It’s Better To Pay The Butcher Than The Doctor

The other day when I was pushing my trolley through the aisles of the big box supermarket where I shop for an 80 oz bag of Dunkin Donuts Original Blend ground coffee and a 12 pack of Grupo Modelo’s Victoria beer I wandered into the games section. I was gobsmacked; I stopped the trolley so quickly I nearly caused myself to somersault over it’s handle. Pimple Pete that must have, perfect for a fun night at home, pimple popping game was sitting on a shelf. This is how you play the game; Pete’s face is totally covered with pimples and he needs help in popping them so you spin a spinner which causes the arrow to land on either Pete’s pimple infested forehead, left cheek, right cheek, or chin. And then the fun begins; you choose a squishy pimple to pop, and carefully try to twist and wiggle it out of Pete’s face. If you pull it too hard you’ll cop a burst of pimple juice from the uber zit on Pete’s nose. You get points for each pimple you pop without exploding the mega-zit; highest score wins. If you get squirted you’re out of the game.

image source:jmcadam

I stood dumbstruck looking at Pimple Pete, and thought back to when dad had hepatitis; he was quarantined to the house and bed for a few weeks. Mum took my brother and I to our family doctor to be vaccinated. We all reacted to the vaccine; within a couple of days our necks, backs and armpits, were infested with weeping and suppurating, boils and carbuncles. I became convinced that doctors should be feared more than the disease; young boys often live in a confused world.

Dr Long is the first doctor I remember. I don’t recall him taking out my tonsils, but I remember him when I broke my arm. In the mid eighteen hundreds convicts did the heavy work of quarrying, cutting and breaking up bluestone rock in the quarries close to Williamstown. The rock was used as ballast for ships returning to London, and for buildings, lane ways, and roads in Melbourne and it’s suburbs. As a youngster I liked to think the bluestones in the lane connecting Effingham Road and Eliza Street were quarried by the infamous Australian bushranger Ned Kelly; details weren’t important to a fresh faced young lad.

image source:flickr

The lane was our short cut from Peel Street to nanna’s place; the bluestones were lopsided and disproportionate, and they formed an incredible cragged riding surface. Mum would always warn us about riding our bikes through the lane.

One day you’ll fall off those bikes and smash open your head on the bluestones; your brains will ooze out of your cracked head and you’ll have to scoop them up in your hands and try not to spill any of them as you ride your bike back home. And then we’ll have to take you to see Dr Long.

Mum’s warnings stopped us riding through the lane; but there came a time when I knew I had to ride the lane and conquer the bluestones. Unbeknown to mum I started to ride the bluestones; her warnings materialised. I went crashing onto the bluestones, my left wrist collapsing onto the edge of a raised stone; my wrist now had the same profile as the U shaped edge of the bluestone. I don’t remember having X-rays, or Dr Long setting my wrist and arm in plaster. I remember dad taking me to his Ferguson Street practice a couple of weeks after my arm was first put in plaster. I sat in a front room, looking out the window onto the street; if I turned my head just right I could see the Town Hall.

image source:jmcadam

Dr long came into the room. He was cold and distant, as doctors were back then, and he walked towards me with a suction cup mask in his outstretched hand. The mask was connected to a long tube. He put one hand behind my head. The mask grew larger as he moved it closer, and soon all I could see was the inside of the mask. I thrashed my head from side to side, and flailed my arms, and tore at the mask as it went over my mouth and nose. Dad tried to hold my arms, and Dr long tried a second and a third time with the mask. I still remember Dr Long’s saying to dad

we’re just going to have to take the plaster off and re-break the wrist without putting him to sleep.

I tried to be a brave little soldier and not cry; I sobbed and sniffled when the plaster, together with every hair on my arm, was ripped off. And I howled and wailed when Dr Long took my wrist in both hands and broke it, and then reset it. That’s when I first decided that a doctor should be feared more than the disease; young boys often live in a confused world.

image source:wikimedia

In the early seventies I wandered through Europe and into the Middle East along the unmapped hippie trail; the journey was by word of mouth, bulletin boards at eateries and budget hotels, and trial and error. It was a journey without ATM’s, SIM cards for international roaming, GPS, Skype for video chat, and Google Translate. It was a journey with only a World Health Organisation yellow card, passport, and a collection of American Express or Barclay’s Bank travellers cheques. The yellow card was a passport of vaccinations; different countries had different immunisation entry requirements. My yellow card was stamped with the dates and dosages of vaccinations for smallpox, tuberculous, yellow fever, cholera, typhoid, tetanus, and hepatitis. Before leaving Istanbul to drive across Turkey, and into Iran and beyond, I checked my passport for the needed visa’s, and yellow card to ensure all vaccinations were current and updated; a vaccination was out of date.

You could always find a friendly somebody around the Blue Mosque who’d volunteer to be your chaperone, guide, escort, and taxi driver; at a small cost and preferably in US dollars. I’m not sure how much English our soon to be guide and taxi driver understood, but we explained that my Aussie travel mate and I needed to visit a doctor to get a vaccination.

image source:med.umich.edu

We showed him our yellow cards; he nodded and smiled, and gestured to his car and began to sing

Love, love, love
There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done
Nothing you can sing that can’t be sung
Nothing you can say, but you can learn how to play the game
It’s easy
All you need is love, all you need is love
All you need is love, love, love is all you need
Love, love, love

He stopped at a nondescript house somewhere in Istanbul, pointed to a door, and announced “health specialist”. My Aussie travel mate and I stood together in a small drab room. A man entered. I don’t know how much English the health specialist understood; we showed him our yellow cards. He took a syringe from the table draw, turned toward a wall mounted cabinet, and filled the syringe with a liquid from a vial in the cabinet.

image source:independent.ie

As he turned from the wall he gestured to bare our arm, and then walked toward us. My Aussie travel mate raised his arm and announced he would take the needle first. The health specialist plunged the needle into my mate’s arm and released the serum. Before another word could be uttered, the specialist whipped the needle out of my mates arm, spun around, and plunged it into my arm; the serum left in the syringe started flowing into my arm. The health specialist stamped and dated, recorded the dosages, and signed our yellow cards.

All you need is love, all you need is love
All you need is love, love, love is all you need

I never understood why I thought a doctor should be feared more than the disease; young men searching for inspiration and idealism in the ordinary often live in a confused world.

image source:wikimedia

Before the toy train had World Heritage status very few tourists rode the little train to Darjeeling. The looping, double reversing, narrow gauge track was designed by British engineers to carry supplies up 7,000 vertical feet to the thriving tea estates of Darjeeling. In 1881 steam engines and carriages, half the size of normal trains, started hauling administrators, troops and materials to the Darjeeling hill station. Darjeeling soon became a playground, and a refuge, for the men and women of the Empire to avoid the sweltering summer heat, and crowded streets of Calcutta. We boarded the little toy train at Siliguri’s old railway station; it was soon chugging alongside roads and crossing narrow bridges, and slowly heaving and steaming through towns. Youngster in the mountain side towns took turns jumping on and off the slow moving train; inspiring us to leave our carriage and walk alongside, and ahead of the train to buy fruit and other foods at different shops. At times the train would stop in a town for an engine to be hitched onto the back of the carriages to give an extra push up, and around, the loop ahead. The more loops the toy train looped the colder it became.

I wandered the bustling interconnecting streets and lane ways of Darjeeling with my travel mate and his companion. We relaxed in the traditional tea rooms with a pot of tea and fluffy warm scones, butter, cream and strawberry jam, asked the locals to teach us how to fly a kite, and stopped at the market stalls and shops as we strolled the town squares; the majestic snow clad mountains were a constant dramatic backdrop.

image source:reveriechaser.com

My travel mate’s companion had need to visit a doctor. The three of us walked the hilly street to a commonplace Darjeeling building. I waited outside with my mate; smoking cigarettes. We aimlessly shifted our gaze from the street to the building roof line, and then to the ground. I think we both saw it together; below the window was a jumbled mess of bloodied gauze’s and bandages. We quickly shuffled around the corner and stopped to smoke another cigarette alongside a window; before long soiled bandages and other medical dressings came flying out of the window. I went back to thinking that a doctor should be feared more than the disease; young men searching for inspiration and idealism in the ordinary often live in a confused world.

I probably should stop at the Elwood Park golf course club house on my next morning walk to see if they accepts medicare cards. Just a precaution in case I stumble and fall, and break my wrist when I’m walking the uneven roadway that bisects and wanders through the course and need to see a doctor.

 

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Life Is A Lot More Than Beer And Skittles

I don’t remember ever thinking that I needed to start reading the obituary section of the newspaper; now, every morning after I’ve finished skimming the local news, I turn to the obituaries. The obits in the local paper usually contain a small photograph of the deceased, a listing of who preceded them in death, and who in the family they are survived by; their date of birth and death, as well as the date and location of the service, and any information of a luncheon reception is also included. You wouldn’t call the obits in the local paper great storytelling as do the readers of London’s The Telegraph and New York Times; those obits describe the careers, and the crimes and foibles of the good and the bad, as well as the famous and infamous.

image source:jmcadam

I’m scrolling through the obits as if I’m scanning Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I don’t have time for any creative obituaries that use descriptive words such as susurration and obfuscation; I’m only looking for the date of birth of any recently deceased. As I scan the obits I’m also rehearsing mental subtractions so I can quickly determine the age of whose carked it, and if they were older or younger than me. I think reading the obits has given me an upside to the ageing process; an awareness I’m not dead yet. If I don’t see a John McAdam death announcement then I know I can have another cup of tea, put on my runners, and go outside for a little morning neighbourhood walk.

Whenever I log onto the web it always seems I’m stumbling upon something that I didn’t know about. I’m not saying that I start everyone of my web adventures at the Google search bar looking for useless facts to become a top-notch Trivial Pursuiter. Every click on a link, and every click thereafter, sends me down a vortex and into a treasure trove of knowledge titbits; I have learnt that camels have three eyelids and two layers of eyelashes to keep sand from blowing in their eyes, the lint that collects in the bottom of pockets is called gnurr, and that a wild koala usually changes trees every day.

image source:jmcadam

And I’ve discovered that print obituaries have gone online and transformed into memorial websites; digital images, music, and videos, are now used to share the life story of a loved one. What if these e-memorials became Instagram eulogies; a photo and video sharing social network where you post simple and fun e-obits of a recently deceased. Imagine face filters applied to a loved one, creative selfies with tasteful backgrounds, and music video stories edited with the latest video editing apps; but one would need to be careful and not send readers 200 elements deep into a life story to find a name. Social media and smart devices have conditioned us to tap, zoom, scroll, swipe to navigate, and pinch to zoom in or out of different page elements. Scrolling and swiping e-obits, to catch up from a minute ago of who has been added to the latest obits, could become the new norm at mid afternoon work breaks, waiting to order lunch at restaurants, and riding public transport; and it would be a great way to make sure you’re not dead yet.

image source:jmcadam

Facebook Live, Apple Facetime, and Instagram Live’s video streaming and video chat has caused print and static images to become so yesterday for sharing web experiences. Live video streaming has to be the next way to share the last journey of a loved one. I think funeral webcasting is the next viral emotional experience. FuneralOne has tried to make funeral webcasting as simple as Point, Click, & Cast Away by suppling webcasting funeral software to more than 2,000 US mortuaries. Cameras inside the chapel stream video through the webcasting software to a password protected web server, and relatives and friends are given log-in information to view the live feed of the deceased’s last journey. I think funeral webcasting will spread across the internet like a bushfire. People like to share emotional experiences; when we feel something, we want others to experience it as well.

image source:vanityfair.com

The next time you see people in a pub sharing a smart screen over a few drinks, don’t rush to judge them; it’s most likely they’ll be watching one of their best mate’s funeral webcast and sharing a journey of grief. If you notice a Melbourne career worker fixated on their screen while ordering Chicken Curry Don at a pop up restaurant during their rushed lunch hour, don’t presume their checking their latest Facebook likes; it’s a penny to a quid they’re watching a live funeral webcast, and when they raise their hand it’s in a toast to the departed, not a means to attract a waitperson.

I don’t remember when I was last at a Costco but I recently learnt that they sold caskets; so off I went to see the caskets. I didn’t know you had to be a Costco member to enter the shopping warehouse

Costco greeter and membership card checker: (in a chirpy tone) Hello and welcome to Costco; do you have your membership card
Me: (with a smile in my voice) We’re not members, we just wanted to look at one of your products
Costco greeter and membership card checker: (In a soft and deliberate voice) (In a soft and deliberate voice) You have to be a member to shop at Costco; we don’t want outsiders and competitors coming in and checking our prices and then matching them. And we don’t want non members eating the free food samples.
Me: We wouldn’t do any of that; we just wanted to look at one of your products
Costco greeter and membership card checker: What were you interested in?
Me: (in a solemn voice) Caskets
Costco greeter and membership card checker: I’m sorry but we don’t have any on display; we only sell them online. I bought two online; one for my husband and one for grandmother. They were just beautiful and so cheap; they delivered them right to the funeral home
Me:(attempting a joke) Were they shrink wrapped two to a pack. If it’s possible could we just go in for a few minutes and look around
Costco greeter and membership card checker: (overcome with empathy and compassion by the memories of the caskets) You can go; and you can take some of the free samples if you want

image source:jmcadam

Amazon offers a large choice of metal and wood caskets from several companies, and free shipping is available on eligible orders; and being able to read the reviews to narrow your choice is an added bonus of shopping with Amazon. Most casket shoppers seemed extremely pleased with the Titan Orion Coppertone Steel Casket

  • For my dad’s funeral, I ordered this casket which was even more beautiful than I had imagined
  • I only saw it for a few minutes before the burial while a pallbearer. It was beautiful and felt sturdy and well made
  • I was so pleased! It was simple, but BEAUTIFUL! I ordered this casket for my mother, who had cancer and she passed just a few days after ordering
  • I liked everything about this casket. It was beautiful!!!
  • No complaints from Grandpa
  • Great quality, came faster than expected and price was just right!

Titan Caskets is the first to tell you they spared no expense in creating the Orion Coppertone; it’s hand crafted and completed with a head and foot adjustable bed, a soft to the touch crepe interior, sculpted detailed hardware, and reinforced stationary handles. It’s made in the USA from 20 Gauge Steel. Now that has to be some casket. If I was a pall bearer I bet I’d buckle under the Orion’s weight, and I’d probably have trouble walking straight.

image source:thewirehindi.com

I think it would be difficult to share the Varanasi ghats experience as a funeral webcast. There’s about a 100 ghats along the Ganges River in Varanasi; they’re riverfront steps leading down to the banks of the River. The ghats are used for bathing, washing clothes, and worship rituals; two are used for cremations. Hindus believe that by casting the ashes of the deceased into the Ganges their soul will be transported to heaven, and so they will escape the cycle of rebirth. I didn’t go to Varanasi to look at the cremations but instead to look at the small room where George Harrison studied, and learnt to play the sitar while sitting at the feet of Ravi Shankar. I remember there weren’t many tourists, only narrow lane ways leading to the ghats, clouds of wafting sandalwood scented smoke, and my eyes constantly stinging from the smoke and incense. I couldn’t see the bodies as they were carried down the ghats and put on funeral pyres because they were wrapped in brightly coloured shrouds. The pyres though seemed alive; steadily hissing and steaming, and spitting burning embers into the air.

image source:wikimedia

At the finish of the cremation, when the wood was burnt and charred, the ashes and any remaining bones are placed into the river. Many of India’s poor can’t afford to buy enough wood for a complete cremation so many half burnt bodies are thrown into the river; and if there’s no wood for the cremation wrapped bodies are placed in the river and lit on fire. At the other ghats people bathed in the sacred waters; submerging and splashing themselves with the holy water to wash away their sins. Cows were wallowing and enjoying themselves in the same Ganges waters, and people busied themselves washing clothes. I left the ghats covered in human ash and with images of bloated and charred bodies floating in the river. And I left Varanasi without seeing the small room where George Harrison studied, and learnt to play the sitar while sitting at the feet of Ravi Shankar; there was a lot of misunderstanding and confusion in the seventies.

image source:disruptionhub.com

I don’t think today’s digital natives will have to worry about funerals and cremations and reading the obits. The technology to create a digital surrogate from a 360 degree body scan is already here, and during their lifetime today’s mortals will have created, and collected over a trillion gigabytes of data about themselves. What else is needed to create a digital avatar? If your avatar was combined with a chat bot then you would be able to text, instant message, and chat from beneath a thin veil of death. And if virtual or artificial intelligence was added to the avatar then if your still living mates were having a barbie they’d just message your digital duplicate and you would Skype in to share a few ice colds from beyond the grave. Just like old times.

Even though I’m planning on having my ashes scattered I probably should start scouring the second hand shops to find some old wooden beer crates; it’d be good to have a mock up model of the coffin I’d like for my service.

Death on the Internet: The Rise of Livestreaming Funerals

The Best Way To Utilize Technology For Memorials

The Pyres of Varanasi: Breaking the Cycle of Death and Rebirth

A Crumpet Always Falls Jam Side Down

The three weeks we spent back in the The Land Down Under in 2017 was all about living in Melbourne again; staying in Albert Park where I once rented a flat, walking down to the beach, catching the tram into the city, shopping at the South Melbourne Market, and being a tourist in the city where you live. On most days we caught the number 12 tram at the Mills and Herbert Street corner; just down the street from our single fronted, fashionable weatherboard Victorian Airbnb house. The stylish Miss Colombia Cafe was on the corner by the tram stop; it soon became our mid morning hanging out spot. Every morning we would order a flat white and watch out for the number 12 to go wobbling down Mills Street on it’s way to Fitzroy Street. By the second day we knew how long it would take between trams, and when they would return up Mills street on their way back to Collins Street and beyond; we gave our self two trams to finish our flat whites.

image source:jmcadam

Miss Colombia was everything a Melbourne cafe should be; friendly staff, good food and coffee, and a good neighbourhood vibe. It was a locals haunt; the communal tables were shared by mums with their preschool little ones, young and mature couples adorned with colourful tattoos, and hipsters with big glasses and bushranger beards. And it wasn’t just locals hanging out to drink coffee. Tradies were popping in to grab one of their favourite take away brekkie snacks; a flat white, and an order of smashed avocado with Persian Fetta and a couple of poached eggs on multi grain toast. It wasn’t uncommon to find a dog, or a couple of dogs, hitched to the parking permitted sign post on the footpath. By the second morning three of the staff new us, and we would have a bit of a chat; by the third morning they knew our coffee order. When I think back, I should have taken up a counter staff’s offer to swap print shirts; the Albert Park hipsters are having their milk textured, and their coffee needs satisfied by a John McAdam doppelganger barista.

image source:misscolombia.com.au

The Melbourne cafe is a coffee shop that also offers creative food. Two Hands opened in New York in 2014 and is one of several Australian owned cafes serving up versions of Melbourne’s avocado smashes in the Big Apple. Other Aussie cafes attracting a crowd include; Little Collins, Brunswick, Flinders Lane, Sweatshop Coffee, Hole in the Wall and Bluestone Lane. I think it’s pretty safe to say that Aussie flat whites and avocado smashes now have more than a foothold in New York. The chalkboard menus in Melbourne cafes will always have some type of avocado smash, french toast, smoked salmon, and a pulled pork bagel; and you always add a poached egg to whatever you order. I think the success of the cafes in the Big Apple isn’t because of the food or the coffee they serve, it’s because of the experience they offer. What if there was a Melbourne style cafe in every US city? Imagine being able to grab a smashed avocado with chilli, coriander, feta cheese and cherry tomatoes on seeded toast as well as experiencing that Aussie thing to start off your day.

image source:jmcadam

Experiencing a little bit of the The Land Down Under culture and tradition shouldn’t stop with the Melbourne cafe. Aussies love their seafood; nothing beats the standard order of a piece of flake and chips from the local fish ‘n chip shop. You can bet a penny to a quid when you’re at the local with a few mates for some good pub food a barramundi fillet will be ordered way before a peppered kangaroo fillet with seasonal greens; and there’s always a serious rivalry at the table to see who’ll grab the last salt and pepper calamari ring. Anytime you’re unwrapping a fish ‘n chip shop’s parcel of golden goodness you’ll be surrounded by family and friends telling the same old stories of yesteryear, or creating new stories for tomorrow. The seafood experience is an Aussie indulgence that all of the US should be allowed to enjoy. I’ve got no doubts that Aussie fish and chip shops would meet with the same success in the US as the Melbourne cafe did in New York; and there’s no need to build shops because it wouldn’t take much to add the The Land Down Under fish and chip shop vibe to Five Guys burger restaurants.

image source:jmcadam

The new style restaurants would

  • serve home made potato cakes that are dipped in batter just before being dropped in the deep fryer
  • only serve home made chips; frozen chips from a bag would be unacceptable
  • include a hamburger with the lot on the menu; has the options of beetroot, egg, and pineapple.
  • have walls decorated with Chiko Roll and ocean fish posters
  • offer fried and steamed dim sims that only come frozen and from a plastic bag
  • have a wide multi coloured plastic strip hanging in the front door to keep out the flies
  • keep pickle onions in a plastic jar on the tables with their price written on the side of the jar with a felt tip marker
  • provide salt and vinegar on the tables in recycled soft drink bottles with holes poked in their screw top cap
  • keep soft drinks in fridges with a sign on their door which says; please select before opening door
  • have retro 1980’s arcade machines with games such as Frogger, Centipede, or Ms Pac-Man

image source:tripadvisor

Each shop would have a handwritten chalk menu board above the cooking fryers. You’d stand at the counter and watch the fish and potato cakes being dipped in batter, thrown into a wire basket, and plunged into the hot bubbling oil in the fryer; chips would be added after a few minutes. The master fryer would know just when to raise the basket of golden goodness from the oil, and how to bump it on the edge of the fryer to drain just the right amount of hot oil from the golden chips, and crunchy fish and potato cake batter. The golden pile would be sprinkled with salt and wrapped in paper.

Just as you’ll find America’s national sport on every television screen in the US in summer you’ll find cricket on every television screen during an Aussie summer; it’s video white noise in every hotel bar, airport lounge, and home electronics shop. And there’ll be a TV alongside every barbie; so when you turn the snags and chops, or throw a bucket of king prawns on the grill, you won’t miss the last wicket to fall, or the last four slogged to the boundary. It makes a lot of sense to add a few cricket rules to baseball. World Series games would be world series; eleven countries currently have a national cricket team and compete in test cricket matches. And if the excitement of baseball isn’t enough already; it would be quadrupled because the run rate of a game would increase. Over three hundred runs is a good average runs total for a side batting first in a one day cricket international; imagine that in baseball. The average television audience for the ICC Cricket World Cup is 400 million. Around 1.5 billion people tuned in to watch the coverage of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015; now that would be some audience for a Doritos television commercial. I’d suggest the following cricket rules be introduced into baseball.

image source:jmcadam

  • each team plays one innings; an innings is limited to fifty overs
  • an over has six consecutive balls
  • each bowler can only bowl 10 overs; no bower can bowl consecutive overs
  • after a bowler delivers six balls they have completed an over so another team member must bowl the next over
  • after the batting team has lost ten wickets, or fifty overs has been played, the teams switch roles
  • after each team has batted for an innings the team with the most runs wins
  • batsman don’t have to run
  • batsman must wear their helmet, gloves, leg pads, thigh guard, arm guard, gloves, box, and carry their bat with them as they run between wickets
  • Each team has a twelfth man to use if a player is injured during a game

image source:jmcadam

What could be more Aussie than talking like an Aussie? Cricket has a language all of it’s own. Putting a little cricket into baseball would open a treasure trove of Aussie lingo to the average American; every day would be talk like an Aussie day. Forget about peppering your conversation with throw another shrimp on the barbie, and that’s not a knife; this is a knife. Start using any of these in your everyday conversations.

call it stumps: each of the three upright sticks or wickets during a cricket match. The stumps are pulled out of the ground when the cricket is finished for the day. Used to end or finish a task
carried the bat: a batsman who was able to play throughout the game and was not dismissed; a rare feat in test matches. Used to refer to a person doing an incredible job or task
easy wicket: a pitch of slow pace which favours the batsmen. Used in place of an easy task or a comfortable position in life
good innings: a player scored a lot of runs during a game. Used to refer to a long and fulfilling life or career
pearler: a very good delivery of the ball by a bowler. Used to describe something that is impressive or excellent
slog: means to hit the ball so hard that it reaches the boundary. Means to work very hard
sticky wicket: used to describe a damp and soft pitch which could make it extremely difficult to play on as the ball would be going anywhere. Used when a person is in trouble or faced with awkward circumstances

Tony Benneworth from the ABC Radio best summed it up with; it’s been a very slow and dull day, but it hasn’t been boring. It’s been a good, entertaining day’s cricket.

I think I’ll put on a pair UGG’s and sit out in the backyard in a full lotus position and start chanting the mantra; salad must be served with the meal. It would be good brain training for next time I’m at a restaurant and the salad is served before the food order is brought out.

 

Miss Colombia Cafe

Glossary of Cricket Terms and Sayings

Saltwater Grill; Fish and Chips takeaway

A Curried Scallop Pie In The Hand Is Worth Two In The Warmer

Some time ago I committed to getting my teeth cleaned twice a year; I decided on this preventative maintenance schedule because I didn’t want to go through again what I went through to fix years of teeth neglect and abuse. At my last teeth cleaning I settled into the reclined dental chair, and as I always do gazed up at the ceiling. I was soon mesmerised by the dream like sky created on the ceiling by the decorative fluorescent cumulus cloud diffuser panels and my faraway thoughts sent me back to when I first moved to the US; it was then that I decided to save my teeth, to give them a new go at life. I braved jaw bone implants, bridges, caps and root canals, fillings and extractions so I could once again find happiness and joy in chewing.

image source:jmcadam

When I was growing up during the fifties and sixties dental hygiene wasn’t really practised in Australia; at least not in our family. I may have brushed my teeth once a night before going to bed. Mum’s answer to most of our tooth problems was: we can get them fixed, but if they really start hurting, out they’ll come. I did get an occasional filling. I went through childhood and adolescence knowing that my teeth would eventually be coming out. I remember only going to the dentist a couple of times. Mum kept telling us that he was some relative of ours, distance cousin or something as obscure, and that he wouldn’t hurt us. He practised in a nondescript double fronted cream brick veneer building, just down from the corner of Douglas Parade and Ferguson Streets. A waiting room was to the right as you went in, and the surgery was on the left. I vaguely remember sitting in the waiting room, and wondering what the strange smells were.

image source:illinoiscriminaljustice.org

I don’t remember ever getting a local anaesthetic to numb the part of my mouth where he was going to drill; and you always knew just before when it would hurt. You’d watch the chains and pulleys driving the drill slow down, and as he keep pushing the drill into the tooth they’d stop. It seemed as if he’d always hold the drill right on front of you when he pulled it out of the tooth to wait for the chains and pulleys to start back up. As you watched the hurt starting to happen you started to notice the strange smell coming from your mouth. I think we often left the double fronted cream brick veneer building with tears still in our eyes. We pleaded with mum never to send us back to the dentist who was our relative. I remember going to a dentist just around the corner from where we lived; I don’t remember what he did or why I went. His practice was in a couple of remodelled rooms in a house in North Road; and we always wondered if he lived in the rest of the house.

When I thought I was old enough to no longer listen to mum I decided to never go to the dentist again. Fillings fell out, cavities appeared, and I even loosened a front tooth when I felt off my bike and went face first into the footpath. Over the years my tongue would discover a rough edge on a tooth; another filling starting to go, or a new hole staring to happen. I never really had tooth ache; it only hurt when I chewed on the cavities. I started to eat a lot of soft foods.

image source:gourmandandgourmet.com.au

Sausages became my go to food. I’m not talking pork and apple honey, chicken with roasted red capsicum, basil and garlic, chicken and artichoke with kalamatra olives, or turkey with broccoli and provolone cheese artisan gourmet sausages, but the true blue butcher shop aussie sausage; the snag, the banger, the mystery bag. A sanger from a sausage sizzle, meat pies, and sausage rolls, are the first on my list of must eat foods when I go back to the The Land Down Under; some habits just die hard. I’ve always liked sausages; from back when mum used to cook them under the grill on the old kitchen gas stove, to when she would throw a pound of snags into the Sunbeam on the kitchen table. Mum never did bother with the slice of white bread wrapped around a just cooked sausage, but she did bother with two other classic Aussie snag recipes. Whenever the breadcrumbs came out, and the Sunbeam went onto the kitchen table you could bet it was either going to be cutlets or crumbed sausages for tea. The recipe for anything coated in breadcrumbs was the same; roll the thing in flour, dip it in a beaten egg, and coat it with breadcrumbs. Fry in dripping until nicely browned.

image source:eazypeazymealz.com

No Aussie kitchen would be complete without a tin of Keen’s curry powder. From as long as I can remember, anything that was called curry in the The Land Down Under was made with Keens; and for a while curried sausages were all the go at our house. Mum would whip out the Sunbeam, and fry some snags with sliced onions until they were just cooked. She would take the snags out of the Sunbeam and slice them, then add water, flour, and Keens’s curry to the Sunbeam. After simmering the slurry until it became a thick sauce mum would throw some peas and the cut up snags into the sauce; we ate mum’s curried sausages with boiled rice or mashed potatoes.

Keen’s Curry powder is about as Aussie as you can get; it’s rivalled only by Vegemite. In 1841 a British chap named Joseph Keen sailed out to the new colony. He established a bakery in the small town of Kingston in Van Deimen’s Land and dabbled in creating and selling sauces, and other condiments; he created what would become Keen’s curry powder in the 1860’s. The curry powder became known throughout the mainland. Joseph was awarded a medal for his spice mix at the 1866 Melbourne Inter-Colonial Exhibition, and received an honourable mention at the 1879 Sydney International Exhibition. In 1905 after Joseph and his wife went to the big spice rack in the sky their sixth daughter Louisa, and her hubbie Horace took over the family’s curry powder business. Horace bought some land in the foothills of Mount Wellington overlooking Hobart, and turned it into a giant advertising sign; he used white painted stones to spell out Keens Curry in forty foot high letters. The white stones are still there today, but somewhat obscured by the houses of South Hobart.

image source:euroblather.smugmug.com

About the same time Joseph started creating his sauces and condiments, scallops were discovered and harvested from the cold waters of the Derwent River near Hobart town. The scallops soon became a local delicacy, and it wasn’t long before someone added Keen’s fantastic curry powder to the scallops when they were being cooked. Some say the quaint tradition of putting scallops into a pie began on the Hobart wharves in the early 19th Century; but the origin of the curried scallop pie is a little vague. Regardless of their history the golden parcels of curried gelatinous joy have become Tasmania’s national dish; the curried scallop pie is the jewel in Tassie’s culinary crown.

I’m the third great great grandson of the transported convict Thomas Raines. In 1842, 44 year old Thomas was convicted of stealing sheep from Henry Hilton of Salridge and sentenced to 15 years transportation. There is no record of him being sent to Port Arthur so he was probably assigned to various Van Diemen’s Land farmers. Convict records at the State Library of Tasmania suggest that he spent some time in and around Richmond Town before being issued his Certificate of Freedom. Richmond Town was established as a military staging post, and convict station linking Hobart with Port Arthur. Today, Richmond is a quaint little town with it’s main street still lined with beautiful heritage buildings. Australia’s oldest bridge, a sandstone arched bridge built by convicts in 1820’s, is just off the main street.

image source:.abc.net.au

The Richmond Bakery is just a stones throw away from Australia’s oldest gaol. I think many a convict would have longed for a Bakery pie or pastry; just biting into one of their sensational curried scallop pies would cause, if only for a brief moment, one to escape from the hardships and brutality of convict life in early Van Diemen’s Land. On a sunny October afternoon I bit into a Richmond Bakery curried scallop pie. Scallops encased in flaky pastry, swimming in a creamy curry sauce that has been spiced up with a dash of Keen’s; their scallop pies are up there with the best. A quality curried scallop pie should have

  • at least four scallops in a pie; five is great, six is booming
  • only fat and juicy fresh local Tasmanian scallops
  • never been within cooee of frozen or imported scallops
  • a sauce that isn’t clumsy and overpowering; has a just right curry tang
  • a sauce with a delicate balance of curry and viscosity; not to thick, not to runny
  • soft, flaky, buttery pastry that makes a golden browned cap

I could’ve had three of those tasty little bottler’s but restrained myself to only one; I’ve never thought it was rude to lick your plate in public. And there’s nothing like a flat white, and vanilla slice to finish off a winner of a meal.

image source:jmcadam

You never need to wonder why Keen’s Curry Powder is a household name across Australia, and why over the last 150 plus years Tassie’s own curry powder has been a staple of Aussie kitchens. A dash of Keen’s Curry Powder can do wonders to an egg sandwich, and make a ripper curried seafood supreme. I think the ultimate in deliciousness would be to combine the curried scallop pie with the sausage; imagine if those golden parcels of curried gelatinous joy were made into bangers. There’s no telling what would happen if you chucked a few curried scallop pie snags on the barbie at a sausage sizzle. You could throw any leftovers in the Sunbeam the next morning and heat them up for breakfast; yum, what a great way to start the day.

 

Tasmanians have been keen for curry since colonial days

Curried Scallop Pie Recipe

The Best Things to See and Do in Richmond, Tasmania

A Journey Of A Thousand Miles Begins On An Escalator

At times I listen to an Australian Broadcasting Corporation Radio Overnights podcast when I traipse around the neighbourhood for my morning walk. As I wander through the streets lined with mature trees I muffle the traffic noise by adjusting the volume of my Walkman so I only hear ABC’s Overnights guests reminiscing about the school Tuck Shop, passionately talking about who was the designated cook in their kitchen and what was their signature dish, or Captain Cook and the Endeavours voyage as told through the eyes of the cabin boy. I wonder if the producers at ABC radio planned on entertaining someone on the other side of the world when they created the Overnights podcasts.

image source:jmcadam

I don’t notice the front yards without fences in the streets; I’m remembering back when mum helped out at the Tuck Shop at Williamstown Tech. On the days she was a Willy Tech canteen lunch lady we got to buy our lunch; a rare privilege and we walked a little taller. But we made sure we were never close enough to the canteen for mum to see us; we were of the age where it would be so embarrassing if your school yard mates saw you talking to your mum.

Mum was the cook in our kitchen. Her signature dishes was boiling all the veggies in the same saucepan to within an inch of their lives; and when she got a Sunbeam electric fry pan chucking any type of meat, except a roast, into it to cook. Mum’s Sunbeam changed how she cooked in the kitchen; the gas stove was only used for roasts, and boiling vegetables. The Sunbeam spent half it’s life in the cupboard, and the other half on the kitchen table. It cooked sausages and rissoles for our breakfasts, reheated mum’s home made meat pies and sausage rolls for tea, and grilled lamb cutlets and chops. And it heated water to warm up cocktail frankfurts. Cocktail frankfurts are a miniature version of a saveloy, which is akin to a hot dog. It wouldn’t be a true blue Aussie party if it didn’t have a bowl of “little boys” on the table, and a bottle of tomato sauce next to it. I loved cocktail frankfurts.

There was a time, when as soon as I got home from Willy Tech I would head straight for the dining room and sit glued to the wireless listening to the The Air Adventures of Biggles, Superman, The Adventures of the Sea Hound, Robin Hood, and Hop Harrigan. Back then, the only vegetables I would eat were peas and potatoes. Every night just as the serials were ending, mum would bring a plate with a couple of grilled lamb chops or cutlets, and boiled peas into the dining room for my tea.

And now the serials of yesterday have been replaced by the podcasts of today; aural distractions about everything for when you’re walking, gardening, mushroom hunting, or meditating. Recently I discovered Lindsey Green’s People Movers Podcast. Lindsay confesses that at one time she didn’t spend much time thinking about escalators and how much of a difference they’ve made to our lives, but once she started paying attention to them she couldn’t stop. I had downloaded Escalators in Melbourne from Lindsay’s website and as I rounded the corner of Elmwood Park Drive, and passed the No Dogs Allowed On Golf Course sign on the course’s wooden fence, I pushed play on my Sony Walkman

this time we will stay a bit more local and learn about the history of escalators in Melbourne. Melbourne’s first escalators were installed in Swanston Street’s elegant Manchester Unity building; my guide for the tour was a woman named Chloe Martin, she is studying a Masters of Fine Art and was previously a guide for the Louvre in Paris.

I stopped in my tracks. Usually I only stop to pick up lost golf balls; Lindsey had used a guided tour of Melbourne’s Manchester Unity Building as a resource for her Escalators in Melbourne podcast. A little over six months ago, after an elegant Sunday Brunch of champagne, Shakshuka Eggs, and dessert at the ground floor arcade, art deco 1932 Cafe and Restaurant, I joined Chloe for a guided tour of the Manchester Unity Building.

image source:skmcadam

The soaring Manchester Unity building sits on the corner of Swanston and Collins Streets in Melbourne’s Central Business District. It was constructed in 1931-32 as an Art Deco Gothic inspired office and retail building. Chloe told our group that the basement served as a tea room and cafe, and the ground and first floors were designed as shopping arcades. There aren’t many shops left on the ground floor but you can still imagine the joy of shopping, and strolling the arcade from Swanston Street through to Collins street, and to Howey place. Chloe shared that the building had Melbourne’s first escalators when it opened; one from the ground floor up to the first floor shops, and one down to the basement level; though there was no escalator down from the first floor arcade, or up from the basement tea rooms. Chloe talked lovingly of the escalator to the first floor. When the building opened it was described as a magical staircase, and it received 60,000 visitors; a nurse was on hand to treat people if they needed medical assistance after their ride on the magical staircase. The original escalator to the first floor is still there; the outside wood panelling has been refurbished and the wooden moving stairs have been replaced. I looked forlornly at the non moving magical staircase; it was Sunday. I placed my hand on the stationary handrail, and vowed to return to ride the magical staircase.

image source:jmcadam

Chloe ushered the group into the restored lift and when we arrived on the first floor gathered us into a circle and prepared us for our journey through the restored first floor mezzanine, the boardroom, and the rooftop terrace. A lot of the building had fallen into disrepair when Dr Kia Pajouhesh, owner of the dental practice Smile Solutions, bought the mezzanine first floor. The refurbished shabby, vacant retail shops and offices of a by gone era became the dental suites of Smile Solutions; complete with period detailing. Over the years Kia acquired more areas of the unique Manchester Unity Building, and now Smile Solutions operates twenty five surgical suites across five floors and the five story tower. He has restored much of the 1930s building, and nowhere is his commitment, attention to detail, and diligence reflected more so than in the iconic boardroom. A pair of shoes found in the wall cavity and thought to be left behind by one of the workers in 1932, either on purpose as a tradies ritual, or for when they would return the next day sits on the floor.

image source:jmcadam

The Meal and Tour isn’t about one mans personal journey, and how a one room, one dentist practice expanded into a service of over eighty clinicians consulting to more than 90,000 people. I’m not exactly sure if it was on the rooftop terrace, or when the group was waiting for the lift, but Chloe let the cat out of the bag. It wasn’t meant as a Smile Solution’s boast, self-aggrandisement, or pretension, but she let slip that Smile Solutions is the official dentist of the Collingwood Football Club. There was a lonely cheer from a Collingwood supporter in the group. Even though the group only numbered a little over twenty, some on the outer fringe hadn’t heard Chloe’s comment but word spread quickly; like a bushfire in the Mallee. And affectionate chorus’s of ‘Carn the Doggies, ‘Carn the Hawks, ‘Carn the Tigers erupted. I learnt later what Chloe didn’t tell the tour group was that; Smile Solutions is the official dentist to the Australian Open, the Melbourne Grand Prix, and was the official dentist to the athletes in the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games. And Smile Solutions is the official dentist to the Collingwood Cheer Squad.

image source:aflfix.com

Back when, a cheer squad was a group of adolescents, or young adults, dressed in duffle coats covered with badges emblazoned with the names and jumper numbers of their favourite players. The cheer squad proudly wore their team jumpers, beanies, and scarves, and gathered behind their home goal posts, and waved their floggers whenever their team scored a goal. Floggers, six foot long sticks with massive amounts of streamers taped onto the ends have been banned; there was nothing like a sea of floggers waving behind the goal posts. Cheer squads no longer wear duffle coats, and they don’t wave dangerous floggers so I’m not sure what an official dentist to a cheer squad does.

The Melbourne Football Club’s website lists the following as the duties of the official club cheer squad; it’s known as the Demon Army. I suppose any of the duties listed could cause an impacted wisdom tooth, bleeding or sore gums, periodontal disease, or cracked teeth.

  • Exclusive 2018 Demon Army cap to help you stand out behind the goals on match day
  • The best seats in the house on match day
  • Access to purchase reserved seats at away games
  • The chance to walk on
  • A place to share your passion, and meet new Demon friends
  • Demon Army welcome booklet

On Monday morning I returned to the Manchester Unity Building and stood before the escalator. I slowly put one foot out, took hold of the moving hand rail, and gingerly stepped onto a moving stair. I became a little light headed as the magical staircase carried me to the mezzanine first floor dental suites. I gathered myself and took the lift down to the ground floor. I was a little unsteady walking to the Switchboard Café; a Café serving coffee from what was once the building’s old switchboard cupboard. If only a nurse had been on hand. I spent some time recovering, sipping a flat white, sitting on a seat in a small glass box opposite the Café. Outside a hot dry November wind was busy rushing down the drafty laneway arcade.

image source:skmcadam

I may not wait for summer to fade into autumn before returning to WestRoads mall to walk three laps of the upper level, and two laps of the lower level. I could use my early return to the mall to work on an improved exercise regime; combining mall walking with escalator Pilates. I think an hour riding the mall escalators would be a great way to combine low impact endurance and muscle stamina with postural alignment.

 

People Movers Podcast

Switchboard Café

Manchester Unity Building

A Good Beginning Makes A Good Ending

Back when I was growing up in Williamstown there was little choice as to what footie team you barracked for; if you were born and raised in the working class western suburbs you barracked for Footscray. Fooyscray’s mascot was the British bulldog, and the boys were collectively known as the Doggies. I’ve forgotten the number of cold, dank, winter Saturday afternoons I stood on the sloped terraces in front of the grandstand at the Western Oval. I stood with the brotherhood of Doggie faithful; the air, thick with the perfume of meat pies and tomato sauce, and cigarette smoke and beer. We drank our beer, and cheered the boys on with affectionate obscenities and insulting encouragements. And we welcomed the last quarter with the tribal ritual of a pie in one hand, and a beer raised in the other; our salute to the sound of the siren that started the final onslaught. It was a penny to a quid that the four n twenty would be either hot enough to burn the roof of your mouth or on the cold side of warm.

image source:jmcadam

Not long ago I went back to the sacred ground. I thought about taking a couple of Melbourne Bitter long necks in a paper bag, or a thermos full of hot of tomato soup and some sandwiches wrapped in grease proof paper, but instead went empty handed. I stood in silence. The turnstiles were gone. The driveway we had walked along had gone. The scoreboard had gone. I stood in front of the metal statue of Ted, and remembered the times we barracked from the terraces; and now he stands at the entrance to where the boys no longer play. Back then it was the Western Oval, but we called it the kennel. It’s now the Whitten Oval, and the boys use it as their training ground; it’s main attractions are a souvenir shop, a childcare centre, and a conference and convention centre. The kennel had changed.

I didn’t want to change from being an Aussie. I went back to Australia every couple of years after I first moved to the US. I didn’t do tourist things; I stayed at mum’s place, spent time with aunts and cousins, and hung out with friends. I was back home living in Oz. It was before e-commerce; before you could buy genuine Australian foods online and have them delivered to your door. When I left to return to the US I’d stuff my bags full of Cherry Ripes, Violet Crumbles, Twisties, and Minties. I didn’t bring back hats emblazoned with kangaroos and koalas, T-shirts printed with G’day I’m an Aussie, or any plush Aussie animals and toys.

image source:jmcadam

I have always tried to keep in touch with what was happening back in Melbourne, and Australia. Years ago an aerogram or a letter from mum, stuffed with newspaper clippings of Footscray and Williamstown news, would arrive in the letter box every month or so. When ever I wrote to mum and reminisced about her sausage rolls, shortbread, pavlova, and meat pie her handwritten recipes for them would be in the next envelope in the letter box. I still have some of my favourite mum recipes.

When I lived in Springfield, Illinois, I’d spend an afternoon, every couple of weeks, in the library catching up on what’s happening in Melbourne three weeks ago by reading the most current copy of the The Age on the newspaper rack; it was a time before the internet.

As time went by the trips back to the The Lucky Country became every three to four years; and then even longer. When I left to return to the US I didn’t have to load up my suitcase with Cherry Ripes, Violet Crumbles, Twisties, and Minties because the Internet had arrived; I could go online and order all the Clinkers, Freddos, or Fantails I wanted. And my news and updates about what’s happening in Melbourne and Australia were now tomorrow’s headlines; I was reading the The Age, and ABC News online. A large selection of Australian foods that included sausage rolls, pasties, biscuits, jams and spreads, and other tastes of Oz were just a mouse click away, so I no longer asked mum for any of her recipes.

image source:huffingtonpost.com.au

YouTube evolved with the Internet and I watched the doggies playing their brand of footie sitting on a couch, instead of standing with the faithful on the sloped terraces in front of the grandstand; though I still saluted the boys with a few cold ones. I searched YouTube for the The Masters Apprentices, The Twilights, Billy Thorpe and The Aztecs, Ronnie Burns, and other singers and groups I don’t remember, who performed at Berties, Sebastian’s, and the Thumpin Tum; Melbourne’s legendary live music discotheques of the sixties. And as I found the black and white tributes I sang once again, loud and out of key, to myself; when I looked up I would see the sea of umbrellas hanging from the ceiling of the Tum, and the velvet curtains and antique furniture of Berties. I would sit with Andrew Lambrainew in the front seat of his white Ford Fairlane, outside the Ormond Hall in Prahran, drinking from long necks to prepare our self for the music and girls of Opus. It seemed as if there was a mod and rockers street fight every second Saturday night; we would lock the car doors and watch the floundering fighters. And so we divided our Saturday night’s between Berties, Sebastian’s, the The Thumpin Tum, and Opus.

image source:radioinfo.com.au

And when I shouted the words of Let the Little Girl Dance in disharmony with Grantley Dee I was back standing on the esplanade at Williamstown Beach. If you looked through the large back window of the 3AK mobile studio broadcast caravan, you could watch, and listen to, the AK Good Guys Grantley Dee and Lionel Yorke playing the hits. During the summer holidays the AK Good Guys team did their radio shows live from popular Victorian beaches; when I wasn’t at the beach mum’s Bakelite kitchen wireless was tuned to 3AK.

YouTube also allowed me to watch Australian television shows of the sixties and seventies. I giggled once more at the double entendres and ad-libbing that was the staple of In Melbourne Tonight with Graham Kennedy, Hey Hey It’s Saturday, Blankety Blanks, and the The Paul Hogan Show. It was like I was back in the Springfield library reading the newspapers from three weeks ago; but this time I was watching Australian television from forty years ago. I didn’t watch any current Australian television; I didn’t know what to search for. My Melbourne and Australian television YouTube watching was as up to date as my last visit back to the The Lucky Country.

image source:nfsa.gov.au

Over the years I slowly adopted American words and expressions at the expense of Australian sayings, phrases and words; I’ve tried to keep the Australian pronunciation of words that are common to both languages. On the first few visits back to the The Land Down Under I didn’t have an accent, but I had an accent in the US. I’m still told that I have an accent in the US, and now I have an accent in the The Land Down Under. I like to think that words roll off my tongue with a harmony of warmth and melodic foreign sounds.

Beechworth is a well preserved historical gold rush town in north east Victoria, Australia. Ian was dressed in period costume; waistcoat, faded black boots, low-slung belt, hat and moleskin trousers. His face was surrounded by long grey whiskers that resembled a mutton chop beard. He was our guide for our walking tour of Beechworth’s Historic and Cultural Precinct. The Precinct is made up of honey coloured granite buildings that were the home of the Superintendent of Police, Telegraph Station, Courthouse, Powder Magazine, and the Chinese Protector’s office.

image source:jmcadam

At the start of the tour Ian gathered our small group outside one of the heritage gold rush buildings to introduce himself, and for the group to introduce themselves. Ian heard me say I was from Nebraska in the United States, and from then on I was the yank. Ian regaled us with a blend of humour and facts, and when anybody answered a questions incorrectly he pretended to berate and mock the innocent drongo. I carefully constructed my answers to Ian’s questions around what I had learned in school about Victoria’s gold rush history; Ian was impressed with the yank. And Ian was further impressed with the yank when I reacted to an Ian joke, or risque question, with a response laced with my own humour. I chatted with Ian for a short time after the tour; he thought I was American and I never did tell him any different.

Tirau is about a forty minute dive from Rotorua. It’s a quaint New Zealand, North Island town and is known for the corrugated iron dog and sheep buildings on the main street. Across the road from the corrugations is the The Twisted Café. We stopped in for lunch at the The Twisted Café, and after I had chosen a slice of homemade egg and bacon pie I started chatting to the lady behind the counter.

image source:jmcadam

Lady behind the counter: Gidday where are ya from?
Me: (with swagger in my voice) G’Day; Australia, Melbourne
Lady behind the counter: Fair go bro, no you’re not; with a twang like that you can’t be from Melbourne eh
Me: (in a conciliatory tone) Yeah I’m from Melbourne; but I live in the US now
Lady behind the counter: I bloody knew it
Me: (concerned about driving to Rotorua) Think there’ll be rain today?
Lady behind the counter: (with a quizzical look) What do ya want to know about the marines?
Me: (with a charming smile) Cheers; hooroo

I don’t think many supporters wanted the Footscray Bulldogs to become the Western Bulldogs, or for the boys to move away from playing footie at the old home ground. I didn’t want to change from being an Aussie. I’ve now lived longer in the US than I did in Australia. A lot changes over time; I just don’t think you really notice it when you see it changing every day. The Aussie tradition I’m still holding onto is wearing shorts.

image source:jmcadam

I’ve worn shorts from when I first lived in Lincoln, Nebraska; way before you ever saw saw the United Parcel person or the postman in shorts. I still don’t wear a ball cap but I might start wearing a bright yellow Cricket Australia one with the Australian coat of arms on the front. I don’t think I’ve ever worn Australia on my sleeve so maybe I’ll wear it on my head.

After all that out of key loud singing my mouth feels like the bottom of a cocky’s cage; I think I’ll go out back and down a few neck oils.

 

Western Bulldogs

Australian Music 60s & 70s

Beechworth, Victoria

What If A Cucumber Sandwich Had Wings

The paddocks in central Nebraska were barren, and a sickly pale brown colour; most were covered in the corn stubble from last years crop. They had yet to become a sea of waving green as it was still too early in the year to be the start of spring. The early morning air was crisp, and the sky was clear and blue. Don Streeter led us across Brewster Field to the cluster of air plane hangers. Before we pushed his Cessna 172N from it’s hanger he unplugged and removed the engine heater, and did away with the designer cowling blanket. The sky was now a filtered blue with a few stratus clouds making their unhurried way across the horizon. Don completed the pre-flight inspection and we taxied onto the Holdrege airport runway; the barren, sickly pale brown colour paddocks were soon below us.

image source:jmcadam

Years ago a trip to the airport was enjoyable and speedy. There were no long queues or waiting; you arrived ten minutes before your flight and walked through a gate, and onto your plane. When I think back, I vaguely remember walking out a gate at the Essendon Airport passenger terminal to a TAA DC-3 resting on the tarmac. I must have been ten or twelve years old; we were flying from Melbourne to Tasmania with mum and dad, and my brother for a holiday. It would have been Trans Australia Airways, instead of Australian National Airways, because Aunt Bet’s husband’s sister worked as a hostess for TAA. We walked up the stairs into the plane, and then uphill along the aisle to get to our seats. I don’t remember flying to Tassie; but I remember going to the Blow Hole at Port Arthur. We must have rented a car, and dad must have braked or swerved; what happened next became the “when we were in Tassie” story. I must have been sitting on mum’s lap because I was thrown forward when the car lurched, and hit my chin on the dashboard; my teeth cut into my gums, and my mouth became a bloody mess. I don’t remember it happening but the story got retold and retold; causing me to remember the event. Whenever it was told mum’s calmness and bravery, and spur of the moment nursing skills, were talked about in great detail. And I was the brave little soldier who didn’t cry when he hit his chin on the dashboard of the car.

image source:jmcadam

I had disordered hair and a beard, and would have been wearing an Indian kurta, scarf, jeans, and sandals when I walked through the gate and onto a BOAC plane at Delhi airport. Delhi was my last stop after drifting through the Middle East, and into India along the ill defined Hippie Trail. I spent most of my time in Delhi wracked with intestinal pain; alone in a stark room, curled into a fetal position on a flimsy mattress. One afternoon when I was shuffling through the crowded, colourful, laneways and streets of Delhi, I stopped and rested in a small park. I only have uncertain memories of negotiating the price of a plane ticket to Melbourne with the young man in the park. I gave him Greek drachma’s, and we agreed that the stranger I had just met would return in the morning with a ticket, and we would ride to the airport together. I would pay him in US dollars for his service when we got to the airport. Early next morning I waited in the park; the stranger appeared. I only have scattered memories of the Tuk Tuk ride to the airport; I gave the young man the last of my US dollars.

image source:littlebigtravelingcamera.com

As I walked into the airport I wondered if I was clutching a genuine BOAC ticket. I only remember the food being served on a plate and using cutlery; the knives and fork came sealed in plastic sleeves. Some would say that airplane food was dreamed up by a culinary school drop out, but I remember the food as being outrageously delicious; I’d just spent the last few months wandering through Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India eating mostly street vendor food with my hands.

I did a few other international airplane trips during the seventies. Melbourne’s brand new Tullamarine Airport had replaced Essendon Airport, and you now boarded your plane through a jet bridge. Security was some bloke giving you the once over, and if he thought you looked OK and weren’t a galah, then you boarded the plane. Back then, airports didn’t look like shopping malls. Going to the airport was stress free; you didn’t have to run the gauntlet of duty free shops, remove your shoes and belt, load up plastic tubs with stuff taken out of your bags and pockets, or worry about body imaging. You’d show up at the airport fifteen minutes before your flight and walk to the jet bridge with your friends or family; after a few kisses and hugs you were on your way.

image source:csmonitor.com

I thought back to those times at Tullamarine as I joined the writhing security screening line of bored and excited international passengers at Houston Intercontinental Airport. The line folded back on itself several times; the swaying people, shifting backpacks, rolling luggage, and moving carry on bags caused the line to constantly change it’s shape. The writhing line split into smaller lines as it moved toward the security screening stations. It was soon my turn to remove my shoes and belt, and load up the plastic tubs with the contents of my carry on bag and pockets; I stepped into the X-Ray machine. Upon stepping out of the full body scanning machine I was approached by a TSA agent. When they were slipping on a pair of latex gloves they asked if I would prefer my body pat down in private; I stood on the rubber mat in the designated space near the main screening area, with legs apart. The agent waved a hand held wand over me, and then explained they were going to run a latex gloved hand up one of my legs, across my groin, and down the other leg. As the TSA agent was thanking me for my cooperation I asked what had triggered the pat down. The imaging machine had detected an outline of a memory card embedded in my thigh.

image source:nationstates.net

It took all my strength to resist the overwhelming urge to walk through all of the imaging machines; similar to walking through a transit station’s X-ray metal detector to enter a safety zone. The TSA agent farewelled me with a nod, and I was soon sitting in the departure lounge, sipping coffee and trying to recall if I had put the camera’s memory card in my shorts pocket when it fell onto the airport floor in Chicago, and then put it back into the camera case when we deplaned at Houston. Could it have left some type of magnetic image on my thigh; somewhat akin to being irradiated with highly charged radioactive particles from a Gamma Bomb explosion I thought.

Victoria’s Parliament House is at the top end of Melbourne’s Bourke Street. It would be safe to say that most Melburnians have only visited Parliament House on a school excursion, for wedding party photos, or when they were holding a placard as part of a protest gathered on it’s sweeping steps. Most Melburnians confuse The Old Treasury Building for Parliament House. The last time I was anywhere close to Parliament House was in the seventies when I was a proud participant in the school teacher’s strikes and marches . A few months ago I slowly walked up the sweeping steps, and there wasn’t a bride or placard in sight. I was at Parliament House for Afternoon Tea.

image source:skmcadam

Afternoon Tea used to be an everyday event, but now it’s more likely to be something special in a hotel or restaurant. Nowadays, Afternoon Tea and High Tea are often used interchangeably; however most people use High Tea to suggest an extremely formal Afternoon Tea. Back when, Afternoon Tea was known as Low Tea and was served in the late afternoon. It included a teapot of loose tea with milk and sugar, and a selection of cucumber, tomato, tuna, ham, sardine, egg, and smoked salmon sandwiches; scones with butter, clotted cream and jam, and assorted cakes and pastries were also part of Afternoon Tea. Afternoon Tea was served on a lounge, or low table. High tea was an early evening meal eaten between 5:00 and 6:00 pm. It substituted for both Afternoon Tea and the evening meal, and consisted of cold meats, eggs, cakes, and sandwiches. High Tea was eaten at the main, or high table.

The Strangers Corridor restaurant serves members of Parliament and their guests, or strangers, when the Victorian Parliament is sitting; when it’s not sitting the public are welcome in the restaurant. Strangers Corridor is a wood paneled room with red velvet chairs and stain glass windows; accents of gold, and red and pink tones suggest a sense of taste and sophistication. I think one of the best kept secrets in Melbourne is the Afternoon Tea served at Strangers Corridor; freshly baked scones with jam and cream, exquisite pastries and finger sandwiches on tiered stands, and freshly brewed tea.

image source:jmcadam

It was a non-sitting Parliament day when I slowly walked up the sweeping steps of Parliament House. After the associate checked my name on their High Tea reservation print out list they escorted me through the door to the security screening station. I loaded up the plastic tubs with the content of my shoulder bag and pockets, and asked if I needed to remove my shoes and belt. I stepped into the walk through detector and paused for a moment; I wondered if I should mention the magnetic image of the memory card embedded in my thigh. Knowing that the layered strawberry vanilla slices, and the cucumber finger sandwiches were waiting I said nothing. I walked through and out of the detector without any alarms sounding, and was escorted through Queens Hall to Strangers Corridor. I eased back into a red velvet covered chair in a traditional leather booth, and as I watched the light shining through the stain glass windows play onto the white linen I slowly sipped champagne, and ran my hand along my thigh to feel for an embedded memory card.

image source:skmcadam

Travelers today spend a lot of their time waiting in airports. World airports are now morphing into community spaces; you can while away your airport hours in yoga rooms, beer halls, butterfly gardens, leisure zones and rooftop swimming pools, shop in luxury stores, and eat in upscale themed restaurants as you wait for your connecting flight. I would suggest airports start opening exclusive Tea Rooms, tucked away from the hustle and bustle of their other shopping and dining areas so you can idle away a few hours of airport time enjoying a posh Afternoon Tea. And you would only have to go through security screening one time.

 

The Best Places for High Tea in Melbourne

History of Parliament House

This Is What Your Flight Used To Look Like