Saturday, January 30, 2010

Le Bombs

I have just been re-reading old post cards from a friend who was cycling around England in 1986. Back in 86 I am sure there was the threat in England of IRA bombs, so she was surprised and distressed to hear of the Russell Street police headquarters bombing.

I was in the city on the day and the noise of wailing sirens from police, ambulance and fire vehicles was relentless. I vividly remember the police cars seemingly travelling at random in all directions. Of course I had no idea what had happened. Russell Street Police Headquarters is a very nice building, now apartments. Madden proofed. Photo is from Walking Melbourne.

Just a little more than six months later, another bomb went off, this time in Caroline Street, South Yarra. The target was the Turkish consulate. The bomb caused a lot of damage to the building and and nearby buildings but only the bomber was killed as the the bomb exploded prematurely. I surprised that I have little memory of this bomb. It seems number 44 Caroline Street, almost on the corner of Toorak Road, now contains offices and the Turkish consulate is in Albert Road, South Melbourne.

The last, perhaps not well remembered by many but well by me because I saw the damage the next day, was the following year, 1987. It was a very nice and not long ago renovated block of apartments at number 19 Park Street, South Yarra. We can see the back of the block quite clearly from home. The successfully killed target was was racing car driver Stewart McLeod. His wife was injured.

Your chance of being killed or injured by a bomb in Australia is very very slim, but because it is so random, it is frightening. Who would have thought the leafy streets of South Yarra would experience two bombs. Post the destruction of New York's World Trade Centre, rubbish bins were removed from in front of the St Kilda Road Police Station for security reasons. The removal created a big problem with cigarette butt littering.

School Rankings

Not much shocks me about politics in Australia but really, I am so astonished that school rankings have been introduced by a Labor Government. This allows parents to compare one school to another and check on the numeric score each school receives. So, you have a choice between St Albans Primary and Melbourne Grammar's Grimwade House and you can compare the scores. Yeah, like anyone who lives in St Albans has that choice. In fact since when did you get a choice of which government school your children attend? You go to the nearest. If you want a different school, you move suburbs. Maybe that has changed.

Unlike private schools, state schools cannot pick and choose from the brightest or the wealthiest. You can take it from me that an area with the lowest income will have the worst school, or at least one ranked the lowest. I would guess half the teachers' work is remedial, social work and discipline. Hopefully there will be enough time left over to teach some sums and words.

Certainly in some circles the question of which school you went to is never far away. Should you have gone to the worst in the state perhaps it is best to invent a well thought out story.

You will have to be a smarter to outfox an employer, so when you go for that important job, have a very well prepared story. Never on any account admit that you went to the lowest ranking school in Australia.

Perhaps there is some really altruistic teachers out there who would choose to teach at the lowest ranking school but surely only with an assurance that it can be removed from the employment history.

This is a load of crap and that it comes from a left faction member, Julia Gillard, and from the Labor Party makes it so much worse.

Oh dear, as I write this, (not sure when I will publish it) Torchwood is on and they need to select 10% of children for sacrifice. How did they select the ten per cent? You guessed it. School League Tables.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Wot puzzles me

One day police say they have no evidence to suggest any harm has come to a missing person. The next day the Homicide Squad is on the case and police fear for his safety and fear he may have met with foul play. Clearly 'no evidence' is similar to 'the Prime Minister has my full support'.

Please do not read that I am advocating sex with under age teens. However, what if a girl, say thirteen who looked like she was older and told a male sportsperson she was sixteen and offered him a a bit of oral and he, perhaps under the influence, agreed. He is one foolish f***wit but, does he deserve to go to gaol and onto the sex offenders register? You may well have a thirteen year old daughter and are horrified by the suggestion. But then some thirteen year olds a very advanced. I am really interested to hear what you think on this one.

Ranty Bits

Me complain? Me whinge? Never, but just this once.

ABC tv news just showed footage of Serena Williams playing tennis. She defeated Zheng Jie and while there were lots of close ups of Serena, not one of Jie. Serena may be a celebrity and maybe popular but they are both foreign competitors, and so we should hate them equally and at least see one close up of our enemies.

Mayor Doyle has released a new plan for Swantson Street. Even my modern computer and fast internet connection could not cope with an almost 100MB pdf download, so I haven't seen the detail. But I like what I have seen in the paper. I don't think I have ever bothered with reading Herald Sun reader comments on a story and I certainly won't again. No matter how bad your education and or writing is, you have a right to write and be heard, but omg, what a load of rubbish the comments were. There is a good case for moderating the comments. "doyle is an idiot vote him out now along with Bracks", "how can I ever get a taxi when I am loaded with shopping". "just watch bicyles running over people all the time", "the horses are cute leave them alone". It is painful to read.

Just a curiosity. Not one blog I read has posted about Haiti. I made a passing mention in a post as did someone else. It is all too much hey. Also, it is not in Australia's backyard.

I just made a grave error. R is off with Sister, Bone Doctor and Little Jo seeing Wind in the Willows at the Botanic Gardens. I finished work too late to go, but Sister, Bone Doctor and Little Jo did stalk me at work today and we had morning tea. So, R is out, I must feed myself. I tried Wendy Harmer's suggestion of a Vegemite and beetroot sandwich. She was having a lend. I feel sick. If you are tempted, just the lightest smear of Vegemite.

How come two and a half year olds have such great memories, yet they won't remember anything later that they are now remembering. Little Jo said, "Andrew, when we were in Bendigo, the balloon went bang."

I looked at Sister, she said when they were there three months ago camping they went to the main street and someone had a balloon and it went bang. She has never mentioned it until today.

Rather like when we took her to the beach and as soon as she saw the playground she yelled, sand playground. Sister had taken her there before she was two and she remembered the sand playground yet she will forget all this as she gets older.

Speaking of Little Jo, we must now tell her to not tell her mother things. She told her Nana that we bought her an icecream for breakfast. This may or may not be true, or there could be special circumstances.....but Nana then told Sister who raised her eyebrows very high. Anyway, it was only an icypole and she only had half.

Written 7.30pm 28/01

Symon's son's cancer

Red Symons on radio this morning said a little about his son and how he has had recurring bouts of cancer since he was four years old.

His son will tell the tale on Australia Story on the eighth of February.

Symons is quoted in the Sydney Daily Telegrah. "I did feel that he might well be misrepresented and treated in a rather tabloid way," he said.'

The Terrograph goes on to say. "Australian Story: Samuel's Story goes back to 14 years ago Samuel came home with a headache from school and was diagnosed with a brain tumour."

I don't know who to blame, but from horse's mouth this morning as I recall it, "He kind of fainted at creche".

ABC publicity department or the Terrograph?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Canna hand a man a better spanna

I have been following an ongoing discussion in a group with interest. The subject started innocently enough, as they do, about a metric to imperial measurement conversion. The dialogue became a little heated at times and critical of US and UK and old people who want to live in the past.

The UK and the US have not forced people to switch to metric. Australia was forced. Imperial became illegal. While you can now buy a ruler with both measurements, for a long time you could only buy a metric ruler. I really think being forced was the best option, even though it was very difficult for older people and perhaps manufacturers at the time.

Like, aren't units of ten so much easier to work with?

I am bi when it comes to many measurements. I can do both. Well, maybe not. I pick and choose.

The measurement of eight inches is very meaningful to gay men, but I readily recognise that 20cm is just as good. But be it 8" or 20cm, the measurement is usually taken with a wrongly calibrated measuring instrument. That can be the only explanation for the invariable inaccuracies.

Stones, pounds and ounces are meaningless to me. I can still do miles, but I don't think in miles. I have nearly forgotten gallons, pints, quarts and fluid ounces. My mind works in litres and millilitres.

I have gone backwards with tyre pressure. I have reverted to psi because that is what all the modern garage tyre gauges indicate. I did know that tyres needed to be inflated to at least 200........200 what? Hectopascals?

I can perhaps visualise one foot better than its metric equivalent, but then a metre is more meaningful to me than a yard. I do a reverse calculation. Ok, a yard is a bit less than a metre.

As for calories or kilojoules, I have no idea about either except that I think I take in too much of them.

On the backs of school exercise books when I was using them, there were some measurement charts. No, not imperial to metric, but to convert chains to miles or furlongs or nautical miles and other such conversions. I can only recall chains, 22 feet to the chain. I expect I only know this because I was interested when I heard of the great three chain wide Dandenong Road.

While they don't so much now, oh what trouble spanners caused me when I had stuff to do with autos. We had Whitworth spanners, A/F, no idea what that stood for but it seemed to be Australian, and some foreign loving types had cars that used metric. My Humber car was Whitworth sized.

I have a full set of A/F spanners and metric spanners and a couple of Whitworth spanners. They were all different. I can only recall that you could get away with interchanging an A/F 1/2 inch with a 13mm spanner, so long as you did not need a tight fit.

I won't even go down the road of nut and bolt thread sizes, US or Europe sizing for shoes, how clothing size has altered. What an absolute mess and after reading the internet discussion I mentioned earlier, it so much worse than you can possibly imagine. World wide differences are a serious restriction on trade and a huge impost on business.

My time for becoming ruler of the world has passed, but if I was, I would fully impose the metric system on the world. Australia does not get off scot free. We will ditch millimetres and millilitres in general use and use centimetres and centilitres to the first decimal place, unless a greater accuracy is needed.

As for the spanner problem, let us bless whoever invented the shifting spanner.

Later edit: Daniel also found the same discussion on the same group interesting.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Cinderella did get to the ball aka BDO

R rose at 4am and made toast and a hot drink for niece and they then headed to the showgrounds for Big Day Out at 4.30 for niece to start queuing at 5am. I slept on. Niece raided our pantry for a bottle of water and some savoury biscuits. Along the way she asked R to stop so that she could get a newspaper. She came out of the shop loaded with food to eat but forgot the newspaper. She went back in and like she was surprised that she could not get to the showgrounds by tram at 5am, she was also surprised that she could only get yesterday's newspaper.

They took a look at the show grounds, front and rear and it was very quiet and very dark. R refused to leave her there until it was light. Again she was surprised, that it was dark at 5am. One guard at the rear suggested there would be no tickets for sale at the door. Another said there would be but not until 10am. Well, she would be first in the queue. They both watched a guard evict some boys who had snuck in over the fence very early. She found some other boys to chat to for a bit.

R left her once it was light and there were more people around. She scored the ticket at $140. She was very excited. R became lost when returning and found himself on his way to Williamstown. He came home via the West Gate Bridge and went back to bed for a couple of hours.

I haven't heard back, but I am sure she enjoyed herself. I bet she slept most of today.

Oz Day Retrospective

I am thinking I am not liking Australia Day. As I type there are explosive fireworks terrifying animals and annoying me. They are going on forever. Perhaps non explosive fireworks would be better. What???

Sis in law was here this morning. There was terrible racket from some air force jet as it passed by. We know the drill. We knew it would be back for a second run. We took Sis in law out to the balcony. The noise was deafening. It made the very non interested in politics and the wider world Sis in law to remark that she can imagine how terrifying in war that the sound of a bombing jet must be.

It is one thing to take some pride in your country. It is quite another for politicians to inform all and sundry that this is the greatest country on earth. While it sounds elitist and it probably is, such an obvious appeal to the masses is crude. Still, ever increasingly, politicians become increasingly political. Duh. (what a great word we have adopted from the US) All pollies now seem to do is go for where the votes are. Who would blame them? But they could do it with a bit of style. I see none. Would a visionary politician get elected nowadays? Possibly.

As Jayne mentioned, do people now really care much about the The Union Jack being on our flag? It does represents our history. Ipso facto, the Aboriginal flag should be added to represent our fuller history. What about a bit of the Polish flag? A bit of the Vietnamese flag? Would any young person actually know anything about the Union Jack?

I recall from more youthful days that the flag must not touch the ground. Young people now drape it over their shoulders like a cape and the hem drags along the ground. Are they so fearful of the outside world that must have this protective cloak? I am afraid to tell you kiddies, the flag won't protect you from the big bad world. You may be fortunate to be an Australian, but it is not the be all and end all of the world.

I ought not pine for the old days, but all Australia Day ever meant to me was a day off or extra pay. I am just not liking all this nationalistic fervour and I don't really want to be part of it. While wars are usually the result of very foolish males beating their chests, Anzac Day is much more to me liking.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Just another Sunday #21

Art, wall, loungeroom, fix the blank space Andrew. Ok, I replied. We could go to the good shop in Rosebud that has stuff you like R, but not sure I feel like spending three hours driving today. What about the hills? Plenty of galleries there. Neither of us felt like spending time in the car.

What about the St Kilda Sunday Market? Kewl. By tram.

A 16 arrived that was too full for us to board, fortunately closely followed by a 3A which was busy enough too. So many people go to St Kilda. We normally don't on a Sunday.

We did the market one end to the other. Explored a couple of nearby side streets looking at houses/apartments. Down Acland Street and around into Barkly Street and across into Blessington St. There are some great eating places in Blessington Street now and it is a bit less frantic than Acland Street. Cross Barkly and down Blessington past the Peanut Farm to Marine Parade, looking at housing all along the way.

Saw a playground opposite the Peanut Farm. Look, we should take Little Jo here one day. Then realise that she probably has been, as the Bone Doctor and Sister have both played cricket on the oval at the Peanut Farm.

I will call it. Edgewater Towers should be demolished. It is an own your own highrise apartment block, but it is extraordinarily shabby with much masonry falling off. Including its lack of fire sprinklers, it is not worth fixing up. Photos of it on the net do not show how bad it is.

We crossed Marine Parade and walked along the beach to the St Kilda Pier. Out onto the pier and straight to the Kiosk for a spot of brunch and coffee. We arrived just in time as twenty minutes later when we left, it was getting very busy.

We then went down onto the landing at the outer end but unlike this time, we did not see a penguin.

After being out for about four hours, time to head home. We did not buy any artwork but it clarified in our minds what we might get.

This is the kiosk from the back with its modern addition. Of course the kiosk only looks old, as it was rebuilt after being destroyed by a fire a few years ago.

The top taken from the side and showing the viewing platform a bit lower.

I wasn't really planning to take a photo for here. I just wanted the top at the front. There were so many people about that I didn't want to take everyone's photo.

The leeward side of the breakwater. Somewhere in the forest of buildings is the highrise.

Looking down the pier to the Upper Esplanade and the St Kilda Market with The Esplanade Hotel sadly dwarfed by highrise buildings. I don't think I can blame Planning Minister Madden for that one. A new cafe addition to the Espy has recently opened, to be seen to the right of the Espy. Note the two slow strollers on the pier with a large build up of people behind them.

Unlike the main section of the pier, this part is timber. Lovely old timber with barnacle encrusted decaying wooden piles. What a nice noise it is when you tread on a loose plank.

Merry Oz Day

I sit here at my Chinese made keyboard, looking at my Korean made monitor, sipping my coffee made by a Swiss company but hey, at least the chair I sitting on is Aussie made and the carpet it sits on is from NZ where a few lambs and nylons were shorn to weave it.

Where was I. Ah yes, what does it mean to be Australian? The above probably sums up what we now are. A bit of everything from everywhere. One admirable quality that I think Australia has, is the way we pick up bits and pieces of culture from everywhere. We aren't like Americans and we aren't like English and although in we take a lot of their culture, we also reject much of their culture. We fill the gaps with other culture from around the world but still respect our own constantly evolving culture. I use culture in a very wide sense.

For all the wrongs in our country that we should never be complacent about, it is not such a bad place.

How about a tune? This is not so relevant if you don't live in Queensland overlooking a cane field but it is very Australian.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Niece Arrives

Last minute teen niece wants to stay. She arrived on the train from Frankston. I was hungry and wanting my dinner, so instead of her going to Flinders Stree and catching a tram, I collected her by car from South Yarra Station.

She will get a tram from here to be at the gates of Big Day Out to buy a ticket at five o'clock in the morning. I don't think so. The earliest I could work out was that she could get there by tram is 6.30.

Plan B. Walk. No niece, too far.

Plan C. Borrow your bike Uncle Andrew? What shall you do with it once you are there niece?

Plan D. Taxi. I am not sure about this. Might be ok if she called one and so details are recorded. I offered to pay. No prob Uncle Andrew. I have money.

I was trusting her that at 16 and one half, she can be out on her own. When I think of what I got up to when I was that age!!!

But we are older now and worry about the younguns of course. R and her have both gone to bed to sleep. R will get up at 4am and deliver niece by car to the gate to buy a ticket. Oh, R is going to be grumpy tomorrow.

What R does for my family is extraordinary. I hope they are both quiet in the morning and he closes the door quietly and don't disturb me.

Eating at the Athenaeum

Now I think it was on the north east corner of Elizabeth and Collins Street. We clambered down a dingy stair case to the basement level where the Atheneaum Restaurant was located. I don't know if it was at all connected to the Athenaeum Club or Athenaeum Library. The restaurant appears to have gone now and it was no where near The Athenaeum Club anyway.

The food was very plain and very cheap. By plain, I mean plain, not bad. Tasty home style cooking and the closest place I can compare it to is Coles Cafeteria in Bourke Street but with carpet, now David Jones.

The waitresses were all older women and most of the customers were older too. Half a dozen young gay men dining in the restaurant must have made their day a bit interesting.

Anyone remember it?

While I was fruitlessly searching for any information, I came across this list of rules for the Athenaeum Club. I thoroughly approve except for the jacket and tie.

Club Etiquette

  • Business papers are not to be displayed in the public rooms of the Club.
  • Business cards are not to be exchanged.
  • Mobile phones are prohibited except in the Business Centre.
  • Jacket and tie at all times except in designated areas. Casual clothing maybe worn in the lift going to and from accommodation.
  • Tipping is not allowed, contributions are accepted for the staff Christmas fund.
  • Primarily a gentlemen’s club, ladies are only permitted to use the facilities on the 3rd and 4th floors (accommodation and restaurant) unless attending a function within the Club– gentlemen are allowed to use all facilities.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Towbars are a necessary fitting for many cars, but I am surprised that their development has not advanced to the point that they are not there when they are not being used. They can be very dangerous for pedestrians.

Twenty years ago plus one of our neighbours had a stroke. I took our neighbour on our other side to visit her at Caulfield Hospital. We were walking through the hospital carpark and at the very last second I could see the neighbour was about to walk into a towbar. There was no time to utter a warning. I just tried to grab her as she walked into it. I did not stop her but I did break her fall as she hit the ground. She was ok, just cut and bruised.

Several years later, my mother did the same thing. I was not there. She ended up in hospital for a day.

I am very conscious of towbars when I am out walking with someone. I watch them to see that they aren't going to walk too close to the rear of a car if there is a towbar sticking out.

Really, you would think that something could be done about such dangerous protrusions.