Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Movie Usher

In some way it is good that we no longer have ushers in theatres, as perhaps this cannot happen without ushers.

This is not personal, just something based on what I heard.

Little Jayne to her mum: I don't want to go the pictures with Auntie Nellie. I want to go to the pictures with Auntie Jessie. Auntie Nellie always sits down the back and I can't see very well. Auntie Jessie always sits at the front.

The aunties Nellie and Jessie were sisters. Can I quiz you what I might be on about here?

Obviously by the names we are going back a few years, but certainly within living memory, maybe even mine.

Later edit: How about if I added that the aunt who sat at the back was made to sit at the back.

Later later edit: Clearly I made this too hard. The aunts who were sisters were part aboriginal, one dark and the other pale. The darker one always had to sit at the back of the cinema whereas the pale one could sit at the front, hence Little Jayne preferred to go with the pale skinned aunt. This was post WWII, perhaps even the 1950s.

Gifting myself Gerry

It is allowed. I scraped together a few pence and bought myself a christmas present for myself as I am a good bloke. It is a digital radio and it works very well around the highrise, unlike the multitude of other radios around the highrise that give static and get interference from everything from the electric toothbrush to the computer. It has non removable batteries and the charge lasts about 16 hours, depending on whether the speaker or ear buds are used. It works well enough out on the street and on trams and buses too. Digital radio does not give you static. It either works or the sound cuts out. It was patchy reception on the Bellarine Peninsula. Just in case our Brian is au fait with such machines, Australia uses a different system to the UK. UK uses DAB and we use DAB+. They are not compatible. The plus indicates the radio comes with a serve of French Fries.

Sister just bought herself a larger digital radio. She paid $80 for her Bush. Mine cost a good bit more. I had ummed and ahhed about it for a good bit of time, but not to the point where R yelled, for god's sake, just buy it.

Dear Gerry Harvey's Harvey Norman was the only store where I could see it and pick it up and hold it. It looked smart, felt heavy. I liked it. Gerry's bloke on the floor would not discount it from its $189 price. Righto. I shall think about it and thank you for showing me your goods.

Oh lala. I can buy it much much cheaper online from overseas. Buying from overseas is of course riskier than buying locally online. I can't go and fire bomb an outlet so easily if it overseas and my purchase fails to proceed.

Nah, I shall buy locally and pay my Goods and Services Tax. $149 online, postage and extra $7.50 or pick up in Moonee Ponds. That is $40 cheaper than Harvey Norman. HN will match prices from other stores, but not what you can buy online. I paid up online and despatched R the next day on the Craigieburn train to collect it. I gave him explicit directions and he foolishly trusted me. I said exit the station, go under the subway walk and turn left into Margaret, right into Hall, left in Everage.

I forget if it is a subway or level pedestrian crossing at Moonee Ponds Station to get to Puckle Street, but evidently there is a subway north of Hall Street, so that made mockery of my directions. He needed to turn right into Margaret Street. To salvage myself, I sang the qualities of suburban walks in Moonee Ponds and what interesting housing it has. He was forced to agree. He had done a bit of circuit.

I am very happy with new digital wireless. There is even a QLD Flood station, thanks to our ABC. Some of the channels puzzle me, mostly music stations. There are four test stations, which also seem to be music. But what sort of radio station would be called Barry?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Cutesy at the Highrise

Our wombats have received some good kickings. They are on the return area of the balcony. People walk around the corner and admire the sea views but fail to see the wombats at their feet and kick them. Both are missing feet. An ionospheric neighbour who looks down upon our balcony remarked that she thought our pigs were cute. I'll give her pigs.

I think this ladybird beetle came from Sister at christmas. Its head and front legs are on springs and they wobble and bob in a very cute manner in the wind. I am amused by simple things.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Captain Bligh

I don't take too much notice of Queensland politics. It has become so boring since the day after day revelations about the corrupt Bjelke Petersen government. Back in the days when I used to watch Four Corners, I was home alone and I was absolutely mesmerised by Chris Masters expose, The Moonlight State. Moonlight State was probably one of Australia's bravest pieces of journalism. Unlike in normal present day life, important people were in disgrace, some gaoled, some had knighthoods taken away. Bjelke Petersen was truly an evil and corrupt man and it is pity he was not gaoled for a long time.

A good while ago, I read a background piece on Queensland's Premier, Anna Bligh. She seemed to be a bit of a radical in her early days. She certainly arrived to the Labor Party with good anti establishment sentiments. Of course a politician who is not pragmatic will never get on. Our PM Julia exhibit one. From the left? Ah, which part of the left might that be?

Clearly Ms Anna Bligh became pragmatic and has even been elected in her own right as Premier of Queensland. That is quite an effort for a woman. Woman leading Australian states are usually only shoved in after a male leader is chucked out and the party thinks they have nothing to lose.

Apparently Ms Bligh is very unpopular now, as much for her government's policies, rather than herself. Still, her government is not quite as unpopular as that of NSW's Kristina Keneally's government. Not quite. (Note to self, I would not write Keneally off)

But by golly, Queensland's Premier Bligh has acquitted herself well during the ongoing flood crisis. She has fronted up to press conference after press conference umpteen times a day, keeping her constituents and Australia at large informed of the flooding disaster. She speaks without notes it seems, nor auto cue. She has all the figures and stats in her head. Today, with the finest actor's timing, she broke down on camera, supposedly overwhelmed by emotion.

I am cynical about politicians, but I do like to believe. Whether I am cynical about Bligh or not, she is doing a sterling job of keeping chins up, hope alive and telling her state that it will be all ok, in time.

Should Victoria be in crisis again, as it was during the fires two years ago, I wouldn't mind Ms Bligh being at our helm.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wet Feet

With Sister at the wheel as we drove between Point Lonsdale and Ocean Grove I remarked I had never seen so much water lying around. It is nice to see a good old fashioned swamp, sorry, wetlands.

'The Point', said Sister as she waved her hand in the direction of the swamp. 'Stocklands! Madden approved it.' Like brother, like sister, we both hate ex State planning minister Justin Madden. Sister is worried that her perceived idyllic location will be spoiled by development. Many others are too and locals are very anti what they see is an overdevelopment on inappropriate land.

Many of us are watching the television and listening to the radio, mesmerised by the disastrous floods in Queensland. One cannot help but suspect that so much housing has been inappropriately built on flood plains. Flood plains are just that, the flat areas that line river banks. They, err, flood.

For someone who has short arms and wears trousers with very deep pockets when it comes to charity, I will make a decent donation to the Queensland government relief appeal and hope the money is spent wisely and not in areas that are government responsibility.

Could the same disaster happen in Melbourne? No, I don't think to the extent it is happening in Brisbane. It would be very odd for southern Victoria and the Yarra catchment to receive so much rain. But, you never know. The Yarra has flooded Melbourne's inner suburbs in the past and could well do so again. Take a look at this photo by Frank Jung.

Now I recall seeing the Yarra in flood where even less of this Yarra River cruise ticket box was visible. Note the footbridge in the background. somewhere below the water is now a cafe, sitting on one of the concrete pontoon looking structures. Yes, there are flood plans in place for the cafe. I was a bit further down the river looking upstream. One's eye is not a good river height measuring device, but if the river rose to a similar height as in the photo, I can see the ground floor level of the World Trade Centre Wharf going under the very least.

It does not puzzle me that Toowoomba residents were caught unaware by the approaching wall of water. I can also recall heavy rain in Melbourne, rain that flooded basement carparks, washed tramway track ballast in Dandenong Road downhill to pile up in a depression and a river of swirling red muddy water form before my very eyes that ran down from the direction of Government House, across St Kilda Road and down Grant Street past Prince Henrys Hospital.

We live near rivers and on flood plains at our peril. I'll leave rising sea levels for another day.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


So, from Oaklands Road we found the entrance to Woodlands homestead. The house looked fantastic, framed by a very nice garden. There seemed to be a connection to horses, but as I don't like horses, I ignored that part. I did actually learn that throughout its life, Woodlands has had a strong race horse connection. The first bit we saw, the entrance, was a kit home imported from England. I think the house was added to four times. Some quite famous people lived at Woodlands and some very famous people visited it. I like it because it remains on a human scale. It is not a grand two storey house, but all on one level and practical.

It has a large modern kitchen and there was a coffee machine. We asked the lass, we were hanging out badly for coffee, if we could have coffee. She apologised for being unable to use the coffee machine. Her talents lay with horses. But she could pour us a cup of drip coffee. Deal done and no charge. We sat in the garden and drank our paper cups of dripolator coffee and watched planes taking off and landing.

In a moment of synchronicity, as I told our ex NT Politician/Policeman friend about our visit, he said he was going there for a barbecue dinner or something, work related.

The house felt like it was under serious renovation but without any urgency. I liked it because there was so much original and some areas had not be touched.

Thirty minutes later along the pay road, we were home. Oh, and that was where the earlier posted ice chest was.

Woodlands homestead has a beautiful garden, maintained by volunteers.

I am not sure what breed of tree this is? The flowers are yellow.

The hall looking toward the front door. To left is an enclosed courtyard.

Billiard Room.

Above and below, the dining room.

Above and below, samples of several of the very old wallpapers.

Could we call this one a rumpus room.

A decent sized evergreen magnolia along with an aviary. I forgot to check if there were birds in it.

The servants need to know in which room their assistance is required. Note one marked verandah. It was good see some blanks there too so that the house could be further expanded.

I'd think this was where a cord hung from to summon the servant to the verandah via the bell system.

From the homestead's car park, jets queuing, waiting for their chance to take off.

Better wait for this one to land.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Down to Earth

Sometimes it helps to understand the world by bringing things back to most basic of basic.

I think I was nineteen when I worked in an Oakleigh hotel. We were having after work drinks, back in the days when pubs closed at 10pm. As I was rubbing her private bits down there with my socked foot under the table, she was telling me how much she loved her husband. I can't recall her name, but her husband's name was Tom.

"I love him so much, I have to think of him sitting on the toilet to stop myself". Her meaning was clear to me, as she pressed harder against my foot.

I think I just heard something on tv along those lines. Cut to the chase and think of someone you adore and then bring yourself back to earth with thinking of them performing a bodily function, or even in orgasmic throes.

No matter how rich or high your are, we are all human and function in very much the same way, races, religion, one head or two, proddy, wog, skip, boong or muslim and everything in between.

Cooling Highriser

My work place is kind of air conditioned when the weather is hot. It is patchy. My car was stinking hot after sitting in the blazing sun in the car park, and the aircon would just not cool it down very well, no matter how cold my face felt as it was blasted with chilled air.

Oh the bliss of arriving home into the cool highrise, away from the world and people. Except R imagines that window tinting and bedroom fans means that the highrise does not get hot. Oh yes it does. The thermometer said 26 degrees when I walked in and that was uncomfortable. I complained and switched the air con on. R takes note of the thermometer. I don't. If I feel hot, I turn the cooling on. If I feel cold, I switch it to heating. We have barely used the aircon cooling or heating since early October. The private electric companies must be crying at our mild weather.

The idea of the bedroom overhead fans was to turn the air con off at night, and we can, so long as the bedrooms are already cool. My bedroom, being in the west wing, gets late afternoon sun and gets hot. It needs the place to be cooled for a good time before the cool flows through.

I am all very pro saving the environment, unless it affects my comfort and sanity. Now chuck so more of the filthy brown coal into the boiler and make more electric. My sanity and ability to function depend on it.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Just another Sunday, but on a Public Holiday Monday

I may have liked to do it on the second last day of my ever so busy couple of weeks off work, but R was not feeling well, possibly due to over consumptions of Nobby's Nuts on the previous day. I had no ill effects and continued to consume Nobby's Nuts until the packet was empty. I only eat natural salts and never add salt to food, but I very much like salty nuts. Sadly nuts are not as salty as they used to be, but Nobby's Nuts are reasonably salty. A gay neighbour who lives in the ionospheric area of the highrise spluttered when I entered the lift and I apologised for being caught with a mouth full of nuts. Some folk are so easily amused.

Oh dear, I am off track before I have even started. In my new street directory I was looking at the suburb of Tullamarine. You wonder why? So do I. However I noticed a green bit on the far northern side of the airport. 'Lookout' grabbed my attention. 'Homestead ruins' grabbed my attention. 'Existing homestead' grabbed my attention. 'Aboriginal cemetery with permission only', grabbed my attention. 'Mickleham Road' grabbed my attention. That is where the tabloid named 'Mum in the boot' murder case happened.

R had recovered from his overindulgence in nuts by the last day of my time off, so we headed off on the mega pay road towards Tullumarine. Oh look, I said to R, that sign is confusing as it looks like that is the exit you need to take to go on the Tullamarine Freeway. Oh look, I said to myself, this is the exit I need to take to get on the Tullamarine Freeway, as I swung the car left. No motorists were injured or inconvenienced during this manoeuvre.

Exit, Mickelham Road. Petrol stations, fast food, a large truck behind me. I pulled over, not for petrol or fast food, but just get rid of the large truck.

I had printed into my brain a mental map of what I had seen of the area. What a shame I did not print out a map. With more arse than class, I found a road in towards where we wanted to go. Gate, as I knew. We walked a track. We were verboten to go off track to the left as that was the Aboriginal Cemetery. To our right was a fenced area, a native animal protection area. As I informed R about the native animal area to our right, I looked left to the cemetery and saw a mob of kangaroos, eastern greys. I walked towards the fence to get a bit closer for a photo and R warned me, don't get too close, they might attack you. Let me tell you, if a kangaroo attacks you, you will be on the losing end. It has happened, but it is very rare that they attack. Mostly they remain alert to humans, but in a disinterested manner.

We climbed a steep hill in the open bush and passed a couple of buildings. It was weird, because instead of hearing the sounds of the forest, all we could hear were the planes taking off or landing at the airport. We even saw them from a distance.

Not too far away we could see the Melbourne Airport Radar Tower at the top of Gellibrand Hill, but no indication of a lookout. The lookout may well have been somewhere nearby but we couldn't find it. Bad signposting Parks Victoria. It was getting warm and we had walked enough.

I knew it might have been a bit difficult and I had a back up plan of driving directly to Woodlands homestead. We walked back along a slightly different route, along the the wild life enclosure fence. We saw no other wildlife. Kangaroos are good breeders in good times. There were twice as many in the cemetery as when we arrived. Fast workers.

Do you know what Jumping Jacks are? They are ants, larger than our common imported ants and they bite, nastily. There are one hundred and twenty one gazillion jumping jack ants in this park. I earned bad karma by stepping on some. It was unavoidable.

Back at the car, we drove along a gravel road and spoiled R's nice clean car. We turned onto what I now know is Somerton Road and saw a sign to Woodlands Homestead and turned off. There were tracks here to get to Woodlands, but we wanted a road. The area seemed to mostly a rendezvous place for men who had kiddie seats mounted on their back seats. Silly me, it took R to point out the bleeding obvious. Don't worry wives, it is just a passing phase. Don't ask, don't tell.

Map R? Yes he said. Right, now we know where we need to go. Left into Oaklands Road and there will be a driveway to the homestead. The rest another day.

You can just see a plane at the airport in the distance.

Eastern grey kangaroos blend into the dry Victorian forest very well. There were twice this number lazing about when we returned from our walk.