Friday, January 15, 2010

did leo sayer have a song about a train and was it called 'train'?

(Writ yesterday) Spent a bit of time at the SLV this evening looking at RAIA files, I went through the press cuttings from 1936-37 which had a lot of great stuff about the inauguration of the Slum Abolition Council, a group which – unless I’m thoroughly mistaken – served its purpose and was wound up very quickly when a lot of its members, the ones for whom slum abolition was a core concern, were co-opted into a government committee for the same then reformulated as the Housing Commission of Victoria.

Also, looking at bungalow courts/ maisonette stuff and generally chipping away at the important process of eventually understanding the world and everything in it. Now I am listening to the Black Kids on the train and typing to you.

I did a bit of random blog searching recently and it is amazing to me how many people start blogs and don’t, you know, continue them beyond a certain point. Wow, who do they think they are? A blog is not just a whim you know, it’s an ongoing living thing like sourdough or sad songs. Though it’s hard to tell on the whole whether some of those people are actually setting out to do a blog (and stopping after a couple) or whether they’re really more concerned with having an identity on blogger. That’s probably a big part of it.

I like this Black Kids record though at the moment I like the singles and the other bits are like the cushioning muscle round the vertebrae or, perhaps, one-entry blogs. Well, I will persist and I bet I get to love one or two songs more. They remind me a bit of the… no, I won’t say, you’ll just think I’m a prat.

Man, spend a bit of time looking at architecturally-themed press clippings and then take a train to Broadmeadows viewing as you go the houses lining the railway line. I dare you. The line was electrified in the early 1920s and while there are a few Victorian buildings at (say) Essendon and Moonee Ponds, it’s basically housing from Federation up to pre-WWII, pretty nice a lot of it. In the late 1930s there was hubbub because 85% of buildings weren’t architecturally designed – it’s less now, isn’t it, Shane?

It’s funny looking at those clippings, to my more-trained-than-most-but-still-untrained-nonetheless-eye, a lot of those 1930s houses look like remodelled Victorian houses. I am not sure if they are (and the accompanying text is just not saying so), or whether Melbourne architects of the 1930s were sticking to the form they knew and making the outsides look cool. Both, perhaps, the key being whether the newspaper columns on new buildings – basically industry puff – would dig very deep or see renovation/refurbishment of a fa├žade as a good thing.

Anyway, I loved looking at those clippings. Then I was looking at some individual files, and checked out Charles Heath’s irate letter to the RVIA responding to their stuffy letter criticising him and asking for an explanation because he sent out a slightly self-publicising pamphlet – really, just a folded over piece of paper – featuring his latest (and as far as I’m aware, greatest) building, the Coburg Town Hall which, by the way, you can still see anytime you wanna, in Bell Street. Check it out, cool dome. Then I got into other files which I won’t go into detail about in case someone does a lazy search on them and sees me being flippant about them and thinks I’m not a serious scholar. Am I paranoid?

I left the heritage reading room and I was the last to leave, leaving the lady behind the desk to do whatever crazy thing she might get up to when there’s no-one around to see. I wonder. I kind of envied her having at least an hour just staffing the HRR without having to answer any dumb question (though let’s face it those SLV librarians make things more difficult for themselves). Then I thought, no, I’d just get bored hanging out there with nothing to do and no-one to do it for/with/at.

Then I got to the station and had a few frantic minutes as I had two minutes to buy a ticket and get on the train – just made it otherwise I’d probably still be sitting there on the platform being annoyed and thinking ‘that train’s probably at Glenbervie now,’ or ‘I bet it’s at Oak Park now, damn it.’ And hoping it crashes and blows up and burns to pieces, so that my missing it turns out to be a good thing, and then thinking, what if that actually happens to the one I am about to get on? That’s how it goes peeps don’t say you don’t do the same.

Now I am at Jacana station, which has got to be (I’ve dwelt on this before) the most poorly situated, inaccessible, ugly station in Melbourne, now that Mobiltown’s gone, anyway. Did I ever tell you about the time some bikies circled me at Mobiltown? It was I guess 1978. I was a railway buff of sorts though I wanted to cultivate my own take on railways and I did. And it got me nowhere. Oh, I suppose it got me interested in planning and the built environment and the like, probably, now I come to think of it.

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