Saturday, September 08, 2012

Hello Sailor

That would be Captain Highriser to you, as I navigated down the mighty Murray River in about 2002. I cannot agree with Ratty. I did not like messing about in boats, especially a fairly non responsive to my steering commands houseboat. Go thataway, I instructed it via the wheel. Some minutes later, it would do so. One must plan ahead with boats.

I imagined lazily throwing a rope over a mooring post along the river bank. There were no such things. Instead I had to turn against the river current and then drive the boat full pelt into the river bank, hoping the nose would stick and I guess I did something with a rope then. No, I'll not be messing about in boats again.

PS, those jeans I am wearing look very ugly and unflattering. I will guess that they were a pair of R's hand me down jeans, only worn when doing messy things, like falling into the muddy Murray, almost.

Mortuary Station

I was looking at my very old Sydney street directory, as is my want, and something caught my eye, Mortuary Station, right next to Central. I assumed whatever was there would have been long demolished, absorbed into Central, but no, the station is still there.

Its original name was later changed to Regent Street Station and it was also known as Necropolis Receiving Station. Its main purpose was for the transport of coffins from Sydney Mortuary to Rookwood Cemetery, stopping along the way at prearranged station stops to collect mourners and more coffins. By the nineteen thirties the funeral procession trains had ceased and a limited service was run on Sundays for cemetery visitors.

Melbourne's Necropolis in Springvale also had a cemetery train service, a spur line leaving the main Dandenong line just after Springvale Station.While it had long closed before I was thought of, I remember visiting the cemetery with my grandmother by bus. I seem to recall every second bus on a certain route went into the cemetery. 

The architect who designed Mortuary Station also designed the station at Rookwood Cemetery. I understand the Rookwood Station was disassembled and moved to Canberra and rebuilt as a church. I'll see if I can find some photos.

My memory was correct. Here is Rookwood Cemetery Station.

 Here it is, rebuilt as a church in the Canberra suburb of Ainslie. Photo by Trevor Bunning.

Mortuary Station is now, as far as I know, locked up, but sometimes excursion trains leave from there. It has also been used as a parcel platform and quelle horreur,  a pancake restaurant called Magic Mortuary. Dear old former Premier Nifty Neville Wran, about whom nothing can be said until he has died, opened the restored Station in 1985.

 Photo by Gordon Smith.

 This one showing the platform side by Marcus Wong, ah Marcus from Waking up in Geelong.

The interior is very nice, but I can't find online photos to show you.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Repaying Kindness

Our most excellent host for our holiday in Malaysia, Manny, is here in Australia now. I asked if he had worked out how much we owe him as he paid for many things when we were there. He hadn't. I gave him $200 and told him to work out how much more we need to pay him. We had a nice meal at Crown with him earlier in the week, with his very old Australian ex priest 'partner'.

Tomorrow we are 'coffee hopping' with Manny. Coffee and tea and all things to with them are his business. There is some big bash at Jeff's Shed that he is involved with and while I don't know why, we won't actually have to pay for our coffee tomorrow as we go to various St Kilda cafes for coffee hopping.

I am not used to more than one cup of proper coffee a day, but I think I might do a latte (milk lining for the stomach), then a long black, then a short black. Manny tells us that no offence will be taken if we do not drink the whole cup.

Manny is staying with the ex priest not too far away.  I suggested he get the Dandenong Road tram and we will meet him at St Kilda Junction to go coffee hopping. I could see I said something wrong. R picked it up. He wants to go by car. Car? In St Kilda? Not my first choice, but R was right and we are picking Manny up in Armadale with the car and we will have to find parking spaces, probably pay spaces. Not my first choice, but whatever Manny likes. He went out of his way so much for us in Malaysia, how could I deny him travel in a car instead of a tram.

First World v Third World

How absolutely horrible. A fire in a Bankstown, Sydney, flat forced two trapped women  to jump from a fifth floor window, one dying and the other being badly injured.

The were both Chinese Nationals and students studying here.

Now China is not known for its high fire safety standards in buildings. In fact because of corruption, I don't know that I would trust a brand new building's fire systems in China. It may appear to be satisfactory, but are all those sprinkler heads actually connected to a water source? Are they frequently checked and maintained?

But this is Australia. We have high fire safety standards for our buildings. Well, apparently not even in apartment blocks that don't look so old.

The Bankstown block of flats did not have sprinklers and a fireman said it was very unlikely such a design would be approved now. The fire proof door, supposedly to be able to withstand a blaze for an hour, disappeared in minutes. Thick smoke filled the central atrium, making difficult for other residents in the building to escape.

It is rather ironical that the two unfortunate lasses came from a third world country with a poor fire safety record, to a first world country with supposed impeccable fire standards.

Terrible Crash

I don't recall reports of this crash. Maybe it was a long time ago.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Man Bag

While we were in Malaysia I discovered something that I should have already known about. When we ate at the KL bird park, I felt the need to find somewhere to wash my hands before eating. R pulled out a little bottle of antiseptic hand gel from his backpack and we used that. That you can buy small bottles of it to carry around was a complete surprise to me. Now I never go anywhere without it.

Well, that is fine in winter when I am wearing a jacket, but what about summer when I am not wearing a jacket to stuff things into.

Men need bags like women carry.

Into such a bag would be the aforesaid hand cleanser, keys, wallet, phone, pen, water bottle, chewing gum, nail clippers, tissues, wet cloths and a camera of course.

As a young and possibly stereotypical gay man, I would have had an eyebrow pencil, concealer, vaseline for the lashes, lip gloss, mouth spray, face powder to kill the shine, Amyl, lube, condoms, a hip flask of vodka and there was probably more.

Mother's handbag has her medications, barley sugar, Minties, disabled parking space permit, cigs and matches, possibly house keys if she remembers them and numerous hand written lists. She may forget any or all of the above, but what she will never forget is a banana. She never goes anywhere without one in case a hunger pang suddenly strikes.

Apart from the obvious unmentionables, what do women have in their handbags?

And now to the news

Today was long. R had an appointment in Dandenong at ten o'clock, more on that in another post, and then we went on to Mother's to do a couple of things for her and take her out for lunch and to the doctor's and the shops. Unlike the last time R took her out, this time she managed to put her petticoat on under her dress instead of over it. She only realised, and no one, including R, noticed she had a petticoat on over her dress. She passed by a mirror and realised her clothing faux pas.

It has been a very windy day. As we left Mother's to go out for lunch, a large dead tree branch had fallen off a tree on her nature strip.  Upon our return, a window on her front porch was smashed. The wind and a rotten window sill combined to do the damage. Tradie Brother may not want to waste time, energy and money on a house that will be bulldozed in a few years, but I think he has to do some patching up now.

We arrived home after five after leaving home at nine. Too much missy.

I need the internet after such an absence. Yesterday I was rereading End of Empire, the Malaysian chapter. For anyone English, I assure you I don't read it with a sense of glee. I read of a massacre of twenty four people in a Malay village by the Scots Guard in 1948. Blow me down, I look at today's electric Guardian, and a headline says, Relatives Lose for Malaya Massacre Inquiry. The world is full of co-incidences.

But if you want a cracking story about Australia, look at a foreign newspaper. Emu underpass planned for Australia was the headline. An expert suggests emus are too stupid to use such a facility. He is possibly correct. Pacing with a car alongside a road is quite pointless and burns up a lot of emu energy.  As I have never heard of this story from an Australian news outlet, I don't expect I will ever hear of a follow up.

For today, read yesterday.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012


Jah Teh just got a fright. No hon, it isn't about you.

I said in an architectural forum that I would reserve my judgement of the new building at the corner of Carlisle and Acland Streets in St Kilda, but at this stage, well a week or so ago, I am not liking it much.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Touch Off

There seems to be five different announcements that I have heard on trams recently, coming from the control centre.  One is quite a dire threat about fare evasion. Another is about standing in the doorways and blocking people getting on and off the tram. Two are about not having to touch off with your Myki card on trams if your trip is not solely in Zone 2. What is the fifth? I forget now, but I am sure there is a fifth.

I've heard these announcements a few times now, yet after I have heard the blocking the doorway announcement, people on the tram still crowd the doorway. It is one of my pet hates. R often gives people a bit of a shove if they are standing in the doorway as he is getting off a tram. I am more inclined to stand behind them, pretending to think they are getting off, which usually elicits a 'sorry mate'.

Worse, they still feel the need to touch off with their Myki card. During a recent tram trip, the voice from above said loudly and clearly that you do not need to touch off with your Myki on a tram, yet one lass left the tram then came back and stood in the tram doorway while trying to touch off. The traffic lights changed to red while she did so and the tram sat there for another minute or so.

Meanwhile, I thought the Myki readers had been significantly quicker of late, but this week past, and maybe it is a problem with individual units, they have been painfully slow for me. I recall watching people use their smart public transport cards in Singapore and they were lightning fast. People did not even break their strides as they held the card up to a reader.

For the price our government, that is us, have put into the Myki system, it should work very fast.

But please, you don't need to touch off on a tram and even if you are still going to, don't leave it until the last minute.

A neighbourhood walk Part 2

Maybe it the good rain of the past couple of years. Maybe it is the colder winter we have just seemed to have come through, but the magnolias look glorious this year.
This soulangeana is a pretty good example. Toorak Road West.

Imagine what it would be like to have that little tower to sit in on a Sunday morning while you nibble a croissant, sipped your coffee and read a Sunday newspaper.

Nice Deco lines as an expensive renovation goes ahead.

Our traffic light poles used to be painted yellow, with school crossing light poles painted as above. Some years ago one local council queried of Vic Roads why a new set of traffic lighta had not been painted yellow. Vic Roads replied, if you want them painted, paint them yourself. I am not sure if Vic Roads still paint school crossing traffic lights on the  roads they control, but I suspect not. The red and white will disappear.

Whatever this is, it was much taller at some point. It is hollow in the centre. I am pleased to say that I don't think it was a sewer vent. Park Street.

Magnolia denudata. There used to be three within thirty metres years ago. Two have gone. Crime!
A very ugly house was demolished to construct this quite good new house. Who said I did not like modern architecture? The house next door is getting a new roof. The house was in a very poor state.

Not the Kingswood! You're not taking the Kingswood. Note the parking sign with a soft wrap around protector. I guess someone walked into it one day.

Behind these doors are quite normal Victorian period houses. Why the high walls? Society, I vant to be alone. Day Street.

Oh look, there is the Highrise in the background, behind the tennis courts of Melbourne Grammar, who's students travel business class on their international school excursions, with some of their costs being subsidised by Australia's working poor. I haven't ascertained where the school's four swimming pools are located. Domain Street.

He was a friendly chap. We couldn't help but smile as walked past him while he was walking his four Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. He returned a wide smile. I think he might have been, you know, one of those types. A ho...........I can't bring myself to say it. We had a friend who had a King Charles. It was the most stupid and idiotic dogs I have ever come across. Bromby Street.

Monday, September 03, 2012


Mystery woman. I was going to use her photo in a post, or write something about her but I can't remember who she is and I did not save any details. Of course I will remember, I am sure I told myself. Do you know?

Update: The pictured woman is Christine Keeler, of the Profumo scandal fame in London in 1963. She turned seventy last February. Thanks for the answer Martin.

Be anything but a hypocrite

I recall Jane and Lance some time ago mentioning a difficulty about the holding of the annual gay pride march in Budapest. Many countries, including Australia, now take such things for granted. The hoops with the authorities have to be jumped through, but there is never a doubt that a gay pride march will go ahead.

Not so in Budapest. Each year an application is made to the police to hold the pride march and each year the police deny permission. The pride march committee takes the matter to a local court and the police are overruled. The march goes ahead, although the marchers are subject to taunts and harassment from fascist, right wing, anti all but the mainstream, neo nazi thug types. I think it was 2008 when Molotov cocktails were thrown. That's really not the sort of pride march that we are used to. I hope Hungary can move on to a state of more acceptance of diversity.

I've done a little superficial research on the matter, as I do, and I have been finding some very amusing things. Well slightly amusing, but they could have had quite serious repercussions.

No doubt people who attack Hungary's gay pride march are supporters of the the far right political party known as Jobbik. Jobbik is the usual glad bag of extreme right wing types, including being anti-Semitic. You've got a feel a bit sorry for one of the leading lights of the party when he finds out he is part Jewish, Jewish enough to be officially classified as such, especially as he known for his anti-Semitic rants.

The caption said, 'former hard right Hungarian politician Csanad Szegedi', so I guess he can no longer be a member of the party. Our hearts are not bleeding.

He is not the only one who has left the party for reasons of incompatibility. András Királywas was openly against gay rights and a supporter of the party line against gays. Here is a quote from him as to how he occupies his time, "Prayer meetings in the evening, bible readings, attending mass, family activities, sharing the love of my family...". Nothing wrong with that I suppose. It does make him sound a little boring though but just the sort of clean living chap who should be Jobbik party spokesperson, and so he was appointed. He is no longer a party member either. He got a little carried away while on a 'research trip' against the evils of homosexuality.

I certainly hope he repents and sees the wrongs of his gay ways. I would not want anyone to be gay who has so little dress sense, such a bad haircut and beard and not a skerrick of style at all. For some reason he reminds me of a young Eugene Terre'Blanche.

Oh, should I pick so much on Hungary? Let us travel to the US for a fine example of something similar.

Try the man with one of the best collection of pornographic gay magazines and dvds in the States. Not only that, he is often to be found in S & M dungeons, saunas, at orgies, all the while researching his favourite topic, the evil GAYS, with his speciality being 'kinky practices'.

His name is Peter LaBarbera, head of Americans for Truth, a bible believing christian organization whose only intent is to expose the gay agenda. If I were his wife, I'd be asking him when he arrived home for his apple pie and cream, where his mouth had been all day.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Bullet is bitten

R has recently worked a couple of casual shifts of late in his field of work. Fortunately they were close to home. But he is very worried that he will be offered work in a area he does not know.

Now, I had a brilliant sense of direction, as did my father. My father kept his skill until the end but I am losing mine. All the same, I can read a map. R is not great with maps, which is why I asked for advice about buying a sat nav device. Tony made a good suggestion in that we have Android phones and I knew they already had inbuilt mapping. I decided to have a good hard look at the maps. There were two, Google Maps and a Telstra Whereis map system.

After some play, I liked the Whereis one best, but the Google Maps gave spoken direction. We decided to try using a phone in the car, but we need a bracket so it can sit on the windscreen and easily pick up the gps signals. We bought a bracket for the outrageous price of $40. I made sure it would fit the next phone I will buy.

The phone as a guidance device worked well enough. The negatives were it seemed to take a long time to pick up satellite signals, the volume of spoken directions was not loud enough and the voice was a hideous American accent. I like some English accents and I like some American accents, but I did not like this one at all. I recalled River saying the voice was important. In summary, the phone worked well enough but it was slow and took some time to set it up for each trip.

R has mentioned maybe getting a built for the purpose device a couple of times. He mentioned a large chain had one on special. We had a couple of Sunday morning hours spare, having decided not to go to church/temple/mosque so we headed into to town, principally for meat for a barbecue in the afternoon and a decent cup of coffee.

We were looking at the sat nav devices and the same salesman who sold us the aforementioned bracket approached us. There was one we were looking at for $179 and asked if that was the one on special. It was yesterday was his reply. I missed what he said next. I thought the special was a reduction to $150 and I wasn't really going to buy. But R picked up what he said. $82! However it was a one day special, yesterday. No worries mate, said the Indian born salesman. I will give it to you for that price. Would you like two? I instinctively said no, but I should have yes as I could have onsold it easily. That is less than half retail price.

Once home with only half an hour to spare, I played with it until the battery went flat. I didn't get far as of course it could not pick up a gps signal inside. We drove off to a barbecue in Caulfield East and we paused once outside the building to set up the destination. It was brilliant. It showed our speed, the speed limit, warned us of red light cameras and mobile speed camera zones, it told us which was the correct lane to be in before turning. We had to turn the safe option off as it defaults to not being played with while the car is in motion. I as the passenger and I was the one playing with it.

We set it again to come home and all was well until we reached the corner of Dandenong and Orrong Roads and it froze. I was looking forward to checking how quickly it corrected directions when we did not go the way it suggested and along my normal route home from that direction. There seemed to be nothing to do to unfreeze it. Just as we arrived at home, R managed to reset it. Reading the online instructions later, press down the on/off button for eight seconds or more for a soft reset.

I am not happy that it froze. I have updated maps and I will update software. It might have just been a one off that it froze. We are off to Ferntree Gully Monday in the morning. Although it is a very straight route, I will make it change routes along the way.

Oh yes, the voice is Australian Karen. I was happy with her until she said avenoo, instead of avenyou. I've switched it to British James, but he sounds pretty bland. The only other choice is British Kate. I will give her a shot I think.

The replenished fruit bowl

A walk in the neighbourhood, Pt 1

Nicely inserted Star of David at the local synagogue. There were a couple more. Arnold Street.

Synagogue gates. I don't mind that they aren't pristine. I suggest that they may well be original, installed when the fence was built.

I don't know what this building is on the northern side of the 'Gog'.

But is it art? A small local gallery in an old motor car works garage. Arnold Street.

City of Melbourne coat of arms in street lamp post.

A fine Deco doorway. Bromby Street.
A fine Deco exterior light shade. My mother had a similar one on her house when she moved into her house. We got rid of it and installed a 'tasteful' mock coach lamp. Why commit such a crime?