Writing inspirations – an old farmhouse, crumbling with time

Today’s writing inspiration is a photo I took of an old farmhouse near Dovedale, Nelson, New Zealand.

Photo I took, by chance, of an old farm building near Dovedale, Nelson district, New Zealand.

Photo I took, by chance, of an old farm building near Dovedale, Nelson district, New Zealand.

The house crumbles with age now, ivy and foliage intruding across its walls. But once it was loved, once it was a home. You can imagine the stories, imagine the history. An inspiration for writers.

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2014

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Writing inspirations – the 1930s as we would wish them to be

Today’s writing inspiration is another of my art deco pictures – a style of which I am a huge fan.

A photo I took in 2014, not 1930 despite the appearences...

A photo I took in 2014, not 1935 despite the appearances…

I took this during the 2014 Art Deco weekend in Napier, New Zealand – a celebration not just of the styles of a bygone age, but of the magic of the day; of the 1930s not as they were, but as we would wish them to be. An inspiring thought.

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2014

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Writing inspirations – Hyde Park Barracks, Sydney

Today’s writing inspiration is a photo I took of the Hyde Park Barracks in Sydney.

Hyde Park barracks, Sydney - now a museum and a World Heritage site.

Hyde Park barracks, Sydney – now a museum and a World Heritage site.

These barracks were designed by convict architect Francis Greenaway in 1818-19, originally as a place to house convicts. Since then they have also been a receiving depot for immigrants, an asylum, and law courts. And by imagining the lives of the people who used this building over nearly two centuries, we can be inspired with ideas and new thoughts.

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2014

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I give Russell Crowe an F in Gallipoli history

If Russell Crowe had put what he’s reported to have said yesterday about Gallipoli in a history paper I was marking, I’d have given him an F.

Anzac Beach during the landing by 4 Battallion on 25 April 1915. Photo by Lance-Corporal Arthur Robert Henry Joyner. Public domain, via Wikipedia.

Anzac Beach during the landing by 4 Battallion on 25 April 1915. Photo by Lance-Corporal Arthur Robert Henry Joyner. Public domain, via Wikipedia.

The interview, on Australia’s Seven Network, included Crowe’s suggestion that the landing by Australian forces on 25 April 1915 – part of a wider landing on the peninsula – was the invasion of a sovereign nation that, he is reported to have said, ‘we’d never had an angry word with.

Sigh. The Gallipoli landings of 25 April 1915 weren’t an unprovoked invasion of sovereign territory. The British and Ottoman Empires went to war on 28 October 1914, on Turkish declaration. By the time of the Gallipoli landings there had already been fighting around Suez, also Ottoman sovereign territory.

Gallipoli was an attempt to end an existing war by knocking out the belligerent. Crowe is right to the extent that there was no earlier dispute between the Turks and the Australians or New Zealanders. Nor was there later, a point made clear in 1934 by Mustafa Kemal – Kemal Ataturk – who commanded the defence against the Anzacs and later became President of Turkey:  ‘Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives … You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country … You mothers, who sent their sons from faraway countries wipe away the tears. Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace after having lost their lives on this land. They have become our sons as well…

However, the fact remains that the soldiers of both sides were doing their job, and the ethics of the war were not defined by the military operation intended to end the fighting. They flowed instead from a far broader picture, including the reasons why the Ottomans felt obliged to declare war in the first place. In this, Britain was not blameless, though it is facile to point to their taking over two Turkish dreadnoughts completing in British yards, in August 1914, as the provoking factor. The factors ran deeper than that, and German realpolitik cannot be discounted in the mix.

The cover of 'Shattered Glory'. Now out of print.

The cover of my book ‘Shattered Glory’ with a marvellous painting of the New Zealanders on Chunuk Bair, Gallipoli, by Ion Brown. Now out of print, but I have a few personal copies. If you want one, contact me.

From both the Australian and New Zealand point of view the more crucial historical issue remains the way the Gallipoli campaign has been mythologised. In New Zealand, Anzac Day – the anniversary of the landings – has become a nation-defining moment, upheld as the day when New Zealand strode forth on the world stage and began asserting itself as something more than just a scion of Britain.

I won’t go into all that here, other than to point out that the men were motivated to join the war not to assert New Zealand, but for Empire –  for ‘our nation’, Britain. This was the age when New Zealand was Britain’s imperial Boy Scout, all enthusiasm and jingoism, to the amusement and ridicule of everybody else.

New Zealand’s reinvention of that day as a nation-defining moment began in 1916 with the transformation, largely at the hands of the Bishop of Auckland, of the Gallipoli defeat into a victory. It was still defined as an Imperial victory; but the road led, eventually, to the re-conception of the whole campaign in that nation-defining sense.

One of the outcomes is that our day of remembrance, along with that of Australia, is 25 April – the day we landed in another country. Not the day the First World War effectively ended, 11 November, which is how just about every other Commonwealth country remembers it.

Because we are still buoyed by that mythology, few have yet questioned it – and given the way history works as a discipline, we probably won’t for another generation or two.

As for Crowe – well, sorry, mate, I know you’re a fellow Kiwi, fellow Wellingtonian and all that…but that really is an F-grade historical comment.

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2014

Writing inspirations – a city street seller in Sydney

Today’s writing inspiration – for NaNoWriMo entrants and for writers of all persuasions – is a photo I took of a fruiterer in Sydney.

Fruit stand at the seaward end of Hyde Park, Sydney.

Fruit stand at the seaward end of Hyde Park, Sydney.

You can find these stands all over the city – places to buy fresh fruit and a raft of other things. The proprietor is chatting with a customer. What stories do they hear, I wonder? What do they see of city life? Do they see its underside? Its business? All of it? Pause to think – to wonder – to be inspired.

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2014

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Writing inspirations – another golden age Deco moment

Today’s writing inspiration – for NaNoWriMo entrants and for writers of all persuasions – is another photo I took in Napier, New Zealand. The city was rebuilt in ‘art deco’ styles after a devastating 1931 earthquake. This is the ‘Dome’, formerly the ‘T&G’ building, of 1936.

Close-up of the former T&G Building (1936).

Close-up of the former T&G Building (1936).

Wellington architects Adkin and Mitchell produced something that harked forward to streamline themes – with those implicit undertones of the refined lifestyles and golden age Hollywood world of 1930s deco. Something to ponder; something to inspire.

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2014

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Writing inspirations – a wonderful deco-era hotel

Today’s writing inspiration – for NaNoWriMo entrants and for writers of all persuasions – is the Hollywood Hotel, a bar and performance venue on Foster Street in central Sydney.

Hollywood cinema, near the Sydney CBD.

Hollywood Hotel, near the Sydney CBD.

Long-time readers of this blog will know I am a tremendous fan of art deco. This has to be one of the better examples I have seen of a small deco building – finished, Sydney style, in masonry.

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2014

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