every lender seems to have a different strategy. Some are doing online marketing surveys to bring in money to support their lending.
  2. Others time their loans for significant family or family-history events eg birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries etc.
  3. Others tuck away their small coins until they reach $25.
  4. GFF gatherings donate a small amount per person and this goes to another loan.
  5. You can learn a little more about our lending team and why different team members have got behind the project on the Genealogists for Families blog page. While you’re there have a look at why Judy set up this team.

Please join us on Genealogists for Families, we’d love your company and we’re proud that our loans are making such a big difference to other families.

Family History Alphabet series: B is for….

Alona Tester from Gould Genealogy has proposed a Family History through the Alphabet series over the coming 26 weeks. I decided that my theme would be the Attributes we need as family historians: the skills, experience and talents you bring to your research.  Here is my selection of  B attributes.

Believe in yourself and your family history project: it’s bigger than you are.

B is for our BELIEF in the value of the work we’re doing and the importance of recording our family stories to share with our family and descendants.

B is for the BRAVERY you’ll need to take on the challenges ahead of you on this exploration of family and to cold-call, email or write to relatives you’ve never met.

B is for the personal BENEFITS you’ll gain from your research, not only new skills but new insights into your family and yourself.

B is for the BOOTS you’re going to need when you head out to “walk the land” or get down and dirty in the cemeteries you need to explore. (yes, I know, boots are more assets than attributes…perhaps getting down and dirty should be under bravery as well).

What “B” attributes do you think we need?

To succeed, we must first believe that we can. Michael Korda[i]

Brigadier Walter Edmund Hutchinson Cass

Studio portrait of Lt Col WEH Cass, CMG. Photo from AWM, copyright expired.

Dedicated geneabloggers know the joys that can come from making contact with family members through our stories. Recently I wrote about F is for Fromelles and Fleurbaix and last year the Battle of Fromelles:  In Memoriam L/Cpl James Gavin KIA. In these stories I mention my husband’s great-uncle, then Lt Col WEH Cass, though the focus of my story was on my grandfather’s cousin, James Gavin. Thanks to these posts I received comments on the blog from two of my husband’s relatives and we are now also in touch with WEH Cass’s grand-daughter.

I’ve always been intrigued by WEH (as I call him), initially because he was a key player at Fromelles but over the years I’ve learned much more about him. Originally WEH was a teacher but he served in the Boer War and then took a commission with the regular Army. He spent some time on secondment in India during which he played a role (not yet clear) in the Delhi Durbar to celebrate the coronation of King George V. Once again YouTube provides enlightening videos here in black and white and here in colour with sound.

WEH was part of the mobilisation of Australia’s troops at the commencement of World War I. He took part of the Gallipoli campaign and was shot twice, then evacuated to hospital in Alexandria. While he was recuperating his mother died at home in Albury.

At the 2003 Australasian Genealogical Congress in Melbourne, the keynote speakers on Anzac Day were Roger Kershaw and Stella Colwell from The National Archives in London. Imagine my astonishment when early in their presentation they referred to two items from their repository: a haversack and notebook belonging to a Major Cass which had been found after the Gallipoli battles. In that era of early digitisation, they didn’t know what had happened to him and assumed he’d been killed. We met up during the morning tea break and I was able to fill them in a little with his story and assure them that not only was he not killed, he’d gone on to achieve the rank of Brigadier. (Correction -I’ve just had advice from The National Archives that they don’t have the haversack. I’ve obviously mis-remembered this from the 2003 talk. My mistake, sorry).

After Gallipoli, WEH found himself on the Western Front, steadily gaining rank and recognition for his performance in the field. He was mentioned in despatches and awarded the Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG). WEH was well regarded not just by his fellow officers but also by the men who served under him. Perhaps this is why the carnage of Fromelles was so devastating to him: the loss of so many of his men, through what he regarded as incompetence, was something he found difficult to deal with.

Throughout these war years WEH maintained a steady correspondence with a nurse he’d met (precisely where is uncertain), Helena Holmes, from Nova Scotia. He married her after Fromelles in London in 1916. He was repatriated to Australia in early 1917 suffering from debility. On his return to Australia he remained with the Army serving in increasingly senior roles.

There is so much more I could tell you about this intriguing man but I’ll let the The Australian Dictionary of Biography provides a summary of his life story. He’s rather a researcher’s dream: there are lots of documents relating to his service at our National Archives, the ones above at TNA, photos on the AWM page and personal papers etc held by his family.

Brigadier WEH Cass died suddenly aged only 55. He was buried with full military honours in Melbourne General Cemetery.

Thanks to the family connections we’ve made through the blog, we have learned that Melbourne is currently hosting a wonderful exhibition of memorabilia relating to Walter Edmund Cass and his wife Helena including some of their letters as well as photos he took himself at Gallipoli. We’re going to make the trek from Darwin on a flying visit to see the exhibition and meet new family members. As a bonus we’ll be able to see the upcoming Kokoda exhibition as well. Bonus!

It sounds like it would be well worth a visit to Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance to see the Exhibition, especially for those in easy driving distance. So if you’re in Melbourne with nothing planned for the weekend, why not go and check out the exhibition.

Mr Cassmob’s Music Meme Response

Mr Cassmob couldn’t resist the challenge of taking part in this meme, so being blog-less (but definitely not clue-less), here is his guest-post response.

1. Song(s)/Music from your childhood: Classical – Beethoven symphonies, Handel’s Water Music, Bach concertos; Reader’s Digest collections (12 thick LP records – pre-vinyl, I think) of popular music: movie themes such as The Third Man, How High the Moon, the High and the Mighty; La Vie en Rose, Granada; The Third Man; Alley Cat (my mother loved the prrrrooowww in this)

2. Song(s)/ Musos from your teenage years:  Beatles, Beach Boys, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, the Stones, Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel (mondogreened to Garth’s uncle) – that great open-throated shout on Bridge Over Troubled Water, Acker Bilk – Stranger on the Shore, Cat Stevens.

I remember on Sohano (Bougainville) and Samarai (Milne Bay), Dad, my sister and I listening to The Saturday Night Show on 9PA Port Moresby via shortwave. The theme music was Enrico Morricone’s The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Mum did not join us.

Oddly for a confirmed classical lover. Mum really liked Tom Jones’s Green Green Grass of Home LP. She said she could detect the Scottish and Irish origins in the rhythms.

When were on Sohano in 1960, the two Patrol Officers in the house next door had one record and two 7” 45rpm records – Mexico and Wheels – one each – between them. They played their records on alternate nights.

3. First live concert you attended: Good question. Very late in life – The Seekers at Festival Hall in Brisbane, I think, with my sister’s friend; for some reason my sister could not go. I saw Nana Mouskouri, also at Festival Hall, in 1976(?) – I was on an official work trip from the Administrative College in Port Moresby to the University of Queensland.

I had seen a number of stage musicals – My Fair Lady, Half a Sixpence, Sound of Music, the film version of Oklahoma. I can modestly claim that I was personally responsible for the students at my boarding school, Nudgee College, being allowed to go to the theatre. I’d seen MFL in Melbourne one term holiday in Junior (Year 10) and the Principal, Br Hodda, asked me if I thought this was suitable entertainment and not improper for the boys to see. Why ask me or take my advice I don’t know, but he did.

4. Songs your parents sang along to: I remember my mother, all 5 ft 2 & a quarter of her, dancing the cancan at a New Year’s eve party in Popondetta in 1954 or 1955. She couldn’t quite complete a sideways handstand so her partner, a 6-foot plus kiap who later became Police Commissioner for Papua New Guinea, seized her by her tiny waist and twirled.

I remember a party on Samarai – teachers only? – at which Mum seemed to know the words to all the songs on the “Bawdy Barrack Room Ballads” record. “Roll me over, in the clover…”

5. Song(s)/Music your grandparents sang/played: I don’t recall – I actually saw very little of them, especially my mother’s parents, after I was old enough to remember. I vaguely remember my mother’s mother listening to Blue Hills, as did a large part of the population. I can still hear the theme music.

6. Did your family have sing-a-longs at home or a neighbours: No – Mum was quite a good pianist, but the rest of us couldn’t hold a note in a Buka basket.

7. Did you have a musical instrument at home: No – see above. Not quite true. In about 1976 Pauleen gave me a Yamaha acoustic guitar. This lived in cupboards until in 2011 when I gave it to our son-in-law, who does have some talent, to keep for our grandsons.

8. What instruments do you play (if any):  None. I was made for the comment that a bassoon is an ill wind that nobody blows good. I tried out for the band in School Army Cadets, but couldn’t raise any noise at all.

9. What instruments do you wish you could play: Guitar

10. Do you/did you play in a band or orchestra: No.

11. Do you/did you sing in a choir: No. In Year 7 at Nudgee Junior the choirmaster listened for about 3 seconds and sent me back to the classroom (with 2 others, I should point out). Once when they were short of numbers I was directed to stand in the back row and mime.

At Nudgee Senior the Year 11 and 12 classes sang suitable songs at the prize-giving night, usually held in the Brisbane City Hall Auditorium. A friend and I wrote subversive alternative versions – just different enough so that Brother was not quite sure what he’d heard. Nothing rude, just different.

12. Music you fell in love to/with or were married to: Pauleen and I were married to the theme from Elvira Madigan aka Mozart’s 21st Piano Concerto. My mother cried. (I cried when it played at her funeral 36 years later).

13. Romantic music memories: Elvira Madigan; hearing A Woman’s Heart for the first time in Lord William’s pub in Dingle, with the rain and wind outside, a fire in the grate, and us stretched out on the benches in the high-backed booth. My cousin Greg did not ruin it by calling Sharon Shannon “that blasted woman with the squeeze box”.

Our daughters put together a lovely compilation for our 40th.

 I would love to have a saxophonist play just for us on a midnight bridge in Rome or Paris, but sadly that only seems to happen in Woody Allen movies.

14. Favourite music genre(s):  Classical, light opera, Scottish and Irish, 1960s pop

15. Favourite classical music: Mozart’s 21st, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Handel’s Water Music and Fireworks Music, baroque (Wynton Marsalis plays a great trumpet).

16. Favourite opera/light opera: Carmen; The Barber of Seville; Gilbert & Sullivan; arias from a number of operas; Carreras, Pavarotti, Boccelli . Enjoyed the Australian Opera’s Madame Butterfly in Darwin a couple of years ago.

Quote from Ogden Nash: Puccini is Latin and Wagner Teutonic; and birds are incurably philharmonic.

17. Favourite musical:  Summer Holiday (those who do, such as me and our daughters, do; those who don’t, shake their heads); Abba the Movie; Help! The Commitments, especially that great driving Mustang Sally at the end when it was all too late.

18. Favourite pop: Hot August Night (tree people!); Creedence Clearwater Revival, especially the live album; The Band – The Last Waltz; Dusty Springfield  

19. Favourite world/ethnic: Scottish  – Capercaillie; Irish – Mary Black, Altan, Four Men and a Dog, the Fureys. From a long time ago and thanks for keeping the music alive – the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem; Davey Furey reduced me to tears with his telling of the last time Liam Clancy sang The Wild Mountain Thyme; the Canadian Rankin Family.

20. Favourite jazz: Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck, Pepe Jamarillo, Judith Durham’s incredible trad/gospel singing.

21. Favourite country or folk: Sara Storer, Graeme Connors’ North, especially A Little Further North Each Year and Let the Canefields Burn – the latter because as we flew home from Brisbane to Port Moresby at night in a DC6, it seemed that the entire Queensland coast was ablaze.

22. Favourite movie/show musical:  My Fair Lady (especially as seen in Singapore in 1964 with Malay and Chinese subtitles, with added English subtitles for the lyrics which didn’t really translate). Which reminds me of seeing Jesus Christ Superstar in Lucerne in 1974, with German (and French?) subtitles; West Side Story – I saw the film first and was surprised when I saw the stage show to realise how much it had been shifted around (the original made more sense); Singing in the Rain; Abba the Musical for the bounce. Mad Hot Ballroom.

23. Favourite sounds tracks: Top Gun; themes from The High and the Mighty, Romeo and Juliet, Breakfast at Tiffany’s; Mad Hot Ballroom

24. What music do you like to dance to: Two left feet, moi. I can (just) cope with bush dancing and for one brief period I almost got the hang of Scottish country dancing. I loved the swirl of Shifting Bobbins. It has, sadly, meant Pauleen has for most of her life missed out on one of her great pleasures.

25. What dances did you do as a teenager: Twist, stomp (The Stones’ Get Off of My Cloud was excellent for this – enough people in time could get the whole floor in the high-set house bouncing) , madison, hitchhiker and what Billy Crystal in “When Harry Met Sally” described as “the white man’s over-bite”. I was not one of those who confused myself with John Travolta.

26. Do you use music for caller ID on your mobile: No

27. What songs do you use for caller ID: See 26.

28. What songs do your children like or listen to:  Pop, country, “Summer Holiday” – see, some shake their heads…

29. Favourite live music concerts as an adult: Paul Simon’s Graceland concert – loved Ladysmith Black Mambazo; the Guinness Irish music concerts; Neil Diamond. We turned up for the Bob Dylan concert in Darwin, but left early – don’t like Patti Smith and the heavy pall of ganja smoke induced a severe headache, so we decided not to wait for His Bobness.  

30. Silly music memories from your family: Driving back from Greve to Siena under a full moon with daughter and her friend recalling all the mondagreens we could think of (such as eldest daughter’s “Guilty as a gherkin bean…’)

31. Silliest song you can think of: A toss up. The New Vaudeville Band’s Loving You: oh, your red scarf matches your eyes; you close your cover before striking; your father had the shipfitter blues; loving you has made me bananas; or You canna push yer granny off the bus (google this one – there’s a grand version with both verses by a Scottish granny and grand-daughter); or Purple People Eater.

32. Pet hate in music/singing: Nelson Eddy and Jeanette McDonald in Rose Marie – which reminds me of another very silly song – Monty Python’s Lumberjack Song! I’m a lumberjack and I’m OK…; people singing in accents which are not theirs

33. A song that captures family history for you: Mary Black: “Walk with me, talk with me, tell me your story…” – is that Flesh and Blood?

34. If you could only play 5 albums (assume no iPods or mp3) for the rest of your life, what would they be: Hot August Night; 2-CD Best of Simon and Garfunkel; Vivaldi’s Four Seasons; probably Swoon III; maybe A Woman’s Heart; maybe The Pastoral Symphony. Toughest question on the list!

35. Favourite artists (go ahead and list as many as you like): Capercaillie; the Rankin Family; Four Men and a Dog; Creedence; Neil Diamond, Simon & Garfunkel; Vivaldi; Puccini; Mozart; Jose Carreras; Ladysmith Black Mambazo; Beatles;

Artists once loved, judging by the number of records we owned: Nana Mouskouri, George Baker, Sandpipers (although I still love Guantanamera), Dylan, Joan Baez, Herb Alpert (loved the trumpet on The Lonely Bull).