Fur coat and no knickers

GPO, 1929

GPO, 1929

Reader, you and I have grown quite intimate, have we not? We have confessed our thoughts to each other. Whispered those things of which only true friends can speak.

Yet, there is that one matter we have not dared to broach. And now it is time.

I lean over to you and say in a low voice: “Some of Perth’s heritage buildings are quite disappointing.”

There. It is out in the open.

In fact, right across Western Australia are hundreds of boring brick sheds with corrugated iron roofs, and a thin façade of Donnybrook stone glued on the front.

Lipstick on a pig, as the Americans say.

All fur coat and no knickers, as my mother says.

Or, as one critic said of the General Post Office in Forrest Place: “It’s like a lovely face on a baboon body.”

Next time you’re in the CBD, take a look at the sides of the GPO. You will see they would be easily mistaken, as the West Australian said at the time, for the walls of a factory.

Don’t get me wrong. The façade is charming. Really, really enchanting.

But, like so many buildings in this State of ours, the rest of the edifice has no architectural unity with the front. None whatsoever.

When the GPO opened, the Sunday Times was outraged. (Mind you, the Sunday Times was always outraged about something.)

They would never have done this in Sydney or Melbourne, it thundered, but the federal government feels able to “treat Perth with vulgar contempt.”

Sometimes you see a heritage building and think you’re falling in love. But then you realise that it’s just makeup, and there’s nothing behind it. And all your affection falls away.

Dodgy Perth is sorry we had to raise this issue, but you had to know.

Can we still be friends?