Richmond folk too often hanged

Ronald Ryan, the last man executed in Australia, was a Richmond man, or at least that’s where his family lived at the time of his execution. Carlton man Barry Dickins wrote a play about the execution which occurred 40 years ago on Saturday. The outstanding Abbotsford publication Eureka Street, has an article by Jesuit prison reform advocate Father Peter Norden this week. There is to be a little gathering outside the gates of former-Pentridge-prison-future-New-York-style-loft-style- apartments on Saturday mo(u)rning.

Van Nguyen, executed in Singapore almost 14 months ago, was also a Richmond boy in the sense that he went to the parish school of St. Ignatius, where the bells tolled 25 times, once for each year of his life following his death by State homicide. That church is also where a memorial service for Ronald Ryan will be held later on Saturday. Thanks to the talented Philip Anthonie R. Cruz of Manila for the amazing image.

Catherine Kovesi’s book “Pitch Your Tents on Distant Shores”

I received from Miss K for Christmas Catherine Kovesi’s book Pitch Your Tents on Distant Shores (2006, Playwright Publishing), a beautifully written and very substantial large-format hard-back history of the founders of the Abbotsford Convent, the Sisters of the Good Shepherd. It was, and may still be, available from the Sisters’ Provincialate Office at the discounted price of $55. It is remarkable in being quite accessible to the lay reader whilst doing what institutional histories must do. It has many photos of the Abbotsford Convent. Not given to reading religious histories, I am enjoying it.

No doubt it is a commissioned history, which may explain this frank admission in the introduction: Continue reading “Catherine Kovesi’s book “Pitch Your Tents on Distant Shores””

Two nuns formerly of Abbotsford Convent get a big interview in The Age

The Age has a big full page spread today on the Convent in general, Catherine Kovesi’s book on the history in Australia of its Sisters of the Good Shepherd, and in particular, two former nuns, Sister Monica Walsh who entered the order aged 18 in 1963 and Sister Noelene White, neither of whom these days live in nunneries or wear habits but are, nevertheless, still nuns. There have been no additions to the order in the past 20 years. It’s really worth a read; I commend it to you.

Dickins, Dylan Thomas, beer, chips and fags

At the last minute I remembered it was the night to go hear Barry Dickins at the Collingwood Library. It was all very librarianish: the Arnott’s biscuits, the tea, the coffee. A couple of casks of wine would have been far more appropriate, and maybe the party would not have dissolved so quickly had the red wine not been absent. But to listen to Dickins was a great pleasure. He sat behind a table and chatted to 60 people without hubris, but without any affectation either. Many rhetorical questions were asked. Audience members answered them to themselves under their breath, or sotto voce. He is a man with an obvious affinity for the criminal, a fascination with low life, drawn to the world of the prison, a man who has been laid into by police. He dressed scruffy, but poem crept into his speech from time to time: he sketched an old taxi driver bearing a straw hat and popped “held together with helium and string” in there. The cabbie professed to be the gentleman who drove the cab which conveyed the mortally wounded Squizzy Taylor to St Vincent’s. Continue reading “Dickins, Dylan Thomas, beer, chips and fags”

Denton Hat Mills designed by William Pitt

The Denton Hat Mills in Nicholson St (1888) were designed by William Pitt, the architect who also designed the Rialto (1889), the Victoria Brewery (1882, pictured, now the Tribeca Appartments), the Princess Theatre (1886), the old Stock Exchange (1891), the Alderfleet Building (1888, now part of the ANZ), Church St’s Empire Works factory, as well as others, some destroyed. All this I know from the truly excellent website Walking Melbourne by Sean Fishlock where you can find on one page all the buildings built in 1888 — that was the year for building in Melbourne — or all the Victoria St buildings featured.

More on Little Audrey and a whole site devoted to Melbourne neon

Via Walking Melbourne, I discovered multi-faceted Adam Dimech‘s website devoted to neon signs of Melbourne, and this spiel and great image of the original Skipping Girl Vinegar sign:

“This is undoubtedly Melbourne’s favourite heritage neon sign. Audrey the Skipping Girl was erected for Nycander & Co. Pty Ltd. (who owned the brand Skipping Girl Vinegar) in 1936. Despite becoming a much loved Melbourne icon, the original sign fell into disrepair and was removed in 1968. A replica sign was re-created for the Crusader Plate Company in 1970, in an attempt to salvage this icon. (The vinegar company had moved to Altona without a desire to keep the sign). Crusader’s new sign was placed in its present location above their factory, which has since been turned into offices and apartments. The sign’s design was somewhat altered from the original.”