Good Afternoon Family, Friends and Followers of William’s story.
I have been away from my desk for the past few weeks, partly due to my participation in a Writing Group and also I have been on holidays. However, William has not been far from my thoughts as I toured outback Queensland, visiting Hughendon, Winton, Longreach, Balcaldine and Emerald.
In Barcaldine, we revisited the Shearers’ Strike which began within a year of William joining the Queensland Mounted Infantry in Mackay. I cannot say with certainty that he was involved, however it is highly likely. At any rate, he would have been made aware of the events that transpired, via word of mouth or the local newspapers.
Whilst on my travels, I was reminded of our instantaneous world where information can satisfy our curiosity at the touch of a key. William and his friends didn’t have that option back in 1917. They didn’t have mobile phones that could tell them the names of the mummies in the tomb of Amenophus II or the name of the archaeologist who first opened the tomb. Because they weren’t afforded that luxury, they would have interacted with their guide. And, if he didn’t know the answers, I’m sure they wouldn’t have stressed over the fact. Like myself, they would have been happy to let things play out, whichever way they did. They would have exchanged conversations with other visitors who shared the same hotels, and come up with numerous historical scenarios.
Because their eyes weren’t glued to facebook or checking emails and texts whilst exploring the sights, they would have possessed a keener sense of observation and a longer attention span. They would have experienced a heightened sense of surprise when presented with splendour of the Pharaoh’s tomb and the treasures they saw elsewhere in Egypt. Remember, there was no colour photography back then, so observing treasure in black and white would not have prepared their senses for reality.
I love that element of surprise and sometimes it such a wonderful feeling to discover something with one’s own eyes, without the help of google. I’m sure that William and his travel companions were unable to visit everything that was on offer in the Valley of the Kings. Having been there myself, I am aware of the great expanse of desert that includes many the tombs of Pharaohs, Queens, Artisans and regular people. On my trip by donkey, I only saw a sampling of Pharaohs’ tombs. I visited some of the others in the afternoon by bus. My motto is “What you don’t see, doesn’t matter.” In today’s world, however, google makes people want it all now. A sense of urgency has pervaded modern man’s consciousness.
The other aspect of modern technology that never ceases to astound and annoy me is the obsession with selfies. What would William think of that? Of course, he and his friends would laugh off the notion that in 100 years time, people would own weird square telephones that weren’t attached to the wall by wires; that one could take one’s own photo with the device and send it instantly to the other side of the world at the press of a button. I notice that in William’s snapshots, there are no images of himself and his companions. They were obviously more interested in their surroundings than themselves.
As for texting and emails, I am thankful that they weren’t thought of back in 1917. That would have meant that William’s account of his trip would have been long lost in cyber space. He most probably would not have written an eight page letter home; it would not have been kept; and I would not have experienced that precious thrill of discovery. It is interesting food for thought. Are we leaving an interesting footprint on this earth, for our future generations to discover. Are we going to show ourselves as self-centred, without anything substantial to say?
Without further words, please enjoy the next instalment of William’s letter.