Monday, September 19, 2011
Don’t you just love it when people come down here and fill your ears with stuff we’ve been banging on about for years? It happened again recently, this time an acquaintance of mine, a chap who dabbles in politics and motivational speaking. Here are his words in full.
“Friend,” he began, “lend me an ear. I have a few things to say and keep in mind that although I may seem arrogant, I am an honourable man.
“It will not be my intention to talk down to you, or to bury your pretty little Albany, but to empower you and your fellow townies.
“You know what you should do with York Street? Pull it up and install a tram. Tourists want an old fashioned mode of transport on an old fashioned street. This should connect with a high-speed railway that brings people direct from Perth.
“What’s more, given the allure of Albany, why aren’t there direct flights from Singapore, Hong Kong, New York and Buenos Aires. Pam Am should be offering holiday packages to cashed-up private equity partners and merchant bankers looking to escape the next financial crisis.
“Albany has all the allure of Copacabana, but all the attraction of Darkan. What are you making of it? From what I can see, nothing.
“Your port could house a permanent steamship docked as a museum and testament to the grand old days when Albany lived and breathed the life of a major town, rather than the coughing and choking life of a decaying appendage on a mighty state’s rump.
“Think big - hot air balloons over Ellen cove; hover-craft running from the Boatshed to the Yacht Club. Build yourselves a chair lift from Mt Clarence to Mt Melville; a water slide from Mt Adelaide to Middleton Beach; install giant emu’s at emu point and a hair restoration facility at Bald Head.
“And that sand patch at Middleton Beach, that’s prime land down there and ideal for a Scarborough beach type development featuring wine bars, small intestinal restaurants, a drag strip and luxurious multi-story apartments. Haven’t you got any property developers in Albany?
“This town needs a focus, a major entertainment centre, coffee shops, markets selling fresh produce and you should make something out of your Anzac connection.”
He offered to forward me list of suitable entrepreneurs and property developers, all friends of his and all honourable men.
I offered to drive him out to the airport and, amazingly, a plane arrived. I shoved him on it and encouraged the pilot to take him somewhere else, and leave him there.
Tuesday, September 06, 2011
People often ask if you remember what you were doing the day such and such happened. I do. Let me run through my list.
First, there was the day queen Elizabeth II came to Perth. 1954 it was and we, almost the entire extended family, were on Stirling Highway and because of my size I was constantly demanding to be lifted high above those in front. It was easier to lift me up because while down I was unmanageable and kept yelling: “Is she here yet?”
Then there was the day Big Johnny Jones ran over a lady during the annual Bridgeton Soap Box Derby. Most folk have heard about it but I was there, front-row finish-line and saw him knock her clean and break one of her legs. The other one didn’t look too good either.
When President John F Kennedy was shot I was asleep in my boarding house bed but woke early to listen to the news on my little trany-radio and lay there sobbing believing life as I had come to know it was at an end because my hero of the free-word had been assassinated.
Who could forget where they were and how they saw the first man place his foot on the moon? I was in a South Perth Motel with my then girlfriend and her brother and we watched it unfold on a very fuzzy little black and white tv.
And, finally, that day, how can I forget it, the day Julia Gillard, the 27th Prime Minister of Australia, came to town. Everyone was talking about it, asking the same question: “What are you going to do when Julia walks down York Street?”
I had no idea. I had no plan. Once I had completed my meeting at one of the city’s most fashionable coffee houses, I stood for some minutes looking up towards Anthony Horden - he’s the bloke up the top of York, in the middle of the first roundabout – but nothing came to mind.
Feeling empty headed, I climbed into my car and drove to Ellen Cove, which was in a glorious mood. Not only was the ocean just my kind of temperature, it rolled in waves the perfect size and shape for an aging, injury prone baby boomer.
What next? Of course, the automatic car-wash. But no, hang on, what’s that on my windscreen?
And that’s why I’ll never forget the day Julia came to Albany, for it was on that day I received my first ever parking ticket, slapped on my windscreen for overstaying on York Street.