A Little Time In The Garden

Those of you who know my habits know that what little time I spend in the garden is generally confined to replacing sprinkler fittings or burying dead pets. For the most part I leave the vegetation alone and try to ensure that it does not attack me.

Yet, with the coming of spring and the hardy recurrence of the vegetable pirates I can take some advantage of them by testing out camera lenses on them. There is no subtlety in this – colourful flowers are a sure-fire drawcard for any website. All you really need to do is get them mostly in focus in clear sunshine. And try not to kneel in an ant nest as you are doing it.

If you are quiet and observant you get to see the workings of the suburban zoo – the tiny insects attacking and devouring each other, and the silent passage of the standard skink. I have yet to see the gecko that hatched inside the house but am still hopeful. And I do have a spot of affection for a wooly bear caterpillar I saw at work on the weeds that grow between the patio bricks. I left him eating one and discovered at the end of the afternoon that he had ingested his way down the whole walkway.

If we were real gardeners we would probably have enough wildlife in the back yard to attract David Attenborough. Perhaps we should plant bananas and hope for gorillas.

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You Look Pretty When You Smile

But smiling doesn’t get you through the morning traffic on the Mitchell freeway, does it? Not even when you are driving a large silver car with LED lights gleaming at the front.

Mind you, snarling doesn’t seem to do it either – even if those LED lights are arranged in the form of a boar’s tusks or a glaring demon’s eyebrows, that righthand lane is still not going to magically clear for you. You could try a bout of horn-blowing or smashing your hands on the steering wheel to see if that helps.

I have sympathy for you. You’ve done all you could to let the foolish person in the large silver car ahead of you ( the one with the LED lights and the snarling driver ) know that a very important person is behind them. Goodness, if they had bothered to see you flashing your lights or driving half a metre behind them they should have taken the hint. I mean, it’s not like you are driving a poor person’s car, is it?

Look, would it help if I waved? I could put my book down and wave to you…or to the person in front of you…at least as long as the train keeps pace with your car. I’ve got both hands free. Actually everything about the train is free – I have a seniors card and it doesn’t cost a cent to ride all…Oops. Sorry, the train just pulled away from you and you’re disappearing back down into the line of cars.

Have you ever considered working from home? You could still have the big silver car to go to the Supa -Valu.

The Radiant Personality On The Radio

Saw a radiant person on a speaking stage a few months ago and was most impressed at her ability to pull a polished performance out of a hat. On in a flash, fun and laughter, several good stories and a mild sort of plugging for her radio show, and off again. The audience had obviously tuned in to her for years as an early television presenter, so she capitalised upon this for several anecdotes. She even got a plug in for the current radio station she works at…and then was off and running to that gig.

I know another person, a model, dancer, and general intellectual who also sits at a radio microphone a number of times a week and also manages to make the thing bop along in a very amusing style. She’s a find for the local station that employs her as it also has a great deal of artistry and intellect involved in its programming. These presenters are a  blessed relief on the air – they don’t shoot low and they don’t assume we’re riding Shetlands.

Neither of these ladies is rude nor crude. They lift the spirit. They might spend their holidays throwing rocks at trains but they do not let it show at all in their professional presentation – that is as clean and friendly as a whistle.

 

Another Bluebird Of Happiness

Only this one wasn’t made by Datsun. This is a Morris Minor of 1953…65 years later. Lets face it, Folks…none of us reading this looked as good when we were 65, whether we were bright blue or not.

I’ve commented before in this column that it is surprisingly to see many of the cars that we were familiar with in the 50’s and 60’s here in Australia taken up in the hot rod or custom scene. Oh yes, there are Ford Customlines and Holden Fj’s and such, but the percentage of Dodge or Chrysler is low and the percentage of British or French cars that also get taken into the fold are even fewer. Least considered are the Japanese imports of the time. Hot rodding can be surprisingly blinkered.

This makes a car that is as well turned out as this Morris Minor a real pleasure to see. It is of a size that can lend itself to some of the smaller modern engines – my brother-in-law built a MM ute with a Nissan engine and he was the fastest old man in Mandurah for a while. But every project eventually gets finished and his MM finally was…and then interest was lost…

Well, thankfully the man who made this blue beauty carried it through to a magnificent conclusion. I envy him not only the finish but the practicality of it. That was meant to be a small commercial hauler and it still is – albeit a faster one, with better seats. Given the modern tyres as well as engine and suspension parts, this would be a magnificent wanderers van for Western Australian summers.

Winters, however, in cars of this vintage can be a damp and misty experience. Ask anyone who has travelled in Perth in rain with a tea towel to wipe the steam off the inside of the windscreen  and listen to the historic language. The 60’s saw a complete industry of add-on demisters and heaters and none of them worked a damn. Eventually you just wound down the side windows and froze or swam your way to your destination.

The New Ride

Travis Corich, the genius at Pinhead Kustoms, has a new ride.

He confessed that he always has several in the stocks – we saw his other ute last year and now there is a new one to see. I belive it is a 1938 Chevy half ton pickup with additional strakes added to the roof of the cab. If I’m wrong Travis can write in and correct me.

As you can see it is still not carrying a front WA license so there may be more to be done – or perhaps it was just taken off for the show. As you can tell, however, the finish is the thing and as Travis is engaged in striping and painting for others, his vehicles act as rolling signboards.

The interior is well in keeping with the mild customizing of the exterior – no gaudy space-age decor. I do not see a radio or MP4 player – perhaps Travis does what I do when I drive – hums and whistles along to himself.

Serious Thoughts Upon The Death Of A Business

I have been a customer of one particular business here in Perth since the day after I arrived in Australia in 1964. When we flew in we were taxied from the airport to a hotel and deposited to slough off our jet lag. As the parents sat there comatose trying to focus upon a pay television with the Tokyo Olympic Games on it, I lit out for a hobby shop.

I had seen it as we came past on the way to the hotel. As a kid I had a sure instinct for hobby shops and could spot them in any town we visited. It was a matter of some relief to find that the wilds of Perth were not so primitive that they could not afford one.

No kid assesses distance accurately – what I thought was four blocks turned out to be twenty-three, but I kept on walking. I was rewarded eventually with a house turned shop, several crammed rooms of kits, trains, planes, and toys, and a pleasant owner. I returned in the following weeks and bought a number of items, and took them off to our house in the hills. Later forays to Perth never actually got back to that location, but I discovered the four or five other hobby shops in the centre of the town that were accessible by railway.

Crikey – that’s over 50 years ago. The other shops have packed it in long ago – some to move to the suburbs and some to disappear forever. The original shop I visited moved to a railway suburb and kept there for 50 years…but I suspect it is now moribund. The location is perfect for them but their sales stock is depleted and their reputation dwindling away. They have been forced to become a tiny portion of their previous size and are fragmented.

Yet…They have a name that everyone remembers. Were they to relocate, restock, and promote themselves, I still think they could recover. Were they to combine with one of the other shops the whole town might benefit.

As for myself, however, I have a new shop a mile from my door on an easy road – with free parking out the front. I am a constant customer. Sentiment is one thing but practical life – even when it is a hobby – is another.

I suspect this might be the case for any number of other businesses in all forms of trade. People are spread out more in the Metro area – they are doomed to travel far longer distances to get the things they need from the disparate suppliers. Some have taken to the internet as a solution…but it isn’t. Others have just realised that a 30-mile round trip for a bottle of paint is just not practical.

Old Time Radio

Do not laugh at Old Time Radio. Or Old Time Wireless if you insist on being British. One day you will be listening to it – if you are fortunate. The songs of your youth will buoy your spirits as they depress those of the other people around you. You can increase the irritation that the hit parade of 1959 will cause by singing along to the songs. And you need not be singing the lyrics of the music that is being played at the time…

We have a senior’s radio station here in Perth that broadcasts from a local studio. I keep my radios tuned to it for several reasons:

a. The irritation it causes as noted above. I can cause eye-rolls at 500 yards with my rendition of a Tina Turner song. 1000 yards if it’s ” Nutbush City Limits ” and the wind is right.

b. The advertisements are a hoot – dental implants, soft food sources, and retirement homes are the current favourites. All three of these advertisers are selling extremely expensive products so I suspect that they regard their target audience as suckers. This is a foolish assumption – old folks are likely to be tight-fisted. We may not be able to grip your hand strongly but wait’ll you see what we can do when we’re holding a dollar bill…

c. The music has melody and rhythm. Few of the songs celebrate killing police. We are not asked to hear about bitches, hoes, or people of African-American ethnic origin referred to in disparaging historic terms. In the case of most of the local audience, the N word is North Melbourne…Yo Ho is a sailor’s cry….

d. We can remember the songs and the lyrics of 50 years ago…inasmuch as we remember anything at all. Remembering where we left the car keys or what we had for dinner is another matter and some of us have come to the conclusion that there are things that man was never meant to know.

e. There is an episode of a melodramatic radio serial played daily. This generally has a trite hero, dastardly villains, and enough dated sexist and racist references to drive a millenial mad. It is one of the most endearing things about it.

They could dominate the airwaves by replaying old quiz shows, radio programs from the 30’s and 40’s, and bluegrass shows.

f. None of the names of the bands and singers are embarrassing to hear. No-one is called ” The Regurgitated Lunch ”  or ” The Infected Scar “.

g. Most of the music selections finish in under 5 minutes.  The back announcement go on for so long we can go to the toilet between songs. A valuable thing in cold weather.

h. No-one is very political, with the exception of the fake news that comes on every two hours from the volunteers of the leftist university media courses. And they are so blatant as to remove all power to enrage…It’s sad to hear professors trying it on for next year’s budget.

i. Between 11:00 PM and 6:00 AM we get an automated cartridge playout that can fill insomniac hours.

j. The public service announcements are comfortingly amateur. We can go to bingo, morning teas, or afternoon dances. We can go to CWA talks. We can go to the Sally Ann shop for old clothes. It might be small stuff but a lot of us are small people.