Saturday, April 10, 2010


At least two of my blog readers live in the Sydney Federal electorate of Wentworth, soon to be vacated by the retiring parliamentarian Malcolm Turnbull. It is an interesting seat because of the extremes within it.

I think it would be fair to say that it Australia's richest electorate. Note some of the suburbs, Elizabeth Bay, Potts Point, Edgecliff, Darling Point, Point Piper, Double Bay, Bellevue Hill, Rose Bay, Vaucluse, Dover Heights and Watsons Bay. I think it is reasonable to say that these areas would be very pro Liberal Party.

Then you have the slightly cheaper areas of Bondi Junction and Bondi Beach, Bronte, Clovelly, Tamarama and Waverley, and some of Randwick. There would be a greater mix of votes in these parts, with some old time Labor voters, still a good number of Liberal voters but possibly a stronger Green vote than the richer areas.

Paddington is within the area too and it is not a cheap place to buy some digs. Although not cheap, I would say this is a Labor/Green voting area.

Closer to the city it encompasses Kings Cross and Darlinghurst. Here you have the gay vote, traditionally Labor but becoming quite Green now. You have a good number of people living in rented accommodation and likely to vote Labor. There would be a good number of Aborigines, also very pro Labor.

And here folks it all goes wrong. While certainly around the Cross are poorer people who would vote Labor, what partly inspired this was hearing about large numbers of Aborigines, yet Wentworth does not cover Redfern where I would expect many to reside, and nor do I have knowledge of also mentioned housing commission high rise blocks. I know where a couple are, but they are outside of Wentworth. The border of the electorate runs up Anzac Parade, along Oxford Street for a bit and then probably down Crown Street and takes in Finger Wharf at Woolloomooloo. Serious lack of local knowledge on my part. Fill in some extra meaningful info if you wish.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Your Girl Name

Back in the seventies and eighties, it was de rigueur for gay men to have female nicknames. These were often names similar to their own first name, but not always. Sometimes it would be related to their family name or their job.

Here are a few I knew.

Bruce was Blanch, as much for his tarty behaviour a la Golden Girls.

Warren was Wilma.

One Ray was Raelene and the other Raquel.

Ross was Rose, again relating to Golden Girls, and then his name became Leaf. Probably only older gays understand this one.

A surname starting with D became Dorothy, then Dotty.

Max became Madge and another became Maggie and sometimes Margaret.

A John became Mary and affectionately a drawn out Mares. Work that one out.

Lionel, Lilly.

Michael, Mona and another Michelle.

Andrew, Andrea and another Agnes.

Carlos, Carlotta.

Danny, Danielle and another Deidre (spelling?)

Peter, Petra, another Petal, another Patricia and another Patrice.

Lyndon, Linda.

Gary, Gertie.

A double whammy from surname and profession, Pollie.

After writing this less than fascinating post, it strikes me that these are nearly all such old names. Aren't we dated by our names or those our contemporaries.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Two days that just went wrong

It was my day off. I had some shopping to do. I had some things at home to do. But I also wanted some me time, that is go somewhere interesting on relaxing public transport. Let someone else worry about the driving. I had in mind Station Pier at Port Melbourne.

Circumstances conspired against me and I went out later than I wanted to. I was determined that I was going to Station Pier and I did. I was there about twenty minutes for a cup of coffee and then back to town. I achieved what I wanted to do, but in a most unsatisfactory manner.

I like the trip on the 109 tram to Port Melbourne. It is short and pleasant, although the track is quite bad in places. Even in the early afternoon, the tram was busy. I think turning the old St Kilda and Port Melbourne train lines into light rail may have been premature. There seems to be enough passengers for a trains now.

What I did notice out the tram window was that Southbank tram depot has been extended. It is weird. It narrows for a bit and then widens out again. It seems to stretch for kilometre. It must be a long walk for the staff to get from one end of the depot to the other. Perhaps they use golf buggies and bad luck if they forget something and have to go back.

I forgot that R was returning early from work that day. I was on my way home and I sent him an sms to swap the cars. A few minutes later he called, letting the phone ring a couple of times before hanging up. This is to tell me to go down and move my car so he can park in front of me. I was confused because it was too early and I was still on the tram. I rang him and got an earful and a hang up. Btw, did I ever mention that I am not perfect?

All in all, it was quite an unsatisfactory day.

But wait. That was a couple of weeks ago. I have just had another one.

The plan, out by 9.30 to get petrol and a couple of things in Prahran. Got caught up, and not out till ten. Not really a problem but everything took longer than I expected. The kitchen scales needed new batteries. That was easy at Uncle Bucks, but no battery for my work car park remote control. Try camera shop, no. Eventually I find that the hardware store in Prahran Market has them. I needed one, which will last five years, but of course I must buy two. The battery was an A23, which I discovered later.

Back home and start tidying up after hurricane Sister, Bone Doctor and Little Jo, who stayed last night. Washing, vacuuming, dishes, sorting and catching up on Landline while I worked. Computer playing up, and attempt to remedy problem in between other things. Very behind with blog reading. Catch that up. Dry clothes, hang some up. Empty dishwasher and load it up again. Mein gott. 2pm.

The rest of the day was going to be a tram to Prahran Station, train to Hampton Station, train to city for shopping and tram to Brunswick Street for haircut. All was scrubbed except for a quick trip to the city by tram to buy underwear on special at Myer and a cap in Big W, who had the same underwear at the same price, although not on special. The trip to Hampton and haircut will have to wait.

At home, computer still playing up. It is maybe a month since I have defragged. I have never know defragging to fix anything, but it seemed to this time. All is well.

R arrived home and we went out for a walk but dropped in our 'scripts to be filled at the chemist. Chemist has just moved. Sorry Andrew, we are out of one of your drugs. Bit of a mess since the move. Ok, I will pick them up tomorrow. Sorry R, no paper bag for your drugs, bosses son locked the keys for the shed, where the bags are stored, in the shed.

Seems everyone has days that don't quite go how they would like them to. I must aim lower in the future.

The Topical

While Rome burnt, more precisely Victoria, our Nero, Chrissy Nixon went off for dinner. Well, a gal has gotta eat and to be kind, it does not look like she misses too many meals. She came back didn't she? She was up at 5.00 AM the next day and off doing what she had to do on the day after that most terrible day in our history. Who could have possibly imagined the death and destruction. Clearly not Christine. I broke from the radio for a couple of hours on that Saturday for a meal out. By 11pm I was tuned backed in and half slept as the radio droned on and on about the death and destruction. The one thing that did strike a chord with me was that while Crissy was dining out, her officers were in a state of bewilderment, trying to deal with something they had no training for and would never imagine they would come across. I reckon your Chrissy would agree with me that she probably should have stayed at the command post. While the same fire authorities stay in their command positions, or did they?, I reckon our Chrissy should have too. She has comforted many since.

Mal, Mal, Mal. What you done? You have resigned from parliament. No chance of PM Turnbull now. You are going into private enterprise. That sounds exciting, not. Mal, Mal, what about the state seat of Vaucluse up for the wanting? Nudge Mal, Australian wide we know who you are. Who knows who Bazza Farrell is, if that is his name. Go on Mal, bite the bitumen. No chance of being PM now, but you could be Premier of our biggest state.

Among the oil spills, ex police commissioners who are good on the fang, jaded old queen politicians, motor bike crash deaths, an excess of chocolate and all the other crap in our media, at times you do come across a real tragedy. After twenty five years together, Dawn French and Lenny Henry are separating.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Blackpool Trams

R embarrasses me when he is asked why we visited Blackpool in England. He tells people that I wanted to see the Blackpool trams. Makes me feel very nerd like. Truth is that I just thought that Blackpool looked to be interesting, plenty to do, well set up for tourists, had a strong gay aspect and yes, ok, the trams too.

Do you want to have a bit of a look at Blacker's trams? Come with me.

I just love this picture. I have posted it twice so better not again.

Blackpool trams are run by Blackpool Transport. The infrastructure is owned by the local council.

There are about eighty trams, and at the height of summer, sixty five are pressed into service. Annual kilometres travelled by the trams is about 1.5 million carrying around 7 million passengers. That is not an insignificant system.

The tramway opened in 1885 and by 1898 had been extended to Fleetwood to no doubt provide transport for Lord Hughes' antecedent's convenience . It travels along the seaside from Fleetwood in the north, through Blackpool to Starr Gate in the south. Time for a photo. This is a double deck balloon tram.

No one could accuse the trams of being of being speedy. They are driven quite slowly. Only a tiny percentage of the track is on normal road way, but there are many street intersections and neither the local motorists nor tram drivers seem to know how to treat each other.

But Blackpool's trams are not resting on their laurels. In spite of a court case in Manchester's High Court, work is underway on a new £20 million tram depot at Starr Gate. Overhead wires are being worked on so that a higher current can be supplied. The balloon cars are being modified for present day running, with cctv and other accessories. Much of the existing track is being replaced including in Fleetwood. Let's see, another photo. This is an open boat car. Your trivia is that they were converted to pantographs from overhead poles, and then quickly changed back when passengers had dirt and grease dropped onto them. Regardless, don't they look like fun.

Here is another photo. A newer tram? Not really. It is a balloon car from the thirties and modified in the seventies and called a Jubilee Car.

Coronation cars were added in 1953, but they often failed to proceed. Some were modified and made more reliable, but by 1975, they were all gone.

The £100 million upgrade to Blackpool's trams means that it shuts down for a couple of winters and even this summer, it will be a late start for operation to Fleetwood as someone nicked the overhead wiring cable. Danger, live wires, did not deter them.

By summer 2012, all work should be finished and sixteen new trams will be operating. I can't find out what trams are being bought, but we can guess it will be French, German or Canadian. Later: Looks like Canada won. An artist's impression indicates it looks like any other sleek modern tram.

This would seem to be the last tram added to the system, the Centenary car, which by its name, would date back to 1985. Look like a bus to me. Once source suggests that this model of tram is the most unreliable tram in the world. They are used mostly in the winter. I guess they have heating then.

Do you want to see a boat tram? These are especially popular when the Blackpool illuminations occur in Autumn. Kilometres of lights are strung along the coast and many buildings are illuminated and decorated and illuminated trams play their part too.

And back to the beginning, a new sea wall has been built, so you probably won't ever see the seas flooding the roadway as you can see in the linked photo at the beginning. Boring!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Statistics and Lies

Now in public housing in Kensington, Barron is longing to return to the side of the city he had always called home.

''I've always lived south of the Yarra, this is the first time I've lived this side of town. I still go back over that way regularly each week because I've still got ties over there. I do voluntary work in Mentone twice a week … but it takes me three or four hours getting there.''

I am not sure what method of transport this person uses. By public transport it may be three hours travelling to Mentone and back, but three to four hours to get to Mentone from Kensington?

Perhaps he should have also added that he used to live a long way south of the Yarra, which is quite different to living south of the Yarra.

I suppose I am at times guilty of exaggeration but really, we do ourselves a disservice when we want people to take what we are saying seriously. Ask anyone in a call centre or someone who deals in customer service about exaggeration by customers. If it is a time based complaint, you can usually halve the waiting time for the truth. I reckon Andy, Cazzie and Fen could tell us something about this.

Then there is the reverse minimising exaggeration. The Bone Doctor tells me that when doctors ask how much alcohol a patient drinks, the doctor then doubles the figure given by the patient to get an accurate picture. Ditto smoking.

When I was a teenager, our household received a television ratings booklet. I took on the task of filling it in. It was simple enough. You marked off what you watched. I marked off what I would have watched if I was home and what I would have watched if I had control of the television. My apologies if you think I am to blame for some crook tele in the seventies.

I suppose we use exaggerations or minimisations to reinforce or negate the impact of events. The problem is that often the person or whatever we are relating to knows the truth and so therefore what we have said is judged by them as worthless now, and in the future.

In the tv ratings booklet, I think I might have marked that I watched two programs at the same time. I liked them both. Being able to view two programs that were on at the same time was impossible in the seventies. My ratings booklet was probably thrown in the bin. And there, you do actually know someone who has rated television for the collectors of such statistics.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

City Square

Do we all love Melbourne's City Square? No? Half the time it has some commercial enterprise set up in its space. This time it was something to do with food with a sad and wilted display of plants which I suppose were edible, but don't you take any leaves, the sign warned.

How many incarnations of the City Square have I seen? Maybe four and none were loved and I don't ever expect anywhere covered in gravel will be loved. At the southern end there are some raised areas with grass and you should see the people swarm to that section, as they do the grassed area are outside the State Library. People are so easily satisfied. Grass, deciduous trees for shade and sun in the winter and some seats. Instead we must endure the exact opposite when designers and whoever briefs them get to work.

I think this was just an area on the City Square site before any City Square was envisaged. We have come a long way, not!

Balaclava Station, the bad

About three weeks ago I looked and after much searching managed to find Connex, nay Metro's train update sms system. It was just to amuse me and as no one sends me sms, I must create a 'friend' to send me sms. I rarely use trains now, but I used to be a frequent user of the Sandringham line. Sadly the Sandringham line has been running very well and I have only received one sms. I was alarmed when I received it. Who would sms just after 7am? Ok, the 7.57 at Balaclava has been cancelled.

You can only specify a 45 minute period to cover with each addition to the system. I added Balaclava to Flinders Street and Flinders Street to Balaclava. One sms in the three or so weeks. What a great train line to live on.

I have never thought about it, but I have just learnt that Balaclava Station is the only train station within the City of Port Phillip.

Reports in the media say that Balaclava Station is one of Melbourne's worst. I never liked it much for aesthetic reasons. Maybe in the future pebble-dash will be fashionable but it is not quite yet. Among blogmates I think we concluded Rockbank railway station was the worst and also that the original Balaclava Station burnt down.

Apart from the aesthetics, the complaints about Balaclava Station seem to be that the ramp up to the station is too steep and the platform is too shallow and becomes dangerously crowded.

The ramp is probably too steep for the less than hale, but platforms too crowded? I occasionally caught peak hour trains when we lived in Balaclava. Platform dangerously crowded? Not when I used to catch the train. Obviously things have changed.

Might I suggest that there are not enough trains to move the people, rather than a lack of platform area to store the people?

The Public Transport Users Association is pushing for at least a ten minute service on all lines during the day for Melbourne's train system to almost resemble a Metro train system. This is very sensible. But uneven service intervals in peak time services troubles me more. How that situation was ever allowed to arise, I don't know.

It should be a five minute peak hour service on all train lines, but how will this go with motorists who use train/car level crossings? Road level crossings on the Pakenham and Cranbourne line will almost be permanently closed.

I used to enjoy going to Sister's in Murrumbeena on the train and meeting R who came directly from work by car and then taking Little Jo out. Then we went home and did battle with the road crossing over the train line at Murrumbeena. A good bit of our time travelling home time was spent at the Murrumbeena level crossing. Train after train and yet a not a great service for the train travelling public.

I can't see a great increase in the train service happening until level crossings in congested areas are removed. But much could be done by evening out the service intervals and some increase in service could happen by having traffic light control of level crossings work smarter.

It seems our new train operating company Metro is not doing so well. I don't really understand how anyone thought they would. Same trains, same tracks, same wires and same signals. Ho hum.