Saturday, February 20, 2010

Homo handshake

I was very amused to recently learn the expression homo handshake. Jeb was talking about the matter of men trying to meet girls.

He said, Of course, it’d all never work in the gay community, and nor does it need to. You-know-what is virtually the homo handshake. Conversation comes afterwards!

Jeb is fairly well on the mark. The sex bit is expected and easy. The conversation and getting some other connection is the harder part. A connection between two gay guys stands or falls on the latter, not the former. Of course you do need to have had good sex, but there is almost close to a one hundred percent chance that you will get a bit on the side or a bit upfront in time, no matter how well you click.

Dearest young gay friends, I don't expect you to take too much notice of a jaded old queen such as moi, but if it is not you who plays around a bit in your relationship, it will be your partner. But here is where we gays can be superior. A bit of playing around does not mean you don't love the person you have committed to. Admit this and always play safe and gay people can re-invent relationships. After all, it is only what straights have been doing for a long time but are never honest about it. Relationships are not easy, but getting rid of petty jealousy over a bit on the side is a good start. Being there for the person is what is important along with keeping your mouth shut to friends or anyone.

Egad, that reads like an awful lot of self justification. It wasn't how this post was meant to be but it has been hanging around for a long time and I needed to finish it somehow.

Slowing da trains

Premier Kristina Keneally is understood to want work to begin this year.

"This is about increasing travel times into the city, using express services, and eight brand new platforms to relieve congestion," the source said.

The NSW government has done very well at increasing travel times without spending extra billions of dollars, thank you very much.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Losing an Abbott

I was gonna write about this but some prat beat me to it.

We came close to losing the leader of our Federal Opposition Party this week. A media stunt very nearly went oh so wrong when a truck had to swerve off the road to avoid Tony Abbott's chauffeur driven motor car. Along with Abbott's car and the truck, a van was involved too.

All heaped praise upon the truck driver who did a bit of swerving and off road dust raising acrobats with his truck to avoid hitting the Comcar. Seemingly the van driver did nothing wrong except slow to see what all the media were doing. Comcar driver did nothing wrong. Hang on. Road accidents aren't accidents, they are crashes. Someone did something wrong to cause the crash or the near miss.

If you click on the link above and go to the last para, I agree with the prat who wrote it. Bad truck driver.

But Abbott was ever so quick off the mark to praise the truck driver for his skill, getting his quote quickly into the media,when it is clear that the truck driver was at fault. Too fast, not paying due diligence, tired, distracted, mobile phone (from my observations, truck drivers are exempt from mobile phone laws when they are driving) whatever.

So did Tony Abbott silence the truck driver about a media stunt that nearly went horribly wrong by praising his skill at avoiding an accident? No, not quite but the driver is not mouthing off to all and sundry. Abbott bought his silence about being critical of the media stunt by praising his skillful avoidance of an accident. Kwid pro kwo.

The media has really let us down on this very obvious you scratch my nads and and I will scratch yours. One party should have been charged with careless driving and the other for creating a road hazard.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Metro Doomed

What is this? Our new Melbourne train company is doomed?

I was reading The Age online and noticed the headline Metro Doomed then another headline,
Fixers twisted Metro files.

This does not bode well for our new train company.

Of course they were both New South Wales stories from The Sydney Morning Herald referring to their Metro, or the lack of its progress. I read the Fixers one yesterday. I glanced through Metro Doomed and returned to The Age home page but why were these stories showing on The Age website where the head lines could be very misleading?

No matter where I clicked, I could not make The Age site republish the top five NSW stories. And then down the bottom where the other Fairfax online publications are spread across screen under each paper's banner was 'Top five NSW stories'.

In the time I have written the above, all is back as it should be at the bottom of the page. Is the office boy fiddling with the internet linotype machine?

Shopping for a party frock

Le Louvre is in Collins Street but not for much longer. The frock salon was opened by Lillian Wightman in 1922 after she moved onward and upward from more modest premises. Lillian died at the age of 90 in 1993 and from what I have gleaned from bits of writing over the years she was a strong and clever self made woman from the regional city of Ballarat. While she had not travelled, she seemed to be in tune with what your more comfortably off ladies wanted to wear.

Her daughter, Georgina Weir, took over the business and wanted to place apartments on the top of the shop. After a long battle, and threats by Ms Weir to turn the ground level into a greasy take away shop, she was given permission to build including the installation of a lift that would also benefit her customers. It did not happen and I can't find out why without serious research, and since when do I ever do that.

It would seem Ms Weir snapped up an old 1927 Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board electrical substation in Daly Street, South Yarra. I wonder if the substation had rotary converters or the more colourful and exciting mercury rectifiers. The City Le Louvre has been sold. Just as I was there to take a snap of the old substation, the front window was going in with the Le Louvre sign. One day when I am taking photos of a building with workers, one of them is going to be displeased and chase me. Don't worry, I won't fight, just obediently submit.

Daly Street is undergoing a transformation with a high rise apartment building under construction and another Art Hotel, Olsen, opening soon.

Hmm, just discovered Daly Street has an interesting past. An opportunistic builder by the name of Alcock erected twenty two cheap houses on tiny blocks on either side of Tramway Street, as it was then known, probably called so because it ran behind the old cable tram engine house. The houses were later sold to a real estate agent called Daly, and the street acquired the name of Daly Town. In 1910, just twenty five years after they were built, the houses were condemned and the tenants forced to leave. Most were demolished with those remaining being renovated. No sign of the houses now.

Just to finish up, there now seems to be a walkway between Claremont and Yarra Streets, between two building. I understand a new project at the end of Daly Street will allow for a wide walkway, perhaps plaza, through to Yarra Street. I don't think it will be of much use to most people. A local lane for local people.

Nothing like a bit of well polished copper and lady, you can't go into Le Louvre looking like that. Actually, when I look at my photo full size, I think she can go in. Shoes tick, handbag, tick, slacks tick, watchstrap tick, diamond ring on her finger tick.

Oh yes, it does look like a tramway building. Tramway green on the door in the arch and the building is of the style that many tramway buildings were constructed. A very fine building saved. Doubt Planning Minister Madden had anything to do with it. I can't verify it but since I have written the bulk of this post, I have been told it did have (a) rectifiers and it last operated not so long ago.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


It never stops at Melbourne Grammar School. Barely before one building project is completed, another starts. Don't let the dry grass and dirt fool you. By the time it is finished, it will be lusciously green. I wonder what is happening up on the hill at the Girls Grammar?

I don't mind the privileged elite in our society having posh schools. If the parents can afford to pay for private education of an extremely high standard with high standard facilities to match, then good luck to them. That is what being rich is all about.

But why should the poorest of poor have their taxes subsidising these institutions for the rich. For that matter, why should the taxpayer subsidise any religious school, be it protestant, catholic, muslim or baptist? Education is a given right in Australia, as it should be. Why do some get inferior education? Why do some get royal education by religious organisations?

A lovely glossy mag was in our paper recently, extolling the virtues of various private schools. It was all very inclusive, ensuring that along with white students, there were mixes of Mediterranean, Asian and Indian. Your immigrants know that by sending their children to such posh schools that they will get a good step up the social and workplace ladder. Such advertising plays on this. I have noted how money grubbing some of my workmates became so that they can afford private education for their children. Shame about speech night when my workmates are asked by their children's friend's parents what their profession is.

Of course what would be brochure for posh private schools be without including McKinnon and Bentleigh State Secondary Schools. Do they need to advertise? Where is Glen Waverley this year? People even move house to be in the right area to go to these schools. I am somewhat mystified that firstly they are allowed to advertise in a commercial brochure and secondly that they need to advertise.

Of course the more the lower classes who send their children to private schools, the more pressure on their social equals to do so as well.

Do we really want a society that has public education for the poor and disadvantaged and a private education for everyone else? You just know where this is going to end up.

I write this with the greatest respect for the many who send their children to public schools and for those who work in them, but even they can't pull up their trousers if they don't have any.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tour Town Hall

I was just checking up about Chinese New Year celebrations in the city at the Melbourne City Council website when I noticed that there are free tours of Melbourne Town Hall twice daily. Bookings were essential, so I booked for today by email.

I was an interesting tour with a knowledgeable guide, although I did stump him when I asked about Lord Mayor Woodruff having a turntable installed in the small car park to turn his car around. The guide was interested and said he would follow it up. The fellow tour members were a couple from Denmark and a couple from Germany.

We were shown a couple of works of art hanging on the walls. One was a lithograph of a model made for the Great Exhibition in Melbourne. It showed the city shortly after the grid of streets were laid out (1830s?). It featured lots of farm land, trees and a few buildings. Typical of governments, no trains or trams. I noted the turning basin in the Yarra, the depression where Elizabeth Street lay that turned into a river with heavy rain, and still is inclined to do so and Flagstaff Hill before it had the top chopped off it. The other work was some twenty to thirty years later and Melbourne was by then a well populated city with grand buildings already constructed. Gold is a city's best friend.

After seeing some other bits and pieces, we sat in council chambers. It is smaller than I imagined and the elevated public galleries are not very big either. The seating, all facing the mayoral chair, was old leather and they place had a bit of a musty smell. The ceiling was stunning, the woodwork beautiful and the lead light window impressive. What I could not get over was how poor the lighting was, even with daylight coming in. At night it must be very gloomy. If you have issues with City of Melbourne councillors, maybe it is because they could not read properly during council meetings.

Then onto the auditorium. This would be where Jayne recently attended an orchestral performance where the organ was cranked up.

Upward to examine the workings of the organ. It has 10,000 pipes and is the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. After its last renovation around ten years ago, it is now computer controlled with fail safe air reserves should it run short puff with some extravagant playing by maestro. Some of the pipes are monstrous, metres tall and some are tiny, just a centimetre tall. The pipes sit in an airconditioned and dust free environment. Around 1925 an accumulation of dust in the organ pipes and a sparking solenoid set the auditorium ablaze. It had to be completely rebuilt. The organist has four keyboards and one footboard to play. Sounds challenging.

Still on the same level I think, is the old council chambers and then the reception room where VIPS are greeted and entertained.

Out onto the portico. In 1964 The Beatles greeted the crowds below and in the eighties Abba followed suit. Evidently there is a scene in Abba The Movie where they are shown on the balcony.

Trivia learnt: Kangaroos can't go backwards and almost one million tons of gold dug in Bendigo. At around $1200 per ton, the present price, roughly $1,000,000,000. Only £700,000,000 for you Brian. No argument re my maths will be entered into, but no wonder we have some very grand buildings.

Clearly Getty Images own the copyright for this photo of the Beatles on the balcony of the Melbourne Town Hall. Getty are becoming the Microsoft of the world. Don't the Beatles have such cute and fresh faces.

Abba on the same balcony from the website

Melbourne Town Hall by Tramwalker.

The door to the portico.

This photo doesn't really capture it so well, but I never realised how beautiful the Century building is.

I full well know how stunning Manchester House is. Pity about the ugly air con units jutting out. An ex workmate was murdered within MH a decade or so ago.

Later edit: It may not have been Flagstaff Hill that had its top chopped off. I could be thinking of Batman Hill. Nevertheless, Flagstaff Hill looks very high in the lithograph.

with ordinary traffic outside the Town Hall.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Do not pass Central

I have heard, ok, read in the Sydney Daily Telegraph, that the new public transport fare rearrangements will disadvantage some commuters significantly. I am not going to spend the time calculating fares for a system I am unfamiliar with and remember that the Telegraph is not noted as letting a fact spoil a story.

It seems that a weekly ticket from say a southern suburb for a commuter who travels to Town Hall station will cost ten dollars more than if they alighted from the train at Central. I suspect that this is discourage use of Town Hall. Town Hall is already crowded. I was a little concerned even years ago when we were surrounded by a mass of moving people at Town Hall and it being very difficult to stop or break free from the pack. I dropped my ticket on the floor and I could not get to pick it up before it was trampled.

What do you think a responsible government might do to alleviate a crowding problem caused only by people going to where they want to go? Build a new station? Alter the existing one? Or just jack up the fare by two dollars a day to discourage people?

While it can inconvenient for some users for a time, London's underground and overground train system is and I think always has been a work in progress. It just expands and grows and problems are dealt with.

In Australia, things only happen with our rail systems when not one more person can fit on a train or on a railway station platform. Brumby and Keneally, way too little, way too late.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Just another Sunday

And a happy Chinese New Year to you all.

To the car wash, pronto. R's car was cleaned to spotless. We dare not go near St Kilda because of the Festival so we went to a carwash in Crockford Street, either Port Melbourne or South Melbourne. Ridiculous how the name changes from City Road to Crockford Street and then Bay Street. It is not my favourite car wash. It is expensive, busy and there is no where on the premises to dry your car off. Weekends you can park in the street and finish your car off, but not weekdays.

I thought it would be safe to return home via Ferrars Street and Albert Road, but no, Canterbury was closed because of the St Kilda Festival, forcing all the traffic into Albert Road. The traffic was well banked back so I went down Park Street which had heavier than normal traffic too. I hate the St Kilda Festival. Why can't it be a celebration for St Kilda people like it used to be instead a mass party for half of Melbourne.

Home and then the West Coburg tram to the casino. Crowds and crowds of people along the river bank with lots of food stalls for Chinese New Year. Into the Casino to see the CNY animated display. It was the same as we saw four years ago and not a sign of a tiger. Not auspicious!

Plenty of Asian born people thought the day was good for a win on the money extraction devices within the glitzy palace though.

We ate some Chinese food in a food court and decided we were hot and need a cool drink. Back through the crowds to the Atrium Bar and managed to find a seat. Everywhere was so busy. R had a Corona and I decided on a refreshing gin and tonic. I was going to ask for Gordon's gin but I did not for some reason. It is one I like. Instead I was price upped to Tanqueray which is fine but it cost nearly ten dollars, whereas the Gordons was $8.50. Caught again. Even the Corona was $9.

Still, it was pleasant sitting there. Our plan was to go to Myer and check for some sale shirts and perhaps see some CNY festivities. But it was so humid, everywhere was so crowded, we just crossed the old railway bridge, bought some pumpkin at the Elizabeth Street Coles for this evening's roast and came home.

With the thousands at St Kilda Festival, thousands up near China Town, Little Bourke Street, you would think a walk from Elizabeth Street to Swanston Street along Flinders might be very quiet. Nup. Busy as everywhere else. This is one big and busy mother of a city.

Tonight there is a weird wind that we have never experienced here before. It is strong and coming from perhaps the north east. The weather bureau site has update issues so I can't confirm the direction but it is coming straight at the balcony. Normally in a strong wind the bedroom windows slam shut, but they are not tonight. Very odd and a bit spooky.

The lanterns at the casino.

I liked Mr or Ms Fish. Would it be a groper?

Both sides of the coin

'Tis a funny thing being an often anonymous customer at my workplace. I get to see things from both sides. Most of my co-workers do not. Generally when I am the customer at my workplace, I get good enough service. But there does seem to be quite a few areas that my co-workers do not understand about being a customer that they would if they were customers.

I would suggest to my workplace that when they are training new staff, the new staff need to spend some anonymous time as a customer.

The new staff also need to be taught a couple of polite phrases when doing their job too, remember I see if from both sides. 'Eff off idiot', wouldn't be a bad one along with 'Would you like me to wipe your a*** too?'

One of our Brother Friends who works in an area of retail customer service told a customer five times that the shop had no more of the product than what the customer could see. Friend only became curt at the third time. By the fifth, he was holding up fingers to illustrate how many time he had said that there is not further stock.

Update: Fen works in the area of customer service, ho ho ho.