The Yum Cha Truck, Devonshire Street, Surry Hills

Friday Night Yum Cha Truck

“Are you here every Friday night”, the woman in the queue in front of me asked, as she looked up to one of the men in the Yum Cha truck. He told her they were here most Fridays, unless there are problems with the traffic.

I’ve noticed this myself, as I normally walk past them on my way home from work. Normally, I try to resist the temptation. But at the end of a very busy week, this was an irresistible option for Friday night dinner. To be honest, not all that tasty, but definitely filling and definitely easy.

The view from Balmain Wharf

Balmain Wharf

The view from Balmain Wharf is pretty fantastic. A couple of friends (from high school) and I spent about thirty minutes there yesterday, waiting for a ferry to arrive.

“There’s nothing quite like a ferry ride in Sydney to make me feel good”, I told them. “It’s like when a dog hangs its head out the window”, I added, noting the physical sensation of sitting up front of a ferry, rather than being stuck inside.

We had spent the last few hours enjoying lunch at The London Hotel (John Dory x 2, and Tenderloin x 1, both of which tasted terrific) and as we waited, we were all a little overwhelmed at how beautiful the clouds were, the harbour was, the bridge looked and the light was. Thought I’d share.

Why I have no interest in the new Smart Watches

The other day I was chatting with a colleague who is much younger than me, and the issue of the new generation of watches came up. I told them I hadn’t worn a watch in about twenty years, and I couldn’t imagine a scenario where I’d want to buy one of the new ones.

I had a terrible history of losing watches. I’m one of those people who comes in the door at night, takes off my clothes on the way to my bathroom, and drops my keys, glasses, phone and wallet, somewhere on the way. I used to do this my watch also, and that’s why I would often lose them at locations like behind the couch, on top of the fridge etc.

I’ve also never really been one for purchasing jewellery. I’ve never worn a ring, for example. To me, watches are a little like jewellery.

Having worked in radio for a long-time I’ve developed a fairly good sense of time. When you spend hours and hours “timing out to the news” and recording items of a specific length (for example, most promos/ads on the radio are thirty seconds in duration), you develop a fairly good sense of time. I know it’s a generalisation, but when we have meetings at work, the people from radio invariably turn up exactly on time (sometimes to the minute and second) whereas those in other parts of the workplace are often a little bit late. In my own personal life, it’s also meant that I’ve developed a good sense of what the time is (based on daylight), and how long something might go for.

But most of all, the reason I don’t wear a watch is because of the “bulk eraser”. The bulk eraser was a device that was commonly used to erase the material on magnetic tape. Put simply, you took your magentic tape (cassette, open-reel, cartridge) and placed it on top of the piece of equipment that “erased” the contents. You had to do it fairly thoroughly or else you could end up with remnant pieces of audio.

You also had to be sure to remove your analogue watch, as that could be rendered unworkable. Many times, I (and others) would walk away, having left their watch on a nearby shelf. After a while, I decided the option of removing my watch was far too problematic, so I would often just hold the hand with a watch on it away at a “safe distance”. Eventually, I stopped wearing a watch.

Like chinagraph pencils and cutting blocks, the “bulk eraser” is a thing of the past in most radio stations. When I had the idea of writing this blog post I wandered up and down the corridors of the ABC in Ultimo to see if a “bulk eraser” might have been found in one of the sealed boxes of “old equipment” on display. In the end, I couldn’t find one, and so I put an appeal to some of my interstate colleagues. With many thanks to colleagues in Melbourne and Newcastle, I can now share with my younger colleague (and you) what a “bulk eraser” once looked like.

Convicts and Drunks

The digitised newspaper project from from the National Library of Australia (aka Trove) is awesome. I love it. I’ve known a fair bit about my convict ancestors, as their lives were reasonably well documented through official government records. But searching through the newspapers, I have discovered a whole bunch of reports about many of my others ancestors family members that I hadn’t known previously, and would have been near impossible if I’d had to spend thousands of hours reading microfilms of country newspapers.

For example, both of my grandfathers appeared in court on charges of public drunkeness and obscene language.

The Southern Star (Bega) on Saturday 1 December 1906, page 4 reported that my paternal grandfather James O’Brien appeared in court along with Joseph Noonan (his brother-in-law) on using obscene language in public.

James O’Brien was charged with using obscene language in Bega Street on the morning of November 11. He pleaded not guilty, and was defended by Mr. Curtis. Constable Turner deposed to being attracted to the Bridge Lane after midnight on the 10th by a row which could be heard all over the town; he stood by the roadside, and heard defendant use the words complained of.

By Mr. Curtis : Was in Gipps street when I first heard the noise; there were five men there; was sure defendant was the right man; did not know who the two were who cleared out; he was not making fish of one, and flesh of another; they were all under the influence of liquor; did not know whether there were two horses or one in the buggy.

James Sirl deposed to having been in bed, and hearing bad language on the road. Defendant denied using the language; there were six of them altogether; he was holding the horses when the Constable arrived; asked him what charge he had against me, and be would not say.

By Sergeant Scott: Had two whiskies and three beers that night, but was not drunk (laughter) ; used no bad language; Noonan wanted to fight; am sober now; had two drinks this morning.

Mr. T. J. Bateman, J.P., of Numbugga, whom accused works for, gave him a good character, and said he had never heard him use a bad word. The Bench were unanimous in convicting defendant, and fined him 5s and 6s costs.

Joseph Noonan was charged with using indecent language on the same occasion, and pleaded not guilty, being defended by Mr. Curtis. The constable’s evidence was similar to the former case. Defendant denied using the words complained of, although he may have used other words; he was half-drunk. The P.M.: Which half — the head or the legs?

Witness said they were on their way home, and had a quarrel with two men on the road; O’Brien had a bit of a tussle with Bourke. Jas. 0’Brien deposed that defendant did not use the language.

Larry Bourke was also called, but he stated that he was too drunk to know what was said; he and O’Brien had a row, and he thought he got the worst of it. Mr. Bateman also gave Noonan a very good character, and addded he had never heard him use a bad word. Fined £1 and 65 4d costs. Mr. Curtis gave notice of appeal. Larry Bourke was fined 5s and 4s 4d costs for riotous conduct

My maternal grandfather, Charles Henry Dunn also appeared in court for being drunk in public, as was reported in The Northern Star of June 19, 1940…

Pleading guilty at the Lismore Police Court to having been drunk in Molesworth-street on Saturday night, Henry Snook (72) was fined 5s, with the alternative of three hours’ hard labour. Patrick James Daley (52), who was charged with being drunk in Molesworth-street on Saturday after noon, and Charles Henry Dunn (50), charged with drunkenness in Union street, South Lismore, on the same day, failed to appear, and forfeited their recognisances of 10s each.

I, of course, have never been drunk and have never used obscene language :)

Through Trove, I also recently discovered my uncle, Henry O’Brien was involved in an alleged robbery (though discharged) in Lismore, as was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald of Monday, 16 April 1928 (page 12)…

GRAFTON, Saturday. Before Mr. Justice ferguson, in the Supreme Court, two young men, John Joseph Creen, and Henry Augusta O’Brien, were charged with having, at Lismore, broken and entered the jewellery premises of Michael Phillips and stolen 12 watches, 50 bangles, and 24 rings. A plea of guilty was entered by O’Brien, but Green pleaded not guilty. The Crown Prosecutor stated that as O’Brien was an accomplice, and would be wanted to give evidence, the Crown prayed that no judgment be entered against him. His Honor (to O’Brien): You are released. After evidence had been heard, His Honor said the only direct evidence against Green was that of O’Brien, who was an accomplice. It was dangerous to take the evidence of an accomplice unless corrobated by some material evidence. The Jury returned a verdict of not guilty, and accused was discharged.

Most of these stories would never have appeared in a major newspapers whereas, of course, in country newspapers they received top billing. There’s also a tendency for newspapers to report the negative and salacious, but thankfully, the newspaper search has not all been resulting in doom and gloom, as I’ve also found some lovely reports of weddings, engagements and such.

Anyway a big “thumbs up” to the National Library of Australia for this project and a recommendation to go for a search if you dare :)