Saturday, September 01, 2012


Ten years ago last month, we moved in to the Highrise. From a one bedroom flat in Elwood, to a two bedroom house in East Malvern, to a three bedroom house in Glen Iris, to a two bedroom unit in Burwood, to a two bedroom house in Balalcalava, to the Highrise. We have lived here longer than we have ever lived anywhere else.

R at times mentions how nice it would be to have an outside area, apart from the balcony. Somewhere he could potter in the garden, let a dog have a run. But essentially he likes living here.  I was very reticent before we bought. I was not confident in my ability to adjust to living in a flat, but we chose well.

We had half looked at apartments in high rise building over the preceding years but I was never keen. While we made our last house quite satisfactory, it really needed the back end pulled out and rebuilt. While it was a Victorian workers cottage, it had been, and there is no better word for it, bastardised over the years. There was nothing original Victorian about it, except perhaps the stumps. We had renovated every place we had been in and we just did not have the stomach to do it all again.

As soon as saw the Highrise, I loved it. It was so clean, spacious, modern and with great views. We were just so sick of old. Even before Balaclava, we had ditched our antique decoration and furniture. We moved on to our modern and contemporary period and have not looked back. I may have a fantasy for one day having an Art Deco period, but I don't think it will happen.

When I am not working, my car just sits in its parking space, unused. I don't need it unless I have to go to see family, who live in all directions of the compass. When R is not working, he doesn't use his car either. I can see no reason to own a car when we no longer work. We can easily rent one or use a Flexi Car, or taxis, should we need car transport. Trams, buses and trains suit us very well.

If you might think where we live was a wise investment, it was not. It is our home. It is not to make money. In fact the more its price rises, the more council rates we pay.  I never get the glee of people when they say much the house where they live is worth. Maybe the beneficiaries in their will should be gleeful, but short of a reverse mortgage, you can't eat your bricks, concrete panels or weatherboards. (Dina and JayLa, do you know what weatherboards are?)

So ten years later, I just love living here. I suppose in a way I am lucky, but this is all I have to show for years of working a crap job which I hate about half the time. All I care about is that we can always afford to live here at our current standard. We can at this moment, hope to be able to in the future and one day it might be, I can, or R can.

Double Deckers

Double decker buses are returning to the streets of Sydney but for use on longer outer area routes where there is little short trip travel.

This great photo from the SMH is Sydney's Queens Square. As you can see, the trams are disappearing and the buses are taking over. I believe this photo is from 1950 and the tram from Watson's Bay to the Erskine Street Wharves has been cut back to terminate here or is about to be, no longer running along King Street. Long had King Street shop keepers and police argued for removing trams from King Street.

It was a marvellous time in Sydney, when those slow and shabby rattling old trams that constantly blocked traffic were replaced by buses and Sydney's traffic problems were forever solved.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Bad Sister

I is angry. I don't get angry often. Today R journeyed down to the Bellarine to be a substitute father for Little Jo. It was her kindergarten Father's Day thing. Dads or male family friend were welcome. It was a huge effort by R, but he did it and enjoyed it. (of course Sister lives somewhere nice, where things are inclusive, and the child's mother's brother's partner is quite accepted as uncle)

But Sister, who he was not supposed to see, was home when R dropped Little Jo back home. Sister had some issues at her work place and left work early. She was clearly, by R's recount, very annoyed about what happened at work.

Yet Sister took it out on R and was quite rude to him.  She was in a thoroughly bad mood. I am angry because Sister thinks of R as family. R is not family. He does what he does for our family with good grace and not out of obligation. I've told her he is sensitive, yet did she hear?

I so want to send her a blunt sms to tell her to show more respect for and to R. But while Sister is so outgoing, friendly, charming and interesting, she is somewhat frail. I may have the opportunity to slip something in at some point, but I won't press the point that R felt unwelcome at Sister's and that his effort for Little Jo seemed unappreciated.

At least her footy team won tonight, so the long suffering Bone Doctor might not be on the end of a savaging. 


Our fruit bowl is empty of anything edible. It must be shopping day. One apple is plastic. The other is a plastic pull apart and reassemble puzzle. The puzzle takes some time, but it is quite doable. I do not know what they other things are, the yellowish things. I have never asked. Maybe preserved lemons, or dried lemons?

Prepare to hold your breath

I was going to write something like 'what they lack in brains, they make up for with daring and skill', but who is to say they are not extremely intelligent. What they do is life threateningly dangerous, but they do it with such obvious skill and without payment. Perhaps they are heroes.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Psst, Gina

Australia's richest person, Gina Rinehart, says people need to give up their evil ways. No more smoking, drinking, socialising and gambling. Get out there and work hard and you could be as successful as me.

It rather reminds me of the educated classes of London writing their criticisms of  the poor and their fondness for gin.  The rich do seem to adore lecturing the working class.

Gina wants us to work harder, to spend more time at work. Fortunately most of society doesn't do that, so we have other things in our lives. Some of us potter in the garden. Some support artistic endeavours. Some go the shops daily. Some read. Some listen to and create music. Some take photos. Some travel. Some visit historic buildings. Some party like there is no tomorrow. Some look after animals. Some work for for free to the betterment of society. It takes all kinds.

Some even spend time bringing up children, moulding them into successful adults, and don't bring up children who have law suits out for their mother.

Methinks said Gina ought to have spent a bit more time with her children and bit less time making vast fortunes. She may well lecture us about our work ethic, but she does rather leave herself open for criticism for her family relationships. 


Pretty enough sunset while looking east. The reflecting sun from the rather dominating high rise building was brilliant, but somehow I think it might lose something here, even if you click on the photo to embiggen it.

It's all about the Brand

There is not much I don't get in life. I am tolerant and embracing kind a guy. I usually get people too. But I am suffering, and have for some time, over why women have such an attraction towards Russell Brand. I have certainly never heard of any gay man finding him attractive or hot. I suppose his teeth are nice enough and he does wear eyeliner, so that makes him a bit interesting. But otherwise??? He has a unique and fashionable dress style. But???

Now I hear via Pants, that he is going out with Geri Halliwell, of the Spice Girls. I have heard him described as a short and hairy arsed wog. I would not possibly describe him in such intemperate language. I'll just suggest that he either has a massive schlong or his techniques of seduction and love making are superb. As an infamous Australian once said, please explain?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Always cleaning windows

The window cleaners are abseiling down the building. It is fine when they are at the balcony but when they are cleaning the side windows, which they do first, I hear an alarming bang on the window, that without fail gives me such a fright. Of course I covertly check the window cleaners out to see if they are cute.

Soul Kitchen

A few weeks ago I made mention and showed a couple of photos of the take away food van parked at the Arts Centre. Today The Age has a feature on the owner and his business. I am surprised to read that the owner is very entrepreneurial and there is more than one van.

A bad day on the trams

I turned on a Twitter feed for Yarra trams a few weeks ago and this by far the worst day since. I also heard that City Link inbound from the east was closed for a few hours, which no doubt affected route 8 with extra traffic in Toorak Road. If the tram system was like this daily, I would be turning my phone off.

Monday, 27/08/12

7.18 St Kilda Road disruption cleared (it was a car accident blocking north bound trams into the city, so the wireless informed me. We later saw the sand covering spilt oil)

9.19 Disruption to routes 3 and 16 cleared. Trams running again in Carlisle Street. (I don't know about that one. Would have been diverted via Dandenong Road but there was more to come)

11.46 Routh 3, 16 and 67 diverting via Dandenong Road in both directions due to damaged overhead wires at Chapel and Carlisle.

12.13 Route 19 trams terminating at Bell Street due to car accident blocking tracks.

12.29 Route 19 trams back to normal.

12.42 Route 67 back to normal. 3 and 16 still diverting via Dandenong Road.

12.43 Route 1 and 8 disrupted by a defective tram in Lygon Street.

1.18 Route 1 and 8 back to normal.

1.45 Route 3 and 16 back to normal but St Kilda Road south bound trams diverting via Sturt Street and Kingsway due to a defective tram. (no all clear about this one)

4.00 Route 109 and 112 diverting via Latrobe Street due to accident in Macarthur Street.

4.53 Route 109 and 112 back to normal.

Tuesday morning, massive disruption to Swanston Street trams because of a union picket, yet Twitter has remained silent.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


R and I were in Caulfield and we bought a salad sandwich. We were asked if we wanted a drink with it for an extra fifty cents each. Given my water bottle has started to grow things inside the cap, I decided for fifty cents, I would have a newie. I asked for a bottle of water and that is exactly what I got.


What are those things sticking up behind these townhouses?

Oh, this is looking good.

It is the National Trust (Victoria) owned house Labassa, in Caulfield. We have reacquainted ourselves with the fabulous Labassa after our last visit in about 1981 when the Trust had just bought it. It had been divided up into a number of flats and I think some of the tenants were still in residence. I could not have taken this photo back then, as there was a modern brick veneer house in front of the house. The Trust bought the house and demolished it. The view back then was from the side of the house and very limited. Is it not a good thing that the house has been given a viewing perspective?

This is the reason why the proposed sell off of land around the Banyule homestead in Heidelberg must be stopped. Grand houses need land around them. A developer wants to build housing on the land surrounding Banyule and remove native vegetation. Banyule is a very important building in Melbourne's history. You can read about the campaign to preserve the land around Banyule here and some of the building's very interesting history. For a first class photo of Banyule click here. Surely no one would build around Banyule. It would be criminal.

Labassa was completed in about 1890 but also significantly altered over the years. It has a lot of original features intact, including luscious wallpapers and a good bit of stencilling. It is not a restored house, rather an  original house with some of the conversion to flats removed. The stained glass looks nothing from the outside, but inside it is brilliant. It lights a double staircase and it is mesmerising. Sadly photography is not allowed inside the house.

This fibro cement, perhaps asbestos, addition should be removed.

One does rather like imported pink Italian marble. Other grand houses in Melbourne are Como, big but quite ordinary, Ripponlea, its best features being its gardens and Werribee Park, quite nice. Labassa is my fave though.

What do you call the face at the top? I don't know. Click on the pic to see it in more detail.

This garden looked quite nice. What is the plant with the hanging flowers? It looks a bit datura like.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Mouse Mat

How does a mouse mat get so disgustingly dirty? Look at how it has made the water so putrid.

Guys we know who we have never met

We have known our Brother Friends for thirty two yeas, nearly as long as R and I have been together. We used to have some wonderful nights out at bars and very late nights at times. We have holidayed with them a couple of times, both local and overseas. We have seen a couple of their respective partners come and go. It has not always been smooth sailing though. R being the more caring type was a target for one of them when the friend suffered extreme stress. Ok, I will call it, a nervous breakdown. It was not the first time R has been targeted by friends who are struggling with life. I once had a best friend, almost, who told me through R that he no longer wanted to have anything to do with us and he promptly moved to the country. No probs. I tell myself I didn't care much anyway. While in some ways it was a relief, it hurt.

Our Brother Friends have partners in Thailand who they visit for three weeks twice a year. The guys are both ex money/bar bois. Our BFs have known them now for over a decade now. While R met them earlier in the week when they all took a trip on Puffing Billy, I only met them for the first time Saturday night over dinner at The Dick, among ten people.

Both are quite masculine and you would not pick them as gay, if they actually are. One is a muscle guy, quite out there and very straight. The other is slim and petite and so nervous about meeting ten Aussie people for dinner, he was shaking, so we were told. Yet in spite of their limited English skills, smiles, laughs, nodding and hand movements got us through.

The Brother Friends have to take them to Williamstown to see a friend. I said to R, they should get the bus to the station, the train into town, the train to Williamstown, see the friend, a ferry back to the city and the train home. The lads would see a few things. R reminded me, that is what we would do. It is not what other people would do.

The Brother Friends have organised a stay on Phillip Island and a trip to Mount Buller to see snow, but they are not showing them our fair city very well. I want to interfere, but I won't. I will make sure they see the fire show at the casino when we dine there tonight and they will have a ride on a tram to get there. Something at least. And they will see the smart St Kilda Road apartment, as opposed to the boring beige Box Hill house where they are staying. Ok, the Box Hill is quite nice, but hey, we've got the views.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

You can be a hero, just for one day

I'm no hero. I've never done anything heroic in my life, but I should be a hero, as everyone else seems to be. Last night a friend was telling me about a woman who has organised Meals on Wheels for Jewish peeps in her local area for twenty five years. He suggested she should get a gong (an honour from the government). I agreed, until he told me it was a paid position.

I just will not have it that people who just do their paid job are worthy of awards.

While of course it is sad that Neil Armstrong died, and wow, it is quite some achievement to walk on the moon, he wasn't a hero. The commercial television news was sickening with repeated references to him being a hero. He did his job. He had a lot of training for the job. The poorest US taxpayer paid for his training. He went about his job very proficiently and certainly achieved. It was a truly remarkable moment in world history. I watched it live at school but only now do I realise what a technological achievement it was for the US.

Armstrong sounds like he was a good bloke, but he was not a hero. People who satisfactorily perform their paid jobs are not heroes. Even those who do better than satisfactory are not heroes. They are just really good at their jobs.

And well paid politicians and high ranking public servants are not heroes. They are just doing their job too. (Sir Humphrey is turning in his grave).

A hero is someone who risks their person, physical or otherwise, to help someone else. A recipient of an award should be someone who is not paid to do something, but sacrifices their own time to benefit a community. There are many people who I know who give an extraordinary amount their time for the public benefit. These are the people who should be recognised with an honour.


What is this lady doing? Why is she reading and not turning pages but making a swiping motion?

Surely she is too old for one of those electric book reading devices. What a wondrous time we live in.