Ancient and Modern

The current exhibition at the Neshnl Gellry of Victoria is quite stunning.

Titled Past Legacy, Present Tense it displays recent works by aboriginal artists, drawing strongly on traditional themes and patterns.

That would be the bottom image, one from the exhibition.

The top image of a shield from the gellry’s permanent collection dates back to 1800….

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Christmas in Australia

Where they knit socks for trees and have kangaroos towing Santa’s sleigh.

(They’re traditionally named Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen, but down here it appears they’re all called “Heyskippyyerbastardgetafuckinmoveon”….)

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Shot down in flames

This brick structure was at one stage the tallest building in Melbourne.

(The next port of call on this trip, in case you hadn’t worked it out..)

It’s a shot tower, which in the distant past – 1880s until the 1960s – was the hi-tech method for manufacturing lead shot for use in shotgun cartridges.

Now, it’s slap-bang in the middle of a retail complex with a small museum telling folk how it all works.

Not that I learned anything new, of course.

There won’t be many folk around who used to work in one.

But I did.

At the Colonial Ammunition Company in Auckland.

Between leaving school in September 1966 and starting an illustrious career in the RNZAF in January 1967, I earned some serious folding stuff by spending most of my working day loading lead ingots and scrap lead into the lift, riding up 30 metres, stacking it and feeding a cauldron of molten lead which fed into a perforated cast-iron pan (aka the pouring card) and fell in globules through the 30 metres, shock-cooling in a water bath to perfect spheres.

Not a lot of conversation up there, apart from Happy Cash calling “Whack the pan, Slim boy” occasionally when the quality started slipping.

And “slim” I was.

Started off in the low 70kg range and dropped a good 5kg in the first couple of weeks.

Well, so would you if you were wearing a balaclava, googles, scarf, overalls, leather gloves and heavy boots in a tin shed standing next to a vat of lead at around 350 degrees C.

Lead can get quite unfriendly when it spits…

Then the muscle tissue started building up (5 tons of lead a day triple-handled will do that..) and I was back to the low 70s in no time.

Where I’ve stayed ever since.

Give or take a couple of kg…..

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Unintended consequences

Carriages on Bangkok’s elevated Skytrain system are plastered with perforated advertising foil, letting folk on the inside look out, but not letting the folk on the platform look in.

Commercial considerations high on the list, shade and passenger comfort a distant second, but improved punctuality?

Light years away from the planners’ considerations.

But if you can’t see into the carriages as they pass you on the platform, you’re not tempted to scuttle down to an empty-ish car (together with every bastard and his brother…) and then scuttle back when you find out that their elbows are sharper than yours.

Which means that folk line up patiently, fairly evenly distributed over the platform and board as placidly as cows heading into the milking shed.

Doors close, off you go.

No delays….

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Macdahnahlds or Burrrgerkaying?

Overheard a couple of colonial cousin behemoths in the Marriott Courtyard lift…elevator*… the other evening discussing culinary adventures in Bangkok

“Wanna go tuh McDahnahlds or Burrrgerkaying?”

Considered (for about a millisecond…) suggesting Baan Somtum, a recommendation from our young friend Yin, but thought better of it.

Don’t know how much a couple of Whahpperrrs and fraahs would set them back**, but all this runs at about 600 Baht.

Under 20 bucks.

For 3 people.

Mind you, you’ll be on your own among locals.

And they serve beer.

Things could get out of hand…..

*Q. What do you call an elevator full of intelligent, slim, softly spoken people?
A. A lift.

** Just checked it out at the  Paragon Food Court – dead on 600 Baht…

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Go-faster stripes

My friend @DavidSlack thinks he’s living dangerously in bucolic Devonport.

As in:

“GUM679 has BMW right of way. Show some pedestrian crossing respect, peasants.”


“KSS851 black Golf is a low flying projectile with no time for pedestrian crossings. Approach with extreme caution.”

He wouldn’t last 5 minutes here….

He’d be like:

“I’m *definitely* not paranoid, but ALL these ~%#@$& are out to get me. ALL the time….”


Where red lights are advisory, policemen on points duty will wave cars directly at you and pedestrian crossings are a target-rich, free-fire environment…

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On the way…


Where a bag of fried bananas from a street vendor will cost you 20 baht (€0.50)

And this (plus a couple of beers and daiquiris..) hits €65.

Mind you, it is the Oriental……

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