Drugs, Death threats, Alfred Dreyfus and Pastor Niemoller

Image result for phonographs

Another instalment of my autobiography before I revert to my normal blogs

 Alfred Dreyfus, the Frenchman wrongly accused of spying, and the victim of twelve years of imprisonment, trials and injustice, ending in his pardon in 1904, seemed an odd person to enter our lives – but he did.

Dreyfus was framed and punished for a crime he didn’t commit, and his case has since become the classic example of  bias and state bullying. Among the people who campaigned to exonerate him and re-gain his freedom was the writer, Emile Zola, who wrote a powerful and explosive newspaper article entitled ‘J’Accuse!’ aimed at those who had collaborated in this crime by the establishment.

So many aspects of Dreyfus’s ordeal were repeated in the case of Arthur Thomas that Patrick began to use the parallels and wrote his own version of ‘J’Accuse!’ Whenever he was invited to speak to a meeting, be it conservative anti-Thomas, pro- establishment Rotary clubs, or dinners for Justices of the Peace, he would tell the story of Dreyfus, not mentioning his name.

The audience would grow visibly angry since they believed that justice had been done to Thomas. At the end of his talk he would say – no, not Arthur Thomas, but Alfred Dreyfus. This would always cause a stir, and suddenly they became open to hearing about Arthur’s case, asking the questions Patrick wanted to answer. The constant campaigning went on, while I beavered away by now, at producing the women’s pages as well as writing two weekly columns for the Star and Women’s Weekly.

Life became a juggling act with the children now at secondary school in the city, forty minute’s drive away, and reliant on us to get them there as public transport was difficult from our remote little valley. By the time  we’d added in their weekly piano lessons  with two different teachers in two different  directions, flute lessons in another distant suburb, weekend children’s orchestra, regular piano concerts in which their teachers had entered them, plus my daughter’s activities, which included the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Medal, and rehearsals with the Handel trio she’d organised, culminating in the finals of a nation-wide competition -to name only a few of their activities – life was hectic.

Friends came to stay from England – a god-mother for three months, other friends for weeks at a time and Shirley, who became a regular visitor who collapsed with exhaustion on her arrival, slept for a few days, and then left – refreshed! This schedule was interrupted with increasingly frequent bouts of what is now known as chronic fatigue syndrome, but in those days got me diagnosed as hypochondriac, or emotionally disturbed, and other enraging judgemental descriptions. I eventually gave up on conventional medicine and went to a homeopath.

He was a very tall, handsome and distinguished man with great compassion, who a few years later returned to England to become the Queens’s homeopath, but was murdered by his mistress with a pair of scissors before he could take up the appointment.

When I went to see him, he was appalled at how weak I was and sent me off to see a raft of specialists, from an endocrinologist, a gynaecologist, a neurologist and finally a faith healer. No-one could get to the bottom of my puzzling ailment, and because no-one could put a name on it I was in a sort of limbo… not really ill at all… I dragged myself around to walk the dogs and speak to meetings, organise, write, interview and lay-out the women’s pages, working from home for most of the tine, and driving into the office two days a week.

One of the high spots of this time was meeting the Duke of Edinburgh, who was handsome, charming, intelligent and witty. Later, a cocktail party on board Britannia to meet the Queen was another fascinating experience, not just talking to her but watching her vivacity and sense of fun as she mingled with other guests. Other interviews were with people as diverse as tennis player Yvonne Goolagong and the new Governor General, Erin Pizzey, English campaigner against domestic violence, painters, poets, midwives, and Maoris…so many good people doing their best for their world.

Patrick in the mean-time pursued his rather expensive hobbies, so although we were always struggling financially, he still managed to collect antique phonographs and records, until he had hundreds of old cylinders and records, and over twenty horned gramophones, Victrolas and other models. Vintage cars were another of his passions, and he was always coming home with another brass headlamp, a brass horn, a new radiator and other trimmings which I used to call Christmas tree decorations, the cars were arrayed with so many extras.

One day he came home with a strange story about one of his girl cadets coming to see him because she was worried about her flat-mate. She feared her friend was working for a shady magazine with odd connections… false passports in the safe, strange phone calls, and stranger people calling. The following week, having followed it up, he felt he had stumbled on a drug ring.

Over the next few years, in tandem with the Thomas campaign, he investigated this frightening international crime ring, which he nicknamed The Mr Asia Drug Ring. He was assisted by a team of three brave and enthusiastic reporters. Up to twelve people were murdered by the two principals, and my heart used to sink at having to listen to more stories of crime and depravity. Eventually I couldn’t take any more, and my daughter claimed her stepfather unburdened it onto her instead on the school run!

But I still couldn’t escape the ramifications of this dangerous mission Patrick was now committed to. After several years of investigations and a big front-page story, the phone rang that eveing, and an educated woman’s voice spoke at the other end. “Martin is not going to like it.” she said menacingly, naming one of the two drug ring-leaders. Since we had an unlisted number this was worrying; we learned later that she worked in the office of Arthur Thomas’s counsel, and had found it easy to get our details.

This barrister, a QC, who had demanded such a price for volunteering to be Arthur’s legal adviser that the Thomas parents had had to mortgage their farm, was also successfully defending one of the two drug lords. This was a strange situation for Patrick, who while he discussed Arthur Thomas with the QC, never mentioned Terry Clark, the other client who he, Patrick, was trying to expose and destroy, while the QC was trying to defend him!

Now, the prime minister, Rob Muldoon caused another huge ripple in our lives. He sent a list to all the newspapers of all the supposed communists in the country, and Patrick who was editing the Star at the time while the editor was on holiday, refused to publish it. I remembered Pastor Niemoller and rang Patrick at the office with his famous words:

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Patrick printed them in his editorial – saying next it will be homosexuals in the education department, or Catholics in the health department. His staff were enraptured, exclaiming that they were proud to work for the liberal newspaper, while it caused a stir throughout the country. Flushed with pride Patrick was furious when his boss came hurrying back from holiday, and criticised his  decision.

The next morning, I awoke to hear him say, “I’m resigning.” Suddenly, after a few good years of what felt like prosperity, we were thrown back into the hardship of never having enough money. The big yellow Austin Princess office car was returned to the newspaper, and my lovely new yellow station wagon, the only new car I have ever owned, had to be sold.

With the proceeds, Patrick bought a vintage car called a Dodge, so he could have the fun of it, he said, and we could use it as transport. It was a disaster, always breaking down, and hideous to boot! We ended up selling it at a loss – of course – and buying three very old Morris Minors, one for Patrick, one for me, and one for the children to drive themselves to school- my earnings paid for their school fees. Patrick found it hard to find another job with his reputation for not toeing the establishment line, and went into radio which he didn’t enjoy.

I mentioned to him that there was a lot of rattling in my Morris Minor when driving along our steep and winding country roads. When he checked, he found some -one – the drug lord’s henchman? – had somehow penetrated our isolated home, and had unscrewed all the nuts on the front wheels except one, which hung by a thread. And just in case we hadn’t got the message that ‘they’ knew where we were and would stop at nothing, when we were away on holiday for a week, they broke into the house, and switched off the deep freeze, so that everything had rotted… a sinister calling card…

Other troubling messages continued to reach us, like the one brought by a reporter who’d been dining at a restaurant. As she was leaving, a man at a table put out his walking stick to prevent her passing and said: “Tell Mr Booth that I am always thinking of him”. This was frightening, as was the information relayed by the police, that the drug ring had put out a contract on Patrick’s head, with return fares to and from Australia, and a payment of thirty thousand dollars – which, nearly thirty years ago was a lot of money.

To be continued

 Food for Threadbare Gourmets

 I use this mixture in a pie, or if I’m pushed for time, over two minute noodles. For gluten free foodies, it could be served over rice, but I think I’d jazz up the rice with some frozen peas, chopped parsley, mushrooms cooked in butter, fried onions or similar. It’s just three chopped leeks, gently fried in butter with a spring of fresh chopped thyme.

Mix two table spoons of flour with two table spoons of cream, and add to the leeks along with 200gms of crème fraiche. If no crème fraiche I might use cream cheese. To this add 200 gms of ham, though I use chicken and a few rashers of cooked, chopped bacon. Then salt and pepper, and a good dollop of chopped blue cream cheese… 100 gm at least. When they’re mixed, tip into a greased pie dish, and cover with short crust or puff pastry, brushed over with some milk.

Make a small hole in the centre for steam to escape – those old china pie funnels are ideal – and bake for thirty minutes or so. Good with carrots and broccoli, and creamy mashed potatoes for a homely winter meal on a cold day. In summer it’s just as good with salad.

Food for Thought

There is life on earth – one life, which embraces every animal and plant on the planet. Time has divided it up into several million parts, but each is an integral part of the whole. We are all of one flesh, drawn from the same crucible. The instructions for all life are written in the same simple language. An intricate web of interaction connects all life into one vast self- maintaining system.

Lyall Watson. The opening lines of Supernature






Filed under cars, cookery/recipes, family, history, life and death, Queen Elizabeth, uncategorised, Uncategorized

18 responses to “Drugs, Death threats, Alfred Dreyfus and Pastor Niemoller

  1. Juliet

    What amazing courage it took to be an investigative journalist. I love the bit where you phoned Patrick with the perfect quote from Pastor Niemoller. No wonder you got chronic fatigue. Coincidentally, I took my son to that same homeopath, who saved him from endless antibiotics for recurring ear infections, & helped me also with constitutional remedies. I wanted to cry when your car had to be sold. So many tough things you had to deal with, instead luring physical danger, yet you carried on leading a principled life of service to good causes.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hello Juliet
      How interesting that you too went to Doctor Mount… I interviewed him when he first came to this country, and remembered him a few years later, when like you, I wanted to circumvent allopathic remedies… in my children’s cases – painful and debilitating sinus… and he also did the trick for them, so effectively that they didn’t even have a cold for several years…Thank you for your understanding and perceptive remarks…yes, I regretted my lovely car!!! But somehow we had to soldier on!!!
      Love, Valerie

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Juliet

    Oh, spell check! I wrote “including physical danger” in the second to last line – or so I thought.


  3. What a demanding schedule! No wonder you were out of sorts. I thought ours was demanding, but it doesn’t compare. And then, having to deal with villains and wilful idiots.
    Pity Patrick was so impetuous. He was forgetting that you can often achieve more from within a faulty system than outside it, quite apart from the bread-and-butter issue.

    Liked by 1 person

    • He actually admitted years later that his decision had been sheer egotism… but it was a very bad one for the rest of us at the time, and the over-sensitive teenagers found it really hard coping with our straightened circumstances at their expensive schools. Morris Minors didn’t cut the mustard when parked next to a jaguar or a mercedes !!!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Valerie your life never seems to settle down – car accidents, threats from drug dealers, rubbing shoulders with the queen – no wonder you have such fabulous stories to tell!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. WOW! I am stunned. And completely overwhelmed at all the fabulous people you have met throughout your life. To meet the Queen…I am so happy for you…she is one person I very much admire.

    As for your adventure in this installment…I am very concerned with you, your family and everyone’s safety…so very scary and alarming.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dearest Linda, so good to see you… and thank you for all you say… I love your enthusiasm… yes, the Queen was quite something ! And so was her very under- rated and somewhat un-appreciated husband…
      We survived the dangers which confronted us… though the worst came from a very unexpected quarter … that’s in the next instalment !
      Much love XXX

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Goodness, I had no idea that Muldoon wanted to publish a list of communists. Did other newspapers print the list?


    • Good morning, Amanda,
      Yes, he did, that was why it was such a thing that Patrick refused to be bullied by him…all the other newspapers printed the list
      It was called the SUP list, and the members of the SUP were reputed to be communists…
      which was not actually illegal in NZ !!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • The list of people whom I detest/ed has few members but one of them is Muldoon. And even though he has been on that list since ‘forever’, it seems now that I was only aware of a small amount of his rotten behaviour.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Your journey was not for the faint of heart. When we confront evil, we embark on a difficult, circuitous path that offers very little certainty. You continue to inspire me, Valerie. Hugs!!


  8. I feel for you, Valerie. Some of us are not destined for a quiet and comfortable life and yours has been packed with so many adventures and challenges. It takes courage to be an investigative journalist and even greater courage to be a family around one! Wrapping you in love, so much love, with hugs flowing. xXx ❤ xXx


  9. Dearest Valerie,

    What an amazing life you’ve led.
    Funny how little doctors know…well not funny…rather appalling. As a young girl I had a bout of anaphilaxys from Hazel Nuts. A little inheritance from my father. Our family doctor blamed it on ‘nerves’ because I was “high-strung”. Years later an allergist told me never to eat Hazel Nuts.
    Also I think of my friends who battle Fibromyalgia and are accused of hypochondria. I’m sorry that happened to you with chronic fatigue.
    I’m still hanging on every word of the Mr. Thomas’ case. And…I could just hear that maternal pride when you wrote of your children. 😀
    Love to you and himself. I enjoyed the homestead photos. Looking forward to more. Some signs of Autumn approaching here…but summer wanting to hold on. Meanwhile I anxiously watch Florence’s path as she’s headed directly toward my brother’s home. (he vacated but fears losing everything). Enough from me.
    Shalom and hugs to you both, ❤



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