New Year: A time for sexy mermaids


Substantially more dressed than our heroine. But still a mermaid.

The Dodgy Perth team loves New Year’s Eve. This one will be spent reliving the ‘90s by watching Jebediah perform at the Rosemount Hotel. But it probably won’t be as exciting as one Perth event to welcome in 1935.

An impetuous little brown-haired miss, we’ll call her ‘Brownie’, asked her boyfriend to accompany her to a NYE party. Well, it was the ‘30s, and girls could get away with being unchaperoned in those days.

Unfortunately, Brownie’s boy couldn’t make the date so she decided to go on her own, knowing her good looks would easily enable her to get a lift home in the early hours. The affair was, as they used to say, a howling success. There was singing and dancing, all fuelled by the spirits the young men had brought in their hip flasks.

Of course it isn’t a party if you don’t have games, but this crowd wasn’t up for the usual kids’ activities. But no one could think of anything interesting to do until Brownie suggested a ‘stocking race’. She explained that the girls stood at one end of the room, whipped off their stockings, raced to the other end and back, and pulled on their hosiery again. The first one finished was declared the winner. The young men loved it.

After this, someone daring suggested a lingerie race along somewhat the same lines, but few of the girls were game. However, Brownie was still in the mood for fun. She promptly suggested a game of dares. All you had to do was dare someone to do anything, and you paid a forfeit if they were up for it. Since only Brownie was accepting the dares, this led to a number of—as they said at the time—amusing and exciting incidents.

Finally, it was crowned by Brownie, wearing only her undies, doing what she called a “solo mermaid dance”.

Unfortunately for our heroine, when she was being driven home by one of the lads at four a.m., she encountered her boyfriend. In an attempt to deflect any guilt, she blasted him for having failed to make a show.

What she couldn’t know is that her boy later found out about the stocking race and the mermaid dance. For her, nights on the beach with that boyfriend were over, and she would be a lonely mermaid by the water for some time.

Dodgy Spirits

Anyone want to go see a band with us?

Anyone want to go see a band with us?

The Rosemount Hotel is the work of Charles Oldham, best known for designing the magnificent AMP Building. It was during the construction of this he wrote a letter to his clients. AMP, saying the Clerk of Works had to be fired.

Oldham claimed Robert Bushby was too picky with the materials (he didn’t like the Donnybrook stone which had been delivered) and the contractors couldn’t work with him. Bushby was dismissed and immediately sued Oldham for libel. He originally won £200 in damages, although this was overturned on appeal, since the letter was deemed to be in confidence.

William Cutmore, licensee of the Rosemount Hotel, ended up in court in 1910, accused of selling potato spirits masquerading as good, honest rum. Cutmore had purchased five gallons of the stuff, and only sold one shot, before the Chief Inspector of Liquors showed up at his premises. The inspector picked up a bottle, put it to his nose, and announced, “I don’t like the odour of this stuff.”

In the lab, the spirit in question was found to be made from potato, coloured with burnt sugar, and flavoured with some type of rum essence. The ingredients of the latter included manganese dioxide and sulphuric acid, to which, birch or coconut oil had been added.

The government scientist refused to tell the court if the ‘rum’ was injurious to health, protesting “I am not a duly-qualified medical man.” But, he added, “I have my own opinion on the subject.”

Cutmore’s defence managed to establish he was an innocent victim here, but he was fined £20 anyway. In the meantime, the newspapers fretted that if too much dodgy rum hit the market, WA’s percentage of ‘lunatics’ was bound to increase by leaps and bounds.