Chinese George

George Ernest Morrison (1862 – 1920), also known as Chinese Morrison, was an Australian adventurer and The Times Peking correspondent.

image found here

He was born in Geelong, Victoria, Australia. During a vacation before his tertiary education, he walked from Geelong to Adelaide, a distance of about 600 miles (960 km). Landing at Normanton, Queensland at the end of 1882 Morrison decided to walk to Melbourne. He was not quite 21, he had no horses or camels and was unarmed, but carrying his swag and swimming or wading the rivers in his path, he walked the 2043 miles in 123 days.

image of Geelong found here

Financed by The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald, Morrison was sent on an exploration journey to New Guinea. The men Morrison chose to accompany him were a mixed and mostly comical lot. They included Ned Snow “remarkably short and of such eccentric configuration that, whereas his body seemed longer than his legs, his head appeared more lengthy than either’. There was a Malay named Cheerful (possibly because he was an opium smoker) and another, Lively, who was “curious”.

Mud Men from New Guinea found here

High mountain country barred the way, and it took 38 days to cover 50 miles. The natives became hostile, and Morrison was struck by two spears, one, driven into his head near his right eye, the other deep in his stomach. Retracing their steps, with Morrison strapped to a horse, Port Moresby was reached after many days. On a ship taking him home he blew his nose and shot out a two centimetre splinter of wood. 

image found here

In Melbourne, 169 agonising days after the ambush, a surgeon removed the spearhead that was wedged in the back of his throat. Without anaesthetic the surgeon took the tip of the spear (six centimetres long) through and up the throat and into then out of Morrison’s right nostril.

He sailed for London on 27 March 1884, where he had the second spearhead cut from his abdomen by surgeon Joseph Bell in front of no less than 16 other surgeons. Morrison graduated as a doctor from Edinburgh University two and a half years later. After graduation he travelled extensively in the United States, the West Indies, and Spain. He then proceeded to Morocco, became physician to the Shereef of Wazan, and studied in Paris under Dr Charcot. In Siam, where the British and French were vying for power, he worked as a British secret agent. 

George found here

In 1894 he journeyed from Shanghai to Rangoon. He went partly by boat up the Yangtze River then rode and walked the remainder of the 3000 miles. The journey was completed in 100 days at a total cost of £18. He was unarmed and at the time knew hardly more than a dozen words of Chinese. 

Yangtze found here

In 1899 he went to England, and early in 1900 paid a short visit to his relations in Australia before returning to Peking. The Boxer Uprising broke out soon after, and during a prolonged siege, Morrison showed great courage, always ready to volunteer for every service of danger. Superficially wounded in July, he was erroneously reported as killed. He was afterwards able to read his highly laudatory obituary notice, which occupied two columns of The Times.

Boxer uprising found here

Morrison was a handsome, heroic man of action, much admired by women. In Spain he was captivated by a young girl named Pepita. In Paris he spent all his savings on Noelle and in Rangoon he had an idyllic affair with a Eurasian named Mary. In London, aged 43, he fell heavily for Toni, a 22 year old Hungarian. In Peking, he lusted briefly for Bessie and while visiting Sydney, spent time with a German actress. May, an insatiable American heiress, had him in the shadow of the Great Wall. He was spellbound by her sexuality and described her as the most thoroughly immoral woman. His diary contained an account of her industrious love life:

shadowy Great Wall found here

“May played with herself every morning even after passing the night in bed with a man. Seduced by a doctor, she went to Washington, slept constantly with Congressman Gaines, had four miscarriages, kissed all the way over Siberia by Captain Tremain Smith. Had for days in succession by Martin Egan. Her desire now is to get a Japanese maid to accompany her back to America and to kiss her every morning. In Tientson she had the Dutch consul and Mr Holcombe had her four times in two hours….”

Japanese maids found here

Morrison was dejected when May dumped him but at the age of 53, he married his thirty years younger assistant, Jennie. They had seven happy years together before he died of pancreatitis in May 1920.  

start spreadin’ the news…..

….. I’m leavin’ today.

Yes, my much anticipated trip to New York starts today. Daisyfae and I will be hanging out in the Big Apple for a week or so, hoping to catch up with unbearablebanishment, alonewithcats, shrinkrap and renalfailure whilst eating and drinking our way around Manhattan.

There may be an occasional joint blog post like we the one in Seville in 2008

or the one we did in Lesbos  in 2010 with the lovely Dolce

Then it’s on to Chicago – a city I’ve never been to before. Hopefully that’s when we’ll catch up with Rassles. If you’ve got any tips on things we really should see or do while there, leave them in the comments. See you all soon.

the romance of travel

Edward Wortley Montagu (1713 – 1776) was an English author and traveller.

image found here

In spite of Mr Wortley’s incurable habit of travelling, or because of it, he was equally addicted to matrimony, though he was as much a wanderer in this activity as in any other for he married, first a washerwoman, and then, bigamously, Caroline Dormer.

washerwoman found here

Nor did his thirst for domesticity content itself with these two ladies, for he deserted Miss Dormer for a Nubian girl, and, as well, eloped with Miss Ashe. His death took place at Padua in 1776, and he no doubt left several inconsolable widows.

Nubian mummy found at this fascinating site

Louis de Rougemont (1847-1941) was also a traveller, but not quite as adventurous a one as he claimed to be

Louis found here

“De Rougemont” was born Henri Louis Grin in Paris, France. He left home at the age of sixteen. He became a footman to the actress Fanny Kemble, servant to Swiss banker de Mieville in 1870 and butler for the governor of Western Australia, Sir William Robinson. In that job he lasted less than a year.

Fanny Kemble found here

He tried various ventures with very little success. He worked as a doctor, a ‘spirit photographer’ and an inventor. He also married and abandoned a wife in Australia.

spirit photography found here

In 1898 he began to write about his invented adventures in the British periodical “The Wide World Magazine” under the name Louis De Rougemont. He described his alleged exploits in search of pearls and gold in New Guinea and claimed to have spent thirty years living with Indigenous Australians in the Australian outback. He claimed that the tribe with whom he had lived had worshipped him as a god. 

Larapinta Dreaming found here

Various readers expressed disbelief in his tales from the start, for example, claiming that no one can actually ride a turtle. De Rougemont had also claimed to have seen flying wombats. The fact that he could not place his travels on the map aroused suspicion. Readers’ arguments in the pages of London newspaper, the Daily Chronicle, continued for months.

Flying Wombat found here

Rougemont said he could not specify exactly where he had been because he had signed a non-disclosure agreement with a syndicate that wanted to exploit the gold he had found in the area. He also refused to talk about Aboriginal languages he had supposedly learned. 

Then it was announced that a certain F.W. Solomon had recognized De Rougemont and identified him as Louis Grin who had presented himself at Solomon’s firm as an entrepreneur. Grin had collected tidbits for his exploits from the Reading Room of the British Library. 

more great libraries here

Grin tried to defend himself by writing a letter to The Daily Chronicle, in which he expressed his consternation that anybody would confuse him with Louis De Rougemont. The Wide World Magazine exploited the situation and prepared a Christmas double issue. Sales of both papers soared. De Rougemont himself disappeared from the public view.

In 1899 Grin travelled to South Africa as a music-hall attraction: ‘The Greatest Liar on Earth’; on a similar 1901 tour of Australia, he was booed from the stage. In July 1906 De Rougemont appeared at the London Hippodrome and successfully demonstrated his turtle-riding skills. During World War I he reappeared as an inventor of a useless meat substitute. He died a poor man in London on 9 June 1921.

turtle riding a jellyfish found here

chicago ain’t no sissy town

I’m trying to plan another holiday with daisyfae this July. Unfortunately dolce can’t join us like she did in Greece last year *sob*

Lesbos July 2010 – we had fun didn’t we girls?

So far I’m considering New York, Chicago and/or Hawaii. Chicago sounds like a riot of a town

Nearly 20,000 drunken, yelling, brawling revelers filled the Coliseum and clogged the street by the time the Honorable John J. Coughlin arrived at the First Ward Ball by carriage in December 1908.

image found here

For more than a decade this was the city’s most notorious party, hosted by “Bathhouse John” and Michael “Hinky Dink” Kenna. Tiny cigar-chomping Kenna was a genius at political organization and the owner of a popular saloon. Coughlin had been a bathhouse masseur, wrote terrible poetry and wore garish clothes. He blustered while Kenna said little. 

Hinky Dink and Bathhouse John found here

They conceived the First Ward Ball as a way of stuffing their pockets, already bulging with graft, through imposed ticket and liquor sales. The first ball, held in 1896, attracted a wild mix of society thrill seekers, police captains, politicians, prostitutes and gamblers.

image found here at flickriver

The 1908 ball made that affair look tame. During the course of the evening, revelers slopped up 10,000 quarts of champagne and 30,000 quarts of beer. Riotous drunks stripped off the costumes of unattended young women. A madam named French Annie stabbed her boyfriend with a hat pin.

French actress Annie Giradot found here

“It’s a lollapalooza! . . . There are more here than ever before. All the business houses are here, all the big people,” Kenna proudly proclaimed. “Chicago ain’t no sissy town.”

Almost half a century later, Hinky Dink died, at age 89.

image found here

He and his lifelong partner, Bathhouse John Coughlin, had set out to rule the new metropolis. Bathhouse John, once a rubber in a Turkish bath, was the front man. He was a huge, bumbling, handsome ruffian, full of pomp and speech. Tight-lipped Hinky Dink was the boss. They were elected aldermen; together they controlled the vote, became loved, feared, respected.

image found here

The pair staged an annual ball which was attended by thousands of whores, pickpockets, hopheads, politicians and pimps. Their guests drank free champagne, brawled, engaged in orgiastic dancing, and cheered as Bathhouse John led the Grand March wearing a bright green cutaway, mauve vest, lavender pants and a high silk hat.

vision in purple found here

Times changed. Prohibition put Hinky Dink out of his saloon; Al Capone stole much of his power. Bathhouse John died in 1938, old and broke. In 1943, diabetes and old age beat Hinky Dink down. He retired to a hotel room. His fortune (estimated at $2,000,000) afforded him but little comfort beyond the dozen $1 cigars he smoked every day. He died attended only by a male nurse.

Al Capone fishing found here

Jack (“Greasy Thumb”) Guzik, one of the successors to Capone’s power, came to his wake. Hymie (“Loud Mouth”) Levin, another underworld kingpin, sent flowers. But the funeral was a disappointment—half the seats were empty, and Hinky Dink got only three automobile loads of flowers, as compared to Bathhouse John’s seven.

Don Corleone’s funeral flowers found here

An apologetic First Ward lobbygog (Chicagoese for ward heeler) explained: “He was retired too long. If you don’t go to other people’s funerals they won’t go to yours.”

corset friday France part 3

Location: Le Chateau de Bruzac, Dordogne, France

Lingerie: purchased by The King (a.k.a “That man from the market”)

Photographer: The King

Permission granted by: QueenWilly

This is the final part in the French series. Just a reminder that next week is T shirt Friday again, so you’ve got 7 days to take a photo of yourself wearing a T shirt, then post it on your blog on June 30th for a link back. Thanks to daisyfae for suggesting the sepia treatment this week and thanks to queenwilly for being so obliging.

Published in: on July 23, 2010 at 8:10 am  Comments (44)  
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corset friday France part 2

Location: Le Chateau de Bruzac, Dordogne, France

Lingerie: purchased by The King (a.k.a “That man from the market”)

Photographer: The King

Permission granted by: QueenWilly

Published in: on July 16, 2010 at 8:10 am  Comments (33)  
Tags: , , , , ,

corset friday France part 1

Location: Le Chateau de Bruzac, Dordogne, France

Lingerie: purchased by The King (a.k.a “That man from the market”)

Photographer: The King

Permission granted by: QueenWilly

Published in: on July 9, 2010 at 8:06 am  Comments (58)  
Tags: , , , ,

normal transmission resumes shortly

I’ll be back to normal gimcrackery as soon as I catch up on all the blogs I missed while I was away. France was fantastic, Greece was gorgeous and Singapore was sensational. Travelling and meeting up with friends and blog buddies queenwilly and The King, daisyfae and dolce resulted in some unbloggable adventures. I think we all had the time of our lives 😉

Published in: on July 4, 2010 at 12:36 am  Comments (53)  
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Triple Corset Friday from Lesbos

On the terrace of our apartment in Skala Eressos, Lesbos.  Playing along today for this special edition are dolce and daisyfae.

Published in: on June 25, 2010 at 7:13 am  Comments (40)  
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calming engine


In 1863 Dr Walter Lewis wrote a report on the dangers of train travel.


“Railway travel, if not too excessive,  has little injurious effect on healthy, strong well-built people, but persons who take to habitual rail travel after the age of 25 are more easily affected than those who begin earlier. The more advanced in age a traveller is, the more easily he is affected by locomotion.

Weak, tall, loosely-knit persons are very unsuited for habitual train travelling and should avoid it unless absolutely necessary.”


The enterprising Dr Lewis went on to devise a cure for people in those high risk categories. His patent traveller’s calming engine was, he said, the only certain palliative for the potentially severe health effects induced by high speed locomotion.

This “cure” was a wooden box containing a bottle of smelling salts, a bottle of brandy, a cap that came down over the eyes and an instrument which looked like a giant pair of scissor handles with two flat pads instead of blades.


The handles were squeezed together which pushed the pads down hard on the unfortunate sufferer’s  temples. This pressure, together with the smelling salts and a swig of brandy was purported to provide an instant sense of calm and renewed vigour…….

head pads

Thankfully road and air travel took off soon after this and Dr Lewis’ calming engine for train travel was no longer needed…..


image found here

Published in: on November 2, 2009 at 7:23 am  Comments (32)  
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