Bondi Mermaids Painting

Historical Paintings from Bondi

Way back in July of last year I wrote a post about two old statues that were known as the Bondi Mermaids – click here for that post. The remains of one of the “mermaids” is still on display at Waverley library in Bondi Junction. Recently there has been an art exhibition at the same library by local artist Janine Hall. She paints historical images of scenes in and around Bondi Beach (and Eastern Suburbs beaches in general).

Here is a snapshot of one she painted which really caught my eye. This is the classic, and now long gone, view of the Bondi Mermaids:

Bondi Mermaids by Janine Hall.

The exhibition is due to end any day now but you can catch Janine’s work on her website: https://janinehall-art.com/

I have recently seen letters in local magazines from people asking if a campaign can be started to bring back the mermaids. It seems they were a firm favourite with tourists and I am sure that such a great photo opportunity would certainly be very popular again.

Down and Out in the Red Centre

At the end of last week Dani and his grandmother went on a trip to the very heart of Australia. They visited the fabled sights of Ayers Rock (aka Uluru) and The Olgas (aka Kata Tjuta) in what is more or less the dead centre of the country/continent. I will bring you more on this ‘trip of a lifetime’, but first here is the bad news…

Just after checking out of the hotel, with bags packed, the hotel receptionist told Dani’s grandmother that their flight had been cancelled. Just like that and pretty much as last minute as it gets. (They actually still had a few hours which was going to be spent going on a camel ride – I think – but still…)

Dani in the “Red Centre”. Just about as remote as any place on the planet.

Move over (SL)EasyJet and Ryanair… There’s a new kid on the block

The offending company is JetStar. They are at least as shit as EasyJet and Ryanair (both of which have been covered in this blog’s pages in the past). In fact for JetStar, cancelling flights is just like charging you for an upfront seat with more legroom. They do it as a matter of day-to-day business.

Now, as regular readers will be aware, Dani’s grandmother does not speak very good English. She called me immediately (after not getting an answer from her daughter – Dani’s mum – who incidentally, had booked the trip). She put me on the line to talk with the hotel receptionist who was not much help. She was only the messenger and as we know, those poor souls should not be shot. However, I did manage to secure some information. A telephone number for JetStar and the fact that the hotel would put them up for another night if they could not get on another flight.

Here’s the problem… 

First of all phoning JetStar (or any similar company) is almost an exercise in futility – a bloody waste of time. By the time their automatic answering system bounces you around you have to wait hours to actually speak to a human (if they still employ any). So I didn’t bother with that one.

Instead I told them to jump on the hotel courtesy bus and get to the airport as soon as possible and speak to a JetStar representative in person. Dani could translate if/when required. So off they went…

JetStar cancelling flights is not always such a big deal, providing those flights are between major cities (of which Australia only has a few). At least they (pretend to) have inter-city flights every hour or so. Therefore a cancelled flight in Melbourne would just mean waiting a while (maybe a few hours) until they put you on another flight to Sydney. But Ayers Rock airport is literally in the middle of nowhere. As ‘in the middle of nowhere’ as it gets. Anywhere on the planet! It isn’t exactly around the f*cking corner is it?

Missing a flight in (say) Melbourne is nothing by comparison. There are buses and trains to Sydney as well as plenty of flights. Heck, I could even drive there overnight if I really needed to. There are options. JetStar have one flight per day from Ayers Rock airport to Sydney – and they fecking cancelled it! If it had been me there with Dani I would have taken it all in my stride; but it wasn’t. So I will admit that I was a little worried.

As they were heading for the little outback airport I checked on the JetStar website for their other flights out of Ayers Rock that day. There was one to Melbourne in a couple of hours. At least in Melbourne there would (should) be plenty of other flights into Sydney. I began making a fake booking on their website which told me there were plenty of seats on that Melbourne bound flight. I called them up and told them to insist that they are allowed on that flight to Melbourne and then ask JetStar to put them on the next available plane (from Melbourne) to Sydney.

Long story short: They made it onto the Melbourne flight and had to wait a few hours in Melbourne airport before getting another one to Sydney. A bit of an adventure but also more than a little worrying for us all.

Mocking sleeping rough in the outback. Before it almost became reality…

Just a footnote to this little tale: JetStar’s email to Dani’s mum said there was no flight out they could catch that day. But they did offer the same route (via Melbourne) the following day. It was only by my going through the booking process that I discovered that they did actually have quite a few seats on that same day’s flight to Melbourne.

About 11pm we picked them up from Sydney airport. Thankfully a relatively painless ending to what could have been a lot more stressful; or worse.

If there is a moral in this story…

What can I teach my son from this little episode? My advice to him would be that in life (in general) you have to trust companies like JetStar just about as far as you can throw them. Never rely on them and do as much as possible yourself to resolve any such situation.

I will write another post about their actual trip hopefully with some good photos. I may even get Dani to write something about his adventure… Yeah. That would do him some good to get it down on paper (or laptop).

Historic Times – Global and Personal

The Queen Passes

It’s been an odd few days. As I am sure the whole world knows by now, The Queen passed away late last week. It is sad news. Queen Elizabeth has been the only constant in terms of world leadership in my lifetime. The same goes for the vast majority of people. 70 years as Queen is truly incredible, regardless of where you stand on the monarchy.

I am no monarchist but nor am I anti-monarchy. There are arguments for how the monarchy could be improved I am sure, but there is nothing anyone can say to convince me that having an elected president is any better. Far from it if present day experiences mean anything.

The best argument I ever heard on the subject however is pro-monarchy. It deals with the argument people use when talking about how wrong it is for someone’s son or daughter to inherit so much (especially the crown). As parents don’t we all want our children’s future to be better than our own? Richer, even easier perhaps?

Whether dirt-poor or the richest people in the world, it’s what we all strive for. Right? In recent generations our parent and grandparents became property owners and we all want to inherit that. And pass it on to our own offspring. We also look for any way to avoid any inheritance taxes. That is no different from royal lineage. Yes, there is far more money at stake but with that comes a lot more responsibility. It is doubtful that any royal critic would want such responsibility, let alone be able to deal with it.

I would definitely like to hear from anyone who has a good argument for scrapping the monarchy. But be prepared to back it up with what you would replace it with. Then again, I may be arguing that case myself in the near future. I don’t have a great deal of confidence in Prince Charles – now King Charles (hard to get used to that). But let’s see…

First Communion

This Sunday my son took his first communion in church. The place was packed. Not for him of course. There was a whole year from the local school associated with the church plus several others like Dani. Naturally all of their families were in attendance.

At the church

It was not only myself and Dani’s mum there for him. Dani’s Spanish grandmother is here visiting and she timed her trip to coincide with his first communion. Suffice to say we were all proud of him.

Now, similar to above with the ‘royalty question’; I am not a religious person – but nor am I anti-religion. As far as belief in an all-powerful being goes I suppose I just don’t have that faith that (I am told) it takes. Equally however, I do not believe in any “Big Bang” theory. I really don’t want to go into a full blown theological discussion because, well… I just don’t care either way. It really does not bother me how we all got here. I don’t know and I am quite happy believing that nobody else knows either.

In the meantime I have no problem with my son being raised as a Catholic. When he is older he can, and will, make his own mind up.

Dani and the very long 1970s Chrysler Imperial

Planning Permission?

Sandwiched in between the two events (both historic for me) described above we went for a long coastal walk over the weekend. In all it was about 15kms. We took Dani’s abuela with us and although she appeared to struggle to keep up at times she completed the walk. Well done to her!.

There were several photo opportunities but this particular one grabbed my attention:

Who thinks this building would get planning permission if built today?

Anyone who has walked along the coast in these part will be aware of the land erosion clearly visible in all the dramatic cliff faces. There are clear signs of massive erosion on the cliff facing the building (just below where I stood to take the picture). Oddly nothing like as bad just below this large building.

Can you imagine trying to get planning permission to build this block of apartments today? I doubt it would happen but not because the design is seen as some 1970s monstrosity. Just imagine the planing permission meetings and all the health and safety reports that would be required! Never mind the time to pore over them all. There would be far more input from geologists and “climate change experts” than from architects and engineers.

I say ‘monstrosity’ as that is how so many of these buildings are described in our supposedly more enlightened times. Although I happen to think it looks great. Location as they say is everything…  I wonder how much longer this building has left? Again, feel free to comment.

Australian Federal Elections – 3 months on

General Election (‘Federal’ election here in Oz)

Last May Australia held its federal election (general election in UK). Three months on and the results and fallout are already comedy gold.

The winners were the old opposition. It’s obviously their turn. The “Labour” lot (similar to Labour in UK, PSOE in Spain) beat the “Liberals” (Tory in UK, PP in Spain). The two party system is alive and well in Australia. Did someone say “party”? Well there are those who wish to gate-crash said party.

Incredibly the Green party took just under 1.8 million votes. That amounts to just over 10% of the overall vote. Amazing eh? In a country known for it’s extensive mineral wealth – and yes that includes “fossil fuels” – there is at least 1 in 10 voters who would seemingly be happy to see the country turn into a third world basket case. Because that is almost certainly what would happen if the “green” party ever won an election.

Of course this green mania is rather trendy these days. I mention above “at least 1 in 10”, but in fact there were plenty who voted for what can only be described as ‘plastic greens’, who have been labelled “teal independents”. Yes teal; that delicate shade of greeny-blue-ish… whatever (who cares?)… They are supposedly independents who are concerned about climate change. They managed to win something like 6 seats with approximately ¾ million votes. That’s almost another 5%, taking the green-ish tinted vote total to some 15% of the electorate. To use that now well known social media three lettered acronym – WTF?

About a week ago the news broke of how one particular teal independent politician just happens to own plenty of shares in Australia’s oil and gas companies. What a coincidence eh?. It turns out that she (for it is a female member of parliament) claims that by being a share holder in these (supposedly) ‘terrible’ (my choice of word) companies, that she can act as some kind of insider agitator. What a hero eh? (or should that be heroine? who cares?)

Yeah, right love! Pull the other one and f*ck off! I can’t remember her name but you could easily find it online. Besides they will probably all be at it. Do as we say, not as we do – typical politicians.

Right now energy companies (including all the oil and gas lot) are making huge profits. Hey, great investment, don’t get me wrong. But please spare us the usual politician’s bullshit. She – no doubt just like all the other “teal independents” – is nothing but a chancer.

The Great ‘Scomo’, Master Illusionist (Hey presto, Abracadabra and all that…)

Another crazy story that has been in the news for some weeks now (it seems longer) is about the outgoing prime minister (Scott Morrison – aka ‘Scomo’) As well as being PM this man somehow managed to hold 7 ministerial portfolios during the “pandemic”. He is getting slated by media and opponents as, apparently, this was all done in secret.

Between March 2020 and May 2021, Morrison appointed himself to – get this –  the health, finance, industry, science, energy and resources, home affairs and treasury portfolios without the public’s knowledge, and in some cases, without alerting the existing minister.

So somehow this oaf of a bloke managed to be PM and hold seven other senior minister’s position simultaneously and nobody noticed? Really? So when anything was mentioned about (say) the ministry for health or treasury nobody thought to ask who is in charge of that one? I know the world’s attention was diverted by that virus thing back then but please…!

Surely people noticed that the Prime Minister was also in charge of (say) the health ministry, or energy ministry or any of the others…? You really can’t make this stuff up.

“Hey weren’t you also at the energy ministry meeting the other day? And aren’t you the prime minister?”
“Blimey finance minister, you look just like the industry minister I spoke to only yesterday and you are a dead ringer for the PM mate.”
“That bloody science minister is about as useless as the prime minister. He even bloody looks just like him!”
etc…etc…
(words apparently spoken by nobody, EVER!!!)

I describe him as an “oaf” because if you listen to any media criticism of the man you would think he was totally useless and semi-literate at best. You know they way they assassinate someone’s character when they think they need to be voted out?

Let me say that I am no fan. Far from it. But if he really managed to pull that off for such a long time and until after he was voted out, then surely this man is some kind of genius (relatively speaking of course – compared to those around him in parliament house). Surely he is just the kind of magician any country needs to lead it. Pulling all kinds of rabbits out of hats, as politicians often (metaphorically) promise. This man actually seems to be able to do such crap! And the country voted him out! Incredible eh?

But only just eh…

In fact ‘Scomo’ actually got more votes than the incoming PM (another chancer who leads the deceptively named ‘Labour’ party). But because of the way the system works, he lost. Not unlike the voting systems in other (so called) democracies.

And here’s another thing. Voting in the Australian federal elections is compulsory. Yet the turnout was just under 90%. So, at least 10% really couldn’t care less, despite it being illegal not to vote. Look at that another way: For every green voter there is another who doesn’t give a toss.

It will be interesting to see what happens during this new government’s term in office. How far will the green agenda go? Will anyone in the media ask any of the politicians what they think the Chinese are going to do with all the coal they import from this country? What do the “teal independents” think they do with all that coal, I wonder? Use it to carve little coal figurines?

Don’t hold your breath waiting for the media. Ask them yourselves.