Time and place

The Queen is dead.

Long live the King.

Words not heard in British nations since the end of the Victorian era and the death of another long reigned monarch. The death of Queen Elizabeth marks the end of an era and is a sobering reminder if anybody needs one that nothing lasts forever, even an Australian dependence on a political institution that has stood the test of time for generations. In the words of the US President last week, “in a world of constant change, she was a steadying presence.” What this has to do with Yallambie, God, the Footy, freshwater fishing and a humble meat pasty is unclear, but at a time when scientists are floundering to find a unifying Theory Of Everything, I propose that in some ways, everything is connected.

Most people alive today have never known a time when there was a monarch other than QE2, and while I expect the time will come in my life time when Australia votes to become a Republic within the British Commonwealth, that time is not now. Many people my age will remember primary school years when we were required to line up at the obligatory school assembly on a Monday morning to sing the national anthem, “God Save the Queen” before marching around the quadrangle, out of step and out of tune. The lyric, “Long to reign over us,” has proved prescience but when Punk Rock happened, God Save the Queen gave the institution a whole new meaning. In her lifetime, the late Queen oversaw the gradual dismantling of the British Empire as an institution, an institution with a colonial past during which so much of Yallambie’s history was written. Modern sensibilities find much of the history of Empire problematic but the past is past and cannot be unwritten. If we can learn from it, then something is achieved.

Prince Charles Edward Stuart painted by William Mosman around 1750.

The recent renaming of a beer maker, the Colonial Brewing Company of Western Australia is apparently a matter of import to some people, but I’m wondering, are we merely paying lip service to the issue? What’s in a name anyway? With the passing of the Queen, there are some who suggested that the new king might style himself on one of his other given names – George, Arthur or even Philip. After all, there was precedent. His grandfather Bertie named himself George while his mother called herself Elizabeth II, even although there had never been an Elizabeth I of Great Britain. Given the unfortunate history of those earlier kings with a Charlie moniker, it might not have come as a surprise. One Charles spent the first 10 years of his reign in exile, another found himself shorter mid reign by the length of a head and his neck while a third, the Bonnie Prince Pretender of Floraville association himself was never even crowned.

So the present day version went for the obvious and Charles III has been quickly proclaimed as King of Australia while his mother is buried on the other side of the world this evening, (Australian time). Yes, under the current laws of this land there really is a king of Australia but did you know, another less widely appreciated role of the king is as the “Supreme Governor of the Church of England”, something that would have meant something to those earlier Yallambie “Colonials”. For a new King who is a life-long Anglican but who has called for mutual tolerance in religion and has been known to talk to his plants, I find something delightful in this.

So the King’s eldest son William gets to go up a rung on the ladder, by tradition becoming the Prince of Wales in the process although I don’t suppose anybody asked the Welsh their thoughts on this matter. William, Prince of Wales, also gets to be the new Duke of Cornwall, a title which comes with a £1bn estate and a multi-million pound annual income, most of it earned from assets that perhaps surprisingly are not actually located in Cornwall or which will allow him to give up his day job, waving at people and cutting ribbons.

The grave of Thomas Wentworth Wills at Warringal Cemetery, Heidelberg. “The founder of Australian football”

When I think of things that come from Cornwall I think of King Arthur, Tintagel and the Cornish pasty, not particularly in that order. With Geelong set to play in another AFL Grand Final next week, it got me thinking. Has it really been a year since I wrote about Tom Wills lying in the dust at Warringal, footy finals and that great Australian culinary masterpiece, the Aussie meat pie?

This writer’s father (right) fishing for river trout in the 1950s

My mother, dead these long years, came from Surrey but I remember her making a pretty mean old pasty back in the day. She would bake them and put them in a hamper for the footy or for my father to take wrapped in lunch paper on fishing trips to the Mitta Mitta, on which trips if he relied on what ended up on his fishing line, he would possibly have gone hungry.

Mum’s old recipe called for carrot and peas, alongside the more traditional ingredients. I remember her saying the extra ingredients really disqualified them as proper Cornish pasties, but that’s the way my dad liked it and that’s the way she baked them. I made these again last week for the televised finals and it is only by doing so now that I realize just how much work is and always was required.

The match day ball from the 1952 Grand Final. (Source: Victorian Collections, from the Geelong Football Club) https://victoriancollections.net.au/items/5a08191a21ea671aa81c88e9

The boy and I were at the game on Friday night with 77 thousand others to see what turned out to be a very one sided affair. Geelong by a country mile you might say. I heard people, apparently without a vested interest, say as we left the ground that it wasn’t a very good game, but I guess that is all a matter of your perspective. For those who believe in omens, there was a news story the other day that reflected on the fact that the last two grand finals played under a new monarch, in 1937 and 1952, were both won by Geelong. The stars align in their eternal passage across the skies as a new king takes to the throne. Time moves on, the Queen is dead. “Carpe Diem Geelong”.

How to make a Cornish pasty in Australia,
and without reference to Cornwall

I X quantity of shortcrust pastry
500g of lean mince steak
200g chopped ham or bacon
2 onions
2 X carrot
A couple of potatoes
A cup of freshly shelled peas
½ turnip
2 X teaspoons salt
A dozen shakes of ground pepper
2 X spoons of Worcestershire sauce
1 X teaspoon of crushed garlic
2 X spoons of chopped parsley
Extra parsley sprigs to garnish

Your true Cornish pasty would never have carrot or peas in the recipe, but really a pasty can have whatever you like to put into it and in whatever quantities you care to name. It’s said the old time Cornish miners would take their pasties into the mines and warm them on a shovel over a candle. In the dark I don’t suppose they could see what they were eating. This is the way I made them at home a week ago during the televised finals, without a shovel and without need of a candle.

Collect the ingredients. Peel and dice the onions, carrots, potatoes and turnip. Place the meat, chopped vegetables, peas, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, crushed garlic and chopped parsley into a large basin and mix well. Roll out the shortcrust pastry into sheets onto a lightly floured surface. I used frozen pastry, which is of course much, much easier. Cut each sheet into a round shape and place a generous quantity of the prepared mixture onto each. Brush half way around the edges with a little water and fold one half of the sheet across onto the other into the shape of a crescent. Use a fork to seal the edges and crimp along the side. Place each pasty onto an oven tray and prick across the top with a fork. Glaze with a little milk and bake in a warm oven at 200°C for 10 minutes, then at 150 °C for 30-35 minutes, or until brown and golden. Garnish with the extra parsley sprigs, and serve. Makes about a dozen pasties, depending on the size.

A pasty, stuffed tomato, chips and peas

2 thoughts on “Time and place”

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