Saturday, July 28, 2012

It's the thartre darling

We took a little journey into the grandly named Royal Historical Society of Victoria to see the temporary exhibition Melbourne Theatres in Transition - 1840s to 1940s, An idiosyncratic view.The RHSV is located at the corner of William and A'Beckett Streets in what was an old army drill hall. I didn't use the camera flash and if I'd had the photos printed, I would've ripped them up. However, I think can make something of interest from them.

This is Melbourne's much loved Astor theatre in St Kilda. I was amazed that this photo was taken in 1936 and it had the same neon lighting as it does today. In fact the building itself has changed very little.

This is a copy of a gorgeous and well known Art Deco style poster of the Astor.

I don't recall seeing a photo of the old Palais de Danse next to the Palais Theatre.

Here is a better photo of the Palais de Danse.

Now this one intrigued me as I knew nothing of it. It is the Regal Theatre in Camberwell, the locality being Hartwell. This is not a photo but artwork. It looks fantastic but photos of it are hard to find.

This one photo I could find of the Regal was from a newsletter on the website of the Camberwell Historical Society. I like. Its location was where Toorak Road and Camberwell Road meet, where there is a triangular site as Camberwell Road comes in at a forty five degree angle. I recall there being a car yard there and at some point a Pizza Hut. It is now high rise apartments that absolute dominate like a solid wall. The Regal was erected in 1937 and R tells me he saw something that said it was demolished in either 1965 or 1968.

We left the exhibition and strolled towards the QV shopping centre. I have left this photo in its original size in case someone is nerdy as I am and want to look closely. The house silhouette is brilliant and you can see the wonky chimney rising before its cap.

Oh, and what might have once been in this building, a whole three floors? Not too many gay Melburnian men of a certain age would not know.

The Argus building. The Argus was a Melbourne newspaper that closed in about 1956. About a year ago my nephew and a couple of mates climbed up into the tower atop and drank beer and looked at the city lights. They were not responsible for the graffiti. Nevertheless, no one is doing anything with the building and there is a chance it will end up being so badly vandalised, it will not be worth saving. Demolition by neglect is tactic favoured by property developers, whereby they allow a property to become such an eyesore, people are happy to see it pulled down. I'm not accusing, just saying.
The bloody abortion of modern and old architecture that is Storey Hall. The old building was barely worth saving but it didn't deserve to end up looking so absurd. See Victor, there are actually people in Melbourne, in spite of my frequent efforts to show that there aren't.

Friday, July 27, 2012


These private transport companies in Melbourne really like their spin.

Yarra Trams now want their drivers to work for ten hours instead of eight hours. Tram drivers work in in a high pressure job and I don't like the idea of them working for ten hours rather than eight, whether the drivers like the idea or not. Ten hours behind the 'wheel' in heavy traffic and passengers coming and going all day sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. Yarra Trams describe it as family friendly policy. Bad idea Yarra Trams. Should trams start crashing into each other, I am sure it won't be the fault of driver's longer hours. It will be driver error.

Metro Trains have dropped the specific train delay indicator from their website. They seem to longer give out information to media about late running trains. Their website now offers an opinion on how well the different lines are running. I've checked the website several times over a few days and I have not see anything else but, 'good service' on all lines. Apparently, if I heard correctly, even if a train is cancelled, if it is only one, the website will still say good service. What absolute rubbish. Metro Trains are clearly trying to make their service look better than what it actually is, at the expense of passengers knowing about specific things that may affect them.

What is the Department of Transport doing? Why aren't they intervening in what might be unsafe driving hours for tram drivers. Why isn't it ensuring we are given adequate and accurate information about our train service?

Are you ever surprised at how Metro Trains and Yarra Trams meet such high performance figures? I have been told how it is done and it is sheer doctoring both up and down through the management hierarchy.  Every level of management, and there are many, change definitions of problems so that things appear in the statistics to look so much better than they are.

Three months after making a complaint, well more a query, to Metro Trains, I received a reply. I will tell you about that another time.

A relaxing cruise in Amsterdam

Even in the early days of the internet it was unimaginable that there was no more to see on the internet. In my early days of blogging I remember posting a page that said something along the lines 'you have now come to the last page of the internet. There is nothing more to see. Turn off your computer now'.

For a while I tried to set aside Friday's post as an amusing, or interesting to me at least, You Tube video. While the internet has never run out, I feel at times You Tube has. If I look at You Tube, it is a case of either 'not interested' or 'seen it already'.

However I came across this one that amused me. The first three minutes are where the action is. The rest is just the couple chatting with the boat driver.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Revolta

I suppose our vacuum cleaner is about thirty years old. There was a time when I was reluctant to invest in a packet of five dust bags as I was sure the vacuum cleaner was about to pack it in. The chapp in the shop where I buy the bags assured me I could bring them back if it failed. Its brand is Volta, which I think is owned by Electrolux, but who owns Electrolux? General Electric? Hoover?

The Electrolux headquarters used to be located at the corner of Alexandra Avenue and Chapel Street but on the site are now smart apartments. I remember the real estate agent who sold our house in Balaclava lived in those apartments at the time. He heard a ruckass one night and from his balcony he saw lads jump into the river. He did not see them drown but they did, after being chased to the river bank by some fellow night club patrons.

I affectionately christened our vacuum cleaner as The Revolta. Gee it has served us well. We had to replace its foot, the thing at the end of the tube once, but otherwise, it has never gone wrong. It is old and shabby now, rather like us, but it still performs.

In its time it has vacuumed up bits of concrete and dust, dirt of all descriptions, wood shavings, in fact just about everything imaginable. When we had two dogs and two cats and I used it daily to vacuum up pet hair, I cleaned its filters often as it would blow out pet smells into the house.

Now it does a weekly vacuum, if it is lucky and I can be bothered, and picks up sock fluff and maybe a crumb or two from a biscuit.

You could describe it as semi retired. It had a busy life. There was always something new for it to pick up, new house corners to investigate, sometimes really hard work when we were doing full on house renovations, like knocking down a solid brick wall. It has dealt with new carpet fluff from perhaps five different new carpets. Even here, when we moved here, the little trodden on carpet was still fluffing badly.

The Revolta has vacuumed up the detritus of our lives and still does. I think it must have also sucked up a bit of our moods at times, but of course it did not keep them as the bag was thrown away.

But you know, it still works as well as the day we bought it. It is a fully functioning. Nothing tells me that it could not last another thirty years. Somewhat maudlin, but I hope I am around to keep it in use.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Seb and Si

Isn't Sebastian just a grand name? Of course my mind immediately goes to Brideshead Revisited, but this is a different Sebastian.

I am speaking of the Chairman of the London Olympic Games organising committee, Baron, or Lord if you like, Sebastian Newbold Coe. He has come to being known as Seb Coe, which rather sounds like a floor cleaning mop to me.

The other English person who I have noticed on our screens of late is Simon Cowell, a judge in Britain's Got Talent and for some reason I see them as connected. But Ssssimon is not known as Si Co, for obvious reasons.

What have these two in common? Nothing that I know of, except I think they may share the same plastic surgeon and botox supplier. Most males in the fifties do not have such tanned and tight faces. Nor do they have such excellent hair.

This is a rather scary photo of a young Simon Cowell. Si Co assures everyone he is not gay and suggests that there is no reason to deny it if he was. So therefore we can only conclude Si Co is definitely not gay.

No, I prefer a real man rather than a petulant pursed lipped queen. This chap, David Cameron, Prime Minister of England surely fills the real man bill. Shall I call him Day Cam and his wife Samantha, Sam Cam?

And just to wrap, in breaking news, the foppish Lord Mayor of London, Boris Johnston, has had his hair cut short, lest it catches alight while he is carrying the Olympic torch. Dear Bo Jo. He is such a card. Don't you just love a Tory buffoon.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Transport Apps

While I was overseas I turned the automatic update for my phones apps off. I did not want to incur data charges at the high rates that you pay when you are overseas and still using your normal home service. Yes, I did consider buying a local pre paid phone card, but it just didn't seem worth the bother. Perhaps I should have.

Once home, I turned the update facility on again and very shortly my apps started updating themselves, one after another. They were just sitting there waiting for the moment to chew up my bandwidth. Not that I was worried. I have a 1gb allowance and I normally use less than twenty per cent.

What is this one? Train Trapper. I don't know that I have used it.
I have Tram Hunter for live tram times.
I have Offi for all public transport times, which I mainly use for buses but I am never sure if it is live or not.
I have Metlink, mainly to check timetables or routes.
But Train Trapper? I must check what it does. (I have now checked and it seems to give live train times for your nearest railway station)

You may think I have an excessive number of public transport apps, but each one does at least one thing really well. None do everything and certainly none do everything well.

Monday, July 23, 2012


I am rather fond of gadgets. I ohh and ahh at large hardware stores, in electronic and computer shops and where there are walls of kitchen gadgets. I mostly resist the buying urge but sometimes I fail.

This cute little camera tripod cost $2 in the city Reject shop. It is only plastic of course but it works fine. The question remains as to whether I will ever use it. No, I shan't be making home movies of a questionable nature to upload anonymously to the world wide web.

We were at one of the big shed hardware stores to buy.....something, I forget what, and I was distracted by torches. Our present torch uses two D sized batteries which eventually go flat even if the torch is not used. We've had it for a couple of decades I guess. I thought an LED one would be good and they were cheap enough.  I was looking at a $6 model and a passing salesman, with the emphasis on sales, said, 'Don't bother with that. Get that one over there'. He pointed to a stand with torches priced at $16. 'Up to you', he said, 'but you will never have to bother with batteries again. It will see you out'. Well!!!

They were wind up torches. What fun. It works really well. The winding handle folds out and wind away you do. If fully wound, it can last for five hours. Little Jo is in charge of torch winding when she visits.

While our power supply here is very secure, not entirely though, a torch is necessary for trying to read things on the back of tvs, computers and more. I am normally not bad with in and out, but my age is showing and I struggle at times. That bit of extra light means I can instantly see which socket says in and which says out. Many is the time I have been frustrated by plugging into the wrong hole.

I might sound like a radio talk back topic, but do you have a slightly obscure or very useful gadget you use that I might find interesting? Bean slicers. Now they were all the go once.  I've not seen one, but I have heard there is gadget to remove the shell from prawns. I bought a cd cleaning kit once. It was used once and failed to repair a damaged cd. Mother had made a bit of a profit at her garage sales from our gadgets that were never used. Two sales ago Sister asked, wasn't that the lettuce spinner I gave you for christmas? Guilty.We like our lettuce gently patted dry.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

A friend's shoes

A friend from overseas was stopped in the street in Melbourne and asked if his photo could be taken because of the shoes he was wearing. His photo was published on a blog about shoes. Now, I am a very up to date person with fashion (that girl who shoved her fist into her mouth, get out) but I have no idea what TODs are. For the more alert among you, perhaps you might, with a slight alphabetical adjustment, connect his name with our recent holiday.

Lordy, I just googled TOD. Expensive Italian.

Recalcitrance is a wonderful word

KL has not been great at persevering its physical history. Roads are constantly being remade. Ugly flyovers are being built. I hope Melbourne never has flyovers and a couple we did have, King Street and at Port Melbourne, have been demolished. Clifton Hill is somewhat spoilt by flyovers. After seeing KL and its hundreds of flyovers, I can inform you that they may only improve traffic in the short term.

Amazingly when searching for something, I discovered that the marvellous website SkyscraperCity has a forum of some forty pages devoted to the old Kuala Lumpur.  There are some fabulous photos there, but I don't know where they are taken because the street names used, with exceptions, are as they are now named. Malay names don't stick in my brain as English names would and while the roads are being altered all the time, some remain that had grand names.

KL has all but obliterated its English street name history.  Obliterating history is one thing, but this would have happened for purely political populist reasons and I think it is unfortunate. Malaysia may not have liked being a colony but it was and that is its history and that is why the streets had English names.

Gone is Mountbatten Road, Foch Avenue and many similarly English named roads. They were not even happy with them being described by their street name such Jalan Mountbatten.

One local Malaysian person in the forum lamented that the street names had been changed and was thankful that it had not happened in Malacca or Penang. I have news for him. Many have been now. More history gone.

As I said, I suspect it was done for political reasons, a bit of nationalism.

Malaysia did truly surprise me though. It is modern and functioning western style city. While the roads are on a par with the sophisticated Singapore, there is little law enforcement as in Singapore. As Manny said, the traffic light was only dark green, which is actually a red light. Pedestrians, fend for your selves. God help cyclists. Like in western countries, freeways have emergency lanes, but in Malaysia these are for travelling along if there is a traffic delay. Once all freeway lanes are full and stationary, then you fill the emergency lane.

Police do pull drivers up and set up road blocks, but the penalty generally seems to be an 'on the spot fine', graded according to your perceived wealth.

My first real knowledge of Malaysia came when I started studying colonial history but I knew little of the modern Malaysia. In my past life I was a colonial administrator in India and Malaysia who spent the hot seasons at the cooler hill stations, taking my retinue of servants with me. Malaysia kind of popped up onto my horizon when Australian's Kevin Barlow and Brian Chambers were hung(hanged?) after being convicted of drug trafficking. Our then Prime Minister Bob Hawke called the punishment barbaric. Malaysia's PM, the larger than life Dr Mahathir Mohamad, responded to a question about the right to take someone's life with 'You should tell that to the drug traffickers'.

Malaysia and Australia were not good friends anymore, the relationship further damaged by our next PM Paul Keating who referred to Dr Mahathir Mohamad as recalcitrant when he refused to attend an APEC summit.

Mahathir was Malaysia's PM from 1981 to 2003 and while he advanced and modernised the country significantly, it came at a great cost to civil liberties. Like in many countries, if you kept your head down and got on with life, you were probably ok but if you rebelled against the government, then draconian laws are in place to deal with you. As Opposition lead Anwar Ibrahim discovered, if there isn't a law to deal with you 'circumstances can be constructed'. Anwar has been gaoled twice, once for corruption and once for sodomy. He was acquitted of a second charge of sodomy.

Malaysian politics is very complex and not for me to understand but I expect Anwar Ibrahim will become PM at some point. While with high religious ideals, which is a worry, he does believe in an open press, an independent judiciary and recognises the extreme corruption endemic in the country and needs addressing. Now where have I heard those words before?

Although most of the local Malays who we came across were clearly moderate in their beliefs, some areas of Malaysia are not, but they are not tourist areas. Old Mahathir had some unpleasant things to say about Jews and even now citizens of Israel are not welcome, perhaps not allowed, into the country. (what if you are a Moslem from Israel? I assume some of the Arab citizens are)

One piece I have just read states that Malaysia is almost a failed state. If you can go by appearances, it is most certainly not. It is a progressive country where there are not the extremes of poverty that can be seen in some countries, like its neighbour to the north, Thailand. I expect once the tech generation come through, it will be even better.

And now to keep you on your toes, what is this arrow for? We had them in our hotels in Malaysia, except ours were on the ceiling. A hint is it would have been very disrespectful to unpeel the arrow and point it in a different direction.