Saturday, January 17, 2015

Bohemian Melbourne Part 2

When we moved to our East Malvern semi detached house in the early 80s, our neighbour in the attached house knocked on our front door and presented us with a tray of piping hot scones. Her timing was perfect. We were exhausted and hungry after our moving endeavours and we quickly devoured the scones.

She was a good neighbour to have and we had many a pleasant conversation with her. In fact, nearly a daily conversation. While she could not see us enter or leave by our back door, she could see the back door open or close. "Is that you Andrew?"  "Is that you R?" She would then stand on her box beside the dividing fence and chat with us. Sometimes it was a pain but mostly the chats were welcome. I used to buy The Age daily and she bought The Sun and we swapped papers by tucking them into a crack in the fence, which is how we alerted her daughter to both her first and second fatal stroke. The Sun was not put out for us and The Age remained untaken.

Every few months she would invite us in for canap├ęs and a glass of Amontillado. In such a chatty situation, over time, she divulged some of her life, including her, shock horror, her bloshie anti authority daughter who was married to, lower the voice, an Indian, and her  famous brother, the artist Albert Tucker. Her other daughter is perfectly nice and now owns a picture framing business in Northcote. Her Indian son in law and her brother Albert visited at least once that we saw. She would take them to the smart French restaurant at the bottom of Waverley Road to dine, now an Indian restaurant we occasionally patronise.

So we knew rather a lot about Albert Tucker's life, before much went into print and was widely known by the those in artistic circles of that time. Mrs Sutcliffe told us all about Sweeney Reed, who was certainly featured in the Bohemian Melbourne exhibition at the State Library, along with his Reed parents and his biological parents.

Albert Tucker was part of the Heidi artistic set, with patrons and the Heidi property owners, John and Sunday Reed. Albert Tucker married fellow Heidi artist Joy Hester. Joy bore their son, Sweeney, but Albert was not content with a conventional artist's life in Melbourne and moved to Paris. Joy became very unwell and died at a young age. While checking details, I learnt that Albert made a caravan in his small Paris apartment, piece by piece and lowered it from the window for later assembly. Funny. Albert in Paris and Joy unwell but kind of deserted him, left Sweeney with John and Sunday Reed who subsequently formally adopted him. He was very nice looking and married, and his wife had two children, but as Mrs Sutcliffe couched it in ever so subtle terms, perhaps Sweeney should not have married. Perhaps he was not the marrying kind.

Sweeney with his wife and son.

Sweeney with a friend, a photo taken by his bio father, Albert Tucker. There was a lovely colour photo of Sweeney at the exhibition, but it does not seem to be online.

Sweeney suicided in 1979, and just couple of years later we learnt about him and his famous antecedents from Mrs Sutcliffe. While it is a disjointed and disconnected exhibition at Victoria's State Library, you will not regret a visit to the State Library exhibition  Bohemian Melbourne. There is something there for you, going right up to the years of the pop group Skyhooks, who were anything but bohemian. .

There is a good piece about Sweeney in The Age, 2002.

Friday, January 16, 2015

More on wrap

 Seems I am not the only one with Glad Wrap issues . From the Herald Sun.

UPDATE: GLAD Wrap users driven crazy by a new packaging design are resorting to using scissors and turning the box upside down.
Frustrated customers have bombarded the Herald Sun website to vent over the switched location of the serrated cutter from the base of boxes to the lid.
Many say they are wasting too much plastic film while trying to figure out a new pull-and-cut technique. Some have put new rolls in old boxes to get around the system.
“Lid mounted” cutter bars are standard in the United States and Canada and considered safer than the old style.
But many Aussies seem unimpressed.
“I’m glad I’m not the only one. It has been a running joke in our family over Christmas after much cursing,” Jan said.
“Cutter is useless for right handers.. and having to rip upwards means the glad wrap sticks to itself and the lid isn’t strong enough if you decide to flip the box and rip the other way. Last Glad packet I’ll buy.”
WHAT DO YOU THINK? Have your say in the comments section below
Another reader blasted the new packaging as “pure insanity”.
“We have wasted more than we have used recently and cannot continue with this brand unless they revert to the old packaging. What young genius decided to break something that had worked perfectly well for years. NOT HAPPY.”
Glad said the change followed “consistent” complaints about cut fingers or the risk of child injuries from an exposed blade, and “rigorous” in-home research.
But a message posted on its Facebook page yesterday read: “However, we are actively listening to our loyal customer base, taking the current feedback concerning the new cutter bar location very seriously and this is currently under review.”
Scores of scathing comments and demands for a return of the pack familiar to Australians for 49 years have emerged on social media.
“A complete moron must have designed this thing,” one frustrated customer said.
Another said: “I’ve wasted more than I’ve used and ended up throwing the whole lot in the bin.”
Glad Australia marketing director Phil James said the change was part of several revisions based on customer feedback, including improved cling, a sturdier box and an easier way to start the roll.
“To put this into context this is one of a number of changes we have made to provide our consumers with an overall better experience,” he said.
Colleen Lawrence, of Kew, read the instructions but still found it awkward.
“Pulling up towards the weakest part of the box isn’t logical,” she said. “The former way is far better, you can apply pressure and it is far easier to rip without crinkling the wrap.”
Mr James said almost two-thirds of the 550 consumers who trialled the changes preferred the new pack.
Glad introduced “lid mounted” cutter bars more than a decade ago in the United States, and seven years ago in Canada.
The brand, owned by US company Clorox, commands more than half of Australia’s $60 million-a-year cling wrap market.

Brit Bits

This is a queer thing. The spire really isn't meant to bent or spiral. Part defective design, part defective workmanship, part defective materials. The church is in Chesterfield, Derbyshire.

You will know of Fortnum and Mason, an English supplier of expensive things to rich people. But do you know of the Fortnum and Mason clock at the Picadilly store?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Leading the blind

I know that voice. I wasn't really tuned into the radio but then I heard James' voice emanating from the speaker with what I think is a repeat of the show he hosts, Editor's Choice, rebroadcast during the summer repeat radio period. With the changes at Radio National, I may well become quite dependant on downloading Editor's Choice.

There was a great little story at the end about a young blind man who was undergoing mobility training, that is getting around by using a white stick. Via information over the years from R, I am quite knowledgeable at what blind people need from sighted people, but here is one, mentioned by the blind man, that had not occurred to me, and it is quite obvious really.

The man spoke of when crossing the road and how he likes to hear that the traffic has stopped, even though the audible signal from the traffic lights indicates it is safe to cross. At times, people will say to him, or maybe even call out from a car, 'It's safe to cross'.  Isn't that so kind of people..........except, as the man said, he doesn't know if they are talking to him or not.

Here are a couple of points, which hopefully still stand, even though I learnt them from R years ago.

Blind people generally don't mind being touched on the upper arm to get their attention when speaking to them, so if you were going to tell a blind person it is safe to cross the road, touch their upper arm and tell them. Better perhaps if they don't seem too confident, offer to escort them.

Now escorting does not mean grabbing their hand or arm and dragging them across the road. Bend your elbow and offer your arm and say, take my arm, once you are sure they want help. They will take your arm and you simply cross the road at a reasonable speed. By them holding your arm, they can read confidence or hesitation and read when to move and when to stop and when you slow because there is an obstacle, such as the gutter. You lead them in a steady manner and let them pick up your body language.

Simple really.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Little Jo Foot Camming

Well, I really mucked up yesterday, scheduling two posts simultaneously. Oh well.

Little Jo was getting bored while waiting for our meal. Here Little Jo, take some photos, and she did. To her face I called her photos foot cam. To R I murmured, crotch cam.

The camera was raised.

I think I will give her the camera more often.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The News in Brief

Dinner Friday night at a Japanese restaurant in Glenferrie Road Malvern with three dyke friends. I don't really like Japanese food but this was modern Japanese food adapted for Western tastes. It was really very good and the company excellent.

Dinner Sunday night at Malvern Vale Hotel with R, our Fijian Indian Friend and his visitor guest from Poland, the Brother Friends and the Brighton Antique Dealer. Very nice evening. BAD was full of news and gossip and history. Polish man was very nice and good fun. R won $90 on poker machines and so paid for my dinner.

Monday, post R's old phone to Hippie Niece as she broke hers. Tram to city, change to a tram to Carlton and attend Vic Roads for car registration business. No tram had air con. Warned of a 15 to 20 minute wait, but waited only just over 5 minutes. A tick for Vic Roads.

Back to town, collect R's yearly supply of contact lenses.

Attend Medicare office in Galleria for each of us to make a claim and lodge our bank account details so we won't have to again sit waiting for 42 minutes. R had a win with a very old doctor's bill, $64, but waiting for three quarters of an hour to be served is a disgrace. A very big fail to the Galleria Medicare office. Why is it not properly staffed?

We were hungry. Lunch at our favourite little restaurant in Centre Place was out of the question as a busking band had set up and it was far too noisy. Assuming the band had approval to be there, that would be a fail to City of Melbourne for approving a busking band at an inappropriate location. We lunched at the other end of Centre Place.

Tram home? Should be simple. No, there was a delay in the service because of a car stuck on the tram tracks, maybe an accident. We tram hopped, an air con 1 to Southbank Boulevard, then an air con 8 to Domain Interchange and then an air con 72 to our tram stop. The 72 may as well not had air con as it was jam packed with people and stinking hot. Yarra Trams, fail. What should have been no more than a 15 minute trip, took the time it would take to walk home, 30 minutes and if wasn't hot, we would have done so.

Which brought me to thinking about how many trams do not have air conditioning and how long before the trams will all will have air con. Our trains and buses all have air con. Let me look. I have the stats now but will save it for another day. Why? May as well do it now while the figures are to hand.

Air con trams: B, D, C, E class: 245
Non air con trams: Z, A class: 212

35 new E class to be delivered and once that is complete the figure will be around 280 trams with air con, 177 without. The newest tram without out air con is the A Class, the last built in 1986. Tram life is much longer than bus life, usually around 30 years. By that figure, the last non air con tram should be retired next year, 2016.

At the present rate, I will theoretically and more than likely be dead by the time Melbourne has all trams with air con. The joys of living in a first world country with first world problems.

Bohemian Melbourne Part 1

She twirled, she spun and she pranced with her gypsy skirt swirling around her as the fire in her black rimmed eyes gleamed. Light danced from her jewellery and her eclectic audience was both mesmerised and enthralled. (I have a good entry for the worst book beginning) R and myself were privileged to have been there, yet is was incidental. I think we were just there, upstairs at Young and Jacksons to........I really can't remember.

After us seeing the entrancing performance at Young and Jacksons Hotel, in around 2000 I asked our friend, the late Dame M, the rich widow on St Kilda Hill, if she had heard of Vali Myers. A sound like ergh emanated from Dame M's wine and nicotine fed innards, as she threw her head back and rolled her eyes. "I know her", she said. My memory is a bit hazy but I think it was either from some artistic endeavour or some some cranky new age religious thing.

A bohemian lifestyle is an anathema to me and my life, yet I do envy the free and easy ways of bohemians, who really just seem so selfish and self indulgent to me. I have read about many of them. So when the State Library of Victoria mounted an exhibition called Bohemian Melbourne, it was high on my list to see, and after delays because life was too busy, we did get a free couple of hours last week to visit.

There are a few non direct personal connections to some of the people.

Let me begin with the woman who strongly features in the exhibition, Vali Myers. She left Australia to live in Paris at the age of 19.(Insert declaimer, that is the last research I will do. The rest is defective memory)

In the 1990's we saw a tv doco about Vali, living in Italy at an animal refuge she had set up with her younger Spanish partner. I believe he even came with her back to Australia when she returned to her home country in about 2000.

R watched the 1990s doco with interest equal to my own, so we knew who she was when we saw her dancing at Young and Jacksons, which is not our oldest hotel, but one of them and the best known, right opposite our major Flinders Street Railway Station. The energy from her, given her age, as she danced was extraordinary, yet not so many years later, she died.

This is Vali, from the State Library exhibition brochure.

Ok, let me find some more from the net. Here she is with her Hungarian Gypsy partner Rudi.

Here are a  few more.

The animal refuge in Ill Porto valley, Positano.


She mixed with some very famous people. Abbie Hoffman, Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithful, Salvadore Dali, Donovan, Tennessee Williams, Jean Paul Sartre, Jean Genet and Jean Cocteau, to name a few. She was an artist in her own right with her fine pen and ink drawings. She frequented the Chelsea Hotel in New York, although I don't recall that she lived there.

She was truly a bohemian in the sense of the word. Unknown to me at the time we saw her, she had rented a studio/flat in the the wonderful Nichoalas building in Swanston Street and kept an open house for anyone who wanted to visit, and many people did, including the creme de la creme of Melbourne's artistic society.

At the exhibition we saw a young bearded hipster with headphones on watching a video of her being interviewed for television, I suppose which would have been not long filmed before she died. I was watching it too over his shoulder as it had subtitles. He broke up when Vali said, "The world is a fucking amazing place". One can't disagree with that.

While I did say Dame M was of Vali's acquaintance, little did I know Brighton Antique Dealer knew her too, as we discovered over a pub meal this Sunday night past when I suggested to BAD that she see the exhibition. BAD's first husband was a mega endowed Arab. That much we knew already. He died last year while living in a fashionable country town not far from Melbourne. What we did not know that while BAD and her prospective first husband were courting in the old fashioned sense of the word, Vali would visit BAD's  future betrothed at his parent's place in Balwyn and on the closed off verandah, it was on! BAD concluded with, well, she was like that. I never cared.

BAD hadn't finished with gobsmacking me yet. "Is Val's Coffee Lounge featured?" "Oh yes", I replied. Not so many would know but Val's coffee lounge, a place for those of a different sexuality, was a place to meet and have fun in the mid twentieth century, now Gopals Indian vegetarian restaurant. BAD frequented Val's coffee lounge and she adored Val and said she might have almost turned lesbian for Val, but Val did not like BAD and asked her to leave more than once.

Vali Myers died of cancer in 2003 at the age of 72. She may have been a person many disapproved of, but we can't all be boring.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Musical Monday

Diane and Bill were in Baton Rouge as part of their American holiday, part of which has been a quite luxurious extended steam paddle trip down the Mississippi (there was only a very slight chance of getting the spelling correct and I failed, Noted, all consonants are double except for the M ). Their accounts of their travels has been quite a fascinating read, especially as I am not normally very America focused.

I am busy with other posts, so this is what I have time for and River does Musical Monday too.

Baton Rouge in a song rang a bell for me, and of course it is in Janis Joplin's Me and Bobby McGee

Sunday, January 11, 2015

An Acland Street Ambulation

We took a trip to St Kilda with Little Jo for brunch. Although it was a Monday, it was quite busy and no tables at our favourite cafe. There were seats at Rococo and we sat and the waiter asked if we wanted a drink and took the order and said she would be back with menus. Before she left we thought she said there would be a 15 minute wait for meals, but maybe she said 50 minutes. We indicated what we thought was 15 minutes was ok, so we waited and waited for menus. Eventually another waiter brought our coffee and lemonade for Little Jo and asked if we would like menus and we said yes and she then said the kitchen would be closed for half an hour for the change over from breakfast to lunch. I've never experienced such a thing before. Little Jo was already showing signs of boredom, so we declined, finished our drinks and went to the cake shop next door and had a pie, pastie and sausage roll. Even that took a while, so I suggested Little Jo take some photos, which will be in another post.

Afterwards we walked down to the end of Acland Street and Little Jo wanted to look inside the arcade. As we knew, there was little of interest inside for her but a bit to interest me.

Hands up who remembers the gift shop, Polka Dot Palm? It has long gone, a fire I seem to recall. But further up the street is Urban Attitude with lots of bits and pieces to pick up and look at and put down again. That amused the three of us for fifteen minutes. Then on to Readings book shop, and Little Jo was in heaven, soon sitting on the floor surrounded by books she was interested in. I have that already, was often heard.

We left the bookshop and started walking to the tram stop to go home and the wind suddenly swung around to become a cold south westerly. Perfect timing and we were soon on corner opposite home shivering in the cold blast.

When we caught the tram to St Kilda we found our local tram shelter has been turned into a lounge room for the homeless. Note the radio.

I did not have earphones with me to test whether sound would emanate from these sockets. The sign indicated they worked. A yes, Little Jo's legs can be seen.

The 'couch' sits over the bench seat. The synagogue appears to be a reflection but it on the other side of glass.

As we left the tram in St Kilda,  I thought, I have not really decided about this new building, but I guess that might nearly be me saying it is ok. Perhaps I have become used to it.

The Vineyard, with a large outdoor seating area, is very popular, especially on a warm summer night. To use an old expression, it goes off. There are always guards there in the evening, which tells you something.

Less than a fine experience at Rococo. Their other branch in Fitzroy Street opened too late for us to dine and drink at during last year's Pride March. Its loss was Leo's gain and it was collectively quite a substantial bill.

Seems to be apartments above the cafes where we were.

There were some things of interest inside the Coles arcade for me. Oh for the days before tram drivers became boring suburban types. I really like this sculpture and it is better if it is broken down into photographic bits.

Holding a can of VB. SM-32 intrigued me. It seems to be a figure which is something to do with scale modelling. Apart from the obvious S&M connotations, I also recalled SM32 for an aching tooth, but no, that was SM33.

Luna Park is less than 500 metres away.

The must be more murals in St Kilda than anywhere else on earth.

From the tram home, the placid Port Phillip Bay waters were now very choppy, with lots of white crests forming in the strong wind. As it does in Melbourne, the temperature must have dropped 10 degrees in 10 minutes.