The Lease Is Up

I note that there are a number of premises for lease in…

Everywhere.

Just back from a trip to Melbourne and Sydney and the number of ” for lease ” signs that line the streets are staggering. Not so much on the main city streets – though there are plenty of empty premises in the arcades and back ways. It’s the secondary suburbs that are really quite surprising…even Brunswick Street in Fitzroy – my favourite crap shop and dodgy restaurant district – is thinning out and looking for tenants.

Our own city suburbs have long stretches of highway that are all going begging. But the interesting thing is I bet they are not willing to beg. I suspect the landlords are still trying for every price increase and every winning extra charge that they can get. The fact that they cannot get them hasn’t quite registered.

I even see the foolishness of our local large shopping centre -a place that has a lack of parking space most of the time – ripping up the carpark for more stand-alone businesses at a time when other shops and spaces in their main building are hoarded over.

I am not sure whether it is the lease or the jig that is up…

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The Sordid Joy Of Charity

When is charity not charity? When it is extorted in consequence of threats. Then it becomes demanding money with menaces. A police matter…

In this unsavoury category I include nearly all professional fund-raising ventures that bombard the householder demanding money for unspecified people with sufferings that can only be assuaged through the accountant. They are but one stage cleaner than the ragged beggar that bails you up in the street or the thuggish hoodie who tries it on in the shopping centre car park.

Occasionally the organised charities will try it on with co-religion, national identity, or consanguinity. They will play the guilt harp as loud as the strings will stretch. They will try to inveigle you to fund-raising dinners that scour your pockets and then spotlight you to make sure you give out plenty.

Some will send you valueless goods – trinkets, stamps, stickers, or cards – that purport to benefit their poor makers  – and dare you to reject them. Or they will expose a  more ambitious range of quasi-ethnic junk in shops upon the premise that there is some sort of fair trade going on. Consider whether you need the tribal mask or the Australian dollars it takes to buy it. You can buy bread and vegetables with the dollars but try taking that mask to Woolies at grocery time.

But is it all bleak? Is it all hell with heels? Perhaps not.

The Sally Ann – Salvation Army to non-Australians – has had some dodgy money practices and some dodgy administrative policies in the past, but they still save bums from the street and still help poor families. The normal Salvationist is not dipping the till. They are still worth crossing the street to put money in the tin. And remember to tip your hat.

The Unspeakable Joy Of Satiety

You’ve all seen the tee shirt that says  ” Been there, Done that. Got this tee shirt. “.

It’s funny and sad on several levels, but mightily encouraging in the end. It frees us from the need to:

a. Go back there and do it again. At least as long as the tee shirt lasts.

b. Go there and do it in the first place. If we really don’t want to travel, compete, shop, or whatever the thing is, we can pretend that it is old hat and that we’re weary of it all.

If we were honest we would wear a tee shirt that said ” Never been there. Don’t fancy going “. Then we could emblazon this slogan over all sorts of images; Paris, Disneyland, Bali, Gold Coast. The reaction on the faces of others would be much more satisfying than with the first version.

c. Envy those who do go and do things.

Again we ought to be honest inside ourselves if we really do not fancy any of it…but instead of emblazoning this contempt on our chests we could settle for a nice silkscreen print of a Messerschmitt or Bullwinkle the moose. Why shit people off over your own tastes and desires?

For myself, I try to avoid any writing on the externals of my clothing – whether that be a brand name of running shoes or the state prison farm. If people want to know where I’ve been or what I like to wear they can ask me.

 

The Utter Joy Of Cheap

Have you always believed that you deserve the best? That the best is the only thing that you should be offered? That you define yourself by the goods and services that you command? Perhaps you are right…after all, you deserve to be compensated for the constant danger in which you live.

Danger?

Yes, danger. The danger that you will perceive some flaw in your goods and services – or that you will see someone else getting more and better than you. If you must always be first, you fear second.

Well, I have passed through that myself. Perhaps I didn’t articulate the words exactly, but I had them inside me somewhere. And they stopped me from appreciating what I had and what I experienced for a long time. No more.

I’ve discovered the joy of cheap. Realistically looking at my life to come, I see it is going to be shorter than the bit already passed – though I would not welcome too short an interval. I’m now at a point where I may indeed get a lifetime of use out of something and it need not be made of cast iron and hickory wood to do it. Plastic might very well be fine. And I need not spend over the odds either – economy models of things fulfil the same functions.

Best of all, when some new product is touted or some hitherto un-needed need is trumpeted, I can frequently say ” Shoot, I got one of them already. “. I may indeed, and it might even be better than the new designer model with the red stripe on one panel and the fake carbon fibre covering.

I must be the advertiser’s nightmare.

Sauce Pot!

Keen-eyed readers who like mystery novels and television shows may wish to turn their detective powers onto the heading image and see if they can figure out what we are having for dinner.

Winter has arived in Perth with prescribed burn-offs in the bush and lowering temperatures. The crayfish salad and tiny cold delicacy on the vast white plate has given way to food that will actually fuel the boiler. As the local fast food chains have decided to eliminate taste from their products – having gotten rid of nutrition some years ago – and the pubs have finally given in to their accountants and started charging $ 75 for a piece of steak ( Saw the menu the other night – still on oxygen. ), I’ve decided to make our own dinners.

This dish is no closer to traditional Italian cuisine than the local IGA supermarket shelves. As the checkout girl has dark hair I pretend she is from Milano and that makes it all authentic. If I lived in North Perth or the City of Stirling it might actually be, but I suspect the people who make the sauces and the pasta probably came from there a hundred years ago so we’ll go with that. And none of this nouvelle cuisine serving stuff – when we get a plate of dinner we want more dinner than plate on the table. Oozing over the edge is not considered a flaw.

There will be red wine and it will be extremely cheap. Like $5 for a 2 litre cask. It’s time-expired Yalumba from the local bottle shop and if you drink it without letting it hit your taste buds it is fine. Actually it IS tasty, and the business of ” best by ” dates is a bit of a frandoogle when you are talking about basic blended goon. It is cheaper than drinking lacquer thinner or motor oil.

 

Do You Have To Take Your Own Paper Bag To A Sex Shop?

It’s been years since I visited a sex shop. The people who run our local one banned me from the premises after The Incident. I can understand their anger to a certain extent but those things should really have a warning on them if they are flammable.

As retail times have changed, and we are not allowed to get free plastic bags from our grocery stores ( Though we are allowed to pay for as many as we like…) I was wondering if this virtuous concern for the environment ( Supported by extensive memes conducted by the Facebook and Instagram Institute of Science …) extended to other retail trades. For instance:

a. Are we still allowed to take dubious goods out of the sex shop wrapped in discreet bags or are we going to be required to stride out of the place juggling whatever it is that has taken our fancy?

b. Are we going to be allowed to purchase anything that is wrapped in any sort of plastic? Are we going to have to take away rice in handfuls or yoghurt wrapped in newspaper.

c. Is petrol – that damaging and harmful chemical – going to be allowed?

d. Do we need to return old clothing to be permitted to buy new stuff? And if our clothing is not sufficiently worn-out, will we be sent home with a scolding?

e. If animals like cats and dogs are not naturally vegetarians or vegans and are harmed by trying to confine them to these human diets, will we establish a new range of animal-cruelty laws designed to ensure that Towser gets a bone or Tiddles gets some tuna? Or will we require the pet owners to turn Towser and Tiddles in to the Department of Diet for re-education. And if they prove recalcitrant  ( And I have a cat who could recalcitrant for Australia…) will they be liquidated by the state?

f. As most chemicals contain chemicals, can the practice of teaching chemistry in schools be banned. Is it not possible to go back to good old fire, air, water, and phlogistan?

In case you are afraid that people will not stan for this sort of ignorance, may I point to Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Rajastan, etc. They’ll stan for anything, apart from bacon.

g. As we are being told that we must consume less while producing more – and that our way of life depends simultaneously on cutting trade with China while buying more of their goods and selling them more of ours – is it possible that we are in the hands of economic as well as social and scientific idiots? Is this not yet another argument for replacing them with seers, wizards, and shamans?

h. Can we blame it on Trump and Scott Morrison? Okay, can we blame it on Brexit? Aw, come on, we have to blame it on someone and if you blame it on someone who is not white you are called a racist…

 

Slingshot And A Bag Of Gravel

Let’s face it. There are a whole lot of difficulties that would dissolve if we were allowed to make more use of the slingshot and the bag of gravel.

a. Traffic holdups.

Not that the SAABOG would help if there are cars t-boned at an intersection or flipped over on the side of the road. But it would sure clear up a lot of those scenes where two entitleds are yelling at each other over a fender-bender.

Not to mention the bicycle riders five abreast.

b. Ethnic dancing festivals.

I like ethnic dancing and photograph it frequently. The best stuff is terrific, but the worst stuff is also terrific – using a more precise definition of the word. It gets bad as the tempo slows and once you have reached to point of art set to modern atonal music you can be forgiven for reaching for the SAABOG. A couple of well-aimed flints can start the slowest dancer and a wise shooter will drive them toward the exits.

c. ” You kids get off my lawn! ”

Don’t yell at ’em. SAABOG. No noise, no smoke, no smell.

d. Does the local dog chase you when you walk down the street? Have you tried politely asking the neighbours to prevent this from happening? Did they laugh at you? Were you embarrassed and distressed?

SAABOG.

There’s still gonna be embarrassment and distress, but now it’ll be a shared set of emotions.

E. Same neighbours?Same attitude? Wild parties every weekend that go until 4:00AM?

SAABOG. After the midnight cutoff point when the cops refuse to come out yet again, start firing gravel up into the air in a high arc from your darkened yard. You might   be horrified at the price of howitzer ammunition these days but gravel is cheap. Treat yourself.