Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.


That's not umpiring; this is umpiring.

AFL umpires' coach Hayden Kennedy, talking to the Herald Sun about a world tour of 25 elite umps he led to 'pick the brains of the best officials from soccer, rugby, tennis and cricket'.

According to Kennedy, " ... one EPL ref said he makes about 200 decisions a game and runs 12km over 90 minutes. We'd do that in the first 15 minutes of a game."


He lives.

I was walking the children home from school on Tuesday.

It was a sunny afternoon, and we had crossed the Upfield railway line and were passing the old TAFE building where the pathway is overgrown by ancient oleanders.

A figure approached from the other direction and disappeared behind us. I caught a glimpse of him. He had some kind of a hat or cap, a grey straggly beard, a hook nose, and a haunted look. It's amazing what you can catch at one glance.

"Hey," said Thomas. "Wasn't that the old guy in the paper?"

"What old guy?" I asked.

"The one with the cap and the grey beard."

That didn't tell me anything more than I had seen, but I knew staright away who he meant.

"I know who you mean," I said. "Now let me see." We turned the corner heading north. A plane came low overhead, heading for Essendon airport.

"Didn't they cremate him straight away? I believe they did. They used to let people see them afterwards."

"That's horrible," one of them said. I forget which.

"They'd lie in state," I said, "So you could pay your respects."

"So if that was him ... " Tom said.

"He would have had to have been smuggled out several days ago."

"And flown here in a disguise."

"And released in an obscure area where there are not many houses but lots of old factories and warehouses that are no longer used."

"And then his death would have been announced."


He told everyone at school on Wednesday that Fidel Castro is alive and well. He'll probably fit in quite well in the City of Moreland.


Old name rejected.

Black Flat? Let's ask someone who lives there and has taken that original title as their strangely appropriate business name:
Black Flat Coffee Brewers was named after "Black Flat", the original name of Glen Waverley before it was renamed in 1921. Originally developed as orchards and farming lands, Black Flat ... was in reference to the dark, rich soil and flat ground.
Being precisely descriptive, the original name makes Glen Waverley - a name doubly adopted from a Sir Walter Scott novel via Edinburgh - seem a little pretentious. Perhaps that is why the suburb within a few decades became synonymous with the somewhat pretentious 'Sherry Belt', a sardonic Barry Humphries reference to 1960s stay-at-home upper middle class wives who, bored, took to entertaining their guests with sherry parties.


Quote: "If you don't like the roads, take up croquet."

The book is to be ready by the end of 2019. I have plenty of time but I like to get onto things.

Story from the archive:
Our route outwards lay through Caulfield till the Waverley Road is reached, thence a straight run to Black Flat, when a sharp turn to the left brought us into the aptly-named Mountain View Hotel, which is about fourteen miles from the GPO. After dining sumptuously and well we inspected a couple of mines, which are to some day make Black Flat famous, to which one is inclined to say – Heaven Forbid! – if it is to ruin the present rustic beauty of the surroundings. Returning, we took a cross road to Tally Ho, thence through Burwood to the Riversdale Road, and through Richmond to town. The road after leaving Caulfield was wet and sloppy and in a state of being repaired, which in these latitudes seems tantamount to a state of disrepair. But the cyclist who never expects to meet with bad roads on a trip should confine his attention to croquet.
The story was published in 1902.

(And where is Black Flat? Answer tomorrow.)


Lost in the archives again.

I'm turning yellowed papers in an upstairs boardroom. The yellowed papers are 1910 originals and the quality of reporting is very good. Yet the writers do not call themselves journalists. They are 'correspondents'. There are no typos and no mangled language. There are words - good words - that have since fallen into disuse. And this is a sporting newspaper, the Australian Cyclist.

Someone had stared a cycling club in the 1890s. Electric power and the car were yet to arrive, a long-gone power-stationless green dream. Solar power dried the washing. You hung it on a line strung up in the back yard. Then a crash followed a speculative boom and a third of Melbourne's breadwinners were thrown out of work. There was no welfare payment. When things got back to late-nineteenth-century normal, people bought bicycles. The safety cycle had replaced the dangerous penny farthing, on which you could die standing still, simply by falling off. The safety cycle let you put your feet on the ground. Hit a pothole or a stone on a penny farthing and you were thrown off. Worse than a runaway horse.

So everyone wanted bikes. They replaced the horse for small business deliveries, and you didn't have to feed them or call the vet. They were ridden to work and school. They were used for recreation and sport. They broadened your social reach. You could ride home from the pub.

The cycling club's carefully-kept archives describe its rides around Melbourne during the first decade of the twentieth century in fine detail. Sometimes, members cycled by night, when a full moon rode high in the sky: no street lamps.

On these night rides, the cyclists leave after a good dinner, pedal to Kew or Templestowe (countryside) or some other destination, visit a hotel; and return by eleven or midnight, puncture repairs permitting. It is a golden era for the fit young cyclist. He had freedom of the road. The horse was on the way out; and the car was yet to arrive. Depression was over, Australia was a new nation, and Melbourne was the national capital. The future looked bright in 1910. The optimism would last four years.