Swamp in the City

It’s been a while since I’ve done a decent update hasn’t it? I suppose I’d better set that right.

OK, I’ve had an insanely busy month. Not only was there the big-ass project at work, but my aunt from the UK was in town, my other aunts were heading off on a round the world trip, and Mars made it’s closest approach to Earth in a good 60,000 years or so. All of these factors made various and differing demands upon my time, meaning that I haven’t had more than a few minutes to myself, most of which were spent playing Civ III as a form of stress relief. But things have calmed down now (I hope) so I suppose I should write about what I’ve been up to in detail.

Let’s see. Well a few weeks back I took the folks out on our yearly excursion to the Witch’s Cauldron to celebrate Mum’s birthday and father’s day. I had the garlic prawns for my main course (naturally) but decided to try the pate for an entree. Frankly I think this was a big mistake.

When the pate arrived it was in the form of a foot high mountain, surrounded by about three-thousand triangles of toast. You could have served it as a main course and no one would have complained! I managed to finish most of it, but was hampered by the fact that it was ice cold. I don’t know, maybe that’s how pate is meant to be served, but it didn’t exactly make for pleasant eating. Overall I suspect that the pate is some kind of joke dish, and the kitchen staff have hidden cameras that they use to laugh at people who order it.

On the subject of gigantic servings I should mention that in recent months Rebecca, Dom and I have been out to La Porcetta in Morley twice. This is an Italian chain restaurant with fantastic food, but (from both of our experiences) rather dodgy service. For instance, the first time we sat around for at least 15 minutes before anyone turned up to take our orders. Then, once we’d finished our entree (a sun dried tomato pizza), one of the waitresses tried to settle our account and kick us out, at which juncture we had to point out that we hadn’t actually had our main courses yet. The second time round we were served a lot faster initially, but then had to wait twenty minutes for our deserts, which only turned up when we collared one of the serving staff and asked them what the heck was going on (my theory was that there was a serial killer hiding in the freezer room, killing the staff one by one as they went in to get our gelatos). But we did get one of them for free, which was nice.

So, the service may be a bit hit and miss, but the food is excellent. I had the mushroom gnocchi both times, and it was fantastic. The servings are huge too. I ordered the main course the first time round, and couldn’t finish it, so the second time ordered the entree serving, which I only just managed. The twenty minute gap was probably an advantage really, I might not have been able to get my desert down if I hadn’t had some extra digestion time.

Finally, in addition to the great food and gigantic servings, one of the waitresses is really cute* *g*. So I heartily recommend La Porcetta, so long as you don’t need to eat in a hurry or anything :)(Oh yeah, almost forgot. They don’t accept EFTPOS or Credit Cards for some reason, so bring cash. But they do serve ‘Dude Deserts’ 😉

OK, so that’s covered dining out over the last two months or so. I could talk about Mars, but everything I tried to do associated with it ended in disaster, so I won’t. Instead I’ll talk about what I did yesterday.

I decided during the week that I could do with some new clothes, and that I needed a haircut. I was also wanting to buy some CDs, so I decided to make a major expedition over to the Galleria, and into the city. The most sensible way to go would be by bus, so I waded through the absolutely interminable Transperth website* and eventually managed to download a PDF of the appropriate timetable and plan my day accordingly. Everything pretty much went to plan, and by 11:00 I was getting off the bus in William Street in the city, with my ridiculously short new haircut (it does look ridiculous, but it looked equally ridiculous long, and this way I won’t have to get it cut again well into next year 🙂

I was actually trying to track down a copy of Sibelius’s Kullervo, since I caught a documentary on him a few months ago, and I really liked what they played of it. I managed to find a copy (performed by the Stockholm Symphony Orchestra and National Male Choir of Estonia no less) at Wesley Classics, which was convenient. I then went over to JB’s Hi Fi intending to buy the New Pornographers’ Electric Version. I’m not quite sure what happened but I found myself back on the street fifteen minutes later clutching a copy of Spencer Tracey’s Ocean, b(if)tek’s Frequencies Will Move Together and a Stargate SG-1 DVD. I think they must be putting subliminals through the music down there or something 😉

I then realised that I’d just missed the bus home, and the next one wasn’t due for an hour. So I went for a ramble along St George’s Terrace down to the Concert Hall, then down onto the foreshore and across the Esplanade. I was aiming for the Bus Station which I’d last visited about five years before while playing the role of psychopath stalker in one of my brother’s various film projects (The final scenes were shot at Jacob’s Ladder in King’s Park, resulting in the heroine shooting to death a very out of breath and sweaty villain 😉

OK, here’s the thing about the Perth Bus Station. It’s a nightmare. I don’t know what they were thinking when they designed it, but imagine the departure lounge of an eastern European airport at three in the morning stuck on top of a World War Two submarine pen, and you’ve got some idea. The main concourse is a grimy hall filled with uncomfortable chairs (most leaking stuffing) and decorated with a variety of departure and arrival boards, about half of which will actually be functioning at any given time. A variety of small shopfronts poke out to the side, offering questionable magazines and even more questionable pies and sausages preserved pharaoh-like in a thin patina of grease. Staircases and escalators lead down to the various platforms – follow one down and you’ll find yourself in a strange subterranean world of pre-stressed concrete and orange fog lights. There are seats down there, but I strongly suspect they’re provided for the use of sewer dwelling mole-men who may occasionally stumble up through the storm drain system and like what they see enough to hang around.

As if all this isn’t bad enough, they’re currently constructing the Perth Convention Centre around the bus station, so add in all the noise, dust and inconvenience of a building site. For instance, access to the station is via three pedestrian walkways from the buildings opposite. Thanks to the construction work, only one of these is actually open (and you can’t tell which one until you’ve climbed the stairs up to them all). The only halfway pleasant area of the station, the roof garden, has now been fenced off and taken over by demountables and shipping containers – making my brother’s film a notable historical record of what the place originally looked like.

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The Roof Garden -Click to Enlarge

Anyway, so I spent a good fifteen minutes trying to find my way into the bus station. During my endeavors I did however make a fantastic discovery. Or fantastic at least for someone with as great an appreciation of decaying post-industrial landscapes as myself.

Directly opposite the bus station there’s a swamp. Right there, smack bang between the two blue glass skyscrapers that support the pedestrian walkways. It’s deep pit, obviously dug to provide the foundations for a new skyscraper – in fact there are stained blocks of concrete and rusted metal girders poking out all over the place suggesting construction actually began – but it seems to have been abandoned for years, and has been reclaimed by nature. A ruptured water pipe, still bubbling away in one corner has filled the bottom with water, and weeds, water plants and great banks of rushes have taken over. It’s amazing! A full on swamp right in the heart of the city!

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Click to Enlarge
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I presume that it was the intended site of the old Westralia Place tower, which was launched in a blaze of glory about twelve years back, but never got built. I also presume that sooner or later someone will come along and redevelop the site, which personally I think would be a great shame. Secure any loose concrete, remove any dangerous waste, make sure the foundations of the surrounding buildings are secure, and let it be! Not only would it provide a haven for birds and other aquatic animals in the heart of the city, it would be a daily reminder of the fragility of human accomplishment and civilisation. Or something like that 🙂

Anyway I eventually found my way into the station, and spent about fifteen minutes sitting in a darkened bus down in the subterranean realm of the Mole People before being delivered to the bus stop right outside the building. Excellent.

OK, I’m going to stop writing now. Got a rent inspection next Friday, so I’d better get theplace cleaned up.

Over and out.

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