Old timers

Jindalee Beach looking north, 2016, Sony RX10 © PJ Croft 2022

It’s a beautiful day at the moment – sunny, blue sky, no wind. It’s remarkable how the weather has changed in this part of the world. We used to be at the top of the Roaring Forties, being at latitude 32deg South. That meant Perth was Windy City, always blown around by westerly winds. I used to notice on my travels how calm it was in the places I visited (e.g. Singapore, Bali) and wished we could have the same.

But it’s all changed. Now, I’ve got my wish. The Roaring Forties have moved further south. Perth and the lower part of WA are no longer blasted by the westerlies. That’s not always true – we still get the winter storms, but we get many more calm, still days, like now. I like it!

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I had lunch at the Kings Park Restaurant on Thursday with five of the old gang who were at St Christopher’s House Boys’ Hostel, Northam, from 1960 – 1964. Well, not quite true, one of the group was from Toodyay, but he’s good company so we make him an honorary Hut Lad.

It’s 60 years since we shared dormitories. Sixty years! Yet we’re still mates and it hardly seems any time at all. We moved apart in the decades after school, but have come back together in the past couple of decades. In fact we have reunions every year and we have more than 150 on our list of alumni of the school. We get about 40 along to the reunions each year (COVID permitting) and people are still keen to meet up each year.

Alan (‘Harry’) and Jim (‘Wedge’) actually drove up from Dunsborough and Bunbury respectively, just for our lunch, then drove back again afterwards. I’m impressed. That shows respect, I think. Roy (‘Yorkie’) and Geoff (he didn’t have a nickname) live in Perth, so that’s OK, and Mick (Toodyay Boy) lives in Leeming – the Near South. I’m ‘Bull’, have been since about October 1961.

I live in the Deep North, Butler, 55 mins drive on the freeway, so I reckon I deserve a medal for the long drive as well. Actually, I look forward to these long drives. I enjoy driving and the Honda makes it a pleasure with its comfy leather seats and cruise control. I am bloody tired of the road works on the freeway, though!! It never ends. They have been digging up the south bound lanes for the past two or three years. When are they going to finish??!! Same with the northern extension of the freeway, up past Clarkson to Yanchep. They’ve been going at least two years now and completion is not expected until end of next year! So slow …….

I had a beefburger for lunch, with added cheese and egg at extra cost. The total cost for a burger was $30.49! It wasn’t worth it. The burger patty was thin and boring. I reckon a Hungry Jacks burger is better. Hmm, I should be in advertising.

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I’ve just been watching a YouTube clip about all the inventions we no longer use, and I was amazed at the length of the list:

  • the dial or pushbutton phone
  • the mechanical analogue wrist watch
  • the pocket compass (superseded by GPS and the smart phone)
  • the VHS home recorder
  • the Betamax home recorder
  • the VHS or Beta camcorder
  • the Video-8 camcorder
  • the laser video disc player (never a thing in Australia)
  • the 8-track tape player, although it never caught on in Australia
  • the reel to reel tape recorder
  • the audio cassette recorder
  • the DVD recorder (still in use, but dying out)
  • the CD recorder (never really a thing)
  • the dial-up modem
  • the 8mm or Super8mm film movie camera and projector
  • the 35mm slide projector and screen
  • the desktop calculator, mainly used in labs and offices
  • the cassette Walkman with headphones
  • the ‘Boombox’ or ‘Ghetto Blaster’, the giant portable stereo radio/cassette
  • the portable TV receiver (CRT type)
  • the full sized CRT TV. Huge, heavy, expensive.
  • the pager, the belt carried LCD screen to show a small message
  • the Discman portable CD player (much to my regret – I used mine a lot)
  • the floppy disc – 7½”, 5¼”, 3.5″ – I used to have hundreds of the latter
  • the record player – OK, not quite dead but not main stream
  • the Minidisc recorder – again, not mainstream and not quite dead, but you can’t buy a new one
  • the portable Minidisc player – same, I have one and it’s great, but not available new
  • the portable transistor radio – still available new, but a niche product
  • the VHS and Beta video recorder/players
  • the mechanical typewriter
  • the Micro-cassette voice recorder/memo taker
  • the data backup tape drive (still used in some big data centres)
  • the PDA – Personal Data Assistant. Who remembers the Palm Pilot or the Sony Clié? (I have one.)
  • the calculator wrist watch
  • the film camera – again, not quite dead but little used
  • Morse Code – not quite dead, but little used. It was a very early form of digital communication.

What a long list! And that’s not everything. Nearly all of these date from the 1960s and onwards, not such a long time ago for someone like me who’s been involved since the 1960s and can remember nearly all of this. The other surprising thing is how many of these were invented or strongly supported by Sony. That’s an amazing company. So inventive, so far-thinking, such good quality products.

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Nearly forgot to mention: I’ve had another progress call from the RAC Morley about the Peugeot. They’ve had it for more than a month now (it will be five weeks on Tuesday).

They’ve found it needs yet another coolant hose! This is the third one. The first one cost about $200, then they found another one at about $60. Then they found the thermostat housing needs replacement (that’s what I originally thought) at $320, and now they’ve found yet another leaking hose. But this one costs $416! Bloody hell! The parts costs alone are up to $2,200 so far, with 3 hours labour at $145 per hour. Plus the cost of an oil change and filter. We’re looking at a total nearing $3,000 at the moment.

What can I do? I have to say keep going because it’s not a junk car. It’s in superb condition. I can’t just say “Stop, it’s not worth it”. The only consolation is that I only paid $4,400 for it, and the current values for this model and year (2006) are $6,500 upwards, reaching $12,000 or more depending on engine and options. I may have to sell it. I need either a station wagon or the Honda with its SUV body. The Peugeot is an indulgence. Besides anything else, the cost of a licence is around $950 per car now. This is a damned tax, not a licence. I’m reaching the limit.

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Crikey, I’m suffering from some quite strong pain at the moment, intermittent but enough to have me squirming and groaning at times. It’s bad enough to want to take strong pain relief, stronger than Panadeine Forte.

I saw the GP last week and he diagnosed internal scar tissue from previous operations being pulled around. Take analgesia, but nothing more to be done. OK, all very well, but I can’t live like this. It’s strong pain and it mostly doesn’t let up. And as usual, the analgesics stop me sleeping!

The thing is, I tried to make another appointment yesterday as I can’t bear this 8/10 pain. But I can’t get in to see my GP until the beginning of August, 11 days away at best. I looked at another GP at the same centre, who I’ve seen before, and he’s booked out until Wednesday next week.

This is almost bad enough to need to go to the ED at Joondalup Hospital. I suppose I could try for an appointment at the two other medical centres near me. I’d better try that, I guess. This is quite a problem.

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I’m feeling a warm glow these days from the new Labor federal government and their actions. At last, they are making me proud of Australia again, after the past near-decade of international embarrassment and shame at the Liberal-National actions. The climate change denial, the refusal to cooperate with international groups. The nose-thumbing at the Pacific nations. The continued subsidisation of coal, oil and gas producers, despite pleas from other countries. They brought shame on my country!

Now, at last I can say “Well done”. We’re not fully clean yet, but we’re on the way.

I’m prompted to say this because one of my old Hut Lad mates, who admits he’s been a strong conservative voter, last Thursday said “Your lot are doing a good job these days, I have to admit.” He’s been a conservative Liberal voter but he’s brave enough to say how good a job Labor are doing, both at state and federal level.

He mentioned how rigid the right wing conservatives – his words- are and we had a brief chat about how they are afraid of change, they resist change no matter what. I said I feel it’s because they don’t understand the science, don’t understand what the changes mean, therefore they just resist. He agreed. This is progress! I’m very surprised at his change in attitude. Let’s hope he carries it through to the next election.

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Hollow trees, Trigg Bushland, 2008 © PJ Croft 2022
Trigg Beach 1 October 2007 © PJ croft 2022
Minnie, Trigg Beach 13 Oct 2009 – I miss her so badly!

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