Common Decency

Proof – if any were needed – that acting legally and acting decently are not necessarily the same thing.

When Clyde and Lesley Bevan were told the $6500 gold and diamond bracelet they had lost months ago had been found, they were delighted and grateful […] Their happiness turned into incredulity when the finder told them he now owned the jewellery […] He said he would give Mr and Mrs Bevan the bracelet but only if they made a claim under their insurance policy and gave him half the payout. […] The finder was a clergyman, the Rev. Terry McAuliffe, of St Paul’s Anglican Church in City Beach. — The West Australian, June 26th 2013

Proof also – if any were needed – that being a minister of religion is no guarantee of being a decent human being.

Urban Folklore

Here be dragons

This comic from Subnormality pretty much says it all.

They say maybe these are just good stories, as opposed to good facts. Just versions of old themes. But maybe those themes are old for a reason. Maybe there’s always been a city, and it’s always been kind of a drag at times, mundane and predictable, and as your comically brief window of existence ebbs away maybe it’s always kind of helped to pretend. To think about good stories as reality lumbers past, its cards all showing, its hills all flagged before you were born, its every expanse and signed and bathed in ceaseless light, nothing undiscovered.

That’s how I feel a lot of the time. I want there to be mysterious places, unsolved mysteries and strange phenomenon hiding just out of sight in the everyday landscape. I want there to be dragons, serpents and secrets just round the corner. And if there aren’t any, I’ll damn well make some up.

This was the impetus behind a project I came up with many years ago called The Secret History of Perth. It was to be a book full of completely made up rumours tied into the history of the city. Roman coins found during the construction of St Mary’s cathedral, strange cyclopean tunnels that put paid to attempts to build an underground railway system in the 1920s, Phoenician carvings in Bedfordale, a Japanese Midget Submarine in Melville Water and – oddly enough given the first panel of the comic – an illegal nightclub operating in the city’s storm drains in the 1970s.

As with many of my projects it never came to fruition. But there are actually a quite a few mysteries and urban myths around Perth without me making any up…

Platypuses – Platypuses are of course not native to Western Australia, but every now and then someone will claim to have spotted one in the streams up in the hills. Conventional wisdom is that they’ve just seen a native water rat, but rumours have persisted for years that at some indeterminate point in the past some indeterminate person released an indeterminate number of platypuses up there for indeterminate purposes.

Funnily enough, a few years back someone actually did the research and discovered that a breeding pair of platypuses were released into the hills back in the (I think) 1930s as part of some kind of deranged ecological ‘improvement’ scheme. One of them turned up dead a week or so later however, so it’s unlikely that they produced any offspring. As a result, the rumours now focus on some mysterious earlier release (possibly in the Victorian era) or subsequent, undocumented releases in the same program.

Japanese Sea Planes – During World War II rumours were rife that Japanese sea planes were using the dams up in the hills to pick up and drop off spies. Mysterious planes buzzing the hills at night were the black helicopters of the day. It’s almost certainly untrue, but it’s not completely outside the realms of possibility.

Secret Tunnels – It’s claimed by some that there are underground tunnels linking the Supreme Court building in the city to the Old Perth Mint. As the buildings are almost a kilometre apart this seems unlikely, but the rumours persist. Slightly more likely are stories of tunnels linking to the old Treasury Building across the road from the Court. There may also be a 1920s style public toilet entombed under the intersection just outside the Court – an underground toilet certainly existed there once, the question is whether it was demolished or simply sealed up when the authorities decided to close it.

The Boya Quarry – The old Boya Quarry up in the hills was supposed to be the site of all kinds of satanic rituals. These days it’s a rock climbing centre, but when I first visited it back in the 1990s it was full of junk and heavily gratified with pentagrams and the number 666. How much of that was down to genuine cult activity and how much to people who’d heard the rumours is open to debate.

The QV1 Building – Perth claims to be the most isolated large city in the world (it really depends on how you define ‘large city’). We have a population of 1.6 million and the nearest population centre with even 500,000 is a good 1,300 miles away. In the 1990s the QV1 skyscraper was constructed in the central city as a hub for telecommunications and internet firms and – so the rumours say – every communication link to the outside world was routed through it. Result? Blow up or otherwise disable QV1 and Perth would be completely cut off from the rest of the planet.

There’s another rumour about QV1, which is that its architecture is a tribute to Marilyn Monroe. The main north and south entrances resemble the skirt scene from The 7 Year Itch, and the building’s footprint seen from above resembles a pair of pouting lips.

Trilobites – Back in the 80s it was claimed that living, giant trilobites had been discovered in the city’s storm drains. It turned out to be a weird combination of rumour, hoax, and very hot summer with no other real news to report. An old tyre cut up to look like a giant bug was alleged to be involved.

So there it is. Perth has it’s own dragons.

The Black Swans

Aussie Marines

So, today at work I was thinking – exactly what Space Marine chapter were my Valhallans fighting on the weekend? After some thought I decided it had to be the Black Swans…

The Black Swans
Name: Black Swans
Founding Chapter: Unknown
Founding: Unknown
Chapter Master: Septimus Rowe
Homeworld: Cygnus Occidentalis
Fortress-Monastery: Ratnast
Battle Cry: Cygnis Insignis!

Hailing from the semi-arid, sandy world of Cygnus Occidentalis the Black Swans dwell in the orbiting fortress monastery of Ratnast and hone their combat skills fighting the fearsome burrowing creatures known by the natives as sand-gropers.

OK. Done now 🙂

Western Australian Pronunciation

Prescriptivism R Us!

The first syllable of Albany rhymes with pal, Sal or Mal. Not Paul, ball or Saul.

Castle rhymes with parcel not hassle (ok, you can probably debate that one, but the way some people – mostly Eastern-Staters – pronounce it makes me grind my teeth ;))

The first syllable of Derby rhymes with her or sir, not car or bar. This doesn’t just apply to the town, it extends to sporting events (such as the Western Derby) and probably even to the hats – if anyone had any reason to discuss them.

Exmouth is pronounced Ex-mouth not Exmuth as it would be in England.

Fremantle can be pronounced as either FREE-man-tle or fre-MAN-tle but is often just FREE-oh.

Joondalup is JOON-da-lup not joon-DAR-lup.

Mandurah is MAN-ju-ra not man-JUR-ra.

(Yes, the pronunciations would be much more precise if I used the IPA, but this post is a rough guide aimed at the general public who wouldn’t recognise the IPA if it danced around in front of them wearing a shirt reading “Hi! I’m the IPA!”. So there! :))

(Also: Woooo!!! Post 600!!! :))