Tuesday, June 29, 2010

How to unmake an omelet?

Want to hear a good joke?

My medications cost more than we earn. We don’t quite earn enough for rent and food. Because we are 58% below the poverty line instead of 60% I cannot get welfare. I don’t want welfare, I NEED disability assistance. But I can only apply for disability assistance once I am approved for welfare. I waited for two weeks to get a phone call which told me I could not get welfare however in two more weeks I am, on special grounds, allowed to SEE a welfare officer.

If I HAD disability assistance, our income would be more than it is now. But I can’t get disability assistance because I have to be on welfare, and if you have the amount people on disability assistance get, you can’t GET welfare.

My parents went on a cruise last week while this was going on. It is their 28th vacation in the last three years. No, not retired. Just inheritance, which bought a $500,000 condo, split level for them to live in.

In two weeks, I will try to apply for disability assistance but that will take……eight weeks to process. I don’t have that many pills. I don’t have that many pain pills. But then, since the medication to keep my heart beating, the medication to keep my TIA’s minimized, my seizures to 10 a week or less. So I have to choose between housing or screaming.

Linda talked to the Welfare officer. If I am placed in a full care home, that qualifies as ‘involuntary separation’ which would nullify our marriage for welfare terms and then, once I am on the machines and getting 24 hour care…..I could get that appointment in two weeks to show up at THEIR office to fill out the forms for disability. Of course, the way that ALL disabilities are treated the same, from extreme ones in hospital to homebound mental illness, fibro, terminal illness, Lupus, lower back pain – it is actually discrimination and against the British Columbia law and human rights code.

I tried to explain the problems with this inflexibility to a supervising manager but, having been to a specialist that day, I was tired and my slurring was significant. I simply could not make myself understood. The disability section of the office has no way to be contacted except through welfare, and they have to call YOU. So if you can’t use a phone or they can’t understand you – as was in this case, I was left trying over and over to say my name, “Hello, this is Elizabeth McClung” until 4:30 came and they hung up on me, because it was time to go home.

The day before I found from Linda, who had been invited out to lunch with my biological parents, who use the phrase ‘dead to her’ when talking about me. It turns out that my parents have left town, they bought a water front condo in another city, and sold the other one, which is why they wouldn’t leave us the key to it when they went on vacations. Why? Well, they bought it months ago. Like the new van.

Linda meets once a month with the other excluded managers who were terminated as soon as they handed in year end paperwork and one, my only other relative who speaks to me, got a job far in the interior. It was his goodbye. I was too ill to be moved. He didn’t come by. But now, not a single person left besides Linda in this town (of about 35 relatives) who will speak to me, who would care if I live or died.

My VIHA manager doesn’t want me in a care home. She wants a doctor to declare me palliative and there have been meetings with VIHA, and others I did not know about and the consensus was…I was going to die in 1-4 months. With Palliative I get to stay married, until I die, we just have no medicine or food. I found this out on Thursday. Linda however says that she believes that I will make it for 6 months: she is an optimist.

I would not be the first person to die 'for Canada', first every hemophiliac and blood transfusion/plasma need up to 1989 was infected with HIV/Hep C, B and died. They all died because Canada bought plasma from a few prisons which were condemned by the Center of disease control in the USA and mixed it with ALL the plasma in Canada. Then all the patients with Lymes disease died until 2004 or so because there IS no Lymes disease in Canada. Now patients with rare diseases and those needing IVIG, transplants or any operation costing...well, money, since post Olympics, this province doesn't have any. I would have a better and longer chance of living in the US (oh hell would I have bills, but I would have a doctor for more than a year out of three!), UK, EU, Cuba, and many other countries. Canada is very good at throwing bodies under the wheels of 'the common good' and I think I may be used as traction soon.

My boxing coach asked Linda to let him know once I go into hospital. No one told him, he just can see the changes ‘they are too fast’ or as the specialist said today, “the kind you see with congestive heart failure” before telling me he wasn’t going to treat me as I don’t fit his parameters.

My mother approached Linda with a box of my early writing, and other mementos, they have already given away or sold most gifts I gave them, and they offered to sell (we don’t ‘get’ furniture from my parents we pay for it, like $450 for a table, etc, the same way they can charge a child rent and did). I realized that my parents were starting over. One of the first memories of arriving was Linda and I sitting behind my parents and a woman coming up to my mother from her church and saying, “Was that your daughter Elizabeth McClung I read about in the Globe and Mail? (Canada’s National Paper) Her book looked really good.”

My mother said, with me sitting behind her, “No, no, I think you are mistaken, that isn’t my daughter, that’s probably another Elizabeth McClung altogether….” The woman insisted she was sure it was, well, ME, but no, no no, my mother insisted, and she never praised the book or read it.

I realized that by the time I die, there will be no evidence that I lived at all, at least, not at my parents. They attended no games of mine in high school, my first degree I had posted to me, my last, the doctorate, I sat alone on the floor, with Linda watching. My mother had come over for Linda’s graduation earlier. No pictures of us over the last few years, no meeting after our trip to Japan, or Hawaii. Invitations to come over once a week turned down, to meet at restaurants once a month always cancelled. No pictures of me fencing, never went to a single competition. No picture of me performing, don't have the album I am on, never went to an single orchestra performace I gave.

No one, no earthly power, can stop MY love. I realized people can TRY to crush love, but they can only refuse to accept it. I love my parents. I love my relatives. They can move away, they can stay away, or act like odd rogue KGB agents. Their actions can be hurtful. Their actions can be hateful. “I hope everyone has a friend like you,” my mother told me, “so they can experience how painful it is.” But I love them, and sure it hurts when they say and do what they do, but I love them. I love my whole family.

“Don’t you get it” the specialist said, “if you have a disease of the central autonomic system, you’d be dead.”

I worry that I won’t be able to get enough postcards out to everyone before I go.

I cry every day, and have since Wednesday. As Sister Rosette (a fighting nun exorcist!) from the series Chrono Crusade who bound her soul to another so that they might live, at the end of final battle, the clock that holds her life is broken. They don’t tell her that it could be a day or a couple months. She is in bed, and says, “I spent my life running, fighting, now I am still but I fight, I fight dying.”

Whatever time a person has isn’t really enough, and to end in pain, the pain, oh, the things that can be borne, must be borne. No, I never really had support, as my father said to me as a teen, “You could have had a college fund, but we traveled instead.” It was his decision and why I worked full time and lived on yougert (because it cost .35 cents) and slept on concrete. My intellect scared/scares most and so almost every university advisor was glad not to see my questions anymore; though a few professors missed me – the ones who liked a challenge. I wish I could see them again.

I may not have been the child my parents wanted, the unplanned child, the ‘extra’ child, but I was still here. And my grandfather became my father to me; the one who loved me, who listened, who accepted my fears without commanding me to dispell them as Satan in my mind. His last words to me were words of love. I only had one grandfather, but he taught me how to use a chainsaw, start fires and steal government equipment while still a ‘tween’ – that’s cool. And how to live with the woods, to see the wildlife, the trees, the paths of people before. But also I think he taught me that love means that you accept the limitations a person has: I sent him books, as he loved books. Books on cruise ships, then as his eyes went, books on pictures from his home, pictures of cruise ships, of boats, of the history of BC. Of whatever would make him happy, even if it was for a second, postcards of cruise ships he had traveled on. I don’t know if he ever said anything about the books, or the postcards, but when you love someone, that doesn’t matter. Just knowing that he would be somewhere turning the pages and humming that odd tuneless song he hummed when happy was enough. He died humming, after humming his way in a coma. Whether he was watching ships, or watching fires, or setting them, or setting me to chop wood, or turning hanging a picture into a 5 hour job with his hunting though jars of screws collected over the years, I don’t know, but he was happy.

So I all I need is to find a GP who will sign me off for palliative care, and the VIHA and care people are behind it. It seems everyone agrees it is time for me to go except me.

Yeah, it might hurt to breath most days, lying on the bed, sucking air at the end of the day, trying to get the strength for one more heave of the ribs. I lived life, traveled a lot of continents (4 at least), and asked directions in at least 25 languages (15 verbs, 30 nouns and a lot of hand guestures!), I’ve been homeless at least three times I can remember, a vagabond twice, stayed in picker shacks twice, got degrees and classes and qualifications and awards in a lot of things. I always tried my hardest, I didn’t lie and I didn’t allow bullies….to bully people when I was there. I used to be sad because I had almost finished my ‘great work’ which would change the way people see themselves, the meta-popular culture which transcends different cultures (why I always worked on islands, to study how culture is when unchanging), though books.

But right now, Linda is hurting, Linda is worried about taking care of me, and keeping us housed and I am the person to make sure Linda does not hurt. And I can’t. I don’t care about the meta project. I hurt when people are mean, and with email, people can be mean almost every day. And no, maybe it isn’t the life I imagined, and yes, maybe I would have made a great mother, but that just isn’t what is. Struggling to breathe, to move, to talk at times, that is what is. Finding out we will be alone, that Linda will have to take care of me alone unless I move into a bed where I will shortly die (my grandmother moved into a home with care and died in under two weeks, not a single time was her oxygen connected correctly or the bed inclined so she could breathe: she was incompetently cared….to death), or maybe if I have one last burst to find a doctor who can say, “Yes, she will die in a few months.”

It has been a long day. Maybe a few days, but they all seem long too.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

87 lots on Ebay! A GTO Mustang and Hello Kitty plus Larsson's The Girl who liked Fire & Bajo le Sal

Whew! That’s pretty much all I can say. We finished the six days of listing for the ebay sale to raise money to go to Comi-con, and see the Redwood Tree on our road trip. I made a promise last year and though it looks a bit ‘blah’ with problems with welfare getting the ‘extreme disability’ part, like, “Hey, how about I call you anytime I feel like it and you answer in three seconds.” And Linda is on unemployment and turns my care has gone up in cost by a factor of 8. Ouch. But done. There are 87 lots here!

It is pretty much all of my manga that I have collected for the last several years, pre-disability too, including some athlete-romance series, like Suzuka about a high jumper and a guy on the 100 meter dash team. There are also some younger action complete series, like Psychic Academy. So each complete series counts as ONE lot, and there are 87. Sniff, bye-bye. There are also some Yaoi series, including ones which are out of print, like this new set where just one book sells for $50. One series I am selling, book 2 is out of print and someone is selling it for $1,000. I think I started the 8 volume New set for $49. $1000? Come on, these were meant to be read and enjoyed. They helped me in difficult times, now they can help someone else. Inquires from 4 continents so far. Some limited edition items like this Yaoi deck of cards that has an illustration on each card. Oh, if you liked Elfed Lien, the anime, I recommend the out of print and rare Variente, it has the same intensity and using of females, experimenting on humans but riviting action. Cool. Anyway, if you want some manga try here, until Sunday.

Linda actually said today, "We could keep putting items on!”

I was, “Step AWAY from the computer!”

I haven’t seen outside since before helping Linda do ebay. The last thing I saw was this GTO mustang a week ago with ‘classic’ plates (meaning it is a collectable car with original parts), wheeling back home. And also, I got a picture of my ‘new’ glasses. When Linda’s insurance ran out, I could get contacts or glasses. I told her since finding my eyeball can be a challenge at times, I think glasses were more in my future, so I went shopping. The optometrist said with my other glasses, “I had no idea how strong they were, they look so thin..”

“That’s the point.” I said. I’m beyond legal blind without visual assistance, so getting a small centered, circular glass with compaction can make it seem like just reading glasses (ha, I can’t actually SEE the book or text without the glasses – turns out a car accident with your head IS bad for you).

I also got in some Hello Kitty Loot: First are these very cute sneeze and cough guards from Hello Kitty. I would give some to the Peds unit for the nurses for kids in town if I could find them again (let me know if you see them). On a creepy note, you can get the masks which LOOK normal and white, but on the INSIDE there is an anime girl kissing you (for the otaku geeks), they are on sale on j-box…I just happen to know. I also got this pillow of Hello Kitty and Rabbit the hard core pirates (no nice pirates here, but all black!). I found it from a Hot Topic store, I think when Jack Sparrow was super-hot, the sort of Hello Kitty Jack Sparrow. And I have the pillow. Okay, hang in there, one more. I got these really cool 3-D notebooks from Japan, and they really do look 3-D, I would have gotten more but they are a limited item (what isn’t).
As for my brain, I have been watching foreign films (‘Let the Right one In’ was fantastic, and I think much more about childhood vulnerability of trusting and understanding adult world, and bullying than Vampires”). The one film available here is at Amazon and calledBajo la Sal (Under the Salt). Get it, it costs $5-6 including shipping, has English subtitles and will BLOW your mind. The plot of five missing girls from a small town and area where salt is mined and crushed is only one of many sub-stories, and amazing filmmaking. To give you an idea, here is three minutes of the start of the film (there is a trailer on the DVD with subtitles but not on youtube or the internet, believe me, I looked. The English for the dialogue is below (all four lines) – the lonely son watches horror films and makes them himself using barbie and ken dolls (oh, no, he can’t be a suspect!)


“Who is it?”

“The teacher, Chistina.”

“Nicalo…”

“You sure?”

If that didn’t blow you away, well, I guess this isn’t the movie for you. I can recommend Cyborg She, which is available on Amazon.co.uk – it is the other film by the maker of My Sassy Girl. He needed a bigger budget and better sets and moved the film to Japan, where a clueless Japanese guy gets led around by a girl who it seems is a cyborg from the future. It is engaging and touching, and a hit in Japan for the last year.

I was looking for various foreign films and came across a film talking about a reporter going after someone who does violence against women. As the creepy psychologist/psychiatrist in the film says, “You never understood Lisabeth, that sometimes touch…is therapeutic.” Oh did I want to put him into a wall. I knew what he was saying, and he knew what he was saying as we see her in restraints in the ward as he prowls around her bed.

Girl who kicked the hornets nest



Yeah, it is from THAT bestseller by Larsson – in Norway they did ALL three films, which now it seems the US is going to redo (of course, of course, take out the abuse in a film about exploitation of women!)

Okay, I don’t get out MUCH! It turns out this is the now dead journalist Larsson, who planned 10 books, wrote the first two, then was working on the third before he approached a publisher (who turned him down twice). He went to another and now the world is riveted by his books, particularly The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo. I had heard others talk about it in passing but never checked it out – well it seems to be JUST MY THING (girl who plays with fire!?). I put a hold online at our provincial library system and am, oh wait for it, #372 and #286 on the wait list for two of the three books, so I put them on the wish list instead ($7.50 to read it while I am still alive seems a trade off). I can’t tell if the long ‘hold’ lines mean that Canadians are avid readers or the cheapest people of the western world (or both). If you have a copy of his books for sale please let me know?

While looking into the films I ran across a trailer that literally made my jaw drop.

On Modern Servitude



The thought was ‘when are they going to be arrested?’ – you can go to the website and watch the entire film, which is free (of course, it is Anarchist!). But here I can summarize it and save you an hour and a bit.

On Modern Servitude not only has some old marxist thought, with not exactly George Woodcock Archarcy but a more hardline anarchy in which all is absolute. So ALL is bad: the radio is bad, the TV is bad, all possessions are bad (it is sort of like selling fatigued Consumers on Stalinism), in a section called ‘medicine’ they state all illness’ arise from this disenfranchised state…and only by having a violent revolt can we be cured. Seriously. Cancer is just consumer slave mentality fatigue. Errr….yupper!

So throw a hefty dose of Chomsky (with the whole ‘unnamed elite’ who must live in secret elite lairs), it goes on to say that as ‘slaves’ we are trapped except ignoring the one avenue we have always had: revolution (and specifically ‘revolutionary violence’ – with the reasoning that the ‘Hegemony uses violence for control’ egro it is okay – it sound at times like it was written by Orson Scott Card as part of the Ender Cycle)

And here it goes off the range in a way of why it will NEVER be shown in the US: ‘that all resistance to this ideological slavery is labeled as terrorism.’, and ‘all women are doubly enslaved, and within it, reduced to a mere object of consumption’ (mere? MERE??? Come closer dude!) ‘since power is everywhere, it must everywhere be attacked’ ‘Power is not to be conquered, it is to be destroyed’ – it is like a first year philosophy and cultural crit major got together, got drunk and managed to vomit in visual form.

The ‘documentary’ offers no solutions (like where we live or move about once we have blown up the towers, apartment buildings and bridges that we are shown as examples of ‘revolution against slavery) Or in the climax when setting fire to everything from cars to the city is ‘good’, who does the clean up (maybe the ‘elite’)? – I do not expect the chant of ‘Sparticus’ (odd….my Microsoft tried to change that to ‘spastics’). I doubt this person, like many who advocate violence as an expression of individuality, will either actively participate (and be imprisoned, rightfully) or more importantly, bear responsibility of their advice. Because if you tell isolated individuals they are unhappy because they are a slave and can only cure their depression by freeing themselves and blowing something up – oh, GREAT idea (NOT!), and one which WOULD in the days of Bush get you in a secret prison somewhere. And showing how you can be happy by setting police on fire with molitov cocktails (seriously, it is in the film) is a really good way to well, be a sociopath, the very uncaring desensitization that they advocate against.

I sigh inside with the late George Woodcock, the Anarchists of today, tsk tsk. (the credits list what they stole and where ‘This film was made without regard to intellectual property or writers rights.’, ‘The struggle against private property, intellectual or of other sort is the best weapon against domination’) – it reminds me of Woodcock talking about how in London, passing out pamphlets in Trafalgar’s Square his small Anarchists’ group had their hand-press stolen by ANOTHER Anarchist group. They knew who had it but couldn’t tell the police because it was against their ethics. I wonder, if this group would feel so glorious in victory if I stole their computer (for mixing and editing) and cameras, footage, and identity (start a neo-nazi website in their name?). Huzzah for the freed slave? OR “What the FUCK! Where’s my computer!?”

So, watch ‘Under the Salt’ which is a strong film and more about the real exploitation of females in a small rural town than the so-called documentary. I am also eager to read and hear more about this journalist who has written against female abuse and exploitation and then wrote this detective trilogy. Read it?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Necropolis: The tale of two Victorian cities, dead & Rail lines, a world apart

Necropolis, meaning ‘city of the dead’, oft used in steampunk nowdays, and before that to refer to Egyptian excavations. Except, it is not a fantasy of steam fancy, this was an actual place, a cemetery of grand Victorian vision and a exclusive steam train line starting in Londonand offering first, second and third class carriages (for both the living and the dead). Necropolis literally sprang up with the start of the Victorian Era and a symbol of the British Empire.
In a time when opera boxes were sold for “99 years”, the idea of a British Empire not growing ever and ever more powerful was unthinkable. But London, the Metropolis of this new World had significant problems on how to get rid of the dead. Unlike the ‘colonists’ (Americans), there was no embalming, nor cremation for until 1880’s. And the problem in the 1840’s grew and grew, causing the kind of desecration, which ironically is happening again (for example, under current proposal, if you can’t identify your relation to a grave in the Brompton Cemetery, famous by its inspiration to writer of Peter Rabbit, Beatrix Potter, the body will be disinterred).

A crisis occurred in 1849-1849 when a cholera outbreak killed 15,000 of those in London. Sir Richard Broun proposed a solution which was visionary and of course, profitable: a 2000 acre area of land 25 miles south of London in the village of Brookwood, right along the newly laid Waterloo Station railway lines.

The hold up was....the trains. First, they were very new, less than 10 years in that area and people viewed them as loud, dangerous, and like a big carriage/station waggon. So in debates, the worry was, what if a good church man (dead) was in one part of the train while he had to share it with another (dead) man who womanized and drank himself to death. And….would the trains be ALLOWED to take Atheists? (Ironically Ghandi records in his visit to the Brookwood Cemetery in 1891 a debate between an Atheist and a Church Man on the Necropolist platform) Then, the problem of the rolling stock, how could they carry the dead, then be put in service for regular Waterloo Transport?

The problem was solved by offering SIX different types accommodation of transport for the dead in a rail service on a separate rail line and rolling stock for the LCN ('London Necropolis & National Mausoleum Company' later shortened to the London Necropolis Company) established in 1850. An act of Parliament passed making them official in 1852 and 500 of the 2000 bought acres was set aside for the dead, the ‘Consecrated’ (Church of England) would have the Southern part and station stop (sunny), and the ‘Unconsecrated’ (any other religion or athiests) would have the chilly north. A special station was built and by 1854 the rail line was in full service. The Necropolis Station (later moved to Waterloo), partially seen here (destroyed in 1941) not only had a separate loading line, but a full service mortuary, and services area.

It wasn’t just filling a need, it sold shares, it made a profit, ran the train daily and in 1854 had a vision of a bright future of profit, creating a land boom of property surrounding Necropolis: the Brookwood Cemetery. 1854 was also the year it became the largest cemetery in the world, a title not surpassed for 100 years. And a train line exclusively for the dead, and those connected to them. In traditional Victorian style, the lease for the Waterloo Station was for not ’99 years’ (after all, the dead keep dying), but for ‘999 years’. Which is why parts of the station still exist today.

So, what could you expect at the Necropolis Station and on the Train? First, you needed to buy your coffin ticket (1st, 2nd, and 3rd class and either the ‘consecrated’ or ‘unconsecrated’ coffin car). All of those tickets were ONLY sold as one way. Then tickets for you and your funeral party, who were recommended to arrive early, in either first, second, or third class. The LCN did offer an entire service which included a first, second and third class funeral, complete with carriage (number of horses, style of carriage determined by class), service room, transport and burial. The horse and carriage would look like this, which is referred to in song as a ‘Black Mariah’ (Actually it is just a Hearst, ‘Black Mariah’ was the name of the Hearst in Deadwood, shown here, likely because the term usually means ‘Paddy Wagon’ or Black Police collection van – I guess in deadwood, problems got sorted before arrests were made, if you know what I mean).

The trip took and hour and third class was usually for paupers who would be buried at the Parish expense. Each hearst rail car was divided into three classes and had 4 coffin spaces for each class. The justification of the expense for charging first class for a casket and dead was the decoration, particularly on the coffin cell doors and promises that the higher the class, the better and more carefully the coffin would be treated (a wee threat there?).

Due to only having one train to take back and a ‘public house’ in each station (really liquor owned and profited entirely by LNC, a full service profit making company), incidents of drunken behavior occurred. Not to mention wakes. It is reported on one train conductors could not stop an entire car of passengers from drunkenly dancing around. Also due to a train driver showing up far too drunk to drive back in 1867, Jan. 12 the LNC decided to avoid possible visiting of off-site public houses by staff by having a ‘standard lunch’ where all future train crews received a free ploughman's lunch and a single pint of beer. (those little problems in new start up business’)

The LNC expanded believing that they were offering an alternative London, for the dead, and would be expanding for centuries. The first year, in 1855, they expanded the stations with cellars, turning coffin areas into third class waiting rooms and offering bar service at both stations (with the sign “Spirits Served Here”). By 10 years after opening service in 1864 they got the regular rail Waterloo service to build a station called Brookwood alongside the cemetery for those who wanted to visit. Then seeing the original rail station was too small, they got Waterloo to built them new and larger station at 121 Westminster Bridge Road and traded leases, getting a ‘999 year lease’ on that station (shown here). It opened in 1902.

John Clarke’s book Brookwood Necropolis Railway available on Amazon.co.uk, and from other booksellers, like the one linked, has made him the Necropolis expert. In an interview for Fortean Times he said the highest number he could find was 60 coffins transported for funerals on a single day train. A large industry, and a permanent fixture to London and society, with slang like ‘the meat train’ or ‘Stiff’s Express’ showing up.

They expanded into cremation in 1885, built by the Northern station. For a history of the cremations which started in Necropolis/Brookwood at the special built crematorium off the North station in 1885, I recommend this article from the International Cemetery, Crematory and Funeral Association.

At the turn of the century the Brookwood Cemetery became surrounded by Victoria/Edwardian Villas and a swathe of golf courses by 1890, the closest golf courses to London. This caused irritation to the rail line later as their train prices were fixed at incorporation in 1854 while Waterloo kept raising prices (they were unable to raise rates until 1939). Golfers soon learned to dress in black, pretend to be mourners and then hop the fence for a cheaper train fare.
While the cemetery became part of local language and mystery stories, as this private detective story printed by Arkham House ends with an investigation and chase in Brookwood.
However, as time passed, the Necropolis ‘boom’ died down, so after 50 years, the daily service was suspended and by the 1930’s it had gone down to twice a week. The invention of the motor bus, van and car, eliminating the train monopoly to Brookwood was partially to blame. Also, like Bath Cathedral, as soon as the BIG cemetery went up, local London cemeteries came into fashion (who wants to be buried with EVERYONE? Really, darling!).

During WWII, in 1941, the Necropolis Station took a direct hit and thus, was no more. In 1945 despite War Reparations, it was deemed unprofitable and never rebuilt, though parts of the station still remain (that 999 year lease has about 890 years to go!). In 1947 the rail lines inside Necropolis, now just the Brookwood Cemetery were removed. Only the commercial Brookwood station outside the cemetery remained. However, the laws were still on the books and canny Londoners continued to transport caskets and funerals until finally, annoyed at this loophole, it was closed in 1988 (in case you were planning to show up at the Waterloo Station with your relation in casket). The two stations in the cemetery lie in Ruins. Most of the south station was made into a monastery in the 1970’s and currently occupied by St. Edward Brotherhood.

Brookwood used to be a highly visited spot and largely unregulated, until a few years ago when a large connected family decided there was money in ‘them visitors’. Claiming ‘respect for the dead’ they sent threatening letters/emails to all who had photos online of the cemetery, got Necropolis.com closed down and now charge 20 pounds ($40) for a ‘day permit’ to take photos ‘only of approved areas’ (those not included in the gift store postcards and books). As a lover of cemeteries, the idea that instead of the ability to visit a cemetery for your own contemplation or enjoyments, it is now a regulated nepotistic enterprise (every last name on the board of directors and the chief officers was the same but one). However, as one photographer pointed out, in the UK, permission to take photos on ‘consecrated’ ground (the grounds WERE consecrated on Nov. 7, 1854), lies with the Bishop, so a permission letter from the Bishop’s offices means goodbye to the restrictions and permits. However, they will threaten you, might threaten lawsuit, destroying your camera (anecdotes are told since after all money is involved!), but you are legally in the right.

Down south, in the ever expanding Sydney Australia, a body problem was occurring as well. Much like here in Victoria, as each cemetery was put at city limits then over-run, and another larger cemetery put further away before that was at capacity. But unlike Victoria and the end of the island limitations, it just kept growing and by the 1840’s the Devonshire Street Cemetery was full.

With a rail completed to Parrametta in 1856 (14 miles west of Sydney) it was thought to place a large cemetery along this line and thus create their own ‘Necropolis’ to rival London. Parrametta, now no longer so distant is merely a suburb of the 4.5 million living in Sydney. By the ‘Necropolis Act’ officially created Necropolis (the local residents petitioned to have the name of the area changed to Rockwood) in 1868 of 300 acres. However, with the land pre-bought and had already opened in 1864 (bodies don't wait).

The rail was being laid and residents were already having services by April 1867, and railway schedules in the Sydney Morning Herald. Unfortunately in order to lay the rail to the new cemetery, they had to dig up graves as they went through the Devonshire Street Cemetery.
This Necropolis (later Rookwood Necropolis/Cemetery) had four railway stations within the cemetery, of which the grandest was Necropolis built like a church with a bell for tolling funerals AND for letting people know it was 5 minutes to train departure). With a black and white tile floor, the arch was carved with angels and the interior with sculptures of angels, cherubs, gargoyles and various foliage carvings featuring flowers, pears, sycamores, apples and pomegranates. By the end of the 19th century it was changed to Mortuary Terminus then finally the less interesting, “Cemetery Station No. 1” in 1908.

If you think it looks like a church, you aren’t the only one, as that was how it was created. Not only that, when the rail service finally finished in 1947 and the rails were pulled up in 1948, the ENTIRE Station was sold. Yes, Mortuary Terminus, originally known as Necropolis was sold to Reverend Buckle in 1951 for 100 pounds ($400 at that time – the pound was strong). It was moved six years later to Canberra, where it was opened in 1958 as the All Saints Church. They moved the church tower entirely to the other side when rebuilding it.

With over one million dead ineurned, Rookwood Necropolis (still officially called that) is the largest Victorian Cemetery in the world still operational (now part of Service Corporation International – a US based 2.2 billion mortuary business). The name was an ode to Brookwood Cemetery, and gave rise to the slang ‘crook as Rookwood’ which means chronically or terminally ill (Hey all you ‘crook as Rookwood’!) as ‘Crook’ is Oz slang for 'unwell'.

Mortuary, another station on the Rookwood Necropolis Line had a lively history. It opened in 1869 and was built in conjunction with Necropolis or Mortuary Terminus, using the same artists to create sculptures and a similar look, both designed to look like churches. This was the main loading platform, particularly for coffins. As the train use in the cemetery diminished it found a new use as a loading platform for dogs and horses in 1938, then for parcels in 1950. It was restored by the State Rail Authority in 1981 and has been classified by the National Trust, and finished in 1985.
In 1986, in an idea so ill conceived and TACKY that I just would have LOVED to been there and take video of the whole thing, the restored Mortuary station was turned into a Pancake Restaurant called, 'Magic Mortuary'. The patron would buy ‘tickets’ at the now disused ticket office and then go onto real rolling stock cars in order to exchange tickets for pancakes. Considering this was the primary place to load coffins onto the train, I am not sure what type of drugs were involved in this plan (I can’t even TRY to make this stuff up!), but it did not last long and folded in 1989 when the railway cars were removed. Oh yeah ‘Magic Mortuary’ indeed, pass me the syrup for my ‘necropolis pancake special’.

The station is now reserved for special events.

Necropolis (Station Number 1), was connected to Station number 2, the catholic section of Rockwood Necropolis. Number 3 station led further in while number 4 station was connected to the ‘New Jewish Cemetery’ and importantly the Crematorium. This is what made Station number 4 so popular that it included a waiting room and a tasteful Columbarium wall along the tracks to hide the crematorium from those riding the train.

And there you have it, not Steam Punk fiction but two real places on opposite hemispheres and sides of the earth creating cities of the dead, bringing the idea of Victorian ever expansion and perpetuity to death and how they went about it. Necropolis of London is now gone, except for the old station front near Waterloo, while the Necropolis of Sydney lives on in a church in Canberra and a cemetery and crematorium still operational for all denominations. Yes, you too can visit, or even get interned in Necropolis (Rookwood Necropolis). Sadly, there is no longer a final train journey to take you (nor a place for all your friends to get wildly drunk and start dancing around). It is how I would have liked to go, a final adventure, and please, make it a first class ticket!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Cats of Victoria SPCA: a mechanic named Kate

Bad News: Due to heat, toxicity and some severe seizure/respiratory distress issues, I don’t know how much access to a computer I will have. This blog post isn’t complete but part of a visit to the SPCA of Victoria two weeks ago. Due to overvisiting, the SPCA has closed off visits except for those willing to adopt. We got a ‘pass’ as pseudo-volunteers since we come so often.

There are a great many 8-10 month old cats, some of them gentle, some hiding under things, the personality not yet developed until they bond with their new environment, left off kittens from last fall. We went into a new room which had some very stretchable cats.
One youngster had that ‘stalk’ to the window routine down. But the bird outside had obviously been around this shelter for some time as it was unfazed. Beyond being unfazed the small bird even went so far as to take a mud bath about 8 INCHES away from the cat outside, a bit of a deliberate taunt as it dug and preened.
I met a cat which had no name tag, which I call Kate simply because I know a lot of Kate’s who are very good at riding motorcycles and knowing what parts in engines do what. Kate was attracted to my wheelchair, but not in the way most cats are, where they hide and play with the string. No, I think Kate wanted to BUILD a wheelchair as she kept going up and examining the scissors brakes. Scissors brakes are folded away under the chair to be used to lock the chair in place, leaving only the hands to slow a chair down. However, with no brakes on the WHEEL, it means you can push without fear of having part of your thumb removed. Here is Kate, with her head all around the scissors brakes. I thought she wanted petting but no, she wanted to figure them out.

I was, “Oh, be careful” and showed her how the lever moved (yes, I show the cat the pulley and spring dynamics, okay!), and then she was on to examining the sling. She wasn’t hungry, she wasn’t into petting, she was in THINKING mode and didn’t want to be distracted. As you can see here, while most cats look out from under a wheelchair at other cats, Kate is looking at the spokes (it is an empty room behind me), figuring out SpinEnergy spokes. I think a very good cat to have in a garage, or a barn where you like fixing up stuff.

Inside the other room we found a nice dark black cat Pipi and this cat who was young and BORED. Yes, very bored, let’s play ‘lick my nose’. Okay, now lets play, ‘try and touch YOUR nose’. 'Oh god, this is such a boring place, someone take me where there are children!'
That was about half of our visit, I am sorry I was too ill to do the rest of the photo’s right now.

Good memories matter, every breath sometimes matters. I read a very good manga, I recommend called Jyo-Oh-Sei. Each Volume is 400 pages and took 10 years for the author to write about a murder of parents and the 11 year old twin children exiled to a secret planet. Hecate is the planet for prisoners, but for those who are too dangerous and need a death sentence, there is a secret planet in this newly settled solar system, the BEAST PLANET, where plants are the top of the chain, and can kill you, and each ‘day’ and each ‘night’ lasts 181 days. But it is populated by 5 Rings (or castles), and if you get into one of these, you have a chance of surviving the brutal 180 days of darkness. How though will two 11 year olds fare? And when the only person who can leave the planet is the ‘King’, and one of the children vows to leave and face the murderer of his parents. But how to get from here to there? It is exceptionally good, so good they made a hit anime of the manga. That’s what got me through yesterday, book 1 (If you are interested, I think you can get a good used copy for $2 plus $4 shipping). I ordered book 2 and book 3 finishes the series.

I will use what mind I have, and like Kate, in whatever situation or extremity I find myself. Survival now can be determined by the smallest observation – and my board is full of those. I will have to ask someone to move it to my bed.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Victoria BC naked cyclists' day 2010: can you say sunburn?

Despite overheating while and having two people putting ice all over my body (not really as fun as you might hope), I determined a few hours later I NEEDED, I must go to the James Bay Market to see the pottery. I know, Pottery? But this fabulous pottery maker who lives nearby uses geodes and other wonderful and sparkling natural things in her pottery, but wouldn’t do any while she was pregnant, particularly not any blue. Now the baby was here and I wanted to see the new line.

As you can see with this example, there is a dark, dark blue as almost black with a blue sparkle as you turn in the sun, the top is green and white with embedded geodes in there. She has a nice right up on all the different geological elements she uses. Here is an example of her table, but the fun stuff starts at $25 and goes up from there. Alas, good pottery is not cheap. Why, why can’t the best of the best slave over hot kilns so I can have really cool stuff for a tenner? Hmmm, odd that.

I stopped to talk to a gentleman who paints airplanes and birds pictures, things that fly, mostly British planes. We talked about the history of some of the different ones he painted. He was surprised I would know by name the different planes and history of them. I am an uber-geek, and oddly knowledgeable about all sorts of things. Even camera's and the tripods and camera he used to make his cards.

It was one of those days which makes your city look nice. Too nice. For example, here in old town, we parked so I could pick up some gifts and maple candy and this is where the ‘rich’ stores used to be, those who could not afford stone, like government buildings but could afford the bricks imported and brought from afar (Bricks were SO expensive and a sign of wealth, since we are an island where you have to travel either from Australia or up from San Francisco to get to us that the ‘Great Cathedral’ on the hill has the ceiling lined not with gold, or murals, but with bricks, to show how wealthy they are). Without the cars it could be 150 years ago. Looks too nice!

As this was going to be my 40 minutes outside (20 at the market and 20 here), I was taking pictures of everything I saw. And I saw some drummers across the street, on different rose Xylophone and drums so I wheeled over. As I took the picture, naked cyclists, with the dangly bits or the full monty or bare breasts and all started to ride by. Well, now I wasn't sure if the drummers or the full monty was the story so I kept taking pictures until one of the drummers was reduced to hysterical laughter (I guess this isn’t what is ‘supposed’ to happen across from Munroe’s Books, Murchie’s Tea House and Rodger’s Chocolates).

Linda went and got a picture as the group gathered at the parliament (BUTT CRACK ATTACK WARNING!). The naked cyclist day is an annual event. But usually it occurs earlier in the year, I am guessing the rain delayed it until now. I am not sure WHY there is a naked cyclist event but it happens every year, as I don’t think it encourages people to cycle to work (though some have signs saying, ‘Full lane use!’) but it is just a Victoria thing. Sadly after Luminaria being rained out last time, it is unlikely that night lights festival will run again, so we take the festivals we get.

This is but a fraction of the hundreds of cyclists, who included kubuki cabs (cyclists hauling two passengers) and lots of mothers with baby carriers attached or even kids on the back of the bicycle. I had never been so close when they started the parade (about 2 feet away) and had the, um, experience of seeing many, many, many male sexual organs, a whole gigantic locker room full (doesn’t that hurt to bike that way?). A few teens going commando looked at me with a panic expression of 'Oh God!, why are all the women taking pictures?' (why to put your 'package' up where it can be seen internationally of course!) With the blazing sun and these pasty white naked people (notice not a lot of ethnic diversity), the word that comes to mind first: SUNBURN! The second is a whole: “Why?” to the hetero thing. I mean, I can get the ‘nice guy’, and the kissing, and then the shirt comes off and ‘oh my hairy…..wow, I mean is that genetic in your family?” And finally, getting intimate and, well, there it is (and I had to spend SO, SO much time with willies filling my computer screen as I pixelated them so I REALLY have seen a lot). I don’t get it, but apparently 9 out of 10 women think that is a-okay and do not hold their eyes and go, “The burning, the burning, get the images OUT” as Linda found me.

I did not naked cycle with a hand cycle (though that would have been awesome, admit it!), as I don’t have one right now. But I just wanted to show this woman (pixelated naked breasts) to ask so many questions like 'what is the thinking?': “Okay, hey, lets go starkers, totally naked with breasts waving back and forth and meet up with a few hundred naked men and women. Oh, you know what would be great, I could bring my child with me so they could meet many of the other children there with their naked parents.”(notice the 6 or 7 year old in an earlier pic) Do you think this could be like a huge dating event, where people who like to get naked meet up and get to know each other annually, sort of speed dating on a 15 speed? I dunno but the annual Naked Bicycling Day Victoria 2010 is over (the sign on the back of the woman at the parliament read: 'more bikes, less offshore oil' – because riding naked is going to get everyone to stare long and hard at no, not your breasts, but at your SIGN…….right) for this year.

I am so glad that if I only get to go out less than an hour a week, the really odd and interesting things happen to me while I am out!