Saturday, April 18, 2015

About the blogs

Tired of London, tired of life? Never. It seems me mentioning Brad and Janet was quite topical. Ian Visits in London has details of a Rocky Horror performance at Royal Albert Hall by winners of a competition at Blackpool's Winter Gardens.

I was quite moved by our friend in Sydney Victor's post about his lack of a sibling and the difficulties when when siblings he knows fell out.

Strayer sent me off on an internet search about canned heat, specifically a Sterno Stove.

I read it once, then continued reading. I went back and checked and then checked again, yes Marcus Wong has married. What a tolerant woman he has married. :-P at Marcus.

Snoskred also sent me off on an internet search after she reviewed a book she had read, about some blokes in a tunnel. I don't know that I will read the book, but I will do more than my initial research.

Most of this happened today. I am quite shallow and will be on to your next piece of writing and forgotten the last, and if you didn't get a gig above, it is not because I don't enjoy what you write too.

I thank you all. I hate it when you stop writing and leave me.

PS Grace in Perth overcame her fear of flying and flew to Sydney to attend her granddaughter's first birthday. Sweet.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Cream in my Coffee

I miss all the terrific tv plays we used to see, mostly from the BBC. I am thinking Laurence Olivier in A Voyage Round my Father, The Norman Conquests series, The Singing Detective....the list is long. It was Jacqueline wot did it when she reminded me of this when she posted a clip of Marlene Dietrich singing You're the Cream in my Coffee. This is a clip from the terrific tv play Cream in my Coffee, written by the brilliant late Dennis Potter, and starring the late Lionel Jefferies and the wonderful Dame Peggy Ashcroft.

This is the final 7 minutes of the play and it has a quite intense finish. Vaguely from what I can remember having first seen it some 35 years ago, near to their wedding when they were young, she got drunk one evening and spent a night with the band vocalist who sings Cream in my Coffee. He was a thorough cad who just took advantage of her. In the recent scenes, clearly the Jefferies character is remembering her inappropriate behaviour at the same venue. Something like that, anyway. I think the external of the hotel used is the Grand Hotel in Brighton. Perhaps JayLa may confirm. The modern wait, 1970s music, may not be to your taste, but I don't mind it at all.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A neighbourly memoir

When we lived in the salubrious and leafy eastern suburbs of Melbourne on the Alamein railway line, our neighbours were ever so middle class. A few doors down the Italian couple grew vegetables in the back yard and tried to sell them to neighbours at exorbitant prices. Their neighbours were all of Anglo stock, and so never complained, just did not go back.

Apparently our dog Wee Jessie, a Westie, barked non stop in the back yard when we were away. We did not know but eventually we asked our neighbour why their son was throwing sand over the fence. 'At your Wee Jessie to stop her barking', was the reply. I think this was when were leaving after being there for a couple of years. Too late to mention her barking now. They were a nice enough couple, but the two sons both had quite a number of medical issues. The kids would be in their thirties now. The neighbours names were Geoff and Janet. I called them Brad and Janet. Three points to you if you get that, and they well suited the roles.

On the other side of was a another married middle class couple. He was quite normal and their daughter worked at the Red Back Brewery in North Melbourne. I wonder if that is still there. Their dog occasionally appeared in our yard and we returned him. He would dig under the fence. He was big and boisterous. I suppose I had met her, but one day I returned the  dog. Lee answered the door with glasses perched on her nose and a book in one hand and a cigarette in the other, difficult to open a door like that I think, and just said thanks when I steered their dog inside and shut the door on me. Ken, her husband apologised about the dog later.

Behind us lived an old man, severely stooped over, almost a hunch back. We would often see him on his way to and from the local Ashburton shops, shopping jeep in tow. He was quite old and obviously self sufficient. About once a month he must have bought a bottle of spirits and got horribly drunk. These were large blocks of land and his house was decent way from ours, but we could hear him yelling and ranting to himself. Our neighbours told us not to worry about him, but oh, the noise was horrendous. What was in his mind? I seem to recall some of his yelling was about his late wife but his words mostly made no sense.

Yep, that's it. Just a memory.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Standing up to 'The State'

I will simply not have the government dictating how much water I can use. Many people take far longer showers than I do and otherwise I am very careful with water use, but I am not having a shower putting out a dribble of water.

R's shower head was sagging, ten minutes after getting out, the tell-tale sound of water could be heard as the arm sagged and the rose emptied of water. Time for a visit to the big green shed to look at a new one.

We found one but as well as being a good bit dearer than they used to be, the salesman told us that it was not so easy to remove the water flow restrictor. This used to be a simple procedure, remove the washer where it screws onto the pipe, take out the restrictor and put the washer back. Ah, yes, Americans dictate to us again. In the US the prescribed flow rate is 2 gallons per minute, for us the same at 9 litres a minute.

Well, we ummed and ahhed and bought nothing, not confident that we could remove the restrictor. We let it rest until we were both within earshot of the bathroom and there was the tell tale sound of the shower head emptying. Enough, said R. I am going to buy a new one. The style of one above suits us perfectly. It lifts high enough for R to wash his hair (he is on the tall side), is simply adjustable and without a restrictor gives a great shower, without jets that feels like a thousand needles on your skin. And that is the one with the new sort of restrictor.

But before R set off a second time to buy rather than look, we watched a tutorial. It did cross my mind that I would like this rather ocker plumber to visit and offer his advice personally, but oh the cost. As you can see in the video, he is quite disparaging about shower water flow restrictors.

Right, this shan't beat us. We too will smash it, bash it, whatever, get it out. R returned with the new head and sure enough, the flow restrictor was not where it used to be, behind the wall plate where it screws on to the pipe in the wall. We disassembled the shower head end, and there sat the evil little device, held in place by a metal clip. The pointy nosed pliers made short work of the clip and the device. Look at the evil little bits. Three tiny holes for water to flow through. Piss off. We are well rid of them.


It all went back together but now the head was a bit loose. There was a little grub screw, so with an Allen key, I tightened it and the head was now tight. Back on to the pipe and yes, we have beaten the government prescribed water flow. R is happy with his non sagging full flow shower. So Nanny State, stick that in your meerschaum and smoke it.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A victim of marketing

Present society always seem to need someone to blame. When bad things happen, it is never a person's fault, something that came about because of their actions, but another person's doing.

I spend a lot of time on the internet. Is is too much time? I don't know. I am certainly addicted to the net and would struggle in life without it now. There is nothing I don't get done though, with two exceptions, concentrated television watching and book reading. I haven't done badly so far this year with about three proper books read and three electronic books, but in days before the net, it might have been three books a week and a lot of newspapers and magazines. Of course who should I blame for not reading as much? You, dear reader, you. You write interesting things with nice photos and at times I am sent off on mad internet hunts. You also encourage me to write and take nice photos, which also takes time. It is all your fault! So there!

I save reading paper books for at home but when at work or when travelling, I like the convenience and lightness of the Kindle, but I have become a victim of marketing. Remember the story about the Gillette razor blades? Give them the holder but charge them for the blades. A more recent version has been printers, where you pay more for the ink cartridges than you do the printer.

How does this relate to reading books on a Kindle? Simple, give the customer the first of five or six books in a series for free and if it is a good book, the company is almost guaranteed you will pay for the rest, which is exactly what I am half way through doing.

The book, or books? I don't know how widely she and her works are known. The author is Irish born Martha Long and the books are auto biographical, beginning with her appalling childhood where such mistreatment should have seen her parents locked up. Ma, He Sold Me For A Few Cigarettes was a harrowing read. The book was among various free books offered by Amazon. I did not realise then that it was a series of five.

It was quite some time before I downloaded the second book in the series and had to pay for it.. Ma, I’m Gettin Meself a New Mammy focused on her teenage years in a convent, having been sent there by the authorities. The third, Ma, It’s a Cold Aul Night an I’m Lookin for a Bed, sees her depart from the convent at the age of sixteen and try to make her way on her own and find work in a very harsh city of Dublin.

What I am about to buy now is Ma, Now I'm Goin Up in the World, with still to come, Ma, I’ve Got Meself Locked Up in the Mad House; Ma, I've Reached for the Moon an I'm Hittin the Stars and
Ma, Jackser's Dying Alone.

Ok, that is seven books in the series. I am curious if any of you book readers out there know of these books.  Obviously I am enjoying them if I am paying for them, though I doubt I would pay if they were paperback prices.
Ma, Jackser's Dyin Alone

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Batty Highrise

Roosting bats were ruining an area of our nearby Royal Botanic Gardens and by a primitive method, noise, they were driven away to where the were encouraged to roost as Yarra Bend Park, perhaps ten kilometres away. The noise was simply made with amplified music and banging saucepan lids together during the day when the bats wanted to roost and sleep.

The bats often passed by the Highrise as they went off to wherever they found food. For a while after they were driven away we saw very few but they have certainly returned now, the difference being they fly past at night later and return earlier in the early morning. Our Friend from Japan was recently staying with us and she took a decent walk in the Botanic Gardens and chatted to staff there (and fed her face I might add) and established the bats have not returned, so they are obviously flying quite a distance from Yarra Bend Park to pass us by on their way to feed, which I guess why they are now passing later and returning earlier than they used to.

The bats are known here as grey-headed flying foxes and they are relatively large bats, weighing up to 1 kilogram and with a wing span of up to 1 metre. Luckily they are not fond of human blood taken from the neck but eat fruit, flowers and pollen.

Here is an individual and a colony at daytime roost. Photos from Wikipedia.

I'll finish with a bat anecdote which does not really apply to these bats but another species. A tour guide was showing a group of tourists the interior of a bat cave and right in the middle of explaining the flawless internal radar navigation system bats have, one flew straight into a woman's hair. Maybe her hair was thin and teased up and so lacked density to return a radar echo.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Melbourne University

I finally found time to take a wander in the grounds of  Melbourne University. Here I am at the University tram stop and city tram terminus looking down Swanston Street towards the city.

These very cheaply built apartments were constructed primarily for overseas university students. They don't have air conditioning and face west to the hot sun. Some occupants put flattened cardboard boxes against the windows to keep the sun out. I think the flats are quite a disgrace. I've been told most of them are owned by overseas owners who won't pay body corporate fees, and so there is little money for maintenance.

There were a few of these trees with lovely reddish bark in the uni grouds. I thought they were Chinese Ginkgo trees but it seems not.

There is such a mix of buildings with old

and the new.

The day I chose just happened university club selection day, with the clubs promoting themselves at various stalls. It made for a very lively atmosphere.

A nice refuge for just sitting.

A number of people cycle around the grounds.

There had been some kind of outdoor disco here, but it was wrapping up as I arrived.

A horticultural area.

This was quite nice.


Old buildings, new buildings and some in between. I guess by the name Babel, this has something to do with languages.

Some buildings don't stand the test of time.

Some not much older buildings do stand the test of time.

Cream brick building with a slate roof? Not its original cladding.

What do we have here?

It is a doorway to a bank building, moved here in 1972.

The opening leads in this ever so interesting car park.

Beer was involved. Again, things were breaking up as I arrived.

Something had gone wrong with the trams and when they did arrive, I was crushed in on the tram among a heap of uni lads. Dear oh dear, not good for the heart.

Later edit: The Percy Grainger Museum.