Saturday, March 07, 2009

Day off 1

I wrote the train times down on a bit of paper and after I did what I had to do in town, headed to the railway station. Normally writing something down is enough to make me remember, but in this case no. I missed the train. I thought I would be at Parliament Station at the time to catch the train but instead was at Flinders Street. The Parliament Station time had stuck in my head. I blame Connex. I grabbed a seat near the door so it would be easy for me to get out. Express South Yarra to Malvern. Nice. Regardless the train was jam packed. I am not sure how I managed to get out. Someone gave me a good shove out the door I think. Merci.

For one time only, R forgot to charge his phone and we were out of contact. Just the very day when I needed his phone to work. I sms Sister instead to relay the message that I was delayed to pass on when he arrived.

R was waiting in Murrumbeena Road with Little Jo. She called out to me and waved enthusiastically as I approached on foot. Not sure why she likes the grumpy uncle so much. Perhaps I am not as bad as I think.

While Sister updated her hand written diary, we carted Little Jo off to some play recreational place where you have to pay. Lollipops or something like that. It would have been too wet at the park.

Not so bad really. Little Jo had fun. I just kept thinking of Wobbies World, aka Pissweak World, in the making. Staff were suitably placed to pick up after the falls if carers were neglectful. Really, not a bad place in East Boundary Road. Some quite hot daddies there too. Around $13 for the three of us and that included two drinks.

Wonderful watching kiddies play.

Back to Sister's and bash off with Sister and Little Jo for dinner at pub in Caulfield called Zagames or something like that. I should know its history and original name, but I have forgotten. Meal was ok but no roast on the menu in a pub? My schnitzel was a bit dry. Salad and chips were excellent. Sister has her favourite wine lable. $25. Splutter splutter. I am a cheap drunk.

Hotel has play area for kiddies. The first shove Little Jo received from a fellow kiddie, R barely noticed. The second he did and got into a blue with the pushing child's mother.

Wrapped and home by 8.00 pm. Really looking forward to carting Mother out tomorrow, not.

Saved for auto publishing on Saturday.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Whoof and he is burned to a cinder almost.

Three year, with parole, period of detention, isolated from other prisoners, for four men who doused a mentally disabled man in petrol and torched him and his house. He went up like a Hindu widow, but did not die. The victim's eyelids and lips have been removed, maybe his ears will have to go too.

Oh for the days of eye for an eye. But that is not very civilised.

If a jury can be trusted to decide guilt or innocence, why can't they be trusted to decide a sentence? I think if a jury decided a sentence in a case like above, the sentence would reflect societies views much closer to its expectations.

Some of you might think that there is a chance for rehabilitation for these men. For anyone do commit such an act, says to me that they are just bad bad people.

Welcome to the Third World

Australia must be a Third World country.

While trachoma has now been eliminated in 'First' World countries, such as Ghana, Morocco, Iran and Oman and it is quickly disappearing in Ethiopia and Somalia, the level among our indigenous Australians has remained much the same for the past three decades.

Extraordinary!

At least our Kevvy seems to have come good with $58 million to address the problem over the next four years.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

The Arts Centre

Ah yeah, the quiz. It has been a lot more work to write than I thought. A correct answer to the quiz was quickly posted. The Arts Centre.

R's workplace was having a clean out of books. He spied one he thought I might find interesting. It was given to his work as a thank you when he took a group to the Arts Centre and they had to participate in a fire drill. I expected I would just give it a flick through to look at the photos. A couple of hours later I was well into reading the text.

What a fascinating tale of the construction of our arts precinct, where our Victorian National Gallery, Hamer Hall for concerts, and the theatre complex are located. These are quite special buildings to the people of Melbourne and have a perfect location on the south bank of the Yarra River. There are plans for improvements with opening Hamer Hall more to the river promenade and a wide walk way in between the theatres and the gallery. I expect these might happen within the next twenty years. Although they have been announced by our State Government, no money has been allocated for construction as yet.

I will do a list of points I found interesting. But upon reading the paper last week, I came across an obit for Lady (Alice) Grounds, the widow of the Sir Roy Grounds, the principle architect of The Arts Centre. She died in January this year aged 99. You can read her quite interesting obit here.

While I was reading the obit, I came across this. 'In 1937, he designed a split-level, cliff-hugging beach house for her at Ranelagh'.

Where might Ranelagh be, I wondered. It took a little time to establish it is housing estate within Mount Eliza on the Mornington Peninsular. It was designed by Walter Burleigh Griffin AND his wife. He is the chappie who designed our federal capital city Canberra. I shall take a peek next time I am down that way.

All very intersting, as was the construction of the Victorian Arts Centre.

  • Discussion began in the early 1940s.

  • Site chosen where Wirths Circus was located and later The Trocadero.

  • Problems caused by the site being under control of both City of Melbourne and City of South Melbourne.

  • The delightfully named Sloss Street which ran parallel to St Kilda Road was included into the site.

  • Wirth's Park occupied by 'fun parlours, bits of circus type buildings, advertising hoardings, and temporary patched up sheds'.

  • By 1953 the area was covered with half burnt buildings, condemned buildings and closed off areas and City of South Melbourne was very concerned about the dilapidated site.

  • The declining Trocadero forced to abandon their lease by huge rent increases.

  • May 1961 Whelan the Wrecker moved in.

  • Controversial plans to freeze the sloppy silt on which the theatres were to be built abandoned after the collapse of the West Gate Bridge.

  • Four year fight between the The Building committee and City of Melbourne over the area where Hamer Hall was to be built. The site was known as Snowden Gardens (a pretty place from photos) and yes Ann and Jayne, where the Robyn Boyd designed Wind Fountain was built (a separate post coming on Snowden Gardens and the Robyn Boyd fountain).

  • One opinion suggested that if the theatres complex temporary ties released, that is cables hooked to rods driven into bedrock,a rock anchor could fly as far as the Punt Road Bridge.

  • Theatre foundations sitting in corrosive water. Temporary measures had to be taken until an electrolysis system was set up.

  • De-watering of foundations caused widespread sinking in South Melbourne. Trams crossing the City Road Bridge to St Kilda Road were said to be 'taking off'. (I remember how the tram track sharply dropped and twisted at this place. Track repair crews were forever working on it. Only really fixed when new tracks were laid)

  • Construction of Concert Hall began in 1976.

  • Construction company Costains seriously underquote on project. 135 days work in possible 233.

  • Major river leak nearly floods site.

  • Union behaviour atrocious. Plumbers sawed off tap spindles then complained to Health Department the site was unsafe and they would not work there. Only plumbers could fix the problem. Six month delay. A flea was found on site. Management proposed spraying. Two workers allergic to sprays. Baiting of supposed rats that carried the fleas. Workers did not want poison around. Cats were brought in to control the rats. Strangers fed the cats and they bred and became more of a problem than the rats.

  • Council did not like connection of the river terrace with Princes Bridge. Ordered stop work. Slight redesign.

  • 3230 tanned and dyed leather hides imported from Scotland to line walls of Hamer Hall.

  • Sidney Nolan donates his own work, 1320 paintings, (Paradise Garden) made up into 220 panels.

  • Curtain of woven velvet for a theatre made in and shipped from Japan.
  • Copper prices rise of 43% and problems of wind reverberation kills the plan for a copper encased spire.

  • Lattice spire built at 115 metres height and not the planned 140 metres.

  • In 1986 anti wood chip prostesters climb spire. Alert management to cracking in spire joints.

  • In 1995 metallurgists decide top half of spire must be demolished.

  • New spire with laser lighting designed and erected to a height of 150 metres.

  • US company called Bay Area Seating Service chosen to sell theatre tickets. Name changed to Best Available Seating Service.

  • Collapse of ticketing company Computicket results in customer resistance to electronic ticketing.

  • BASS eventually becomes very successful and one day caused the collapse of the South Melbourne telephone exchange.

  • Art Centre sell 50.1% share of BASS to software supplier Ticketmaster. Hand over remainder of shares. (in the true tradition of governments ridding themselves of profitable businesses)

  • Mother's Day concert for all Arts Centre construction workers as an inducement to meet opening deadline.

  • In 1982 official guests for the opening of Hamer Hall arrive in a Mirka Mora decorated tram.
  • Spoleto arts festival began in 1986 and later morphed into

  • In 1980 the Arts Centre Trust took over management of the Sidney Myer Music Bowl.

  • Major renovations of the Bowl started in 2000 and finished over one year later.
That'll do I reckon. The book is called A Place Across the River, written by Vicki Fairfax.


From my treasured old street directory, that I inherited from grandfather, you can see where Sloss Street was and the general layout of the area. The Arts Centre area extends from the river down to Nolan Street, now called Southbank Boulevard and the dots showing where the tram used to run to South Melbourne Beach. The tram now runs down Southbank Boulevard.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Connecting the Empire

I know many people from the sub continent. Most have some anglo blood. One thing we agree on is that things in Empire countries started to go bad once our Mother England bolted or was booted out.

Right or wrong, mothers are supposed to love their children forever. I feel a bit hurt. Yes we are rejecting you, but show us your stick!

We in many Empire countries have something that connects us. That ever so boring game known as cricket. The only thing that saves it, is the characters who play the game and its international aspects. Sorry Russ.

From islands of the West Indies, to England, New Zealand, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, South Africa and the greatest cricketing nation in the world, Australia, we all have this common and uniting thread. Above politics, poverty and corruption, the best of all nations will succeed in life if they are good at the gentlemens' game.

I thought Warne's dislike of curried food and his preference for baked beans might have destroyed the special connection, but no, it took a bit more.

It would seem militant Moslems in Pakistan shot up their bros from Sri Lanka. Kind of spoils the special connection that we such diverse nations have.

Just not cricket chaps.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Bad Red

Mr Red Symons of ABC Melbourne Breakfast let go to air today an unrebutted statement by Mary of Albert Park. Mary from Albert Park was a bit too full on for me at such an early hour. Ok, he did correct it later, but I may not have been listening, nor may many others and the original statement would stand in many peoples heads.

I have been known to spout ignorant statements, but I hope I would keep my mouth shut if it was about who to call in an emergency and I had an iota of doubt. It is kind of important.

Mary of AP said that people need to know and remember that they cannot call our emergency number 000 for our emergency service from their mobiles and must use 112.

Wrong. This was originally so I believe. I recall taking a train to Laburnham Station and a nearby mobile phone shop to get a phone upgraded firmware so that it could dial 000. The encouragement was a new short stubby ariel instead of the longer whippy one the phone came with. It was a long time ago.

Yes, 112 works for Australian mobile phones. The call goes overseas and comes back here. But like the US has 911 and the UK 999, our emergency number is 000. I understand that the number will work even if you are out of phone credit, or do not have a SIM card in your phone and will use all available networks to get your call through.

Emergency calls are quite important and it was wrong of Red Symons to not immediately query and raise doubt over a statement from an ill educated caller.

In Australia, call 000 from any type of phone if there is a genuine emergency. When all is lost and you are hopelessly out of range, perhaps even a text to 000 might work.

Note, where I am unsure of something, I use fudge words.

The new Australia

I was on a tram this week, ok, that is not unusual. I see far more interesting things on trams than I ever do on buses, which I also use. (Pokes tongue out at Victor)

Australia has changed and I am liking what I see. There were several Greek women going to the Greek church in High Street, East Prahran. I recall Greek women going to the same church twenty plus years ago. They were dressed in black and wore ugly shoes and made no effort with appearance. Ok, their husbands had died I guess. So?

The Greek women I saw this week were probably between sixty and seventy and I would think have spent most of their life in Australia. It was almost like a competition to out dress each other. They all had very nice clothes and shoes and were well made up. Their hair was neat, well coloured and stylish. Even those in perpetual mourning black cut fine figures.

Thinking about it, I can't recall the last time I saw your traditional short and stout Greek woman in mourning black buttoned up to the neck. They used to clutter up the footpaths in Oakleigh. Seen any recently Jayne?

Monday, March 02, 2009

My Bit Part in Underbely

I ended up on the cutting room floor. Well I would have had I been included. Perhaps minor connection is a better was of expressing my connection to the Underbely crims of the seventies and eighties. I am sure I have written of this before but a search using the salient words brings up nothing, so maybe I imagined it.

You may be surprised, but I was not the only love of R's life. At the tender age of twenty, I met R's b/f and I was immediately cast in the role of homebreaker by R. He even threw a punch at the skinny young bitch, moi, who stole his b/f. R and his b/f separated and I was with R's ex briefly before I found his philandering ways not to my taste. Not much later, I came across R elsewhere and the rest is an ongoing thirty year old history.

Let us call R's ex G, because that is what Gary starts with.

G came from a large family, something like nine brothers and sisters. All their names started with G. They had always lived in the St Kilda/Port Melbourne area, in rented premises. Some of them were petty crims, a couple did ok in respectable ways, one even disasociating himself from his past and going to live in Doncaster. I met most of them and they were rough, although very hostpitable to their brother's latest bit of fluff, me.

Some had done some time in prison but they were genuinally nice people. So long as is wasn't you they were robbing. Yikes, I just remembered sister G, who lived in Broadmeadows and her husband worked on the wharves. I recall the teen daughters. Oh dear.

I had such a sheltered upbringing. These people were like none I had ever come across. I was fascinated and entranced. For a time when I knew him, G worked for Woodruff's Dairy in Port Melbourne. He worked at night and a couple of nights I went jockey for him. That meant running around in dark streets smelling of piss and trying to fulfill the order of flavoured milks. Everyone wanted caramel flavoured milk but not much was produced, so it only went to a favoured few. He deliverd to all the wharves and at every security gate, there was an exchange of some sort of payola. I never asked. All these bent and corrupt people were such terribly nice and friendly people.

G was an alcaholic but like the best, he held it all together very well. The children were all devoted to their mother who lived in various rented premises. The last one I recall was a rented flat on the corner of Barkly and Carlisle Streets. She was known by her children as 'Sue, the St Kidla Do'. She was only a couple of years younger than my grandmother who must have had sex once at least, because I am here. It is so beyond the bounds of possibilities that Mother would have asked my grandmother if she had given herself a good fingering the night before and my jaw must have been hanging lower than Sue's large tits when I heard this. Another Ardarth if you please. Sue, need some new batteries for your friend under the bed? How could people talk to their mother like this?

G was a charmer. We all have our little fetishes, and his was picking up straight guys in rough pubs. He had worked in many pubs in the St Kilda and Port Melbourne area. He nearly sent the Clare Castle in Port Melbourne broke with his light fingers. I suppose the blokes had to be slightly bent or vulnerable and he picked his mark, but he could go into any hotel and pick up a straight guy. I don't know what they did, but I am sure it was mutally sastifying. To watch him work his charms was sublime. Of course he was very nice looking too with a a nice body. The joke was always, I can give you twelve inches but I am small, so I will have to do it twice. Actually at such a young age, he had already learnt that size does not matter if technique is good.

We still have a vague connection back to G as where he worked and who he worked for still services our cars, in a slightly different location. Another of his straight conquests.

To the point, one such conquest was a character featured in Underbely. I have discussed this with R and neither of us can remember which K*** brother it was. Perhaps just as well as one is still alive I think? G took him home and they did whatever, both probably drunk. But the Kane person was not so drunk as to not notice things and shortly after their house was broken into and a leather jacket was stolen. There could have been other items. We can't remember.

Last time I checked in a stalker like manner, G is still alive and living in Belgrave. I hope his fire precautions are good. He would have to be approaching seventy now, but I bet he could still charm the socks off anyone.

Mother and Sister Blue

Not a good week for Mother last week. She is struggling on her own. Not sure why as she has everyone running around at her beck and call. We are all somewhat frustrated with her.

The week before last, Mother's blood pressure was sitting at the oddly low figure of 110/60. The following week she woke one morning and knew it had gone very high. A friend called in and she asked him if he would drive her to the chemist to have it checked.

Drifting off a bit for a moment, the friend's son had rung his father in panic the week before as his horses were under threat by a nearby fire. He rushed to his son's place to help move the horses and managed to cook the motor of his car. Hence, he took Mother to the chemist in a large campervan and he managed to scrape a car while he was parking outside the chemist.

Blood pressure was up to 220/90. Mother panicked. The friend who took her to the chemist had to go to work, so he took Mother home and she called another friend who had taken her out the day before. This friend drove half an hour to collect Mother but Mother could not get to see her own doctor another fifteen minute drive away and so went to late Step Father's doctor, just a few hundred metres away. Probably about three hours out of this friend's day.

I obtained the forms for Mother to get cheap taxi fares but she does not want to use taxis. Sometimes she will have to wait, never mind other people inconveniencing themselves muchly.

A slight alteration was made to her blood pressure medication and she was just told to rest more.

The following day Mother woke to a warm fridge full of food. Heck, it only lasted 35 years. It is a large frost free model with worn seals and must cost a fortune to run, so it is not such a bad thing really. In my ABI Brother's garage is one of our old fridges that works perfectly well. We had to rid ourselves of it when we moved here and there was already one here. We would have been better keeping the old one as the one here packed it in and we bought a new one.

So the first friend turned up with a trailer and Sister and Little Jo arrived and while Mother looked after Little Jo, the friend and Sister transferred the fridge from ABI Brothers to Mothers. Although the freezer immediately became cold, the fridge part did not (I kind of remember that it took a while). Meanwhile Mother had left a message for Tradie Brother to attend that afternooon. He called to discover crisis had been handled. ABI Brother turned up and was despatched to buy a cheap esky and ice in case the fridge wasn't working properly.

'Another biscuit Little Jo?' said Mother as she passed one to Little Jo. Sister roarded 'NO, she has had two already', and snatched the biscuit and threw it across the room and burst into tears. Little Jo started crying and ran to another room, Mother burst into tears and headed to her smoking refuge in the laundry. This is quite uncharacteristic of Sister and I know very well such behaviour comes from extreme stress.

Mother called me that night to recount her tales of woe and I guess she felt a bit better after getting it all off her chest. I called Sister and suggest she go and stay in the country with the Bone Doctor a few days. She had already decided to.

I am going to have to have a word with Mother though. She has become so self obssessed since Step Father died, she cannot have a normal conversation without always swinging it back to being all about her.

Maybe it is a bit early yet and I will need to tread very gently, but Mother really needs to start developing some independance. She is always profuse in her thanks to people and R and I received a thank you card from her last week, as have others no doubt. But peoples' kindness will wear thin in time.