Strange Things Afoot in the Tree-lined Parkway Avenue


Above is a map of Hamilton/Hamilton East. Any of you familiar with Newcastle’s inner suburbs will probably know the area well. I do, because I grew up not far off the right hand edge.

Last night, I went out for a kebab – as you do when you’re me – and so I was coming home about midnight, along the route indicated by the red dots. I’m no expert with MS Paint, so you’ll have to forgive the fact the map looks like it’s been marked up by a three-year-old using crayons held in their feet.

As I was saying though, I was heading roughly south-east. Something – I’ve no idea what – was going on where the purple circle is in Parkway Avenue. Whatever it was, it involved four police cars, not very neatly parked – they were on the footpath and the median strip.

I can understand that if something’s going down, the police might block off adjacent streets. That’s not what they did though. The blue arrows (yes, they are arrows, even if they look like blobs) indicate where police cars or 4WDs were parked, blocking traffic. But they were facing toward the purple circle, and in three out of the four cases, stopping vehicles headed AWAY from whatever had happened.

As shown, I was able to continue on my planned path, toward and past the incident on Parkway Avenue.

I’ve no idea what was going on where the purple circle is. But the roadblocks Newcastle Police put in place were very odd. I checked this morning on the Police Media Release list – and they tend to put out press releases to announce anything they can think of! – but there was nothing to explain it.

Researching the Dambusters


I am working on a research project.

When I was in Year 3 (1979), and also Year 5 (1981), I went to Hamilton South Primary School. Their school song was to the tune of the Dambuster March from the 1955 movie about the bombing raid on German dams.

I have always wondered why the school used that tune. I had a number of theories, but wanted to know if any of them were right (they weren’t) but having disproved them, I’m now stuck trying to work out what the true story is.

A couple of weeks ago, I emailed the school (not for the first time) with the question, and ended up going in and visiting the librarian – Gwenda – who has a bit of a thing for the school’s history. A chat with Gwenda was followed by a chat with my now-retired fifth grade teacher – David Dyball, one of my all-time favourite teachers (he ignited my lifelong love of local history). Both Gwenda and Mr Dyball gave me small snippets to go forward with, but neither had the smoking gun, the bit of evidence I need to answer the question.

Along the way, I’ve learnt quite a bit. Three of the aircrew that fateful night in 1943 were Novocastrians – although none of them attended Hamilton South – the school was only opened in the 1930s. And sadly, the Royal Air Force disbanded 617 Squadron last year (for the third time since it was formed in 1943).

Circular Dilemma

Wednesday last week, I bought the shoes my podiatrist had recommended to me. At $229, they were more than any pair of shoes I’d ever bought but Dr Aaron had said they’d help with the painful arches and allow me to return to my evening walks without pain. Okay, made sense.

But within a day, I could feel my back starting to get twitchy. I figured it must be because my spone had gotten out of whack with bad shoes and bad posture, and these $229 wonder-shoes were fixing all that up.

Last Monday though, I hit a wall. I got to work, and could barely walk. I needed to support myself on desks and chairs to walk from one side of the office to another, so I was sent home. It got worse while driving. I went past my doctor’s office, hoping I might be able to pull up outside, and call him to come and give me drugs or treatment or something down in the street. But there was an hour before Dr Charlie was due to start for the day. I kept going, kept trying to get home. I failed though. Hit a wall – fortunately only a metaphorical one – near Denison Street, and pulled up at the ambulance station there. One of the trainers in the office came out, and chatted to me and radioed for an ambulance. I couldn’t walk, couldn’t move.

whistleParamedics arrived and as usual, they were the most professional and friendly people in the world. I was given a whistle – a green plastic thing about 4 inches long. After breathing through it for 4 or 5 breaths, I felt no pain, my head was spinning and, as it was described to me “it’s like downing a bottle of whiskey, but it tastes like red fruit tingles, and wears off 10 minutes after you stop breathing through it”. These things would be worth a fortune on the black market, I’m sure.

I was taken to the Mater, given more drugs, spoke to a doctor, and as the drugs took effect, was fine enough to go home. Naturally though, as soon as I left, the pain was returning. So Jen took me home, and on the way, bought me some painkillers.

Later, I got more painkillers, and that’s pretty much the story of my week – painkillers, friends waiting on me, and me struggling to do much more than get out of bed long enough to go to the bathroom.

Until today.

Today, I have managed to spend most of the day out of bed. I’m not sure if it’s the Valium, Panadiene Forte, and Nurofen, or whether I am actually getting better. But now it’s down to a manageable ache. No longer completely crippling.

Rhiannon hit the nail on the head though when she texted me through the week.

“What are you doing about it?” she asked
“I’m resting and taking lots and lots of really strong drugs”
“What about longer term?”

That’s the question – what happens longer term?

Ironically, this latest crippling – coming only 13 months after the previous one – was a direct result of strategies triggered by the last one. I wanted to get more active, but that required sorting out the sore arches problem. That led to the podiatrist, and the new shoes. And now, to a week in bed.

She’s right though. Things must change in Banana-world

And so this is Christmas…

I am spending Christmas at Ec’s place. He’s off at his parents’ place for 3 days. I’m here looking after his cat, and watching some of his extensive collection of downloaded TV shows – so far Archer, Foyle’s War, Air Crash Investigation, and How We Got To Now. I did much the same thing last Christmas. Because I hate Christmas. And dislike the weeks leading up to it – the closer to the 25th, the greater the dislike becomes. The week after it’s not much better.

I could give an explanation that the dislike has come from the way Christmas was always dividing my household when I was married, or that Christmas Day was the day that Lana and I broke up. The reality though is I’ve hated it all long long before that.

I remember being about 7 or 8, getting a bunch of gifts, and not being allowed to do the thing I most wanted to – run across the road to my best friend’s place, show off my loot, and check out what he’d scored. I was told he was spending time with his family, and I should spend time with mine.

I’ve no idea if Matt liked his family or not. I don’t remember if I disliked mine then (I certainly do now!) but I certainly know I wanted my friend’s company more than I wanted my sisters’ or parents’.

There it is Matt – from way back in the 70s, you were part of spoiling Christmas.


It’s started.

The latest “magical alignment of all the planets is coming so *bang!* wow, amazing new paradigm in society” nonsense.

If anyone tells you the planets are aligning, look at this:


(Click image to enlarge)

This is how “aligned” the planets are: ie not at all.

But even if they were, even if every planet lined up in a line, either all on one side of the sun, or on one side of the Earth, the combined gravitational effect on you would be about the same as a 747 flying over your head at 30,000 feet.

Pub Noise

I have a friend who is studying Auslan – the sign language.

Last night, her class had Christmas drinks at a local club, and she’s a bit insecure in social situations, so asked me to come along.

What we didn’t realise until we got there was the drinks was coordinated to be at the same time and place as the Christmas gathering for the Deaf Society. So instead of one deaf lady (her teacher) and half a dozen (hearing, and therefore speaking) classmates, the main bar at this venue was full of people engaged in very animated and excited conversations, but not a sound coming from any of them.

It really was fascinating. And almost enough to make me want to learn the language too. I learnt it a bit before my sister was able to speak, I could often work out what a conversation was about, although not much more.


tchaikovskyI recently wrote something on another site which referred to the 1812 Overture.

When I was in Canberra, I went to see it performed at Duntroon. The announcer that night told us how the piece was written to celebrate the Russian victory against Napoleon’s invasion and that’s why the French La Marseillaise is included. But I never got much more of an explanation, nor anything about what each part of the Overture is about.

I went looking for an answer to this a few days ago, and found this. I have been listening to, and reading, that page for the last few days, and so – as happens – I have had the overture blasting along in my head since about Friday.

It’s also made me curious about similar ‘stories’ associated with some of my favourite classical music.

“Evidence please?”

Something that’s been giving me the shits lately is people’s willingness to believe nonsense without questioning it. Or even worse, those who have nonsensical beliefs who carry on like they have been punched in the face when asked “Can you back that up with evidence?”

I’m the sort of person who questions my beliefs, and who asks those around me “If you think I’m wrong, stump up with the evidence? Prove me wrong?” but so few do, or even try.

I welcome someone bringing me evidence their position is right and mine is wrong, on a great many topics, but too often, the counter-argument is built on nonsense.

I should of course remember the rules about arguing with peasants, and also this great video/poem:

Do you know what they call alternative medicine that’s been proved to work? Medicine!

When did the world become so stoopud?