The Terrible Yamina

If you were looking for an internet columnist who will write mean things about people, I’m your man. I’m available 24 hours a day to bang out copy telling the world how dreadful your enemies are – no target goes unscathed. I charge reasonable prices for scandalous writing, and I have an ABN number so you can get a tax deduction.

Except today – this is the one day of the year when I write nice things about people – and today it is about Yamina, the Samba dancer.

She was kind enough yesterday to buy me a ticket to the movies during the Festival Of French Cinema and accompany me to the show. As a French teacher, she could get a lot more from the film than I, but fortunately there were very good subtitles. And as it was a show about music and dance, the soundtrack and visuals spoke for themselves.

Totally not what I thought it was going to be. The title was Le Grand Bal, and I expected opera or theatre costuming, sweeping staircases, and Offenbach. As it turned out, it was a doco on one of the festivals of folk music and dance held in the central part of France in the summer. She had been to many of these in similar circumstances and this was the connection. Apparently it was a very accurate as well as charming film.


I found it fascinating seeing people dressed as ordinary tourists but doing extraordinary things – dancing for 7 days and 8 nights while taking workshop lessons and getting 2 hours of sleep in the interim. Performing intricate art for their own enjoyment. Acting as an impromptu corps du ballet – perfectly controlled, and all to folk instruments. Amazing.

After the show another member of the audience recognised her and rushed over to find out if this sort of dancing ball would ever be held here in Perth.

Note: it is very much of advantage to have an experienced French wine-drinker looking at the wine list in a restaurant when you want something good to drink.

But Terrible? Why have I written Terrible? Easy…

I teased her that I was going to write a column with this title, so I know she is now going to read the column assiduously. I am not ashamed to get my readers by subterfuge and sneaky tricks…Of course there is nothing at all terrible about her – quite the contrary – but now she’s reading.

Mwa Ha ha ha …


The Plastic Bumper Club – Or The Personal Car Club

WA Rod Show 2014 200

I have recently been going to car shows that referred to themselves as ” Chrome Bumper ” shows. This was to limit the entries to a certain section of the history of automobiles. That was after narrowing it down further by era and time and type and nationality and degree of reworking and…and…and a great many fun things would have been excluded.

The cars that did show were fine – and presumably fitted into slots that the organisers set up. I had a good time. I got some good shots and some new weblog posts for the column. But I couldn’t help think about a different approach.

Of course this is nothing new. You can have a car show for British cars, Italian cars, VW cars, Veteran cars, etc and the very name sets out the criteria. You can ask for classic cars and the question becomes a wider one – and one that I suspect is driven by money and prestige as much as enthusiasm. You can ask for new cars. But I am thinking that you could have a great show asking for Personal Cars.

Cars that have been taken past the factory fit-out to to become something special to their owners. Driving cars, as opposed to show trailer queens. Cars from any nation and any era that have been endeared to their drivers with something extra. It might be a fully chopped, slammed, sectioned, shaved, and pink fuzzy diced ’49 Mercury. It might be a fuzzy diced Nissan S Cargo. It might be a classic Roller or a classic baby Austin with rebuilt everything. All it needs is to show the hand of man – or woman – after it rolls out of the factory and it is a Personal Car. Paint jobs count big-time. Interiors count big time. Full undercar ricer lighting counts big time. No-one gets excluded because of the bumper or rego sticker or country of origin.

Big show. Fun show. Lotsa food trucks. Shannons making a mint on insurance and the tee shirt guys throwing ’em off the racks. Pinhead striping a silver Audi TT with pink flames. The Forged girls on 15″ high heels. All kinds of a good time being had by all.

How Does An Atheist Bless You?


Well, it’s not as silly a question as you might think. If an atheist does not imagine or believe in any deity but still wants to give out some sort of non-committal promise that you will be happier because they said so…they have no mechanism in place to project it from. They can’t really promise you kindness from the government because they know what the government is like – and they can’t promise you the fealty and love of other people because the other people might know what YOU are like.

About the best they can do is assure you that they hope you are not run over by a street car. And even this is difficult to promise in Melbourne.

Atheism is a tough row to hoe. All the work of being moral and no relaxation afterwards by killing your enemies in the name of superstition. You might get a chance to kill them in the name of economics or theory or a coloured rectangle of cloth on a pole, but like as not someone will write a book about it 50 years later and try to make you look bad.  It almost takes the fun out of explosions.

The other tough part is there are no feast days for atheism. And feasts involve food and drink. Oh, you can go to the local hotel and order a counter lunch and a couple of pints on Tom Paine’s birthday but no-one puts up a tree or makes presents or takes you into the broom closet for a cuddle because of it. ” Joyeaux No ” as a song has never made it to the charts.

Worst of all is there is no money to be made out of atheism. No cards, no gifts, no food, no booze, no sleigh rides in cold climates or slay rides in hot ones. No-one ever gives money to the No Salvation Needed Army. Even when their lassies are not blowing trombones and tambourines outside the pub.

I tell you, it’s enough to shake your faithlessness…



Personal Car – The Pirate

Oakover Winery 2015 165

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.

Oakover Winery 2015 167

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…

Oakover Winery 2015 166

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.

Oakover Winery 2015 168

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



The Nuptial Krautwagen


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

A Law-Abiding Public Nuisance


I have been casting about for a plan for next year – I turn 67 and I am starting to suspect that I should retire after April before I explode with rage at work. We have been undergoing a year of computer transition that has proved to be ….problematical…and prospects of it becoming better are dim. Oh,I do have more skill with it than at first, but there are always new complexities that arise and eventually I am going to be overwhelmed by the sheer nonsense.

Before that I may succumb to the behaviour of the clients. I do not cope that well any more with the greedy, rude, and entitled, and I fear that I am going to contravene the conventions of retail trade one day in a big way.

Once this happens, and I have been dismissed, and they have applied the burns ointment  and psychiatric treatment to the customer who finally did it…I will be looking for a reason to get up every morning and to stay out of jail. I think I will take up the position of law-abiding public nuisance.

I shall drive at 59 KPH in the 60 zone. I shall keep to the left on escalators. I shall queue at the Vietnamese bakery for the vanilla slices and not push in – and more to the point; I shall not allow anyone else to do so either. I shall slow down behind cyclists but if they cross the road against the lights or veer over to the wrong side of the road I shall pursue them with invective. I will deface real-estate agent’s advertisements on bus shelter seats with amusing stickers. I will re-shelve books at the library that are out of order in the Dewey system.

I shall correct Dutchmen and Yorkshiremen whenever I encounter them. With a stick, if necessary.

I shall publicly ridicule cargo pants and rubber/canvas trainers on anyone over the age of 24. Also earrings on anyone other than females or Portuguese sailors. Baseball caps worn any place other than a baseball diamond during an actual game will be the targets of lumps of coal.

I shall campaign to have the $ 32 pub meal outlawed upon the grounds that it is un-Australian.

This may not seem like a comprehensive lifestyle, but I intend to pursue it…or something very like it…once I have retired. Either that or take pictures of models.

Note: the heading image is of Redmina The Magnificent – the reason samba has become the national sport.