Saturday, January 24, 2015


An  object  in the superb British TV  Antiques  Roadshow  caused old  Cyclops to leap out of his recliner like a colt  and rush  to the  den  to  search through the  jumbled  files for a manuscript, Books , Brothels and  Bombay Bloomers , an odd memoir, containing  diverse   information about a wide range of subjects  . The fascinating object  on the screen   was  the  above  souvenir  brought back to England  from Australia  by  the first woman to fly solo to Australia , Amy Johnson (1904-41), consisting of  a metal   kangaroo  on  a plinth  with  an attached inscribed  presentation  boomerang  from  the West  Brighton  Club,Victoria,  in 1930.

Over the years ,Cyclops has been gathering items about  early aviators, one of them Amy Johnson, who  passed  through Darwin, the aerial  gateway to Australia .  One   unusual piece in  the collection  is  the advertisement  for  Parker  Shoes which  Amy endorsed  in  the South Australian Gas Company journal ...hard to imagine  her  flying a primitive , bucking plane in  a pair of high  heels. 
 Flying on to  Sydney ,  Amy  received a rousing welcome and was escorted by  women  dressed  as  pilots , complete with helmets, goggles, ties and jodhpurs. In Adelaide she was escorted by  women  on  motorbikes .
A  song was composed  about  her by Albert Beckman  entitled La Aviatrix-Recherche Dance and Song-An Epic Flight  in Terpsichore. The lyrics referred to her as "Johnny" who flew  from  her mum's nest so far away, saw Brisbane's million pound town hall,the Sydney Harbour, landed at Flemington where the horses race, and flew  high over Adelaide to miss the many church steeples. Furthermore , "Yanks" reportedly  described   the  aviatrix as "cute."

The Antiques Roadshow  audience was  told  Amy Johnson had presented the souvenir  to  a man who had been  closely involved  in her flying adventures  . And  it was  not  known  why the  West  Brighton Club  presented her with  the  gift.  The  expert evaluating the  object  said it was not  an  Australian  made  kangaroo, which  made it  more valuable.
Newspaper accounts  of Amy Johnson's time in Victoria  speak of her being given  a royal reception, parading before 1000 schoolchildren . There is a photograph of her  rugged up at a war memorial in Western Australia wearing what could be high heels.  An odd snippet  appeared in the Northern Territory Times of  December 19,1930, under the heading  AMY JOHNSON:  It is reported Miss Amy Johnson has suffered a  severe  mental breakdown and is now in a mental nursing home .
During WWll, Amy Johnson , in the  Air Transport Auxiliary , drowned  ferrying an RAF plane  which ran out of  fuel in bad weather  and she bailed out  in bitterly cold  conditions, swept  away  in the sea from  a  would  be  rescuer, her  body never  recovered .