Peppa Pig hits the airwaves

I had the extraordinary pleasure of spending half an hour in the company of ABC Radio’s Richard Fidler. Richard was in Newcastle for ABC 1233’s Night At The Wireless and held some of his Conversations with people from round these parts; it’s worth following up the link and listening to the podcasts.

But after my brief moment of fame it was back to work, and back down the drain. The onshore wind is blowing the litter into places it rarely goes. The little stream that’s officially knowns as Chaucer Street Drain (but is, in fact, the original Styx Creek) is choked at the point where it joins the Styx proper. I know that Dave and the crew will be out on Friday but their workload’s ridiculous and they can only do so much.

They must have pulled these trollies out the other day. Franklins closed down and was replaced by Richie’s IGA; there’s a trolley from each which is a kind of trolley equivalent of the way that Time Team dates trenches. “This shard of pottery’s from the late Roman period!” Phil will declare, and immediately they’ll conjure up an entire history for some sodden patch of Pommie Land.

One of the things that Richard asked about was creek graffiti. The stuff down the drain tends, on the whole, to be of poor quality. The concrete bankings are palimpsests, constantly painted over and over, but with very little forward development or improvement in quality. When kids do get to a certain stage of ambition, that’s when they hit Your Suburb. But, till then, they make blah like this.

I saw the young lad who made this blah the other day, slithering along the wet silt towards the railway bridge, and knew straight away what he was up to. He tried to make himself scarce but there’s no fooling Wile E. Coyote. I look forward, young man, to watching you improve.

I found a pig, too. My kids are too old for cartoons but for some reason I think that this might be Peppa Pig.

Why do I know it’s Peppa and not Pepper? I have no idea. It’s just another piece of dross that’s taking up space in my brain, space that could be filled by something useful such as … um … yeah.


18 Responses to Peppa Pig hits the airwaves

  1. Selena says:

    really enjoyed ” Conversations” today !! can’t wait to get your book and review the blog.. We moved to Hamilton North March this year- and we love it and my husband has always showed an interest in STYX Creek / Cottage Creek ect ect…a great interesting concept.

  2. Mick says:

    That’s not Peppa Pig (she wears a red dress and walks on her hind trotters). That’s Hamm from the Toy Story movies. He’s a piggy bank.

    • Mark MacLean says:

      I’ve been out of the kids-film loop for too long, though my wife did see Toy Story 3 and said it was brilliant. I’ve seen bits of it here and there and I remember Mr and Mrs Potato Head, and a slinky and a cowboy (Pete?) and a dinosaur … but no pig!

  3. I’m pretty sure that’s the pig from the Toy Story movies, in case you’re in need of that information!

    Found your blog through the Conversations hour interview, and I’m glad I did. Great stuff!

    • Mark MacLean says:

      There are obviously far more pig characters out there than I’d ever imagined: Porky Pig, Snorty Pig, Miss Piggy, Peppa and the nameless Toy Story pig. I’ve got some homework to do!

      Thanks for the kind words on the blog!


  4. Maree Streete says:

    Hi, I heard you on Conversations and it bought back many memories. I grew up in Donald Street had to move when I was 12 so the high level bridge could be built. The drain was my playground went down there every day. Thanks for the memories.

    • Mark MacLean says:

      Wow, Maree: how many houses had to go to make the bridge? Was it a compulsory purchase order. I didn’t know that little fact, though it makes sense.

  5. Maree Streete says:

    Hi, yeah it was compulsary they gave mum and dad no choice, I remember at the time they did give us a couple of years notice and there was some older people that just wouldn’t leave when the time came, I will ask my 93 year old Mum tomorrow she will have more of an idea but it was only one side of Donald Street that they took, the houses on the opposite side are still there, we lived 2 houses down from the then railway crossing, there was a grocery shop next door to the tracks. The road then travelled through the park next to the showground, as children we had massive cracker nights in that area. We played on the train tracks, built houses out of the stinky grass at the edge of the tracks and would wave to the drivers, even use to go up into the signal box and the men would let me pull the levers to change the tracks, ( yeah no workcover, and safety regulations back then lol) and collected the spilt coal in a bucket to take home for the fire. We played in the wheat silos, also use to get wheat from there and take it home for the chooks, I think Dad gave me 3pence for dragging a full 5 gallon? tin home, played also around the Eta peanut butter factory, every Christmas a live santa show would be on the roof of the factory, we would sit on the grass in the front. It’s funny I was only talking the other day to friends about the toxic area I grew up in, the silos, gas works, petrol tanks, and puffing dirty silt spewing trains all close by, wonder I ever made it!

  6. Maree Streete says:

    if you get onto the Newcastle Library old photos website, put in Donald Street gates some old photos will come up.

  7. Maree Streete says:

    Mum tells me there had been talk when they first bought the house that a road and bridge was going to go through Donald Street but they didn’t think that it would ever happen, they were there 15 years before they were asked to move, so it must have been in the planning stage for a long time, they were paid the market value of the house and 300 pound compensation.

    • Mark MacLean says:

      Was it early 1970s that the bridge went in? I know there’s a plaque up on the railings but I’ve forgotten what year it was opened. Where did you go after Donald Street? What where the shops that were there? So many questions!

      • Maree Streete says:

        We left there in 1964, but it was a couple of years before they started construction on the bridge because I remember many times going and walking back through the derelict houses, I think the council were pulling them down and selling the windows, doors etc to get some money back. My Dad wanted to take the windows from the front veranda that he had filled in to make another bedroom but they wouldn’t let him take them, had to leave the house the way it was sold. Between us and the rail line was a little grocery shop I remember the walls being lined with Arnotts biscuits tins, you bought them by weight then, I would buy bags of broken ones cheap, the best thing in the shop was the large lolly cabinet everything for 2 or 4 a penny, I would buy 5 pence worth and get a large bag full then go and hide them under my pillow from my siblings. There was another grocery shop on the opposite side of the road down on the corner, you can still see it there today just before you cross the road to go to the showground. Then you had The Store supermarket next door to the Electric Light Factory.

  8. Maree Streete says:

    We went to Lambton from Donald Street, so not far really, close enough to walk back and have a look at my old home every now and again. I am thinking it was a couple of years before construction so it probably was early 1970’s when it was opened.

  9. Wayne says:

    Just heard you on podcast Mark… nice work! ~ Wayne

  10. Dermott says:

    Hi Mark, I just heard the Conversations podcast and it reminded me of my days in the late 70s, exploring the stormwater drains of Hamilton South and near National Park, as a kid. They were the highways of our youth, visiting cousins who lived down near the racetrack when we lived up near Parry Street.
    Makes me homesick.
    I loved the podcast, and I’m loving exploring your blog

    • Mark MacLean says:

      Great, thanks Dermott. It seems that Novocastrians were divided into those who used the creeks as, as you say, “the highways of our youth” and those who were told never to go down there. I’m glad you were the former! Where are you now?

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