The Sydney Morning Herald from Sydney, New South Wales, New South Wales, Australia on April 17, 1965 · Page 12
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The Sydney Morning Herald from Sydney, New South Wales, New South Wales, Australia · Page 12

Sydney, New South Wales, New South Wales, Australia
Issue Date:
Saturday, April 17, 1965
Page 12
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12 The Sydney Morning Herald, Saturday. Apr. (7, 19o5 12 MUemmvs OS New Controversy oil Titanic Loss THE TITANIC AND THE CALIFORNIAN, by Peter Padfield. Hodder and Stoughton, London. 311 pp. 53s I N the hysterical reaction to 1 the sinking of the Titanic by an iceberg in the Atlantic in I y 1 2, with the loss of 1.501) lives, it , was natural that a number ol rumours and legends should spring up. The purely fantastic died within weeks and the more credible but equally apocryphal lailcd to survive the Great War. Hut a few persist to this day. One is that the liner Califor.iian, owned by the same interests as the Titanic, lay slopped within a few miles of the sinking ship, disregarding her distress signals and the cries of her drowning crew and passengers as her master, Captain Stanley Lord, slept peacefully through the night. Mr Padfield has written this book with the object of clearing Captain Lord's name something Lord was unable to do before he died in 1962. The author, himself a mariner, has been meticulous in his research, and adduces enough facts to throw doubt on the culpability of Captain Lord and on CAPTAIN LORD whether he deserved the calumny he had to endure. Unfortunately, Mr Padfield weakens his argument by impugning the motives of the eminent jurists who conducted the British Court of Inquiry into the Titanic disaster and bv his contempt for laymen called upon to examine the conduct of mariners. The Californian had earlier been in radio communication with the Titanic to warn her of ice. Soon after It) p.m. the cap-lain of the Californian stopped the ship and told the chief engineer he intended to remain slopped all night because they were surrounded by ice. The Californian was then only about five or six miles from the position given by the Tilanic in her distress call. Caplain Lord maintained in his evidence lhal the Tilanic had given her position incorrectly and that the two ships were more like 20 miles apart. The crew and passengers of the Titanic saw a ship's lights afler the collision with the iceberg and the lifeboats . were instructed to row towards them. Survivors testilied that the ship's lights came nearer to the stricken ship and then receded. This indicated that the lights could not have been those of the Californian because she did not move all night. Crewmen of the Californian also saw a ship's navigation lights but believed them to belong lo a cargo ship. Caplain Lord told the inquiry that if the ship had been the Tilanic it would have been unmistakable because the giant liner would have been a blaze of light at such a close range. Cruel Spanish Novel INTERIOR EXILE, by Miguel de S alabert, translated from Spanish by Renaud Bruce and Herma Briffault. Owen, London. 222 pp. 28s 6d. IF Spanish novelists seem fascinated by cruelty, the sort of life that is there for them to write about offers them endless opportunities. "I first learned about men from their bombs." this novel opens. "... Once, in the middle of a bombing. I ran out of the shelter because I had just seen a man die. A terrible roar, an avalanche of rubble, a man who shot into the air and fell again to earth, his head shattered." The narrator was six at Ihe lime. Before long he is in Ihe middle of a crazed queue fighting for the dregs of some thin leniil soup handed onl by apathetic officials. He sees his cousin raped, a sniper savagely butchered and mutilated, the Mayor of his village executed all episodes of a Civil War in which the unspeakable could be committed in the name of righteousness. The author doubtless lived through such events himself, and although he described this novel as "polybiographical" rather than autobiographical, it is obvious that 'his artistic mind has managed to store up vivid impressions so that the book's set scenes reach well-controlled horror. The boyish narrator, his father imprisoned by Ihe Franco forces and lucky lo escape alive, has the task of living by his wits to eke out his mother's starvation wages. Rockets weie seen several limes by Ihe Californian but Ibis did not necessaiily mean a distress signal. In those days when radio was just coming into use rockets of various colours were used by ships at sea lo identity themselves, and, in fact, Ihe coiour of distress rockets was not laid down until 1952. The clear implication is that (here was another ship between Ihe Titanic and Ihe Californian. But the rockets and the mysterious ship were enough to arouse the curiosity of the Californian's crew. Caplain Lord ordered signals to be made with a Morse light but no reply was received. He went to his bunk and did not call out the radio operator. He was called in the middle of Ihe night and told aboul more rockets but he claimed that he did not properly waken from his deep sleep and did not comprehend Ihe message. Even so, Ihe ship was in the hands of competent senior, officers and no one can escape the conclusion that someone on the Californian should have called the radio operator. It was not until daylight broke lhal Ihe radio operator was called. Immediately he learned of Ihe disaster and the Californian steamed toward the Titanic disaster area. The British Court held unequivocally that the ship seen by the Titanic was Ihe Californian and Ihe ship seen by the Californian was the Titanic. A U.S. Senate committee which invest gated the disaster and the British Court, censured Caplain Lord in Ihe harshest and most contemptuous terms. Time and again through his hook Mr Padfield suggesls that Ihe British inquiry was "rigged" and that Captain Lord was "framed." He accuses the British Board of Trade of having in-dulccd in a vast conspiracy to make a scapegoat of Lord to divert attention from its own deficiencies. It was acknowledged that the Board of Trade allowed British liners to travel at top speed through ice and fog to maintain fast passenger schedules, although careo ships hove to in the icefields. Supremacy of British passenger services across the Atlantic has always been of great importance to Britain. Again, British liners put lo sea with lifeboat accommodation for onlyif -fraction of Ihe permitted passenger capacity of the ship. The Tilanic, for instance, had lifeboat accommodation for 1.178 people, although the ship had accommodation for 2,435 passengers and 885 crew. The lifeboat minimums were actually laid down in 1854 on the basis of tonnage, with an upper limit of 10.000 tons. The Tilanic was 46,328 tons but was required only to meet the requirements of a 10.000 ton ship under the 1854 formula. But. for all the Board of Trade's shortcomings, the charge that it could rig such an inquiry can hardly be accepted. The inquiry was presided over by an eminent law-lord, Lord Mersey of Toxteth, who later presided at other marine inquiries including that into the loss of the Lusitania. At one stage Lord Mersey referred to Ihe Californian being "anchored" for the night a natural expression for a layman lo use. Mr Padfield, with an implied sneer, points out that the Atlantic at that point was two . miles deep, and he also implies Hint such a lack of nautical knowledge was inimical to Ihe proper conduct of the inquiry. But on nautical matters Lord Mersey had five assessors well able to deal with the navigational and nautical technicalities that There are various means he might try. His big brother swaggers to success with the Falangists ("My policy has always been to slay on good terms with everybody"). His young gipsy friend lives by his wits ("In a country like Spain a moment's distraction may condemn you lo die of starvation; never lose sight of a chance or of the guy next to you "). Ihe narrator tries more honourable ways, including sweeping a shop and running messages. His mother's persistence gives him a chance for education in a snobbish school, and then as a Capuchin novice. He enjoys the choking atmosphere of neither. The rebellious high spirits among Ihe boys add an atmosphere of farce to Ihe Capuchin scenes. Farce to be sure, but with a background of anti-clerical feeling that here is one arm of the Church at whose other arm his father and family have suffered. In the end he is expelled afler a joyous and undignified riot. Then to the university "in such a stale of revolt against the world that I thought exploding a bomb would be a good thing." There are fellow-rebels Iherc. but talk, enlivened by drink, is their only consolation. Flight abroad seems Iheir only salvation. It is an atmosphere of squalor and despair, of cruelly and poini-lessness, that we arc used lo from Sranish writers of liberal aun'ra-lions. The writing is taut and Hooks aiose a 42-ycar-old rear-admiral, a reined sea caplain who was an l-lder Brother of I'rinils House, an eminent naval architect, a P & O commander and an engineer-superintendent of a line with 15 steamships. The Board of Trade was represented by the Attorney-General, Sir K uf us Isaacs, who later became Lord Chief Justice of ling-land, Ambassador lo the United Slates, Viceroy of India and, as Lord Reading, British Foreign Secretary. He was supported by Ihe Solicitor-General, Sir John Simon. It is inconceivable that so many men of such calibre could he corrupt, and the slightest attempt to influence them must have raised such a scandal lhal the loss of Ihe Tilanic would have been almost forgotten. Bui. such suggesiions apart, Mr Padfield has written an absorbing book which contains a number of new and valid theories aboul Ihe Tilanic and the Californian. ALLEN CLOVER An Anzac Looks ANZAC: A RETROSPECT, by Cecil Malthus Sydney. 160 pp. 24s 9d. rPHE heartbreak, the humour, the hardship and the heroism of the Gul-lipoli campaign have all been splendidly evoked by a New Zealand participant, Cecil Malthus, in this book to mark the fiftieth anniversary tomorrow week of the Anzac landing. It will also be the author's seventy-filth birthday, because he was exactly 25 when he waded ashore at Anzac Cove. Mr Malthus was a private for most of that campaign (corporal's stripes came toward the close) and a wound on the Somme in September. 1916. ended his active soldiering. Much later he became a professor of modern languages in New Zealand. But in this Anzac retrospect, with memory often refreshed from diary and letters, he has written with few donnish flourishes. Indeed, an early sentence "We arrived at Lcmnos on ihe morning of April 15 afler an interesting voyage" seems to warn of a pedestrian chronicle. This is quickly proved a premature judgment. Mr Malthus has no lastc here for heroic prose. But from the landing at Anzac Cove, in a brief excursion lo Cape Hcllcs. through desperate days at Quinn's Post, in the August fighting, and on through Ihe final weeks to the withdrawal his story is vividly alive. He went ashore at Anzac on the afternoon of April 25 ("We have been told the Australians arc lo make the first landing at dawn," he wrote on April 24, "and we will reinforce them during the day. We reacted to this news wilh mixed feelings, in which relief was Ihe main ingredient."). Except for 26 days in July-August and live weeks in Scptcmher-Oclober, when he was .ill at Lcmnos, he was on the peninsula until December 19, the second-last night before the evacuation. For much of the lime he was one of a patrol of scouts formed in his battalion. Mr Malthus docs not paint all Anzacs in glowing colours. humour breaks surprisingly through. The novel was written in "France, where Miguel de Salabert has taken refuge. L. V. KEPCRT Colourful Jordan Journey PORTRAIT OF A DESERT. The story of an expedition to Jordan by Guy Mountfort, illustrated by Eric K. Hosking. Collins, London. 192 pp. 45s. T HE author of this most interesting and attrac tively produced hook is one of Europe's leading ornithologists. It follows two earlier books of his. "Portrait of a Wilderness." the account of a scientific cxpedi-lion to the Coto Danana in southern Spain, and "Portrait of a River." which tells of explorations of the wildlife of the Danube in Bulgaria and Hungary. In 1963 Mr Mountfort was invited by King Hussein of Jordan to organise an expedition lo investigate the problems of Jordan's disappearing wildlife and vegetation. He got together a team of naturalists, including Sir Julian Huxley, and "Portrait of a Desert" is the story of their 3.000 miles jonrneyines through the deserts and mountains, of the sights they saw and ihe people they met, of riots in Amman and hospitality in the black tents of the Bedouin and This composite picture of the sinking of the Titanic (discussed in the review on the left) is based on an artist's impression and a photograph of a lifeboat with survivors. He tells ol some who lost their nerve; of some who rushed cookhouse .duly to be out of the fighting; ol looting on shipboard as troops, back at Anzac from Cape Hcllcs, "stepped ashore with packs and haversacks bulging with Maconochies and tins of milk." On this last-named propensity he pays an obiique compliment to the Australians, based on experiences in a convalescent camp on Lcmnos . . . "It was a mailer of endless interest to notice the widely different characters wilh whom one came in contact. I got a poor impression this lime of the Tommies there was too much pelly, shabby thieving among them , but the Australians were splendid. They conformed to our own code of honour among Ihieves no stealing among themselves, onlv from army stores or from officers." Elsewheie, particularly in writing about Quinn's Post. Mr Malthus finds more solid ground for praising the Australians whom he plainly admires. He savs Ihe Australians' retention of Quinn's Post "in the face of the most determined enemy assaults, had been perhaps the most magnificent of the many great achievements of the Australians to that dale" (May 30). Mr Malthus was among the New Zcalanders who took over the post from the Australians on that date, when Sir Ian Hamilton visited it and recorded that night in his diary, "Men live through more in five minutes on that crest than they do in five years of Bendigo and Ballarat." This fan-footed Gecko (from "Portrait of a Desert," reviewed below) can run on the ceiling because of powerful suckers in its toes. of the scientific discoveries they made. After he has travelled alone with them for a while. Ihe reader who in Ihe ordinary course of events knows little and cares less about such esoteric ma'licrs will share Iheir excilc-ment at finding a horrible-smelling plant unknown to science, at sighting the rare Arabian Sand Cat and at detecting Lesser Sand Plovers nesting 2,000 miles west of Iheir previously known range. He will certainly be entranced by the excellence of Eric K. Hosking's photographs. Mr Hosking obtained in Jordan 4.500 photographs and 160-odd of them (a proportion in superb colour) illustrate the book. Sir Julian Huxley in a foreword describes the expedition as an unforgettable experience "in the first place because it took me to such strange, interesting and beautiful places" and in the second place because as a scientific project it was of unusual interest. Veteran ack Whiteombe and Tombs, Mixed up though Australians and New Zcalanders were on the peninsula, few would have achieved the record of one combatant in serving in both Armies, although not in both at Gallipoli. An accidental bullet wound caused this double enlistment. Thus Mr Malthus tells the story: While sentry groups were being posted (on April 30), two parlies mistook each other in the darkness, and at the same instant Iwo ot our scouts, McEvoy and Frank Bird, tired at each other and McFvoy was shot. The bullet passed clean through his body from near the navel and we thoueht he was done for. He lay there most of the nicht in a bad way while Frank went risht back to brigade headquarters for stretcher-bearers. Frank told me he had Ihe presence of mind lo pinch a bottle of rum from our captain's kit in passing, and it w-as only thanks to his having this rum as a bargaining point that he was able to pet the exhausted stretcher-bearers out to our post afler Brigadier Johnston had declined to order them to duly. A year later in France we learnt that Mac w'as there as a sergeant in the Australian infantry, tie had been rejected in New Zealand for further service and had gone to Sydney to enlist . . . Mac was killed in France near the end of the war. One can give only samplings from this frank, often matter-of-fact but always compellingly interesting retrospect and then recommend Australians as well as New Zcalanders to read it. LCSLIi JILLCTT It was, he says, "focused on Ihe problems of the ecology and conservation of desert and semi-desert areas. It employed birds as ecological indicators, and studied them with the aid of a uniquely competent team of field ornithologists and bird photographers. At the same time it conducted a survey of the general ecology of selected arid areas, not merely for its own sake, but as a reconnaissance in preparation for the worldwide studies in pure and applied ecology envisaged for the International Biological Program (which, wc hope, will do for the life sciences what the International Geophysical Year accomplished for geophysics)." The non-ccologically minded reader can. however, be reassured. What the author calls "the tiresome technicalities" are omitted from the book. It is, in fact, most pleasant and entertaining general reading for those interested in far places. GUY HARRIOTT SOMETIWSG PERSONAL Publishing Action to Test By II. G. K1PPAX THE TRIAL OF LADY CHATTERLEY. Regina v. Penguin Books Ltd. Edited by C. H. Ralph. Published in association with Penguin Boohs Limited by Min-deron Pty. Ltd. (Sydney) in conjunction with the Council for Civil Liberties. 221 pp. 15s. "rPHE TRIAL OF l.ADY 1 CHATTERLEY." a Penguin Special, was published in the United Kingdom in 1961. It is a description of the famous prosecution, under the 1958 Obscene Publications Act, of Penguin Books Ltd. at the Old Bailey in 1960 for having published, unexptir-gated, D. H. Lawrence's last novel, "Lady Chatterley's Lover." The great bulk of the description consists of an abridged transcript of the evidence, the addresses by counsel and the summing up of Ihe Judge at the trial. In June. 1961, the Minister for Customs informed the Australian subsidiary company of Penguin Books I. id. thai importation of "1 he Trial of Lady Chatter-Icy" was prohibited in Australia. This decision, following one; by Ihe Cabinet in February lo igriore a recommendation by the Commonwealth Literature Censorship Board that the ban on "Lady Chatterley's Lover" itself should be lifted, was widely criticised. Despite Ihe outcry, the Government remained unmoved and "The Trial of Lady Chatterlcy" remains a prohibited importation in Australia. The book, "The Trial of Lady Chatterley," which is now on sale in Sydney, differs from the edition published in Britain in only one important respect: it was "wholly set up and printed in Australia by Edwards and Shaw. 171 Sussex Street. Sydney." and it is being published, the title page slates, by Minderon Pty Ltd., in conjunction with Ihe Council of Civil I ibertics and in association with Penguin Books Limited. This action, the printing and publication within Australia of a book banned by the Department of Customs, clearly challenges Ihe authority of the Federal Government. It also challenges the N.S.W. Government which has its own censorship apparatus in the form of laws dealing with obscene publications. In 1961 Ihe Minister for Customs did not publicly state any reason for his prohibition of the book, so far as I know. But we can assume that it was prohibited because he held it lo be an obscene publication. That view presumably constitutes, prima facie, a reason why the Stale authorities are bound to take notice of its printing and publication in Sydney. However, it is not for me lo speculate about which authority should have the privilege of acknowledging the challence by taking the action which it considers appropriate. Nor am I, in this article, much concerned with the legal nature of the action. What I think we should all be concerned about is that al last a challenge has been made not to one or another authority, but to the censorship system as a w hole in Australia, in all its multiplicity, confusion and contradictions, and that this challenge can be indeed, must be decided in our law courts. For this reason it is important, that none should view this Tribute to Musician R.V.W.: A Biography of Ralph Vaughan Williams by Ursula Vaughon Williams Oxford University Press, London. 448 pp. 75s. T N this book, designed for parallel publication with Michael Kennedy's "The Works of Ralph Vaughan Williams" (reviewed here on February 6, 1965), the composer's widow has compiled a chronicle of his 86 years which has authenticity as its lore-most virtue. Both books are devoted testimonials rather than detached assessments. The presentation of day-lo-day events in "R.V.W." by and large avoids analytical comments and conclusions and, like Michael Kennedy's comprehensive book, this one is content to offer the collected material in subjective veracity as valuable basis for further studies and research. Bu- an impression should not be jiven that the assembled facts, letters and quotations fail to evoke a vivid picture of the great musician's career. The menial and intellectual climate in which he moved is shown by a galaxy of illustrious names: Darwin and Wedgwood by family connection: Parry, Stanford and Ravel as his teachers; as for his friends, even a selection threatens to become too numerous to be practicable. This can be well understood by the long period of an active life in the centre of Britain's musical activities, as well as by Vaughan Williams' straightforward and ingratiating ways, which seem to have transformed most of his worthwhile contacts into lasting bonds. His sanity and commonsense expended themselves, beyond his musical orbit, on all issues which involved him as a member of his society. He aligned himself actively with the opponents of fascism long before his cottnlrv took up arms against it; he battled personally for victims of racial injustice; and, he refused during the postwar years to be swept into "fashionable peace The Law initiative melodiamaticallv that is to say, as an attempt lo circumvent Ihe Commonwealth Government or comically, as a kind of undeigiaduale thumb, tng-of-the-nose al authority. It has been taken by a group of responsible citizens in order to test, in law, the presumptions and methods of a' system of cen-sorship which owes some of its absurdity, certainly some of its confusion, to the unwillingness or inability of printers, publishers, authors or readers to challenge its decisions. f There could be no belter subject for a first test-case than "The Trial of Lady Chatterley." The case, Regina v Penguin Books Ltd., was of historic importance in Great Britain because it was the first instance of a ptovecuiion of a book, widely held to have high literary merit, under the 1958 Obscene Publications Act. Before 1958 prosecutions for obscene libel (or writing) in Britain were brought under the Common Law. The definition of obscenity was lhat of Lord Justice Cockburn in 1X68; "The test of obscenity is whether the tendency of the tnal-ler charged as obscenity is to deprave and corrupt those whose minds are open lo such immoral influences, and into whose hands such a publication might fall." This, broadly, is still the governing test in Australia's obscenity laws. Farly in Ihe 1950s, as a result of five prosecutions of reputable publishers, there were moves in Britain to replace Ihe Common Law. The important innovations of the Obscene Publications Act which eventually emerged from Parliament were three: Firstly: a book, to be deemed obscene, must be considered as a whole, and not from isolated passages. Secondly: the substitution for Lord Cockburn's phrase, "deprave or corrupt those whose minds are open to such immoral influences," of the vords, "deprave or corrupt persons who are likely, having regard to all relevant circumstances, to read . . ." the matter complained of. meant lhat the tendency "to deprave and corrupt" was not to be judged exclusively by the ;ffcct the book might have on children. Thirdly: the famous Section Four ("a person shall not be convicted of an offence . . . if it is proved that publication of Ihe article is justified as being for the public good on the ground that it is in the inieresls of science, . literature, art or learning or other objects of cen-eral concern" eave Ihe defence Ihe right to call expert witnesses on the book's worth. These innovations in Ihe law proved decisive in the prosecution of Penguin Books Ltd. According lo Mr Rolph. published statements by members of the jury (nine men, lluee women) alter Ihe trial indicated lhat nine were for an acquittal at Ihe very outset ol the proceedings. That the other three, who felt and continued to feel that "Lady Challerley's Lover" was obscene, gave way to the majority was because none of them dared say, in the teeth of the evidence on literary merit by 33 distinguished authors, critics, scholars, publishers, teachers and churchmen, that it movements" as he "believed in freedom" anil would not allovv himself to be "bullied by Nazis, Fascists or Russians." There was nothing half-hearted about his likes or dislikes. When he saw a pretty girl it was quite natural to him lo express, wherever feasible, his aesthetic appreciation by a kiss. The authoress. Ursula Wood, who married Vaughan Williams after his first wife's death, when he was more than 80, is no novice to literature. Her words were set to music by her husband on several occasions and her writing skill has served her well in the collation of the abundant material for this book. As her ow n sub-editor she could have been more ruthless in eliminating a certain amount of trivia if she had not been overawed by her conscience and loyalties as custodian of her husband's memories. H. R. FORST THE TRIAL OF LADY CHATTERLEY.. A PENGUIN SPECIAL EDITED BY C. H. ROLPH : is now available al CRAFTSMAN BOOKSHOP, The Village Centre, Springfield Ave,, King's Cross, CLAY'S BOOKSHOP, 103 Macleay St., Polls Point. "GOLD, MINERAL AM) CEMSTONE-LOCALITIES OF NEW SOUTH WALES" Edited by Frank Hannan. Price 2(1. At city booksellers or post free from CONTINENTAL ATLAS AGENCY, P.O. Box 30, Kenslngtn was not "in the interests of literature." Obviously this imporiant British test case is of the greaiesl interest to Australians, both lawyers and laymen, not only because "Lady Chatterley's Lover" is banned here, but because the legal, ethical and aesthetic arguments which emerged in it are relevant lo our own laws laws which operate in accordance with a Victorian dictum which the British Parliament has held to be inappropriate in the twentieth century. D. H. LAWRCNCC The only adequate account of Ihe trial, for those who want to study its implications, is "The Trial of l ady Chatterley." Even lawyers have no other source because, having been tried before a jurv. the trial was not included in the authorised law reports. Why is the book banned? It cannot be because it quotes in extenso the 30-odd paces of "purple passages" in which Lawrence describes the love-making of Connie and Mellors. 'I hese. inevitably, were the battleground on which the trial was decided and many of them were read out in court. But Mr Rolph omits them, merely referring the reader lo the relevant page in the Penguin edition. It must be, therefore, because Ihe prosecution named the contentious four-letter words spoken by Mellors and frequently asked witnesses to discuss them and their use. Is it contended, then, lhat their appearance in 'this book in a context, not'of erotic description, but of lecal and philosophical argument will tend "lo deprave or corrupt" . Australian readers? II is kindest to Ihe Government lo assume lhat this, though patently ridiculous, is i;s contention. For the only oilier possible assumption is that Ihe Government recoiled, in an election year, from permitting :hc circulation of a book which, in effect, puts on trial its decision to override its literary advisers and retain Ihe ban on "Lady Chnt'crlcv's Lover." Whatever the Government's reasoning, its decision needs to be challenged if democratic rights of freedom of discussion in this country are not to be seriously abridged. Let the Courts now say whether there is.' in, law. any reason why Australian citizens should be forbidden to read this book. VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (horn the book) POCKET BOOKSHOP, 98 Pitt Street, .Sydney. (Corner Martin Place.)

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