Tuesday, July 17, 2018

A Shocking Crime

Make no mistake about it. Shocking crimes of active and passive negligence were committed in London preceding, during and after the Grenfell Tower flats went up in a spectacular blaze of fire last year. I have added the reporting of the investigation by The Guardian to my RSS feed.

It is almost impossible to understand how this could have happened. Given where we live, in a highrise building, anything like this is of great interest to me.

Every official department failed. The local council who was in charge. The local government's hired minions. The government. Builders. Architects, and worst of all the Fire Brigade. Having mentioned the Fire Brigade is not a reflection on the extraordinary bravery and self sacrifice of the fire fighters. They were ill prepared and not even vaguely properly trained for this type of fire, never mind their lack of equipment and failed communication devices. But so many firefighters put their own lives at risk to rescue people, and rescue people they did. Nevertheless, 74 people died. That is shocking. I think this one report of one day of the inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire kind of sums up everything you will read about the firefighters efforts.

I've never seen any reports about the 999 workers who were receiving calls from residents in the tower block. What must it like be for them to be talking on the phone to residents and them saying that help is on the way, as the person just dropped off the phone because they were being burnt or smoked to death.  The stuff of nightmares. (subsequently I have heard evidence from some 999 call takers)


A firefighter at Grenfell Tower prepared to die when his oxygen almost ran out during the attempted rescue of a 12-year old girl because the fire lift failed, the public inquiry has heard.
Christopher Secrett, a crew manager at North Kensington fire station, placed himself in a corner of the smoke-logged stairs, so his body would not be in the way if he died, and tried to text his mother, the inquiry heard.
Secrett described how he was responding to a call for help for Jessica Urbano Ramirez on the 20th floor and had climbed with colleagues through thick smoke and extreme heat up 14 storeys.
They should have been able to take control of the lift but that failed and carried them only six storeys. If it had worked his air would not have run out and this was “one of the major faults” at Grenfell, he said.
Radio communications between firefighters in the tower also failed, he said. “I knew we were in trouble,” he told the inquiry. “It was just too hot and I was running out of air.”
Jessica was found dead on the 23rd floor.
Secrett’s testimony came on a day when the horror of what faced the firefighters in the early hours of 14 June 2017 became clearer than ever.
They described bodies falling from the building, including one that hit a firefighter and another whose leg came away from his hip when firefighters tried to move him.
John O’Hanlon described the scene as “absolute carnage” and like a war zone, likening it to 9/11. “We noticed somebody had jumped and landed on the playground,” the firefighter said.
“I had seen a blur and heard a thud. It was going so fast I knew it wasn’t a piece of debris. He landed around 10 metres from me.”
Secrett said he saw the same man lying in a garage where he had been put. His separated leg was next to him where he lay in a pool of blood.
“I remember one casualty I had was a young girl, she was roughly the size of a two- or three-year-old,” said O’Hanlon. “She looked to be of Somali descent. I believe she may have been dead. I laid her down and her eyes were rolled to the back of her head. That face will always stay with me.”
O’Hanlon told the inquiry that when he first got to the scene he was reminded of a hotel fire in Dubai he had seen on YouTube, but he said he had had no training in responding to such exterior cladding fires.
The London fire brigade knew about such fires because it had compiled a slide show about the risks of combustible cladding in July 2016, featuring the Dubai blazes, the inquiry previously heard.
O’Hanlon was one of the first to enter the fourth floor flat where the fire began and described how even though firefighters were pumping at least 240 litres of water per minute on to the burning plastic window surround the flames would not go out. He said the outside of the building was “roaring” like a burning gas main.
There were also “heated discussions” between firefighters over whether enough was being done to save people, said Daniel Egan, a fire safety manager who was responsible for relaying information from 999 calls from people inside the tower to the firefighters entering the building.
Egan said he had repeatedly told the firefighters at the bridgehead about two adults and two children inside flat 133 on the 17th floor, but believed they had not been reached, and described the response as frustrating.
Secrett, a firefighter for 19 years, said he had never experienced heat like he felt in flat 176, where Jessica lived with her family.
“At this point, the temperature just soared,” he said. “It went from what I would call normal hot to unbearable. I dropped to my knees and I think I actually lay down on the floor. I knew we couldn’t stay there. I crawled out and called to firefighter [David] Badillo that we had to get out of there.”
“I grabbed his arm and told him I was running out of air so he was to stay with me and we needed to get out. The temperature got even hotter. I remember lying on my belly and it took me a while to get back on my knees. I thought it was going to flashover and go. Flashover is when the temperature increases and increases until everything in the room will self-combust.”
They were also with Chris Dorgu, a firefighter whom they lost in the heat and smoke as they started to descend, but neither man had the energy to call out for him.
“I looked at my gauge and saw I only had 15 bar left,” Secrett said. “I was in big trouble. I put myself in a corner of the stairwell because I did not want to be in anyone else’s way if I didn’t make it out. I tried to get my phone out of my pocket to text my mum but I couldn’t get the phone out.”
Dorgu emerged and they came down together “stumbling, falling and crawling trying to get down”.
After spending time in recovery, Secrett started carrying the dead and injured from the block.
“It was raining debris everywhere,” he said. “Someone had jumped out the tower. He hit a firefighter on his back. There were lots of people there who went to help so I continued to help by putting out fires. There were taxis and mopeds nearby catching fire.”
The inquiry continues. Absolutely criminal. People should be gaoled. 

Buddha's Day

BAD is in Salerno, Italy.

My number of unfinished and unpublished posts was rising rapidly, which usually leads to a Flood Friday. Instead I have finished them and as you may have noticed you are getting two posts a day for the last few days. I am hovering around twenty, of which ten are permanently not for publication or have been published and then pulled.  Still, I am doing better than Snoskred with 60 unpublished posts.  Here is the first for today. I don't think there will be more two posts a day.

Too much writing and not enough photos of late. These were taken a while ago of local celebrations at Federation Square for Buddha's Day. There is not much to say about the photos.

A politician speaks. I know who he is, but it doesn't matter.

Pouring water over a miniature religious figure. Not baptising I shouldn't think.

I made a twenty second video with a pan of the scene. Turn up your sound and you will hear the bells of St Paul's Cathedral ringing. To my ears, it sounds like bell ringing practice for first timers. 

Monday, July 16, 2018

So not a gamer

I've never been a gamer on the net. It just does not interest me, but yet........

Mother had a black and white AWA Deep Image tv (Australia Wireless something. I can't remember ) in the seventies. It was a stylish modern television with a nice legs and and a very handsome timber veneer.  Mother still had the tv into the eighties and was rather late into colour tv, with her next set being a Rank Arena. My younger siblings had some sort of game thing they could plug into the AWA tv. I think it was called Pong. It was good fun, to hit a ball a bit back and forth from the control sticks. (I don't remember the control sticks, but it can't have been touch screen).

Such a simple game, but we had such fun.

Our Late Friend back in the early noughties asked what I was doing with my old mobile phone. He suggested I should give it to his partner as a gift. No way, I replied. It has Tetris on it and I can't find it on my new phone, so I will keep the old phone to play Tetris. I never did play it again, and eventually I put the phone into a phone recycling bin.

But yeah, things like Super Mario, Sim City,  etc all go above my head. I don't know about them and I am not interested at all to find out about them.

I quite like pinball machines though.

What about you? Do you like online game playing? I hear a deafening silence.

Madame Brussels and the mace

BAD is still in Italy, Messina to see Mount Etna.

No, I am not talking about Gattina in the subject line. She is more Madame Waterloo, a kind of satellite city of Brussels, where once a great history changing battle was fought.

In our lift are notice frames where notices are placed about what is happening in the building, a reminding of rules and what is on in Melbourne that might entertain or amuse.

I read on a notice  that on Friday nights we have a European winter night market in a street called Madame Brussels Lane. I'd no idea where that is until I checked. It seems to be more a place or a bar or maybe a lane too. I will investigate this week. I had heard the name Madame Brussels and I vaguely knew of her infamy. Over to Wikipedia.

Caroline Hodgson was born in Potsdam in the then Prussia to John and Frederica Lohman. In 1871 she married Studholme Hodgson and they immediately emigrated to Australia. In 1872 Studholme joined the Victorian police and was posted to Mansfield in country Victoria. For some reason, Caroline did not go with him and remained in Melbourne.

By 1874 she was known as Madame Brussels and was running a number of brothels in the Little Lonsdale Street area in the north eastern area of the city and becoming quite rich. She bought a property on Beaconsfield Parade (beach front, St Kilda) and owned city properties. Her husband died from tuberculosis in 1893. She married again, to a German engineer fifteen years her junior in 1895, but when they were visiting family in Germany, he ran away to South Africa. Two years later they were temporarily reconciled, but finally divorced in 1907, the same year as the authorities finally shut down her brothels. The divorce was granted on the grounds of desertion and in court, to quote from Wikipedia, she appeared as a most benevolent looking old lady, and quite secured the sympathy of the court by her demeanor. She died the following year of diabetes related diseases. She had one adopted daughter and was buried next to her first husband in St Kilda Cemetery. Here is the only photo I can find of Madame Brussels. She looks a bit glam.

Now we switch to something very different yet there is a connection to Madame Brussels.

The State of Victoria's parliamentary mace is a ceremonial weapon, carried in to parliament by the Sergeant of Arms as the Speaker of the House enters parliament. All members of the parliament stand while the Sergeant of Arms shoulders the mace. The reverse happens when parliament ends at whatever time.

The Parliament of Victoria's first mace was a humble affair of paper mache gilded wood and quickly replaced with something grander. Here is our third mace, still in use, about 1.5 metres long and weighing about 8 kilograms.

The second mace I hear you ask? Oh, you didn't. It was stolen by persons unknown and it was alleged it ended up in one of Madame Brussels brothels. This tale may or may not be true, but it is viewed by many now as fact. Here is another snip from Wikipedia.

Thirteen months later, the Bulletin and Table Talk published stories suggesting that members of parliament had taken the mace as a joke and left it in a bordello in Little Lon. The uproar was immense, the satire hilarious. 

So, there you go. The mind boggles at what role the mace may have played in brothel.  Sorry,  once again I am talking about sex. Perhaps I should do it instead of writing about it, but I can't really remember how.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Trumpeting around Europe

People should give proper respect to the office of President of the United States, back like the world did to President Obama when he travelled. I would have loved to be a fly on the wall as Queenie was dressed to meet the Trumpets. "One must do one's duty and endure. It is that Mrs May's fault that I have to meet him."

People really are so unkind.

Relaxing with good company.

Happy days with Mrs May.

Liz really, you are swearing like your late sister. Go and have a Dunhill and a Gordon's and calm down.

Ma'am, it was raining.

So unkind.

Really, you Londoners, do you have no respect for the President of the United States of America? (Planning approval by Sadik Khan. Mayor. London.)

Thanks to the late blogger, but not personally late, Lord Sedgwick for a couple of the photos. He lives on at Facebook.