What Rules?

Ref Wikipedia

What should happen here? Who should we turn to if this happens? How can we prevent this?  Why, if this should happen, you must do this. Oh, how things have changed! William Henry Perkin thought nothing of the risks he took to change how fabric was dyed in the nineteenth century.  (I will return to him later). Not so if you were Em. Em would have sleepless nights if it wasn’t for the rules of compliance she spends her days writing. 

Back in the 1950s, I was in our new school science room.  Every student had access to a Bunsen burner gas outlet. Every two students shared a sink to clean equipment. We had beam balances to calculate the chemicals we use. A closed section of the room was reserved for experiments with chemicals that gave off noxious fumes.

I liked science partly because of the nurturing skills of our teacher Norm Stewart ( earlier story). Other than his encouragement I had no confidence I could ever remember the periodic tables. I was so sure memorising them was beyond me I stopped studying science at form four. In my last year of science, our classes were mainly to do with recording our lessons according to the rules of school science. The classes emphasised the importance of accurately recording what we did so another scientist could reproduce, by the same method, the actions we took. The next rule of scientific investigation is to leave your work open to criticism. At that stage your method can be refuted if a reviewer should reach a different result following the methods specified. Leading to the ultimate step, the conclusion. The conclusion means the work has been rigorous and scientifically responsible. Which leads me to what I did without these steps of care.

After school, I did make my own experiments with chemicals I had bought from the chemist’s shop. In an earlier lesson, we had made copper crystals. Experimenting, at home, I made one about the size of a AU 50 cent coin and was pretty pleased with my effort. I moved on and made some gunpowder, just because I could. And this is where compliance officers, like Em, would become very anxious if they should every find out what went on unsupervised. At school the room was filled with dangerous stuff that was often untended and left in the hands of the uninitiated.

At school we played with Mercury and let it run through our fingers without any warning it was dangerous. Just as we watched how magnesium ignited easily at a high temperature, bright white light, without wearing protective eyewear or clothing. One experiment seemed to reoccur any time of the year at school. The senior boys would amuse themselves making hydrogen sulphide gas (rotten air gas). This gas was intentionally made outside the ante-room, the place with the exhaust system, and it stank. All too often experiments, outside classroom hours filled the corridors with a putrid stench.

Long before any science experience at school I had watched, and copied adults, melting down lead on the fire,  and I also made lead fishing sinkers. No one gave any thought to the fact the fumes of melting lead are carcinogenic. In the metal workshop at school, even first formers would use hydrochloric acid to clean metal with no other protection other than a calico apron. These boys, who mostly came from farms, were familiar with the dangers of sulphuric acid in lead batteries. So, I suppose, the school reasoned any danger was not wholly unexpected in a work environment. Not that that decision would stand the test of reasonableness if acid ate into a boy’s clothes, or burned his skin.

About the age I was in the school science room, a century before, young William Perkin went to work as a chemist with August Wilhelm Von Hoffman at the Royal College of Chemistry, London. In his holidays he made an accidental discovery. In a temporary laboratory, with a coal derivative — aniline — he produced a dye with an intense purple colour. (They dyed fabric with natural materials prior to his discovery.) His new colour, Tyrian purple, was a new hue from which he built a fortune, and with further experimentation he produced dyes of other colours that changed the entire British dye industry, and it altered the colours used around the world, in all manner of things.

If risk managers existed in those days, and they were aware of the dangers these new dyes were to health, they could have saved many lives if they had banned their use. Fortunately, science does not fix things outright as, “we know all there is to know about —-.” . It allows for new people to challenge the status quo. In time, the carcinogenic nature of these dyes was discovered, and their use was banned in foodstuffs and for use in clothing. The interesting thing is, if they were banned outright medical science would have been denied a valuable tool in fighting cancer. Today those same dyes are used in nuclear medicine to trace the movement of chemical treatments that save lives. I am unsure this proves compliance officers need a crystal ball to predict all possibilities, but it does seem it is impossible to ever imagine all the risks one might encounter.

Unlike young William, I never studied Chemistry. To this day I would be hard put to name twenty elements, and I have no idea which subset of them each one belongs. My chemistry skill finishes at trying to make a good espresso each morning with ground beans and pressured hot water. And with that I am well pleased.

Eat what you like

Free Media

There is no advantage being overweight if you do not like food. Despite my overweight status, I like fine food cooked , and eating in restaurants where taste is king. The linen is fine, as is the cutlery, so too are the waiters. All in all I say, goodness reigns.

 Fortunately, I have enjoyed many beautiful meals in such establishments despite having a beer budget and champagne tastes. It is my hope you do too.

At one stage during a period when fine dining was called “nouvelle cuisine” (1960+) chef’s lost the plot. From the many choices I offer two examples:

In the 1970s Daryl and I decided to take Michael to a restaurant called Pamplemousse at 200 Collins St. Melbourne. As a mark of distinction, this restaurant was on the 2Oth floor in a National Mutual building. (Neither the restaurant nor the company survives).

During the meal, high above the darkened city, a waiter brought us our main course. It was served on a huge plate. Maybe the plate was 40 cm across. In the centre of it in a swirl of jus sat the food. To give you an idea of its size, I calculate maybe a couple of match boxes would have covered it. In all, it was so attractive it would not have been out of place if it had hung from an art gallery wall. However, the course was not sustaining by itself.

Frank tells of a similar experience at a different place. The dinner was held to celebrate a very successful business trading year. The meal was seven courses long. In his words, to give you an example of a chef gone mad his description was. “The cook served a single leaf ripped from a Brussels sprout as a separate course”. At its conclusion the diners were so hungry they went the Scottish named take-away for bedtime sustenance before calling it a night. The message to take from this is — food must first be filling.

Of the thousands of dinners I have eaten, more than ever, I understand some meals seem tastier when we eat. Wonderful surroundings help, but the best cooks insist on simple food cooked well. It is helped when you understand the secret ingredient to every good meal is — good company.


One restaurant I would like to patronise in Melbourne is Atticia. The chef Ben Shewry has worked hard building its reputation. Before lockdown, it was placed variously in the top 100 places in the world to dine. Meals in this place carry a high premium, but that is not why I would like to go there. I know the food to be great. (It is however, beyond my retirees budget).

My reason is to support him is for his generosity towards hospitality staff who were stood down during during ISO. Of all the people who were unsupported financially with government aid during this time, wait staff represent a significant number. For more than five months most went without a pay-packet.  In recognition of their hard times Ben and food writer, Dani Valent cooked soup and gave it away each Wednesday to unemployed restaurant staff.  


These descriptions of my enjoyment of excessive attention dim if you cannot afford food at any price. That is why a free meal supplied by one of the best chefs is so exceptional. 

In Melbourne, expensive places are fewer. The Hare Kristina group offer very cheap vegetarian meals in many locations. A business named Lentil as Anything, before ISO, left it to the diner to decide how much they paid for their meal. (After five months closed its reopening however it is dependent on GoFundMe supporters to do so.)


Across the country, diners could once visit a group of diners named Sizzlers. After more than thirty years the last “eat as much as you can” place closed this week.


Times change and dining is no exception. As far as I know, you can no longer order Peacocks tongues anywhere. Excellent news for Peacocks. What else is food news? You can eat for nothing if you live in Tel Aviv, especially if you like chicken. In return there is good news for chicken, according to my friends at Future Crunch.com

FC reports the company, The Chicken, is feeding visitors free chicken sandwiches. This is good news for the visitors, and it is excellent news for chickens. No chickens die in order for The Chicken to make their sandwiches. “the chicken on the menu is grown from cells in a bioreactor in an adjacent pilot plant visible through a glass window. Diners don’t pay for their meals; instead, SuperMeat, the startup making the “cultured chicken” meat, is asking for feedback on its products, as it prepares for large-scale production of food that it thinks can transform the industry.”

Further, they explain:

The process is far faster and more efficient than raising animals. “Once the desired animal mass is achieved, it allows harvesting approximately half the meat every day,” says Savir. “It is metaphorically the equivalent of having a farm of 1,000 mature chickens, and harvesting 500 mature chickens out of that farm every day endlessly.” The “meat” is produced directly, without the intervening step of slaughtering and butchering. Done right, with renewable energy, the process can also cut the environmental footprint of meat, since it uses fewer resources.

Now the meals are free because no government has granted the company approval to sell their product. Today’s food lovers are simply testing food they proclaim, is as good as chicken.


My mixture of unrelated stories accepts good people continue to help the disadvantaged in: soup kitchens and food banks without any motive but to help. May their good work continue.

Name the Shops

Photo – Film Victoria

As Boy Scouts once a year, (perhaps less often), we played “Name the Shops”. It was a game, influenced by Rudyard Kipling’s book “Kim” and known as “Kim’s game”. It was a simple game which required us to name the shops in the local shopping strip of 3260. They ran for perhaps a kilometre down both sides of the Main Street. We had to name them in the order they ran. It was relatively easy because the shop ownership rarely changed and it included big civic buildings like the court, the shire office, the cinema, the post office, the 7 banks, and three car dealerships.

Some we knew as hangouts. They were the milk bars, the bike shop, the fish-n-chips, and the hairdressers. We struggled to remember the solicitor’s offices, the dress shops, the florists, or the beauty saloons. We knew each of the grocery shops, the shoe shops, and the men’s clothing store, and the chemist. The bakers were easy to name. Harder to remember was the chap that ran the photographer’s shop. On the other hand we remembered the two newsagents because they stocked comics. (We didn’t specifically have them at home, I remember reading The Phantom, and one called The Chuckler’s Weekly.)

There were three stock and station agents – farm supplies stores – in town. We also had four hotels for a population of about 2,000 town folk. Going home in the evenings we would stop and peer through the window of the electrical stores (after 1956) at the fuzzy black and white television sets. It was a strange thing to see, because the picture was frequently all white. This was because we lived in an area of poor reception and the antennas were too weak to pick up a clear picture. (In those early days none of my friends had tv so it caused no envy to look.)

In remembering this game I think I could still score pretty well. The fruiterer operated in a side street as did the doctors, the dentist, and the plumber’s supply shop. Some shops like the boot maker and the jewellers I remember easily because the operators were odd. Maybe the smell drifting from the shops helps me remember others. The smell of ink is a constant reminder of the newspaper office. I get a different, but similar, reminder when I pass a pub on foot.

Nothing remained open after five pm except the fish-n-chip shop and the pubs. They closed at six. The chippery remained open until around ten pm. On Saturdays most shops opened from nine until noon. After that the town was locked down until Monday morning. Saturday afternoon was given over to home maintenance or sport. Sundays were the day of rest. Over 9O% of the people went off to one church or the other. (I can count five different denominations) The church goers would dress in their Sunday best clothes. On the way to church they would nod, or wave, to their neighbours heading off in another direction to a different church.

The non church goers attended the Salvation Army Hall, or they went to the Seventh Day Adventist Church on a Saturday. Even the non believers attended one type of church or the other because even in those days of full employment few people jeopardised their job by declaring their lack of faith. Few jobs were advertised because they were usually filled by word of mouth. Some jobs were closed to people of one church but they were open to those of another. (Those days of fundamentalism were pretty dreadful. (It was possibly the stories I heard like this (long ago) that opened my mind to the evils of all segregation. Otherwise I have no personal experience of this type. It is my hope you never have to experience it either.)

[Unlike today, no one sold phones, (no mobiles). If your family wanted a phone it was supplied on loan from the Post Master General (PMG). All personal communications came from the PMG: mail, telegrams, and phone. It might be of some interest to learn telegrams were a sort of paper delivery of every SMS. Except people usually only got a telegram irregularly. The sender paid so much per letter and to reduce costs the sender just told their simple message briefly.

You could call the messages crude. “SAD NEWS DAD DIIED PEACEFULLY FUNERAL TBA “

Or you might have got one like we actually received when Andrew was born. It reads

CONGRATULATIONS WELCOME TO ANDREW LOVE TO ALL THREE BILL RYAN FAMILY

The message is addressed and was delivered to the hospital ward by the Telegram boy (who possibly rode a push bike to the hospital in a post boy’s uniform.]

Our shopping strip was a practical place. It never changed much as it was a place were all commercial activity took place, year in – year out. Today the buildings remain. Many of them have swallowed their neighbour and they have been enlarged. Some are empty yet the streetscape remains. Down the centre of town runs the avenue of Elm trees planted out by school children in 1876. It is a wonderful oasis to rest on a hot day. In the middle of the avenue is the wonderful bequest,the Thomas Manifold clock, built in the style of Westminster’s Big Ben in 1897.

When you visit Camperdown take pride that your great grandfather, Abraham, for a period, maintained and preserved this significant plantation,now recognised as a important heritage area in the State of Victoria

It is unlikely you will ever play “Name the Shops”. In the unlikely event your suburb has a main shopping strip, even if you learn the names of the shops it is unlikely they will all operate as they do today by middle of next month. Such is the speed of modern change.






The Streetscape

Or

Passers By Cannot Name The Shops.

O’er a gross of years

Ulmus procea – Finlay’s Avenue

Has cut east west along

The Manifold corridor

The giant brick red time piece

punctuates the town’s north,

chimes for southern enterprises,

where grey nomads pause for victuals.

Cafes court calorie counters

counting calories they consume;

breakfast, lunch, or snacks,

take a break – before heading south

to clamber down Loch Ard Gorge.

Snap London Bridge. Drive

on – taste the west’s chronicle.

The Great Ocean Road.

Three thousand Sunday roasts

Author supplied – Meat carving dish

Three thousand Sunday Roasts

A new metal texture
Offensive to
Augustus Rodin’s eyes
Forced him to
Prematurely age
Balzac - the sculpture
In a urine treatment
His assistants gave.


Not all metal
Is so willfully altered.
Greyfriars Bobby
Has stood in Edinburgh since 1873
The pride of dog lovers.
Aged in place
Tourists rubbed his bronze nose raw.
As a sign of our times a surgical mask
Preserves his nostrils
Intentionally.


No such care was needed
On our gifted stainless steel
Carving dish.
It’s shot surface
Is etched this way
By fifty thousand
Knife strokes,
Out worn
Over convivial
Sunday roasts.


Vulnerability
In general use
Other surfaces show.
Circling my rotund waist
A leather crocodile belt
Shines brighter
Each year I use it
Like the arms of my lounge chair.
Together their patina
Was earned
Embracing me.

Something neoteric.

Ref – Dreamtime.com

Is rock on on the rocks?

Through retracing response
Narration
Primarily
Recitation
Alone

Kinds
Lies
Philosophers
Lived
Somehow
For
Odds
Naive
What we
Question
Nevertheless
Return
Moved
Frustration
Recalling
Boarders
European
Roamaticised
First Hand

I have been reading seriously. To lighten my distracted mind I have attempted to create something neoteric in the manner as AI programs might. Let me explain – from Dr Nick’s thesis I chose one random word from each of the next 28 pages starting at page 16. My questions are: Does speed reading help us distil meaning? Or, Does choosing random words enable us to provide novel ideas?

Dr Nick is our son. Like his siblings he makes us proud by overachieving. (Not sure where the overachieving gene comes from – pleased our children have it.) Just the same I hope he forgives this trivialisation of his study.

Numbers/Ratios and the like.

Here we are in the State of of Disaster. It is one year since I began this blog. When I started I had no ambition but to record my reaction to the moments of the day in relation to my past lived experience. I thought twenty or thirty years from now my grandchildren might like to compare their experience of life with mine. (I realise this reads as a narcissistic reason but given they will have no way to communicate with me – it motivates me. They can read my “voice” and measure it with what influences them).

In these last 12 months the world has changed. Six months ago no one spoke of Covid 19. In these last few months nearly 18 million have been infected and nearly 700,000 have died. Businesses have collapsed. People are unemployed and our State has reached the nadir of disaster. The advice on how to stay safe seems simple: stay home, keep a social distance when outside, wear a mask, wash your hands, stay safe.

I am not an outgoing personality. Indeed I am shy until I get to know you, however this forced isolation is foreign. I like to embrace my friends and it is strange to nod instead. Now we enter a period of six weeks without any social contact save social media and the phone. It will be weird.

I keep typing away and I see trends where none previously existed. My drivel has attracted 600 different viewers. One out of every ten readers have decided to follow me. (Only you know why). You now inspire me to keep this going. I hope you do not stop. I have a request. If you like my words then pause and tell me why they interest you. Together we can expand our universe with simple asides. I would like to get to know you.

Please, if you “like” me make a comment.

Birthdays

Henry Purcell

by Gerard Manley Hopkins

The poet wishes well to the divine genius of Purcell
and praises him that, whereas other musicians have
given utterance to the moods of man’s mind, he has,
beyond that, uttered in notes the very make and
species of man as created both in him and in all men
generally.

Have, fair fallen, O fair, fair have fallen, so dear
To me, so arch-especial a spirit as heaves in Henry Purcell,
An age is now since passed, since parted; with the reversal
Of the outward sentence low lays him, listed to a heresy, here. 
Not mood in him nor meaning, proud fire or sacred fear,
Or love or pity or all that sweet notes not his might nursle:
It is the forgèd feature finds me; it is the rehearsal
Of own, of abrupt self there so thrusts on, so throngs the ear. 

Let him Oh! with his air of angels then lift me, lay me! only I’ll
Have an eye to the sakes of him, quaint moonmarks, to his pelted plumage under
Wings: so some great stormfowl, whenever he has walked his while 

The thunder-purple seabeach plumèd purple-of-thunder,
If a wuthering of his palmy snow-pinions scatter a colossal smile
Off him, but meaning motion fans fresh our wits with wonder.

The clown Peter Sellers bought Purcell to the attention of the masses that loved the Goon Show he also introduced them to Henry Purcell in the Trumpet Volunteer 1958. (You can find it on YouTube. Hopkins is a favourite poet. Yesterday it was the anniversary of Gerard Manley Hopkins birth. 1844 – 8/6/1888

Today it was also my mother’s birthday 29/07/1913 – 5/11/2017 Time seems to fly but some memories remain constant.

Billy Bunter

Book cover

Billy Bunter was the child subject of a comic character of my childhood. Billy wore glasses. He was overweight. His character did not represent more than one child in our very large instructional class. Even if there was one child in our class which was overweight the child wearing glasses was in a different year level. Due to our limited vocabulary the overweight child was called “Fatty”. The one wearing glasses we named “Four Eyes.”

Nicknames were a popular way of labelling classmates. I was named after the cartoon bird “Woody Wood Pecker”, because it had a semblance to my surname and the my hair stuck out like a wood pecker’s crest because it was strong and unyielding. Variously the name was shortened to Woody or Pecker and I wore either of these names until I left school at 18. From that age the people calling me these names have just faded from my life.

Over the years it became improper to single people out and label them according to some attribute they showed the world. (At least politically incorrect language is now frowned upon in polite society.). In my experience children have always been cruel to one another at name calling.. They possibly are today, after all, left to self-management they possibly still resemble the characters in Golding’s “Lord of the Flies”. (I remember “Piggy” as an adorable little chap who was given a hard time by his fellow travellers).

Piggy, Fatty, Four Eyes, Bluey and Spud are common cruel names. Spoken with malice they were supposed to hurt. I am sure they did/do. The child with resilience able to struggle past the hurt may at some later stage in life be embraced by his peers for some innate skill he possesses – while those who have injured him, now admire a hidden talent . Then the slur of the nickname is worn with pride, however the damage done by the many to the few always hurts.

As a young man I was slight and athletic no one would – even in jest- call me Fatty. Over time I became sturdy, round and today my BMI label says I am obese. I have become Fatty.

This fatty grew old and invisible. It happened sometime in my sixties. I began to notice I could walk around in mixed company and no one noticed I was there. When I had settled into my septuagenarian years I entered a water aerobics class in Torquay. (Water aerobics is a gentle exercise older women take up in an aquatics pool in my neighbourhood). So as not to draw attention to myself I went to the class with my wife and hid away in a corner of the pool at the back of the class. Initially I was very self-conscious and concerned the class members possibly disliked a male in their midst. Fortunately many of the women had accepted another Bruce before I even started, so being male was nothing more than being a novelty. In time Lloyd would occasionally join our group and together we beat the water into submission. (I wish.)

Seven years later I report my classmates accept we all attend the class for fitness. The name Water Aerobics is not a misnomer. I puff, pant, and gasp for air because it is a very energetic aerobic workout. Being in a warm pool it is as easy as you like, but at the same time water is as hard as cement to move when the speed of your movements increase. It induces fitness. At the end of class I feel worn out yet exhilarated.

The only times we have missed these sessions are holiday periods and our recent lockdown. In those off periods I balloon. When I return to the pool and concentrate on my core my shape is more manageable. As a result I miss not going. To return and face the hard work of pulling myself back from obese to look overweight requires stamina. Consequently have learned not to look at the clock when I miss a week. The 45 minute sessions seem to go on for hours if I dare peep.

It is so hard to return to fitness I look for a pool whenever we are away. During the first year or so of these lessons we were on the road and we stopped in Moree. It was a novelty to hop into the Artesian Swimming Baths. The water is in six large pools. The temperature varies in each one – from 40 degrees down to air temperature. It is common to see lots of old Victorians up there in the water. The advice is not to linger in the hottest pool for more than 15 minutes, yet the hardened old travellers seem to be happy to sit motionless in the water like buffaloes for hours. When I jumped in I used some of the aerobic moves to strengthen my core – the wizened regulars were aghast someone dared move the water for 15 minutes. Mind – it was very challenging to go from that temperature to the water of a regular out door pool.

Our body shape seems more related to genes than it does to diet, (excluding the influence of hidden sugar). People of all races seem damned when a likeness for sugar ruins their regular diets. Friend Lyn says it depends on calories in verses energy output. She is right of course nevertheless my inclination is to go with my first statement. I only seem to fight obesity whenever my weight increases by a kilogram or so otherwise I lay down the gloves and that is my prejudice.

Overweight kids are so common in this decade being the class “Fatty” is no longer rare. I pine for those wishing to change their lot and recommend Water Aerobics for the day when they want to change their future. At least they will build up their core muscle strength.


Did you dream?

Ch4f.org

My partly remembered conversation started this way.

“What are you doing?”

“I am clapping . Nick has won the property auction.”

“What are you talking about?”

“I am . You. Me ? I was asleep.”

“What do you mean I woke you up, you were clapping weren’t you?”

“Yes. I was. But I was asleep.”

“That’s stupid you were clapping.”

“I was dreaming and you have woken me.”

“I am sorry. I though you must have nave been awake. No one claps in their sleep.”

“I do.”

Did you dream?

It is a condition of mine I do not fight. In my own words, I am a slow sleeper. My blonde haired partner is not. Within moments of her head hitting the pillow she is deeply asleep. I listen for her deep breathing to start and then I toss and turn . In the wee small hours I realise I have been asleep and rise from my bed and wander about the house.

If it is raining I will look out the windows and marvel at the rain. On another evening in broad moonlight I will wonder outside and be mesmerised by the simplicity of the sphere that is forever changing through its quarters. Having checked my surroundings I will hop back into bed and drift in and out of consciousness until the sleeping hours are almost exhausted and then I will sleep deeply, slowly, and innocently.

I welcome the final hour to sleep like a baby, and I dream. My dreams are times, according to Carl Jung – are the time the anima an the animus work their magic in the human spirit. These are times when the male unconsciously accepts the benefits of the feminine side of his nature. The opposite condition, according to Jung, manifests itself in the female.

Lately my unremembered dreams cause me to often wake in a sweat of anxiety caused by my reaction to a partly remembered event from years before. Just last week on waking like this I had to get out of bed and deliberately remind myself the events I thought I was reliving never happened at all, and even if it did, it was so long ago as to be irrelevant today. (Oddly fo those of you interested in analysing my behaviour, they were moments of anxiety for children I once had in my care in my classroom care. The reality is it was nearly half a century ago.)

How you sleep is important to your development. We need to dream because it motivates our development. I wish you good dreams. In doing so I am not alone with Jung. Here is what a few others say about dreams.

Dreams are necessary to life.

https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/anais_nin_129793

Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country. – Anais Nin

A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.

Oscar Wilde

But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

William Butler Yeats