Melbung smellee welly high

 

It’s hard to imagine that almost 130 years ago, Melbourne in Australia was considered the smelliest city in the world when today, it’s voted the world’s most liveable city.

The Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works was established in 1891 to manage Melbourne's sewage. Its crest bears the motto 'salas mea publica merces', meaning ‘public health is my reward’.

I think they call that transformation.

 

∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞

 

How fine this grand Dame of cities is, my Melbourne town. Yet such a past has she, before the first sewage flows from the All England Eleven Hotel in Port Melbourne traversed pastures of graded green at the Metropolitan Farm in 1897.

Ten years earlier, mortality rates from diphtheria and typhoid in our fair Melbourne town numbered 86.3 for every 100,000 inhabitants, compared with 16 in London and 66 in Paris. The idea to establish a Royal Commission to inquire and report on Melbourne’s sanitary condition was indeed, a splendid one. It came at the eleventh-hour when our fair city was gripped by demonic disease.

Very soon after, in 1891, the authoritative and very official Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works was formed. Their business was to provide water supply, sewerage and sewage treatment for our fair city.

Until that time, this admired Queen City of the South had a rather unsavoury means for disposing sewage.

All liquid waste, one day to become known as liquid gold, was thrown into the streets to mix as free as those on the recline of debauchery at Madame Brussels in Bourke Street. My Melbourne town had ‘borne testimony to her evil reputation among travellers as one of the unhealthiest cities in the world,’ according to a journalist of the time.

We all saw it, couldn’t hide from it. Slums in Melbourne town as far back as the 1850s spored faster than mushrooms in an asexual orgy steeped in high humidity and moist damp. People lived in squalor, with no bathrooms or sewerage and in homes held together on scant thread. Rooves leaked and drafts blew through holes in walls. People crammed in close and often shared beds. There was little room to hang laundered washing out to dry and keeping it clean was nigh impossible.

slumsStrolling through streets and children playing outdoors meant an Irish jig within a cesspool of urine, night soil, kitchen and bath water, soap suds from washing clothes, drainage from stables and cow sheds, liquids from trades and manufacturers, and water running off rooves and overland. All would meet in open street channels made from stone, often running into earthen ditches as sluggish glob or collecting in pools that would flood and overflow in rain, giving it free reign to meander into waterways.

‘Tis no wonder typhoid and diphtheria proliferated. No adult or child was safe, even when many claimed it was purely in the slums. 'Twas an inclement falsity. From mine church cometh my dark demise.

 

Riverine Grazier, Friday 15 February 1889

MARVELLOUS SMELLBOURNE.

[by an original in the Adelaide Observer]

"Those who know say that Port Said is the champion filthy city of the universe. If we are to believe Mr Cosmo Newbury, Melbourne, which claims to be 'the Queen City of the South,' is in a fair way to thrust Port Said from that eminence" - Register.

“Bill,' said I to my erratic Friend, who's travelled just a bit,

"Name the strongest aromatic City you have ever hit.”

Then he bowed his head in silence, And a study that was brown,

And - when out of reach of violence - Said "I name your Melbourne town!"

“William,” said I, “thou art witty with the music of thy mouth!

Knowest thou that glorious city is the Queen of all the South?"

"Yes," he answered; "well I know it! Heard it till mine ears do ache;

And, believe me, gentle poet Still in this she takes the cake!"

Then I asked a chewing Yankee, Lantern-jawed and most uncouth,

One of that cadaverous lanky Sort who always tells the truth.

Wal, Siree, he kinder reckoned Melbourne's people like to blow,

So he'd mark her down as second, Just to give Port Said a show.

Then I asked a dark Egyptian, Who had sojourned in the East,

Answering the true description Swathed in linen like a priest;

Rarer far, he said, and rankers than others Melbourne's ware

Ah, she had a lot to thank her stars for in the way of air!

Then a frugal child of China for an answer I cajole -

One of those who can combine a head and tail upon one poll;

One who'd found a way of making both ends meet.

To him I cry –

And he says, with laughter shaking –

"Melbung smellee welly high!"

Then said I, the fates are in it! When will Melbourne's honours stop?

Others have no chance to win it, For she always comes out top!

Energy? She'd do without it! And ascribes it not to pluck!

This it is, and do not doubt it - Melbourne's wonderful for luck!

1005 Hits
3 Comments

Awakening Silence

  

I hear the rotating motion of the fan.

My fingers typing on the keyboard.

 

It’s Tuesday, 4am.

I hear my thoughts in this moment’s silence.

 

I think I’ll wear something blue today.

 
161 Hits
0 Comments

Sofia's Bakery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The village sleeps while a few coyotes
prowl and scuff through the alley
that passes for a dusty street.

They own the night. We are
only tenants here at the edge
of the desert; close by the river.

A light is on at the bakery,
as it is every morning in the
long hours before the first glow.

The coyotes are used to it. They
watch her quietly pass by each
morning as regular as the dawn.

Sofia is immersed in the day's
work. Everything is in its place
and ready from the day before.

The old oven heats; the chill fades;
flour in her hair; her morning routine.
Lumps become loaves or anise biscochitos.

The first oven smells are drifting
down the street before sunrise.
She stops for a drink of her coffee.

She likes her coffee strong and sweet;
flavored with cinnamon or cardamom.
She indulges herself at this hour.

Working alone, she enjoys this time of day.
She has a place here in this little village;
like the mortar between the stones.

She recalls her mother, with flour
in her hair, greeting the men on their
way to the fields with fresh bread.

She is ready for the day as she hears
the first sounds from the street.
She smiles and steps out the door.

*     *     *

2018 - The Home Place

 

 

251 Hits
4 Comments

LOST

Something is off balance.

Despite the routine in place, there’s a gap somewhere in between.

 

Can’t quite put my finger on it.

I just know and I can sense that something is not where it should be.

 

I keep looking around, sniffing and observing.

I haven’t asked around because I don’t quite know what to ask.

 

People tell me they’ve been feeling off tangent lately.

Call it whatever you wish.

 

Simply put, I’m lost.

263 Hits
3 Comments

Latest Comments

Nicholas Mackey The Butterfly of Memory
13 November 2018
Wow, Rosie, what an incredible comment to post and I marvel at the 'personal synchronicity' you desc...
Ken Hartke Why Seek Ye the Living Among the Dead?
12 November 2018
Aspens have beautiful fall colors and snow-white bark that draws attention but they seem to have ano...
Stephen Evans Painting Sunsets
12 November 2018
Thank you! Wouldn't that be nice!
Rosy Cole Painting Sunsets
12 November 2018
Good luck with your launch. You deserve to be able to live off the proceeds! :-)
Rosy Cole The Butterfly of Memory
12 November 2018
By some quirk of coincidence, I was thinking about this kind of synchronicity the day you posted thi...

Latest Blogs

For some, it's a massage or a facial. For me, it's acupuncture. As soon as I'm overwhelmed by stress, run down or simply in need of TLC (not to mentio...
My new children’s fantasy novel Painting Sunsets will go on sale next month. You can pre-order the book online or through your local bookstore. Find ...
An extract from my diary of 12th October 2018: Today, a white butterfly caught my eye as it flew briefly through the tiny garden of our ground-floor ...
  Burn scars are hard to erase. They leave lasting evidence of trauma and despair. And yet -- I can't stop looking at them. When will they heal?  Wil...
When young Robert went riding his Sleigh He came to a part in the Way And like Erwin he Found No one else was Around So he took both ways and we...