Narrow Minded Italian Catholic Conservative Peasant From Footscray

The prompts from the blog platform suggest that I introduce myself.

In short, I am several things.

Firstly, I am a Narrow Minded Italian Catholic Conservative Peasant From Footscray. I have been describing myself as that for at least the past 15 years or so.

This description might not be totally accurate.

I am probably not as narrow minded as I boast I am.

Whilst I am of Italian ancestry and reasonably fluent in Italian, I probably think more the iconoclastic way that Australians do, having been born and lived in Australia my whole life.

Nor am I particularly observant religiously, although like most people, 1600 years of Christianity being the dominant religion (‘thank you’ Emperor Theodosius) in Western Civilisation does tend to hard wire us in a particular way. (I do like to amuse myself by claiming that the dinosaurs missed the ark and that the world is just over 6000 years old.).

Peasant? Well, my parents are from peasant stock, as probably most Italian migrants in the 1950s were, and I like growing my own tomatoes in the backyard. But I am a lower middle class office worker really, with the luxury of participating in a post industrial economy. I also have a university education, and not in agriculture.

Whilst I am very personally Conservative, both culturally and socially, I am more Liberal than Conservative, and believe in individual rights and liberties and freedom of choice and conscience etc to the point where I can get quite worked up when I hear of proposals to intervene in the lives of people or to curtail our freedoms.

I also don’t live in Footscray, although I was born there (and proud of it), and lived and went to school there during my childhood and adolescence, and the Western Bulldogs (formerly known as the Footscray Football Club) is my AFL team. I do not live too far from Footscray though. I am in Avondale Heights, which is like a north western outpost of Footscray, and previously lived in Maribyrnong. But just like people from Fremantle claim that they are from Fremantle rather than from Perth, real Footscray people claim that they are from Footscray rather than from Melbourne. I suppose, historically, that it has something to do with the fact that there is quite a distance between the eastern boundary of Footscray at the Maribyrnong River, and the centre of Melbourne, and most of that two mile distance was occupied firstly by a swamp and then by a wasteland involving docks, chemical depots (where were you during the Coode Island fire in 1991?) and quarantine grounds….

Secondly, I am a postgrad dropout. That does contradict a lot of what my first description suggests I am, but we all are complex and many layered people. The MA thesis I was planning to write was about Nietzsche, Hegel and the End of History or some such, which is the sort of topic which would have been pretty passe in 1994 when I was interested in doing it. However, life gets in the way – working full time and getting a promotion at work which resulted in me focusing my energies and attention on my job meant that I did not have much left in the tank for a 30,000 word thesis. And whilst I still enjoy reading Nietzsche for his manic and frenetic style, Hegel is really boring.

As for more? I much prefer the writings of Anthony Trollope over Charles Dickens. I still enjoy re-reading my favourite Nevil Shute novels, and I occasionally re-read my copy of JRR Tolkien. I did ditch Game of Thrones about 100 pages into the first book, and don’t regret it at all. I remain very curious as to whether some of the unpublished novels of JD Salinger from his period of seclusion (I have the general impression he wrote some) will see the light of day during my lifetime, although I loathed Catcher in the Rye whilst finding his short stories fascinating.

Lisa Wilkinson Provides Conclusive Proof That An Australian Republic Is A Very Bad Idea

We have had some unfortunate incidents at awards shows this past few months. First, we had action hero Will Smith give a slap to not-so-funnyman Chris Rock at the Oscars, just before he picked up the award for best actor.

And now, in the past few days, we have had talk show host Lisa Wilkinson, at the TV Week Logie Awards, spit on the principles of due process of the law whilst making a smug and self-serving speech accepting the Logie award for best chat show host.

I don’t have a law degree, and nor am I particularly good at Latin (despite recently investing 4 years of adult education on trying to learn it), but I am familiar with legal concepts such as sub judice (before the courts) and extra-curial (outside the court) punishment.

Lisa Wilkinson, in making a widely televised speech covering the topic of the alleged rape of her now friend Brittney Higgins by a co-worker in Parliament House, has derailed the rape trial for that accused man. It has now been delayed for the time being, because the court accepts that the speech was prejudicial to the chances of the accused of getting a fair trial.

Due process of the law is a long established right and legal protection afforded to people under English Common Law jurisdictions such as Australia. It stems from the one clause (chapter 26 in its original form) of the Magna Carta which has not been repealed in any jurisdiction.

The Magna Carta was a treaty between King John and his rebellious barons signed in 1215, and which was reissued by subsequent kings over several generations.

What started as a contract between the king and his barons has become the established cornerstone of our constitutional law and legal protections and rights.

It is this, the protections that have emerged as contracts between crown and people, which have made me a supporter of the Australian constitutional monarchy. [Please note that after seeing Turin, former seat of the House of Savoy, I was so disgusted that I could not support the Italian royals and hence support the Italian Republic – although as I so far decline to claim my Italian citizenship, that is a moot point.]

Lisa Wilkinson is more, however, than just a smug and overpaid Sydney TV chat show host. She is the wife of Peter Fitzsimmons, the bandana wearing (I truly hope he is balder than I am) current president of the Australian Republican Movement.

In recent weeks, with the swearing in of an assistant minster for the Republic as part of the new socialist government, wealthy republicans like Mr Fitzsimmons have been smugly emerging from their wine cellars to proclaim the second coming of a constitutional referendum to abolish the monarchy and replace it with a republic.

Leader of the Greens, Dr Adam Bandt, has started holding press conferences minus the Australian flag, as it causes pain to some people, and enables him to showcase his republicanism and lack of patriotic feeling.

But back to Mrs Fitzsimmons. This prominent republican is so uninformed about our long established legal rights and protections that she can proudly proclaim her ignorance in a smug and self-serving speech – a speech which has violated the rights of a fellow citizen to both presumption of innocence and due process of the law.

I think that this ignorance is not unique to Lisa Wilkinson and her husband, but extends right across the spectrum of Australian Republicans, who for some reason (lack of money not being amongst them) feel outrage at the current constitutional arrangements, and see injustice in everything except their own behaviour and ignorance.

And I cannot let this matter rest without a gentle nod at Australia Day. Whilst Dr Bandt would like to get rid of our current flag and Australia Day, the Fitzsimmonses do not see a problem with celebrating Australia Day. In their well heeled Sydney north shore mansion, they hold an annual soiree for fellow wealthy celebrities on 26 January.

The hypocrisy of that is almost as cringe worthy as the arrogance and ignorance which underpinned Lisa Wilkinson’s Logies speech.

Year of the Bear

This week, the share market officially entered a bear market. I am not surprised. Up to last Monday, I had lost 10% of the value of my portfolio since January, thanks to Putin’s invasion of the Ukraine. Now… I am down another 10%.

I do have to keep a sense of humour about this. After all, losing value in my share portfolio is not as bad as living in the Ukraine right now or having Putin as one’s political leader.

And I think that, after all that has happened in the past few years, selling off my entire portfolio now would not be a wise idea. December was a good time to leave – and if I could predict the future, I would be winning Powerball tomorrow night.

Crowd-funding as a way to invest in Breweries, Distilleries and Wineries

Ok… the five weeks that Broo Ltd has been in suspension from trading on the ASX has not really taught me much of a lesson about investing in small craft breweries and the like, and I am still keen to try it if the right opportunity comes up.

A friend of mine knows the owners of Bakery Hill, a distillery making high quality whisky in suburban Melbourne (despite the name being a famous location in Ballarat). He told me last week that they are looking for investors.

I followed the link he sent me to a site http://www.birchal.com which serves as a platform for all sorts of businesses to seek investors via crowd funding so as to grow their business.

Not only was Bakery Hill there, but also Bridge Road Brewery Heathcote, current open for expressions of interest in investing.

And this crowd funding platform allows people to potentially invest far less money than what you might put into a IPO for an ASX listing (I did dodge a bullet big time on the Broo IPO 6 years ago after all!).

So it does look not only like a fascinating way to see what companies are out there seeking investors, but a fun way to invest. I do not mind losing a few hundred dollars if something goes pear shaped, and if I already know of a brand, it is probably because I have seen it in a licensed premise and possibly drank it before.

What happened to all the old-fashioned pubs?

Memories of days gone by…

Almost three decades ago, a close friend of mine did a road trip up to Mildura with one principal goal in mind – to visit the Mildura Working Man’s Club and see the longest bar in the world.

Well… I was in Mildura last weekend and I did visit the Club, although I was well aware that the longest bar in the world got removed when they did some renovations in 1995. The above illustration is a photo I took of one of the walls in the Club, which serves as a constant reminder of that long gone bar.

Which does get me thinking about a lot of bars which have disappeared due to developers or lost their souls due to renovations. The old fashioned Australian pub – frequently known as ‘a country pub in the city’ has mostly disappeared.

Many are still there, minus what made them special. Poker machines in what used to be the saloon bar and TAB sub outlets in the public bar do tend to rip the soul out of a pub, and those pubs which don’t have those, but which tear out all the old fittings (or even the 1970s era maroon sticky carpets and vinyl coated chairs and tables) to go upmarket are not much better.

This does sadden me. Around Footscray, for example, where my memory of pubs is very accurate and covers those both extant and extinct going back the past five decades, the only pub which survives and remains true to its ‘authentic’ self is the Footscray Hotel. This is an old fashioned bogan pub, complete with sticky carpet and bogan regulars. I love visiting it. I am not so keen on the Courthouse Hotel in Nicholson Street – it has its bogan regulars, but also a TAB and lots of pokies.

The news that the Great Western in King Street is closing for good, to be part of a major redevelopment is sad news, even though it will reopen as part of that redevelopment. It was, for a long time, one of the last remnants of the old school pub in central Melbourne (the Waterside has gone upmarket, and the Elms is now only a facade). It apparently even still had a water well as part of its history – a legacy of the days before a regular water supply in Melbourne.

I have not yet been to the corner of King and Lonsdale Street since the news of the fire gutting Goldfingers. Whilst this is well known as a pole dancing venue in recent years, I have some fond (and not so fond) memories of it when it was the Kilkenny Inn, back in the mid 1990s. It was there that I learned that drinking even two stubbies of Subzero (an alcoholic soda drink happily now long gone) was a sure fire way to get heartburn the next day.

Whilst it has changed (and will continue to change) a lot since I first drank there at age 18 in 1987, Young & Jacksons remains in its character and general atmosphere, the same pub it always has been. Similarly, the Mitre Tavern (complete with its tiles with corny limericks in the toilets) seems unchanged for at least the past 40 years. And the Imperial (God bless it) seems to survive despite regular renovation, character and clientele intact.

Almost everywhere else, there is change, and usually not for the better. I do miss the old school pubs.

If the Socceroos miss the World Cup I for one will be happy


Given that I vehemently dislike soccer and consider Australian Rules Football to be a vastly superior sport, I will feel it my patriotic duty to rejoice when the Socceroos fail to make the World Cup.

The only smart decision that they could make, which might drum up support here in Australia, is for them to announce an immediate boycott of the Qatar tournament in protest at the Qatar airport incident and the general human rights situation there.

But the slim hope of international mediocrity beckons, so they will play on to perdition.

Hopefully the rest of the nation turns its back on this sport and reaffirms its support for true football (AFL) and all the other worthy Australian sports.

Mildura Art Gallery Goes Woke

In 1944, wealthy local newspaper owner RF Elliot left his large art collection to the Mildura council, on the provision that they came up with a building to serve as an art gallery to display his collection.

I know this because yesterday, having an idle hour after visiting the Sunraysia Cellar Door, I decided to visit the Mildura Arts Centre and see the galllery.

Apparently there were 175 artworks in the Elliot collection bequeathed to the local community and that many of them were coveted by galleries all over the country.

I don’t know for sure, because none of the pieces in the Elliot collection were on display. Instead, there were a large number of contemporary works, a minority of which were interesting and aesthetically pleasing, but the majority of which were at best risable.

There were some drawings which, at first glance, appeared to be blu-tacked to the wall.

I have never really thought what wokeness in Art really means but I now have worked it out.

When you are a parent and your four year old scribbles something in crayon at Kindy, you stick it on the fridge and tell them they are very clever and you are proud of them. That’s natural for parents to do.

When you are not a parent but curate an art gallery and you are faced with the scribbles of some over indulged adult brat who believes or pretends that they are artistically gifted, and you validate their lack of talent by sticking their art on the wall of a public gallery in the name of inclusiveness or artistic interpretation…. Well that’s wokeness.

The first woke artist was the emperor Nero, but art critics in his day had no choice but to praise him – or face the lions.

These days, instead of lions we have a woke group think where art critics do not want to be found out for the lacks of knowledge in their chosen subjective field that they have, so they will indulge any pretentious fake and spoilt brat who claims to have artist talent.

And where is the Elliot collection? That’s what I’d like to know.

Broo’s Mildura Micro Brewery Closed

Lights are on, but no one’s home

So… I’ve come up to Mildura for a few days and have just ventured out of my hotel in search of dinner.

Given that I’m in town, I thought I’d pop into the Mildura Brewery, which is owned by Broo, whom I’ve been writing about on this blog recently.

A sign on the door says that it is temporarily closed. Struck up a conversation at the bar at the Corporate Moose just a few doors down and it transpires it closed on Tuesday.

Broo’s shares are still in suspension from trading pending a company restructuring announcement, so I am pretty curious as to what happens next for this noble craft brewing enterprise.