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Allan George’s Gems.




RAAF Spartan ‘crash-lands’ in Waco Texas.



The RAAF has commenced a safety investigation after a C-27J Spartan which had an incident on landing during a routine training flight at Waco Airport, Texas, USA, on the 18th May.


Thankfully, no one was injured in the incident.


Local news sources in Waco say the RAAF C-27J Spartan was involved in a serious incident that damaged the aircraft and the airport’s main runway, closing the airport to all other traffic for about 18 hours. It is reported that two tyres blew out as the pilot made a landing after a training mission before 1am Tuesday local time.


A TV News in Waco published this photo of the C-27J disabled on the runway


The airport was closed and at least 180 American Eagle commuter passengers had their flights cancelled. One local news source quoted an assistant Waco fire chief as saying the airplane had attempted a landing but may have touched down short of the runway and damaged two tyres. Firefighters were dispatched to the incident when it happened but there was no fire and no one was injured.


In a statement, the RAAF thanked local airport, emergency services and security staff who assisted with the recovery and apologised for the inconvenience to other airfield users. The flight was a pilot-qualification flight for RAAF pilots converting to the new aircraft, flown alongside industry instructors, a RAAF spokesman said. Air Force aircraft are serviced and flown under a very strict and controlled airworthiness and safety system. All aircraft are under constant surveillance to ensure that they maintain the highest standards.




Harry’s Café de Wheels


Everyone who spent a bit of time living in the Sydney area knows Harry’s. But do you know the background behind the Café.



The story of 'Harry's Café de Wheels' goes back to the depression years of the late 1930's.


In 1938, with the world on the brink of a devastating war, an enterprising Sydneysider by the name of Harry Edwards opened a caravan café near the front gates of the Woolloomooloo naval dockyard. Word spread quickly with Harry's 'pie n' peas' and crumbed sausages soon becoming a popular part of the city's nightlife - keenly sought by sailors, soldiers, cabbies, starlets and coppers alike. Harry operated the caravan until 1938 when he enlisted in the AIF.


In 1945, during Harry's time in the Middle East, he was nicknamed "Tiger" due to his boxing prowess and the name stuck. Upon his return in 1945, Harry realised that Sydney hadn't changed much and it was still almost impossible to get a good feed late at night, so he reopened and the caravan has been operating continuously since.


The phrase 'Café de Wheels' came about as the city council of the day insisted that mobile food caravans move a minimum of 12 inches a day. Harry dutifully obeyed and thus the name was expanded to Harry's Café de Wheels. Before the councils ruling, the caravan was known simply as 'Harry's.' When its wheels went missing one night, local wags coined the nickname 'Café de Axle.' Harry operated the caravan for a further 30 years before selling the business to Alex Koronya in 1975.


By 1988, Alex was getting on in years and the business had fallen on hard times. A Michael Hannah, (the current owner) made Alex an offer to purchase the business and the exchange took place on Australia Day 1988. Michael is the first Australian born owner of Harry's and as a child his father, a Sydney cabbie, would take him and his siblings down to the loo for a pie at Harry's. In 1970, Michael returned from a tour of duty in Vietnam and his first stop after disembarking the HMAS Sydney was of course Harry's. It would be another 17 years until Michael purchased the business.


Michael believes Harry's finest moment came in 1978 when Rear Admiral David Martin - over a pie and glass of Champagne - commissioned the caravan as 'HMAS Harry's.' In December 2004, Harry's was classified by the National Trust of Australia (NSW) and included on its Register. Harry's is a 'quintessential Sydney icon' and in the Trust's opinion, falls within the following definition:


'Those places which are components of the natural or the cultural environment of Australia, that have aesthetic, historical, architectural, archaeological, scientific, or social significance or other special value for future generations, as well as for the present community.'


As the years have passed, Harry's has become a 'must' for visiting celebrities. Harry's has served up the likes of Frank Sinatra, Robert Mitchum, Marelene Dietrich, Kerry Packer and more recently, Sir Richard Branson, Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, Brook Shields, Pat Rafter, Olivia Newton-John, Jerry Lewis, Billy Crystal, Pamela Anderson, Sara O'Hare, Lachlan Murdoch, Kerri-Anne Kennerley, Adrian Greiner, Anthony Bourdain and Peter Blakely.


In 1974, chicken king, Colonel Sanders, stopped at Harry's and enjoyed the food so much that he ate three 'pies and peas' while leaning on his walking stick in front of the caravan.  Elton John has also been a visitor to Harry's over the years and held a press conference from inside Harry's during the 1970's.  And then there's the album . . . in 1990, Peter Blakely released his debut album 'Harry's Café de Wheels' which went platinum.


Harry's has become so popular with the celebrities that in 1991, Rupert Murdoch had pies shipped to Los Angeles for an Australian themed Oscar's party. But you definitely don't have to be a celebrity to enjoy Harry's, just hungry. Since its initial opening in the 1930's, Harry's has withstood the test of time. A trip to Harry's lets you enjoy authentic Aussie tucker while taking a trip back through Harry's history.


In 1998 the first Harry’s franchise opened in 1998 in Newcastle. The café is in fact an original tram, Tram #1892, that in its heyday, operated between Sydney and Bondi. It was left in a paddock at Rutherford, NSW before being completely refurbished by the Tramways Museum at Loftus in Sydney.


Also in 2004, the opening of the Haymarket store saw the conversion of a National Trust building to the current Harry’s Café de Wheels Chinatown and in February 2007 Harry’s opened the second Franchise at the Orange Grove Supercentre at Liverpool.


The Virgin Pie Eating Competition at Harry’s Cafe De Wheels was a highlight in July 2008. Foxtel’s Charlotte Dawson beat off her younger TV rival from Nickelodeon Kyle Linehan in the Virgin Mobile Celebrity food fight. Dawson downed her pie-and-mushy-pea dish in record time, during a promo for the phone carrier’s “All You Can Eat” campaign. Rob Creganwon the overall pie eating competition.


In 2010 the Tempe and Parramatta Franchises opened. Tempe took over the old Denos Diner site on the Princes Hwy and opened its doors in August 2010. It was previously the Cobb & Co Drive in Restaurant.


In March 2012 the cast of American Reunion chose Harry’s for the release of the movie – a return visit for most of them! In July 2012 Harry’s Burwood and Penrith Franchises opened in the same week. Before Harry’s Burwood was opened it was the old site of Laziko International Café. The Penrith outlet was opened adjacent to the Penrith Panthers Leagues Club.


Harry’s just goes from strength to strength.



My wife and I were happy for twenty years; then we met.



The Charge of the Australian Light Horse.


October 2017 will mark the 100 year Centenary anniversary of one of the most famous and last great cavalry charges in history - The charge of the Australian Light Horse at Beersheba.


The battle of Beersheba took place on 31 October 1917 as part of the wider British offensive collectively known as the third Battle of Gaza. The final phase of this all day battle was the famous mounted charge of the 4th Light Horse Brigade. Commencing at dusk, members of the brigade stormed through the Turkish defences and seized the strategic town of Beersheba. The capture of Beersheba enabled British Empire forces to break the Ottoman line near Gaza on 7 November and advance into Palestine.


The mounted troops spent the summer of 1917 after the second battle of Gaza in constant reconnaissance and in preparation for the offensive to come. The Turkish forces held the line from Gaza near the coast to Beersheba, about 46 kilometres to its south-east. The Allied forces held the line of the Wadi Ghuzzer from its mouth to El Gamly on the East. The positions were not continuous trench lines but rather a succession of strong posts. Both sides kept their strength in front of the city of Gaza.


The newly arrived British commander of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, General Sir Edmund Allenby used plans prepared by Lieutenant General Sir Phillip Chetwode. The plan was to attack Beersheba by using mounted troops from the east whilst the infantry attacked Beersheba from the south west. The preparation also involved persuading the Turkish forces that the offensive would again be against Gaza. Chetwode was in command the 20th Corps and the Desert Mounted Corps was under Lieutenant General Sir Harry Chauvel.


The greatest problem for Chauvel was to find sufficient water in the Beersheba area for his mounted troops. Information from reconnaissance revealed that there was none other than at Esani which was too far to the west to be of any use for a surprise attack. Chauvel, through studying the records of the Palestine Exploration Fund and after questioning local Arabs, knew that the larger ancient towns in the area to the south and south-west of Beersheba must have had existing water supplies. At Asluj the old wells were found and a fortnight’s work put them into working order. This made the attack on Beersheba a feasible operation.


Various deceptions were employed to keep the enemy thinking the attack was going to be at Gaza including keeping the Infantry strength there until the last minute.


Beersheba’s defences were held by 1,000 Turkish riflemen, nine machine guns and two aircraft. The position was extended through a series of trenches and redoubts placed on commanding positions with good zones of fire; but on the east and south the trenches were not protected by barbed wire. The Turkish forces were relying on the forbidding open terrain as well as the absence of water to defend Beersheba. Calculating that the attack was most likely to be upon Gaza they were also not prepared for a force such as Allenby’s which was moving on 30 October.


Chauvel’s orders when he left Asluj early on the evening of the 30 October were for Major General Chaytor's ANZAC Mounted Division to close the Beersheba Road at Sakati (almost 10 kilometres north-east of the town) in order to prevent Turkish reinforcements from coming in and also to cut-off escape from the town. Once the road was secured, he was to storm Beersheba using Major General Hodgson's Australian Mounted Division. Allenby had insisted that Beersheba must be captured on the first day of operations. On the night of 30 October about 40,000 allied troops moved towards Beersheba, including most of Chetwode's 20th Corps and Chauvel's the Desert Mounted Corps, in a night march of over 40 kilometres.


Trekking since October 28 via Esani members of the 12th Light Horse Regiment arrived at Asluj on 30 October. Corporal Harold Gleeson mentions in his diary that he obtained no water at Asluj and at 6pm on 30 October recorded moving on towards Beersheba, marching all night on a “very weary and dusty ride of 30 miles.” Private Hunter in his diary wrote “The dust was terrible. One could not see beyond his horses head. The horses braved the journey which was about 36 miles. Walked at my horses head for about 10 miles of flat country giving him a rest.” The horses were carrying heavy packs on average of about 120 kilograms and their riders knew that there was no water available until Beersheba fell into their hands. Private Keddie: “On this stunt we have been told we would have to live on what rations we had for a few days.”


On the morning of 31 October, Chetwode's three British divisions attacked the Turkish positions around Beersheba from the west and south supported by a sustained artillery bombardment of over 100 guns. By 1 pm they had driven the Turks from their defences to the west and south west of Beersheba, but the wells of the town were still in Turkish hands.


The 4th Light Horse Brigade waited, scattered over a wide area as a precaution against bombing, to the south-east of the town. Private Hunter: “The Turks immediately started shelling us with heavies. Good cover and tact on our part prevented casualties”. Their horses were unsaddled, watered and fed. William Grant was the Brigade’s new commander following Brigadier General Meredith, who had been invalided home to Australia.


Trenches at Tel-es-Saba: objective of the NZ Mounted Rifle Brigade.


The wells of Beersheba were vital for the welfare of the Desert Mounted Corps’ horses, many of whom had been without water for several days. Enemy resistance at Tel El Saba, three kilometres to the east of the town, had been stronger than expected and it took a stiff day of fighting for Chaytor’s force to capture this strong redoubt protecting Beersheba's eastern flank. The fall of Tel El Saba at 3:15 pm meant that the 1st and 3rd Light Horse Brigades were free to attack Beersheba from the East.


At 3:30 pm there was only a few hours of day light remaining and orders were issued for the final phase of the struggle, the occupation of Beersheba. Chauvel decided to put Grant’s 4th Light Horse Brigade straight at the remaining trenches, from the south-east. Chauvel knew that he must take the town before dark in order to secure the wells for Allenby's large force. Private Keddie recorded: “We began to talk among ourselves saying Beersheba will be taken and us not doing anything when about 5 o’clock our major came and said that Beersheba had not been captured but we were going in.” Chauvel: “owing to the constant attacks from aeroplanes, which had devoted a good deal of attention to my own headquarters, it took some time to assemble them and push them off”. General Grant gave the order personally to the 12th Light Horse Regiment: “men you’re fighting for water. There’s no water between this side of Beersheba and Esani. Use your bayonets as swords. I wish you the best of luck”. The Light Horse were equipped with rifles and held their bayonets as swords, which would have been more suited to a cavalry style charge. Fortuitously their bayonet tips had been sharpened on the orders of Major General Hodgson, on 26 October.


Grant made the decision to order his light horsemen to charge cavalry-style, when they would normally have ridden close to an objective then dismounted to fight.


Brigadier General William Grant.


Trooper Edward Dengate: “we got mounted, cantered about a quarter of a mile up a bit of a rise lined up along the brow of a hill paused a moment, and then went atem, the ground was none too smooth, which caused our line to get twisted a bit . . . Captain Davies let out a yell at the top of his voice . . . that started them all we spurred our horses . . . the bullets got thicker…three or four horses came down, others with no riders on kept going, the saddles splashed with blood, here and there a man running toward a dead horse for cover, the Turk’s trenches were about fifty yards on my right, I could see the Turk’s heads over the edge of the trenches squinting along their rifles, a lot of the fellows dismounted at that point thinking we were to take the trenches, but most of us kept straight on, where I was there was a clear track with trenches on the right and a redoubt on the left, some of the chaps jumped clear over the trenches in places, some fell into them, although about 150 men got through and raced for the town, they went up the street yelling like madmen.” Captain Robey was at their head.


Captain Jack Davies followed Robey’s men towards the town and shouted when three miles away: “Come on boys Beersheba first stop”. Major Fetherstonhaugh’s horse fell shot and was himself shot through the leg. The major put his horse out of its misery then got down behind his dead horse and fired his revolver until he ran out of ammunition. Fetherstonhaugh wrote to Davies congratulating him. In the letter he also mentioned his own injury: “I got a bullet through both thighs, it made a clean hole through the left but opened out a bit and made a large gash through the back of the right which will take a little while to fix up”.


While the 4th Light Horse Regiment dismounted at the trenches and tackled their objective on foot many in the 12th Light Horse Regiment were able to get straight through and take the town, Keddie: “we were all at the gallop yelling like mad some had bayonets in their hand others their rifle then it was a full stretch gallop at the trenches . . . the last 200 yards or so was good going and those horses put on pace and next were jumping the trenches with the Turks underneath . . . when over the trenches we went straight for the town.”


Sergeant Charles Doherty wrote that the horsemen who cleared all the trenches came up to an open plane which “was succeeded by small wadies and perpendicular gullies, surrounding which scores of sniper’s nests or dugouts each were holding seven or eight men.


Main street of Beersheba shortly after its capture.


After progressing another quarter of a mile, we turned to the right at an angle of 45 degrees to converge on Beersheba. The enemy’s fire now came from the direction of the town and a large railway viaduct to the north. The limited number of entrances to the city temporarily checked us but those in front went straight up and through the narrow streets. Falling beams from fired buildings, exploding magazines and arsenals and various hidden snipers were unable to check our race through the two available streets that were wide enough for 2 to ride abreast.” Private Keddie had a near miss: “I felt a bullet go past my ear and thought if that bullet had been a few more inches to one side” as did Trooper Dengate: “I suppose you heard about the capture of Beersheba by the 4th Brigade, well I was right in it, and came through safe, and with my skin intact, I got a bullet through the leg of my breeches, just above the knee, grazed my leg but didn’t make it bleed.”


Locomotive & well at Beersheba, blown up by retreating Turkish forces


The success of the charge was in the shock value and sheer speed in which they took the town before it could be destroyed by a retreating Turkish force. The town was small but had some very nice buildings with tiled roofs. The water scheme was excellent. They got into the army stores and helped themselves to grain for the horses and got bivy sheets and peg posts. They got all the Turkish stores, there was everything from a telephone to a pack saddle and lots of horses and bullocks. There were rifles and gear lying everywhere. The Turks left bombs and if you kicked one up it went. One Tommie got both his eyes blown out by a bottle. He just kicked it out of the way and it must have been full of explosives.”


The first party sent across to the large cement troughs had just finished when from the east came an unexpected fusillade of bullets. Through this assault made it appear that we had been cleverly ambushed, we retained control over the prisoners and secured what cover there was until further support arrived. Between 8 and 9:30pm the 11LHR arrived and the 4th MG Squadron came in. Then a complete chain of outposts was established while the main body of prisoners, together with many scattered lots from the various redoubts were taken back to Brigade HQ.”


Motor ambulances waiting near the Beersheba town mosque


31 light horsemen were killed in the charge and 36 were wounded. Some originals from the Brigade who had enlisted in 1914 such as Edward Cleaver and Albert “Tibbie” Cotter, the famous Australian cricketer, were killed. The next morning Private Keddie rode over the ground to see if any of the horses could be found roaming but he recorded only seeing dead carcases. He said: “We were sent looking for the horses whose riders were killed so we made for the other side of the town where several other light horse regiments were . . . met some friends in the first light horse and yarned for a while they asked me what it was like in the charge gave them a full account”. At least 70 horses died. The Turkish defenders suffered many casualties and between 700 and 1,000 troops were captured.



There may be no excuse for laziness, but I'm still looking.



C-130 Gunship.


The Lockheed AC-130 gunship is a heavily armed, long-endurance ground-attack variant of the C-130 Hercules transport fixed-wing aircraft. It carries a wide array of anti-ground oriented weapons that are integrated with sophisticated sensors, navigation, and fire-control systems. Unlike other military fixed-wing aircraft, the AC-130 relies on visual targeting. Because its large profile and low operating altitudes (around 7,000 ft.) make it an easy target, it usually flies close air support missions at night.  Click the two pics below to see video of this remarkable aircraft.








The airframe is manufactured by Lockheed Martin, while Boeing is responsible for the conversion into a gunship and for aircraft support. Developed during the Vietnam War as 'Project Gunship II', the AC-130 replaces the Douglas AC-47 Spooky, or 'Gunship I'. The sole operator is the United States Air Force, which uses the AC-130U Spooky and AC-130W Stinger II variants for close air support, air interdiction, and force protection, with the AC-130J Ghostrider in development. Close air support roles include supporting ground troops, escorting convoys, and urban operations. Air interdiction missions are conducted against planned targets and targets of opportunity. Force protection missions include defending air bases and other facilities. Gunships can be deployed worldwide. The squadrons are part of the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), a component of the United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM).


The AC-130 has a non-pressurised cabin, with the weaponry mounted to fire from the port side of the fuselage. During an attack, the gunship performs a pylon turn, flying in a large circle around the target, therefore being able to fire at it for far longer than in a conventional strafing attack. The AC-130H Spectre was armed with two 20 mm M61 Vulcan cannons, one Bofors 40 mm autocannon, and one 105 mm M102 cannon;


During the Vietnam War, the C-130 Hercules was selected to replace the Douglas AC-47 Spooky gunship in order to improve mission endurance and increase capacity to carry munitions. Capable of flying faster than helicopters and at high altitudes with excellent loiter time, the use of the pylon turn allowed the AC-47 to deliver continuous accurate fire to a single point on the ground.


By 2018, AC-130 gunships will have been providing close air support for special operators for 50 years. Although the aircraft have been kept relevant through constant upgrades to their weaponry, sensor packages, and countermeasures, they are not expected to be survivable in future non-permissive environments due to their high signatures and low airspeeds. Military analysts, such as the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, have suggested that AFSOC invest in more advanced technologies to fill the role to operate in future contested combat zones, including a mix of low-cost disposable unmanned and stealthy strike aircraft.






If you worked on or flew the Mirage (1963 – 1988), this nostalgic video will bring back some memories.  See a short video of the first Mirage built in Australia below.







During the Centenary period, the name of each of the 62,000 Australians who gave their lives during the First World War will be projected onto the façade of the Hall of Memory at the Australian War Memorial. The names will be displayed from sunset to sunrise every night, and can be seen from the Memorial’s grounds. Each name will be visible for 30 seconds. This special commemoration runs from 4 August 2014 until 11 November 2018. During this period, the entire set of 62,000 names will be displayed about 30 times.


As an example, see picture below of my great Uncle's name which has been projected several times so far with more to come.  He was KIA Gallipoli day 3 aged 20! Private George was in 16th Battalion, 4th Brigade and a member of one of the unit’s two machine gun crews.  His crew consisted of Privates Black  (who was witness to George’s last will and testament), George and Murray.



They went ashore at Gallipoli on the afternoon of the 25th April and moved up to Pope’s Hill. George was killed by sniper fire on the afternoon of the 27th of April 1915 and is buried at Quinn’s Post War Cemetery. “Harry” Murray rose to the rank of LTCOL and commanded the 4th Machine Gun Battalion at the end of the war. During the war he was awarded the VC, CMG, DSO and Bar, DCM, MID (4 times) and the Croix de guerre and was often described as the most highly decorated WWI soldier of the British Empire. He died in the 1966 (age 85).  Percy Black rose to the rank of Major before being Killed in Action at Bullecourt in April 1917.  Black was awarded DSO, DCM, MID, (3 times) and the Croix de guerre.  My great Uncle Harold went ashore at Gallipoli in some pretty good company, but sadly his campaign was very short lived.   


Search the Roll of Honour to help you find out when a particular person’s name will be projected. This site provides the estimated date and time at which the name will be displayed. The information will be updated during the Centenary period.


Start and stop times for nightly projections:


(Times are Canberra local time (AEST & Daylight Savings)


From date

To date

Start time

Stop time



























































Women spend more time wondering what men are thinking than men spend thinking.



'It cost and arm and a leg'


It cost and arm and a leg is one of those phrases that rank high in the 'I know where that comes from' stories told at the local pub. In this case the tale is that portrait painters used to charge more for larger paintings and that a head and shoulders painting was the cheapest option, followed in price by one which included arms and finally the top of the range 'legs and all' portrait. As so often with popular myths, there's no truth in that story. Painters certainly did charge more for large pictures, but there's no evidence to suggest they did so by limb count. In any case the phrase is much more recent than the painting origin would suggest.


It is in fact an American phrase, coined sometime after WWII.


In December 1949,  Food Editor Beulah Karney of The Long Beach Independent, wrote that he had more than 10 ideas for the homemaker who wants to say "Merry Christmas" and not have it cost her “an arm and a leg”. He used 'Arm' and 'Leg' as examples of items that no one would consider selling other than at an enormous price. It is a grim reality that, around that time, there were many US newspaper reports of servicemen who had lost an arm and a leg in the recent war. It is possible that the phrase originated in reference to the high cost paid by those who suffered such amputations.


A more likely explanation is that the expression derived from two earlier phrases: 'I would give my right arm for...' and '[Even] if it takes a leg', which were both coined in the 19th century. In the 1849 edition of Sharpe's London Journal it was written:


“He felt as if he could gladly give his right arm to be cut off if it would make him, at once, old enough to go and earn money instead of Lizzy”.



Give me ambiguity or give me something else.



Australia’s first PC-21 takes flight.



Lockheed Martin and Pilatus Aircraft have successfully completed the initial production test flight of the first PC-21 aircraft destined for the Australian Defence Force under the AIR 5428 Pilot Training System program.



Under a contract signed in December 2015, the initial seven-year program is valued at AU$1.2 billion.


Performance-based options for up to 25 years will provide the opportunity to extend the length and increase the value of the total contract. Lockheed Martin leads the delivery of an integrated solution tailored for all future pilots for the Royal Australian Air Force, Royal Australian Navy and the Australian Army and will form the backbone of future pilot training for the Australian Defence Force for the next 25 years.


This first PC-21, registered as A54-001, will be handed over to the RAAF at East Sale in June next year after completion of testing and verification work in both Switzerland and Australia. Under the prime contract, Lockheed Martin will provide overall project management for the pilot training system and deliver a family of integrated ground-based training technologies.




Women sometimes make fools of men, but most guys are the do-it-yourself type.




The Viscount.


The World’s airline systems began to greatly expand during the post-WWII decades. Given that Australia was such a large area; rather akin to the USA, the number of airline aircraft was very low but that was due to the small population and the cost of travel as rail fares were much cheaper.



Australia’s Inter-State airlines were restricted, by Law, to the private Ansett-ANA and the 100% owned Govt. TAA (Trans Australian Airlines). Both operators used a fleet of:


DC-3,   DC-4,   DC-6B,   Fokker F-27,   Vickers Viscount,   Lockheed L-188 Electra,   Boeing 727,   Douglas DC-9.


The Viscount, with strong headwinds, needed wing slipper-tanks fitted to fly direct Adelaide to Perth as, without them, it may have to land at Meekatharra to uplift some fuel. That was about seven hours to dry tanks....with a tad more if they shut down one engine thus reducing fuel-flow by 25% but TAS by only 12%.


There is an interesting Video HERE





Velly Intelesting – but stupid!!!!




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