Life’s tough for a Gecko


Sitting at my table under the cool air of the air conditioner this morning, I felt something brush my side as it fell down beside me. I looked down and a tail was wriggling on the floor. I looked up and this little bloke was still in the grille of the aircon, struggling. This shot was a minute or two later. Poor little blighter. He was trying to get out and had dropped his tail.


Sorry if you’re squeamish. He was still moving, hanging on for grim death. I took pity on him.


The trouble was, he was cold and being cold blooded, he had little energy to move. He gave a little wriggle once or twice but didn’t try to escape. I took him outside and put him in the garden under a plant to warm up. I’ll check to see what’s happened soon, but he’ll either have died of shock or skedaddled.


I watched The King’s Speech last night. Not a bad movie – interesting to see all the royal digs, and it certainly gave a human side to King George VI as he had to take the throne at the start of WWII.

I’m not sure how accurate it was, but to see all the praise and congratulations heaped on him at the end of his radio speech, I almost choked. Holey moley, it’s not as if he was in any danger! He hadn’t done anything heroic. He wasn’t laying down his life. There he was in a gold braided uniform covered in medals – what had he done to deserve them?! The ordinary men and women were doing far more for the war effort than he was. Bloody royals – she’s not my queen. I don’t pledge allegiance to a Pommy lot of wasters.

In fact, this is appropriate:

There is such animosity towards the commissioner that some Tories – 
though not members of the Mitchell circle – have taken to referring
to him as "Bernard Hogan hyphen Howe". Aristocrats traditionally
look down on members of the middle classes who hyphenate
double-barrelled names.

Oh rahlly? “Aristocrats”. Some “Tories”… look down on members of the middle classes who hyphenate.

This is not early 20th Century talk, this was last week! Britain is still class ridden. Pray tell, how does one become an aristocrat? TAFE classes, perhaps?



Signed up!




Saturday 29 December 2012: the day the sticker went up. Before, during and after. What’s that you say? The middle one looks a bit funny? Listen, I’m in charge here. If I say I’m slim, I’m slim!

It could still fall over – it’s subject to a termite inspection on Wednesday, and I do know the little blighters have been in the fence and workshop, but the contract only refers to the “residence”, i.e. the house, and I’m pretty certain that’s OK.

So now I have to start the packing process all over again. It won’t be nearly as hard this time. Most of the junk went last year. It’ll be good when it’s over, though. Poor old Barry. I think this is probably the hardest, longest drawn out sale he’s ever done, but he’s made a friend and so have I, so I think he’s satisfied. I’ll see him right.



This was my place in September 1986, the month I bought it.


This was the back yard in those days. It was a nightmare of BIG trees. That’s Peter Partridge looking ruefully at the job.


This was the decor at the time. In other words, when I took it on, I knew I had a big job ahead of me, but I was pretty slim and fit in those days and I looked forward to it. I got a fair way into the job, stripping all the wallpaper out, repainting, installing architraves – yes, there were no architraves around the doorways!

All this is a long way of saying, I signed on the dotted line to accept an offer a couple of hours ago and although the buyers know they’ve got work ahead of them, it’s a lot less than I took on. The guy is 39, the same age I was in 1986. Good luck to him.

He’s being presented with the papers right now, and subject to finance, it looks like I have a sale at last. It’s been a long road. I must admit, I’m a bit nervous, but …

It also looks as if there’s a villa available in the St Ives complex right where I want to be, of the right type, facing the right way (for sun aspect), so barring accidents, I might be in there by mid February, Barry says.

Phew! It’s both exciting and stressful at the same time, but it has to be done. There are too many problems here and I need a change of scene.


Dare I Hope?

At this moment, I have a signed offer on the table in front of me. It’s a bit less than I hoped for, but not too much, and I’m inclined to accept.

Better than that, it appears that there’s a unit available right now at the other end which fits my requirements.

Sorry if this sounds cryptic, but I’ll be able to explain all very soon. I’m selling and moving, and I am tired! Tired of the stress, tired of the uncertainty, tired of disappointments, tired of living in a disshevelled mess, tired of being unable to make any plans. Bloody hell! These last two years have been hellacious. It’s supposed to get easier, but it’s been the opposite.

I hope that within a few weeks, if not sooner, I’ll be able to make progress to moving to my final residence. I’ll be able to sleep on my comfortable bed again. I’ll be able to repopulate my bookcases, bring out my DVD collections, have sensible clothing storage, make a nice outdoor area, possibly update my car (low priority), buy a new fridge, start building a model railway … Start to enjoy life again.

Still some stressful things to come, I guess, but at least I’ve got the offer. Phew! This is hard! Minnie doesn’t know yet. I’ll break it to her gently. I think she might find it hard to take too. This is her world, and I’m about to disrupt it completely.

A hit sire, a palpable hit!


A win at last. I saw the ad in Saturday’s West for 31 December being the cutoff date for getting Alinta to check and if necessary replace pre-1980 gas appliances ready for the coming change to natural gas.

Now, I’d phoned them about 18 months ago about this, as I have a gas heater in the lounge room. The heater doesn’t actually work. It used to, but I couldn’t be bothered getting it fixed. (Which raises the issue – I reckon it’s not as cold in winter as it was even 15 years ago.)

I knew they wanted the make and serial number, so I gave them (this is 2010) all the information I could find on the label plate. A friend checked with me – we searched all over the front (all you can get at) and could only find one set of letters and numbers.

So the woman on the phone back then looked at her computer and pronounced that my heater didn’t exist, wasn’t on her list, and that the gas was only connected to my house after 1980. In other words, the heater must be post 1980 and OK and I’m not eligible. She can’t see my house but she knew.

I thought this was wrong as I knew the house was built around 1971 or so. I’ve recently got the original drawings from the Stirling Council and found it was built in 1970.  How could the gas only have been connected 10 or 15 years later? It’s built into a purpose-made recess with a flue. It wasn’t a converted fireplace and hearth.

But she’d refused my protest so that was that.

I’d forgotten about it, but when I mentioned it to Barry last Saturday, he said, Uh oh, Health and Safety. We need to be able to say the heater is safe when selling the house.

So he phoned this time and they sent a guy around this morning to look at it, which is what I wanted in 2010 but was refused.

As soon as he saw it, he said “That’s 1967 or ’68.” He had a quick look behind the front panel and down the bottom where I couldn’t see it was the date 1968 stamped into the metal.

He said, if it had been left, in about two months when the new gas is introduced, it would have started leaking gas!

Bloody hell. I had been given wrong information by someone in Alinta on the end of the phone in 2010 who wouldn’t send someone to check. I could have died or been in a serious situation as a result. Or have sold an unsafe house.

So this friendly gas guy said I’ll get a replacement heater and new flue at no cost, no trouble. A clear-cut case.


I’m tempted to start kicking up about this but I can’t take on more stress. I’ve deliberately thrown in the towel about the police visit I mentioned yesterday. This is a source of stress I can control, so I’m dumping it. Therefore I have been successfully silenced by a politician using the power of the State. It’s hard to believe it can happen, let alone accept, but I have to.

Chicken soup for the soul

I had a little bit of kindness that made a big difference a couple of hours ago.

A few days ago my Venice books arrived from the printers, but they’d been delivered to the wrong house a few doors up. (DHL again. I don’t like ’em.)

So my neighbour brought the books to me, introduced himself as Mark and we had a bit of a chat. Just about house values in the street and how my sale’s going and stuff like that, a few minutes. I’ve never met him before.

Then a couple of hours ago, I heard a woman’s voice at the front, went out and there was a woman with a Glad wrapped green plastic plate in her hand.

“Hi, I’m Lorilee, I’m from number xxx, My husband Mark was here the other day with your book. I’ve just cooked an early Christmas dinner and thought you might like some”, and she passed me the plate.

Boy, I was chuffed! Isn’t that nice? I thanked her profusely, I can tell you.

It’s a full plate of chicken and all kinds of salads. It’ll do me nicely for two meals. That’s neighbourly. I know how I’m going to return the favour – all planned.



To cap it all, my back fence neighbour is doing it again right now. They’ve got a wood fired pizza oven and the smoke blows (from the west) all over me. I’m breathing it now.

ImageI’ve spoken to him about it and put it in writing and told him I won’t tolerate it, but he ignores me. There is a council ban on burning rubbish, but I doubt he’d abide by it.

I am getting a constant barrage of annoyances over the back fence – screaming kids, loud parties, drunken shouting and swearing, strong lights in my eyes, the smoke, a yapping dog, loud lawn mowing and edging,  and now, this summer, the sun reflecting in my eyes for about 2 hours every afternoon from their new solar panels. I’m sick of it!



I have a good idea for a way to stop it, but it requires digging holes and putting up poles in my back yard for a screen. I just don’t have the strength any more. But I may have to do it. Even if the house sells next weekend, it’ll be 8 weeks more before I move.


I’m using my Circulation Booster at this moment. It’s two footpads with contacts for different areas of your feet, and low voltage electrical stimulation of the muscles. It doesn’t hurt, but it can be pretty strong. It’s a bit masochistic but I quite like it. It seems to do good – my legs really feel good after the half hour sessions. A bit like a massage.

Dribble Trouble


15 Feb 2005. These guys were working on the pole in front of my house. Those wires carry 22,000 Volts. The switch is open, but you don’t take any chances with that stuff, hence all the insulating devices. That entire pole with all its switchgear and insulators has been replaced by now. Those glass insulators are gone, replaced by flexible plastic ones. I had a good stickybeak and feel while the new pole was on the ground.

Aaaah, ya gotta laugh. It’s 5am and I’m writing this because it’s not worth going back to bed yet … I’ve spent the last half hour getting power back on. Read on.

Being a bit thundery last night, Minnie came inside about 9pm and so I locked her inside when I went to bed. After a while, I heard her come into my room and find her usual place in the gap between the head of my bed and the wall. As usual, she was doing her panting, which indicates she’s a bit scared. I went to sleep.

I awoke at 1am because my CPAP machine had stopped. When that happens, I soon know about it – choke, choke. Oh dammit, power had gone off. I could see the clock had stopped at 1am. Nothing for it but to wait it out, trying to doze but constantly waking because I choke without the CPAP. By 1.30, 2.30, 3.30am still no power. I got up for a loo run. Minnie was still in her possie.

By 4.30am, still no power. This is a long outage, I thought. Then I noticed an orange glow from the street lights. Funny, they’ve got power. I got up to investigate.

Damn! The RCD (electronic fuse switch) on my power board had tripped. Damn!! I switched it on and it stayed on. Hmmm, must have been a transient.

It stayed on for a minute, then dropped out again. Grrr. So I started a process of unpugging things. At 4.30am!

I’d had trouble with the toaster before. Nope. My fan which runs on me all night? Nope. The RCD wouldn’t stay on.

Maybe it’s something in my computer gear? I’ve got multiple power splitter boards off that feed. Everything’s off, but maybe … I started unplugging things. Minnie had followed me to the door and I’d let her outside.

Then I noticed a slightly damp patch where one of the power splitters was behind my bed. Where Minnie had been.

Light dawned, both literally and figuratively. It was Minnie’s drool! In all her panting at the top of my bed, she’d drooled on the power board. The RCD had done what it’s designed to do and cut off the power. It wasn’t Western Power or Synergy or whoever they are after all. And I’d just spent 3 and a half hours of very uncomfortable sleep without CPAP because I like to have Minnie inside with me. Doggone.

I found another power board (a dry one) and swapped it in. Bingo, RCD stayed in, power back again.

By this time it was 5am and getting light, so I’ve stayed up. It’ll catch up with me later, and I’ll have a sleep mid morning, probably.


Don’t forget, it’s 12/12/12 today, and I’m going to take a shot of the clock at 12:12:12pm for the record. This happens only once in a millennium and I’m going to record it.


I received my two printed Venice books yesterday. Courtesy of a neighbour five doors away. Yes, even though they were clearly and properly labelled with my street number, 118, they were delivered to 108 by the couriers, DHL. My neighbour kindly brought them to me.

This is the second time I’ve had goods brought by DHL and the second time they’ve stuffed up. The first time was in June when they assumed I wasn’t home on a Friday at midday and just left a card in my security door, “Sorry we missed you.” No, I was home! I didn’t hear anything, but my car was in the carport. That involved me in a l-o-o-o-o-ng drive to the airport to collect my goods.

And now this. The packages were properly addressed, yet they delivered them to the wrong house. NOT impressed with DHL.


The books look magnificent. The printing is a bit darker than it should be, but it’ll do. And I discovered a caption mistake in one of them, but that’s my fault.

I’ve realised that the actual printing and binding is done in Kuala Lumpur.

I finally finished my Concerto di Venezia Blu-ray yesterday too. I think I’ve about had enough of Venice – 6 months’ work, slide show, video/slide show and book. That’s enough. Time to move on to the next project – Paris, I think. Or a book collection of my best work of 45 years. Or Blu-ray of Cambridge, York, Nottingham. And another project, my memoirs, simultaneously. Never bored.


I was in the supermarket yesterday and in the meat section, they are selling Gerello.

What the hell is Gerello? It looks like veal slices, but Wikipedia doesn’t have any entry for it.

Then in the soaps section, I found a handwash that said “Bar-pen free”. Oh goody. I don’t want any Bar-pen on my hands. What the hell is Bar-pen? Or was it Pen-bar? Or Ban-per? Again, Wikipedia doesn’t know.


Thank goodness I can use my local shopping centre now, North Beach Plaza. Farmer Jack’s has replaced the IGA which was dying a slow death for about 5 years or more. I don’t know what went wrong, but there was a fire in about 2007 which closed it for over four months while they did repairs. This drove customers to go to other suburbs, as you can imagine. We couldn’t understand why it took so long – the damage was confined to one end only.

When it eventually reopened, it was improved with all new shelving and things seemed fine for a while. But in the past two years stock levels had been dropping, with sold out items not being replaced.

It reached the stage where I couldn’t even buy dog scraps. There were vast sections of low or no stock. They attempted to make it look better stocked by removing a large part of the shelving! Less to stock. Makes sense?

But the empty shelves got worse and worse this year and we had to go elsewhere. This cut the trade of the other shops in the centre too, and they were pretty annoyed about it, but shops are at the mercy of the centre owners and they dare not make too much fuss for fear of upsetting the management.

Finally, a few weeks ago, the supermarket changed hands and Farmer Jack’s took over. Within a week, stocks were back to normal and we started to see new items. In particular, fish. Fresh (vacuum packed) salmon for $19.95 a kilo. This is half price. Fresh Coffin Bay (Tassie?) oysters in shell at $10.99 a dozen. I haven’t actually bought any of these yet – I’m not an oyster swallower and would have to cook them and I’ve never done that before.

But there’s one problem – they have a huge fresh fruit and vege section and I fear this is going to drive the existing greengrocer out of business. I deliberately still buy my fruit and veges at the Chinese shop, but I doubt others do. The FJ’s are too attractive.


We had two good prospects come through the house on Saturday. Strong interest, making appointments for a second look, bringing Dad along next time. This is good because it means I won’t have to drop the price – we can say, “Well, the other people ….”

It’s very early days. A long way to go yet.


I needed a lawn mow last week, ready for Saturday. I called a young guy who has taken over the previous round from a guy who’s retired. This was my second attempt to get him (the young guy) to come. The first time I called at 1030am – he promised to phone me back in half an hour on a Friday and didn’t until 4.30pm and I missed it, so that one failed.

This time we (Barry) made an appointment for Saturday morning 9.30am. Didn’t turn up. So no mow.

That’s it. No third chance. I’ll use someone else – preferably an older guy who understands keeping appointments.


I finally got a reply to my letter to Senator Conroy from 4 months ago! Yes, it took two letters from me, one in August and another last month to get a reply. I was complaining that after 12 years of trying, I still, in this internet age when we depend on the internet to do our living, I still cannot get a reliable connection. I had said I felt I am owed a subsidised connection in view of my long wait and pensioner status.

What I got was three and a bit pages saying nothing I didn’t already know – that the NBN is on the way, that a satellite service is available, that the govt can’t tell Telstra what to do etc. In other words, one day you’ll have 100Mb/s fibre, but we can’t do anything for you.

I’m going to write back and say if this is all you can do after four months of consideration, you’re useless and I’m going to publicise this in the newspapers.

I’m also going to point out that after registering myself in August for the Digital Switchover Scheme (pensioners get a free set top box), I’ve heard nothing more. As a pensioner, I am supposed to be contacted by an antenna installer to fix my antenna at government expense. I had to give a password for security checking when he knocks on my door.

After four months of waiting, nothing. No call, no antenna man. Did I expect anything else? Naaahhh.

For the record

I sent these pictures to a local (Trigg) woman who campaigns for green causes, among others.

This was 29 December 2004


and this was 9 November 2012 (a few weeks ago, iow)


All the trees have grown, except the pines, strangely. They must be mature. The two outer light poles have disappeared in favour of the central one.

My point is to document this view because the Stirling City Council has passed a resolution to rip out ALL these trees and build a new $5m sports pavilion in that top area. Sport, junior football, takes priority over everything else, including my needs and all principles of conservation. It won’t happen immediately, but it’s scheduled for the next few years.

I’ve written to the council protesting and pointing out, among other complaints, that I asked in 2003 for seats under the trees on the left, in the shade. In 9 years, nothing has been done. The only seat is still in full sun. You can’t sit under the trees except on the ground, which I can’t do. My request is ignored.

Auspicious Date

You read it here first, folks.

Have you thought about the significance of next Wednesday? It’s 12/12/12. And that’s the last of a dodecade of palindromic dates for a thousand years (nearly).

We’ve had 01/01/01, 02/02/02 etc right through the memorable 11/11/11, and next Wednesday will be 12/12/12.

But that’s the last of them. There can’t be 13/13/13 or any other similar date until the next millennium. We can’t have 21/21/21 or 50/50/50 or any other until 01/01/(30)01.

Makes you think, doesn’t it? What a great time to be living through, from the Sixties through the turn of the millennium to now. Very few in history get to see the turn of a millennium.

It’s also the last time that American dates fall in line with the rest of the world. Almost alone, they use MM/DD/YY, whereas we and most other countries use DD/MM/YY. So 12/12/12 will be the same date in USA as it is here.

Speaking of significant dates:


Three generations. L-R Dad’s mother, my mother, me, in 1968, the year I turned 21.

Outside the Bennelong Flats in South Perth. It seems both an awful long time ago, and as if it were yesterday. Strange.