Saturday, November 22, 2014

Little Joisms

Sister was away in the Northern Territory with her school boys. Bone Doctor was looking after Little Jo on her own. Bone Doctor is not a natural as domestic goddess but she she can cook a basic meal. Bone Doctor had done some shopping and bought bread for Little Jo's school lunch sandwiches but the bread was missing. Little Jo said, oh well, I will just have to buy my lunch at school tomorrow. The bread was found later under Little Jo's bed.

Bone Doctor and Little Jo arrive at Mother's at 6pm. Little Jo complained at the suggestion of having chicken for dinner so Bone Doctor bought pizza for dinner for Little Jo, Mother and herself.

Next morning at 6am Bone Doctor leaves Mother's home to participate in a competitive bike ride. Mother is now in charge of Little Jo and responsible for her.

At 11am Sister arrives and takes Mother and Little Jo to an apartment on Phillip Island for an overnight stay.

What happened between 6am and 11am? Mother asked, Little Jo, can you help me water the garden? No Nanny, I will stay here watching tv. I get allergies when I am outside in the morning.

When Sister arrived at 11, she asked Mother what Little Jo had for breakfast. Left over pizza, Mother said. Sister exploded at Mother.

Nevertheless, all three enjoyed their brief visit to Phillip Island.

(Note to self. Ensure Little Jo has a healthy breakfast next Sunday)

Mother told me over the phone this week that once home, on Monday Little Jo was a bit reluctant to go to school. "Mummy, my tummy hurts and my ankle is sore." Exactly as Mother complained to her to her on the Saturday morning. 

I've not finished yet.

I spoke to Mother last Sunday and Tradie Brother and Hippy Niece were there, fixing up the front of her crumbling house that she refuses to leave.

"Andrew, you know how Little Jo keeps forgetting to put on underwear, she did it again at Phillip Island (and Little Jo does like to wear dresses). Because of the rash I have developed down there, Hippy Niece has advised me to leave my knickers off and I have. I was hanging out the washing and it was a bit breezy."

That is way too much information Mother. Is it not bad enough that I have to listen to tales of your bowel problems.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Dear PM

To the Honourable Tony Abbott, MP, Prime Minister of Australia.

There Sir, I have addressed you correctly Prime Minister Abbott. Perhaps you may care to read this.

From the age of four when I first went to school, I was exposed to the ABC, via the loud speakers in the classroom. Perhaps it was the Children's hour. I really can't recall. By the age of seven, I was watching Felix the Cat on our ABC and being spooked by Dr Who. As an older teenager, I was watching Countdown on our ABC. By my early twenties I had discovered ABC radio. Not long after, I really discovered the brilliance of ABC TV and in the subsequent years both radio and tv went from strength to strength and wow, how well has it stepped into the digital age.

I trusted you when you said before you were elected that you would not cut funding to my ABC. But you lied and have cut funding. It has being very interesting to observe how your ministers attempt to explain the cuts, phrasing them as savings that need to be made, rather than cuts. You know and I know, that is a load of tosh. You have cut ABC funding and you said you would not.

Absurdly, your extreme right Minister Pyne is involved in a Face Book group to save facilities from cuts to our ABC in Adelaide.  My eyes really did roll at that.

Well Prime Minister, others have cut the ABC budget before you and ended up in grief but some have increased the ABC budget and still ended up in grief. I expect the ups and downs of budgets for our ABC as part of the political process. But why did you lie?

And now to Managing Director of our ABC. Mark Scott, any time I have heard you speak, I have been impressed by you. You are are living in difficult times. If the suggestion that we will no longer have state editions of 7.30 on Friday nights is a ploy to create agitation against the cuts, it is working because I am extremely concerned.

I will put it simply, do not cut our once a week state editions of 7.30. It is already obvious the local editions work on a shoestring. There surely can't be much saved there.

This whirred and that clanked

River in Adelaide has mentioned Blackeby's Sweet Shop in the past, but I did not quite know how interesting the shop might be. It is located in James Place, just off Grenfell Street with some branches elsewhere. At this time of the year animated Christmas windows are appearing in many stores, but this one launched in October 2011 is a permanent display. Pretty good, hey.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Vote early, vote often

Life at The Highrise has changed somewhat since R retired, not in a good or bad way, but just different. Mostly he is home when I have a weekday off and so I am not as free to just go off on my own and roam the streets with camera in hand. Sometimes he may have something to do on that day and so I still get out on my own, but often he now comes with me and it is nice to have the company, but it does dictate some of what I do, especially taking photos. I know he gets exasperated with the photo taking and I am afraid I take rather less photos and spend less time getting the angle or the light correct. Who said 'really, I had not noticed that you do'?

I had two things I wanted to do, which turned into three things. R had to be home by 1.30pm to get ready to go to his volunteer place AGM. We fitted it all in and lunch as well.

We caught the tram to Linden Gallery in Acland Street and saw its annual post card exhibition which is small works by I should think unknown artists. The prices ranged from $35 to $650 and the price was no indication to me as to whether I liked the work or not. I really liked a couple of $35 pieces but they had already been sold.

I found myself reading through this party shopping list and initially noticed nothing untoward. I read the very apt title of the work last.

We left by tram to Hotham Street and then caught a bus to High Street and walked through the very pleasant Victoria Gardens. Photos another day. It was a park I had never seen although passed it by so many times. Another thing ticked off the infinite list. We headed towards Chapel Street through Prahran's back streets and came out opposite the ever popular Tran Bakery. The wait wasn't too long and we sat outside to eat our salad rolls and drink coffee as the parade of Chapel Streets types strolled or walked briskly by. The noise of cars, trucks and trams bothered us not at all.

Now I had the foresight to look up before we went out as to where we could cast an early vote in our new State electorate of Prahran and it was just short distance away in Chapel Street. I often have to work on election day, but this year I have not even checked and you are no longer asked a reason for you wanting to vote early, so vote we did.

The sitting Liberal Party member, Clem Newton-Brown was in attendance and he is a pleasant enough fellow. I thought of reminding him he made a comment or two on my blog while we were having a brief chat, but I decided not to. We also had a chat to the Labor candidate, Neil Pharaoh. I don't know if the Greens candidate Sam Hibbins was there or not. I didn't see him. We were home just after 1pm.

I will call the seat now. Newton-Brown will be re-elected with an increased vote. He has developed a very high profile. He seems to keep his distance from the more controversial aspects of the Liberal Government. He works hard for his electorate and is respected by many people, political foe or not. Labor will not do so well because many of its traditional voters will vote Green, although probably select Labor as their second preference in the lower house. 

I think we have done quite well in the looks department of our candidates.   In no special order the main candidates for the state seat of Prahran:

Green's Sam Hibbins.

Labor's Neil Pharaoh.

Liberal's Clem Newton-Brown.

It is not relevant to how I voted, by while writing this and getting names correct, I note Sam Hibbins is a local councillor for City of Stonnington. Quell surprise. Stonnington covers some of the richest areas of Melbourne. That really surprised me. I was not so surprised to learn Neil Pharaoh is gay.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

417 St Kilda Road

This benign looking building in St Kilda Road viewed from our balcony is undergoing a renovation. It was built around 1990 and the site of a lot of industrial strife. It is extraordinary to me that this serious industrial dispute happened under a Labor state government.

The union known as the Builders Labourers Federation had been de-registered but despite this, the people of the BLF maintained a presence and influence on building sites.  At 417 St Kilda Road, Leighton Constructions retrenched 76 workers and tried to bring in new workers. The BLF formed a non official picket line, that is one not endorsed by the peak Victorian trade union body, Trades Hall. It was lead by unionist the late John Cummins and the picket line was not recognised by Victoria Police. 

There were baton charges by police on horseback at the picketers. Steel nuts and bolts were thrown at arriving concrete delivery trucks by the picketers. Private security guards were brought in from Tasmania and the dispute went on for months. I can recall driving past and seeing the workers huddled over braziers with hot drinks in their hands. They kept up the fight, with a huge number of police devoted to the site, draining the police force's manpower and budgets. 

The leader of the dispute was charged many times with being illegally on a building sites after the BLF was de-registered and bailed many times on the condition he stay off building sites, which he ignored. At the time of the St Kilda Road dispute, he was gaoled for contempt of court, adding further to the workers anger.

Here is a quote from the CFMEU website,

John Cummins was sent to jail for going on site, and after completing his first stint, he came straight out and back onto the picket line, which was at that stage in its ninth week.

For John, it didn’t matter to him that he was breaking the law, because he thought the law was wrong. In a leaflet published at the time of his second jailing he wrote: ‘The fact is the law upholds this system of screwing the greatest possible profit out of workers so the rich can get richer and the poor, poorer. The courts’ role is to make sure that the whole thing works smoothly.’

Nothing truer and it is as bad if not worse in 2014 with workers pay and working conditions under constant threat and attack by not only Liberal (conservative) governments but Labor governments too.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

One country, many cards

There is almost nothing in common with each of our states or cities electronic public transport cards bar one thing. They are all subject to a lot of complaining and whinging.

Melbourne's Myki card seems to have been the most expensive to implement in Australia and the most complained about. Personally we don't have issues with the day to day use of our cards. We have about six Myki cards, one for me, one for R, one for Little Jo when she visits, all registered to our names, and three others, all found or discarded by someone at some point. When found one had a negative balance, one had a couple of dollars on it and one had $35 dollars on it. We save these for visitors who don't have or have forgotten their Myki card. I keep about a $10 balance on each card, enough for a day ticket. These were all unregistered cards. It is worth your while having a registered card if you are prone to losing things.

Public transport advocate Daniel Bowen recently visited Sydney and tried out their newish Opal card system. It is an interesting read. He seemed to think the card was good, but I would use stronger language about Sydney's fare system than he does. It is rubbish. It makes public transport expensive and the fare system is very complicated. My eyes glaze over when I try to understand it but to get the best from the system, understand it you must.

Melbourne's Myki.

Brisbane's Go.

Sydney's Opal.

 Canberra's My Way.

Perth's Smart Rider.

Lastly Tasmania's Green Card. This is the only private photo I have used from someone's blog and Tania writes a interesting piece about her introduction to Hobart's public transport buses and quite a bit about how things work in Hobart.

Oops, I nearly left out Adelaide's Metro Card.


Monday, November 17, 2014

A Neighbour's Goodbye

Our neighbours in Balaclava some 14 years ago for about 8 years were Mr and Mrs Zile, pronounced Zeel, I believe. I think they were born in Latvia or was in Lithuania, and Mrs Zile had worked at a post office or mail sorting place. Her English was better than her husband's and they were a pleasant old couple who I would describe as good neighbours but never forceful.

Her welcome to us when we moved there amused us and imagine it said in a heavy European accent, 'Welcome to you both. If you need anything, please ask us. We like to help people. But do not ask us for money. We do not have any money, but please, ask us for anything else but money.' Mr Zile was the person who kept an eagle eye on the street and if mail needed collecting or bins bringing in from the street, he was the person to ask.

Generally the neighbours in the street were terrific. Everyone knew each other by name and it was certainly an eclectic mix and no one quite fitted the category of what you would call normal.

This piece of her own work was given to us by Mrs Zile when we left. I came across it the other day and I decided to scan it, but as it is on A3 paper, I had to have two cracks at it. The person referred to as collecting animal welfare signatures was Gloria and she was always to be seen collecting signatures in either Carlisle Street or Acland Street. She was a very 'interesting character' with a colourful past, well a colourful present too back then. Her pet when we left the street was a rat, always snuggled under her jumper or on her shoulder. I could write rather a lot about day. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sunday Selections

I reckon that River and Elephant's Child won't disappoint us with this week's Sunday Selections. 

Proof that we cook, ahem, one of us does. We got sauces and we got ingredients. There would not normally be fresh bought milk nor orange juice but we had house guests. I only cook one thing now and in the door you will find minced garlic, chilli and ginger, fish sauce and sesame oil, all of which I need to make my fried rice.

The ever changing display outside Melbourne Town Hall.

I inadvertently caught one of the 'art trams' in the background. More on them another day.

The Sands McDougall Directory was first published in 1857 and annually until 1974 when the task became too expensive and Melbourne too large. It listed every street in Melbourne, who lived there and their occupation.  It is invaluable for historians, researchers and those interested in the family trees. There is a small exhibition of directories at the Melbourne Town Hall gallery. I had a quick look through one and found some family in the early 20th century, although B for Albert was odd until I remembered he was known as Bertie.

A gift from our dyke friend for looking after Dog Jack. Obviously she went to South Australia. The olive oil is to die for and the olives very nice too. Dog Jack has been back with us the last week. The payola this time was a one litre duty free bottle of Glenlivet Scotch whisky. Very nice indeed and only to be taken in small doses (that's the theory).

I've walked along this Carnegie street many times in the past and never noticed the Able Tasman Dutch Club (Tasman was a Dutch explorer of Australia).

I see the light. I see the Lord, the lord of developer profits destroying areas of inner Melbourne with State Planning Minister Matthew Guy as their leader.

Part of Federation Square.

Ah, another art tram passing by in Flinders Street.

Dina with her husband Tim and son Jack have been travelling in the US. Well they live there actually, but as people who like Australia, it is interesting to read of their travel experiences in the US. Dina wondered if the world knew about the type of cactus she was talking about as they travelled through Arizona. I think we do. Photo by