Last orders at the old Olde Narry

Ye Olde Narrogin Inne

Ye Olde Narrogin Inne

When Ye Olde Narrogin Inne was bulldozed there were, of course, complaints from a few heritage-minded people. Although everyone agreed the original pub was somewhat decrepit, its romantic links back to coaching days had long made it a favourite of travellers.

To commemorate Western Australia’s centenary, a tablet was unveiled at the Inne, noting that it first opened in 1857 and the first licensee was Thomas Saw.

Yet in 1937, just eight years after this heritage recognition, the licensing authority condemned the hotel as being unfit for conducting business. Improving the old building wasn’t viable, so it had to be demolished. There’s not a lot of romantic souls working at liquor licensing.

The New Olde Narrogin Inne was very different to the unpretentious single-storey edifice it replaced. Although it is hard to imagine it today, the pub was in the latest fashionable style, Mock Tudor.

In fact the owners kept stressing how modern the Inne now was. No more grime and dust, just contemporary furniture resting on contemporary carpets. For some reason they were obsessed with how cool (and expensive) their carpets were. They also encouraged drinkers to finger the new furnishings. Which is just wrong in all the ways.

Anyway, this most modern of hotels is now heritage listed. And no one mourns the loss of the original Inne. No one

Now what makes me think of Guildford?

With friends like these…

StevesA prisoner of war when this photo was taken in 1943, on the right is Steve McHenry, owner of the infamous Steve’s in Nedlands.

A couple of years earlier the Perth men had been fighting in Libya, and from the accounts of their time there it’s hard to know if they were soldiers or students tumbling out of Steve’s at closing time.

Camp at Benghazi was described as a lot like the bar at the WACA after an interschool sports meeting. (Wait. You could drink beer after school sports day?)

However, although the local beer tasted okay, the Western Australians complained it was too low alcohol for their taste. Apparently the native wines and spirits were awful, but fortunately there was a good supply of Australian beer.

If good Aussie beer turned up, though, “no one bothers about buying a bottle—it’s a case or nothing.”

As a result of this hard drinking, the English soldiers started calling the Aussies ‘the queer men’. Not what you’re thinking. It was because they considered them all stark raving mad when on the juice.

If an Australian wanted booze he became impossible to deal with. After having a few, if they could be forced out of the canteen without starting a brawl, the Aussies would go away and bring their officers back to start another fight.

Other than fighting in the canteen, the Aussies mostly fought while playing Australian Rules, of which there were games every afternoon. A friendly would not usually last more than ten minutes before it became an all-in brawl.

And they had an odd way of making friends with the English. After a Brit was returning from a reconnaissance flight, he spied half a dozen Aussies lazily sailing his private 16-foot yacht around the bay. (Wait. You could have private yachts at war?)

The Englishman flew round and let off a few machine gun bursts to show his annoyance.

Strangely, the next day, the yacht mysteriously went up in flames. How that happened, we’ll probably never know.

War is hell. If you’re the owner of a 16-foot yacht anyway.

If it’s not sharks, it’s drunks

90x150mmJ.D. did not like Cottesloe Beach. In fact, J.D. had a long list of things that were wrong with Cottesloe in 1912.

Firstly, the beach was infested by hoodlums, who engaged in horseplay which was scaring off women and girls. In particular, when the sun went down females ran the risk of being ‘grabbed’ by these larrikins while in the water, or when going to and from the changing rooms.

Ladies were often subject to the indignity of crude remarks when going down to the water’s edge. J.D.’s suggestion was to only allow bathers to occupy the space between the changing rooms and the sea, then the drunk loungers would be banned from the area.

Speaking of drunks, J.D. claimed that the number of them at Cottesloe was astonishing, especially on Sundays. Some of them were boozing on the beach, which others had come from the city, hoping that a swim might sober them up.

Young girls, eager to learn to swim, sometime made the mistake of allowing one of these drunken swine to take them out to sea. Even when they were sober, too few of these would-be swimming teachers knew what they were doing, and posed a risk to the girl’s life.

And some swimmers, don’t even pretend to swim at all. They simply keep in the shallow water and (ahem) wrestle with their significant other. Not exactly an edifying sight for young children.

Speaking of protecting children, most bathers have lost all sense of modesty and there was nowhere near enough material or fastenings on their costumes.

J.D. was not finished yet.

Drunks were wandering into the wrong changing rooms. Drivers were being unsafe on the road to the beach. The council hadn’t repaired to road in ages. And it should be widened. There were too many fishermen on the pier. And their bait stank.

All in all, J.D. did not like Cottesloe.

Dodgy Perth hasn’t been down to the beach there for a bit. Perhaps it is time to check out how many of J.D.’s complaints still hold true.

Are flappers always slappers?

Photographic Negative - AcetateToday Dodgy Perth covers one of the most controversial questions in history: Is every Perth girl a slapper, or only some of them?

The evidence for the prosecution comes from an anonymous Katanning lady, who had just returned home after a six week holiday in Perth in 1929.

She had had hated every minute of it. Only back in the countryside could she once again breathe freely, away from an atmosphere contaminated by hypocrisy and senseless frivolity.

You see, a typical Perth girl is an empty headed, pleasure-seeking and selfish young miss with no thought for the future. All she thinks about is herself, her clothes and how to get men to adore her.

For hobbies, the young city woman likes only to dance, drink cocktails and smoke. Her greatest pleasure is to see how many parties she can get to into one evening.

And—we shudder to say it—the Perth lasses are using paint, powder and lipstick to make themselves appear more attractive to the menfolk. No country girl finds it necessary to “do up” every five minutes. They have deeper thoughts than whether or not their noses are shining.

Worst of all, these brazen hussies are openly speaking about topics which should never be spoken about. In public.

Thank god that the average country girl remains unsullied by modern ideas. For they are the last of their sex who can uphold the honour and dignity of true Australian womanhood.

The case for the prosecution rests, M’Lord.

The fair maids of Perth, though, were not going to hear such slander in 1929 without a response. Oh no.

For a start, the gay dresses worn to the dances are usually made by the girls themselves. And most have to make their own underwear as well.

Our country lass forgets that Perth women have real jobs, mostly in offices, and it is only natural they would seek entertainment in the evening.

Yes, they use make up. But also go to the gym, and attend night classes in business studies, English, French, dressmaking, millinery, and cookery classes. Unbelievable, isn’t it, how versatile the city girl is compared to her country counterpart?

In any case, do you really think that Katanning is that dull? When Perth lasses visit the country they find the parties there very far from tame, even thrilling. It’s not necessary to leave a small town to find something to shock a rural prude.

The case for the defence rests.

From bluff to buff


She appears to be winning

The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there. But there is one thing that never changes. When young people find a new entertainment, older people will be outraged. Followed by the media demanding the government ban whatever it is young people are doing.

In the mid-1920s, the smart young set discovered Strip Poker, and their elders were livid. An American import (what evil doesn’t originate from those shores?), Strip Poker was judged indecent. Which it was. Which is what made it fun. Which is why the young folk liked to play it.

And so the game was taken up by the young society folk in West Perth homes. And one particularly drunken New Year’s Eve, on Cottesloe Beach in full view of passers-by.

Six to eight boys and girls would assemble at a home and “primed up with sundry cocktails”, they sat round a table and left the rest to chance. The rules were simple. Counters were issued and each article of clothing had a certain value on the counters. Somebody had to lose in every hand, and the unlucky would usually go on losing all night. Until they had lost all of their clothing.

What made it all the more outrageous was that the players were the offspring of respectable, high-class families. Yet they were baring their bodies like the disreputable castes who lived downtown. The morals of nice Perth girls were worth protecting, said the media. While you might expect this sort of thing in Sydney and Melbourne, it should not be happening in classy Western Australia.

Quite right too.

The Inglewood scanties


We imagine they looked something like this

As the Dodgy Perth team desperately tries to delete their names from the Ashley Madison database (we had no idea what the site was, we thought it was a garden equipment retailer), we look back to a time when more direct evidence of infidelity was left behind. In the laundry at an Inglewood home.

The date was 13 December 1947. The time, 11.30pm. Laura came back from her friend’s house, and opened her front door. In the living room she discovered an unknown dishevelled couple, while her beloved carpets were covered in beer and cigarette ash. There was no sign of hubby, James.

Screaming abuse, Laura ordered the strangers to get out. This brought James running into the room. Slurring and barely able to stand upright, he too was told to get out the house.

Muttering curses, Laura set about with a mop and brush to restore some order. After that, she stepped into the garden for fresh air.

There were scuffling noises from the outside laundry, and then a woman scampered out and fled. James poked his head around the laundry door.

Naturally, Laura accused him of less than honourable behaviour, but he denied it. By now she was in no mood to argue, and went to bed. Where James slept that night is not recorded.

The next day she went back to the laundry and in the middle of the floor were a pair of scanties. They definitely weren’t hers.

Taking the panties in her hand, she again confronted hubby. This time, with a sore head, facing the irrefutable evidence, he agreed he had not been completely honest the night before. He didn’t even know the woman’s name, having picked her up at the local pub (probably the Inglewood Hotel) for a quickie after he’d been thrown out earlier.

Laura moved out to Fourth Avenue in Mt Lawley, and got her divorce the following year.

The moral, dear reader, is to always clean up after you. And that includes email addresses.

Let’s go outside

letsgooutsideYoung people today, eh? No standards, is what we say at Dodgy Perth HQ.

Not like in the good old days, like the 1950s. When people knew how to behave. And respected their betters. And did not make love in broad daylight in front of picnickers.

No sir.

Take for example, the way our grandparents celebrated New Year’s Eve 1953. The good old days. Just like in Back to the Future.

Can you imagine wild “necking parties” going on all night in King’s Park until the families arrived with picnics the next day? That generation could never have blended booze and sex into wild public orgies, never caring who saw them. Impossible!

It cannot be that these courting couples deliberately sought out audiences to their wanton promiscuity.

No. It was the 1950s, not 2015.

There could never have been a couple freely enjoying themselves in a ’53 model American sedan in King’s Park. Her blue nylon frock was not draped over the bonnet of the car. And sheer silk stockings weren’t boasting of her activities as they flew from the car’s radio aerial. There were no empty bottles strewn in the bush around them. This did not happen. It was the 1950s, when everything was better than today.

As dawn broke over a parking spot on Crawley Bay, near the University, you would not have been able to see a dozen people in six cars greeting 1954 in their own unique way.

A slim girl, probably no older than eighteen, was not vomiting into the river while her escort (shoeless, tuxedo pants and lipstick smeared singlet) did not drink breakfast straight from a bottle.

The pair in the back seat of a cream sedan nearby were being chaste. Not engaged in open activities which would make a pro blush.

Since it was the 1950s, all of these activities were confined decently to the marital bed. To people who were married to each other. That’s how things were back then.