Saturday, May 17, 2008

Just a day

After such a long dry period, today it just pissed down. There, I am getting better at bad language in my writing. Pity my writing is not improving too.

Today had been set aside for shopping for gifts for the UK rels when we arrive. We ought not have celebrated the forthcoming weekend last night with Mr 700 mil Ballantyne. At our local tram stop, Bowen (no relation) Crescent, things were in chaos with trams and buses everywhere, people confused and wet and heading in all directions and many staff aimlessly milling around. This is just an impression. Perhaps it was organised chaos. This was because of some grand tram and public amenity works happening near the Arts Centre. But as we were going to Victoria Market, we walked on in the rain to the Domain Interchange and caught a West Coburg tram to Vic Market.

$180 later, we have an amazing amount of absolute crap to take with us as gifts. Keyrings, tea towels, pens, umpteen kiddies tees........if it had an Aussie theme and cost under five dollars, we bought it. Exceptions to under five dollars, were the koala, later mentioned, and a battery powered kangaroo that hops, although not quite like a real one. We drew the line at the kangaroo that could do somersaults.

The cold was seeping into our ageing bones so we caught a lovely warm tram to the Post Office for more crap, photographer Steve Parish kids books. A break for refreshment at a French deli place in Bourke Street, fully staffed by Asian students (Indochine rules ok), and onto more souvenir shops in Swanston Street. More crap bought.

We had a good laugh in a duty free shop in Swanston Street when even more crap was bought. R managed to upset a display of fluffy koalas and a Japanese lass customer helped him put it right. I think she may have just wanted to touch the koalas. But she was very polite and constantly bowing and nodding. By the time the display was right, R was nodding back to her.

Does our friend in Japan nod and bow now? Or is it bad for geng, ah, gwi, ah farang to do that? Think I asked her that the last time we saw her, ever so long ago now.

Better still was when we chose a gorgeous fluffy koala and the sales assistant was very helpful, pointing out that they all had different faces. They did too. How will we fit all this into our suitcases, R complained. The sales assistant slammed her hands together with the koala in between and viscously spat out, squish.

I lasted about thirty seconds before I broke up into laughter. Fortunately by then we were trailing her to the counter.

We bought some flowers for home at Flinders Street Station, and then a luxury tourist coach gently and graciously transported us home. I quite like the tram replacement vehicles.

Tram to La Perouse

Apart from the huge size of the Sydney tram system it was also one of the most flexible in Australia. There were many different ways trams could travel to reach a suburban destination, as in the previously posted Ryde tram route through Drummoyne via either Pyrmont or Forest Lodge. I don't have a lot of information on the La Perouse system, but enough to work out its route and some details.

Two different city termini sent trams to La Perouse, one route from Railway, now known as Central, and the other from Circular Quay. There is a bit of guesswork here. From Railway, along Eddy Avenue, right into Elizabeth Street, into Chalmers Street, left into Cleveland Street, right into Anzac Parade.

Much of the tram route along Anzac Parade was in a reservation and I believe the bus now runs in this reservation. In fact I have been on the bus from Kensington, but I was standing so I saw little.

At Alison Road, the Clovelly and Coogee Beach routes branched off and where the Randwick tramway workshops were located. We then come to the intricate and huge Randwick Racecourse siding. There were a number of platforms and tram tracks everywhere. Thousands upon thousands would use the trams to travel to Randwick on racedays. The co-ordination that went into the service must have been extraordinary and was often on a normal working day. The main entrance to Randwick was at Abbotsford Street.

The tram then continued down Anzac Parade as it twisted and turned to terminate at La Perouse on a loop terminus and along the way, the tram line to Maroubra Beach exited left. La Perouse terminus was a loop, which means that rather than the driver changing to the other end of the tram to return to the city, the tram just went around a track loop.

The Circular Quay service most likely travelled Phillip Street, Hunter Street for a short distance, Elizabeth Street, left into Liverpool Street, Oxford Street and down Flinders Street at Taylor Square and then Anzac Parade.

The trams and staff I think principally came from Dowling Street Depot, now the site of the Moore Park Supa Centre, the entrance was from Dacey Avenue.

There were a couple of other related sidings. I believe one was in Forbes Street, Darlinghurst at the Darlinghurst Court House next to the Supreme Court of NSW. The track ran from inside the court and a special tram that has been restored and can be seen at the Sydney Tramway Museum, ran from there to a siding inside Long Bay Gaol in Malabar. New South Wales' most notorious escape artist and criminal Darcy Dugan escaped from the tram in Kensington by cutting a hole in its roof while he was being transported.

Initially a steam tram ran from the City to Kensington Junction, that is Alison Road, Anzac Parade and Dacey Avenue. The electric tram to La Perouse opened as a single track from Kensington to La Perouse on 11th August 1902. By the 9th November 1909 the track was duplicated and the last tram ran to La Perouse on 25th February 1961. In the early days of the twentieth century there was a single track link to Botany Bay from La Perouse via Bunnerong Road. It may not have been for passenger service though.

Sydney Prison Tram at Sydney Tram Museum, their publicity shot I think.
The Randwick Racecourse sidings, presumably while a meeting is in progress and the trams are ready to collect the punters upon their exit. Photo taken by Noel Reed.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Quaking

When I was a skinny young boy, I used to think that people died in earthquakes by a chasm opening up and it swallowing them. Now I know differently. Things just fall down and crush. Boy, if there was a St Kilda Road earthquake, I would be well and truly crushed. How many have died in China? A terrible figure. The People's Liberation Army has been mobilised and are doing a fantastic job, that is the People's Liberation Army who shot willy nilly in Tianman Square when people who just a wee bit unhappy with their government, and staged a sit in protest. Thank god that they are not seeing this disaster as political.

Not like the Burma Generals who see things ever so politically. As I type, someone there is gasping their last breath because of the cyclone and the ineptitude and need to control by the Burmese leaders. That is BURMA in capital letters for search engines. You general type dudes are a disgrace. You really need to employ a Chinese educated propagandist.

But with disaster and misery comes humour. The US of A is prepared and ready to offer relief to Burmese citizens. The US of A seems to be able to a great job from afar, just not when it is on their home turf, ala New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina. Ah, but they were mostly black, the white folk got out early.

Uninflated Balloon

R bought us a balloon flight for my significant birthday last year, like October. How slack to have not have done it yet. There were always so many reasons why not. I did try to book many times in the last few months, but the bookings are heavy. It is so hard when you are a shift worker. We had booked for tomorrow, Friday, but the flight has been cancelled due to the weather. We can't fit it in now before going o/s so it will have to wait until we return. Something to look forward to, but I was very mentally prepared to walk to the Langham Hotel at Southbank tomorrow at six in the morning and then being transported to the launch site, and then the slap up breakfast following, back at the Langham Hotel. As Dame M would say with her exquisite way of saying it, bugger.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Random Rants

Budget:

What Budget? I was busy last night. Today's paper is sitting ready for me to read tomorrow and so I might have a educated opinion then. From what I have observed, rather than screwing the rich, it only gave them a tiny poke, but maybe this is before the full on assault in the future. If you have read about the state Liberal Party behind the scenes stuff with glee, as I have, you may have picked up on a comment by one of the sacked offenders, 'we are a party for business after all'.

Labor is supposed to be a party for and by the workers.

Both seem to be failing their constituents.

Infrastructure:

In the early days of Australia, especially around the end of the 19th century and into the twentieth century, much money was spent on infrastructure. Some of it, like the sewerage system was reactionary, but some, like public transport was progressive. Why is it that nowadays, the providers of infrastructure, our state and federal governments, are only reactionary and even then very belatedly.

Water:

We have insufficient water to keep our public gardens alive. There is not enough water to keep public sporting facilities usable. Farmers don't have enough water for their crops. We take so much water from our waterways, the natural environment is suffering badly. Meanwhile, I am supposed to stress over whether I spend an extra minute in the shower. Drought in Australia is common enough. It can't be beyond us to ensure we have adequate water for all things.

Transport:

I will win no friends with my blog readers, but I believe we should have good roads. Big, wide and open roads, controlled by intelligent computer systems and where the traffic moves freely. But one reason they will work so well, is that people prefer public transport. The public transport gives a superior service over using you own car. It is clean, fast, cheap, much less polluting and very user friendly. Published timetables are redundant as who needs one when the service is only a few minutes away. One wag suggested that you bring your own fold out stool to use on public transport, as seats have been removed to create more space. Oh that you had room to unfold a stool.

Inflation and Wages:

Government and associated workers are given pay rises close to the inflation rate. For a higher pay rise, the workers must trade off hard earned conditions. Sometimes this can be couched as a new skill. Regardless, you want more money, give us your blood. I can't even bear to mention about retail and hospitality workers.

Housing:

More people, more housing. They want it bigger. So far they have been content to trade off their own land for house space. But why? I have never been in a McMansion and I cannot imagine the space. Enough space for everyone to live separately. Does this make a loving and cohesive family? Where is the grass for the kids to play cricket on and and subsequently smash windows.

Our economy seems to be built on building new housing. This cannot be good.

Immigration:

Too many peeps already, so why add so many more, given our governments can't provide services for those who are here already.

Hills and Bracky:

I have decided that I will not vote for Hillary, theoretically of course. Although the US of A has a huge influence on our lives, we colonies are not allowed to vote for the President. And why wouldn't I vote for her? I don't like her accent, her voice sounds too harsh and I heard her quote the bible today. Besides, for an older dude, Bracky is hot.

Now I have decided who I won't be able to vote for in the US non election, isn't this photo cute.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Injection

While I had my flu shot administered by a nurse at work, R was just given a vial full of the potion for him to use at his pleasure. Normally a co-worker's mother who is a nurse, administers the shot. But she was not available this year. R brought the vial home with the intention of asking the Bone Doctor to do it.

Nope, Bone Doctor had bolted to Hong Kong for a 'conference', no doubt paid for by a drug company or a supplier of hip part replacement bits.

It was not actually a vial, but a ready made injection tool. I was only on my second glass of pre dinner wine, when I said, what nonsense, I'll do it.

So, full of confidence and with steady hands, I did. It is only an under the skin injection and I had just seen my own done. Some ten days later, R is still alive and without flu.

The only problem was we couldn't remember where the sharps bin is in the building. We knew that there was one somewhere, and after much hunting, we found it.

Now all youse nurses are going to tell me how stupid we were, aren't you. I could have killed him? I just copied what the nurse did when she injected me.

Everyone away

The brother friends are in Thailand, as they are twice a year for three weeks. They return four days before we leave. NT ex politician/policeman and his Fijian Indian boyfriend leave this Friday for a Canadian cruise and romp in the US of A. Dyke friends will be in Thailand when we return I think. We will be away for all of June. All very confusing. We will have a big party when we all get back. 2008, the year of travel. Really though, it is only us travelling for such a long time that is unusual.

Monday, May 12, 2008

You Answer It

It was the usual battle. You answer the phone. No you answer it. By this time, the answer machine had kicked in and neither of us had answered.

Caller ID costs a lot of money on your home phone, like six dollars per month. I hate and object to paying it whereas my mobile phone does not charge me any extra. But I pay it because it like it.

Dame M calling. This was most unlikely, since she is dead. It must be The Boarder. I ought to update the phone. R called him back and I am now deeply in debt over phone answering as R had a one hour plus conversation.

The Boarder lives in Flat 2 in the late Dame M's home. Flats 3 and 4 are self contained above. Flat 2 is complicated as it does not have its own entrance and is just a series of rooms off Dame M's residence. These rooms are The Boarders own space, but full of Dame M's sewing machines and bolts of fabric. It just occurred to me tonight, where was Dame M's laundry? I know every inch of Dame M's place and there is no laundry. I can only conclude it is in Flat 2.

Evidently, although Flats 1,2,3 and 4 are all separately metered for utilities, they all go through one meter in Flat 2, which was Dame M's business area before The Boarder. A tax dodge in earlier days. Dame M received all the individual flat utility bills and then passed them to the appropriate people. This sounds so extraordinary to me, that I know it must be true. It also has the State Trustees flummoxed.

As suggested earlier, Dame M's step sons are contesting her will. Given she contested her husband's will and won and got the whole building instead of them, I suppose they are justified in trying at least.

The Boarder is quite happy about this as it will mean he can stay there for another year or so before having to make a decision about buying a place. The Estate Trustees or is it State Trustees pay the bills. They have been quite supportive of The Boarder. They called him today to ask him if he has a kitchen. He doesn't. But he must have the laundry down the back somewhere.

As Dame M told The Boarder, it won't be easy for any of you when I go. She wasn't wrong. Gee I miss Grande Dame.

Later Edit: Clarification of the meter business. All water, gas and electric meters are in or pertain to flat 2, The Boarder's flat. Ipso facto (wow, I never thought I would get use those two words) nothing can be shut off, as the State Trustees wanted to do for flat 1, Dame M's area. It really isn't any clearer is it? After seeing other people tonight who are familiar with Dame M's house, no knowledge of any laundry. I never went into Dame M's ensuite, but it is unlikely to be in there.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Bless Him







Our old old friend who lives in a town with the shape of an elephant dominating the scenery, very near Lismore in the west of the state has sent us this book. In the note included, he suggested that he thinks the Tube has changed a bit since the map was published. I suspect much else has changed, but then again, maybe not. Inner London streets would not have changed a lot. Perhaps a forty odd year old street directory of London will be fine for us.

He circled the location of the 'Offy' where he used to work when he lived in London for ten years before they kicked him out, and drew lines of his path to home. We use the words 'common market' very carefully in his presence. He is still terribly bitter about being booted out of Blighty while all those black people flowed in from Africa, the Sub Continent and the West Indies.

Btw, we leave on the 1st of June. I have moved from being apprehensive to excited and worried. Sister, the Bone Doctor and Little Jo are staying in our apartment, enjoying the comparative large space, while we are away. I hate goodbyes as I get teary, so I will just cease to post, come the time.