Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas or Xmas

'Tis the season to pay another visit to Pleasant Avenue, and once more, the aptly-named street does not disappoint. Even the dogs are festive:

One house has turned their home into a hearth:

Complete with shoes drying by the cellophane fire:

But this year's prize for Turning It Up A Notch goes to the residents who have sacrificed all their natural light to transform their house into a giant silver-wrapped present:

Or this could actually be the world's best disguise for a large-scale hydroponic marijuana operation. And goodness me, on Pleasant Avenue of all places.

I was interested to see what the carbon-neutral house would do this year, but there was not even any environmentally-friendly tinsel on display. Maybe next year they should borrow this sign from the house on Longdown Street:

Other home-made favourites include this understated effort on Alice Street:

And a Halloween-inspired display on Munni Street:

A valiant effort to turn some trellises in a park on George Street into Christmas trees results in them kind of looking like medieval instruments of torture:

And also on George Street, the house next door to this:

Decides to go with this:

Is that the traditional Christmas skull-and-crossbones or the famous Christmas octopus?

On Clara Street, evidence of the start of the traditional Christmas arguing season:

Leaving me feeling a bit like this:

But in the words of Oliver of Pleasant Avenue, Merry Christmas or Xmas to you all. Here's to more noseyness in 2009.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The fattest pub in Newtown

I don't have the patience for local history. The delight of uncovering an intriguing little tidbit doesn't for me outweigh the tedium of wading through illegible council records and files.

So thank you and mad props to reader and amateur local historian Andy Ryan for having the forbearance to uncover a Newtown fact so charming that it almost endears me to a life spent in the stacks with my little white cotton gloves.

Andy reports that until 1901 the Marlborough Hotel was known as Daniel Lambert Hotel, improbably named after the world's fattest man.

Lambert's "sizable" reputation started in 1806 when he reached the weight of 700 lb (318 kg) and commissioned a special carriage to take him to London, where he charged one shilling a head to look at him. He apparently disliked the attention but needed the money to pay for the cost of having clothes and furniture especially made for him.

When he died three years later in a Stamford public house, his body could only be removed by dismantling a wall of the building. At his death, he weighed 739 lb (336 kg), with a waist measurement of 9 feet 4 inches.

According to Wikipedia, an apocryphal anecdote about Lambert is that he would visit the many pubs in Stamford and challenge visitors to a race, with the one proviso he had a small head start. There are many narrow passageways in Stamford that act as short cuts between the major streets. Once he was ahead, he would use these passageways and, because of his size, prevent his opponent from being able to pass, meaning he would always win.

Many years after Lambert's death, publican David Woodhams named what is now the Marly after him, probably to promote an all-you-can-eat buffet (okay, I made that bit up, but no-one knows what Woodhams' motivation was). There was even a mural of poor Fatty Lambert on the pub's exterior wall.

And thanks to another unlikely local connection, you can actually see a genuine pair of Lambert's roomy stockings on display this weekend at the Vanity Fair Christmas Vintage Fashion Market in Leichhardt.

Well, I never.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Stop >> Play

I have been pondering the new garden, grass "bean bags" and bandstand on Australia Street for a week or so. It has a professional shine and polish to it, but appeared seemingly overnight, and with no official self-congratulatory Council signs or plaques.

It does have a Guerrilla Gardeners sign, so I was preparing to file it under "mystery" (a completely awesome mystery):

But then I asked myself, since when have Guerrilla Gardeners had the facilities or resources to produce an beautifully manufactured "Play" stop sign?

The answer: Since Guerrilla Gardeners became a Channel Ten TV show.


I would have preferred it to be a community initiative, but whatever motivated its appearance, we've still ended up with an ornamental border of succulents and a shady spot to play some chess this Summer. Maybe it should be known as Gift Horse Green.