Jan 162016
 

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Today is the birthday (1902) of Eric Liddell, Scottish runner, rugby player, and missionary to China, whose fame was revived by the 1981 film Chariots of Fire. Liddell was the second son of the Rev and Mrs James Dunlop Liddell, who were Scottish missionaries with the London Missionary Society. Liddell went to school in China until the age of five. At the age of six, he and his eight-year-old brother Robert were enrolled in Eltham College, a boarding school in south London for the sons of missionaries. At Eltham, Liddell was an outstanding sportsman, being awarded the Blackheath Cup as the best athlete of his year, playing for the First XI and the First XV by the age of 15, later becoming captain of both the cricket and rugby union teams. His headmaster, George Robertson, described him as being “Entirely without vanity, he was enormously popular. Very early he showed signs of real character. His standards had been set for him long before he came to school. There was no pride or fuss about him, but he knew what he stood for.”

In 1920, Liddell joined his brother Robert at the University of Edinburgh to study Pure Science. Athletics and rugby played a large part in his university life. He ran in the 100 yards and 220 yards races for Edinburgh University and played rugby for the University club, from which he gained a place in the backline of a strong Scottish national rugby union team. In 1922 and 1923, he played in seven out of eight Five Nations matches along. In 1923 he won the AAA Championships in athletics in the 100 yards (setting a British record of 9.7 seconds that would not be equaled for 23 years) and 220 yards (21.6 seconds). He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree after the Paris Olympiad in 1924.

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The 1924 Summer Olympics were hosted by the city of Paris. Because he was a devout Christian of a particular stripe, Liddell refused to run in a heat held on Sunday and was forced to withdraw from the 100-meters race, his best event. The schedule had been published several months earlier, and, contrary to the portrayal of this action in Chariots of Fire, he made this decision well before the Games. There was no tense meeting with the Olympic committee and the Prince of Wales invoking his patriotism. Liddell spent the months before the games training for the 400 meters, though his best pre-Olympics time of 49.6 seconds, set in winning the 1924 AAA championship 440 yards, was modest by international standards.

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The pipe band of the 51st Highland Brigade played outside the stadium for the hour before he ran. At the time, the 400 meters was considered a middle-distance event in which runners raced round the first bend, coasted through the back leg, then put on a sprint in the home straight . Deprived of a view of the other runners because he drew the outside lane, Liddell sprinted the whole of the first 200 meters to be well clear of the favored U.S. runners. He then treated the race as a complete sprint, and, even though he was challenged all the way down the home straight, he held on to take the gold. He broke the Olympic and world records with a time of 47.6 seconds. It was controversially ratified as a world record, despite it being 0.2 seconds slower than the record for the greater distance of 440 yards.

A few days earlier Liddell had competed in the 200 meter finals, for which he took the bronze medal behind U.S. runners Jackson Scholz and Charles Paddock, beating British rival and teammate Harold Abrahams, who finished in sixth place, but went on to take the gold in the 100 meters. His performance in the 400 meters in Paris stood as a European record for 12 years, until beaten by another British athlete, Godfrey Brown, at the Berlin Olympics in 1936. Here’s a film of Abrahams and Liddell running in the Olympics.

After the Olympics and graduation from Edinburgh University, Liddell continued to compete. His refusal to compete on Sunday meant he had also missed the Olympic 4 x 400 relay, in which Britain finished third. Shortly after the Games, his final leg in the 4 × 400 meters race in a British Empire vs. USA contest helped secure the victory over the gold-medal winning U.S. team. A year later, in 1925, at the Scottish Amateur Athletics Association (SAAA) meeting in Hampden Park in Glasgow, he equaled his Scottish championship record of 10.0 seconds in the 100, won the 220 yard contest in 22.2 seconds, won the 440 yard contest in 47.7, and participated in a winning relay team. He was only the fourth athlete to have won all three sprints at the SAAA, achieving this feat in 1924 and 1925. These were his final races on British soil.

Because of his birth and death in China, some of that country’s Olympic literature lists Liddell as China’s first Olympic champion.

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Liddell returned to Northern China to serve as a missionary, like his parents, from 1925 to 1943 – first in Tianjin and later in the town of Xiaozhang, in Hebei province, an extremely poor area that had suffered during the country’s civil wars and had become a particularly treacherous battleground with the invasion of the Japanese.

During his time in China as a missionary, Liddell continued to compete sporadically, including wins over members of the 1928 French and Japanese Olympic teams in the 200 and 400 meters at the South Manchurian Railway celebrations in China in 1928 and a victory at the 1930 North China championship. He returned to Scotland only twice, in 1932 and again in 1939. On one occasion he was asked if he ever regretted his decision to leave behind the fame and glory of athletics. Liddell responded, “It’s natural for a chap to think over all that sometimes, but I’m glad I’m at the work I’m engaged in now. A fellow’s life counts for far more at this than the other.”

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Liddell’s first job as a missionary was as a teacher at an Anglo-Chinese College (grades 1–12) for wealthy Chinese students. While he is best known for athletics, his true passion was found in his missionary work. He believed that by teaching the children of the wealthy, they would become influential figures in China and promote Christian values. Liddell used his athletic experience to train boys in a number of different sports. One of his many responsibilities was that of superintendent of the Sunday school at Union Church where his father was pastor.

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During his first furlough from missionary work in 1932, he was ordained as a minister. On his return to China he married Florence Mackenzie, of Canadian missionary parentage, in Tianjin in 1934. The couple had three daughters, Patricia, Heather and Maureen, the last of whom he would not live to see. The school where Liddell taught is still in use today. One of his daughters visited Tianjin in 1991 and presented the headmaster of the school with one of the medals that Liddell had won for athletics.

In 1941 life in China had become so dangerous because of Japanese aggression that the British government advised British nationals to leave. Florence (who was pregnant with Maureen) and the children left for Canada to stay with her family when Liddell accepted a position at a rural mission station in Xiaozhang, which served the poor. He joined his brother, Rob, who was a doctor there. The station was severely short of help and the missionaries there were exhausted. A constant stream of locals came at all hours for medical treatment. Liddell arrived at the station in time to relieve his brother, who was ill and needing to go on furlough.

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As fighting between the Chinese Eighth Route Army and invading Japanese reached Xiaozhang, the Japanese took over the mission station and Liddell returned to Tianjin. In 1943, he was interned at the Weihsien Internment Camp (in the modern city of Weifang) with the members of the China Inland Mission, Chefoo School (in the city now known as Yantai), and many others. Liddell became a leader and organiser at the camp, but food, medicine and other supplies were scarce. There were many cliques in the camp and when some rich businessmen managed to smuggle in some eggs, Liddell shamed them into sharing them. While fellow missionaries formed cliques, moralized and acted selfishly, Liddell busied himself by helping the elderly, teaching at the camp school Bible classes, arranging games and by teaching science to the children, who referred to him as Uncle Eric.

One of his fellow internees, Norman Cliff, later wrote a book about his experiences in the camp called The Courtyard of the Happy Way (樂道院, also translated as “The Campus of Loving Truth”), which detailed the remarkable characters in the camp. Cliff described Liddell as “the finest Christian gentleman it has been my pleasure to meet. In all the time in the camp, I never heard him say a bad word about anybody”. Langdon Gilkey, who also survived the camp and became a prominent theologian in the U.S., said of Liddell: “Often in an evening I would see him bent over a chessboard or a model boat, or directing some sort of square dance – absorbed, weary and interested, pouring all of himself into this effort to capture the imagination of these penned-up youths. He was overflowing with good humor and love for life, and with enthusiasm and charm. It is rare indeed that a person has the good fortune to meet a saint, but he came as close to it as anyone I have ever known.”

In his last letter to his wife, written on the day he died, Liddell wrote of suffering a nervous breakdown due to overwork. He actually had an inoperable brain tumor, but fatigue and malnourishment may have hastened his death. Liddell died on 21 February 1945, five months before liberation. Langdon Gilkey later wrote, “The entire camp, especially its youth, was stunned for days, so great was the vacuum that Eric’s death had left.” According to a fellow missionary, Liddell’s last words were, “It’s complete surrender”, in reference to how he had given his life to God.

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In 2008, just before the Beijing Olympics, Chinese authorities revealed that Liddell had refused an opportunity to leave the camp, and instead gave his place to a pregnant woman. Apparently, the Japanese and British, with Churchill’s approval, had agreed upon a prisoner exchange. News of this final act of sacrifice surprised even his family members.

Liddell had this to say about food when training:

My ideas on the diet of an athlete are different for different athletes. Some will find that they do best by dieting, others who are used to living on simple fare will find that they need to do very little in that direction. As I lived with 12 or 13 others in the Edinburgh Medical Mission, I just took what they took. Actually on the day of running I avoided pastry, plum pudding, and all foods that would obviously be too heavy as passengers for the afternoon. On one day on which I ran I took plum pudding, and that day I ran the second fastest ‘quarter’ I have ever run in Scotland.

A “quarter” is 440 yards, that is, a quarter of a mile.

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Scots do make a plum pudding like an English Christmas pudding, but they also make clootie dumpling, which is similar but lacks eggs and milk. It has a light skin formed by flouring the cloth that it is boiled in.

Clootie Dumpling

1 lb self raising flour
1 lb dried fruit (sultanas, raisins etc.)
4 oz grated suet
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp each powdered ginger, cloves, cinnamon, allspice

Instructions

Mix the ingredients together thoroughly in a large bowl, then add cold water a little at a time to form a sticky dough that will hold together.

Spread out a large piece of muslin or cheesecloth (doubled) and flour it lightly. Use your hands (floured) to scoop out the dough and make a mound in the center of the cloth. Sprinkle flour lightly on top of the dough. Then draw up the cloth and tie it securely at the top to form a ball.

Set a trivet in the bottom of a large pot and half fill it with water. Place the dumpling on the trivet and bring the water to a gentle boil. The water should come about halfway up the side of the dumpling. Cover and gently boil for about 3 hours or more. Keep an eye on the water level and top up with warm water as needed.

The dumpling will set firmly and can be unwrapped on to a serving dish. Serve with fresh egg custard.

Dec 032015
 

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The Eureka Rebellion in 1854 was a rebellion of gold miners in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia, who revolted against the colonial authority of the United Kingdom. The Battle of the Eureka Stockade, by which the rebellion is popularly known, was fought between miners and the colonial forces of Australia on this date in 1854 at Eureka lead mines, and named for the stockade structure erected by miners during the conflict. The rebellion lasted for less than half an hour and resulted in the deaths of at least 27 people, the majority of whom were rebels.

The event was the culmination of a period of civil disobedience in the Ballarat region during the Victorian gold rush with miners objecting to the expense of a miner’s license, taxation via the license without representation and the actions of the government, the police and military. The local rebellion grew from a Ballarat Reform League movement and culminated in the erection by the rebels of a crude battlement, and a swift and deadly siege by colonial forces.

Mass public support for the captured rebels in the colony’s capital of Melbourne when they were placed on trial resulted in the introduction of the Electoral Act 1856, which mandated full white male suffrage for elections for the lower house in the Victorian parliament, the second instituted political democracy in Australia. As such, the Eureka Rebellion is sometimes identified with the birth of democracy in Australia and interpreted by some as a political revolt.

Hiscock’s gold rush began on 12 August 1851 following the publication in the Geelong Advertiser of Thomas Hiscock’s gold findings at Hiscock’s, 3 km west of Buninyong (now Magpie, approximately 10 km south of Eureka). Just days later on 16 August 1851, Lieutenant-Governor Latrobe proclaimed in the Government Gazette crown rights for all mining proceeds and a license fee of 30 shillings per month effective from 1 September 1851.

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On 26 August, a rally of 40-50 miners opposing the fee was held at Hiscock’s gully – the first of many such protests in the colony. The miners opposed government policies of oppression including the license fee and demanded rights to vote and to buy land. This first meeting was followed by dissent across the colony’s mining settlements.

In December the government announced that it intended to raise the license fee to £3 a month, from 1 January 1852. This move incited protests around the colony, including the Forest Creek Monster Meeting of December 1851. In Ballarat, historian Weston Bate noted that diggers became so agitated that they began to gather arms. The government hastily repealed its plans due to the reaction. Nevertheless, oppressive license hunts continued and increased in frequency causing general dissent among the diggers. In addition, Weston Bate noted that the Ballarat diggings were in strong opposition to the strict liquor licensing laws imposed by the government.

On 6 October 1854, Scottish miner James Scobie was murdered at the Eureka hotel. Ten days later, on 17 October 1854, between 1,000 and 10,000 miners gathered at the hotel to protest the acquittal of James Bentley, the hotel proprietor and prime suspect in Scobie’s murder, by a corrupt magistrate. The miners rioted and Bentley and his wife Catherine fled for their lives as the hotel was burnt down by the angry mob. A small group of soldiers were unable to suppress the riot.

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On 22 October 1854, Ballarat Catholics met to protest the treatment of Father Smyth. The next day, the arrests of miners McIntyre and Fletcher for the Eureka Hotel fire provoked a mass meeting which attracted 4,000 miners. The meeting resolved to establish a ‘Digger’s Rights Society’, to protect their rights. On 1 November 1854, 3,000 miners met once again at Bakery Hill. They were addressed by Thomas Kennedy, Henry Holyoake, George Black and Henry Ross. The diggers were further angered by the arrest of another seven of their number for the Eureka Hotel fire.

On Saturday, 11 November 1854 a crowd estimated at more than 10,000 miners gathered at Bakery Hill, directly opposite the government encampment. At this meeting, the Ballarat Reform League was created, under the chairmanship of Chartist John Basson Humffray. Several other Reform League leaders, including Kennedy and Holyoake, had been involved with the Chartist (voting reform) movement in England. Many of the miners had past involvement in the Chartist movement and the social upheavals in Britain, Ireland, and continental Europe during the 1840s.The Ballarat Reform League sought to negotiate with Commissioner Robert Rede and the Governor of Victoria, Sir Charles Hotham.

In setting its goals, the Ballarat Reform League used the British Chartist movement’s principles. The meeting passed a resolution “that it is the inalienable right of every citizen to have a voice in making the laws he is called on to obey, that taxation without representation is tyranny.” The meeting also resolved to secede from the United Kingdom if the situation did not improve.

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Throughout the following weeks, the League sought to negotiate with Commissioner Robert Rede and the Governor of Victoria, Sir Charles Hotham, both on the specific matters relating to Bentley and the Scobie’s death, and the men being tried for the burning of the Eureka Hotel, and on the broader issues of abolition of the license, suffrage and democratic representation of the gold fields, and disbanding of the Gold Commission. Governor Hotham, on 16 November 1854, appointed a Royal Commission on goldfields problems and grievances. However, Commissioner Rede, rather than hear miner’s grievances, increased the police presence in the gold fields and summoned reinforcements from Melbourne.

On 28 November 1854, the reinforcements marching from Melbourne were attacked by a crowd of miners. A number were injured and a drummer boy was allegedly killed. The rumor of the drummer boy’s death was perpetuated, even with a memorial erected to him in Ballarat Cemetery for many years, although historical research has shown that the boy, John Egan, continued military service until dying in 1860.

At a meeting of about 12,000 ‘diggers’ on the following day, (29 November), the Reform League delegation relayed its failure to achieve any success in negotiations with the authorities. The miners resolved on open resistance to the authorities and to burn the hated licenses. Rede responded by ordering police to conduct a license search on 30 November. Eight defaulters were arrested, and most of the military resources available had to be summoned to extricate the arresting officers from the angry mob that had assembled. This raid prompted a change in the leadership of the Reform League, to people who argued in favor of ‘physical force’ rather than the ‘moral force’ championed by Humffray and the old leadership.

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In the rising tide of anger and resentment amongst the miners, a more militant leader, Peter Lalor, was elected. In swift fashion, a military structure was assembled. Brigades were formed, and captains were appointed. Licenses were burned, and on 1 December at Bakery Hill, the disaffected miners held a meeting where at the Australian flag of independence was solemnly consecrated and vows made for its defense, with the ‘Eureka oath’ being sworn by Peter Lalor to the affirmation of his fellow demonstrators, who encamped themselves around the flag to resist further license hunts and harassment by the authorities: “We swear by the Southern Cross to stand truly by each other and fight to defend our rights and liberties.”

The white and blue Eureka Flag, said to be designed by a Canadian miner, “Captain” Henry Ross, and bearing nothing but the Southern Cross, was then flown for the first (recorded) occasion; according to the Ballarat Times, which first mentioned the flag a week earlier on 24 November 1854, at “about eleven o’clock the ‘Southern Cross’ was hoisted, and its maiden appearance was a fascinating object to behold.” The Eureka flag was commonly referred to at the time as the “Australian flag,” and as the Southern Cross, with The Age variously reporting, on 28 November: “The Australian flag shall triumphantly wave in the sunshine of its own blue and peerless sky, over thousands of Australia’s adopted sons”

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During 2 December, the peak rebel force trained in and around the stockade. A further 200 Independent Californian Rangers, under the leadership of James McGill, arrived about 4pm. They were armed with revolvers and Mexican knives, and possessed horses. In a fateful decision, McGill decided to take most of the Californian Rangers away from the stockade to intercept rumored British reinforcements coming from Melbourne. Rede’s spies observed these actions. That night many of the miners went back to their own tents after the traditional Saturday night carousing, with the assumption that the Queen’s military forces would not be sent to attack on a Sunday. A small contingent of miners remained at the stockade overnight, which the spies reported to Rede.

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The stockade itself was a ramshackle affair which was hastily constructed over the following days from timber and overturned carts. The structure was never meant to be a military stockade or fortress. In the words of Lalor: “it was nothing more than an enclosure to keep our own men together, and was never erected with an eye to military defence”. Lalor had already outlined a plan whereby, “if the government forces come to attack us, we should meet them on the Gravel Pits, and if compelled, we should retreat by the heights to the old Canadian Gully, and there we shall make our final stand”.

By the beginning of December, the police contingent at Ballarat had been joined and surpassed in number by soldiers from British Army garrisons in Victoria, including detachments from the 12th (East Suffolk) Regiment of Foot and 40th (2nd Somersetshire) Regiment of Foot. At 3 am on Sunday, 3 December, a party of 276 soldiers and police, under the command of Captain John W. Thomas approached the Eureka Stockade and a battle ensued.

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There is no agreement as to which side fired first, but the battle was fierce, brief, and terribly one-sided. The ramshackle army of miners was hopelessly outclassed by a military regiment and was routed in about 10 minutes. During the height of the battle, Lalor was shot in his left arm, took refuge under some timber and was smuggled out of the stockade and hidden. His arm was later amputated. Stories tell how women ran forward and threw themselves over the injured to prevent further indiscriminate killing. The Commission of Inquiry would later say that it was “a needless as well as a ruthless sacrifice of human life indiscriminate of innocent or guilty, and after all resistance had disappeared.” Early in the battle “Captain” Henry Ross was shot dead.[citation needed]

According to Lalor’s report, fourteen miners (mostly Irish) died inside the stockade and an additional eight died later from injuries they sustained. A further dozen were wounded but recovered. Three months after the Eureka Stockade, Peter Lalor wrote: “As the inhuman brutalities practiced by the troops are so well known, it is unnecessary for me to repeat them. There were 34 digger casualties of which 22 died. The unusual proportion of the killed to the wounded, is owing to the butchery of the military and troopers after the surrender.”

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During the battle, trooper John King the police constable, took down the Eureka flag. By 8 am, Captain Charles Pasley, the second in command of the British forces, sickened by the carnage, saved a group of prisoners from being bayoneted and threatened to shoot any police or soldiers who continued with the slaughter. 114 diggers, some wounded, were marched off to the Government camp about 2 km away, where they were kept in an overcrowded lock-up, before being moved to a more spacious barn on Monday morning. Of the soldiers and police, six were killed, including Captain Wise. Martial law was imposed, and all armed resistance collapsed. News of the battle spread quickly to Melbourne and other gold field regions, turning a perceived Government military victory in repressing a minor insurrection into a public relations disaster. Thousands of people in Melbourne turned out to condemn the authorities, in defiance of their mayor and some Legislative Councillors, who tried to rally support for the government.

Because of massive public sympathy for the diggers, those arrested and tried for sedition were either found not guilty by juries or received light sentences if found guilty. When Hotham’s Royal Commission report, initiated before the conflict, was finally handed down it was scathing in its assessment of all aspects of the administration of the gold fields, and particularly the Eureka Stockade affair. According to Blainey, “It was perhaps the most generous concession offered by a governor to a major opponent in the history of Australia up to that time. The members of the commission were appointed before Eureka…they were men who were likely to be sympathetic to the diggers.”

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The report made several major recommendations, one of which was to restrict Chinese immigration. Its recommendations were put into effect only after the Stockade. The gold licenses were then abolished, and replaced by an annual miner’s right and an export fee based on the value of the gold. Mining wardens replaced the gold commissioners, and police numbers were cut drastically. The Legislative Council was expanded to allow representation to the major goldfields, and Peter Lalor and John Basson Humffray were elected for Ballarat, although there were property qualifications with regards to eligibility to vote in upper house elections in Victoria until the 1950s. After 12 months, all but one of the demands of the Ballarat Reform League had been granted. Lalor and Humffray both enjoyed distinguished careers as politicians, with Lalor later elected as Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Victoria.

Kangaroo meat was, and is, common in the goldfields region of Victoria – once a cheap source of meat. It’s not so cheap any more, but fairly easy to find in Australia, though rare outside. Kangaroo tail soup or stew is an obvious variant of oxtail soup/stew which is an old favorite of mine. A kangaroo’s tail is extremely important for balance and support, and is big and muscular. So, as with oxtail, the meat can be very tough and requires long slow cooking. This recipe of mine can be used for either kangaroo tail or oxtail. I used to cook oxtail all the time when it was considered trash food that no one wanted, and so was dirt cheap. Then gourmets got hold of the fact that tail meat is super tasty and prices skyrocketed. You have to love market forces.

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Oxtail or Kangaroo Tail Soup/Stew

The tail should be jointed in fat sections. Use a large, heavy stockpot to brown the joints thoroughly in batches. Cover the joints with stock, add carrots, onions, celery and potatoes, and simmer, covered, for 3 to 4 hours. Your aim is to cook the meat until it falls from the bone and the vegetables are mush. Refrigerate over night.

In the morning, remove the congealed fat from the top of the pot. The stock should be thick and jellified. Heat the pot gently on the stove until the stock has liquefied and warmed through. Remove the tail bones, and keep heating the stock to a gentle simmer. Strip all the meat from the tail bones. With a potato masher, mash all the vegetables in the stock until it is thick and homogenous. Keep heating, and return the meat to the pot. Flavorings are cook’s choice. I generally add nothing but freshly ground black pepper. Some cooks add pot herbs such as parsley and thyme, plus a glass of Madeira or Port. Serve with crusty bread and a fresh green salad.