Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

W. Somerset Maugham wrote a short story titled "Mr Know-All" about Max Kelada, an officious dealer in pearls, with whom he shared a cabin on a long sea voyage. Like all of the master storyteller's narratives, there was a sting in the tail.


Mr Kelada, although a know-all who took it upon himself to organise all activities on board, was an expert in his field. He correctly identified a pearl necklace worn by a woman at his dinner table as genuine. When he saw the despair in the woman's eyes in that her husband,who had been overseas for a year without her, would know they were a gift valued at over $30,000 ($400,000 today) from a rich lover, Mr Kelada swallowed his pride and stated that he was mistaken and the pearls were fake. Unlike Mr Kelada, all too often, unfortunately, the know-alls who bug us continually, wouldn't have a clue. The trouble is, that it often takes years to realise that the know-alls were wrong, by which time the damage has been done.


Global warming, (sorry - climate change), is an obvious example, in which we were besieged with forecasts of empty dams from Tim Flannery.


This was followed by the construction of desalination plants, followed by overflowing dams. We also have forecasts of rising sea levels, which have resulted in some councils restricting development and so devaluing foreshore homes, when the sea level here has scarcely risen in yonks. The annoying thing is that the word "maybe" is not in the know-alls’ vocabulary.


NSW floods 2021

Then of course Australia is in the process of demolishing its coal-fired power stations to be replaced by “renewables", namely solar and wind power. What a lot of bullshit. The sun does not always shine, nor does the wind always blow. The only alternative is nuclear power which drives non-polluting steam turbines. It is common for the leftist media to show prominent pictures of those hyperboloid shaped concrete structures at coal-fired power stations spewing out dense fumes, representing that it is pollution. What we are not told is that they are cooling towers, and the emissions are steam. In the dead of winter, when coal-fired power stations are no more, and there will be at best intermittent power, the words of the Bard will be apt

“Now is the winter of our discontent".


Anyway, as my mother would have said, know-alls are like the poor - always with us. When I was young, the dietary know-alls promoted a so-called "Oslo lunch" for kids to take to school. It was a Norwegian idea, and consisted of full cream milk, bread, butter, cheese and a piece of fruit. The poor buggers who had to eat it each day, while we enjoyed pies with tomato sauce and toffee apples and Jaffas, have probably been dead from heart attacks going back over thirty years.


More recently, starting in about the seventies, we were warned by the know-alls that butter causes heart attacks, and we should change to margarine. After about fifty years of margarine, and feeling smugly sorry for the legion of lost Oslo lunchers, we are now told that some margarines can cause macular degeneration and blindness.

Commencing in the fifties, some know-alls decided that buses and freeways were the way to go, and the tramlines had to be ripped up.


Only Melbourne had the wisdom to retain its trams. Now, sixty years later, Sydney has brought them back at the cost of billions. It's the same with the railways. Thanks to the know-alls, the Australian interior is haunted by rusting rail tracks and decaying stations, while the road transport juggernauts wreak their havoc on the road, and terrorise motorists. Hopefully, the day will come when the bush is re-vitalised, and country railways and station masters waving flags are restored.


In 2009, know-all Kevin Rudd announced the NBN, which he stated would connect directly to 93%of all premises by fibre optic cable, known as FTTP (“Fibre to the Premises"), and the remaining 7% by satellite or wireless. This was rubbish, as most premises have internal copper wiring which would be a Herculean task to replace with fibre optic, involving demolition. This necessitated so-called nodes somewhere in the neighbourhood, where the fibre optic cables connected to the copper wires leading to the premises known as FTTN (“Fibre to the Node"), thus causing a reduction of connection speed, proportional to the length of the copper wire from the node to the premises. A further alternative is FTTC (“Fibre to the Curb” - US spelling), which has the fibre optic cables outside on the street, connecting to the premises via the existing copper wires.


Then in 2010, know-all Julia Gillard vehemently insisted that Australian troops had to remain in Afghanistan in order to defeat the Taliban, ignoring the fact that both the British and the Russians had tried previously and failed.

Now with the final withdrawal underway, the Taliban are moving back into the abandoned territory as if the troops had never been there. The Australian Embassy in Kabul is being closed for fear of being blown up, and Afghans who assisted the Australian troops are in fear of their lives from the resurgent Taliban. The same of course applies to US troop withdrawal as ordered by Joe Biden. It will soon be as if the troops were never there.


One seldom hears of any know-alls acknowledging they have been wrong or acting with humility or magnanimity. That is foreign to their nature. Max Kaleda was an exception to the rule.

W.Somerset Maugham's account should be compulsory reading for all know-alls. I know for certain that it would be best for them.


further reading:


Clear filters
Responsive Grid for Articles patriotrealm
Clear filters