Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Day 69: It's all about 1893

Day 69 (12 Feb) and finally this day I agreed to months ago, on a whim, has arrived. The day centres on adding the finishing touches to the presentation tonight, although the project is an ongoing one. Tonight, I want to just focus on the Queensland aspect of these Japanese 19th century adventurers and whether or not there is something of a Queensland legacy in the 1890s political milieu of Japan. 

Reading about Thursday Island,
at 6.12am
There is a bit of a sense of 'luxury' about the day, although once upon a time it was pretty much part of the everyday part of the job of an academic. At 6.12am I was marshalling the materials for further reading. Although I am by now pretty much settled on what I want to present tonight, I do just enjoy the reading around the main topic. So with the coffee on the go and breakfast done, I was about to settle in to read up on Japanese pearlers on Thursday Island. 

Somewhere in between I also had to get the car down for a service. The opportunities are few and far between. 

The Australian Institute of International Affairs is a rather august body with quite a long history in Australian think tank/policy history. I've been a member since about 1996. I was also assistant editor in the early 2000s of the institute's journal. I've since published a few articles in the journal (long after I gave up editing it) but this is actually the first time I've presented to the members. 

I don't know whether I'm a good/efficient researcher or a bad/thorough one. There is always that tension between reading too much and not reading enough...I erred on the side of reading up today, I was still confident with the material for the presentation. 

By the time the evening came around, I decided to catch the bus to the city. I arrived a bit early so did wander just a little around the George St precinct. Unbelievably, I was also due to attend a committee meeting for another group in Parliament House tonight at the same time. It never rains...etc. I used to enjoy working in the city, I particularly like the urban landscape opportunities. As a bit of a pre-talk relax, I just sat down in a courtyard and looked at the surroundings. There was a touch of the 'jeffrey smart' about the landscape.  

Getting ready to present, at 6.12pm
By 6.00pm I was in the rooms setting up. I dodged the Citizens' Electoral Council spruikers outside, but not well enough it seems. Someone brought some material to me saying they had said it was to be given to me, by name. Oh my. 

It was quite a good turnout, very generous of people to come to a presentation in the city right on dinner time. By 6.12pm, the screen was up, the slides working and I was just making the final soundcheck. It is a bit of a 'selfie' which was topic of discussion on the radio this morning. I don't think I broke the rules, I've limited my appearance to just my shoulder...

It really is a privilege to have people listen to you talk about your hobby. I have found so many things of interest so far in this research that I'm getting carried away with the detail. I had some lovely news articles to read, including quite a lengthy exchange between the star of my show, Watanabe, and the Northern Miner journalist. The Northern Miner was a newspaper in Charters Towers at the time. Lovely turn of phrase. The audience was very generous. Off to dinner afterwards, before home.

Much of the news today continued to discuss the resignation of the Pope. I read early this morning of the death of Hatoyama Yasuko, mother of former prime minister Hatoyama Yukio and heiress to the Bridgestone Tyre Company. Her influence ran deep in Japanese politics, stretching back to her husband Ichiro, a former foreign minster, Yukio and his brother, also a parliamentarian. Not surprisingly, given her enormous wealth, the family is sometimes referred to as Japan's 'Kennedy family'.

But today at least, it was all about 1893.

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