I Look At My Clothes To See What I’m Wearing

The other day when I was resting on the fringe of the women’s section at a WestRoads department shop I slowly became aware that I was surrounded by racks or women’s clothing that had parts of their shoulder, or the complete shoulder removed. It appears that leaving part of the shoulder exposed, or the whole shoulder and upper arm exposed, is the must have look for 2017. The cold shoulder look is everywhere; dresses, jumpsuits, bridal gowns, and even bathers. And surrounding the cold shoulder displays were racks of Hippie Laundry label smocked off-the-shoulder tops, tie-dye popover tops, and destructed shorts.

image source:johnmcadam

As the sales associate wandered by I turned to her and with a slight smile said

If you can remember the sixties, you weren’t really there.

The sixties welcomed tie-dye shirts, long flowing gypsy skirts, fringed vests, and peasant blouses; I learned that women had shoulders. The associate was staring off into the display of cold shoulder clothes and answered

I had a halter top sun dress and a batik tie dye halter top.
I wouldn’t wear the cold shoulder; it’s for the young ones.

I don’t remember going shopping for clothes back when. Mum made most of my clothes until I was in my late teens. It’s impossible for me to forget the blue blazer and grey long trousers that she made for me; I was maturing into a teenager and it was time for me to wear grown up clothes. The blue blazer and grey long trousers were about twice the size they should have been, but they were made for me to grow into; maybe the loose, baggy fit was some cool early sixties look that I didn’t know about. Mum said that the blue blazer and grey long trousers were to be kept for best; they were my going out clothes.

image source:pinterest

On school holidays mum and nanna would take me with them when they went into town on one of their shopping days. Like everybody back then they would wear their best dresses, and sometimes gloves, when they went into town. I would wear my loose, baggy blue blazer and grey long trousers going out clothes. We would stop at Hopetoun Tea Rooms in the Block Arcade and I would sit with mum and nanna, and the other shopping ladies enjoying their sandwiches or if it was later in the day scones and a cup of tea; they were all in their stylish suits or dresses. I was in my loose, baggy blue blazer and grey long trousers going out clothes.

If you looked closely into the dark night you could just make out the glow of the new landscape that television was carving out across Melbourne. But it was still a time when going to the pictures in town on a Saturday night was a special occasion; a special night out and you would wear your best clothes. Dad would wear a suit and tie, and mum her best Saturday night going out dress. I wore my loose, baggy blue blazer and grey long trousers going out clothes.

image source:considerthesauce.net

I was a young teenager when I first caught the train to Yarraville to take learn to dance classes at the Universal Dancing Classes Ballroom. I was expecting the debonair Pat McGuire and his wife Marjorie to turn my two left feet into dancing sensations; I would glide across the floor showcasing the pride of erin, fox trot, and the evening three step. Mum was so happy that I wanted to learn to dance; I was so happy for the opportunity to meet girls. Mr McGuire would walk the boys through a dance, and Marjorie did the same with the girls. When he thought it was time to practice the dance he had the boys line one side of the hall and the girls the other. Most of the time it was boy’s choice so you had to invite a girl to dance. The girls didn’t know if you had mastered the dance steps or not; I’m not sure they cared because they were at the Universal Dancing Classes Ballroom to meet boys. I know it wasn’t my pot cut, I was growing my hair into a long sixties style, that caused the girls to turn down my invites to step onto the dance floor. Every week the refusals repeated themselves and I would spend the night sitting in front of, and learning against, the boy’s wall. As I sat in front of the boy’s wall I searched for the reason why the girls refused my invite to join me on the dance floor; the only common denominator that came to mind was that my loose, baggy blue blazer and grey long trousers going out clothes made me look like a dork.

image source:pinterest

I stopped going to dance classes at the Universal Dancing Classes Ballroom and I never wore my loose, baggy blue blazer and grey long trousers going out clothes again.

I remember when The Beatles invaded Australia as part of their 1964 world tour. We all wanted a Nehru collar jacket. A year later Jean Shrimpton shocked Melbourne when she wore a mini skirt to Derby Day and caused absolute silence in the members lounge at Flemington Racecourse. It was five inches above the knee and her legs stopped a nation. And that was the first time I appreciated women’s fashion. I learned that women had knees and thighs. I was neither a mod nor a rocker but I did take charge of mum’s electric sewing machine and peg my jeans to produce a stove pipe effect. I turned the legs inside out and sewed a new tapered seam alongside the original seam; creating a small opening at the bottom of the legs that I could just squeeze my feet through. Even though I was rewarded a new freedom when I became a college student at Footscray Tech I still needed mum to provide food, shelter, and clothing. I wanted to shop for my own clothes; the closest I got was telling mum what I had to have. It was the late sixties and cool college students rejected the hippie fashion of tie dye, leather sandals, flowers and peace signs, and beads and fringes; that would all come later.

image source:leonidgurevich.blogspot.com

Our uniform was corduroy pants and desert boots. I did persuade mum to buy me a paisley shirt. It was a time of conflicting idealism, protest, rebellion, and freedom of choice. We could choose to be hippie, bodgie and widgie, mod, skinheads, or surfers; and I became a little of each depending on what I could persuade mum to make with her sewing machine. A bottle green duffle coat, navy blue refer jacket, a green jerkin, tapered jeans, bell bottoms, and black ripple sole shoes were the only constants as I brushed up against the late sixties and early seventies sub cultures. I remember owning a suit. I left the suit in Australia when I set out in the early seventies on my first hallowed rite of passage searching for inspiration and idealism in the ordinary. Mum would have kept the suit, but I never wore it again.

Carnaby Street was on the cusp of it’s hey day when I was living in London. In the early sixties it was the birthplace of Swinging London, the home of mods, skinheads, and punks. It was the place to be if you were creative and in search of inspiration. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and The Kinks made Carnaby street a legend; in the early seventies it’s rebellious reputation was fading.

image source:pinterest

The fashions of yesterday in the left over menswear boutiques were making way for the emerging punk culture. I resisted becoming a dedicated follower of fashion during my search for inspiration and idealism in the ordinary; my journey started and ended in jeans. When I returned to Australia after wandering Europe, and drifting through the Middle East and into India along the ill defined hippie trail, I left my jeans on the bedroom floor for mum to wash. I wore my Indian kurta shirt, harem pants, and scarves the first few times I walked Douglas Parade.

And as I sat back resting on the fringe of the women’s section at a WestRoads department shop I started to ponder why is fashion only for the skinny, gap tooth smiling, youthful young ones and why is fifty plus the age that makes us no longer style conscious.

If fashion designers refuse to create daring, provocative, every day fashion that allows all of us fifty plus to flaunt an intense, emotional street style image then we need to create our own. Every pop culture that we travelled through defined itself by the clothing and fashion they established and left behind; hippies, bodgies and widgies, mods, skinheads, surfers and punks wore their individual clothing in a collective way. I think we need to forget about the 50 and older sections in clothes shops that are stocked with age appropriate clothing and just shop in whatever section we want. Ours is the right to create a mix-and-match wardrobe.

image source:johnmcadam

But there is a place for the trousers with an elastic waist band that straddles the back of our waist, and need to be positioned just above where our stomach starts it’s bulge. We need to lower them so they sit low on the hip, below the waist, below the waist band of our brightly coloured, patterned boxer shorts. We need to reveal our underwear. Sagging shouldn’t be the exclusive fashion of Justin Bieber.

Fashion predicts that for 2017 hipsters will combine styles. Hipster chic street style will be mixing grunge and hippie; must-haves such as matching button ups, knee-high socks, polka dot tights, cool striped crop tops and big floppy hats. So it’s time that we reach into our wardrobes and storage boxes and reclaim our skinny jeans and trousers, the corduroy jacket with the leather patches on the elbows, the leather sandals, tie-dyed and paisley print, and shirts decorated with beads and fringes, bell-bottomed jeans, Nehru collar jackets, and the duffle coats and refer jackets of yesteryear.

For the last thirty years I have headlined floral print shirts year round. And I bought shorts from Australia and wore them before they were popular in the mid-west; before the united parcel delivery driver or post men wore shorts. Mum would only let me take a little from each culture; a pegged jean here and a paisley print there so my wardrobe is bare. If only I could wear my loose, baggy blue blazer and grey long trousers going out clothes one more time. This time with a floral print shirt and I would glide a partner across the polished dance floor in my own maverick style.

 

Sixties’ model Jean Shrimpton shocks world with first miniskirt

Carnaby Street: 1960 – 2010

The Beatles let it be in Australia: 1964

Riding A Tait Back To The Future

It’s that time of the year when spring starts to creep out from under winter’s canvas. Daylight has become my alarm clock by sneaking early, and before it should, each morning through the bedroom wooden venetian blind slats; and so my walking journey around Westroads Mall starts before it should. The mall looks the same at 8:00am as it does at 9:00am. I think most of the other 9:00am mall walkers must also have wooden venetian blinds in their bedrooms. I give my modest head nod, or my indiscernible move of the index finger, as we pass. And I wonder if I was really there an hour or so earlier. After three laps of the upper level I am ready for the two laps of the lower level. I head for the escalators; they are motionless.

image source:johnmcadam

I did the obvious and looked around a couple of times; moving my head through interrupted semi circles. The escalators weren’t working. And there was no On Point through the ear buds; just news but no news analysis. I looked down to my smart phone. The digital smart clock was showing 8:30am. And then I got it; escalators don’t have venetian blinds in their bedrooms. I don’t enjoy walking down non moving escalators so I set off for the stairs at the other end of the mall. I lightly gripped the handrail so my hand would slide the length of the first flight of stairs. I stared down at the stairs and absent mindedly started to count. And as I counted the stairs seemed to vanish in the distance. At the end point of the never ending stairs I could make out the faint glow of a long salmon pink tiled corridor; display windows lined the walls and there were black granite columns and Art Deco shop fronts.

image source:c1.staticflickr.com

The Degraves Street Subway and Campbell Arcade connect Degraves Street with Flinders Street Station. It was the start of our shortcuts to Collins Street when we took the train into town to go to the newsreels. On newsreel day we would be anxious to catch the first off peak train into the city; the first after 9:00am. We would gallop up Peel Street, cross into Davies Street, and when we got to the Dispensary look across Melbourne Road to see if a city train was stopped at the signal. If there wasn’t a train it meant a slow jaunt into Melbourne Road, past the Newport Post Office and shops to the station. A stopped train meant a frantic run to the station; buying your ticket just as the porter was closing the platform gate. And sometimes when my mind wanders I am back asking for a ticket into town.


After leaving Spencer Street Station the train would turn onto, and start to rattle over, the twisting viaduct running alongside Flinders Street and the Yarra. I remember when the viaduct carried four railway lines; they converged and diverged into other lines that arrived and departed from the thirteen platforms of Flinders Streets Station. It always seemed that the signals stopped the Williamstown train just before it go to Flinders Street; and you would watch the two carriage St Kilda and Port Melbourne trains scurry across the river on the Sandridge Bridge. Warehouses and factories edged the river and the pylons that supported the buildings reached down into the water. I remember the Glaciarium ice skating building, and the Allens factory. The Allens factory had a giant animated neon sign on the roof; Allen’s was on a lolly wrapping with green coloured Sweets just below.

image source:islandcontinent.com.au

When we had a spare sixpence from our pocket monies we would head down to Dashers to spend it on lollies. I don’t think we ever knew their real name but we had christened them Mr and Mrs Dasher because they moved so slow. Dashers was a traditional milk bar and was on the corner of Douglas Parade and Bunbury Street. Inside, at the back of the shop, was a wooden display case; a mind boggling treasure chest of little trays crammed with all types of loose lollies. This sugar happy land was part of the shops counter and was protected by a hinged glass lid. The lid was scratched, and made opaque in places from the countless times the knurled edges of threepence’s, sixpences, and pennies had been run along the glass. Spending our sixpence came with it’s own angst. We were possessed with tormented decisions deciding what was the better sixpence value; clinkers, fruit tingles, choo choo bars, black cats, spearmint leaves, milk bottles, bananas, musk sticks, or a packet of fags. Fags were white thin sticks of soft hard, sweet musk flavoured sugar with red colouring on one end; miniature fake cigarettes with a glowing tip. You would keep your packet of fags in your shirt pocket, and spend the whole day with a glowing white, thin sweet musk flavoured sugar stick hanging from your lips. Smoking was cool back then. Sixpence would buy you a bag of mixed lollies and you were lucky if it lasted through the afternoon. Milk bottles, spearmint leaves, bananas, and a host of other famous Australian lollies were made by Allen’s.

image source:milkbarsbook.com

As the signal standstill wore on and the Yarra bank lost it’s fascination you started a search for distractions. The carriage became it’s own distraction. Each Tait carriage was it’s own sitting parlour. Bench seats ran across the carriage in aisles and partitions divided the carriages into small spaces; a collection of spaces was divided into compartments. An aisle of seats had its own sliding door and carriage window; each window had a wooden latticed blind. Lights hung from the patterned pressed tin ceiling and each carriage had luggage racks mounted onto it’s stained wood grain walls. A carriage was divided into first or second class and the inside was split into smoking and no-smoking. I don’t think we ever appreciated the Tait carriage for what it was. Most times a glance around the carriage and over your fellow passengers would only take a couple of minutes; then the disinterested would reach for their cigarettes and the wooden carriage would be filled with clouds of drifting smoke. Stubbed cigarettes quickly gathered on the floor. Smoking was banned on Melbourne trains in the late seventies.

image source:flickr.com

And for the next ten plus years I pondered why you could smoke on air planes but not on Melbourne trains. I can easily think back to when the first thing I did on a plane was to light a cigarette; the moment the wheels left the ground. The only time you couldn’t smoke in a plane was when it was on the ground. It seemed as if the entire plane was smoking a cigarette, pipe, or a cigar before the metal tube had reached it’s cruising level. Clouds of drifting smoke would hover just above seat level waiting to be recycled through the plane. And there came a time when smokers were restricted to the back of the plane. The last few rows were designated as smoking so you had to remember to request smoking when you were assigned a seat. If you forgot to request a smoking seat, or they had all been taken, as soon as the seat belt sign was off you gathered with the rest of the smokers at the back of the plane; and stood for most of the flight. Smoking was banned on all Australia domestic flights in 1987 and in 1996 on all Australian international flights. Smoking is now banned on most airlines in the world; and now I ponder why is there an ashtray in the lavatories of air planes.

image:dailyherald.com

When the Red Tait’s were being replaced by the Blue Harris trains and we were going into town we hoped beyond hope that our train would be a blue one. When we got to the Dispensary, and if we saw a red train was stopped at the signal we would dawdle to the station to miss it. And our fervent desire was that our meandering was fruitful and that the next train would be a blue one; we would wait breathlessly at the station without knowing if it was going to be a red or blue one. If you stood close to the platform edge and arched your back you could see an approaching Williamstown train. The signal would stop the train just past the workshops so the two carriage Altona swing door dog box or the Geelong diesel country train could stop at the station; or a goods train slowly make it’s way up the line. And if it was a blue one the wait for the signal to release the train was gruelling; excitement overcame us when it pulled into the station. We sat in agitated intoxication in the modern cavernous metal carriage and stared out through the large glass plated windows. In summer passengers opened the two sets of two sliding doors to move the air through the carriage; just as they opened the sliding doors in each seat aisle of the red rattlers on hot stifling summer days.

image:arhsnsw.com.au

You used to change trains at Newport for Altona; the red two carriage swing door, dog box sea weed city flier, was kept on a small siding just past the station. And now Altona is a loop off of the overcrowded Werribee line; and the two carriage Williamstown train is now kept on the siding just past the station. On the weekends and late at night you change trains at Newport for Williamstown.

Allen’s was Australia’s largest confectionery company and it’s now owned by the international giant Nestle. Milk bottle lollies, the milky white colour vanilla flavoured miniature milk bottles are now a bag of banana, lime, caramel, strawberry and chocolate flavoured milkshakes. Fifteen year Australian lolly eaters are voting whether to remix black cats, teeth, or strawberries and cream. Allens, the Glaciarium ice skating building, the Wirth’s Circus buildings, and the other old warehouses and buildings that created Melbourne’s industrial landscape on the other side of the river are long lost memories. The area has been carved and shaped into the Arts Precinct and Southbank; Melbourne’s bustling river front, overflowing with clusters of arts organisations, cafe’s and restaurants, public art, entertainment, and stylish shopping.

image:facebook.com/LostMelbourne

I should adjust my rear vision mirror; or maybe visit Omaha’s Lauritzen Gardens Model Railroad Garden and chew on a bag of Minties.

 

History Of Southgate & Southbank Area

Lauritzen Gardens Model Railroad Garden

Tait train

It Starts With Toilets and Ends Up Costing Us Our Way of Life

As I was beginning my fourth and second last loop around the perimeter of Westroads Mall I anticipated the need for a pit stop after the last lap. There are now three public rest rooms to choose from; two are on the second floor. One is close to my final turn, in a walkway that connects into the two long perimeter hallways; and the other is at the opposite end of the mall, tucked into the back of the Flagship Commons. The remodelled, third public rest room is on the ground floor by the new The Container Store. My anticipation was correct so I headed for the remodelled rest room. I was enclosed by white tiles; two urinals were separated by a metal modesty panel. As I turned toward the two sinks the room seemed to spin and shrink and I was transported into that finite space called seat pitch.

john-in-loo

image source:johnmcadam

I learned a long time ago there’s no graceful way to get past the drink trolley when it comes between you and the lavatory; you have to get out of it’s the way. And that means your groin or gluteus maximus is lodged within two inches of the passenger’s face in the aisle seat. And some people prefer the aisle seat. The air plane lavatory can be a little intimidating. The thunderous sucking sound that launches as soon as you flush the powerful vacuum powered toilet, and the swirl of mysterious blue liquid that suddenly appears, and then disappears in a quick, deep muffled, thwump can be a little off putting. I had learned that to prevent boredom, dehydration, deep-vein thrombosis and sleep deprivation on long haul flights it’s best to wear loose pants, take off your shoes, and walk around the plane a lot. It’s a given that planes encounter turbulence but I’ve never seen the cabin crew mop a lavatory floor during a flight, so if you’ve taken off your shoes just remember the wetness your feet are feeling, and your socks are soaking up, is not that mysterious blue liquid.

airplane-toilet-1

image source:express.co.uk

I never thought deplaning, navigating Australian immigration, retrieving luggage, riding the airport shuttle, and checking into a South Bank hotel would manufacture a hard earned. And we all know that a hard earned thirst needs a big cold beer. The Plough Inn is only a short walk from the hotel, along the winding pathway lined with flowering jacaranda trees; it’s an old style Aussie pub bustling with true blue yesteryear charm and atmosphere. I thought a quick detour to the toilet was a good strategy before settling down to a pot of Victoria Bitter. I knew I was getting close to the metal wall because the unmistakeable, distinctive, smell of the Australian men’s urinal was becoming richer and thicker. When you get that first whiff of proud Aussie mateship you know you’re back home; back in the The Land Down Under.

I doesn’t seem to matter if you hit the wall head on or at angle; splashing will happen. Depending on when you strained the spuds, or how many ice colds you’ve put away, the splashes are going to be either droplets or large drops. And because you don’t really have control over the velocity of the stream at the start, or near the end of the session, uncontrollable dribbling and spattering is guaranteed; sprinkles will end up on the floor, or somewhere. Over time the smell of dried urine deepens and the fragrance floats in the air to remind you that other males were there. I think men respect the smell of the urinal. It awakens our forgotten memories of when we were hunters; of marking our territory. It’s our last playground in the wilderness of civilization. And it becomes my companion on the fourth and second last loop around the perimeter of Westroads Mall.


Queensland jacarandas flower in October and November and their purple lilacs shroud you in a cloud of fantasy. During a guided walk through the Brisbane City Botanic Gardens I learned that Walter Hill was the Superintendent and the first curator of the Gardens. He planted the seed for the tree that became the ancestor of Brisbane’s jacarandas; a landmark until uprooted in the 1980 cyclone. The Queensland Art Gallery is home to the ancestral jacaranda tree; Under the Jacaranda, painted by Godfrey Rivers in 1903 is Queensland’s most famous painting. And fresh jacaranda blossoms fall to the floor below the painting every October and November. I thought there was a faint smell of jacaranda when I gently pushed open the door of the men’s toilet; I scanned the floor and it was clear of petals. The porcelain, wall hung, urinals did have a plastic grid screen covering a urinal cake holder; the cake had a masculine fragrance.

gallery-jacaranda

image source:johnmcadam

Summer in the The Land Down Under can be summed up as heat waves, droughts and wildfires. Using time honoured creativity and know-how Australian’s have forever experimented with managing the consequences of summer’s extremes. Throwing a brick into the toilet cistern to lessen the water in it was a traditional way of saving water in a drought; a big problem when you needed a big flush. This caused Australia to invent the dual flush toilet; two flush options in the one toilet. Nine pints of water for a full flush and six pints for a half flush . Toilets with two flush buttons are mandatory in all new buildings in every state of Australia. Most of the The Land Down Under toilets don’t have a handle on the side of the cistern for flushing; just two buttons on the top.

dua-flush

image source:cozyhomeplans.com

Mr Fraser wrote on the board during one of our Williamstown Tech science classes that the mass of an object affects how quickly it can change speed; and acceleration is how much it’s speed changes over time. He told us that mass times acceleration is the rate of change of momentum. Before you choose a full or half flush you need to give a quick look into the bowl, guess at the mass of the substance, do a quick calculation, and then choose the flush that will give enough acceleration and momentum for it to clear the bowl; and if you really want to get it right you need to factor in density. Full flush or half flush; the path to any decision is not always a straight one.

The forested and scenic Dandenong Ranges is a low mountain range about a 20 mile drive from Melbourne. Mount Dandenong is both a mountain in the Rangers, and a small township nestled between the day tripper townships of Olinda and Kalorama. The Sky High Restaurant is a major tourist attraction close to the summit of Mount Dandenong; the picnic areas, formal gardens, and the spectacular views of the suburbs and city skyline from the viewing platform lets you contemplate the noises and pressures of the city from afar. Some say it’s the views that you go there for.

dandenong-view

image source:theclimbingcyclist.com

Mr Fraser also wrote on the board that objects fall towards the ground because the earth exerts a force of attraction on them; the force of gravity. The acceleration of a falling object because of gravity is 32 ft per second per second and velocity is the rate of change of it’s position. In the movie Hidden Figures, the story of three brilliant African-American who crunched the numbers and served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in NASA history, they talk about the escape velocity needed for a rocket to break free from the earth’s gravity. Mount Dandenong is about 2100 feet above sea level. The sign in the public toilets at Mount Dandenong must be a warning to the danger, from acceleration due to gravity, when something is dropped from a height of just under half a mile. Without doing the math I think it’s safe to say that an object dropped from Mount Dandenong and accelerating at 32 ft per second per second could be approaching it’s escape velocity.

toilet-squat

image source:johnmcadam

During the month I was back in the The Land Down Under I would have peered into at least sixty three dual flush toilet bowls trying to estimate the mass, density, buoyancy, acceleration and momentum of the whatchamacallit so I would correctly choose the full or the half flush. I watched the water swirl, and sometimes I watched it swirl again. I couldn’t come to a definitive conclusion if it was clockwise or anticlockwise; but I can say the shape of the bowl and the angle of the flush water streamed into the bowl is what causes a clockwise or anticlockwise swirl.

toilet-flow

image source:johnmcadam

From the National Public Toilet Map of Australia you can get the whereabouts, and a description of the over 17,000 public and private public toilets in Australian cities, towns, parks, shopping centres, and camp grounds. Many towns and districts have a Public Toilet Strategy, and Public Toilet Design Guidelines and Standards Policy. In the The Land Down Under you’re not far from a safe, accessible, clean and environmentally responsible public toilet; going to the public toilet is without shame, embarrassment, or guilt. The Beechworth Visitor Centre provides guided walking tours of the Historic and Cultural Precinct; a collection of authentic honey coloured granite gold rush buildings. The Precinct includes the home of the Superintendent of Police, Telegraph Station, Courthouse, Powder Magazine, and the Chinese Protector’s office. Our small walking group was gathered outside the Telegraph Office allowing Ian to regale us with a blend of humour and fact about the discovery of gold in Beechworth. And then we heard in the true spirit of Australia

Ian I need to go to the dunny: don’t wait for me: I’ll catch up.

And she caught up with the group at the courthouse where Ned Kelly was tried and found guilty of murder.

beechworth-ian

image source:johnmcadam

I remember when Melbourne had underground public toilets. Mum told us we could only use the one in Elizabeth Street just down the corner from Bourke Street; most of them have now been capped with concrete, demolished, or filled with sand. Regardless of what mum said we always ducked into the Flinders Street Station public toilet before catching the train back to Newport. I don’t remember the whereabouts of any other public toilets. It’s time I established an account at the National Public Toilet Map of Australia website and set up a My Toilets profile.

 

The National Public Toilet Map

Hobsons Bay Public Toilet Strategy

Dual Flush Toilet

It’s Elemental Mr Priestley

I had to go on hiatus from walking Westroads because Christmas time at the mall means Hickory Farms pop up kiosks; and that means holiday gift baskets filled to the brim with summer sausage and fresh cheeses. I refused to let fate find a way to my taste buds. And now I’m back walking the Mall five mornings a week. The other day I forgot to charge my Walkman so I spent my five times circling the perimeter looking for a mental distraction; I’ve grown accustomed to the window displays and the mall has lost it’s uncertainty of what’s around the next corner. So I started to think about the things I learned in school and have never used. In fourth form I spent a lot of time memorising basic cloud types; I began to silently chant: nimbus, cirrus, stratus and cumulus; nimbus, cirrus, stratus and cumulus. But then I paused and tried to think of the last time that I wondered if the clouds in an overcast sky are cirrus or nimbostratus. And then I thought about the Geometry and Algebra theorems that Mr Baldwin tried to instil in us; I couldn’t call to mind the last time I had to prove that two triangles were congruent, or to perform matrix multiplication, or to solve how long it takes train B to catch up to train A, if train A leaves the station travelling at thirty miles per hour, and two hours later train B leaves the same station travelling in the same direction at forty miles per hour. I think I was starting my third time around the mall when the elements of the periodic table, sorted by atomic number, started to flash before me.


There were three science rooms at Williamstown Technical School; they were alongside each other on one side of the central, long section of the school. The art room, clay room, and Mr Morrow’s accounting room were opposite the science rooms and they shared one end of the long section with the science rooms. Hundreds of lockers reached to just below the classroom windows and stretched the length of the building; they formed a long passage from which doors lead into the rooms. The science rooms had long wooden benches with gas taps for bunsen burners; and we sat ten to a bench, in a straight line, on lab stools. And how we delighted in those lab benches and stools; they released us from being jammed two to a desk. There was also a long bench around two of the walls; they housed sinks with curved taps and extra gas taps for bunsen burners. The middle science room had an inside walkway into the other two science rooms; it was the way into the two small equipment and supply storage rooms between the rooms. The science rooms always seemed to have a pervasive chemical smell.

science-room

image source:bastow.vic.edu.au

Mr Fraser introduced us to fourth form chemistry in the middle science room. We watched Mr Fraser perform experiments at his teacher’s front science desk; and he would diagram the assembled equipment and experiments in coloured chalk on the front boards; along with detailed descriptions, observations and measurements, calculations, and conclusions. We neatly copied his chalkboard journal into our science exercise books. If the lesson didn’t deserve an experiment then Mr Fraser, with his back to the class, would fill all three boards with chalk written scientific theories, postulates, and laws. As the year wore on I had more and more difficulty reading Mr Fraser’s chalkboard journals. I asked Mr Fraser if I could move from the third row bench to the front row; and I could see once again to copy his chalkboard journals. I never did tell mum or dad that I had had trouble reading off the board. It was close on three years later when I was at Footscray Tech that I confessed that I had trouble seeing; and so I eventually got glasses. If only I had worn my glasses back then; that air of sophistication I had from smoking Kent cigarettes would have been enhanced by a somewhat mischievous and cultured look. Nowadays I wear classic tortoise shell Ray-Ban Clubmasters.

mr-frasers-board

image source:johnmcadam

I think the most intriguing postulate that Mr Fraser wrote on the board was: atoms make up elements and atoms can neither be created nor destroyed. Back then my squinting had become the norm so I hurriedly copied into my science exercise book

athens is made up of elegance and elegance can neither be cheated or destroyed

And it wasn’t until my final year at Footscray Tech, and after what seemed a lifetime in the chemistry labs and classrooms, that I figured out what Mr Fraser had written on his science room chalk boards.

I was starting my fifth and final loop around the mall and I thought about air; that air was made up of a mixture of gases. Mr Fraser told us that gases were either compounds or elements. And I knew that elements contain only one type of atom. I had my epiphany; nobody uses all the oxygen they breathe in, and because atoms can neither be created nor destroyed I was breathing in oxygen that others have exhaled. I have other person’s exhaled oxygen in my blood; oxygen that was in their brain neurons absorbing their neuron attributes was pulsing through and soaking into my brain neurons.

skull

image source:pixabay

Whilst growing up and living the The Land Down Under I would have inhaled an incredible amount of oxygen that at one time was carried in blood as it flowed through the brain neurons of a crowd of commanding Australians; Richie Benaud, Reg Grundy, Germaine Greer, Greg Norman, Albert Namatjira, Slim Dusty, Errol Flynn, Edward Hargraves, Barry Humphries, Dame Nellie Melba, Cathy Freeman, and Robert O’Hara Burke to name just a few.
But how do you decide who are the great Aussies; and then whittle that back to the great among the greatest in Australia’s history.

I inhaled oxygen that once percolated through the brain of Cyril Callister. Cyril was a food technologist and is known as the man who invented Vegemite. In 1922 he was asked to make something from the left over waste yeast from the Carlton & United Brewery; to which he added celery, salt and onion and came up with a black sticky paste that looked like axle grease. It’s not because Australians are fed Vegemite from the time they are babies that causes them to travel the world with at least one small jar of Vegemite in their luggage, it is because we have inhaled oxygen from Cyril’s brain.

vegemite

image source:pinterest

I’ve had Errol Flynn’s used oxygen coursing through my brain neurons. Errol was born in Hobart, Tasmania and was known for playing the freedom loving rebel, a man of action who fought against injustice, a man who won the heart of many a damsels. Even when he wasn’t acting Errol was a spirited womaniser who gave the world the expression; in like Flynn. It is claimed that the doctors who examined his body when he died at the young age of 50 said it bore the physical ravages of someone who should have been 75 years old. And that would describe the average Australian male.

errol

image source:cloudpix

Innovation, ingenuity and entrepreneurial flair comes naturally to Australians; it’s accepted as a way of life. I’ve sucked in some of Lance Hill’s second hand oxygen. Even though Lance didn’t invent the rotary clothes hoist he demonstrated true blue Aussie creativeness by using metal tubing salvaged from the underwater boom that hung under the Sydney Harbour Bridge to catch World War II enemy submarines to make his clothesline. And he came up with a simple winding mechanism to hoist his big metal tree up into the breeze. The Hills rotary clothes line became an icon of Australia suburbia; the wind spinning the clothes around in the backyard. I think all Aussies have a little of  Lance Hill in them; who wasn’t told by mum to get off the clothes line. When she wasn’t looking you would hang from the line and spin each other around until you became so dizzy that you couldn’t walk. Every great backyard had a Hills that was always tilted at a weird angle and with the clothes lines stretched and saggy. Thank you Lance.

hoist

image source:pinterest

I lived in the sixties and grew up in the seventies. When the Beatles toured Australia in June 1964 and the Rolling Stones a couple of years later Melbourne was maturing as the epicentre of Australian progressive music. Berties, Sebastian’s, and The Thumpin Tum would become nationally known discotheques. You danced to what would become classics of Australian music every Saturday night. Harry Vanda and George Young formed the Easybeats in the early sixties and Friday On My Mind, the first international hit by an Aussie rock band, escorted you up the stairs and into Berties; a three story building of Edwardian opulence on the corner of Spring and Flinders Streets. And soon after, George’s two brothers, Angus and Malcolm, were in a new band called AC/DC; and they guided the new bands future by producing their first five albums. I must have taken in oxygen expelled by Harry Vanda & George Young; I can’t think of any other reason why I still wear my old Williamstown Tech school tie.

john-and-school-tie

image source:johnmcadam

I remember the streets of the old historical neighbourhood of Athens being lined with small pastry shops, old men playing backgammon, nightclubs, and street vendors selling what I though was the best ever pita wrapped souvlaki. I walked and climbed the twisted hilly narrow streets of the Plaka to wander freely and sit alone among the Acropolis stones; sometimes using one as a back rest to watch Athens endlessly stretching out below. On other days I sat inside the curved outside pillars of the Parthenon and mused over the irony of Greece; the birthplace of democracy and the Olympics: And now a country under military rule, a dictatorship of repression, torture, and grief. And I remembered what Mr Fraser wrote on the board

athens is made up of elegance and elegance can neither be cheated or destroyed.

Just as I completed my fifth and final time around Westroads I remembered that the symbol for oxygen is O; it has an atomic number of eight and is a member of group 16 in the periodic table. We were fortunate that Mr Fraser’s didn’t mess around with developing our self-control, motivation, focus and resilience skills but instead focused on creating chalk boards of notes detailing scientific laws and principles; to be neatly copied into our science exercise book.

 

The Greatest Of All: Our 50 Top Australians

Curator’s notes Friday on My Mind

11 Facts From Down Under About Vegemite

Australia’s Next Crowd Pleasing Tourist Attractions

I hadn’t been in an air plane for six plus years. After I navigated into my assigned seat and fastened my seat belt I found myself just looking into the back of the seat facing me. It doesn’t seem all that long ago when the seat in front of you was more than about eight inches away from your face, and the seat pocket was crowded with a flight magazine, a skymall catalogue, safety instruction cards, a small plastic lined paper vomit bag, and whatever else the airline deemed promotional reading material.

seat-pocket

image source:flywithdinh.blogspot

It was the time when the small electronic devices that are now okay to be carried onto an air plane were not okay. It seems as if these small electronic devices have become the substitute for what used to be in the pocket of the seat in front of you. Before the days of e-commerce, skymall was the only place where you could find a Video Screen Microscope or a Luxury High Back Console Pet Car Seat; you always carried the skymall catalogue with you when you deplaned. Back then the in flight magazine guaranteed you a few hours respite from the weariness of just looking into the back of the seat in front of you. I always turned first to the fold out section at the back of the magazine; usually a two page spread of confusing coloured lines representing the flight routes to the various places and cities the airline flew. Time would escape me as I planned future excursions that would lead me to revelation and self discovery journeys; contented, I would search the pages looking for feature articles that highlighted the attractions, foods, or culture of the airlines destination places, and the tourist attractions, the places that travellers must do and must see. As the air plane taxied from the air bridge I nestled into my seat, adjusted the wing like arms on the headrest, and was soon lost in my tourist attractions musings.

john-plane

image source:johnmcadam

I think it’s easy to define a tourist attraction. It’s a place that people are eager to visit because of it’s cultural or historical significance, or because of it’s beauty and how it was built; the Twelve Apostles at Port Campbell National Park, Grand Canyon, Himalayas, Stonehenge, Eiffel Tower, or Sydney Opera House. And some places become tourist attractions because they offer leisure, adventure and amusement; Disneyland, The London Eye, or the Mall of America. But there are hundreds of beaches, mountains, rivers, lakes and glaciers, rainforest and tropical grasslands, man made structures, cultural monuments, heritage sites, important historical and political sites, and architectural unique structures that are not tourist attraction. So it must be because of the number of people that visit a place that makes it a tourist attraction; and tourists keep going to tourist attractions because others did, or to just to say they have been there. Sadly, the most well known tourist attractions are so relentlessly marketed that they have become over crowded with tourists. At the moment the 12 top rated tourist attractions in Australia are:

Sydney Opera House Bondi Beach
Great Barrier Reef Daintree National Park
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Fraser Island
Sydney Harbour Bridge Kakadu National Park
Blue Mountains National Park Great Ocean Road
Melbourne Broome and Kimberley Region
tourist-crowd

image source:toonz.con

I think Australia’s next crowd pleasing tourist attractions will be:

Streets Beach, Brisbane: Most tourists when they visit Queensland whiz on down to the Gold Coast and Surfers Paradise, or up to the Sunshine Coast. Streets Beach is an inner city, man-made beach nestled in South Bank Parklands. The beach is on reclaimed land that was once the Brisbane River and overlooks the city central business district. It is positioned between Victoria Bridge and the Goodwill Bridge; lounging in the sand you can watch the traffic speed past the city on the elevated Pacific Highway on the opposite bank. The beach has a separate area for the little ones and a crystal clear lagoon with calm water for others. The white sandy foreshore lets you build sand castles, romp in the sand, or just play beach themed games. If your not getting sunburnt on the surrounding green lawns, you can fire up one of the barbies for a perfect summertime beach lunch, picnic on the sheltered tables, or just duck over the road to enjoy a cold one at the Plough Inn; an old style Aussie pub that is bustling with yesteryear charm and a true blue Aussie atmosphere.

streets-beach

image source:johnmcadam

Hook Turns, Melbourne: Doing the Hook is turning right from the left lane. You have to do the Hook when you’re turning at an intersection with tramlines on your right; but there must be a Hook Turn sign at the intersection. To do a Hook, instead of shifting to the right hand lane to turn right you move to the left lane, and stop when you’re half way or more into the intersection. If you’re the first car doing the Hook then you position your car halfway into the turn; the front just pushing into the lane that you were in. As the lights turn red from the street you are turning from, and the lights in the street you are turning into turn green, then you do the Hook by crossing ahead of the cars that were stopped in the street with the red light that has now turned green. You should always use the right turn indicator when doing the Hook. Melbourne has a large number of Hook Turn intersections. Because cars are not allowed to travel on, or block, tram tracks in the central city the Hook gives trams a clear go across intersections. I think doing the Hook would be an appealing day long, attraction to tourists; a one day package would include a selection of classic Holden cars to choose from; Kingswood, Commodore, or Monaro, a Mebourne Hoddle Grid map, and a Melbourne tram network map. And you need to remember that Australians drive on the left hand side of the road, as well as walking on the left side of the footpath and standing on the left side of escalators.

Rolling Down Parliament House Hill, Canberra: Not long ago members of the Australian Parliament approved the setting up of security fences to block public access to the hill and lawns of Parliament House. Their proposal was met with anger and disbelief by many Australians because back when, architect Romaldo Giurgola’s design of the new Parliament House fused the building into the landscape. He imagined a building that rose out of the landscape; a structure that ensured that the public could walk and play on the lawns over, and even on, the heads of their political representatives. Many Australians when they visit Parliament house do the time honoured tradition of lawn tumbling; so they can say I rolled over the heads of Parliament. The slopes are a symbol of Australian democracy. On December 17, 2016 hundreds gathered at the famous grassy slopes of Parliament House for a mass roll-a-thon; possibly for the last time. But I’m sure the fences will blend elegant abstract accents with the everyday familiarity of a railing fence. When you visit the slopes that were once rolled down you will only be able to view the grassy gradients from a distance through the fences. The closest you will get to the slopes is by zooming in on your smart device. Many claimed that the hill was the best one in Canberra to roll down; and that it was a really nicely kept hill.

Feeding Seagulls Fish and Chips, Queenscliff: You may wonder why I am proposing this activity as a tourist attraction when most people consider seagulls to be loud, invasive, polluting and aggressive; something that eats anything that moves, breathes or grows, and even things that don’t. But it’s not their fault that we don’t think of them as loveable. We invaded the habitats of their natural foods; mussels, clams, small fish, snails and worms. And so they learned that there is a plentiful supply of food where humans live. Going bay side and having a good feed of fish and chips is a celebrated Australian tradition. Queenscliff is about 30 miles from Melbourne and is a small town seaside resort on the Bellarine Peninsula. The stars have aligned for the Queenscliff seagulls. The Queenscliff fish and chip shop is just a short walk from the beach. The beach is a great place for ship watching. Even though the fish and chip shop doesn’t follow all the Fish and Chip Shop rules; never put an order in a box and then wrap it in paper, only sell pickled onions from a plastic tub on the counter, it is not run by hard working immigrant Greek family, and it doesn’t have fish tiles on the wall, you can still stock up with an acceptable bundle of fried golden goodness. I would suggest three potato cakes, chips, couple of dimmies, and a few scallops. As soon as you descend onto the sand you are assured of being surrounded by a substantial flock of screeching, aggressive gulls. And in no time you will be throwing small pieces of potato cakes and dimmies into the air and watching the ships navigating The Rip.

Brein and Zevenboom Lane, Melbourne: Melbourne is a city defined by it’s lane ways. The Hoddle Grid design that gave the city it’s main streets caused the evolution of narrow lane ways; they kept tradesmen and delivery men out of sight but gave them access to buildings. The blue stone cobbled Hosier and Rutledge Lanes are an acclaimed tourist attraction because of their edgy street art covered walls and art installations. Most of the art is protected by the City of Melbourne’s street art permit system; but the artwork changes regularly and it’s not meant to be preserved. It’s only to be appreciated as it comes and goes. The lanes feature the work of hundreds of local and international artists and are one of the most photographed places in the city. Avoid Hosier and Rutledge Lanes. In fact avoid all of Melbourne’s trendy lane ways; Centre Place, Degraves Street, Hardware Lane, and AC/DC Lane. Spend more time instead visiting lane ways that are still just lane ways; Brein Lane or Zevenboom Lane for example. If you stand in these lane ways and close you eyes and listen attentively you very well may hear the voices of the thieves, prostitutes, vagrants and drunkards of yesteryear who made their homes in these narrow passageways.

zevenboom-lane

image source:marvmelb.blogspot

Make no mistake, plan to visit these soon to be Australia’s next crowd pleasing tourist attractions before they are turned into tourist theme parks and consumed with day-trippers, souvenir stands, street performers, and chain restaurants.

And I just read that an increasing number of people are now treating themselves to dental vacation packages; it’s when you combine dental care with being a tourist. The ten most popular dental tourism destinations are:

Mexico  United Arab Emirates
Costa Rica  Turkey
Argentina Hungary
Malaysia Poland
Thailand Spain

If you do it right you can full fill all of your tourist dreams and have your wisdom teeth extracted.

 

Plough Inn South Bank, Brisbane

Rutledge Lane, Melbourne

Parliament House, Canberra

Eating Lollies And Walking Down Sideshow Alley

One of the tourist must do things in Florida is to hang out in the keys; that string of coral islands south of Miami that stretch for 120 odd miles between the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. I knew about Key West and Key Largo; Key West because of Ernest Hemingway’s six toed cats, and Key Largo because of the Bogart and Bacall classic film Key Largo. I started a little late the day I ventured into the keys so knew that I didn’t have the extra hours needed to sample every wilderness and seascape that unfolds along the one hundred plus miles of roadway, and the forty two arches of concrete and steel, that make up the Overseas Highway. I stopped at Shell World in Key Largo; the quintessential tourist souvenir shop stranded in a time warp. There is something for everyone at Shell World.

john-unicorn-head

image source:johnmcadam

Some may find it unusual to find a latex unicorn head nestled among the snow globes, alligator hats, marine inspired resort wear and shell lamps, but I saw it as representing the hippocampus; the fish tailed horse of the sea from Phoenician and Greek mythology. I slipped on the latex unicorn head. There was a strange but satisfying scent in the mask and within a few minutes I could only hear my deep, slow, relaxed breathing. I opened my eyes and I was just one of the many people staring up at a platform. Behind the platform was a tarpaulin wall serving as a canvas for the most incredible art work; a panorama of workmanship depicting the elephant boy, snake girl, lobster boy, the mermaid lady, and dog faced man. This majestic painted canvas wall teased all of us about the collection of excitements, sensations, and bizarre fantasies that were just inside the tent.

sideshow-alley

image source:pinterest.com

The Royal Melbourne Show is organized by The Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria and for more than 150 years has been bringing a small slice of Victorian country life to Melbourne. The Show happens for eleven days every September at the Melbourne Show Grounds and attracts up to half a million people each year. Mum and dad took us to the Show a couple of times and later I remember dad driving me to the showgrounds; dad would drop me off at a side entrance gate and we would agree, and promise, on a time to be picked up. I spent the whole day alone at the show. Then I rode the red bus to the showgrounds. The red bus wandered from Williamstown Beach through Footscray and past the showgrounds. The bus stop, at the corner of Melbourne Road and Wilkens Street, was only a short walk from our house. And there was a green bus. The green bus went from Newport railway station, down North Road to Douglas Parade, Ferguson Street, Nelson Place, and then to Williamstown Beach. When I was a youngster, mum’s special treat was to take me on the green bus to the Williamstown shops. I was allowed to kneel on the seat; and I pressed my forehead and nose to the window so I could watch the bustle of Douglas Parade pass by.

grand-parade

image source:i135.photobucket.com

The Royal Melbourne Show was about celebrating champion livestock, the country’s best horse riders, the toughest wood chopping axe men and women, and life on the farm. The agricultural pavilion showcased perfectly arranged eggs, ham, vegetables and bottled fruit, and the art, craft, and cookery competitions produced amazing cake decorations, and eye catching embroidery and smocking. And Victoria’s excellence in livestock was advertised each day by the swirling mass of hundreds of animals choreographed to become the Grand Parade. Back then I didn’t care about any of that. My Royal Melbourne show existed for three reasons; sideshow alley, show bags, and the Victoria Police exhibit.

I don’t remember a Melbourne Show without sideshow alley; made up of merry go rounds, ferris wheels, other mechanical rides, test your skills stalls, and the tents housing the freaks, illusion and magic shows, death defying acts, and boxing performances. I was young, naive, and innocent and I was seduced by the promises of sword swallowers, mermaids, bearded ladies, five legged cows, two headed calves and much more; all just inside the tent and just for a couple of shillings. The showground air carried the hypnotizing, funereal tempo beat of the bass drum from the Sharman Boxing Troupe tent.

sharnin-tent

image source:dictionaryofsydney.org

Until 1971 the Sharman Boxing Troupe had spent sixty years being part of the Australian Show landscapes.

Boom, Boom, Boom.
Who’ll Take A Glove.
Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom.
Come on, come on, come on. Give it a go. Survive three rounds and we will give you five pounds.
Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom.
And the tent boxers were introduced one by one to the crowd.
Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom.
But I never did have the courage to go inside the tents of sideshow alley.
Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom.

And the games of sideshow alley challenged your skills and you were rewarded with a prize without taking a glove. Most of the games involved throwing something at something. A popular game was throwing tennis balls at a group of stacked tin cans. Throwers stood at a line at the front of the tent and tossed the balls the length of the tent; and there was always a tin can left standing.

clown-game

image source:brisbanetimes.com.au

Another popular game was pushing ping pong balls down a clowns mouth when the head was moving from side to side. The first ping pong ball was always a test ball. After putting it down the mouth you would pay attention to the numbered slot it ended up in. And then you figured out when to put the ball in the clowns mouth to get the score needed to win one of the prize’s on the top shelf. All you needed to win at the game was a knowledge of mathematical and physics concepts, courage, perfect timing, and concentration. I watched people play the clowns for a long time but never saw anybody win a prize from the top shelf. Maybe they just needed a little bit of luck. I never played any of the games in sideshow alley.

The Show was also about show bags and the Victoria police exhibit. I remember the paper showbags; they were used by companies to promote their products. There were only a couple of halls where you could buy show bags and there were a couple of kiosks scattered around the showgrounds that also sold the bags. The halls were lined with showbag stalls and once inside you navigated carefully passed the prams and pushers, laden down with showbags, to arrive at your chosen showbag stall. The contents of the bags were displayed on the stalls back wall, or spilled onto the front counter. My favorite bags were the Cherry Ripe, Lifesavers, Violet Crumble, and the Giant Licorice bag.

showbags

image source:pinterest.org

Each year I just looked at the Rosella and Coles bags but never bought them; there were never enough lollies in them. There were over fifty show bags to tempt a young boy, and they were just a couple of shillings each. But time marches on; there are now three hundred plus plastic bags filled with assorted treats and the cost is upwards of twenty five dollars. Licensed bags fill the showgrounds; Barbie, Disney’s Frozen, Looney Tunes, Breaking Bad, and Captain America show bags now persuade today’s show goes; and the Australian Food Awards Deli bag contains cheese, olives, and baked pita. Where are the lollies.

The Victoria Police Exhibition was the magnet that pulled you away from sideshow alley. The small exhibit shed was crammed with police memorabilia, archives, and collectibles. I would squint at the faded sepia colored police mug shots and become the police photographer at the scene; examine the forensic evidence collected by the specialist crime squads and mature into a D24 detective; stare at large grainy black and white photos of Melbourne’s notorious crime scenes and be the fearless photographer capturing the images of the blood stained carpet and crumbled bodies. And I stared wide eyed and in awe at the newest technologies for fingerprinting, photographing, and communication. For a short time I was Plain Clothes Constable Smith.

fairyfloss

image source:funfoodhire.com.au

The air at the show was an exotic blend of animals, fairy floss, meat pies and tomato sauce. I never heeded mum’s guidance to go and find the country ladies food hall to get something to eat. The ladies food hall was the Country Women’s Association hall and the ladies sold home cooked meals. The dinners were meat with roast pumpkin, scalloped potatoes and peas, rissoles, or silverside with mashed potato. Ham, egg, and salad sandwiches were also popular And desert was a slice of pavlova, or fruit jelly. I happily snacked on meat pies, cups of hot chips, jam doughnuts, and fairy floss.

Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom.
As the years passed I lost interest in the show bags and the intrigue and mysteries of the Police Exhibition were replaced by staying home and watching the Australian television police dramas Homicide, Division 4 and Matlock Police.
Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom.
And each year the sideshow alley tents became fewer and fewer.
Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom.
Years later as a young adult I visited the Royal Melbourne Show and I went to the country ladies food hall for scones with jam and cream, and a cup of tea.
Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom.

The Royal Melbourne Show was a September tradition along with the School Holidays; and there was a Show Day public holiday. And it’s still a tradition for some Show visitors to stop at the country ladies food hall for scones with jam & cream, and a cup of tea.

The 2017 Royal Melbourne Show will run from Saturday 23 September through Tuesday 3 October.

 

Royal Melbourne Show

The Country Women’s Association of Victoria

Five Minutes of History: Jimmy Sharman

Always Start The Day With A Dry Hanky

Sometimes when I’m rounding the last turn of the second floor of Westroads Mall after walking five times around the perimeter I get this urge to make a pit stop. Most of the time I’m rounding this final turn around 9:30 am; the inside main lights are flickering on in some shops and managers with coffee in one hand are bending down unlocking the rolling grilles to let themselves into other shops. It’s as if the shops are stretching and waking from a deep sleep; there is still some time before they open. I have two public rest rooms to choose from. One is close to my final turn; you get to it from a walkway that connects the two long perimeter hallways and the other is at the opposite end of the mall tucked into the back of the Flagship Commons.

john-mall

image source:johnmcadam

One of the mall anchor department shops opens early on two mornings of the week. If the stars align and the shop is open I saunter through the men’s section on the way to the rest room. The other morning I was stopped in my tracks. I was in the men’s ties, suspenders and socks area and there in front of me was a circular three tiered shelf display with a sign trumpeting pocket squares. I walked curiously up to the three tiered display and saw a collection of what looked like folded small handkerchiefs. I was baffled. Back when, I would have gone straight home and asked mum what are pocket squares. If anything was made of fabric mum knew what it was. Before she married dad, mum worked as a seamstress. She continued to practice her sewing skills by making everything from shirts to trousers for my brother and I and she gave any of our clothes a second life by seamlessly patching tears and turning collars. I rummaged around, turning over the small handkerchiefs, trying to work out what they were. And then I uncovered several boxes labeled men’s handkerchiefs; three 100% cotton handkerchiefs per box. I hadn’t seen a box of men’s handkerchief in so long.

hankies

image source:johnmcadam

I reached for my smart phone and Googled pocket square. I scanned the small screen, swiping and pinching, and deduced that the pocket square was once a handkerchief. It seems that in the 19th century when two piece suits became the must have fashion statement, well dressed men didn’t want their pristine handkerchiefs rubbing shoulders with the dirty coins in their trouser pocket so they started keeping their handkerchiefs out of harms way in their top left coat pocket. And it didn’t stop there; the introduction of different folding techniques, exotic fabrics and engaging designs, made the public display of handkerchiefs tremendously popular. They became a leading fashion accent.

pocket-squares

image source:rotana.net

When I was growing up you kept your handkerchief in your trouser pocket. And we never called them handkerchiefs; we knew them as snot rags. Girls had hankies. We would only call them hankies when we asked mum for a clean snot rag. Mum would always be telling us; use your hanky to wipe your nose, not the back of your hand. In those bygone times there was quite a few nose blowing techniques. And most have persisted through to the present. I remember blowing snot rockets by blocking one nostril and blowing mucus forcefully out the other. You would always step up for the snot rocket challenge; lining up with a few of your mates to see who could blow the further most snot rocket. I didn’t know it at the time but I was experimenting with the physical variables for acceleration along an arc; lowering my head to change the angle, or raising my head to vary the height of the snot rocket arc to gain maximum distance. At the same time as varying the arc trajectory I would vary the blowing force used to release the snot.

snot-rocket

image source:appalachiantrials.com

And sometimes you would cut short the nose blowing process by hocking a lugie. There was a skill and creativity in coughing up into your mouth a wad of phlegm, and then spitting the clump of gelatinous mucus out without dribbling any of it onto your chin. I soon learned that the best way to hock a lugie was to use several short controlled breaths instead of coughing; this caused the phlegm to collect as a loose ball in the throat. The last step of a good hock was to let the loose phlegm slide down your throat a little so it would gel together; and then you would give it one last breath to push the chunky chunk into your mouth. A similar challenge to the snot rocket challenge was who could spit the wad of phlegm the greatest distance.

phlegm-throat

image source:medicaldaily.com

I always wondered why snot rags were white. If you never took the phlegm challenge you ended up with with a thick viscous yellow, brown, greenish wad of expelled custard in your snot rag. There was no way to easily fold a snot rag over phlegm before you put it back into your pocket; you just kept folding until the phlegm was covered. The next time you reached for your snot rag it came out of your pocket as a hard encrusted lump because the thick viscous wad of custard had dried and glued the folded over snot rag into a solid laminate. Sometimes it took a little dexterity to get the glued layers of cotton apart; you always made sure when you were folding the cloth over the phlegm that you left an edge to grab later so that you could easily peel a layer of the snot rag off the dried yellow crusty mucus. And so I wondered why snot rags were white because you always ended up with a blotched yellow, green, or brown crusty stained snot rag. A paisley pattern or a yellow green Fraser Clan tartan would have seemed more suitable.

phlegm

image source:en.wikipedia.org

Sometimes mum would ask for our hanky. And we knew what was coming; our wincing and grimacing would not forestall the inevitable. As soon as we hesitantly handed her our snot rag she would twist and fold it and then lick or spit onto it so it became a cleaning cloth. Mum would then use the damp part of the snot rag to scrub some mark, that only she could see, from somewhere off of our face; or some dried food from the corner of our mouth. It must have been the acidity of mum’s spittle that dissolved the dried phlegm and snot and gave the snot rag those amazing abrasive cleaning powers. And I wondered if mum ever had an after taste after she licked our snot rags.

I don’t remember how many snot rags I went through each week; I know that I didn’t get a clean one every day. So with three males in the family there was probably twelve plus snot rags a week that needed to be washed. I don’t know what mum’s snot rag washing process was; if she separated them for soaking in her wash troughs or mixed them with the other clothes. My guess is she soaked the snot rags with the undies. She would have used the soaking water to water her orchids. Neighbors and friends said that mum had a green thumb when it came to orchids; they all admired her garden of orchids in the backyard. Maybe mum knew that the snot rag and undies soaking water was a balanced fertilizer and also had all the necessary trace elements for orchid nourishment.

orchid

image source:abc.net.au

Our snot rag was a cloth of all trades. Whenever a pick up game of cops and robber or cowboys and indians happened the snot rags for the robbers and indians were folded into a triangle, positioned under the nose, and tied with a knot at the back of the neck. The cops and cowboys would wear the snot rag with the triangle at the back of the neck and the knot tied under the chin. Snot rags were also used to signal the start of an impromptu bike race or a game. In the 1959 Ben Hur movie staring Charlton Heston, our very own Frank Thring who plays Pontius Pilate drops his hanky to signal the start of the famous chariot race. A cut, abrasion, or bruise suffered during a game of footie or British Bulldog would cause a snot rag to be fashioned into a makeshift bandage; to be proudly worn as a badge of honor. It was also great for keeping precious treasures safe. You always wrapped your snot rag around your pocket money and then knotted it to keep your coins safe. And if you ever found anything small and alive and injured, you picked it up, and gently put it into a temporary cocoon fashioned from your snot rag. Snot rags were a great place to keep the green caterpillars picked from gum trees; after getting home and filling a shoe box with gum tree branches the caterpillars were unpacked from your snot rag and gently placed into their new home.

caterpillar

image source:museumvictoria.com.au

Sadly the disposable paper alternative to a cotton snot rag, together with modern advertising, has caused the downfall of the hanky; today it is only known as a breeding ground for filth and disease. With so much history it deserves a comeback; so it’s time to take the hanky challenge. Now I’m not suggesting that you become an ardent hanky wielding fanatic all at once; take baby steps into the world of snot rags.

Check out the movie The Yellow Handkerchief.
Tie a hanky to your car antenna.
Use a hanky next time you fly to cover your eyes when you want to nap.
Try a magic trick using a hanky.
Wave a hanky to get someone’s attention.
Test out blowing your nose into a hanky at home to see if you like it.
Next time at a restaurant use the word handkerchief in a sentence.

 

The Fabulous History of the Humble Handkerchief

9 Ways to Fold a Pocket Square

How to Blow Your Nose