Sunday, August 29, 2010

Spare some change?

Is it just me, or do other people have a policy on beggars?

Reading this article the other day got me thinking about it.

In general, I'm wary of beggars and their reasons for wanting me to share my cash with them. I do wonder if some of them take their tips from articles like these. I'm sure there are many genuine homeless people who need my help, but how do you work out who is "worthy" of getting your money? Is everyone worthy? Or no-one? Will my money help them improve their situation? Or will my money contribute to their problems?

When I was living in London there was a homeless man named Alf (yes, that was his name) who used to camp outside the entrance to Swiss Cottage tube station on Finchley Road. He'd always ask for "the price of a cup of tea". And he'd ask for it. Look you in the eye and ask you. At first, I rushed past him, but then one day I bought him a cup of tea, and there began a tradition. Instead of giving him cash, I'd buy him a cuppa. I figured if that's what he was asking for, that's what I'd give him. We became quite good mates, Alf and I. He was a lovely man, always keen for a chat.

When I moved to Sydney I noticed that there was a rather high proportion of beggars sitting on the streets with cardboard signs asking for money. "Lazy" beggars my boyfriend at the time called them. I rarely gave these beggars any money. Actually I never gave them any. My figuring is that I've worked hard to earn my money, so the least they can do is ask me straight up... like Alf used to. The ones who asked me straight out sometimes got a couple of dollars. And the woman with the "dance troupe". She always got some of my cash, purely due to her creativity and zeal.

Having lived in Melbourne for nearly 18 months now, I've discovered that there appear to be less outright beggars, but quite a few more Big Issue vendors. I like Big Issue vendors. I like that they're actively trying to improve their situation. I like that I have my regulars at various points around the city (I try to share the love by not buying from the same one each week). And I figure I get good value for my $5. I get an interesting read and I get to help someone.

When I was in London last year, I noticed a Big Issue vendor in Soho and stopped to buy one. It cost £1.70. That's about A$3. Bargain. I told him that it's $5 in Australia and he nearly fell over... then told me if he charged that he could probably stay in Claridges each night. I think if I'd offered him a plane ticket he would've been out here quicker than looking.

Soooo... hmmm. I think I've kinda lost my train of thought on this one. I can't remember where this was going. Anyway. What are your thoughts on beggars? Do you give? Do you have a system of working out just who gets your money or do you share at random? I'd be interested to know.

In the meantime, I'm going to be grateful that I'm not the one standing on a street corner...


Monday, August 23, 2010

The Draft Files

I’ve been in the habit lately of writing myself text messages when I want to remember a particular topic to blog about, but instead of sending them to anyone, I save them as drafts. This mostly occurs when I'm on the train going to or from work.

Of course being the forgetful lass I am of late, I tend not to ever look at these again except when I add another one, look at the ones already there and think to myself "I really should get around to putting these up next time I'm near a computer". And of course by the time I'm near a computer I've forgotten about it again.

Anyway, this morning I happened to stumble across them whilst working on my laptop. "Hurrah!", I hear you cry. Don't speak too soon. You haven't read them yet.

But here they are in all their glory... well in italic and bold. I've expanded on each of them in regular text:

1. Nutty lady at the cinema prior to the Hugh Hefner doco, who was singing along to Burt Bacharach and the sex party people flyering out front of the GU.

This happened on the final day of MIFF - an 11am session on a Sunday morning. My second-to-last film (I saw 14 in total), at the same cinema at Greater Union on Russell Street I'd seen Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll in the night before. Total deja vu.

Walking up to the cinema I was accosted by cheery people in bright yellow t-shirts handing out flyers for the Sex Party. I did think that they were probably preaching to the converted somewhat... after all we were going to see a doco on Hugh Hefner. The man isn't exactly a prude. But good on them for having a go.

I took my seat in the cinema (which was about 3/4 full) and was in the middle of rummaging in my bag for my snacks when I heard her. She wasn't just singing along under her breath. No, she was singing along loud and proud to "Do You Know the Way to San Jose". To say I got the giggles is an understatement...

2. How bad a habit must you have if you ride between the carriages in freezing bloody wind just so’s you can have a ciggie?

It's been a chilly winter here in old Melbourne town. Several times I've had to dig out the black wool swing coat with the (fake) fur collar and cuffs which I bought when I was living in the USA back in the mid-90s. Designed for sub-zero temps, so totes warm and practically vintage! I never wore it in Sydney because it was never cold enough. But it's had quite the workout this winter.

Anyway... the other day I was catching a train into the city. It was probably about 12°C and windy. Even with my super-warm coat (and gloves and scarf and hat and fleece tights), I was cold. So imagine my reaction when a bloke (who looked to be in his late 30s/early 40s) jumped on at Seddon, but instead of taking a seat, moved immediately to in between the carriages and lit up a ciggie. He stood out there in the freezing wind as the train sped along, puffing away at first one, then a second cigarette.

The train ride from Seddon to Flinders Street (where he got off the train) is approximately 14 minutes.

That's one hell of a f***ing habit, if you can't wait 14 minutes between ciggies.

3. The jolly Metro employee calling out “put your tickets away folks – it’s Fare Free Friday!"

Metro (the latest public transport provider for the people of Melbourne) screwed up in a major way last month and as a result, gave everyone free public transport for a day. There are two Metro employees who work the morning shift at Yarraville station (a big bear of a man with a beard and a no-nonsense grey-haired lady who always makes time to chat with the older people) and on the free Friday, the guy stood at the top of the ramp happily calling out to the approaching passengers with their tickets ready "put your tickets away folks - it's Fare Free Friday! Could you ask for a better start to your day? I think not!"


4. Chutney muff – a new name I learned for a red head.

Picked this one up from one of my fellow boxies at MIFF. I think I laughed for about an hour. I can't believe I haven't heard this one before... it's horribly descriptive and I love it.

5. Blatantly clandestine – word of the day.

Again, another pick up from the MIFF gang. I can't remember the context but I think we were discussing ridiculous phrases and possibly the blog post of mine in which I challenged people to work the word "subterfuge" into everyday conversation.

6. Emma Brockes – What Would Barbra Do?

I spotted this book in the Virgin store at Southern Cross last year whilst waiting for a friend... I didn't buy it at the time but I'm wishing I had. It sounds like it's right up my alley. Seriously. Check out the synopsis:

Film musicals: you either love them or they make you want to kill yourself slowly with plastic cutlery. Nothing has the power to lift your heart or turn your stomach like Howard Keel in fake sideburns singing "Bless Your Beautiful Hide" or Julie Andrews singing...well, just about anything. There are few situations where the question: What would Barbra do? doesn't have relevance in a world which is much better lived to a soundtrack of show-tunes. This is a book for people who know that: people don't tend to die in musicals, but those who do deserve it; true love waits long enough for an element of mistaken identity to be introduced (especially if one of the couple is a Nazi); and, women carry the show. Talented women wind up alone...But they have the consolation of the torch song, which in Hollywood musicals is more fulfilling than a husband.

Yep. Me to a tee. I might have to make this my next Book Depository purchase. Once I've finished the current one of course (current one being "Imperial Bedrooms" by Bret Easton Ellis... I'm apprehensive about starting it given my violent reaction to "Less Than Zero", but I'm very keen to see what he's done with the characters 20 years on).

7. The music playing on the radio… dodgy Hammond Organ or 1970s evening show versions of The Beatles “Across the Universe” and Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made For Walking”. Awesomely dodgy.

I have NO IDEA what the context was of this one. I've had to sit and stew on this one for a good ten minutes and all I can come up with was that I was talking about the music played in a cinema whilst waiting for the trailers to commence.

I'd hazard a guess that it would have been Sun Theatre, or some other indie cinema - only because somehow I can't quite see Hoyts or Greater Union trotting out a K-Tel classic album pre-movie. And this was gold-class K-Tel quality. Had to have been, or I wouldn't have added it to my list of things to blog about!

Anyway. That's all of them. For the moment. I guess I can delete those ones off my phone now. To leave room for more pearls of wisdom? I'll let you decide.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ooooh, My Favesies!

Shhh! I have an obsession.

Well, I have lots of obsessions, but this is the current one:

There's a whole series of them (19 in total) and they're, like, y'know, hilarious! Elaine Caroll is one clever gal.

I'm toying with the idea of doing something similar - obviously not using an Olsen twin as my base, since I'm far too old, but the idea is whirling around in my head.

Anyway, check out the website: But be warned, it's totally addictive - you can't just stop at one episode!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Oh! Santa!

Dear Man-in-Red,

Yes, I realise I'm a little early; after all it's not even the end of August. However, whilst this is fresh in my mind, I'd like to request that this little corker of an appliance be stuffed in my stocking come Dec 25

I haven't seen anything this nifty since Michelle Durant (my bestie at primary school) was given one of those alarm clock/tea maker gadgets for her 11th birthday. I had total alarm clock/tea maker envy and I didn't even drink tea back then.

So Santa forget the sable, the light blue '54 convertible, the yacht, the deed to a platinum mine, the duplex and cheques, the Tiffany decorations and the rings... all I want for Christmas is the Tefal Toast N' Egg.

Cheers pops. Keep up the good work.