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The Rock-itt : February 2010
Hobart to Hollywood It's not hard to imagine in the stifling humidity of Rabaul, seventeen years old Errol Flynn, hands clasped behind his head, laying on a bug ridden mattress, staring blankly at the peeling ceiling of his cheap hotel room, while the ancient rickety fan droned slowly around and around above him. With fleeting images of the beautiful Maura materialising from the shadows of his memory, her smooth honey coloured skin, almond eyes and hour glass waist, which his young arms would never again encircle and her soft, sensuous, moist lips, which never again would kiss his. For a moment her laughter shook him from his trance and made him swivel into a sitting position, but then he realised it was just the voice of one of the mulatto prostitutes which used the hotel rooms for business. The slurred voice of the prostitute's drunken client brought the message home it wasn't Maura, she was gone forever. He walked to the window and looked down to the street below. He thought of his mother and father thousands of miles away in England, and what if they were to see him now, a worthless bum sharing the same hotel as prostitutes and pimps. He looked across the street to Ahsim, the Chinaman's saloon. Jingling the coins in his pocket, he decided to do what most Aussie young men do when they are lonely and feeling down, a couple of bottles of beer and some music. "Yes, let's get out of here and get some life back into us". He pushed his hair back with a brush, tightened his belt, left the room, and bounded down the stairs out onto the street, trotting the last few yards across to the hotel. Reflecting on Ahsim's saloon in his memoirs, Errol remembers it like this. "It was a big square wooden structure topped by a red roof that you could see for miles. You entered a whitewashed hall and walked to the end of it, where you reached the nerve centre... the Bar. About the Longboard was everything the world could yield up: miners, recruiters, conmen, thieves, beachcombers, prospectors, planters. There were cubicles at the sides of the room, cubicles upstairs and two or three phonographs blared music from various points. At the tables men played cards, laughed and fought drunkenly." Errol took up a position at the bar and ordered a beer. He was soon joined by Ahsim and another man named Al Tavisher. Apparently Tavisher and Ahsim were partners in a Copra Plantation on New Ireland in New Guinea and were looking for someone to manage it. They were willing to pay the successful candidate forty pounds per month.... "Manager,!!!! forty pounds!!!!" the words were like music to Errol's ears and at once he began giving the two men a run down on his vast experience with copra. Apart from teaching the villagers how to make soap from the product, Errol virtually knew nothing about it, but wasn't about to let this opportunity slip from his grasp. "What do I know about Copra? Why I was almost raised on the stuff. Do you know you can actually make soap from Coconuts?" For the next half hour Errol held the two men transfixed as he rambled on about his knowledge and relationship with copra. After a few more beers the job was Errol's thanks to one hell of a good spiel which almost convinced him as well that he was an authority on the fruit of the coconut palm. Although Errol had secured the position, he still needed to know a few things about running the plantation which included the harvesting and transportation of the crop, but foremost his biggest problem would be the handling of the 120 labourers who worked on the property. As you can imagine a 17 year old lad dealing with so many mature adults on a daily basis would be a daunting task, even to an experienced older person. Errol knew someone who might shed some light on the problem and give him some good advice on how to go about it..... so he sought him out. Basil Hoare was an ex-naval commander from World War 1, and was of the old school tie, best of British luck old chap and long live the Monarchy. He had gone from commanding a warship in the Royal Navy to Captain of his own sailing vessel which he worked in New Guinea after hostilities had ended in 1918. Errol knew that Basil had a wealth of knowledge in handling native labour and Basil seemed quite willing to pass it on. He told Errol there was really nothing to it as each Plantation had its own Boss Boy who virtually knew every aspect of the job. Basil advised Errol to let the Boss Boy run the show and he run the Boss Boy. Errol Flynn 1927 Coconut and Cocoa Plantation