Being Cruel To be Kind

When I was dentist we were always hearing that old saw about having to be cruel to be kind. Mostly it came from people who were doing it for no other reason than to be cruel and get paid. You can be pretty darn cruel with an old saw…

It was the worst part of the task…because, unfortunately, anaesthetics do not always work as we would have them. And surgical operations do not necessarily go well. There was a little cruelty evey week and some weeks it was every day.

I tended to grit my teeth and get on with it…praying that the patient would not grit theirs while I had fingers in there. I was only ever bit once and it was deliberate. I was not offended by the smartaleck, nor did I take any revenge – I just added it onto the bill.

Thankfully, I never had to give someone a fatal diagnosis – nothing further than having teeth out. And by the time they came to see me they generally knew that was on the cards. The full clearances tapered off somewhat in the last decade of practice as fluoridated water and increased public awareness meant that people took more care of themselves.

Now that I am safely out of the dental profession – and out of the sales profession as well – I can go back to the cruelty/kindness duopoly and just choose which one I fancy day by day. Sometimes you help people back onto their bike after you push them over. Unless it’s a really nice bike, and then you just ride away on it.

Am I A Clubman? – Part Five

The last question that you need to ask yourself is the first question you should ask. If you don’t know the answer you can call a friend. If you haven’t got any friends, you have your answer already.

Some people are born clubmen or clubwomen. They are loud, make friends easily, are unruffled, take hearty exercise, eat breakfast, produce bowel movements every day ( frequently at the same time…), and are kind to animals. They can stand for office, scrutiny, the flag, or any other thing that the club needs. They are extroverts. indefatigable, ineffable, and impossible to have anything to do with. You’re soaking in one now…

Other folks are born to be recluses – hermits – loners – individuals  – eccentrics – etc. They are generally distinguishable by the simplest senses – silent to the hearing, invisible to the eye, clammy to the touch, and slightly odorous. No-one has as yet tasted one, and no-one is about to start…

And there’s a lot of people in between. Most of us have aspects of each of these types within if we would only see and admit to them. And most of us can choose a club or organisation to suit our real personality. It might not be a fashionable or distinguished society we move in, but if we find genuine correspondence in a group – that is the one we should join. Here’s a few checkpoints for you when trying to match yourself to others:

a. DO I ENJOY LOUD NOISE? If yes, take up shooting. If no, take up reading. Read about shooting if need be.

b. Do I enjoy working with my hands? If yes, carpentry, model making, and any number of crafting clubs are ready for you. If no, run out on a field and hit a ball somewhere with something.

c. Do I enjoy thinking? Yes? Literary and intellectual clubs, political parties, business clubs call. No? Singing and drinking, eating and dancing are for you, and there are people who will help you do it.

d. Am I artistic? Yes? Go to the art store, spend a week’s wage, take the resultant small paper bag to an art society, and ask for help. No? Gardening’s for you – Nature will make what you cannot, and you can eat some of it.

e. Am I an opinionated smart-arse who wants to best everyone in argument? Yes? Become a member of a debating team or get your own secret identity as a troll on internet forums. No? Have you thought of joining a religious order? Or the Asian version…a religious suggestion?

f. Do I love sports? If the answer is yes, join a sports club. If the answer is no, get a competent surgeon to tear your cruciate ligament for you. The cost of the year’s membership to the sporting club or the operation will be about the same and the hospital is quieter than the club rooms.

It’s Art If I Say It Is

You need not go to the State Art Gallery to get your fill of interesting sights – if you go to car shows they are laid out for you all over the floor.

Art? I don’t mean the tattooist’s stand or the airbrush stand or the tin sign stand. I mean the actual devices that the enthusiasts have made throughout the year and brought for exhibition. The 3-D actual hardware that has more to it than just function.

Two cases in point are the Sailor Jerry truck and the bike rods at the 2017 NSW Hot Rod Show. Plenty on plenty of the classic rods and customs there, and the occasional little gem just parked quietly.

Why are these art? Because they are something that some did to please themselves – things that need not be the way they are but for the inner expression that they provide. Practical? Not really – but deeply pleasing to all who see them

a. The rod bikes. I’m sure you can ride them, and I’m sure you don’t want to. The angles, curves, mechanisms.and finish are all so different from the average run of treadlie that they have gone from being transports of people to transports of joy.

I have no idea how long they took to make, but I’ll bet they took a fair length of time to think up.




b. The Sailor Jerry truck. Now this is purely a commercial enterprise, and a striking one at that, but someone in the agency was clever enough to link the distressed paint scheme rod to the spiced rum and the whole thing just swings. Presumably the advertising truck has been carefully treated so that it does not actually hole out or fall apart before they get all the rum sold.


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Well, that’s what they are.

I see ’em at all the hot rod events I go to. I have no understanding of them at all, but I respond to them as works of art. Sometimes the owners are works of art as well, but I’m not sure they want to be stared at.

As works of art they are infinitely more useful than public sculptures or abstract paintings – they can at least be ridden in some fashion. I have a private suspicion that many of the builders do not ride them, however, but reserve an old 250cc farm bike in the back of the carport for their normal jaunts. But what the heck, artists are artists and you have to expect anything…

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Grim , Grey, and Grimy


Merrie Englande. The Old Dart. Blighty. The Old Country. Mother England. Pommieland.


If you have gotten to thinking that England is all meadows and Cornish beaches and GWR railway autocrat gliding through the fields…we present the other view. Courtesy of the WA Model Railway Exhibition. The Lord Street Depot.


I can only guess at the location but the time period seems to be the late 50’s to early 60’s. The British Railways logo on the side of the locos gives that away, plus the lorries and vans fit the era. The grime is timeless. I cannot say whether the real English rails scene was as dark as this but I am willing to take the word of the layout builders.


I think it is O scale, and this means the vehicles are 1:43 or 1:48. I admire the good sense of the builders in making sure they are lined and weathered to fit in with the theme. In particular the use of the thin black wash on the beige sedan (Morris? Austin? ) makes it real.


Like a lot of British-themed layouts this one is a shunt back and forth yard with the occasional making up of trains and an arrival or departure to punctuate the day. Very much life as it was seen by the people who lived and worked in these areas – if they were not working on the trains and travelling to other places they did not envisage those other places. I know it is somewhat of a old saw to say that the European’s world was bounded by the walls of his town or his fields for a millennium but at least that makes the modelling of a railway scene a little easier and cheaper for them than the North American layout that tries to do a point-to-point over an entire basement.


This layout had an amazing feature. I’m still not sure if what I saw was what I saw, but I think that the little red lorry shown in this photo was entirely free of any under-ground control. It traversed the length of the layout – up and down the roadway, and seemed free to steer from side to side. When it reached the loading dock at the bottom of the hill it stopped, reversed into the dock, and then eventually ground its way back up the hill into the Lord Street Depot yard. I think one chap was operating it with a 4 channel radio controller like they use for model aircraft, and I’ll bet the motor that drove it was one of the servo motors from an aero set broken out of its casing. The action of the little lorry was absolutely realistic and I found it to be the most attractive part of the scene. Full marks!


Full marks to the designers of the large Lord Street Depot building as well – they incorporated just enough interior detail and bluish lighting to give the impression of a working building. Too many modellers fail to do this, even when the openings are small and the effort to detail the interior would be small. For my 1:18 scale automotive world dioramas I cannot afford to have bare interiors – they would give me away in a second. I do admit to deciding to leave some internal rooms unfurnished if they will never be seen from the outside, but showrooms and offices that open to a window must have some furnishings.


One thing I do hope – that the operators of Lord Street Depot can occasionally be treated to a fresh passenger carriage in Blood and Custard passing through to liven up their day. Rust and grime can dull the soul.





The Boulevard Of Bad Ideas


We all remember James Dean on a rainy New York street in an iconic photo entitled ” Boulevard Of Broken Dreams ” don’t we? It was as bleak and sad and phoney as the man himself. Whoever printed out the poster must have made a fracking fortune on it by now…

The reason I mention it is that here in Perth we have our version of this, except it is known as the ” Boulevard Of Bad Ideas “, and we get to go down it a couple of times every year. Indeed, afficionados with a list of council collections can walk the boulevard all year.

Mostly it is not a walk – it is a drive. A drive in a beat-up Bongo van with a 4 x 4 trailer on the back. Because bad ideas can never be ignored. People long to share and repeat them.

What bad ideas? Exercise machines. Fondue sets. Plastic bookshelves. Beige computer boxes from the 1990’s. Dead ironing boards*. Dismantled bicycles. Wickerwork chairs. Beanbags. Remains of plastic food storage sets. All the detritus of consumerism that has not actually be needed, used, or treasured.

The semi-annual council throw-out attracts a street of these relics and that in turn attracts a travelling horde of relic collectors who remove it before the council truck comes round. I have yet to understand what the scavengers do with unwanted exercise machines and broken breadboxes. I don’t begrudge them the removal – I just cannot imagine what they do with the dreck once they get it home. Is there a suburb of modern-day clochards who furnish themselves with the pipe-rail bookshelves and the single galoshes?


I try to divest myself of whatever I am ashamed of having bought on a once-a-year basis. As I am not buying all that much of this stuff anymore, the stream of trash has dwindled to a trickle. Our house is probably regarded as barren ground. I must either start to throw out more or steal it from the neighbours and park it in front of our place after dark. The scavengers are starting to sneer at me. I have a poor reputation to uphold.

  • I have ironing boards from the 1970’s. They function well. How do you kill an ironing board, save in a fit of rage?


The Quiet Chopper



I’m going to keep a promise to a chap I met this last Sunday at the Vintage Retro Markets. It was one of the nicest of these events I’d been to for ages and I found myself open to new sensations.




These bikes are one of them. The chap asked me to send them along to their Facebook, and I’ll try to do that as well, but here they are for the world to see as well.



Well, who’da think it. Chopper bicycles. As a chap raised on Schwinn and Raleigh and subject to daily doses of the Jefs on the road in the lycra shorts and expensive sunglasses, these come as a revelation. They actually look like fun – not just hard work.



Oh, there is hard work there all right. I don’t think these come out of cardboard boxes looking the way they do – I suspect there is a lot of design and engineering and then a lot of cutting, welding, grinding, re-welding, and swearing goes into these bikes. The builders have decided not to be governed by the latest in euro trends – any more than the hot rod builders are.



Hard work pedalling them too, I daresay. I don’t know, but I suspect that the geomertry that places the rider down low will change he way the muscles have to work to give the thing a go. My daughter has a lay-down bicycle that I get to try when I have been good and done my chores and promise not to bend it…and it is a strange sensation to be pushing forward rather than down. I’m also not too sure about the ape hangers as steering, but then I was never sure of them on the motorcycles. The reinforced silver bars look to be a good compromise.



I am also a little puzzled at the tandem with the dual frame, three wheels, and two cranks. One assumes that the senior commander is up the front steering but how does he keep the rear compartment pedalling and not coasting?


Never mind – I do have a favourite – the burgundy bike with the light coloured tyres. No idea who built it or how much it cost but it is a stylish beauty. Never mind the Mexican Chevrolets – this one is a REAL lowrider.