Down, down, prices are down


Yesterday Dodgy Perth delved into the less-than-grown-up way our politicians planned the State War Memorial. Now the story continues.

Location, location, location. There’s no denying that the Memorial has all three. What it lacks is scale, dignity and style. Transplant it from its sublime location to a local park and it would look like your council put it up on the cheap.

How cheap?

Victoria’s Shrine of Remembrance? A whopping £80,000. South Australia went economy class for just £25,000.

And WA?

We shelled out a whole £3,000. And look what we ended up with.

The brave men who fought, and often died, for their young nation ended up with a Red Dot bargain-basement memorial.

As mentioned yesterday, the Government refused to fund the project, and the various local authorities told him they weren’t going to pay for a memorial which was only going to serve the City of Perth. They’d have their own memorials, thank you very much.

So the City of Perth must have paid for it.

Er… no. Not one penny was forthcoming from them. They loved the idea. Just not the idea of spending anything towards it.

So the public was asked to pay for the Memorial. The target was £30,000.

And the public responded. With fifteen pounds. Yes, you read that correctly. When the appeal closed, they had raised a whole £15.

In 1925, they tried again. This time the target was £35,000. By the time the appeal closed (still nothing from Government or councils), less than a tenth had been raised.

But still, if that was all they had, that would have to do.

The ‘honorary architect’ (read: offered to do it for free) was Sir Talbot Hobbs. Even though vastly overrated as an architect, he had served with distinction during the Great War.

But for no fee, he wasn’t going to put any effort in. Hobbs had knocked up a few monuments in France and Belgium, so he simply recycled one of these, with no thought for context at all.

Even with a free architect, and a greatly scaled-down project, they still managed to run over budget. So when the monument was erected, it didn’t get a setting or lighting.

They had to scrape together another £300 to put in some steps in so it didn’t look completely ridiculous.

Just to remind you: Melbourne spent £80,000 on their memorial.

A contemporary satirist imagined Sir Christopher Wren being summoned from the dead to comment on King’s Park’s latest addition:

Well, it will be a memorial all right, but it isn’t a design—there is no design in it. A memorial of brave men and valiant sons certainly. But people a hundred years hence will wonder what it symbolises, what it commemorates, why it was perpetrated.

As people of a hundred years hence, Dodgy Perth couldn’t agree more.

This story is adapted from one published last year. If you liked it then, you’ll have loved it again.

The war over the memorial


As state war memorials go, WA’s is pitiful. The first meeting to kick off the project—in February 1924—was a sign it was always going to be a calamity.

The Premier, Sir James Mitchell, chaired a meeting of mayors and architects. The intention was to discuss a location for the Memorial.

Architect Michael Cavanagh proposed that the Government should subsidise any memorial, but Sir James sneered at the suggestion. It was for local government and the people to fund it, he said.

The Mayor of Subiaco, Roland Robinson, told a sad story of how the residents of Subiaco had failed to donate enough money to build their memorial, so the council had to subsidise it. He was very sceptical that anyone would give for a state monument.

Robert Bracks, Mayor of North Fremantle, agreed. No one would give to a Perth-based erection. In any case, King’s Park was an awful idea for a proposed location, since it was in danger of becoming nothing more than a “glorified cemetery.” Shouting broke out and the Premier had to repeatedly bang on the table to restore order.

The Mayor of Fremantle seconded his neighbour, and declared there could only be one realistic location for a state memorial: Monument Hill in (ahem) Fremantle. He was never going to put his money into the city of Perth. And would the Premier like to have a look at Freo’s plans for a memorial? The Premier did not care to do so.

William Berryman, a former Subiaco mayor, had no interest in monuments. We need hospitals he said, not pointless memorials. This made Michael Cavanagh cross, and he mocked the erection of “maternity hospitals” to commemorate the dead. A row then broke out between the architect and the Colonial Secretary, who apparently did like maternity hospitals.

South Perth’s William Reid also wanted to boycott a monument in Perth. Somewhat imaginatively he proposed a war museum, with an inner shrine containing the body of an unknown Australian soldier. Or perhaps the money could be used for a ‘Hall of Industry’, where the State’s products could be exhibited.

No one listened to the dissenting voices and it was decided that King’s Park would be the location, with no Government money made available.

The subsequent outcome was predictable from the start.

h/t Museum of Perth

“Commercialised patriotism and commercialised sentiment”

Anzac Day on the Esplanade, 1928

Anzac Day on the Esplanade, 1928

Dodgy Perth missed Anzac Day this year, by virtue of being abroad. However we did discover a bar in Manchester which served Little Creatures Pale Ale, and so a glass was appropriately raised last Saturday.

So, to make up for our failure to attend a service, we offer the thoughts of someone from 1930, who did manage to get to such an event on the Esplanade.

Our writer first notes that the setting is perfect. The Swan River with its white yachts at anchor and the wooded slopes of Mt Eliza extending to the water’s edge making a beautiful and peaceful background to the scene.

As ever, there was a raised platform on the Esplanade for politicians, clergy, businessmen, leading citizens and military officers. In front of the platform were a sorrowful and subdued crowd.

The celebrations claimed to be in remembrance of “gallant fellows whose bones now repose on many of the battlefields of Europe”. But our observer is not so sure that it was.

He had a nagging feeling that the day was nothing more than sneaky way of instilling war propaganda into the receptive minds of young children.

The speeches, he scoffed, were nothing more than “commercialised patriotism, commercialised sentiment, commercialized reverence and commercialised Christianity”.

All he heard was humbug and cant about the glories of war, and nothing of its horror, its resultant sorrow, misery, poverty, and hardships.

Taking a sudden turn to the Left, the writer remembers the huge profits to be made from international disputes.

“Let those who make wars fight them,” he declares.

Complaints about the capitalist adoption of Anzac Day? Criticism of politicians’ motives for engaging in war? At least this could never happen nowadays.

In the land of the Pharaohs

28th Battalion parades along Barrack Street

28th Battalion parades along Barrack Street

William Granger was a young journalist working for the Great Southern Leader in Pingelly. When WWI broke out, like many others in this State he joined the 28th Battalion to serve the Empire.

On arrival in the Middle East he penned a brief account of everyday life. In his memory, Dodgy Perth invites you to sample the sights and sounds of Egypt while war raged across Europe.

The reader should be aware the following uses language no longer acceptable, but which was normal among white Australians at the time.

Well to say the very least, the train journey was a remarkable eye-opener. I have been always led to believe that the Suez to Cairo journey was through an endless tract of arid desert, but I found that just the opposite was the case. For miles upon mile there was stretched as far as the eye could see, vast green fields in. which profusely growing were tobacco, cotton, dates, grapes, melons, rice, grain, and numerous other articles.

Stations are very numerous and at any of the larger ones a small army of natives besiege us with melons and fruit which they endeavoured to palm off on us at ridiculous prices. However, one can barter with them and often the price is reduced 75 per cent.

The nigs are the laziest and most cunning beggars ever known, they won’t do a tap of work unless the boss stands over them all the time. If the work extends over an hour or so they plead hungry and complain of divers pains—an Australian native is bad enough but they are kings compared with these heathens. They too are abominably dirty, and you can see them covered in sores and flies wandering around eating out of slop buckets. Ugh! they make one sick.

We are at Abbassich, seven miles from Cairo and a mile from Heliopolis. This latter place is an achievement of modern masonry and architecture and is wonder fully clean compared with other towns here. The buildings are large, airy, and the thoroughfares spacy and there is not the appearance of slummery that is so frightfully prevalent in Cairo. Picture shows and salons are run in conjunction with bars and the musical and pictorial portion is free to all.

There are a tremendous lot of wounded here and many large buildings have been commandeered by the military authorities for hospitals. One of the largest and finest buildings in the world containing 700 rooms and a picture of modern science—the Palace—has been taken over for this purpose. This magnificent building was built for a casino, but the license was not granted, hence its being utilised thus, which methinks is for a much better cause.

In passing, beer is obtainable from 1 piastre (2½d) to 2 piastres per pint. English beer can be obtained that is alright, but the local stuff, which is obtainable at every cafe in the street, is abominable stuff and is more deadly than “Mallet Bark”.

A decent feed costs from 6 to 12 piastres, but the mode of dishing up a meal is most peculiar and takes some getting used to.

I have been in Cairo several times but don’t care much for the place. It is of big dimension, and holds a large population and almost every country is represented amongst its cosmopolitan numbers. There is no design about the lay-out of the place, and a street just goes where it will, very often ending abruptly at the wall of some building and back you go to try another way. There are numerous alley-ways and these beggar description, being absolutely indescribable. Filth and immorality prevail and every building seems to be a place of ill-fame and it is not safe to go through these parts singly.

Everybody from mites about two years old to old men somewhere in the vicinity of a century seems to be a business man and spends his time annoying pedestrians trying to palm off his wares. They sell anything and everything. As you walk through the streets you are almost continually followed about by a horde of these pests and they won’t leave till they are forcibly driven off.

I think I have written about all for this time so I will bring this short description of the place to a close.

Corporal William Granger fell in action at the Battle of Polygon Wood on 1 November 1917, aged 25.

WA’s first jihadist

turkish troops

Turkish troops looking forward to going home for a kebab and a packet of Camels

When fighting at Gallipoli, you probably don’t expect to run into an old mate fighting for the other side. Yet that is exactly what happened to Private Henry Molloy.

Henry was a stretcher bearer and one morning he was, as usual, preparing a cup of tea. He had just boiled the water, and started to add the tea and sugar when a familiar voice called to him from behind Turkish lines.

“Hullo, Molloy,” said the voice in a heavy accent, “how vos Blossom?” Blossom was a colleague of Molloy’s at the Midland Railway Workshops, where he had worked as a fitter before the war.

Henry immediately knew who was speaking. Frederick Shack was a German also employed at the Workshops until he was dismissed for quarrelling with the foreman. After that, Fred set up a grocers in North Perth, where he was a familiar face doing the rounds with his cart. But somehow Fred had evaded the authorities, left Perth, and joined the Turkish troops.

The two chatted about the latest gossip from the Midland Workshops. Then Henry remembered the foreman’s son was also at Gallipoli, and would likely shoot Fred for insulting his father some years earlier.

Fred didn’t seem all that worried. “You hop it before you’re seen,” he replied, “or Jacko will put you in the harem.” (‘Jacko’ was digger slang for Turkish forces.)

Henry retorted with a friendly “Fuck the Kaiser!” before scooting back to the safety of the trenches.

War may be hell. But it can also be very odd.

Guy, Shannon, Jessica and Power Pinn


When Guy Sebastian, Shannon Noll and Jessica Mauboy team up with others to record a modern-day patriotic song, you know it’s going to be awful. And boy does it suck. Big time.

We challenge you to get halfway before scrambling for the stop button.

So Dodgy Perth thought it was time to take a look back at Perth’s best known patriotic composer of WWI, who went by the fabulous name of Elizabeth Power Pinn.

Mrs Power Pinn—who lived in Florence Street, West Perth—was utterly convinced of her own talent.

On her delicate shoulders fell the responsibility of churning out poems and songs which would cheer the troops, remind people at home of their duty, and generally assist the war effort.

It is an inviolable rule, though, that there are only two types of poet utterly convinced of their own talent: geniuses and the talentless.

Mrs Power Pinn fell into the second category.

Her biggest hit song was Australia’s Call to Arms, of which the opening verse went:

We’re the worthy sons of Britain,
The Nation of the world!
We’re going to hold the banner,
No matter where it’s hurled.
Of ev’ry page of his’try,
We’re going to paint the red;
And conquer foes as in the past,
When Drake and Nelson led.

Seriously? WTF?

On Friday nights, His Majesty’s Theatre would put on a variety show hosted by The Dandies. One of its stars was Linda Bradford, who was variously reviewed as a ‘gem’ and ‘she sings to the soul’.

Well, in January 1915, Linda made the mistake of singing one of Mrs Power Pinn’s latest jingoistic offerings: Flag of Liberty.

She did the best she could. But nothing could cover up the fact that the thing was god-awful.

The Sunday Times reviewer noted that while the words were bad, the tune was worse.

His sensible advice to The Dandies was to keep a gun handy for the next patriotic songwriter who offered “untuneful hogwash”. And to use it.

He kept a whole armory to stop jingoist writers himself, as well as mining the door to the office.

If only Guy, Shannon and Jessica had been given such advice, we would have been spared their instantly forgettable piece of blandness.

But to cheer up the Dodgy Perth readership convinced that songs can’t support your nation and be good, we offer the only decent jingoistic melody (slightly NSFW) ever written:

Anzac profits


A few Anzac gifts available from the Post Office

As you bite into your Anzac biscuit, preparing to celebrate Anzac Day at Anzac Cottage, or maybe have a pint at the Oxford Hotel on the corner of Anzac Road, or…

You get the point. Anzac is a bit more than a military term. It’s a word full of emotion and value. Value in the ‘give me all of the money’ sense, that is.

The wonderful Ms History Punk has exposed the cashing in immediately—really immediately—after the word Anzac was coined. It wasn’t even an official word at first, just a nickname. It wasn’t even popular with some soldiers. So Ms Punk explores the seedy world of business folk safe back home in Australia who never missed a chance to make a little extra.

Like the Imperial Boot Co on Hay Street who announced an Anzac Sale in 1916. Yep. Apparently all those Anzac heroes going off to war meant they weren’t buying footwear like they should have been. And the poor shop was overstocked. So here was your chance to get some cheap shoes before the soldiers came home and the prices went back up again. That’s what they meant by Anzac Sale!

If you were in Bunbury during WWI and fancied a cool drink, fruit, lollies, or perhaps some beef or ham, we’d recommend the deli quickly renamed The Anzac to catch the current mood. Or if you were in Kalgoorlie, why not eat at the Anzac Grill Rooms?

Didn’t get a residence built for you by the local community? Presumably that’s because you weren’t a wounded serviceman. Never mind, estate agents will still sell you a lovely house as close as possible to Mt Hawthorn’s Anzac Cottage. Really close if you can afford a bit extra.

And finally, not serving overseas? Well you can pretend you are by buying some Anzac badges and Anzac hat pins to wear on Anzac Day. Then you can imagine you’re playing your part. And Boans can make a profit. By coincidence, of course.

It was all getting so out of hand that the WA poet Dryblower (aka Edwin Murphy) imagined a dystopia where:

It’s ‘Anzac Cottage’ and ‘Anzac-street,’
Anzac sox for your tender feet;
Anzac collars and Anzac ties,
Anzac puddings and Anzac pies.
Anzac stockings and Anzac shoes,
Anzac buttons and Anzac booze.
There’s an Anzac hat for an Anzac head,
And an Anzac bridegroom newly wed,
While spoony pairs will be sighing soon
For a sweet little Anzac honeymoon!

We were spared this nightmare when the Government suddenly banned the use of the word on anything commercial.

But you should still go to Anzac Cottage. And eat an Anzac biscuit. And be thankful we were spared Anzac socks. Although a pint of Anzac booze would go down nicely right now.