Saturday, September 22, 2012

Celeb Spotting

Seen this week, Woolworths, South Melbourne, St Kilda Aussie rules footballer Nick Riewoldt. He is not as tall as he seems on tv. Nice to see him wearing some clothes.

Seen this week, Maggie Beer, Prahran Market, tv cook, author, pheasant farmer and producer of gourmet foods. She is shorter than she seems on tv, and slimmer.

Columbo Memories

Inspiration for posts come from all directions, this time Dina is the culprit.

I was a teenager and good friends with a neighbour. Ann and I used to hang around together and no one could make me laugh like she could. Her mother Phyllis worked in a dress shop, and late night shopping Friday nights Ann and I would keep her mother company at the shop and walk her home.

I also grew to know and became friends with the owner of the shop. The last time I saw Bette, she and husband were running a milk bar with an attached residence in North Fitzroy.

The clothing shop was quite upmarket and Bette always looked so glamorous. Although she was short, her black hair was always teased up very high and with high heels on, she had quite a presence. Once when Bette was unwell, the local paper boy, Rick, and myself visited her at home. We were so shocked to see her hair down, dressed in casual clothes and without makeup. Had we seen her on the street, we would not have recognised her. Bette also spoke very well, a plumb in her mouth as my step mother used to say, yet she was anything but a snob. My father did some building work for her and they got on like a house on fire. I did notice them being slightly flirtatious with each other. Maybe she had tradie (tradesman) fantasies.

If anyone was a bit posh, it was Phyllis. She was tall and carried herself very well. But she had the catholic habits of smoking and drinking, always repenting at mass on Sundays.  Once home on a Friday night, Phyllis would kick off her shoes, open a bottle of beer and we three sat in the lounge and watched the tv show Columbo. It was a fantastic show back in the days when the US used to make extremely entertaining television, and if you ever get a chance to watch an episode, do so. I hope it is not better in my memory that it actually was.

As we watched tv, at some point Ann's father would arrive home from the pub. Phyllis would ignore him as he stood swaying in the doorway, saying nothing for at least ten minutes until eventually Phyllis would say, 'Can you bugger orf Norm', and a few minutes later he would burst out, 'Bed for me. No funny business now', and I could feel his eyes staring into the back of my head.  'No Mr Hutchenson, good night'.

By this time Phyllis was on her second bottle of beer and getting quite cheerful. By the end of Columbo, her words were becoming slurred and as step mother mentioned once, she rather loses her poshness when she has a drink. I can recall she would always lose her 'g' from ing words after a drink.

For how long did this Friday night ritual go on? I can't remember. Months? More than a year? It all came to an abrupt end when Ann was diagnosed with a brain tumour and a month or so later died at the age of sixteen. I last saw Ann at the Peter MacCallum hospital and to see her without hair, thin and trying to smoke an Escort cigarette (join the club,join the club, join the Escort club) was quite distressing. I left the hospital and caught one of the new fangled lurching Z trams to the station. The seated conductor was very disagreeable. I don't recall going to Ann's funeral or ever seeing Phyllis or Norm again.

I carried this photo of Ann around in my wallet for a few years and rather ruined what I think is the only photo of her I have.

Yes, Ann did have a big set of knockers, but they were of no interest to me. Her laughter and wittiness was. It was she who was warned by the school nuns to not talk to boys through the cyclone wire fence, lest she became pregnant. Hmm, it is possible.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Phone boxes poll

I cannot remember the last time I used a public telephone. It was years ago. While there are not so many phone boxes around now, there are still quite a few but do you ever see anyone using them?

The phone wars

When I were a lad............

Well, the battle among the yoof, after which team you supported in Australian Rules football, was which brand of car you were loyal to. You were either passionate about Holdens (GM in the US), or Falcons (Ford in the US). There was an occasional odd bod who was passionate about Valiants (Chrysler in the US). Japanese cars were arriving into Australia, but they were generally despised as being junk. Didn't Japan have the last laugh!

My family was Holden. 'No front end in Fords', I recall my father saying. 'Weak diffs', I remember my uncle saying. 'Fords wander all over the road', said someone else.

I don't think the yoof is so passionate about cars brands now. I suspect they now direct their passion towards phones, Apple or Android.

While Apple with its iPhone is probably winning with the yoof market, there are more Android users in total.

For no logical reason at all, I have always disliked Apple and I cast my lot with Microsoft, not that I like that very much. But for phone, I am with Android and I feel slightly superior about being an Android user rather than the common iPhone.

This is not an opinion about whether iPhone or Android is better. I don't know.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Coffee Hopping Pt 1

"We go coffee hopping", said Manny one Saturday afternoon when he was recently in Australia. I love some of the expressions he comes out with. He had the latest of a Melbourne coffee guide and he had short listed three cafes with three star ratings

We started in Balaclava. What a surprise. Down a lane next to Safeway (Woolworths) was a large expanse of concrete and what looked like might have been a substantial brick shed. The cafe is called Monk Bodhi Dharma, I expect The Monk for short.

The place was buzzing with people. It is clearly a much loved cafe. The staff knew their coffee and were very friendly and helpful. The food looked delicious and the prices appeared to be average.

Four coffees for three people? Yep, two short blacks of different varieties of non blended coffee, a cappuccino and a cafe latte. Although both Manny and R had colds, we shared the coffee, with me drinking from a different side of the cup or glass. I have remained coldless, so that worked well.

Manny bought a couple of kilos of coffee to take back to Malaysia.

Acknowledging the  original inhabitants of the land, the Yalukit Wilam clan of the Boonwurrung people. It is a first class cafe with great coffee.

I wasn't keen on the mural.

Next stop was Miss Jackson almost on the corner of Jackson and Grey Streets in St Kilda. Although in an older building, it was quite modern inside, with a series of rooms opened up to each other. It was popular enough and there was nothing wrong with it, but I didn't feel the atmosphere quite suited me.

Nice arrangements on a mantlepiece.

Same as the first time. I was very much enjoying the short blacks, but the stronger taste was spoiling the milk based coffees.

We had wanted to go by tram, but Manny was moving from his friend's place to the Victoria Hotel in town for a couple of nights, so we had his luggage in the car. We parked outside this used car sales yard. The iron work is getting a bit rusty.

The car yard used to be a plant nursery. I think it has now moved to the old Albert Park railway station, but don't quote me on that. It started, as I recall, in Barkly Street in St Kilda before moving here.

How appropriate, a coffee palace. Coffee palaces were quite common in Melbourne, designed to attract  the punters away from the demon drink. None stayed in business for very long and most became liquor licensed premises. This one is now backpacker accommodation.

One more cafe to visit which I will tell you about in another post.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Blog comment change

I have changed the comment page to one with a link where you can read the original text of what I wrote. Is this preferred? Well more, does anyone think it caused a problem?

And they wonder why

US presidential candidate Mitt Romney:
“As we watch the world today, sometimes it seems that we are at the mercy of events instead of shaping events,” he said at a campaign rally in the battleground state of Virginia yesterday. “A strong America is essential to shape events.”

"The Middle East needs American leadership".

The arrogance of the man in his 'I'm right, you are wrong' world is unbelievable. No damn wonder people of the Middle East get so cross.


No, not Queensland Rail. I wonder how their shares are travelling? I considered buying some when they were released. Maybe Colin or Diane are up to speed with them?

I mean QR code. I first noticed one in our daily newspaper a couple of years ago. I did not have a clue what it was. I expect many don't know now. While I know what it does, how to put it into words? I will give you a couple of examples later. At one time, I read something about your phone being able to read it. How can that be? I tried taking a photo of one with the phone, and no information was forthcoming. I knew it wouldn't but I had to try.

I was aware my current phone had a facility for reading QR codes. After owning it for over  a year, I think, I decided to look at it. Ah, the QR code reader is a trial version from Telstra. I take that to mean they will want me to pay at some point. Barley that Charlie. I looked at Application shop with my phone. Goodie, a free one.

Downloaded and installed, now to try it. Oh, I don't have any QR codes lying around the house. I think I saw somewhere that they can read bar codes. The first things that came to hand was a box of Barbeque Shapes, kept only for visitors of course. It worked! It told me the Shapes came from Officeworks and cost $3.86. Well, they didn't. They came from Coles supermarket and cost $2. Never pay more than $2 for your Shapes and always send an email to the manufacturer about how much less spicy stuff they put on their Shapes.

Being a person with a great focus, I promptly forgot all about the QR code reader. A week or so later we were meeting a friend for lunch in town. As we waited in the building's foyer for her to come down from her office, we examined the sculptures on display. There was some information about each work and also a QR code. There was one work I particularly liked, so I whipped out my phone and read the code. It gave me a link to a website and there was all the information about the work, including the horrendous price of the work.

I have read some writers waxing lyrical about QR codes. While they may be vaguely useful, if they haven't really taken off by now, I doubt they will.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


There is a chap at work, a tall older bloke. I noticed the other day that he has a dandruff problem. Dandruff is also known as scurf. I like the word scurf. It sounds much filthier.

Around the collar and shoulders of his jacket is a greasy looking ring of scurf. How can someone be so unaware of their personal appearance?

There are very effective treatments for dandruff but even if you don't use them, how can you not notice the ring of greasy white sitting on your collar? Why, when you hang your jacket up after work, would you not notice it? Surely you would brush it off if you noticed it. Lordy, do we go down the old widower who can't care for himself road?

I hate dirty people.

East St Kilda

What is in behind here?

The back door, taken with the camera held over the top of a fence.

Bit of a jungle.

This house in Balaclava Road is disappearing, with plants taking over. But, the substantial house doesn't have an empty feel to it. I wonder. What might be thought of by me at least as deceased estate, might not be.

Tram Hunter told me ten minutes until the next two trams that arrive together.  I shall walk up the Sidwell Avenue to fill in the time. Very nice Art Deco.

A little detail.

I have often wondered why Balaclava Road has so many tram users. Perhaps it is because there are a lot of apartments in the side streets. This Sidwell Avenue one is a fine example.

Waddaya reckon? $1.5 million? More? With a fantastic west facing balcony where you can take your breakfast tea and toast or evening martini, maybe it is almost priceless.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Rumours of retirement were unfounded

I came home for lunch during my extended meal break and R's car was not there. Bit odd, he didn't send me a text to say he was going out. There will be note then. He wasn't out. He greeted me when I walked into the apartment. I forgot, he was up early and took his car to be serviced at City Mazda and caught trams home. I made a minor forget. He made a major one.

He was about to leave to get trams back to collect his car.

Do you want me to drive you there dearest?
No no. I'll get the tram.
Are you sure my sweetness?
Well, it would be nice, but I can catch the tram.
No probs. I'll drive you hon.
Are you sure?
If you prefer to get the tram, that is fine my love.
No, it would be nice if you drove me.
It will be my pleasure, darling.

Bastard. That was at least half an hour out of my break to take him when there are perfectly good multiple trams to get him there.

Still forty five minutes before R's car was ready to be finished its servicing. No rush. Then the dreaded telephone instrument rang. 

Hi R, why aren't you at work starting your new job?
This Monday? You said next Monday.
No, this Monday. I should have told you a date.

Panic abounds. Fortunately it was an adjustable orientation couple of hours. R thought he was starting next Monday but no, it was this Monday. Tomorrow's lunch with old workmates has been cancelled. Mother's Thursday outing will be cancelled.

I drove R to get his car and he went on to his new job, only a couple of hours late starting his new job.

While his new job is still in the caring profession area, it is sounding like it is a very good place to work. CoPP, if you know what that means.

Twitter Absurdity

I am not very experienced with Twitter. I rarely tweet and slightly more often, I read tweets from those who I follow, which is not many. I hope I don't sound superior and smug. I just don't have the time. I make time for my blog, but the rest of socialising over the net is very optional for me. But there is more to Twitter than just socialising. It is also a very useful tool.

People and media are thundering about censorship of Twitter. Oddly they want it censored, rather than the usual of pushing for less censorship. Our Treasurer is annoyed because he can't find a phone number on the Twitter website to call and lodge a complaint. No one else seems to be able to find a phone number either.

What a lot of nonsense. Twitter gives you means to communicate with who you want and when you want. I hate myself for using such grown up words, but it is a facilitator for communication and nothing more.  It offers a format for communication. It does not ask you to join, to participate or to add followers or follow others. It only offers the facility.

The thought that it should be censored or is to blame or be responsible for what people say is ludicrous. If you are quite computer literate, you have a damn site better chance of finding out who says something nasty about you on Twitter than you have of finding out who sent you a nasty letter through the post using words cut from a magazine.

While the principle of people being responsible for their actions remains, Twitter users are responsible for who they communicate with over the net. Twitter doesn't do the evil, people do (I am aware of my inconsistency with 'guns don't kill people...'). A good tradie doesn't blame his or her tools.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

A Sydney Botheration

I am just running things around in my head.

Some tosser in the US makes a video that no-one will ever bother watching. Moslems around the world take great offence as the video makes a mockery of their god.

They kill an American ambassador abroad, they demonstrate around the world and they hold a demonstration in Sydney that turns very ugly and violent. Bit of an over reaction chaps and chappesses. Children holding up signs saying 'Behead those who insult the prophet' is rather distasteful. We don't really do beheading here in Australia.

Last year citizens in Moslem countries were fighting for democracy, but I am not sure what they think democracy is. Our version of it means someone can make a video that parodies or is critical of religion or a god.

All very odd. I don't think I am liking this Moslem religion at all. They seem to be worse than the IRA. In the name of Allah, they have blown up half of Manhattan, the London Tube, the holiday resort of Bali and a posh hotel in Bombay.

Australia, being a country of mostly migrants, has not had religious trouble like this in this century or the last. From all directions in the world, people have come to Australia and mostly it has been a peaceful integration into society, as society itself is reshaped by the immigrants. Given the number of Buddhists in Australia, we are damn lucky they don't get so stroppy. So what is going wrong with the Moslem immigration, mainly from the Middle East, and even Moslems born and bred here? I don't know. You tell me.

It might be best to not take any more Middle Eastern Moslem immigrants. They seem unable to grasp what democracy and Australia is all about. Perhaps we have already taken too many.

Not that I care much. They don't affect me in the inner city latte belt........yet.

But you know the funny thing is that I work with some Middle Eastern Moslems and none of them seem like the ones I describe above.

All very confusing. Perhaps there are two versions of Moslems from the Middle East, good ones and bad ones. Simple then, get rid of the bad ones. There, sorted. Next problem? Oh, some are born here. Most are Australians. We need another plan.

Does the face match the voice?

ABC broadcaster Red Symons created a brief musical piece with the lyrics, It's on again, Dan Lonergan. It's quite a catchy little tune. I just adore sports broadcaster Dan's broad Aussie accent, his a little bit raspy voice and its tone, and the slightly lazy laconicness (yes, I know that is is a double).  I won't disappoint myself by hearing him calling football. I may have fallen in love with a voice but at least I knew what he looked like.

I am not sure that Emily Dean from Absolute Radio makes me feel at all lustful, but I certainly like her voice. If I was seeking a fag hag, she would be high on my list. While I may sing the praises of our ABC, UK's BBC, Canada's CBC and US PBS, I will also give a huge plug to the commercial Absolute Radio in the UK and especially the Frank Skinner show, where Emily is a weekly guest. She has a brilliant rapier wit and uses her voice to great comedic effect. He proper job is fashioning editor of  a fashion magazine. I had been listening to her for a long time before I checked to see what she looked like and guess what? She was as far from my mental image of her as I could imagine. Instead of a round faced blonde, I found she was dark haired and sharp featured.

But then I went further. I You Tubed her and I am sorry I did because seeing her speaking just does not match me hearing her speaking. Go to about 5 minutes and 50 seconds. Warning, if you are of a delicate nature, she is talking about The Oscars red carpet.

This is how I much prefer Emily Dean, as she and her co-hosts talk about Scratching Fanny.

Whetted your appetite? Here she is again talking about an offer from the sexiest man in Kent. You can download the podcasts from Absolute Radio and you can choose your decade of music to listen to from the 60s to the 00s.