From under the linoleum
Old newspapers show Mussolini's imperialism looked a lot like today's

I sat on the floor and picked through the tragedy of the country we now call Ethiopia laid out on the yellowing pages. It was eerily reminiscent of the current Iraq adventure.

A tale for our times
The December 1934 assassination of Sergei Kirov

Seventy years on, the killing of Sergei Kirov casts an eerie light on the events of 11 September 2001, the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the “war on Terror” and the state-sponsored hysteria surrounding the shadowy figures of Osama bin Ladin and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Ninety-three years of bombing the Arabs
It was the Italians, hell-bent on acquiring an African empire, who got the ball rolling. In 1911 the Libyan Arab tribes opposed an Italian invasion. Their civilians were the first people in the world to be bombed from the air.

Dispossessed all over again
After spending nearly two months in the West Bank the pull towards my village was growing stronger, especially after being detained twice and threatened with deportation … an Australian Palestinian returns to her ancestral home.

The tragic inevitability of a forlorn hope
Australia slides further into the Iraq quagmire
Cabinet documents recently released under the 50-year rule show that, in 1954, Liberal (conservative) Prime Minister, Robert Menzies, and key figures in his Cabinet were extremely gloomy about the prospects for success in an American war against nationalists in Indochina. But eventually they went to the Vietnam War anyway.

Bombing King David
One man’s freedom fighter is another’s terrorist

Some historians date the beginning of modern terrorism from the 1946 bombing by Zionist terrorists of the British military HQ in Jerusalem.

Don’t loiter near the exit
Military debacle and economic decline haunt the Bush regime

When I was just a young possum in the school cadet corps there was a hoary old war story that we all knew. It was almost certainly apocryphal, but it ruefully expressed a nasty historic truth about the US role in the demise of the British Empire.

 


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The vanishing of Jill Gamblin
(A true story)

23 June 1999

The week was cold and wintery, so I holed up in the office with the heater on and picked through my old file on the Jill Gamblin case.

It's coming up on 20 years since Jill vanished. Twenty years. Somewhere out there there's an undiscovered killer. Perhaps a serial killer. Or perhaps a serial killer already locked away who hasn't confessed to this one.

Jill had been a regular at French's Tavern on Oxford Street where I dropped in to listen to rock music from time to time. She was a lively English girl of about 30, living in a shared house in Bellevue Hill. She worked as a punchcard processor, made jumpsuits she sold at the markets and hunted the singles scene for a partner. I remember her as a wild space cadet.

On the night of Sunday 2 December 1979, she left Bellevue Hill with about $9 in her purse. She turned up at the old Paris Theatre on the corner of Wentworth and Liverpool, wearing her lurid, spangled, 'Queen of the Night' makeup. The Boy's Own Macbeth, starring Graeme Bond, was playing there, and Jill's boyfriend was doing the lighting.

She spent the evening there but left by herself, for whatever reason, at about 10.15. The theatre crowd had dispersed. According to her boyfriend she said "Strange things could happen tonight, it's a full moon". She left him standing there and crossed Liverpool Street to catch a cab -- to Bellevue Hill, he thought. It was the last time anybody claims to have seen her.

On the following Tuesday a flatmate found a note to Jill from her boyfriend lying on Jill's bed. She realised that Jill hadn't been with her boyfriend since Sunday evening. The bed hadn't been slept in, and presents for her family in England were packed but unposted. Her flatmate raised the alarm and her friends reported her missing and began to search. That was when I got involved.

We organised the usual stuff. Her friends put up posters with her photo around her old haunts and questioned her acquaintances in Martin's Bar at Taylor Square. The denizens of the bar took it pretty calmly. Jill had probably just met some bloke with a bag of dope and headed off for Queensland, they said. I saw Missing Persons, but they took it pretty calmly too, which was understandable. She was after all, an adult, and the vast majority of missing persons turn up eventually. Maybe, they said, she was fleeing an abusive relationship, and they asked how we were related to Jill.

Nowadays it would be taken more seriously, but in 1979 'serial killer' wasn't a household word.

I interviewed her friends and checked the morgue, the hospitals, the psychiatric hospitals, the Wayside Chapel and the Balmain Markets, where she sold the clothes she made. We even visited the gay bars on Oxford Street where smart arse barmen asked me if Jill was my boyfriend.

We went through her room carefully. There wasn't much to show for her years in Australia. We fitted it all in a couple of green garbage bags. There was a bank account with $120 and $4.80 in cash. There were also some new leads. It seemed that Jill had been mixed up with a group called Cabaret Conspiracy and a shadowy bunch of mystics called The Temple of Ra. I tried hard, but I never did find anybody who claimed to be a member.

Months passed and I used my contacts to check her bank account. There had been no withdrawals. She never registered with Social Security either, and she never again paid taxes. She never rang anybody and her family never heard from her. Eventually the case was put in the hands of Homicide.

The trail is very, very cold now. The Paris Theatre was pulled down a few months after Jill disappeared and the Bellevue Hill place went too. Martin's Bar and French's closed years ago and punch cards have gone the way of all technology. Jill's friends got married and had kids and moved to the suburbs.

But every few years I get out the file and make a phone call to the cops, or somebody in the media, and on a couple of occasions they've run the story. And I've waited for a call, but nobody has ever rung.

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If you have any information about Jill Gamblin CLICK HERE to e-mail Nick Possum.