Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Visitor

Our friend from Japan stayed last night. She is a vegetarian and had requested parsnip with her meal. I told her R would will cook it really well in beef tallow. I shouldn't needle her about being a vego. R cooked a frittater and roast vegetables in vegetable oil with a mustard sauce and it was very nice. A chocolate self saucing pudding followed.

Our friend came out of the spare bedroom in the morning and remarked that the bed now had hospital corners. I puzzled for a second, and then it came to me. See the comments.

She was meeting her sister today at the museum for lunch. I accompanied her into town. She had a hunger for a chocolate covered jam doughnut, not attainable in Japan, so I took her to Walker's at the corner of Elizabeth and Flinders Street. What? You think it is wrong to have coffee and doughnuts for breakfast? Oh. The had some really old but bright music playing, 1930's or 1940's, which was great but just a bit too loud.

Our friend has a friend back in Japan who is a big ACDC fan, so she wanted to see ACDC Lane and take some photos. We did so via the famous Hosiers Lane and then walked up Exhibition Street where we parted ways at Latrobe Street, as I had to go to the shops in QV and she continued on the museum. Who knows when we see her again. It will probably be a number of years, but because we keep in email contact, I don't seem to miss her presence as I would have say 15 years ago, especially so as we are familiar with where she lives and her friends and workmates.

I bought some new sunglasses in Myer. I didn't have my glasses on and I thought the price was $40, but it turned out to be $80. Oh well, they fit very well and I like them.

The trams were stopped at the Arts Centre, so I had to walk to Queen Street to catch the bus home. The trams were stopped because the Australian winner of the Tour de France, Cadel Evans, was cycling along a little bit of St Kilda Road before receiving a rather nice gift from the State of Victoria. He was a bit wobbly on the bike for a Tour de France winner.

I recall the late ABC broadcaster Peter Evans talking one morning about how in Wales, people often received an additional name by whatever job the did. Hence Peter Evans became known as Evans the Wireless. Cadel Evans must have Welsh heritage, so is it Evans the Bicycle? I could go somewhere with that, but I shan't. Anyway, well done Cadel Evans. This is a sporting event that has serious respect in Europe and Australia is quite proud of you.

The sign is up high as people kept knocking it off.

There are shabby posters along the walls of the lane. Naturally I snapped the the poster of them bare topped.

Just something I liked, which I am sure is not original.

And I am rather fond of this muriel at the bottom of ACDC Lane.

Evans the Bicycle mask. Apparently 30,000 turned out to see him. Our friend took a photo of me with the mask in front of my face. As I said to her, I am so silly. I am smiling behind the mask for the photo.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Ghost Hotel

Some time ago I spied an old sign down a lane in Prahran. We pass by it often. I quickly took a photo of it and added it to the Melbourne's History in Old Signs map. The lane runs off Chatham Street towards Greville Street and parallel to Chapel Street. Here is a photo of the sign. It simply says hotel.

Every time I walk past the lane, I look at the sign and wonder about it. There is no hotel in that part of Greville Street.

Then I received a marvellous out of the blue email from someone recently. She made contact with me because of my interest in the Prahran's history. She went one better than being interested. She grew up in the area and she has published her detailed and incisive memories at the City of Stonnington's website. It is a lengthy but wonderful read. Her memory is extraordinary.

It went one better, she worked in the building next door to the building that was demolished for the Highrise to be built.

I asked her about the lane hotel sign. After some time she got back to me with information. I expect had I had done some hard research, I could have found out myself.

Have I piqued your curiosity?

The hotel was called The Royal George Hotel and sat at the corner of Chapel Street and Greville Street. Can you think of a hotel like building on that corner?

This is what it looks like now.

And back in the good old days. It is still the same building but has been altered so much it is no longer recognisable. The only thing that I can see that remains is a chimney. I am obliged to the person mentioned above for her help.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Memory Banks

I suddenly remembered something tonight. I worked with a London rioter. Finally his first name came to me, Terry. I can't remember his last name now. He was a sweet little thing and we got on well. I knew quite a bit about his present life, except for what should have been glaringly obvious to me. He was gay. I only found out later.

One evening he was telling about when he got caught up in London riots. As the tale went on, it became clear that he was one of the rioters. He was not caught, only because the plod who was pursuing him was fat and could not get over a fence, whereas Terry did and escaped.

I know roughly what year I knew him and I recall the riots were in the south of London. Wikipedia tells me it must have been the Brixton riots.

It was certainly pre the poll tax riots.

Here is a snip from the Wikipedia entry.

On 13 April, Margaret Thatcher dismissed the notion that unemployment and racism lay beneath the Brixton disturbances claiming "Nothing, but nothing, justifies what happened"

Does that sound a bit like PM David Cameron or Mayor Boris Johnston now? And who is now rioting? The children of Maggie's dispossessed?

Then there was the near and dear who got caught up in a riot.

Two types of Kiwis

I did not know we had two types of New Zealanders in Australia, those who were here before 2001 and those who arrived after. The pre 2001 Kiwis have many Australian privileges that the post 2001 do not. I think post 2001 Kiwis have to live here for ten years before they get the status of the pre 2001.

This was no doubt put into place to deter Kiwis from coming to Australia where they could immediately receive all benefits. Australia requested a contribution from the NZ government towards the cost of these benefits and the request was denied, hence the introduction of a second category of Kiwis.

Is it just? Maybe.

Perhaps some of the social security aspects are in our interests, eg unemployment benefits. But if they worked here and paid taxes for nine years, they are still not entitled to unemployment benefits, sickness benefits, free medical treatment or free education for their children. Their children will be treated as full fee paying foreigners.

While I don't know the the exact figures, many white New Zealanders go on to become Australian citizens and hence will have the status of an Australian, but they have to meet the same requirements as any non refugee immigrant. Oddly, Maori New Zealanders have a very low take up of citizenship, perhaps because of the Maori identity, rather than an Australian or New Zealand identity. Or maybe it is just too hard for many of them.

But there is one area where it all really went wrong and that was in the Queensland floods and the subsequent cyclone. The post 2001 New Zealanders, and there are a lot of them in Queensland, were not entitled to any government relief money, and that includes what you may have donated to the Premier's flood appeal. After some agitation in each case, one off agreements were made.

While the supposed bright lights of Australia and the job opportunities may seem very attractive to some New Zealanders, from what I have learnt about NZ over the past few years via my blog and bloggers in NZ, the bright lights of Auckland are just as bright as Australia's. Stay in NZ where you have family, friends and a life already. I am sure the career opportunities are just as good.

We have a curious relationship with New Zealand. But the next time you hear our Prime Minister Gillard saying to Kiwis, you are family to us, treat it with a little cynicism.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

What is really happening in London?

To understand what is really happening in London and why, one must read Le Guardian and Le Monde and see it from a French perspective. What can one say?

Paris is no stranger to rioting youngsters, and burning cars is so much a new year and high holiday tradition, that is passes almost unreported. But the rioting in London and other parts of Britain made the front-page headlines in most of the French newspapers.

The coverage was mostly news reporting of events, but the Monday edition of Le Monde carried the headline: "Riots in London: the British press dramatises and tries to understand."

Most surprising were readers' responses to the upmarket and respected newspaper's report, which varied from echoes of the paper's leftwing, anti-market, anti-capitalist line, to outright Schadenfreude and xenophobic anti-English sentiment.

"Globalisation engenders an excess of individualism and nowhere more so than in Anglo-Saxon countries," wrote Jean-Marc Creau on the site. Joelle Koenig added: "Since the Reagan and Thatcher years, deregulation has grown faster. They reduced taxes for billionaires ... and now they want to work the people of Tottenham and elsewhere to death to pay off the debt."

Jean Baptiste Clamence wrote: "There exists in England an underclass that does not exist anywhere else in Europe. White, little educated, without any means of social evolution, they are a perfect example of the results of Anglo-Saxon capitalism and its dehumanising program. The English perversion is to make this population proud of their misery and their ignorance. The situation is hopeless. I've more hope for the youth of our banlieues."

Revolting peasants

Let me think of something I am passionate, as in how our cities are developed and built and how our history, historic buildings and streetscapes treated, how services are provided....I could go on.

Now, let me pretend someone calls me and says, let us trash the office of the evil Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal planning division. If the Minister of Planning is there, all the better. We'll give him a big fright too.

Would I attend?

No. Why?

I have responsibility to R, to my family and friends to not end up in gaol or be charged with a criminal offence. I put my employment at risk. I put my home at risk.

In short, I have too much to lose.

If I had nothing to lose, then maybe I would consider trashing a VCAT office.

So, we go to London where those who have very little to lose are protesting with mindless destruction of property, hopefully no worse. In fact the protests have extended to other large English cities.

There are many reasons why the riots are happening, but much of the blame must go towards big business, especially banks and previous Labour governments that allowed big business to act in such ways and of course the present Tory government that has financially cut deeply into areas that affect the poorest in society. It seems the only ones who have not suffered from the British financial disaster are the rich and the upper middle and upper classes.

So these disaffected rioters have some sympathy from me, however, why are they being so idiotic by trashing their own areas, their own local businesses and possibly their own future employers?

For goodness sake, go and trash Knightsbridge or Chelsea, throw something at Buck House. Scare the tourists in the area they frequent. Get in the face of City workers. Break down the doors of the big bank head offices, but why oh why destroy your own areas?

Disaffected yes, but unfortunately stupid too.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Clearing old unpublished and unedited posts 101

Just to say, a blogger I have known and been reading for quite some time suddenly showed herself as being human when she created another blog and wrote about her travels. She became a real person in my life rather than a crusty old academic. Of course I knew she had a real life outside her basic blog, but it was very interesting to observe, and if I am nothing in life, I am an observer.

Premier Melbourne radio broadcaster Jon Faine casts aspersions on internet friendships and relationships. He is so so wrong about that. I value people I know solely on the internet. It may be a character defect of mine, but I really don't care. I like my blog friends. They interest me and stimulate me and learn me heaps of stuffs including the write way to express English scetence constriction.

A Visitor

For once I was glad to go to work Sunday. Poor R entertained Little Jo well into the afternoon. At one point they went in to see where Sister and Bone Doctor had been staying, The Metropole in Clarendon Street. Very nice. Coincidently, Sis in Law and her partner were staying there on the same night after taking dinner on the tram car restaurant. Both Sister and Sis in Law had been upgraded from Crown Hotel. Maybe it is partly closed. R loved the infinity pool at Metropole.

If that wasn't enough, our friend in Japan is visiting Melbourne with three of her co-workers, yes a junket really. We caught up with them for dinner at an Asian restaurant in Little Bourke Street, a place we have eaten at many time. Maybe we ordered badly, but the food seemed pretty average. We went back to their hotel to have a look, very spacious and a pretty good price for a good size room. It is in Exhibition Street opposite the rather nice Royal Society of Victoria building.

One of V's workmates was especially kind to us when we visited Japan last year. She took us out in her car for the day and we saw some really local things. Upon our departure from Japan, we left some nice boxed chocolates for her in appreciation.

Well, she repaid our gift with some duty free Scotch for us when we met up for dinner. Pity we don't like Scotch. Ouch, was that a lightening bolt that just hit me? Our friend will stay on in Melbourne for a few days to catch up with friends and family while the rest of her troop go on to Sydney. Our friend also bought us some boxed cakes, beautifully, ok yes wastefully, individually wrapped from Aomori, her nearby large town that is the new terminus for the Tohuko Shinkansen.

We look forward to having our friend stay with us later in the week. She has requested roasted parsnip to be included with dinner.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

New Tram and a Party

It looks like the opening of Auckland's new tram line was a raging success.

Wish I could same say the same about Mother's best friend's birthday party. The Chifley Doveton Hotel was a good venue, the food was good and the staff friendly. It was a surprise birthday party. I have never been to a proper surprise party. The daughter in law did not hear her phone ring to alert us the the sixty year old was about to enter, and before we knew it, she was among us. She did have tears in her eyes though.

Mother should have been proud of us for all attending and for our gift. It was as boring as batshit. Sister had left Little Jo with us and she dropped a glass. It shattered at about 100 decibels. A pub glass is easily replaced. But a plate from your parents wedding anniversary in 1934 is not so easily replaced, and that is what Mother gave her sixty year old friend. However, the friend's two year old grandson turned the plate into a plate of many pieces before it was unwrapped. I am not sure how this will pan out.

Sister trusts us to keep Little Jo safe. Hoho, we managed to teach her about smoking.

'Aunty 60 year old, can we open your presents now?'
'In a minute Little Jo. I'll just finish my smoke.'
One minute pause.
'What is smoke?'
Even though Mother smokes at times, she is very discreet about it.
60 year old then told us about how her two year old grandson does imaginary smoking. Well, I was known to have a Fag in my mouth at a young age (settle), but I don't think it is something to brag about.

When mother mentions sixty year old's daughter in law, she always qualifies it with, she is Czech. She was born so, but doesn't have an accent. Mother really is a shocker. She remarked about one of her sixty year old's son in laws, he is a bit ugly. Tradie Brother and I both said simultaneously, Mother, you can't say that.

The use some American vernacular, Little Jo is plumb tuckered out now after doing three parties in one day and was asleep by 10, which is quite an achievement. I will be at work by the time she awakes. Poor R.