So tonight Wollongong High School’s Class of 1980 have their 40th reunion at last!

It had been postponed twice because of Covid. Now they are turning 60 as I, who once taught them, am on the edge of 80. Two years back I planned to go, but now I have pulled out, leaving a message for them yesterday on their private Facebook group page.

40 year Reunion for those who were in Year 10 in 1978 and Year 12 in 1980. The original date was Saturday 3rd of October 2020.

This is my message, which of course is not private. 60 members have seen it as at 6.30 pm

Well, my old friends — I hope that is what we now are — old age catches up with me so I won’t be there. I will be there with you all in spirit and am sure it will be a great night. Had you stumbled into City Diggers during the day today (Friday) you would have seen this old teacher — and in fact I was talking about your reunion with a couple of people and conjuring up a few memories. One concerned Rex Cook and a rather hilarious school assembly. I will leave you all guessing about that one…

And this is the old bugger you might have found in Diggers today. I suspend myself upside down in a cupboard at night, you see….

I have posted Wollongong High related items quite a few times over the past ten years or so, attending the Class of 1983 Reunion back in 2013. The Class of 1980 are using the same venue tonight.

With Stewart Holt

And on this and the Class of 1980 see also: These reposts are prompted by renewed communication with Rosemary.

That really took me back. You see, at Wollongong High in 1975-1976 I was teaching [Year 8] Photography as well as English. You will observe the two top right copies of “The Gleam”, WHS’s magazine/yearbook. Those covers are my work I do believe. The insides too represented quite a departure from what had gone before. If I recall correctly we were gifted offset printing by Illawarra County Council, the local electricity authority at that time who had a new printery with not enough for it to do. The scope it gave us was marvellous. I do seem to recall playing a bit of a trick on the student editorial committee – the 1976 one, I think – by submitting anonymously some meaningless but trendy-sounding poems, which they published. I no longer have copies of these mags. I do now have a digital copy of 1980. Fascinating — as I indeed borrowed a couple of poems from it to publish in the very first Neos in 1981.

Now for the rest of my day yesterday.

And there was good conversation had at the Club with Adam and then Colin….

Yesterday: reflecting on the Lycra Apocalypse and the return of fish and chips to City Diggers

It really is quite something I have to admit — and it officially kicks off tomorrow. I guess we have to admit the Lycra Apocalypse is pretty amazing — after all there are three really major world cycling events the Tour de France, the Giro d’Italia and this.

So yesterday I ventured into town.

Now about City Diggers — my club of choice — and fish and chips, and the serious business of Australia’s relations with the People’s Republic of China. A couple of years ago relations between City Diggers and the people of China were close as busloads of happy Chinese descended on the club to partake in one of its great dishes –fish and chips.

Me witnessing Chinese tourists getting stuck into our fish and chips….

But then came COVID and the strained relations between Australia and China, made worse by a take-over of the club by Wollongong Golf Club rendering fish and chips a sorry memory. Many of us took to Steelers or the Leagues Club to get our fix — but I suspect Xi Jinping heard of the great banishing of fish and chips from Diggers and took it to heart. Well, I hope someone in China sees this and lets him know: fish and chips are back!

Inflation (or a more realistic understanding of profit and loss) have led to the $12 + free drink offer not returning, but I hope our Chinese friends will not be deterred by that. I tested just one of the possibilities yesterday.

Mind you for true authenticity that paper should be a page from the Illawarra Mercury — but I think newspaper does not pass health regulations these days.

Yes I look forward to more from this new menu in the future, and also trust that many a visitor for the Lycra Apocalypse comes in as well. I am sure the Club hopes so.

So after that meal, a few glasses of Shiraz, and several chats — especially with Adam — I headed off home. Moving around town may be rather interesting next week….

On online shopping, food, Diggers and the Lycra Apocalypse…

I take a break from sad and weighty matters…

A FB Memory item yesterday reminded me that I had been online shopping at Woolworths (Woolies) for a year. Yesterday I put in the order due today.

You can do this on a phone app, but I prefer the larger screen size of the laptop.

I begin with “Buy Again”…

I began in fact with Coles, not Woolies: 15 July 2021 — Various lockdown hacks and escapes — 2.

Yesterday for the very first time I went online to do my grocery shop at Coles. I did not have to resort to this in the March lockdown! Again, I told the story first on Facebook: “Took me a little while to work this out, but I have now done the big shop. This is just part of it. It will be left outside my door (I hope!) on Friday morning. Contactless COVID-safe and all that…”

All went well until one day it didn’t!

That happened 12 September:

LATER: Looks as if this was real!

SMS timed at 5pm from Coles: “Unfortunately due to operational issues affecting our Warrawong store, your order for tomorrow morning cannot be fulfilled and has been cancelled…”

I NOW SUSPECT THIS SMS IS SPOOFED.

But email also just arrived: “We’re currently preparing your order a127967081 which is booked for the 6:00 AM – 10:00 AM, Monday 13 September, delivery window. We’re planning to arrive between 6:20 AM and 7:20 AM, but you won’t need to be there as you’ve chosen to have your order left unattended. We’ll send you an SMS to let you know once your order has been delivered.”

If the first is the final word then that is more than inconvenient….

Only too real. The order never arrived, and all customer service did about it was an email reply:

Unfortunately due to operational issues affecting our Warrawong store, your order for tomorrow cannot be fulfilled and has been cancelled. We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused. If your bank card / PayPal was charged at Checkout due to pre-authorisation, this will be refunded back to you automatically – wait times depend on your issuer. 

Thank you for your email, 

So I switched to the other principal supermarket chain, Woolworths. And the first order went really well. And then came the second order.

Which is where the kangabangas come in:

17 September:

Given snags are the best bet for me because 1) they are bloody tasty! 2) they are easy to cook! 3) they are cheap 4) they have a long shelf life in the refrigerator — the problem of what is in them remains. Take salt for example.Nice to see though that eating our national animal is an exception. Also low fat! What is not to love? Yes, I have had them in the past — and they are good.

So in my latest Woolies order are KANGAROO SAUSAGES — Kangabangas! Coles did not have them. Let’s hope they are in stock — in theory they are. Looking forward to them!

Eat Skippy! It will do you good!

Do look at High salt snags: The top 5 saltiest sausages in Australian supermarkets — which then lists the five healthiest — kangabangas coming in with just 1g of salt per 100g!

18 September:

Well! Guess what? My Woolies order “disappeared”! No, not delivered to the wrong place or something. never loaded on the truck from Woolies in Burelli Street! However Woolies Online messaged me and rang me and spoke to me — a real person and not in India! The order will be replaced and delivered tomorrow instead. And the delivery fee will be waived. And I get a cash voucher to spend next time.

Lady was very apologetic and thorough — says it is a mystery, not happened very often if at all. Promised it would not happen again, especially when I told her why I left Coles and started with Woolies after Coles had stuffed up.I do have enough at hand btw — so I won’t starve….

And the email responses arrived instantly.

But this online ordering/contactless delivery stuff is not glitch-free, is it? Have to say though that Woolies customer service is miles ahead of Coles.

Hence on FB last night I posted: The kanga bangas have landed. That is to say, my Woolies order has arrived at last!

And there was one extra pack of Anzac Biscuits as well!

Monday’s lunch was at City Diggers

Here is my photo diary from Facebook.

The rissoles in recent times were dry and dreadful, so I banked on the new chef improving them. He did! But still too much crunch…

Ended up chatting with that couple, Jeff and Marion, about the Queen, Trump, WW2 and more…. On the same page.

The Lycra Apocalypse

Yes, The Gong rejoices/suffers an invasion in the coming week! On the bus home on Monday I got chatting to a couple of workers from one of Wollongong’s major tourist hotels. They were seriously contemplating staying at home during that week, unless the boss provided them with helicopter transport to and from work! The local media and some businesses — by no means all — and of course the organisers have been propagandising like mad about how wonderful it will all be, despite the street lockdowns and clearways involved.

On the way to Diggers they have been tarting up the abandoned David Jones store, which until recently had been the Covid Vaccination Hub for the area.

City Diggers is celebrating the Lycra Apocalypse by launching a new menu today — with FISH AND CHIPS back on! That at least is a blessing!

Fruitful day on Monday — 1 — footy tipping outcome, Woolies, the Club…

Footy tipping 2022

You may recall that given City Diggers had no tipping competition, and reluctant to commit to weekly visits to either Steelers or Illawarra Leagues, I went out on my own until I was embraced by the lovely Northern Rivers town of Pottsville, thanks to FB friend and long-time real life friend and colleague from The Gong in the 70s, Rosemary. And I went OK.

It has been a pleasure to have you become the 15th tipster in the Potty Tipping club which began over a bottle of Shiraz 11 years ago with three locals deciding to inject a little competition into footy selections with the winner collecting a bottle of red. This year you became our 15th and most southern tipster. There are two from Sydney, a few from Ipswich and the Gold Coast with the remainder locals. A few trivia and card competitions and BBQ functions amongst those of us who can get together socially raise $100 prize for the winner. That winner is named at a grand final BBQ for those who can make it. Hope you will participate again in 2023.

The Bunnies get another crack at the Roosters next Sunday in the finals series.

Woolies

On my way home yesterday, aside from a stop at BWS in Burelli Street to pick up a bottle of Pinot Noir — Morialta Trails 2021 — i went to the actual physical Woolies for some fresh bread, but also renewed my supply of blueberries (so both blueberries and strawberries with my Weetbix this morning). I also saw that the range of chilled meals was greater than what I normally see online, so I picked up two to try. This means my online order will be for Thursday or Friday delivery this week.

City Diggers

As I stepped off the bus I took a photo of a sign in Burelli Street right outside the Club. I had observed numerous such signs during my journey, the first concrete indications of the road closures and disruptions that the bike race will cause: “The 2022 UCI Road World Championships will be held from 18 to 25 September 2022 in Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia.”

Chatting particularly to Alan from Mangerton I was amazed to learn that he knew neither the dates of the race nor what roads will be affected — particularly what bus routes. He had no idea that Burelli Street, right outside where we were sitting, would be closed down. When Col MacDonald came in he said he had not noticed the signs. So Alan and I particularly discussed how it would affect his shopping. I suggested maybe he could go to Figtree, which is not so affected.

It was interesting to learn too of Alan’s back story — how his father had died in his 40s of the dreaded dust disease. His father had been a coalminer, first in Wales, then in Wigan, and finally here in the Illawarra. Such working class stories are well worth hearing, especially in these days.

There must have been something special on at the Club, because lately Monday lunches have been very thinly attended — and serviced too by a much reduced number of staff. But yesterday at least 60 were there, not countng whoever may have been in the coffee shop. And the barramundi special was so good!

And the book, from Wollongong Library, is indeed interesting: The Man Without A Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin by Masha Gessen.  

Gessen’s clear, brave book makes a strong case that Putin is not merely turning a blind eye to embezzlement and skimming. He is, she asserts, an arch-practitioner. Gessen tracks down Marina Salye, one of the leaders of the democracy movement in St Petersburg (then Leningrad) in the last years of the Soviet Union. Salye was a witness to the still-mysterious rise of Putin, in less than a decade, from low-ranking KGB nonentity to Kremlin master; she now lives in self-imposed internal exile in a near-dead village in the far Russian boondocks, afraid she knows too much.

February 2012

From four years ago:

Putin is on form still!

Yesterday — Gumbo, Russian vlogs, Facebook, Bunnies

It had been a long time since Chris Turner and I had one of our Friday lunches. Even longer since we were at SoCo Kitchen, Wollongong’s excellent venue for “Southern-inspired food and booze.”

SoCo’s Gumbo…

They did not offer such fancy plates yesterday but Chris and I did justice to the heavenly food

We were both feeling gumbo-deprived! I also introduced Chris to my smartphone and via that to Roman, Zack the Russian and the world of vlogs…. He looked at a small segment of the interview Zack did with a vlogger from Kasazhstan — but also in Tbilisi now:

Chris was instantly convinced that this was something totally real, totally authentic. As I think anyone would be!

Speaking of young Zack I have been looking at more of his archive and was particularly moved by this one which dates from late 2021, very soon after Zack returned to his home in the Russian Far East after his spell as an exchange student in America.

Of this one my friend Rosemary wrote on Facebook:

With every video I become more impressed with this young man as he shares both his thought and life experiences. This one, where at temperature of -30 he is cheerfully helping his elderly babushka by collecting firewood and melting snow for water is wonderful to watch as is his interaction with her dog. Zack is a (great) grandson who would make any family proud.

And speaking of Facebook I have lately been railing about a bad habit it has of taking far too many items I choose to share to my personal feed, which is restricted to friends only, and dumping then into the general feed — or Limbo as I have called it. Most often they are posts of fellow WordPress bloggers, such as the wonderful Bob Leckridge, whose meditations on photos he has taken are really beautiful. Bob is a retired physician from Scotland now living n France. I have followed his blog for many years. His blog is Heroes Not Zombies.

I have complained in the proper way to Facebook about this trick they have of ignoring my wishes, but with no response, so now if I am to share an item that may be vulnerable to such treatment I write a preface like this one.

Hilarious

I just shared Bob Leckridge’s latest to THIS FEED! THIS FEED! THIS FEED! (Get it?) with this note:

“Hello Facebook fairies! I love* the pointless blue underline your really silly Grammar Check** just put under the first two words of this sentence and then under the perfectly correct “your”! I speak as a lifetime English teacher and editor. Bur the big question is: Can you send this share to the correct feed — my personal profile? Past form makes me doubt it….”

* There was a typo here — “live” for “love” but Spellcheck programs cannot detect them because they cannot take account of meaning!

** And “chick” for “check”! I rather like that one though: “Grammar Chick”!

I now believe the Grammar Check is a rather inane improvement to Microsofr Edge because it is now also plaguing WordPress!

Well the Bunnies tried….