The Beast’s Monthly Mailbag
First Things First…
As possibly the worst columnist that this erstwhile magazine has ever had, in the early days of The Beast when I was allegedly the Health Editor, the publisher has granted me one last indulgence to write an article thanking the local community for the past 22 years of my life. I began my career as the pharmacist in Bronte, an area I was born in and have spent my entire life, and after buying the shop in 2004 I have been here ever since. The pharmacy, and more importantly the people who I have served over the years, have been the one great constant in my life since I was 22 years old. The area has changed so much since I was a kid, and it is now time for another change, as I have sold the pharmacy for a new owner to make their own memories, as I have done.
When I first started on Macpherson Street there was a surf shop, a chicken shop, Sunny’s gourmet, Alan Norley’s bottle shop was (very conveniently) next door and Reg the barber and Michael’s Hairport were making the locals’ hair look snazzy. Since that time, and off the back of my mates in the Three Blue Ducks and Iggy’s bread, the strip is now unrecognisable from those days. Change can be a good thing, and is ultimately inevitable, so with my beautiful son Finn starting high school next year it is time for a change for our family too. It has been a pleasure and a privilege being involved in this community for basically all of my life, and many of the people that have come through the doors over the years I now count as friends.
I first walked into this shop as a single 22-year-old, and since then I have met and married my amazing (and tolerant) wife Anna, we have been blessed with Finn, and there have been numerous other life events that I feel I have shared with the people who have come into the pharmacy over that time. Many of the customers I have pre-date me, and are still loyal all these years later. With the world changing at an ever-rapid rate, I cannot thank the people who have entrusted me with their health enough, and even if I have made a small difference in the lives of a few of you then that makes me extremely happy. I feel very lucky to have been supported by locals to do something that I have genuinely enjoyed doing, and I hope that I will run into most of you walking my lunatic dog, or at many of the amazing places this area has to offer.
I would like to say a big thank you to all the wonderful staff I have had over the years, most recently Katie who has been so wonderful, and the pharmacists, Luke, Alex and Anna, who have all become dear friends. You have all made my work life fun.
The Bronte I grew up in was basically a little coastal community, one road in and one road out, and the people who lived here were salt of the earth, always interested in putting forward their time for the surf club, the local footy clubs, the Crocs and the Eagles, and whatever else was going. While the people have changed over the years, the DNA of the place shouldn’t. This little part of the world is truly wonderful, and the soaring house prices are testament to that. I would like to thank every single person who I have formed such strong relationships with over the years. The pharmacy and all of you have been such a huge joy to me and I will never forget my time here. At the risk of copping it from my mates I will finish with a quote from Winnie the Pooh that I think sums it up best: “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
Local Government Issues…
My name is Luca and this is my movement for why it is crucial to have a mountain bike park around the Eastern Suburbs.
Over the past year and a half, I have picked up mountain biking. From the start, I had never had this much fun, and as time went on I started going to the best bike parks around Manly, Hornsby and even Thredbo. But in the Eastern Suburbs there was not a single place to ride. During lockdown we started riding at our local, Centennial Park. Obviously, this dog walking park was no Hornsby or Bare Creek, but we turned every rock and root into a trail. There were a couple of problems: angry Karens and park rangers. During the peak of lockdown, the main priority for the Centennial Park rangers was kids trying to get outside riding on dirt. Many of us, including myself, were chased through the park by Suzukis trying to fine us for riding off-road. There were also times where we were sworn at by dog walkers with nothing better to do and they tried to trip us over as we rode past them. After we had built jumps at Queens Park, they were flattened within a matter of days. We then started riding at Cooper Park, but we were kicked out by the council. We then started riding at Harbourview Park and were kicked out in less than a week. It was clear to us that mountain bikers were not wanted anywhere and we were labeled as BMX bandits.
In areas like St Joseph Banks in Botany Bay the council allows mountain bikers to build jumps in certain areas, but the most supportive council would definitely be the Northern Beaches Council. After kids had been building jumps and trails in unsanctioned places they decided to give the people what they want and built many awesome sanctioned trails like Bare Creek, The Grove Seaforth and Manly Dam MTB. Unlike the Northern Beaches, nothing has been done here to support the growing interest.
Mountain biking’s popularity has grown exponentially over the last two years, not just here but worldwide – the demand is there. How do I know? In schools, on social media and at every park, people are talking about mountain bikes – how they get them, where to ride, why there is simply no stock available in the bike market… this sport is not just a fad. Being outside getting exercise and having a blast is crucial for this generation.
We need a mountain bike park in the Eastern Suburbs. A facility like the world famous Bare Creek would be perfect. If one is not built, kids will keep tearing up their local dog park. To all of our local councils: please help us make this dream a reality.
Thanks, Waverley Council, for fast restoration of our bashed clubhouse door used by Bronte swimming clubs. It was rather ordinary to arrive at our second home at dawn and see the door halved. It had us (gorgeous, savvy and elderly) ‘tea bags’ in the Bogey feeling glum to consider the sheer malice inherent in deliberately denting everyone’s day by denting our door.
The full restoration by sunset had us amazed, touched and so grateful for the kindness. As well as the clear message to vandals – bully behaviour is irrelevant. The upbeat, Bogey spirit endures, as it has for generations.
KIRAN’S QUEENS PARK CLEAN-UP CAMPAIGN
I’m a local resident from around Queens Park and have become aware of a recent park clean-up campaign by a local named Kiran Abeshouse. This campaign has a twist though, in that Kiran is trying to raise awareness among the new generation of kids of how not to kill our planet by increasing the never ending quantity of consumer waste.
People are destroying this park, our local park, by dumping a seemingly endless amount of rubbish and by either not placing this waste in council bins or disposing of it appropriately elsewhere. The reality is that each one of us has a responsibility for cleaning up after ourselves when we use this park.
This is a beautiful park, one that is meant to be enjoyed for dog walking, family outings, mums groups, sports clubs, school activities, yoga and meditation, personal training sessions, coffee dates, picnics, birthdays, barbecues, lazy Sundays out with the kids, catching up with friends… the list goes on.
Queens Park is an important community recreation area for many reasons, so it is important that we all take responsibility for keeping it clean and in good shape. Just look around you and you will see rubbish littered everywhere by those who are too lazy to dispose of their waste properly.
The huge amount of money being currently spent on new pathways and bike tracks in Queens Park means that more people are going to be using this park more often, meaning even more rubbish will be left behind.
I spoke to Kiran and he told me that he has found mattresses, shopping trolleys, car tyres, surfboard covers, old signage, large quantities of glass and plastic containers and even vape cigarette dispensers and bongs.
In part I blame the council, because there are simply not enough bins in the park. On the other hand, while it is the council’s job to provide rubbish bins, it is the duty of those who use this park to keep the park clean and take their rubbish home with them if there are not enough bins provided.
Unfortunately, the biggest victims of the current situation is Queens Park itself and the animals and birds that make it their home. They are the real victims of this situation. Our carelessness and our waste has a direct detrimental effect on these animals and birds. We are killing them slowly, day by day, week by week and year by year. The fact that this situation is allowed to continue shows everyone that we are simply not taking any responsibility for our actions.
Kiran has volunteered his own time and used his own money to fund this project himself so as to help clean up the park. So far he has received zero support from the council. Not only that, but two extra bins he placed in the park to help reduce this rubbish problem were in fact recently taken away by the council, so we are back to square one with not enough bins.
We all have a responsibility to take better care of our park, but at the same time each of us has a responsibility to do the right thing as well. Kiran needs all the help he can get.
State Government Issues…
So often I see high school aged people walk onto buses and right past the Opal scan without any intention of paying. Don’t these gangs have bus passes? It infuriates me that they should feel so privileged.
Surely, living in the Eastern Suburbs they wouldn’t be short of a few dollars to pay for their bus ride? Or is this just an example of their egotistic belief in being ultra privileged?
And worse still, no one (even me) says anything, although I have occasionally seen an intrepid driver who will say something to them, as well as demanding masks be worn. But it is a small number. Is this because of driver apathy, or fear of abuse?
Where are the inspectors, who used to be more visible? During lockdown they all seem to have disappeared. This would have been the ideal location for them to operate and reinforce the health (and transport) rules, as well as cut these students down to size a little and show them that they can’t get away with their unwarranted sense of privilege.
But too late! So it will continue.
COVID-19 in The East…
Covid Doesn’t Come for free
On the 5th of January, my sweet Coogee had a whopping 170 Coronavirus infections and Bondi had 265 – with both on an upward trajectory. New South Wales was registering 45,000 cases – welcome to Coronavirus year three: 2022.
Meanwhile, people are scrambling to get their hands on rapid antigen testing kits. On this, Scomo recently said, “You can’t just make everything free.” Well, Scomo should have added, “unless you are French.”
Scomo’s cancellation of French U-boats will cost the Australian taxpayer a whopping $2.4 billion, because he now wants “less boats for more money” and they should come from the USA.
In short, Australians do not get free rapid antigen tests but the French get $2.4 billion for nothing. To put this into perspective, the average house price in Australia is $955,927. In other words, Scomo has wasted $2.4 billion that could have bought 2,400 houses at the average price. Instead, our hard earned tax money goes to France – thanks to the Australian Liberal Party!
Other Local Happenings…
Ban the banner!
Dear Beast – On Boxing Day we saw a helicopter drop a 60 metre-plus banner into the sea off Bronte. That’s approximately 1,000 square metres of plastic rolling about on the ocean floor. That’s taking single-use plastic to another level.
Where are the Body shamers now?
Hi Beast – I wanted to share some thoughts that barged their way to the front of my consciousness recently while I was sitting down at my local beach, surf and people watching.
First of all some context… Growing up in London during the ‘90s I worked in publishing, which meant I had access to almost every monthly magazine aimed at adults at that point in time. I would often take the women’s magazines (and men’s) home with me for my flatmates to read: Elle, Tatler, Cosmopolitan, Vogue, Marie Claire, etc.
The ‘90s was the era of the so-called ‘heroin chic‘ look, which was all pervasive and characterised in particular by models of both sexes sporting dark circles underneath the eyes, emaciated features and stringy hair among other things. Every woman that flicked through these magazines – and I mean every woman that I witnessed – commented openly on the disgusting aspirational image the heroin chic style represented for women. Comments often heard included, “That’s bloody ridiculous,” “She looks like she’s starving,” “She’s bloody anorexic,” “That’s disgusting,” “That’s so unhealthy,” etc. Plus, these comments were openly shared with other women and men almost as a badge of honour, as if in some way doing so bestowed upon the person (usually a woman) some mythical feminist standing up for the sisterhood badge of honour.
Not once did I witness any concern or expression of sympathy for the emaciated models themselves. This contempt and antipathy could be witnessed openly in public, as well as mainstream media, with women often cutting their eyes at skinny girls in the street that they felt were perpetuating the impossible body image.
Fast forward to the present day at the beach, where it’s abundantly clear to anyone with vision (as well as being confirmed by statistics) that overweight and fat women are not only very evident, but on the equal and opposite unhealthy spectrum as their heroin chic forebearers. However, society chooses to extend a bottomless pit of understanding and accommodation of their choice – sorry, “condition”. “It’s not their fault they’re overweight…” Really? But was it the fault of those “Anna’s” of yesteryear? Why did women show precious little concern, plus express venomous open criticism for the skinny look, but now remain silent and want the right to embrace the overweight and equally unhealthy look, should they choose to?
I understand this is somewhat of a Pandora’s box subject, however personal responsibility is evaporating at an exponential rate in all areas of life. Health and the fat issue is one topic that needs to be stared down and discussed. By the way, I’m fully aware that the fat issue is also represented in the male population of today, plus the heroin chic look was equally evident in ‘90s men’s magazines, but the difference is men did not tear strips off each other in the past, and today, if a man is overweight and needs to address it to achieve a goal, this is often expressed to them for their own betterment.
What is happening (or has happened) to the strip outside Apple between the two halves of Westfield?
After digging up and re-tiling both sides of Oxford Street over several months, what has emerged is very odd indeed… supposedly a bike track that runs all of about 50 metres from the Westfield pedestrian crossing overpass to the Bronte Road intersection.
It’s odd because it starts at a strange place (the aforementioned pedestrian crossing) and terminates before the traffic lights at Bronte Road, going nowhere.
What a waste! One wonders who is responsible for this absurd decision and design? So impractical, even surreal!
Money could have been so much better spent on other things. Do we have any suggestions for the architect of this decision?
And, even though this ‘bike path’ seems finished, not one cyclist has been seen using it – possibly because it is right in front of the usually busy footpath outside Apple, full of Apple-ites lining up?
What a folly! And from the same root word as ‘folly’, what fools thought it was a good idea to dedicate untold amounts of public money to it, to the detriment of the pedestrian walkway?
With higher cases comes wearing of masks,
If that’s not too much to ask,
Everyone’s health and safety should come first,
Large crowds mean case numbers are now at their worst,
Please be sensible, heed the warnings and start thinking more,
It’s only commonsense, who knows what’s in store?