Henry Whittall Venn spent most of the rest of the evening on the back verandah praying that Eve would return. She did not.
They met on a few subsequent occasions, but each time Eve was surrounded by friends and Venn was unable to get her alone. How he hated those other women. If only she would consent to walk with him, he could kiss her and show her the real man behind the cold, sneering façade. She did not consent.
Yet, almost amazingly, his relentless (if gauche) pursuit of Eve finally brought success. Of a sort.
Eve and Mr Eve—for so it will be useful to call him—were due to set sail from Albany to Melbourne, before heading off to Europe for a long vacation.
From Albany, Eve sent a note to Venn which he took as a sign of her affection. We don’t have a copy of this letter, so it is unclear if it was merely polite, or she had genuinely fallen in love with him.
What we do know is that she invited him to write down his feelings for her.
It is telling, however, that she failed to include any contact details for her trip, and he had to plead for addresses. Could this have been a sign that she wasn’t that in to him?
To celebrate Movember, we present Henry Whittall Venn, Commissioner of Railways and Director of Public Works in Forrest’s ministry.
A bald, portly man, with a red face and heavy moustache, pompous, extremely conventional, and very, very longwinded, Venn clashed with Forrest over the purchase of rolling stock.
He accused Forrest in the press of disloyalty. When asked to resign from the ministry, Venn refused three times. On 8 March 1896, Forrest requested Governor Sir Gerard Smith to withdraw Venn’s commission. As Venn famously put it, he was “dismissed in his nightshirt”.
So who would have guessed that the awesome moustache was concealing a veritable Don Juan?
Strangely, for all the media coverage, and expense, it is not often mentioned that this party has little to do with West Australians. Our boys departed through Fremantle, not Albany, and there seems little money to be spent on recognising WA’s role in WWI.
So we thought that Dodgy Perth should get in on the heritage juggernaut and offer up our own slant on the Great War.
West Australians were trained at Blackboy Hill, located a couple of kilometres east of Midland town centre.
The canteen was provided by the YMCA. This proved controversial, with the YMCA accused of operating the mess as a profit-making concern, overpaying its manager, charging rent to the canteen for use of a government erected building, and generally ripping off the enlisted men.
So, on Monday 28 September 1914, the officers opened a ‘wet’ canteen in a tent at Blackboy Hill. They believed that this would be good for morale, keep the men away from the local pubs and at camp, and limit alcohol consumption to beer rather than spirits.
All in all, you would think, an improvement to the training camp to which no one in their right mind could object. However, this was Western Australia.