Saturday, March 05, 2016


I had nothing written for today and I do now take the occasionally day off from blogging. No matter, but then something on tv inspired this post, as often enough happens.

Mash, the tv show, I never cared for at all. I saw enough to know the characters, Alan Alda as a surgeon, a female medical person, a radio operator and a grumpy old boss person. Maybe it is a show I would enjoy more now, being of the age where I can pick up nuances that I never noticed when I was young. What you say? There were no nuances?

Alan Alda will be in Australia next week, to promote science and scientist communication with the public. This is an aspect of Alda I did not know and good on him. Let me warn you now, Alan Alda is now quite old and unlike most aging US actors, he looks quite old. He also looks very wise.

It brought me to thinking about one of my most favourite films, Same Time Next Year. Briefly, Alda's character and another married female character played by Ellen Burstyn had a one night stand when they met at a work conference when they were in their twenties. While this nor what subsequently happened ever threatened their respective marriages so far as they were concerned, they agreed to meet every year for a weekend or whatever for a time of lust. Their annual encounters became much more than just a sexual meeting and it was just a most wonderful film.

Wouldn't it be nice to able to switch on someone who you really liked and were sexually compatible with for one day or weekend a year. Forget about guilt or other complications. This thought is something simple, wonderful and sustaining, but it's a bit too late for me to find such a person.

Ok, yes a photo improves a blog post. I hope the movie hasn't aged too much, so if you haven't seen it and have the chance, do so.

Friday, March 04, 2016

The Naked Vicar

Noeline Brown is one my absolute favourite people who once entertained us on tv, performing in The Naked Vicar Show, Mavis Bramston Show, Blankety Blanks and others. She could do dry humour and keep a straight face under pressure, at times with a tiny flicker of amusement, which just made her all the funnier. With Ross Higgins and others, she carried the Naked Vicar Show, firstly heard I think on ABC Radio National and then later seen on commercial tv. I will have more of Noeline and an offshoot show called Kingswood Country starring Ross Higgins. Photo from SMH.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Gay boys at school

It took me some time to adjust to my sister teaching at a posh private school when she passionately believes in state funded education. It took me even more time to adjust to her teaching at a Catholic boys' school. I may or may not have sought salacious details of what her Level 6 maths lads are like. No, I haven't and I am not interested, but hey, that is what is expected of me by many. If I remember anything about my teens, I remember how boring teen age males are, full of testosterone they don't know what to do with and sublimate it with sporting activity. So boring and from what I hear when travelling on trams, their conversation many years later is not more interesting. I didn't what to do with my excessive level of testosterone. I do now (insert leering and lecherous eyes), but now I probably have a lack of testosterone, so not a problem.

I don't know how I manage to turn a one line post into a story I had no intention of writing. I think I may have indicated in the past it was easy for me growing up as gay person who knew what I was. I may have lied a little.

Here is the story. My sister teaches at the only Catholic boys' school in Australia that has signed up to the Safe Schools Coalition that promotes acceptance of gays, lesbians and transgender. It is terrific that it has, and how disappointing that schools like Xavier hasn't, especially as the amazing book, film and documentary has been written by and produced by others about the school's most famous gay students' love story.

I wasn't a really effem boy, so I was not bullied badly. I had it pretty easy as a non sports participant who would run away from a ball sailing towards me from the sky. I have had a pretty easy time throughout my life in that area, but nevertheless, not all do. I am going to send an anon email to the principle of Sister's school and I rarely ask you to do anything via my blog, but here is one case I am asking for your support. This is far more important than gay marriage.


The story in the paper,

Photo of the late Xavier gay students Tim Conigrave and John Caleo from our ABC.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Never mind the property bubble, feel the width

I'll preface this by noting I had an appalling slow trip home from work this evening and I was a bit cross.

Generally, Western countries can't compete in manufacturing with low wage second and third world countries. I don't like the terms second and third world, but they are convenient as they are generally used. With high automation of processes, we can compete and we have the skills to do that, but that doesn't give many people a job.

Australia may or may not be a good example of the Western world, but our present economy is built around servicing an increasing population, firstly by providing housing and then services. While the miserly Australian basic wage is barely enough to live on, employers far and wide are not paying the appropriate pay to service workers through devious means. $17.29 is not much per hour, around $660 per week. This figure should come for a full working week with all benefits, maybe ten days sick leave, long service leave, maybe three months after 15 years, four weeks annual leave, a super contribution of around 10% of that figure and penalty rates when working unsociable hours. If you are a part time employee, this will be given pro rata. Part timers usually have set hours. If you are a casual employee, you will get a higher rate of pay to compensate you for the lack of the above benefits.

Australian business would of course like to get rid of all of the above and just have a very low hourly pay without benefits. The Liberal Party, which is not very liberal, thinks along the same lines. Today I observed some garden workers today slogging it out for hours in the hot sun. I hope they are getting well paid. They should be, compared to someone in an airconditioned office tapping away at a keyboard.

Yesterday I listened to a podcast about the US presidential hopeful for the Democrats, Bernie Sanders. In Australia, think of all this primary nonsense that is happening in the US as party preselection and  here it is done on a small scale at a local electorate party level. The party then elects who can run as Prime Minister in an election. By golly, I liked what I heard about Bernie Sanders. He confesses to being a socialist and is not someone who wants to work from the inside but wants to revolutionise the American system. No one could argue with him that the extremes between poverty and wealth are big problems. His fellow contender as Democratic presidential candidate is Hilary Clinton, a person who is very experienced and works within the system. Would it not be great if a President could be elected in the US who could shake the country to its very core? US presidents, like Australian Prime Ministers only have so much power though. Still, it would be interesting if Sanders was elected. He sounds like a thoroughly decent and honourable bloke.

Gosh, I did drift off my original point. Yes, Australia survives by the Ponzi scheme of increasing its population. This is not sustainable.  In the last twenty years, this increasing population has significantly impacted on our lifestyles. The ability to move around our large city by what ever means has become a miserable experience. Our travel times are so much longer and less comfortable. Lordy, our trains and trams have had seats removed so more people can fit in. Our services are not even close to keeping up. Do you have a problem with a service? Call the company and sit in a long phone queue or be dealt with by an overseas call centre where you can't really understand the person at the other end because of their accent.

I am on the way to old age and it won't be a huge worry for me, apart from occasional annoyance, but what is the future for Australia? This country too has an increasing gap between the rich and the poor. I can only say to my fellow Australians, as workers, you must unionise and as citizens, you must constantly protest and complain about injustices and what is wrong in this country. Never a truer truth was told than the squeaky wheel gets the oil. The squeaky wheel must be what is right.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Burrowing into the past

Sometimes when I look in the mirror, I think, well could be worse Andrew. More often though I think, god you look so effing old and tragic. Not surprisingly, the latter is happening increasingly often as I age. R and Mother were going through some old photos and R said to me afterwards, I had forgotten how cute and hot you were when you were young and why I was attracted to you. I suppose that was a compliment.

A work mate recently gave me a dvd with lots of old photos taken in my workplace and at work social events. At almost the end of the tiresome slide show dvd, there was a very young R and myself at a party. It took me nearly two weeks to remember where the photo was taken. I was thinking about street names and how I pronounced Creswick Street in Glen Iris as Cresick Street and a dyke workmate thought I said Cressy Street, a nearby street. Bingo! I remembered. The said dyke and her girlfriend had a house warming party at the flat they just moved into in Creswick Street, and that was where the photo was taken. I had no idea anyone was snapping.

Last night (Friday) we caught up with a few friends at The Dick to go through photos kept by the late Jasmine/James, Dame M's Boarder. James'  family did not want them.  Later there will be more, including some photo scans, but for now, I found a picture of myself taken by a person unknown with Dame M. The photo was taken at Jane's Chinese restaurant at St Kilda Junction, now closed down and the historic building, once a hotel, will be demolished for??? Yes, a highrise apartment building. Clearly something was happening when the photo was taken, but I have no idea what. I think there are two photos of me in my 12 year old blog, plus one of me in drag. I don't really want to see my ugly mooch on my blog but nevertheless, I like this photo of myself and the late Dame M. We didn't intend to have nearly matching outfits. Ah Gwennie, how we miss you.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Musical Monday

What will River's Musical Monday bring forth? 

For a few years after R and myself got together, Mother still had funds enough to rent a holiday house for a couple of weeks on Phillip Island each summer. For quite a number of years it was the house of Mother's best friend who sadly yet selfishly died in her forties and that was the end of cheap Phillip Island holidays. Mother funded the next few at other places on the island but then her money dried up.  The friend's house was in Rose Avenue in Cowes. The house was at the end of the street with I think a golf course on one side. It was a ten minute walk from the beach so we were not lulled to sleep by lapping water but by the sound of koalas courting and making love in the golf course. You may think of koala love making as a beautiful thing, but let me tell you, the pig like noise was horrendous.

I quite vividly recall one summer where every morning in pre R times we would either walk to the beach or drive to the Cowes shops. The afternoon was always spent on the beach. Did I have a small cassette player of some type? I can't remember but The Eagles had just released the album Hotel California. I loved the title track and the whole album was played many times on the beach in about 1976/77.

I was reminded of The Eagles when I recently heard one of the members, Glenn Frey, died. Photo from Billboard.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Sunday Selections

River and others participate in Sunday Selections. Mine used to be random photos, but now they are mostly theme based. 

The wheels on the train go round and round, tra la la, grinding away the track and the wheels as they go. This is normal but our trains have been grinding excessively, quickly wearing out wheels and tracks. I began my outing at Windsor Station, as that is where I was. We have some quite ugly train stations but I like Windsor Station.

An old style travel poster, promoting a family train trip to the tourist attraction, Sovereign Hill in Ballarat.

Is this a path or is it not a path? I and others were using it as a path and you can see where people step off the concrete to get around the pole.

I had heard about this train viewing platform via the blog of Daniel Bowen. I don't mind stopping to watch a train or two pass by, but that is about my limit. I am not an 'enthusiast', not that there is anything wrong with that mind.

Train wheels are very topical here in the State of Victoria. It is clever how these old wheels were incorporated into the structure.

The platform gives an excellent view of what is known as the North Melbourne Fly Over, a substantial new structure to get regional trains over suburban trains lines. The trains were crawling along the track at an absurdly low speed. The track has since been replaced, as have many train wheels, but the repercussions will not end until mid year, with bus substitution for many regional train trips.

It seems that the tracks were not been regularly lubricated and on these tight curves, wheels and tracks were wearing out very quickly. In the ten or so minutes I stood there, quite a number of regional trains slowly crawling over the fly over.

It is hard to believe that trains have been running their iron wheels on steel track for over 150 years, yet some quite basic things in this case seem to have not been done. Rapidly wearing track from rapidly wearing wheels has also seen some early wear on our suburban trains too. The wheel is a very good object and does not need re-inventing, but it does need to be cared for. Here comes one of our high speed Vlocity trains, that can run at 160 km/h, crawling along at something like 25 km/h. Sorry and excuse me, but you are not impressed that our regional trains can travel at 160 km/h because you recently heard that the Flying Scotsman, a steam train, could travel at 160 km/h between London and Edinburgh back in 1923? We've come a long way baby, not.

Later: I futilely hoped to install some outrage in R by telling him our regional trains travel at the same speed as the Flying Scotsman did back in 1923. After being together for 37 years, he then informed me, my Uncle Alex (his mother's brother) used to sort the mail on the Flying Scotsman. No sweetheart, you had not mentioned that before. It is not the sort of thing I would forget.