Saturday, May 03, 2014

Happy in St Kilda

While I don't live in St Kilda now, I have in the past and I feel a strong connection to the seaside suburb.

How can one describe St Kilda to those who don't know it? It began as isolated town in the 1800s about five kilometres from Melbourne city where the wealthy visited and had grand homes. Its the early to mid 1900s it became a place of mostly new and stylish flats and grand houses converted to apartments and boarding houses. Taking a room in a St Kilda boarding house was quite respectable then. Large estates were subdivided and in the mid 1900s many more flats were built, and these offered freedom to those who did not quite fit into society, when the norm was for a child to stay at home until they became an adult and wed and moved to their own place in the suburbs. Many did not fit this mould and St Kilda with its flats was the place to be.

As we strode into the latter half of 1900s, St Kilda post war filled with European immigrants, many of them Jewish and perhaps attracted to the density of the population and a place where you could sit at a cafe and meet your friends. By the sixties St Kilda was on a downhill slide, with rampant prostitution, drug use but also an extraordinary music scene. By the seventies punk music dominated the scene, drugs were omnipresent, both inside homes and on the streets, and prostitution very much in your face.  Indigenous people claimed the suburb as theirs, along with the other stake holders. The eighties became a decade where you were a quite brave soul to live in St Kilda proper. St Kilda Baths closed and St Moritz ice skating rink in a prime position burnt down under suspicious circumstances.

The 1990s saw the gentrification of the suburb, driving out some of the more interesting but troublesome characters. In the early 2000s it became a mecca for any visitor to Melbourne and now every second accent to be heard on the streets and serving you in the cafes will be from a young European or British backpacker.

What is St Kilda in 2014? It is a place for tourists, overseas tourists and people from the outer suburbs who think they are walking on the wild side when visiting. It is overcrowded by cars and the St Kilda train was taken away, replaced by many trams that barely cope with the number of passengers. A couple of square kilometres is the mostly densely populated area in Australia.

It still has its artist community, its gays and dykes, its social misfits, its wealthy, its poor and homeless, its drug addicts, its prostitution, its somewhat reduced music scene, its Sunday market, its wonderful beachside and pier, its street of European cakes and cafes and even some local shops for local people remaining, its also much reduced Jewish population, replaced perhaps by Indian immigrants........actually no, Indians don't seem to like St Kilda much, nor do Asians.

St Kilda has become a place to visit and a place to stay for overseas visitors. But the essences of the old St Kilda are still there. I have felt seriously threatened three times in my life. Once on a train to western suburbs, but the remaining two times were in St Kilda. Yet, I adore St Kilda. I wouldn't be a member of the St Kilda Historical Society if I didn't. I find it hard to find a parallel in other Australian cities, Bondi in Sydney is close, but not quite the same. Glenelg in Adelaide is a very tame version.

How many Happy clips have you watched? Shame on you if you have watched none. I found a St Kilda one. Apart from the interior shots, I know everywhere you will see in the clip. I know many of the people in the clip by sight (or reputation), and I am sure there are some who I should know but don't. Good to see our Mayor getting into the spirit. It is a terrific clip and it is my St Kilda.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Old Hoofers

If you don't know what an old hoofer is, you are probably not reading this. I am obliged to Andrew of Television.AU who put up the link to this clip.

Australia has a television award night known as the Logies, presumably named after John Logie Baird, the supposed inventor of television. While there is a respected peer voting system, the focus is on the popular vote which is widely open to manipulation and has little credibility. The award night used to be fun to watch, but the organisation clamped down on drinking at the event and then live tweeting from the event, so it is now a very tame affair. It must be a very tough night to host for the compere. Even the respected Wendy Harmer, comedian, writer, tv show host, radio presented and co-owner of the online Hoopla, acknowledges she failed miserably as a host.

I really enjoyed watching this clip of the opening of the ceremony back in 1989. You may not get much out of it if you don't know who the people are, but they are very familiar stars of stage and screen to Australians of a certain age.

In order of appearance,
Lorrae Desmond MBE
Hazel Phillips OAM
Pat McDonald (dec., this was her last public appearance)
Denise Drysdale
Jeanne Little
Rowena Wallace


Thursday, May 01, 2014

I have currency

Hungarian Forint. Hungary exports all its old and shabby notes to Australia for tourists to buy, who then spend the money in Hungary and it is then sent back to Australia for more tourists to buy.

Euro. Crisp and clean plastic, with a stylish coin. We should expect nothing less. I thought I had more, but no, I have only one Euro coin. The notes were bought at a favourable rate some time ago. Note, it is a polymer bank note that last a long time, invented in Australia by CSIRO, a scientific organisation that has invented brilliant things for the world but is always under threat of cuts to its budget from our Federal Government. Hopefully The Abbott won't cut its budget this time.

English Pounds. See Hungary. The pile of pounds is a decent amount of money, but I doubt the pile will sustain us for a week. I have a ziplock bag of brown and worthless English coins and I have no intention of them adding them to my luggage weight and returning them to their country of birth. I will leave them to my heirs to throw into the 'discard pile'. Any such coins I receive on the this visit, I will just theatrically chuck over my shoulder.

I get somewhat annoyed now at home when I get a useless silver five cent piece in my change. While it won't affect my vote, maybe PM Abbott should get rid of them. The usefulness of ten cent coins is fast waning.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

My Easter

We were back at the Bellarine for Good Friday and Saturday. ABI Brother and Mother were there too. While it could have been managed for all to sleep inside, Bone Doctor and Little Jo slept outside in a children's tent. It didn't rain too much that night.

We stopped on the way at the Corio McDonalds, as we have always done from the time we had dogs to water and allow to do their business so many years ago when we used to visit our friend in western Victoria. Many people were doing the same when we stopped off for a small burger for lunch. Back in the time we stopped there, it was a little more countrified and our dog Toby jumped into the creek and then back into the car all muddy. This time we had eaten hot cross buns for a late breakfast and we weren't very hungry. A woman pulled sharply in front of me on Kingsway and we kind of paced along the freeway. Somehow I ended up in front and as we parked the car, she pulled in. I looked daggers at her, even though she would have had no idea why.

R is not a Catholic, but he will not eat red meat on Good Friday, so he had made a tuna bake to contribute to the evening meal. Sister had bought some smoked trout. It was a fish on Friday meal. Mother ate fish fingers. Real fish does not agree with her.

We took a decent pre dinner walk to the beach and the waves were quite wild. Before dinner, we had a back yard Easter egg hunt, with Little Jo hiding the eggs. I think I won with collecting most of the tiny chocolate eggs. Dinner, some tv and chatting and we retired early enough to bed. The next morning we visited the monthly local Sunday market, held on Saturday for Easter, but did not buy much, except for fruit and vegetables to bring home, along with some hot cross buns. Sister and ABI Brother also bought a decent amount of fruit  and vegetables. We realised we had too much to carry home, so Sister went home to get the car and returned.

Bone Doctor flitted in and out over the two days, having lots of engagements and needing to run and cycle, and thereby avoiding spending much time with Mother.

We were back at Sister's from the market by eleven, and Mother was just finishing her make up and finally ready to do something. She stayed three nights, us only one. Poor ABI Brother. I helped him unload the car of Mother's luggage. It was about fifteen trips to and from his car all told.

We set off to Torquay, which I don't believe I have ever visited. It is a very large sprawling town south of Victoria's second largest city, Geelong. I was quite impressed with Torquay, although it was very busy and much more big place feel to it than where Sister lives.

Fuzzy Cocoa is a one person dog, Sister's. But Fuzzy is sociable and we had some good walks. Mother feeds her Marie biscuits from her endless supply of biscuits, bananas and barley sugar within her handbag. Sister gets cross with Mother.

Everybody, let's get stoned.

One has to amuse oneself. Odd thing for me to do as my hands are not the steadiest, but I didn't do too badly. The poking pencil was useful.

Little Jo made an aquarium, with her assistant R, but she did most of it.

At Torquay.

We drove past an airport advertising Tiger Moth flights. Not sure why you want to be deafened and frozen while riding in a old plane, but clearly some do. It made a nice noise.

The earlier photo of Torquay beach was the eastern side of Danger Point. This is the wilder western side.

I could have just sat for an hour and wave watched.

I can't remember why we went to the Torquay supermarket, but there was a sausage sizzle fund raiser for the local Men's Shed staffed by very old men who really seemed to struggle with the task. Like the idea of wearing plastic gloves is not to protect your hands from the germs of cooking meat and taking money and giving change, but to protect the customer, so you need to change them or use different hands. We had eaten an early lunch at Sister's so I counted this as afternoon tea, even though we had afternoon tea later. "Little Jo, just tell your mother we made a donation to the Men's Shed. No need to mention the sausage sizzle".

Anyway, it was quite still at the supermarket, but less than a kilometre away it was a cold wind at Torquay's Point Danger. I wonder what direction the prevailing wind blows from?

How I hate Norfolk Island Pines in Australia. They belong on Norfolk Island. We had one at our house in East Malvern. We cut it down with an electric chain saw and nearly took out our power supply. Oh, the unawareness of personal danger by daredevil young men. A woman was praying on the grass at where an old anchor sat. I then went down to the beach on the lower side of the trees and looked up and she was raising and lowering herself as she prayed. On the other side of the anchor stood ABI Brother reading a plaque, and for all the world it looked like she was praying to him.  Another not sure, why do you have to pray at a Torquay park in front of everyone, but each to their own. It made interesting colour.

Torquay has long been a tourist destination, back to the late 1800s and there are some older buildings still there, but not many. Most are like this. No R, we are not moving to Torquay.

We drove along The Esplanade until the asphalt ran out and came across some kite flying.

I meant to go this way to Torquay but I mucked it up, so we went home this way, not the most direct route, but I liked the road names, Horseshoe Bend Road, Blackgate Road, Breamlea Road and Bluestone School Road before joining the Barwon Heads Road back to Sister's.

Sister and Bone Doctor were going to see football in Geelong that night, leaving Mother and ABI Brother in charge of Little Jo. Little Jo told ABI Brother that her mother had said she could one Easter Egg a day, so ABI Brother said she could have one, in spite of him knowing or forgetting she had already had one today. She then did the same with her Nanny. I had to work the next day, so we could not stay. I had a hunger for KFC chicken, deep fried. R took a micro second to agree, so we planned to buy some on the freeway a few kilometres from home, but lordy, the store had closed down. R was too exhausted to cook from entertaining Little Jo all day and I was tired from so much driving. Oh well, take away pizza at home. No, our local is closed for Easter, so we ordered from a a chain pizza place online, which references a previous post.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

No post for today

That won't do at all.

'Tis a curious thing that a not terribly flash gay man who is of very average looks and physique and closer to 60 that 50 would stand in front of a mirror and decide that a particular eyebrow hair needs to be plucked out and attack it with the tweezers to improve his appearance.

I once went to an el cheapo barber and he asked if I wanted my eyebrows trimmed. Please...they are perfect already. You insult me. I may die as an shrivelled and cancer ridden ugly old man who is clutching at his failing heart, but you can be sure my finger nails and eyebrows will be as perfect as they can be.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Liz, Charlie, Will, Kate and Little Georgie.

I am genuinely interested in what you think about the Queen in England and royalty.

Apparently she is also Queen of Australia, and in my memory, via the Governor General of Australia, she sacked a properly elected government in Australia.

We have just had William, Kate and baby George visit us down under. They were treated as celebrities which is unsurprising, a prince, a newish bride and a baby. Golly he is bald. Golly she is thin. Wee George seemed a little querulous at times and it was mentioned he will be our future king.

Surely by the time that process happens we won't have born to rule types lording it over us in Australia.

After Charles becomes our king, the baton will pass to William. What sort of king will he make? I wouldn't have a clue really. He could be brain dead for all I know. He is going to be King of Australia and I know little about him. I assume he can add and subtract and write a proper sentence. But what are his thoughts about things? Over his father's life time we have come to know that Charles likes such as, no I won't go there, but also that he cares about conservation, architecture and the environment. I have never picked up anything about a sense of social justice and a levelling between the rich and the poor. Might be a bit hypocritical if he was very approving of that.

These are people who are born to rule us, and we have no say about it other than via our biased democratic process, but yet we can't know their views. While they don't enact laws or policies, I am sure just a hint  'from the palace' carries great weight.

So over to you Sarah Ferguson of our ABC's 7.30. Why couldn't you give William and Kate a grilling while they were here. Ah, they weren't available for an interview.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Sunday Selections

Check the blogs of River, Elephant Child and Jackie for their Sunday Selections.

This is a new sculpture at North Wharf. I rather like it but it also does something. You peer into eyehole and crank the handle. Inside a boring picture of an old building is illuminated. Also as you crank a light comes on at the base of the top part. Visually, good, operationally interesting, no.

One of Melbourne's many gold rush boom Victorian buildings that the developers did not get their hands on.

Emporium has finally opened in Melbourne, partly where the demolished Lonsdale House was. It was busy, with a very long queue to get into the new to us Japanese store Uniqlo. We were quite impressed with Emporium.

Can you feel sad when looking at smiling sunflowers?

A visitor. I couldn't work out where I took it.

But this makes it clear it was on our balcony.

I think this is in Little Collins Street. It looks quite old and it is an unusual stone for Melbourne. By its plainess, I suggest it is early Victorian.

Pop art in a shop entrance in Flinders Street.

Another crash down below. It seems to be between a van and a motorcyclist. It took the paramedics quite some time to get him ready for the ambulance trip to hospital.

We were queuing for a short time to enter Melbourne's new H&M store. It is very good and the clothes are not expensive. My only criticism is that the in store music is too loud.  The vaulted ceiling of what was Melbourne's GPO. It is a long time since it was a post office. Now the post office in QV has closed, as has the main city one on the corner of Little Bourke Street. A new one has opened in Emporium, but we did not see it.

A bit of kitsch in Royal Arcade, the waving Queens and Pope.