Saturday, December 22, 2012

Myki Query?

I had one, but google quickly answered my question. What I am puzzled about is why so few people on the trains I caught during the week touched off when they left the station? My travel was in Zone 1 and I imagine most of my fellow travellers were only travelling in Zone 1, so why did they not touch off when they left the station. Simply, if you don't touch off when you leave the station in Zone 1 and you have only been travelling in Zone 1 , you pay for Zone 1 and 2.

Why did so few touch off at suburban stations?


I guess we bought these scales in the 1990s. They are electronic with a red LED display, common at the time. Over the years the set become inaccurate, giving higher and higher readings, which we were finding quite depressing. Finally it failed altogether, displaying lo battery, which was not rectified by replacing the battery.

We looked for some new ones. Ouch, anything between $40 and $120 or more. We tried Big Trouble U, and this neat and uncomplicated set made of white glass was $30. We took it to a self scan register, and it scanned at $20. Nice one.

Of course for $20, you can't expect it to be dead accurate. We both feel it is giving a too higher reading, but it is useful to know if we are adding weight or losing weight.

Things I am pleased I am old enough to have done

There are quite a number of things I am pleased that I was young enough to do or experience that young people now never will.

Type on a typewriter was one, tap, tap, tap, ding, as you reached the end of the line and had to hit the carriage return

Use a mouse that had a tracking ball inside it, and rollers than needing cleaning every so often

Know the sound of a dial up modem

Getting really techie now, using as telephone with a crank handle and speak to an operator who would connect the call and experiencing 'party lines'

Drive a car and truck with manual gears. Who knows how to double de-clutch now?

Never even considering that the Village People or Freddie Mercury could be gay

Reading for hours without any electronic distractions

Become very excited at the prospect of lollies, crisps or soft drink

Fill a paper straw with dry pine needles to smoke

Kick a footy on the football ground at half time on the MCG (ok, I didn't really do this one, but others did)

Not have to worry about HIV

Winding up the alarm clock and knowing that when you hit the off button in the morning, there was no second chance

Staring at the filthy and rusty old chain called a communication cord on a train and wondering how they would know who pulled the cord and so have to pay the £5 misuse fine

Experiencing my first train ride on the modern and sleek new suburban Hitachi train. (Not so modern now)

Getting on a tram or bus and paying my fare to conductor

Knowing the sweet spot for the choke to be set for when starting a car, and where to have it set until the engine warmed up and remembering to turn the it off (no ma'm, it is not there to hang your handbag from)

Pulling apart an audio cassette to fix it when it started jamming and seeing the abandoned ribbons of cassette tape blowing around the streets on Saturday and Sunday morning after the revellers yanked the tangled tape from their car players and chucked it out the window

Cleaning the heads on a vcr and cassette player (actually, that was a bit of a pain)

Tracing the blown bulb which prevented the string of christmas tree lights from working

Not being able to walk away from the toaster or lose concentration when bread was in toasting

Grandma's frantic attempts to catch the toast after I shortened the spring on her pop up toaster

Truck drivers who had to keep a good look out before the disclaimer signs arrived, If you can't see my mirrors, I can't see you.

Drivers who started off when the lights turned green, rather than requiring a toot to move their attention from whatever device they are playing with in the car to what is happening in front of them

Feeling sorry for motorists stopped at the side of the road because their car radiators had boiled. Feeling sorry for ourselves when it happened to us

Roads that did not have Japanese, Korean or Euro cars using them

Vacuum operated windscreen wipers. The faster and harder you drove, the slower they would go. While stationary, they operated at a cracking pace.

Cars without power assisted brakes and steering.

Getting stuck behind the Punt Road bus as it climbed the hill from the river, belching out thick diesel fumes.

Being on the Punt Road bus and watching the very wide conductor walk down the aisle at a slight angle.

Remember when the Yellow Pages were the Pink Pages.

And the Green Guide being green, before the addition of staples, now much complained about since their cost cutting removal.

The Herald, an evening newspaper and The Truth, a salacious gossip and exposure weekly paper.

The list of things I can now do far outweighs the list of what I could do years ago. Any of your own to add?

Friday, December 21, 2012

The dancing lid

I could not find the record button on the new camera, but I must have accidentally pressed it somehow and it operated briefly. The pot lid just kept right on dancing, like a belly dancer swinging her hips, or his. I have seen a male belly dancer and he was good. While I tried to find the record button, household management entered the kitchen area to tend to the cooking and shoved me and my camera out of the way.

She gathers shells

A quickie from Monsieur Hulot's Holiday. The two characters are of no real consequence. They are often to be seen slowly strolling in quite a number scenes, he a few paces behind. I recall seeing at stage production of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and a similar stage device was used with a back packer wandering across the stage at various times. Ah, the wandering actor is the sister of Public Transport Users Association VIP.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Our ABC, for the summer

Let me say that I have no issue with reducing costs over the christmas period by our ABC by national broadcasting. It has been around for a long time and I expect it.

It can be rather good. I would have never heard the snappy Kelly Higgins-Devine if programmes did not go national over the holiday period. I like her rather a lot.

But already the rot of national broadcasting has set in. Pauses, and then the auto music kicks in. Supposedly national news having a strong Sydney focus. Broadcasters forgetting that they are performing for a national audience (this is ABC Canberra, 666. Oi, what about the rest of Australia?).

You know what is the worst? Broadcasters pretending they are in a mythical broadcasting centre of Australia and not identifying where they are. There is no harm in saying when broadcasting all over Australia where you actually are and which local radio station you work for. It is nothing more than honesty. By the same token, if the broadcast is coming from Sydney, don't talk about an obscure local suburb as if we all know where it is.

"This is 'name inserted' broadcasting from Northern Tasmania Australia wide for our evening programme". Well, something a little less formal but you get the drift.

Still, I am in Melbourne and we don't do so badly. I think I heard Perth mentioned on the current affairs tv show 730 last night.  Lordy!

A South Yarra Stroll Pt 2

I cheated on my walk. A tram arrived at Punt Road, so I hopped on and left at South Yarra Station. I walked down Yarra Street. From the Highrise, we watched this building rising. It looks quite nice in the distance.

How often I stood on Platform 6 waiting for the Pakenham train to go to Sister's at Murrumbeena where I would meet up with R after work and we would take Little Jo to the park. I watched workers beavering away on the construction site, purely from a technical construction aspect, of course.

There are walkways to go east towards Chapel Street, with ubiquitous cafes of course.

The slum residents of Daly Street in the early to mid twentieth century would scarcely recognise their street. The tower block on the left is known as Vogue and has a decent shopping centre at its base. It dominates the view from the Highrise.

The slum residents of Daly Street would certainly remember the tramway electric substation, now a frock shop called Le Louvre, transplanted from Collins Street. I must have crossed over Claremont Street without even noticing it. There was a nightclub in Claremont Street called The Warehouse, later called Salt. I recall cars queued in Toorak Road, blocking trams, while trying to turn into Claremont Street to go to the nightclub. While it did not happen on the premises, it was where some angst started between some patrons and resulted in a multiple murder, with some victims drowning in the nearby Yarra River. The commotion was witnessed by our estate agent who was selling our Balaclava house at the time and lived in a highrise on the corner of Chapel Street and Alexandra Avenue.

The Olsen is one of the Art Series Hotels, sprinkled around the inner south and east. The Blackman is close to the Highrise and we often go there to Depot de Pain for afternoon tea. Their coffee is superb. Another, The Cullen, is in Commercial Road, Prahran. All hotels are named after famous Australian artists and feature their works, or copies of them within.

Chapel Way, off Chapel Street. I have no idea where it leads, perhaps to the back of the  Como development. The whole eastern side of Chapel Street was once owned by Jack Chia, a property developer. His developer dreams of a little Venice, complete with canals, came to nothing. While not in this case, quite a bit of early Melbourne has been saved by developers dreams coming to nothing.

Old W class trams rattle and clatter along Chapel Street during the week. I was drinking a much needed cup of long black in the adjacent company of some quite rough acting tradies who were construction workers from a nearby building. I alternated between being disgusted by their crudeness and loud behaviour, and looking around for an appropriate wall to be slammed against while they had their wicked way with me. The foot traffic in this part of Chapel Street has to be seen to be believed, compared to a decade ago.

Ah, this would be where the tradies work. Upon completion, this building will block our view of Como and the Channel Ten tv station illuminated sign. So may highrise buildings have gone up in South Yarra, and hence the population has increased many fold. Each apartment will come with at least one car parking space. An already congested area has become even more congested, to the point where cars crawl along, with trams stuck among the traffic. South Yarra Station in the morning and evening peaks is so flooded with people, it can be almost impossible to navigate. The transfer of people to and from the trams and trains has to be seen to be believed. I like the theory of increasing inner city population density, but what is actually happening is overcrowding, of roads, footpaths and public transport.

The furniture retailer Freedom was located here, where we bought our dining suite. I read a little about Freedom lately and from memory, it is a privately owned company, not a public one, and the owners, a couple, own right up to the corner of Toorak Road.

Call this what you like, owned by the owners of Freedom. It was a cable tram engine house that ran the cables for Toorak Road and Chapel Street trams. After cable trams were replaced by electric trams, it became Capitol Bakery. I remember inside a skating rink, where Gay Skate was held, clothing shops, and a pinball parlour. Soda Rock was previously known as Johnny Rockets and before that, Soda Sisters, with another name which I have forgotten.
"I bought my first dope at the South Yarra Arms,
A whole matchbox full, in my hot little hands."

So the Skyhooks song went. South Yarra Arms has long gone, now Country Road and earlier, Sports Girl.

Will this building survive after the highrise construction has ended? I don't know, but I hope so.

I am walking back west along Toorak Road. I have never noticed this what is obviously once a car repair garage. The arched openings tell the story.  IGA is a grocery shop.

It is some time since the Longford Cinema closed. R and I saw a few movies there. Raymond Longford was a film director and obviously there was a connection to the Longford Cinema, but I am not so sure what it was. After I took the snap, my thoughts were broken by some loud and obnoxious type talking on his phone. I don't normally audibly swear, but I do in head my rather a lot. Who is that fucking obnoxious creep? I turned around and at an outdoor cafe table was Dermott Brereton. My opinion of him was reinforced. I recall a 'friend' who was a taxi driver and carried said Brereton. The friend, a thorough professional, ignored him, until Brereton asked, 'Do you know who I am?' Wanker.

Her Majesty's, known as Masies, a gay bar, when Toorak Road was a gay pick  up street. I recall a reference to the place by Graham Kennedy and on the tv show The Box.  For once the truth, I am too young to know about it, but an older resident of the Highrise described it to me. Men would park in the a dark place in the side streets and go for a stroll along Toorak Road and maybe meet a new friend and adjourn to their car 'for a chat'. Her Majesties is going to be turned into smart apartments. If you click on the photo to see it bigger, you might see a bust of Queen Victoria, along with a couple of pigeons.

The South Yarra Post Office, well it was until Australia Post decided it was not so important and did not need grand buildings.
This is the present South Yarra Post Office. As the grandeur of our post offices has diminished, so has the mail service.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


I am getting something like fifty spam comments each day. There is the odd one that slips through, which I delete as soon as I am aware of it. I feel compelled to check the spam comments, as very, very occasionally a real comment will get marked as spam.

But I can't go on like that. I have two choices. Turn on word verification, which I hate, or not check the spam folder and there is a chance a real comment will be deleted.

Any other ideas?

Do we always have to be sensible?

In reference to electric fixed rail transport, possibly the planned trams, sorry, light rail, for Sydney, I read this,

not all make financial or environmental sense.

No they don't, and so? Does everything have to be boiled down to such base basics? Cannot convenience and governments doing things to please the people come into the equation?

I don't mean electric rail lines should be constructed if there is not a significant usage factor, but by golly, there were plenty of electric trains and trams retained that carried virtually no one, only for political reasons.

Sometimes you have to forget about the dollar and cents and invest money in  convenience and pleasure. How wonderful it will be for Sydney people if the suggested light rail plans go ahead. Will the light rail make a decent return on the invested capital? Possibly not, but I can only repeat myself, it not always about money.

I just hope the NSW government is planning to act once this proposed line is in action. I can tell you, it will be mega successful if it is done correctly.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

They are just good friends

Remember the photos of my great uncle I found in Mother's wardrobe a few years ago?

I rather like photos like the above that leave you wondering, so when I came across a website with lots of those sort of often suggestive photos, I subscribed to it. Many of the photos have a military focus.

The owner of the site is known as Miss Magnolia Thunderpussy, also the name of Melbourne drag identity who was around in the nineties. I cannot establish a connection between the two.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Pop Up Performance

I adore Kim Wilde, or I used to. My delight with her has been rekindled. She was travelling by train to Potters Bar with her brother and launched an impromptu performance. Kim may have been a little worse for wear but what fun. How the guys in the carriage kept straight faces, I do not know. Miseries!

Thanks to Katherine Eames who was on the train and filmed and shared it, and Annie Mole who drew my attention to it.

First Class TV

Over the years there have been some tv shows that have just blown my mind away, but sadly not many of late.

The Norman Conquests was one such show. It starred a quite young Penelope Keith  who later became more famous in To the Manor Born and the Good Life where a fellow performer from the Norman Conquests, Richard Briars also starred. He went on to be a much loved character in Monarch of the Glen. The Norman Conquests was made like a film of a play. In fact our ABC used to call such shows, plays.

Speaking of Penelope Keith, how good was she in Drums Along Balmoral Drive, set in Salisbury, Rhodesia pre independence. Might Grace have seen it? I wish I had kept a recording of that play. (Note: I can find no evidence of Keith being in that play. My memory must be defective. Also, it was set post independence, in Zimbabwe)

Cream in My Coffee starred the marvellous Lionel Jeffries and Dame Peggy Ashcroft. Amazingly of all his work, writing, directing and acting in over fifty productions, at International Movie Data Base, the only thing he did that does not have an active link is the above. Cream in My Coffee was just brilliant. I do it have on tape, transferred to dvd and I have subsequently watched it and it stands up well. Fortunately Wikipedia does have the information.  Spoiler alert.

There was  the most gorgeous Emma Thompson and handsome red haired Kenneth Branagh in Fortunes of War. As I recall, they danced on the Egyptian pyramids to Flannagan and Allens Run Rabbit. The production values may not have been matched since. After seeing the tv series, I immediately went out and bought the book and hey, the tv show and book were equally as good, perhaps the tv show slightly ahead.

The original Brideshead Revisited, what can one say. It was sumptuously fabulous. The lavish series must have been screened in the 1980s and had significant gay content. It was empowering to me. How many gay men subsequently walked about with a tiny teddy bear tucked into their pocket.

I loved Peggy Ashcroft in Caught on a Train, where she played Frau Messner. I bought the dvd from overseas. It was good, but perhaps better left in the memory.

Speaking of Peggy Ashcroft, she also starred in The Jewel in the Crown. Fantastic. The Raj and its history is always so interesting.

But the true peace de resistance was Sir Laurance Olivier in A Voyage Around My Father we he played a blind lawyer. The script could not have been better.

Where are such tv shows now? I don't know.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Rage Rage Rage

I  very nearly stayed up too late last night. I hate staying up late and feeling like crap the next day. As it was, I woke as fresh as a daisy, although perhaps looking like wind damaged poppy.

Look at the play list and do you need to wonder why Rage kept me up a bit later than usual?

RICK ASTLEY Never Gonna Give You Up (BMG)
DEAD OR ALIVE You Spin Me Round (Like A Record) (Sony)
YAZOO Only You (Mushroom)
SUPERTRAMP Dreamer (A and M Records)
T-REX Children Of The Revolution (EMI)
THIN LIZZY The Boys Are Back In Town (Independent)
EURYTHMICS Who's That Girl (BMG)
WA WA NEE Stimulation (Sony)

Guns don't kill people. Really!

'You have elected me as President and the leader of our great country. While some of you will not be happy with the decision I have made, it will lead to a safer United States and we will not see our beautiful sons and daughters lose their lives in such tragic circumstances as we recently experienced. With the exception of farmers issued with rigorously investigated permits, professional shooters, sports shooters at sanctioned clubs and special police squads, guns will be removed from our society. The average person will never ever see a real gun in their lifetime. The penalties for illegal ownership of guns will be severe. '

Later edit: While the figures above appear pretty dodgy, there is some good information to be found at The GuardianWikipedia and Forbes.

A South Yarra Stroll Pt 1

Walk with me down Toorak Road to Chapel Street. We will take in some modern and some old. The Fawkner Club Hotel had an infamous beer garden. I don't know why it was infamous. We did have a drink there once many years ago. It is upmarket and quiet now, perhaps unlike it was in the past.

Apartment towers built on land exercised from Fawkner Park. Before you say what a crime, it was back in the 19th century; still a crime, but there is no one around to blame.

I was concerned that Fawkner Park was going to be Australianised, with native plantings. Fortunately not, but there are some Australian specimen plants, such as the eucalypt behind the palm. It is a glorious park and up there with Melbourne's best.

My kind of garden, a good structure, but a little overgrown.

As an arty shot, this is a fail, but aren't the roses pretty.

Almost at the corner of Park Street and Toorak Road West is this apartment building, clearly visible from the Highrise. I have a feeling it is empty and undergoing renovations. By the large exterior pipes that have appeared, it looks like it is getting an upgrade to its fire system. Sprinklers would have been useful when it was bombed in the 1980s.
Oh, Art Deco. I like.

On the corner of Marne Street is Simonds Hall, a conference centre, known years ago as Goodrest when it was South Melbourne builder's private residence. His son designed the house. I find that surprising as builders and architects usually hate each other.

Thimply thunning darling. I then passed the infamous Walsh Street. You can see a photo or two of the memorial rose garden at Prahran Police Station here.

Once you start noticing Art Deco, you start seeing it everywhere.

The steeple of Christ Church a the corner of Punt Road can be seen from the Highrise. It looks nice at night when illuminated.

But oh how Toorak Road suffers from congested traffic, day and night. I expect the State Government has declared it to be an area for population growth. It already has a very high population density. It does not need more people. More on that in the next post when we see where the growing population live.