Our Local Heroes: Les

Meet Les, one of our local heroes, who was awarded the French Legion of Honour this year for his service as a paratrooper during the D-Day landings of World War II. With a grin and a sparkle in his eye, he talked to me about his wartime service (only briefly, though, as he’s not a particularly sentimental man), immigrating from the UK to Australia in the fifties, and living in the Western District of Victoria. 

Edit: Sadly, I heard a week later that Les passed away. I feel so fortunate to have met him and had this opportunity to make his portrait. What a wonderful fellow.

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In Praise of the Guillotine


When a friend recently referred to a safety (rotary) paper trimmer as a guillotine, I got all hoighty-toighty and exclaimed that it wasn’t a guillotine at all. For surely, must not a guillotine have a blade – preferably a nice, sharp, curved one? Like the vintage Ideal brand steel guillotine I use at home for all my paper-trimming needs. It is a very basic piece, lacking a well-marked grid, and being ever-so-slightly misaligned; but I love using it.
If you search for guillotine on the internet, many of the results you’ll find refer – unsurprisingly – to that gruesome icon of capital punishment. As beguiled as I am by the frisson I enjoy when using my paper cutting guillotine, one that makes heads roll is really only funny as Wednesday Addams’ doll-decapitator. Or in a neatly-made quip such as this one, from the inimitable P. G. Wodehouse:

There is only one cure for gray hair. It was invented by a Frenchman. It is called the guillotine.

But I didn’t resolve the question: if a guillotine can trim paper, are all paper-trimmers guillotines?