Saturday, May 09, 2015

A young death

Ann was about 15 and I was the same age. It was she who was told to not talk to boys through the cyclone wire fence at school as she would become pregnant. We were neighbours in a modest Gippsland country town. Her mother worked at an upmarket dress shop. The owner was a glam woman who each morning teased her hair into a very high style, wore the latest of suit fashions and would never been seen out without heels on her feet. Once I and the local paper boy Ricky called on her at home when she did not go to work and stayed at home unwell. Her hair was down, she was in very ordinary clothes and we could see she was unwell. Maybe we took her flowers? I can't recall. She loved us for visiting her, but I was really thrown by seeing her 'out of costume'. Oddly, my rather common father did some building work for her and she found his common ways quite charming. I kept in touch with her for a time. She later worked at the Windsor telephone exchange for a time before taking over a milk bar in Fitzroy. I visited her there once, so long ago. She was ironing her husband's clothes when I visited and we chatted away.

Back to Ann. Her mother's name was Phylis. Each Friday night Ann and myself would visit Phyl in the dress shop on the late night shopping night and walk home with her after closing time and the shop was locked up. Now the memory is problematic. Shops shut on Friday night at 9pm, but we back at their home by 8.30 pm to watch Columbo. Phyl must have already prepared and eaten dinner as her husband Norm's dinner was keeping warm in the oven.

Phyl, Ann and myself would be watching Columbo on tv. Phyl will have opened a bottle a beer. As the bottle emptied, her posh voice would mellow and she began to slur her words. She was a good Catholic woman who drank and smoked and confessed her sins at mass on Sunday.

Her husband Norm, after eating his evening meal from the warm oven once he returned from the pub would come into the lounge room and observe the lounge room situation. His wife was by now quite tipsy and his daughter and the neighbour lad, myself, contentedly watching tv.

He stood and swayed back and forth as he took in the situation, his thought processes slowed by alcohol. "Do you want something Norm?" Phyl would ask. With a loud harumph, he proclaimed, "No nonse (nonsense) then", and went to bed, followed by Phyl, saying, thank god for that. It was a loveless marriage and they led their own separate lives.

Good times they were. By the age of sixteen Ann was bald from chemotherapy for brain cancer treatment at the Peter MacCallum cancer hospital.

By the age of 17, she was dead.

Friday, May 08, 2015

A very cross roo

I hope the kangaroo damaged the drone. They should not have taken the drone in so close to harass the kangaroos. Funny how humans like to prod, poke and provoke animals. We ought not.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

What wall is that?

I receive posts from a tumblr called (can't remember the site name just now) Some of the photos are quite intriguing especially when a building has been abandoned as if people just stopped what they are doing and walked out.Clearly this is not anything like that but its title grabbed me, DamWallMtParisTas. Would that be our state of Tasmania? I know of no other. Look at those massive buttresses.

Shall we see what this is about? I found the answer on a blog called Think-Tasmania, one I already take a quick look at anyway. I'll begin with a location. The dam wall is in north eastern Tasmania about equi-distance between the towns of Scottsdale and St Helens. It was constructed on the Cascade River in 1936 by the Mount Paris Tin Mining company for operation of its hydraulic equipment. A water race took water several kilometres to the tin mine. The dam wall was hand built, a rather impressive feat.

The mine closed in 1961 by when the state government had already taken ownership of the dam. By 1985 it was under the control of the Water and River Supplies Commission. While it had held little water since the 1970s, the Commission blasted a hole in the dam wall to ensure proper river flows.

Vegetation is reclaiming the floor of the dam. The dam wall is popular with visitors and loved by locals.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

A tale of two Mercedes

Mother has two friends, a couple she and late Step Father met in a large shopping centre in the outer south east that may have been parodied by the tv show Kath and Kim. They became friends and met every Friday night at the same cafe in the same shopping centre for a number of years. Step Father died and so that no longer happened but Mother has remained friends with them. Let me call the friends Nige and Mag, as that is close to their names. Nige has mild dementia but his metal work business that began supplying letter boxes to apartment buildings is going gang busters and he is making a lot of money. He is now doing specialised metal work. They live in the best house is one of the worst streets in an unpronounceable and unspellable place called Eumemmerring (believe me, I cut and pasted that). The manufacturing is now done from home with a well set up back yard factory. Her son, his step son, helps in the business. Nige makes the money and Mag spends it. They have just had their kitchen rebuilt for the third time in a bit over five years. A new car is bought every couple of years and this time it is a new Mercedes. "Nige, take it back. I don't like it. It is too complicated", the cry went out. Everything is controlled using a screen, rather like a tablet computer. Whether it will be returned or not, who knows. Mother was supposed to have been taken out in the new Mercedes last week, but the car smelt of petrol when sitting in Nige and Mag's driveway. They called the dealer and he said, don't touch it. A truck arrived and the new Mercedes disappeared. Oh, the ignominy.

Last week Manny was visiting from Malaysia. His friend the retired priest with dementia is now in quite good secure accommodation in Footscray. While he has been to see the retired priest, he has a new friend here in Melbourne. We caught up with Manny for dinner at the Elsternwick Hotel, along with our ex NT politician/policeman friend and his Fijian Indian partner and with ex NT's brother and wife and a gay workmate of his brother. Our ex NT friend could be described as a grumpy old misogynistic curmudgeon at times, but he is also a high achiever. His sister in law takes no notice and jollies him along, sends him up, calls him pet names. While I say he is misogynistic, once he gets to know a woman, he seems to get rather attached to them  and is happy to be sent up by them at times. Of course every woman we know is smart and intelligent. No bimbos in our life.

Anyway, his brother bought his boss's wife's three year old Mercedes for his wife. She really is a hoot and proudly showed us the new car in their carpark. Is it nice to drive L, I asked. I haven't yet, she replied. I tried but it is too complicated, but doesn't it look great?

Is there a theme happening? When we bought our new car, it took quite a bit of time and brain power to work out the screen to control things. I still don't have it entirely mastered, joystick, voice control, touch screen but at least our heating and cooling controls are still manually operated.

R in the course of his volunteer work occasionally drives a Honda Odyssey. He really likes the car but on a cold morning recently he turned the car on and the cooling was blasting out. It took some considerable playing time with a screen to switch it off.

Are these things just becoming too complicated to instantly know how they work?

PS, after 460,000 kms, Tradie Brother has decided to buy a new work car. I spoke to him tonight about Mother's Day arrangements. When he walks his dog, his chicken named Thelma (sorry Hels) goes with him, prancing and pecking along the street to the local park.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Attractive City Corners

Nearly the last of photos taken with the old camera. Where is the centre of Melbourne? I nominate the corner of Bourke and Swanston Streets. Is it the busiest corner? No, that would be the corner of Flinders and Swanston. Another important corner is Collins and Swanston Streets. We will leave which is the most attractive corner to the end.

Swanston Street runs north from the Yarra River after crossing the river on Princes Bridge, gently rising and deviating when it reaches Franklin Street just short of Carlton. At the top is the massive educational institution, RMIT, the City Baths and the underground Melbourne Central Station, which certainly is not central. For much of its length it is for pedestrians, bicycles and trams. This is widely ignored and rarely policed. At any time of the day you can find private cars, delivery vehicles, tradesmen, taxis, emergency vehicles, horses and carts (up to a dozen of them lined up). Trams ringing their bells at constantly straying pedestrians and cyclists ringing their bells at pedestrians wandering along the cycleways create background music to the chaos.

This is the corner of Flinders Street. On the north eastern corner is the historic and lovely St Pauls Cathedral.

NW, the historic and loved Young and Jacksons Hotel, aka Princes Bridge Hotel, replete with inappropriate electronic advertising.

SW, the grand, historic and much bastardised Flinders Street Station. The fa├žade is still good, but it does need a repaint, last done in time for the 2006 Commonwealth Games. Often photographers can be seen across the intersection at St Pauls, lining their lens up with the station and at night on a tripod.

SE we have the very modern Federation Square, disliked by many people but as a public space, it is very popular with lots to interest within and out. I'll 'explore' Fed Square with the camera one day.

We head north up Swanston Street, across Flinders Lane to the NE corner of Collins Street where Melbourne Town Hall takes pride of corners.

The terrific Manchester Unity Building is on the NW corner.

The SW corner is rather unfortunate.

The SE corner has the small City Square. It has been re-invented many times, land stolen, well sold, for Westin Hotel to be built and mostly used for commercial purposes. There are a couple of elevated grass areas to sit, but that is about it. The grassed areas are so popular, each area has to be rotationally roped off to have a rest and the grass rejuvenate.

North we go again, across Little Collins Street to Bourke Street. To the left is Bourke Street Mall with pedestrians and trams and much less violated by other vehicles than Swanston Street. To the right is a large tram platform stop. NE we have this art deco building which has been extended upwards, in the early 1980s I think. My dominant memory of it is huge advertising down the corner of it advertising the brand new Windows 95, a huge change from Windows 3.1! Last time I visited Step Mother, she was still using Windows 3.1. Surely she has upgraded by now. The dominant logo is for Telstra, our major privatised telecommunications company, previously known as Telecom.

Some nice buildings adjacent on the NW corner, but the actual building on the corner is rather ordinary. At least it does not dominate.

The old Leviathan Store on the SW corner, once a clothing retailer. It needs painting but its a nice building.

Who said this might look good on the SE corner? It doesn't, although it does look better when it is illuminated at night.

I just slipped in this one further along Swanston Street as an example of how old buildings can be re-used, with modern flats built on top to ensure more profits.

It is hard to say which of the three featured corners is the nicest. Flinders Street with east west and north bound traffic turning into Flinders Street rather overwhelms the corner. Collins Street has cross traffic too, but it's less manic traffic. The ambience is Bourke Street is probably the best. I will pick Collins Street though, with the Town Hall, Manchester Unity Building and the openness of the City Square.

Monday, May 04, 2015

An momentous evening out

It was our hair dresser friend's birthday. Our dyke friend took it on board to work out where to celebrate. She chose the Grosvenor Hotel in St Kilda. The service was good and the food nice enough from a limited menu. Drinks were expensive and the noise level with a timber floor was quite horrendous. There were only six of us dining. The honoured guest was late, as she always is. I pondered out loud about her finding a parking space. Don't worry, said our dyke friend, she will just park over someone's driveway. She didn't but parked in a residential zone parking and received a ticket. It will be just added to her large collection of parking fines.

Our dyke friend lives in a two bedroom unit down McKinnon way. She works in the city for a large Japanese firm and has done for quite a long time. The firm was restructured and she moved sideways to an area she did not like. In the past she was in a position where she could have made her company a million dollars on trades or just as easily lost a million. She used to talk about bunkers a lot. I never understood it really. It has been clear to us that for sometime she as not been happy at her workplace, nevertheless, she decided she would buy another Melbourne property, something she liked more that where she lives and keep her old place as an investment. She arranged finance and started looking.

Her aunt in Tasmania died and she flew there for the funeral and caught up with friends and family in the north of Tasmanian while we looked after dog Jack. It seems she had an epiphany while there and has decided to ditch her job, her part time girlfriend and her Melbourne life and move back to northern Tasmania. She grew up in the northern Tasmania town that we jokingly refer to as Smiffton (do not ever look at education stats for Tasmania), not far from the amusingly named The Nut. She is not returning there, but to the largest northern Tasmanian city of Launceston. She has applied for a job there and if she doesn't get it, will apply for another. Worst case, she will move to Hobart. She will let out her Melbourne flat.

It nearly became a bit teary as she told us. I lightened the moment by asking, doesn't the large Japanese firm you work for have a tree chopping down office in Launceston? Its controversial subsidiary certainly used to.

I was taken back to the late Dame M's lounge where our dyke friend told us she was moving to Sydney for work reasons and she did and we visited and stayed with her once. Not long after her heart failed and she received a heart transplant. That she is fit, attractive and quite healthy 52 year old woman now is a credit to our public health system and the major reason why I suggest we should all be organ donors. Anyway, we have been through this before when she moved away, the differences being this time we are all a good bit older and we will no longer ever look after dog Jack.

We keep in occasional contact with our dyke friend's ex and I expect we keep in occasional contact with the current dumped girlfriend. Unfortunately the current is a victim of our dyke friend needing to get back to her roots and leaving the highflying executive lifestyle.

I should proof read this, but I don't have time.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

A town tramp

Surely you didn't think I meant the noun, did you? No, a tramp around town, on foot. I suppose this will do for a Sunday Selection post, as River does each week but Elephant's Child may be a little too busy this week.

I walked along Southbank unsuccessfully looking for something then crossed the river on the old St Kilda and Port Melbourne Railway Bridge. It is now called  Sandridge Bridge, Sandridge being a former name for Port Melbourne. Eureka towers up into the sky. When completed in 2006 Eureka was the tallest residential building in the world. By 2013 is was 14th.

Rendezvous Grand appears to be backpacker accommodation. No, it is a proper hotel and rather nice. I will check out the foyer one day.

I have pondered why the Elizabeth Street end of Flinders Street Station has a grand clock tower and the Flinders Street end none. Well, it does have a nice dome. Every so often grand plans are developed for Flinders Street Station but not quite as often as plans dreamt up to roof over the Jolimont rail yards. Poor old Flinders Street Station. She is neglected and badly needs a restoration and some good thinking put into how to make her work better as a public transport hub. She does not need grand plans and to be swamped by some ghastly connecting modern travesty.

Would you believe a public telephone would be useful in Campbell Arcarde that runs under Flinders Street from the station as there is barely a phone signal.

There were once many public telephones.

And a lift for the less abled.

Some rather good work done by a photo restoration person, I think in Royal Arcade.

Myer department store. Pink wigs en vogue.

Now in the South Melbourne area. Some decoration lifting a quite ordinary apartment building.

The other side of Eureka. Note the cube sticking out near the top. Within the cube are people staring down at what was an opaque floor that has instantly become clear glass under them. While I knew this area had many high rise building, I did not know it has so much low to medium rise. The red funnel is to clear exhaust fumes from the road tunnels underneath. In my experience, it doesn't work very well. If you drive through the Burnley Tunnel when there are a lot of trucks using it, your car will fill up with diesel fumes unless you close windows and turn off fresh air ventilation. The only other tunnel where I have experienced this and it was worse, is Sydney's M5 road tunnel near the airport.

In Coventry Street at the side of the Army Barracks. GR I understand is George Regina, that is King George VI reigning. Correct me if I am wrong.