Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Warning: Nazi flag photo

In the Victorian country town of Beulah a couple put up a Nazi flag. The couple has been condemned left right and centre personally and via social media, and rightly so. I am of two minds about whether they should be allowed to fly the Nazi flag. I think I err on the side of know thy enemy. The flag has subsequently been lowered and the couple have fled the town. The locals of Beulah put on a successful picnic this Saturday past, welcoming all creeds, colours, religions, sexualities...........in fact our diverse human race. As an antidote against the slur to the  town by one couple in the town flying the Nazi flag, it was very successful. Am I correct that there was one holocaust survivor living in the town?

While I don't think it will happen in this case, that is those who flew the flag will commit suicide, we have to be very careful when we condemn people on social media.

Little has gobsmacked me more than what followed after hearing the brief story of drag queens reading stories to children at a library in Brisbane. I reckon it is great for children to see glam drag queens and to hear books read. But oh, the tragic consequences.

About four or five young men affiliated to our conservative Liberal and National parties turned up to challenge and harass the drag the queens, who were being paid for their work, and the lads were escorted from the library by a guard. It wasn't pleasant to watch and of course the children were upset. Why shouldn't children be exposed to glamorous drag queens? Most children love to dress up. Why should children be exposed to intolerant pricks like the protesters is the question for me.

I did not follow it up but I think all those who disturbed the book reading were seriously slammed on social media.

Yet then I find out the leader and spokesperson who harassed the drag queens was gay himself, but one who was against gay marriage. He actually sounded like a good guy, working as a volunteer in soup kitchens and doing many other similar things, even being generous to beggars. Politically misguided perhaps and certainly socially misguided.

Tragically the young gay man who led the harassment of drag queens readers threw himself under a train and was killed. Was his action due to him being viciously savaged on social media after his harassment of drag queens reading to kiddies? Perhaps. While I know none of my readers would behave like that online, it is a very sad story indeed for all involved and there are no winners.

Monday, January 20, 2020

A Carnival and Doctors

Yesterday was gay and lesbian (I will do this once only, GLTBIQ, Gay Lesbian Transgender Bisexual Intersex Queer) Midsumma Carnival Day in Melbourne. We haven't been for a few years for various reasons. Just R and myself went this year together joking that we would meet up with friends once there. Joking.....yes. Of the thousands there, R stumbled across a dyke he worked with many years ago and I ran into my GP who was in his company's medical practice tent. We knew no others. We do know quite a number of gay people in Melbourne, but more gay people don't go to carnival than do.

It was a bit hot but we managed to see most of the stalls but none of the entertainment which would have been later in the afternoon. The dog show hosted by a drag queen and someone famous is a hoot, and we saw plenty of dogs ready for their still Mr De Mille. We left about 1. R can only walk for so long and we were sweating. We did have a disgusting hot dog with cheese from a food van that should have paid us $7 to eat it, not we pay them. Equally bad coffee was found at the skateboard park cafe. Yes, right in the midst of all this gay frivolity with plenty of drag queens, young kids and teens are skating on one one of those metal set ups. We had nice veranda seats at least at the cafe and could watch the passing parade of people.

What really struck me was the ethnic diversity now of gays in Melbourne. Western, Central and Southern American, Eastern European, South Asians, Arabic, but of course Chinese and South East Asians dominate after Westerns, or perhaps they are just the more obvious.

Also it was interesting to see at least six AFL football clubs having presumably sanctioned stalls. The number of tent stalls was huge and mostly not of a direct commercial focus. Our local councils in all directions had stalls, as did Australia Post (grrr) and Our ABC tv/radio. I didn't see phone companies that always used to have a large presence.

To do Midsumma Carnival properly at our age, we need two boys to carry an Esky* with chilled food and drinks, chairs, and an umbrella just in case we want to see something on stage.

After seeing my doctor at Carnival, I wondered how long I have been seeing him.

I made the mistake when I was young of choosing a handsome doctor a decade or more older than myself. Dr Peter Meese died in 2000, probably from AIDS. I have just had a look online and apparently he was quite a high achiever.


I have this bloke to check me over for skin cancers. https://portmelbournemedical.com.au/doctors/dr-ian-devlin/ He was once R's GP but he moved from the convenient clinic across the road to a much less convenient location.

But my GP since I think 1999 has been Dr Beng Eu and it was he who I saw at Carnival. You don't see a doctor for twenty years if you don't like him. His job is to look after my health. My job is at each visit to make him laugh, or at least smile.

He is looking a bit grey around the muzzle now but there are the remains of a handsome man.

Oh wow, while online stalking Guggling, I came across this ABC news report of a dead man walking back in 2010, now on Youtube, and Beng was the guy's GP.

*Esky, brand name but used here generically for a large insulated portable food and drink container. Chilly Bin in New Zealand. No idea what it is called elsewhere.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

A Whinge

If you can't have a good old whinge on your own blog, what is the point of having one.

There hasn't been any publicity about the movie The Gentlemen that I am aware of. We haven't seen trailers and R hasn't seen ads on tv. I was only aware of it because John Gray of Wales saw it and mentioned it. I looked it up and it sounded ok. We normally see movies late morning or early afternoon, but we decided to see the 4.10pm session.

Packed tram into the city after waiting for ages. Packed tram along Collins Street. Too big Missy.

I've never seen any of the The Kino cinemas above half full, yet the 4.10 of The Gentlemen session was full. We missed out. Too big Missy.

Let's go for a drink at a bar and rethink, we agreed. We went to Riverland. Not a spare table to be seen. Too big Missy. We found a last remaining table for two table at Transport Bar and had a drink. Too big Missy.

We were going to have dinner in town after the movie but instead after our drink we went home. 

I insist that Household Chef cooks no more than five nights a week, so we will go across the road to Cafe Rosco for dinner. At 5.30 we called to make a 6.30 booking. We could be squeezed in with some annoyance to staff reorganise. Fine, we will sit outside, reserve a table there. The cafe was manically busy. Too big Missy.

We can't drive anywhere without getting stuck in heavy traffic. We can't use public transport without being overcrowded. Family picnics are impossible now because public parks with barbeques are overcrowded. Too big Missy. 

Never mind all of the above, it is good that Melbourne is a vital and busy city, but who asked me if I wanted it to be overcrowded?

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Grass Trees and Wollemi Pine

We used to know them as Black Boys but for obvious reasons they are no longer called that. They are excellent at withstanding the ravages of bushfires and as you can see by 'Winston', they live to be very old. I am not sure why they had to be rescued, perhaps because of a land development.

These came from the Margaret River area of Western Australia. The most expensive one is a lower two crown one about one metre tall and is for sale for about $4,460. A taller one with three crowns about two metres tall is cheaper at $4,300.

Most varieties are quite resistant to fire and as you can see in their natural state in the first photo taken by Matthew Newton and published on the website of Bush Heritage Australia, they retain their lower dried up spines and in the case of fire, like with our Eucalypts, the fire will race up to the top of the plant and give some protection to the trunk. Most of the growing action takes place underground and this also helps them resist fire.

However, I would not be spending thousands on such plants when some brief research tells me they are notoriously difficult to transplant from one site to another.

In some really good news, Wollemi Pines, only discovered in Australia in 1994 and dating back to the time of dinosaurs have been saved from a bushfire in an all out effort secret mission by National Parks and Wildlife Service and the New South Wales Rural Fire Service. Clearly there was a plan in place to protect them and it was enacted.

They grow in a gorge west of Sydney and their location is not publicised as visitors could be a terrible threat to their existence of one of the rarest trees on Earth, numbering somewhat over 100. They have been successfully propagated and you can buy them at plant nurseries. Some trees are estimated to be 1,000 years old but because of the nature of they way the grow, they could be very much older. Photo from the Sydney Morning Herald.

Friday, January 17, 2020

British Rail

I wish I could blame Maggie Thatcher, but she was not guilty. Her Tory successor John Major is to blame for privatisation of British Rail. The list of defunct companies who subsequently ran different train companies approaches about 50. I can't be bothered counting them up.

Public transport in the UK is pretty good but it is very expensive to use. Nevertheless in the last ten years internal air travel has dropped significantly as internal train travel has risen. Air travel is a nightmare. Train travel usually so easy. The cost of train travel in the UK is not so bad if you book well in advance, but the quality of trip varies hugely from one operator to another.

The regional train we have mostly used was once known as The Flying Scotsman, travelling from London to Edinburgh via Newcastle. For its time, it was very fast. The first time we used it was in its privatised form I think known as Great North Eastern Railway. It handed the operation back to the government. The next time we visited the UK, it was owned by Virgin Trains, again handed back to the government. Our visit last year saw us travelling on the government run London North Eastern Railway. All trips on the different operators' trains were pretty good, although last year the train was showing its age but the line is now serviced by new trains.

I don't have a complimentary word for the Trans Pennine Express first class. It was a lousy trip from Newcastle to Manchester and as for first class, what a joke. It is one of the companies expected to hand the service back to the government.

Of the now 23 companies who now run passenger trains in the UK about one quarter are expected to throw in the towel, that is either go into bankruptcy or just hand over to.......well, this was not known to me, a government owned company named Operator of Last Resort, OLR. Extraordinary!

With expensive train fares, why can't these companies make money? They will firstly cite staffing costs. While I am not sure about pay for regional train drivers, I do know what the pay is for London Tube drivers and given their responsibility, I don't consider them overpaid. You can't run a successful business without good staff and staffing levels and the staff need to be well enough paid.

Will the privatisation of essential services in the late 20th century and early 21st century be seen as a terrible mistake? I think so. With good management, there is no reason why governments can not run good essential services, such as trains.