Saturday, January 12, 2013

Respect man

I must have been about ten years old when I first saw the brand new Coles New World supermarket in Dandenong Road, Princes Highway if you like, Dandenong. Atop the construction sat a huge futuristic rocket and you can imagine how exciting this scene must have been to a lad from the country. This new style of supermarket was clean, fresh and bright. It had wide aisles, a vast array of products and just seemed so modern; futuristic too, if I may.

Is it any wonder shoppers turned their backs on dark, dingy and cramped 'self serve grocers', with their narrow timber floored aisles?

About the same time in 1967 while I was imagining a destination for a New World rocket, Brenda started work at the newly opened Coles New World supermarket in Malvern. Photos of Coles and their rockets are hard to find, and I don't even know if the Malvern store had one. This is not exactly how I recall the rockets, but it is the best I can find.

In 1979 I became an occasional customer at Coles in Malvern as it is near my workplace and I continue to be an occasional customer. I have known Brenda a long time, by sight, hello, please and thank you. She is always friendly and polite. I had absolutely no idea she was eighty years old and nor how long she had worked at the store until I saw a newspaper clipping pinned up behind a service counter. Forty five years is a very long time to work in one place.

I went googling and found the piece in the Herald Sun from July last year when she was proclaimed to be Australia's oldest check out chick. Old people befuddled by modern technology? Read the piece, and I would just add that unlike my attitude to most old people, I would be quite happy to have Brenda in a queue in front of me at an automatic teller machine. (people should be very grateful that my mother sticks to using a bank book and not a card at the electric bank)

Friday, January 11, 2013

Russell Mark chooses the Olympic City

While I don't agree with his politics, he having being a pre selected Liberal candidate for a Sate Parliament seat, he is an otherwise intelligent fellow. Well I thought so.

I heard him offer this gem today. The Olympic host city for 2020 is down to three cities, Istanbul, Madrid and Tokyo. He wrote off Istanbul, well I wouldn't although it is unlikely to succeed. Tokyo has financial problems, he suggested, and so he has punted for Madrid.

Tokyo has financial problems? Perhaps, but has he forgotten where Madrid is? Like Spain, one of the Euro countries in serious financial difficulties which may have to be bailed out by the EU.

Japan does have issues, but it is a rich country and can afford to have issues. Spain is broke. Where would the money come from? With cheap labour costs, I therefore put Istanbul back into the mix. While Turkey is a secular country, it is also notionally Moslem, and to have the Olympics in a Moslem country might be a first.

You pick?

Hulot Friday - Trafic

This will be the last Hulot clip for a bit. There appears to be rather a lot of people working up to an injured back insurance claim. Watch at 2.35 as M. Hulot demonstrates the cause of the accident. Trafic was the last movie to see Jacques Tati as Monsieur Hulot and the only main one I have not seen.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Happy 150th

Today is the 150th anniversary of the first journey on London's Tube. If you have never travelled on The Tube, you have missed a pretty amazing piece of history and travel on a truly wondrous system. It is not the best train system in the world, nor the smartest, nor the most efficient or fastest, but I doubt any public transport system is as much loved and as much hated by so many people.

In celebration, here a couple of scans from my 2012 Underground Diary when The Tube was a mere sixty years old.

Then and Now, Ashgrove

This wonderfully evocative photo by Richard Jones was taken in 1968, a year before Brisbane's tram system was closed down. The location is the Ashgrove Terminus at the corner of Waterworks Road and Coopers Camp Road. Where tram tracks were set in concrete, they were often just covered over with bitumen and occasionally make an appearance, especially when roadworks are underway.

View Larger Map

I have done my best with Street View to show you the modern scene at the same location. What a pleasant trip it must have been by tram into town, and then transfer to a ferry at the Bulimba Terminal to travel up or down the Brisbane River to your ultimate destination.

PS, I noted on the Translink website that public transport fares in Brisbane have changed. Not increased, just changed. How many fares went down, I wonder.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Tripple Bs

B Double trucks are huge, yet we see them on our roads often enough, mixing it on roads with the cheapest and smallest car available. A B Double looks like it could drive over the top of a small car.

Now our governments are making noises about B Triples. One can't help be suspicious about governments being driven by people with vested interests.

I am working totally on memory here, as the information super highway was not imaginable back then, but B Double trucks arrived in Melbourne in the 1980s, so information is not readily available.

I remember heralding the arrival of B Doubles was the knowledge that they would b restricted to very few roads, that is major highways and port access roads. Nevertheless, many were not happy with the decision to have these very large trucks on our roads.

I have never been happy about B Double trucks, especially moving freight between major cities when there is a perfectly good rail service. I have heard all the arguments about the benefits of road freight, and I have not changed my mind. To me, it is plain common sense to move freight by rail between large cities.

You need to view this with Internet Explorer, but have a look at the roads that B Doubles are now allowed to use in greater Melbourne. Do you ever wonder about why our roads constantly fall to pieces? The ever disingenuous Vic Roads  has renamed the narrow but high usage north south Punt Road as Hoddle Highway. It is a highway then, so a big road for big trucks. Not so, and many of the roads on the Vic Road map that B Doubles can use are not much more that local streets. The thought of a a B Double at the corner of the centre of my greater Melbourne, Commercial Road and Chapel street is extraordinary, yet B Doubles can travel that path. Trams, cars, buses, pedestrians everywhere, why not throw a B Double into the mix.

Now we are facing the introduction of B Triple Trucks. Once again we are hearing that will be restricted to very few roads.  Apparently, according to a truck lobby group, they are safer. I am afraid the record of the trucking industry so far as safety is very much wanting. What we do need for trucks are laws along the lines of what England and Europe have and some serious money and effort put into freight railways between our capital cities.

Photo by Tom O'Connor.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Missing Raffy

The motor car company Kia sponsors the Australian Open tennis by supplying cars to transport tennis players from the hotels to the courts. I spotted the first one a couple of days ago. I immediately thought of the lovely Rafael Nadal. Then I saw the number of the car, 69, and I thought even more about the lovely Rafael. Alas, he is not attending the Australian Open this year.

Words of Comfort

There is no conformation that any lives have been lost in the Tasmanian fires, which is pleasing to hear, but many people have lost their houses and that is truly awful. Today I heard on the radio someone who lost her house in the terrible Victorian fires of 1983. Paraphrasing, she said ten years down the track, you forget about the house you lost, but you don't forget about your family members who survived the fire.

The Victorian CFA and DSE try to save properties, but their focus is on lives, as it should be. No doubt this point is the focus for fires Australia wide. Lives first, property second.

For all the comfort we city dwellers have, at times we seem to live in a cursed country. Fire threatens our fellow citizens often.

I had misfiled these stunning photos and only recently came across them in an obscure file. I am sure I kept them for a reason, but I don't know why.  I have no memory of the fires around Hobart in 2006, but the photos are quite striking.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Personal Bits

While five year old Little Jo has a Myki card for public transport, she has never used it herself. Today she did, three times on trams. "Little Jo, just hold it to that area below the screen". She did and it worked quickly every time. Why do adults have such problems with touching on? "Do we need to touch off with our cards?", a tourist enquired of us. No, and there was no need to confuse them by telling them that they need to in Zone 2. It is very unlikely tourists will venture to Zone 2 by tram. Instead of her Myki card being left at the Highrise, it will go back to the Bellarine with her this time, as Sister has been using Geelong buses at times.

The water stream at the Botanic Garden's Children's Garden was closed for maintenance. How many disappointed children there must have been, including Little Jo. Really bad form on the part of RBGV. It should be a priority for repair if something is wrong. However, the gardens overall are looking fantastic and we plan to visit more often.

Atop a hill under a gum tree and with a view of the city skyline we ate our snacks, a cherry tomato each, a shared packet of crisps and a sweet biscuit each, washed down with water. Little Jo was being very good, so the reward was an icecream, chocolate for her and rum and raisin for us.

Non Dreaded Nephew set off in a DSE convoy yesterday from his Gippsland town to fight fires at Portland. His father, Tradie Brother was visiting his ex, ex Sis in Law and so proudly watched his son depart. Speaking of fires, I am quite distressed at the news from Tasmania. There has been a terrible loss of property, wildlife no doubt and although not confirmed, perhaps quite a number of lives. The always on the ball and alert Liz, sent a message of sympathy to her Australian subjects. How kind. In modern parlance, is that akin to a Like on Facebook?

ABI Brother has been off on an over 40s South Pacific cruise. He is due back tomorrow. Mother will be relieved her daily shopper is returning. She called R in a distressed state on Friday night when I was at work. R takes her very seriously and ended up being distressed himself. I called her Saturday morning and she was fine. Last Wednesday I started ABI Brother's car at his request and it was fine. Amazingly a week of it not being driven did not affect its ability to start! However, on Friday Tradie Brother went to start it, and it would not fire. The car must be about three years old, so I would guess the battery. Sister is collecting Mother on Tuesday to take her for a break to the Bellarine. Mother is not sure if she can do it, but it seems like she will. (Too  hot. Who will feed the cats? Who will water the garden? Daughter gets cross if I use the toilet at night. I am not well enough.) Sister's air con has been repaired and all Mother has to do is convince them that it needs to be switched on.

Little Jo is in the bath and is dreading what is about to happen. Curly haired kids hate having their hair washed. She has give the floating duck a good scrub and told the Robo Fish to get away when it went between her legs. Oh, shrieks, soap in the eyes. I better go.

Sunday, January 06, 2013


I would not have a clue how to pronounce this US name, Spokane. I am sure I would know it if I heard it said.

It is some years since it dawned on me, probably the Clinton years, that Arkansas was the same place I had heard mentioned many times in the media.

I still struggle with New Orleans. I pronounce it as I read it now, having given up trying to get it right. It seems you really need an American accent.

Speaking of New Orleans, it took me some time to realise that Potomac was not a difficult word at all, unlike Pontchartrain, as in the NO lake. Actually, that is not so bad.

2012 was a very revealing year to me.Yosemite (National Park) is not pronounced how I thought and I have now connected up with what I read with what I hear. However, I cannot say the word yet.

Of late, now we have one in our family, I have been working on my pronunciation of Maori, a native South Pacific Islander, many of who live in New Zealand. It does not rhyme with dowry, nor with sari, but somewhere in between. I mostly get it right now, by slightly pausing before I say the word.

I am lucky to live in Australia where our place names are simple, like Wurundjeri Way, a city street to the west and to the east, Birrarung Marr Park.