” Not My Lemon Slice “

The election results are in. The current Western Australian government is out, and will be replaced by a party that has not been in power for years.

We have been studying the news recently, however, so we know what to do.

a. Riot. Before they lock up all the Transperth buses we will climb aboard with our seniors cards ( free travel between 9:00AM and 3:00PM ) and seize them from the startled drivers. We will overturn them on the main street and set fire to them. One team of two pensioners per bus. Should have that one done before the daily radio serial comes on at 10:30.

b. Refuse to attend the inauguration of the new Premier. Of course, he doesn’t have a public open-air inauguration as such in the Westminster system but this should not prevent our local film and second year arts students from declaring their righteousness and refusing to attend something they are not invited to.

c. Call for the impeachment of the new Premier.

d. Find some physical aspect of the new Premier that we can belittle. His hair is probably his own and the size of his hands is likely to be average, but there must be something that can be ridiculed. Has anyone seen his feet?

e. Start a sneering campaign against his wife and family. Then berate those who join in it with us. Then do it again. Bait. Switch. Bait. Switch.

f. Dig up dirt on the new Premier’s ministerial appointments. Or make up dirt. Or just wait until they go off the rails themselves and take it from there.

g. Make noises about emigrating to South Australia or the Northern Territory while attending hip lunches and swish parties.

h. Demand a safe space to prevent micro aggressions and cultural appropriation. I am going to demand one at the local hobby shop and pub. If they can pipe model airplane glue into the saloon bar I may never leave.

i. Ring up Oliver Stone, Michael Moore, and John Pilger and see if they are interested in doing a scathing documentary on whoever becomes Premier, if he doesn’t pay up.

j. Complain bitterly to anyone who cannot get out of earshot fast enough that the Premier is a man and therefore is not a woman. Demand compensation, reparations, an apology, a special day, and a fleet of white Toyota’s for the fact-finding co-operative.

k. Flood the social media with a putative campaign for the wife of the deposed Premier to be elected in his place in 3 year’s time.

We’re no fools. We understand elections. We know our chance when we see it. When the situation demands it we can be as revolting as the next state.

 

Denmark – More Than Just Scandanavia

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It is a funny thing about new worlds – they so frequently contain bits of the old ones – and no more so than in place names on new maps. We all know of Windsor in Ontario, Moscow in Idaho, and Paris in Kentucky. That’s the dry Paris, I mean…But did you know there is a Denmark in Western Australia as well as the one stuck between Germany and Sweden?

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It’s down on the south coast of the state and is home to timber working, farms, and hippies. The last named is a phenomenon of the 70’s and eighties when rival gangs of new age types were fighting it out in a fierce Karma battle for control of the port city’s mandala and dream catcher market. After the St. Vishnu ‘s Day Massacre – oh the humanity – groups moved on to Denmark to open retreats, coffee houses, and pottery workshops. By now the place is knee-deep in badly-thrown pots.

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Before this there was timber and rural produce and that is what this small station dealt in. The era depicted is the late 50’s though there would have been steam working into the 1960’s – I remember it at East Perth Loco Depot here in the city as late as 1968. I think the builders of this layout have been pretty careful to give an accurate picture of the small nature of Denmark, though there is enough space there for a loco turntable. Turning wyes would have used up too much valuable agricultural space.

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The river depicted is the Denmark River and the wooden pilings are not an anomaly here in Western Australia – they still prop up a number of road and rail bridges, even in the metro area. Yes, the river colour and texture is correct.

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It’s hard to fault the colours of the rest of the structures and rolling stock, though you’ll notice that this modelling group has elected to depict the goods in new and clean condition. The question of new, weathered, or downright grubby is one that can engage modellers endlessly – each camp able to make out a good case for their particular practice. I think that as long as they are able to maintain the same standard throughout a presentation, it is all one. The question of real-world maintenance of a model set against the ravages of airborne dust and grease is another thing – and on that will ultimately determine whether a model can be bolstered and improved over the years. I tip my hat to those who have solved it.

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Please note I also dips me lid to the presenters who have elected to keep the structures, models and scenery all in character for this layout. I see other exhibition worlds that are real until the wrong locomotive and train go trundling by… or until you notice the Letraset signage and the inappropriate vehicles on the road. I realise that it can be hard as hell to get the right toy cars and trucks for some layouts…because the manufacturers of the 1:87, 1:72, 1:48, and 1:43 die cast models are also moulding for the collector and toy market. They will make fanciful liveries and colours to get their buyers and leave the model rail buyer with something that is not right.

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Here I think the wise model rail builder can conserve their resources and buy or build only the best for their layout. Unless they are modelling the car park at Perth Airport on the day a Russian transport plane comes in, they need only have a few of the best, and have them in the places that real vehicles go. In the case of any particular layout the colours of the road vehicles are the one thing that people home in on first. That, and the signs around the general stores. People live their lives on the road and at the stores, and they have an uncanny feel for real or fake.

Final question: do the trees at Denmark look like that? Yes they do.

 

Get Outa Here! Slowly…

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Aha. I have just realised that there is a good way to overcome some of the disadvantage that pertains to car shows -the thing that I complained about in a previous column; the overcrowding of the display lines. I’m not a greedy person – I don’t want it all for myself or all to myself …but I do wish for a clean view of it. Now I think I have it.

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Normally I leave most events early. Whether it is a professional society dinner, wedding reception, or siege – it is always better not to be there at the end. I have applied this principle to car shows as well – leaving before the show winds up. Not that I would have to do any of the cleaning – I just take pictures and pixels are easy to sweep up – but I should only be in the way as people started pouring kerosene and match heads into their superchargers and tried to get the engines to turn over. Plus I am worried by robust language and I reckon some of the owners would be utilising it as they kicked the cows…

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As luck would have it, the Brockman Port To Whiteman Park Run show wound up while I was there. They gave tannoy instructions to the drivers and waved them off through the gate of the grounds onto a main street. This naturally slowed the stream as they fed into traffic, and in turn presented a nice slow cavalcade to view. Sun position was good, focusing was easy, and the only problem was the occasional intrusion of a fat arse in cargo shorts and a fluoro vest who stepped into the line of sight. There is probably always one at every car show and it might well be him every time…

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I noted a similar opportunity last year at the end of the Australia Day car show in Melbourne. There were a number of roads exiting the main park and moving down them was slow for the drivers of the veteran and vintage cars. All the better for the photographer. In the future I am going to bide my time – perhaps even go a little later in the day – and mark well the exit roads and possible vantage points. I’ll still try to get close-up detail for cars as well as lurching crowds will permit but the best clear shot will be as they drive away.

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Photographer’s note – tempting as it is to use a tripod for this, I still think a hand-held camera and a fill flash will be best. I’ll be using the pre-focus manual method with everything set as the cars approach a fixed point. It’s always a little experimental as to when to release the shutter when you are using an electronic view finder – there is a time lag in any camera. If you have set the speed, aperture, and manual focus, however, you can sight along the top of the camera housing and fire it instantly when the vehicle comes to your pre-selected point. This also works with 17 pounder anti-tank guns but it is more difficult to use them unnoticed – at least with the Fujifilm cameras you can turn the shutter noise off.

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Technical note: These images were taken using the new Fujifilm X-T10 and the 27mm f:2.8 pancake lens. What a sweetie of a combination – light and fast. Perfect for touristing it without weight or bulk. Next best will be the new 35mm f:2 when it is released in Australia.

Personal Car – The Pirate

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Don’t ask me why, but the frontal view of this Volkswagen bus of the 1960’s reminds me of a pirate. Perhaps it is the raised windscreen panel looking like an eye patch – perhaps it is the devil-may-care attitude of the thing.

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Whatever it is, the van owner is a one of a group of like-minded enthusiasts who hit the car show circuit each year. They are wise travellers as they have the sort of vehicles that can transport as well as show – they can take all the chairs, eskys, lie-lows, towels, tents and BBQ grills that they need for a club meeting without trying to crowd out the back seats. Plus they can circle the wagons and snipe at the Indians if they are attacked. Canning Vale can be dangerous like that…

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I wonder when the owner turned? I mean when they decided to stop fighting the fading and dings and just gave in to painting it over with Rustoleum and pretending that is what they intended all along…It will be a delicate timing exercise to extend the life of PATINA to the utmost before the blemishes unite to drop the body in pieces. Who knows – he may give in before that happens and respray the lot. The basic vehicle seems well worth it.

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Please take notice of a truly personal and artistic touch – the newspaper headliner. Like the wallpaper on an old Subway shop.

 

 

A Drive Amongst Strangers

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I drive to work 5 days a week by a certain route, and return by much the same. As I am not transporting gold bullion, this is a reasonable habit to be in – I know the route and general rhythm of the traffic and can get from point A to B and back with minimal fuss. It is not boring – enough variation happens in a year to keep me looking out. It has not become onerous.

But the odd thing about it is that I am daily amongst human strangers and inanimate friends. I recognise the buildings and structures along the route as old acquaintances while seeing each other road user as a mystery. I am not a building, but all my friends are.

This is the legacy of the motor car – the convenience is there, and the blessed privacy at the end of a hard day, but the sight of humans is gone. When riding the public transport at least I could see and speculate upon some of the faces.

Unfortunately the public system here in Perth is overloaded at peak hours and sometimes vital connecting links are un-rideable because of overcrowding. This is sad, because at other times the trains and buses are quite civilised. I would not even worry about the cold weather if the connection was secure.

Of course some of the other road users are familiar types, if not individuals. The Tradie in the Tray-top, the Arrogant Asian, and the High Vis Maniac are all seen on the road early in the morning – the SUV Valkyrie at school time – and the Driving Dead near the Senior Citizens Centre. I suppose the drive would be less exciting without them. Certainly the language would be calmer.

Perhaps we should re-introduce offensive bumper stickers again – some of them were vile and you really enjoyed looking out for them. Then again, if the ban on swear-words and obscene phrases on license plates was lifted we could all enjoy a good sense of moral outrage in the morning. You’re not allowed to look at Facebook while driving but you can look at other cars.

The other thing that would make the commute a lot more fun would be more police pulling over the speeding tradies, bike riders, and others as they infringed the law. I would not insist on fines – just a good beating every now and then.

The Nuptial Krautwagen

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I am a firm fan of weddings, having starred in one 43 years ago, and having drawn beer money from others ever since. I have been taking wedding photos since the 1970’s and by and large have enjoyed the sport – and I’ve seen a lot of wedding cars in that time.

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Some have been plush things hired for the occasion – others just family sedans tricked up with a fresh polish job and some white ribbons on the bonnet. Very few of them were comfortable rides for the bride going to the church or the newly-weds travelling to the reception. They were not meant to be – they were symbols of luxury and attainment in eras that had fewer motor cars – they were special just for being available.

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Well, today there are more cars than ever and every second one is large and sleek. They are still no better rides for the passengers but the rich gloss has gone from all but the most unusual of them.

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In a contrast to this trend, we have a pair of Volkswagens. They are run by different firms to different standards, but their very nature makes them more distinctive and fun. In both cases they also bid fair to be more convenient and comfortable for a bride in a large dress.

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The splittie is the older of the vehicles and is not as big inside as the double cab. You can still enter via a side door – no mean concern when you are wearing yards of white dress fabric – and there is room to fit your bridesmaids in with you. I’m a little uncertain of the effect of opening the split windscreens while travelling along between the ceremony and the reception, but at least if you are bringing baggage into the marriage you’ll have a couple of racks to carry it… And as a VW does not go all that fast,  there should be no unseemly screeching of brakes and wheelies in front of the church.

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I can’t be too specific about the double cab…It’s a newer body and may have more of an engine in it. It certainly has a big door – plus for the dress – and a bigger lot of seat space in the back for the whole wedding party. I suspect it will also be carrying wedding eskys and glasses. Not too sure whether the roof  with the pop-up camper top is a good idea as it seems to spoil the line but at least if they have a bar fight in the back it will make more room for swinging the chairs. I can see Armadale and Gosnells all over this one – but as weddings are good trade wherever they occur, I wish them well. No taking the railway grade crossing at full tilt, however.

How Wrong I Was…

 

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In the third exhibition hall of the recent WA Hot Rod and Street Machine show I spotted what I thought was a modern phenomenon – a stretched wedding limo. One of those vehicles we see speeding past us on Saturday around dusk full of a wedding party full of champagne. Piloted by a relentlessly polite and cheerful driver who will one day snap and be featured on national news being led away by a SWAT team…

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I recognised the basic car – a ’58 Chevy – and made a sort of snide internal remark that they could have done a better job of the LHS centre panels. I took a few starter pictures and then the chap minding the car opened the RHS doors and I moved around there to see what it looked like.

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Was I ever surprised to discover a cast-metal model signature on the side – ” Brookwood”. Thats the sort of touch you don’t see on many stretched limos…I wondered who came up with that…then I talked with the chap who had opened the doors.

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Chevrolet came up with that name. The limo was a factory job – used for airport transfer duties in the USA. It is apparently one of three made, and the chap believed that two of them have come to WA! He let me pop in and photograph the interior.

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Well. What a clever idea. In an era that might not have had as much air travel as now – and that reserved for the privileged…this would have been a perfect hotel to airport vehicle or the sort of thing that one terminal could have used to send people to another one. I’ve done the same myself at Sydney between international arrival and QANTAS domestic on a plain old bus.

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The seating is classic bench – long before seat belts had come off the airplane into the car – and the luggage area at the back is surprisingly small. Perhaps there was an accompanying van that hauled the ( leather) suitcases for the travellers. A roof rack would have been out of character.

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The vehicle is owned by Leo and Shelley and will be joining their fleet at Chevin Heaven Limousines. West Australians can ring them on 0448 121 234. and discuss the situation. They have a big old red ’57 that is on the road right now.

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It looks as though it is going to be a great limo again – or a utility kustom for someone who wants to transport the whole car club to a show. There is a little more work in the engine compartment but by next year it should be cruising well. And the side panel? Hey, this was a working limo – those wrinkles are character!