All I Have To Do Is Dream

All I Have To Do Is Dream

Featured Image: ‘All I Have To Do Is Dream’ by the ‘The Everly Brothers’

I will write this from the vestiges of my memory. It’s about journeys real and vicarious; theirs and mine. Life is a journey. The first is about one of the all-time great voyages in the history of human endeavour. A good friend has just lent me Number 117 of the London Gazette of Friday, August 19, 1768. It originally cost twopence-farthing. He claims it is authentic and has been in his family for generations. There are some watermarks which look suspiciously like those from a photocopier to me. The writing is newer rather than older English. I would be a cynic, wouldn’t I? On Page 2 there is reference to the Demon Drink. It transpires that shocking as the account may appear no less than seven soldiers have destroyed themselves on the Isle of Wight within these ten days by drinking spirits. One, lamentable to say, was an officer. The main cover story on Pages 1 and 2 addresses the secret voyage of Lieutenant James Cook on HIS MAJESTY’s Bark, Endeavour from Plymouth Sound. The article discloses certain information speculating on the real reasons for the voyage. Methinks there were leaks other than on the ship. There are detailed descriptions with diagrams dealing with the Endeavour and its’ fit-out at Deptford. Lieutenant Cook would take with him his special anti-scorbutic concoction containing a mixture of scurvy grass, marmalade of carrots, syrup of lemons, and other vegetables. Milk would be supplied to Officers from a goat which is the very same animal which was carried for that purpose on HIS MAJESTY’S Ship Dolphin. Did I claim I was doing this from memory?

Almost sixty years ago I was selected to represent my Quaker coeducational boarding school in West Yorkshire against our sister school at Great Ayton in North Yorkshire. I only had eyes for Margaret who had left our school and moved to Great Ayton. This was about the same time I was addicted to the Everly Brothers and their signature international hit song ‘All I Have To Do Is Dream’. It was of little interest that a large statue on top of a hill dominated the village commemorating some old bloke called Captain Cook. Many years later I became enraptured with the same old bloke. Like millions of others I immersed myself in his exploits. I made it my business to explore as many of his haunts and jaunts as I could. This was my real time dreamtime journey.

I took my young family on a return visit to North Yorkshire as well as my old school. By the way 2005 Australian of the Year burns specialist Dr Fiona Wood is an alumnus of my school. I thought you might like to know. So is convicted rogue trader Kweku Adoboli who like me was head boy. Don’t tell anyone. We reviewed the Captain Cook Museum in Great Ayton and also went to Marston, Staithes and Whitby. Later in Melbourne I minutely examined Cook’s Cottage in Fitzroy Gardens. Cooks Landing at Kurnell is a given as is La Perouse. On another occasion I hired a car from Cairns and drove to Cooktown in far north Queensland almost coming to grief on the way. Adventure Bay on South Bruny Island in remote faraway eastern Tasmania was my destination when in the Apple Isle. As an aside William Bligh visited the bay four times in his life: once with Captain Cook while on the Resolution and another on the Bounty. It’s all in the Bounty Museum. Next year I plan to go to the Queensland coastal town of 1770. I have yet to make plans for the Pacific Islands. A cruise on the Aranui II around the Marquesas Archipelago beckons seductively. It seems like a very good idea. Let your imagination run wild: perchance to dream?

In another life I also avidly followed Robert Louis Stevenson. As an undergraduate student at Edinburgh University there was ample opportunity. We used to furtively peak and stealthily sneak into the myriad clandestine nooks and crannies (called Close and Wynd) frequented by the likes of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. This was usually done while on the obligatory right-of-passage pub crawl down High Street from the Castle to Holyrood Palace. Darkness added cachet to the experience. I am ashamed to admit some of these impromptu opportune visits were to seek personal relief from excessive imbibition of pale amber fluid. Imagination was fuelled by the alcohol. Even worse was the dare to urinate on the Heart of Midlothian embedded in the cobblestone pavement outside St Giles Cathedral. The trick was not to be caught. Much later I made one of my very favourite vicarious forays to Tusitala at Apia in Western Samoa. Aggie Greys was special but that’s another story. There the pilgrimage was to RLS’s home Vailima and his resting place on top of Mount Vaea. It was a hot steamy climb. We made it and had the space to ourselves. The sense of place is intense. It’s exquisitely beautiful. His self-composed requiem on the obelisk is poignantly and eminently memorable:

Under the wide and starry sky,

Dig the grave and let me lie.

Glad did I live and gladly die,

And I laid me down with a will.

This be the verse you grave for me:

Here he lies where he longed to be;

Home is the sailor, home from sea,

And the hunter home from the hill.

I know it’s there: I’ve seen it. Show me the evidence. If I had been one of the Twelve Apostles I’d have been Thomas. Is there any doubt? I couldn’t have been an Apostle at Cambridge because they wouldn’t have invited me. I strongly suspect any rhyme like that is beyond me: even in my dreamtime journey. I’ll settle for what remains of my memory.