the beauchamp, the burdekin, the beresford

I was in a foul mood driving up to the farm and couldn’t figure out why until Jeremy suggested that maybe, just maybe it had something to do with the fact that my pony had died? And while it doesn’t actually change anything, even stating the root cause in unambiguous words does seem to make it more tractable somehow. Defining the problem domain. I hadn’t realized, either, that Reg and Thussy had demolished the old farmhouse – more of a farmhovel, really – and that the new, architect-designed, passive solar, rainwater and greywater reclamation house was nearly finished.

It is beautiful. I admire it especially because it has two bedroom/study/bathroom arrangements, one at each end. I call them Reg and Thussy’s sulking corners. They are finally moving in together after only twenty years – I hope they’re not rushing it, they’re both very young – and they’re a couple who expresses love through bickering, not that Jeremy and I would know anything about that. Sulking corners seem to me to be a fine contribution to domestic architecture. There should be more of it.

My godparents were in rare form. I got Reg to explain a bit more about his adventures after the war, as a gun runner for the Australian arms dealer Sid Cotton. It was 1947. Reg, just out of the RAF which he had lied about his age to get into – he only survived the war because he was sent to Canada as a flight instructor – got a call about a job. He sensed that something was up when he turned up to a meeting with Cotton, Don Bennett, the creator of the Pathfinder Force, and a third man who he recognized as a very close advisor to then-leader-of-the-opposition Winston Churchill. Oh, and Osman Ali Khan, the Nizam of Hyderabad and the richest man on earth.

After partition Hyderabad and its Muslim Nizam found themselves surrounded by Hindu India. With aid from Pakistan, and with the de facto support of the British shadow cabinet, the Nizam hoped to establish an independent Hyderabad. Cotton supplied six planes. Reg’s job was to fly arms out of Geneva to Karachi, in Pakistan, and then onto Hyderabad. They lost two planes to poorly packed cargo – rifles and anti-aircraft guns. Reg barely made it out of Hyderabad ahead of two Indian air force bombers, who cratered the runway from which he had taken off. He lost his pilot’s license and went to what was then Rhodesia to earn it back – anecdote here about a friend who was killed by an elephant – and after flying briefly for British European Airways he became a Qantas captain, which is how he ended up in Australia, building a house with my Austrian godmother. Truly, the twentieth century was an age of wonders.

I dropped the family at home and headed out to Mike’s birthday drinks, which was perfectly lovely once I finally managed to sort out which Darlinghurst watering hole is which. It was at the Beauchamp, no, the Burdekin, no, the Beresford. People of Sydney please could you disambiguate these a little? Uncles Barnaby and Rob came over for dinner. Barnes gave us a laser show with lasers he had built himself; as we were washing up Rob and I had a moment of bonding over being Ric’s in-laws, and just missing him so very much. Today was errands: passport photos, exercise books, a failed assault on the post office. This afternoon was occupied with wushu, taiji, music theory and long phone chats with Mum and Kay. And here are Jeremy and Jan back from visiting Ric.

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