Saturday, September 22, 2007


Melbourne is unusual in the western world in that it has retained and expanded its tram system or street cars or trolley cars if you like.

Visitors, and especially those from interstate, are often quite apprehensive about driving around and near trams. So they should be. My advice is to them is to stay away from them like I do when I am driving. I know what trams are capable of when they mix closely with cars. It ain't pretty and the tram will always win.

Of course if they have no fear of our trams, we still have up our sleeve, THE HOOK TURN. These are at many city intersections and a few in South Melbourne. They are in place to allow cars to turn right, but without interfering with trams. This diagram from the Victorian roads authority, VicRoads, explains it much better than I could in words. I make some hook turns in South Melbourne at times, but I am very wary about making them in the city.

The above is just an excuse to post this liveleak video of tram clearing its path of obstacles. I think it may be in Houston, Texas. Marvellous.

The video may be owned by Live Leak poster jenva.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Nine weeks old and in trouble

Little Joanna is only nine weeks old and already she has been kicked out of a venue. I forgot about it at the time when I posted about the dykes birthday last weekend, but it seems word has gone around the family as my mother, who I spoke to today, already knew about little Jo getting kicked out of the pokie area at the Dick Whittington where someone's partner had taken her.

A staff member rocked up and advised someone's partner that although it was a bit silly, she could not stay in the gambling area. Little Joanna seemed to be not embarrassed by it. Someone's partner ought to have been but then everyone is having a good laugh about it.

Swanston Street, Melbourne

In the heart of the city of Melbourne is Swanston Street. It used to be described as a traffic sewer. Then pavements were widened making it much more pedestrian friendly. Private cars were banned with alternative traffic management put in place. Shop deliveries allowed between 7am and 10am. Taxis could travel for one block and could only enter or leave by turn left and must exit at the next legal turn. If you really need to be in the street, as tradies sometimes do, you apply for a permit.

It was to be street for trams, cyclists and pedestrians.

Then tourist coaches were allowed in and parked just a very short distance from the tram tracks. Taxis take the street to be a free for all and no one describes Melbourne's taxis better than Andy.

Private motorists were allowed in after 7pm. Like they took any notice of the laws anyway?

The police decided it is a good place to park their cars. Clearly 'access' permits were given out to Uncle Tom Cobbly and all and they park.

It is an abortion of a street now. Trams are constantly delayed by all of the above. Cyclists try to negotiate the narrow gap between parked vehicles and trams, motorists use it an access road to anywhere at anytime and ignore the 30 km speed limit.

My complaining email to City of Melbourne quoted back improved tram travel times in Swanston Street. Ha, I am not young. I know full well what the times were in the past and how Swanston Street worked before. I am not sure where they get their figures from.

Turn it back into a traffic sewer I say. I reckon it worked better for all then, except perhaps cyclists.

There are hundreds of cyclists using the street and it is downright dangerous for them. While they should have a free run in the lane next to the tram lines, they don't and have to dodge trams and pedestrians.

It is time to bite the bullet and spend a heap of money on the street to improve it for both cyclists and trams. If laws are unenforceable or just are not enforced, then the pavement needs to be narrowed so cyclists have a free path and nothing interferes with the running of trams. There is no other way than narrowing the footpath or physically preventing any vehicle access.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Domestic Violence

This post is inspired by Keshi who is wondering what to do. Let me recount one awful night when I was a teen and my mother and us kiddies were staying at our grandparents, my mother's parents, in South Oakleigh.

There was a Hungarian born couple next door and they had two young sons. He was a good bit older than her and very charming and urbane. She was very attractive. They were arguing very loudly. My mother and my grandparents were pacing around the house, occasionally peeking out the windows. I think it was around ten at night. They were all upset by the ruckas. Then came the sound of breaking china and glass. Objects were clearly being thrown.

My mother wanted to call the police. My grandparents discouraged her. It is not our business, don't get involved. We don't want to be bad neighbours with them. My mother did not insist and so the police weren't called. Better that they were.

I can remember with such clarity the words said in almost a stage whisper that carried so well, 'You are so beautiful Helena, I cannot stand it', then a most terrible scream. He had thrown a pot of hot oil over her.

The police arrived soon after. I am not sure if my mother or someone else called them. The victim did have some scarring from the hot oil. They separated and she remained in the house. I do recall that he supported the family financially and used to take the boys out sometimes.

I suppose you don't call the police over raised voices, but there comes a time when it sounds more serious, so let the police know and they can prioritise and decide. They are presumably the experts. Any doubts, call them. There are things you never want on your conscience.

The news and the big stuff

Too, too busy. Just a quickie.

Australia supposedly has a fondness for big things. I do at times. Richard has been photographing some of our big things. Here they are here. I have seen the pineapple in Gympie, I think the banana in Coffs Harbour, the Giant Earthworm in South Gippsland, Ned Kelly in Glenrowan. Gee we went through Swan Hill a couple of months ago and I forgot about the giant Murray Cod. But we did sit on the 'big seat' in Broken Hill.

To matters more serious, here is the New Zealand Herald website where you can read more about the depressing crime that is occupying many Australians' minds. The nonsense that the NZ police are talking is not being defended by many NZeders, it would seem.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A neighbour

I can see down into her bedroom through the window. For some odd reason she has the head of her bed under the window. Bad Sheng Fui. Ex building manger's wife reckons she walks like she has a broomstick stuck up her.....whatever.

I come across her husband often in the lift and he gives me the creeps. He stares and I know that stare. He is a faggot. While I doubt he lusts after me at my age, I know what he is about. I only pretend to be stupid, vacant and disconnected.

A fellow resident saw him follow the non bearded famous radio person's girlfriend out of the lift. He was mega impressed but did not know who she was. He pretends well at being straight. Even I might be impressed by being in the lift with a MEGA(N) supermodel.

Posh Boy

This lad in the UK woke from a coma without his north country accent. He now talks very posh. A doctor said it is unusual.

The same thing happened to my brother after he was in an induced coma for many weeks. When he started to speak again, his speech was very precise and well enunciated and with very round vowels. Over time it disappeared and he regained his normal way of speaking. Very odd.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The View

I think you have to click on this picture to get the full photo. It was made using the photo stitch camera option. It is a bit picture to load I think. Sorry if you are a sad ass with dial up. I think it has stitched together very well. The scene is about 120 degrees.

It is a view from our balcony and our living area. R tried to convince me to highrise living when we were in our house. I did not like the idea at all until I saw our present place. I never take our views for granted. It is ever changing and beautiful and looks gorgeous at night with lights everywhere.

Sitting here at the pc, I can watch tv too and also look out the windows and talk to R. Life is good. I deserve it.

Remembering Youth

How polite are Melbourne men? They did not elbow these old ducks out of the way to get a closer look at the Myer fashion window modelling display. If I was straight, I think I would have king hit the lot of them.

What do you think these old ducks are thinking?
  • I could do that better.
  • I disapprove of the public display of flesh, but I will watch anyway.
  • I can see she will go to pork.
  • She is very mature for a twelve year old.
  • Reminds me, I must book in for my Brazilian.
  • She clearly has not had children.
  • I knew keeping my blue eyeshadow was a good idea. I will get it out and look as good as her.
  • I can see so many gravity defying body parts.
  • Young woman are so lucky now. They can have lesbian experiences. I am only having thoughts now at my age.
  • I must come to town more often.
  • And the short woman between the grey haired one and the one with the striped jacket wonders what is poking her in the back.
Pic from the The Age.

Tits, Navy, Canberra and Stephen

While getting Pandored is an honour, I think sometimes I should get a mention on Crikey, but I never have. A blog mate did today and it wasn't his first time. You can read it here. The navy paying for breast enhancement is rather questionable. Breast reduction I could understand.

We iz got mugs

Left two mugs, part of a dinner service x 8 of each. We don't like them and they are away in a box.

Tall red x 2. A gift. Heavy and horrid handles.

Circle pattern. Very nice to drink from. Thin upper edge. Susceptible to dishwasher damage when the resident non expert dishwasher loader loads a load. 5 of 12 remaining.

Red with 'coffee'. Latest addition by someone who just had to have new mugs. They look nice but are quite heavy. By six.

Far right, my usual coffee mug. Not too thin, but only four of twelve remaining. Mostly dishwasher victims but I recall one flying across a kitchen and chipping a fridge door before breaking. Another broke when a put down firmly upon a glass coffee table. Surprisingly the table broke too, even though it was strong enough to sit on.

Missing in action is my work cup, from a set of six. Fifty cents each at Forges of Footscray is not a bargain if when you get them home, you don't like them. Unfortunately they are indestructible.

I am sure our collection is pathetic compared to Jo's.

Downhill Day

The afternoon started well. I did not wait long for the bus and the driver had the aircon on, so it was not too hot inside. Life deteriorated from there.

The bus driver was one of those really nice and helpful people. She answered questions in great detail, gave a publication to someone, and then two other passengers wanted one. She waited while an elderly lady fished around in her purse for change. SCREW that. I want to get to where I am going and not these endless delays.

I had to collect something from OPSM for R. I had my newspaper and contentedly waited for nearly half an hour because a message wasn't passed on. I like being a martyr when I have the time. I gave the person a decent serve when I was finally attended to.

Now, you would think it would be easy to buy a six day old first day cover from the biggest post office in Victoria. No. How that women keeps her job I do not know.

I wanted some nuts. I like nuts. They are always fresh and warm at Myer. Where has Myer food hall gone? I would like an iced coffee too. Gone.

The queue for the express checkout stretched from one side of the supermarket to the other. 457 visas are now available for potential supermarket workers.

It clearly is not my day.

The coffee shop in QV had no vacant seats, so I went to one I usually like opposite the town hall. I was served lousy coffee in a paper cup. I saw glasses stacked up, why did I get it in a paper cup?

I boarded a B class tram for my trip home. It was so hot at one end. I moved to the other end where the aircon was correctly set. A tourist was looking around for a map. I could see one, right behind the heads of seated passengers. What bright spark thought to put the map there?

I have cleaned the oven and so forbid R to cook tonight. We will go out.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Good news

From those toad infested areas of Queensland and Northern Territory comes some good news.

As well as cockatoos and lorikeets appearing in large numbers in the inner suburbs of Melbourne, there are a lot of ravens around too. I call them ravens because I understand that we don't have crows in southern Victoria, only ravens. You may know the difference. I do not. If it is a big black bird that empties rubbish bins and eats meat, to me it is a crow. I just recalled something. I think my grandparents used to call them jackdaws or something like that.

Your average Joe crow is a smart critter. Have you seen how in between traffic light cycles in Japan, they place stuff on the road to be run over and opened up? They retrieve whatever it was on the next light cycle.

From my observations, in spite of their bulk and that they are meat eaters, they don't seem very aggressive. They use their brain not their brawn.

We know those most disgusting critters in the north of our country, the cane toad, has a terrible ecological impact. It is nothing to do with our Federal Government it would seem. They don't have a cane toad plan. Crows to the rescue.

Crows seemed to have learnt that the backs of cane toads are poisonousness. So what to do? Pick them up and hold them at a distance, fly high and drop them. Do this a couple of times and then turn them over and eat out their insides from underneath.

Some background for those unfamiliar with cane toads. They were introduced to Australia to eat the sugar cane leaf beetle. They found other foods more interesting. They are a tempting feed for some critters, who then suffer and or die from their poison. They are having and had have a terrible impact on sensitive wetlands. I believe they also rape goldfish in your aquarium. They look horrid and I have had personal experience of them in the godforsaken hole of Gympie in Queensland (no apologies).

Picture courtesy of blogger


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Are we seeing the first domino fall? I hope so. Starbucks in Glenferrie Road, Malvern has closed, much to the consternation of school kiddies who gathered there on Fridays after school, less for the coffee than the company.

Melbourne has marvellous places to have coffee and our coffee is of such a high standard. So many of the large Australian coffee companies were started in Melbourne by an immigrant from Europe. We don't need Starbucks, Gloria Jeans, Hudsons or any other chain of coffee shops. I know they are popular with some of you but they are just so un Melbourne.

Coffee flavoured with walnuts indeed. Bah!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Appreciating the finer things

I don't remember my nieces and nephews as babies very well. I suppose I held them. I suppose I ohhhed and ahhhed about them. I was young and probably more preoccupied with other things.

Last night my sister, the bone doctor and little Joanna were at our place when I arrived home from the salt mine. The bone doctor took my sister to drop her off at the football and left us in charge of little Joanna. R popped her on her back on a rug on the floor and I interacted with little Jo. Only eight weeks old and she smiles. Amazing. I told her she was about to meet the oldest person she had ever met, Dame M, and that while she may find the smoke unpleasant, it would be good to get a taste of it and not develop an allergy to it later. All children should eat some dirt, be exposed to all sorts of air borne things and have dogs and cats lick their faces.

I am afraid we rather spoilt our dyke friend's birthday by taking little Jo along. Who cares about birthdays when there is a cute baby around.

At Dame M's were the brother friends, Dame M, the boarder, the tenant, the mountain women, the birthday dyke and her girl friend and the ex NT policeman/politician, the Brighton Antique Dealer and her toyboy. Her toyboy has a role in a drag performance of Priscilla at the Exchange Hotel. And us, myself, R, the bone doctor and little Jo.

Some of us went on to dinner at the Dick Whittington. Little Jo had head of the table position.

Apart from a ten minute power nap, little Jo did not sleep and was still awake at midnight when we finally saw her and her parents off.

She moved, she looked around, she gurgled, she smiled. But mostly she looked around. She was absorbing information for the future. She was learning. She was loading things into her brain. She was working out the nuances and personalities. Sights, sounds, touches.

I was sitting in the back seat with little Jo on the way to the MCG to pick up my sister. As the street lights of Punt Road flashed in her retaliatory opening and closing eyes, I could see she was thinking, 'well, what was the weird collection of people all about'. In spite of how hard she gripped, twisted and turned my finger, it would not turn into her mother's breast. She had been fed expressed milk from a bottle, but it was clearly not quite the same.

It is far too late for R and myself and if we were to do it, it would have been done years ago, but I really do now have some understanding of what having a baby and seeing them grow must be like.

Babies learning is an extraordinary thing to observe.

Where No Wrinklies Fly

I was a long way from being a wrinkly but that is what we called old people, hence radio station 3XY slogan, Where no Wrinklies fly. 3XY was a pop radio station on the AM frequency of 1420, now (I am checking) my god, 1422, Radio Hellas, a narrowcast Greek station. Wow!

Ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty or more, the BEEP red baron was rolling up the score.

It was bloody red baron, but they used bleep the word bloody out. It was bad language for us gentle folk.

In about the early eighties I first heard the word 'fuck' on the tv. It was in a very noir short film on ABC about Aborigines. In 2000 and something I first heard the word 'fuck' on the radio, uttered by the venerable and intellectual Terry Lane. I waited to hear of the furore and the complaints but there was nothing.

All these are marks of the progress. good or bad, of our society.

This is kinda personal as I have a teenage niece, but really more an old persons rant about the sexualisation of children. Did I hear that the state of Queensland is having its first fashion parade? Fashion and Queensland are not normally words that sit well together. It was to be led by a young teen lass perhaps 15 years old, no doubt full makeup, clinging clothing, mega skinny and seductive poses.

I feel uncomfortable with this. I know the world has moved on a lot since 'bloody' had to be bleeped out on the wireless, but how far do we go down the road with this sexualisation of the young.

My niece was sexually provocative at a very young age. She is not now. Just a charming kid. I could never work out where it came from.

I heard a women a while ago on the radio complaining about some guys leering at her nine year old daughter when they were out for a stroll on St Kilda Pier. The woman readily described what her daughter was wearing and her makeup etc. The nine year old was dressed unlike I would have a nine year old daughter dressed. Junior Brittany is ok for perhaps a sixteen year old, but not a nine year old.

It is all going terribly wrong. I feel so old. But it is the duty of the old to criticise the young. You can read something about it here if you like.