Happy big one, PP and Bert the Flirt


So this is how I started the post, which was supposed to go out on Saturday:

I couldn’t let this day go by without some kind of recognition: it’s fifty years to the day since PP and Bert the Flirt stole a pot of paint and a one-inch brush from the shed, climbed under the Chatham Road bridge and daubed their names on the concrete.

Except that, what with one thing and another, it didn’t happen. Don’t ask: it was just one of those days, with 36 hours’ worth of life to jam into 24 hours’ worth of day.

I’d had it in my diary for about 18 months to make sure that I’d be under Chatham Road bridge on 20 October 2012 to celebrate 50 years of vandalism in Hamilton North; maybe sink a tinnie for the olden days. To be fair to myself I did manage to get down there, and took this photo.

I took this one too, of the PP graffito. But this is what threw me: I was inexplicably a bit pissed off that someone had – roll the drums of irony – vandalised it. Yeah! Fifty years it had been there, this piece of vandalism, pristine and untouched, and then a week before its fiftieth birthday it gets … vandalised.

I suppose it’s entirely fitting, really. POAS told me about the relentless competition between street artists: the “being first” to a place, the tagging over of other people’s tags with your own tags, the endless search for novelty and “firstness”. And yet, when I looked up and saw it, I felt really bloody annoyed with young DTEC and REAG. Where’s your respect?!

Jambo and I carried on down the creek. The ten ducklings are down to nine and it’ll be interesting to see how many make it through the coming weeks. This little guy’s taking a risk sitting on the banking.

There are lots more predators around with the warm weather, but on Sunday the weather turned and it was horrible and blustery, and the temperature dropped by a gazillion degrees. Jambo almost stepped on this junior blue-tongue that was trying to suck a bit of warmth from the bitumen in the gasworks. He was so cold he could barely hiss (which rather sounds like something Mr Humphries would say on Are You Being Served?).

Headed upstream at the end, to see what the kids had done to the recently pressure-blasted concrete bankings. Found this piece of Bakunin-inspired rant. Not sure what Julia would make of it; perhaps “only people” or “only human-kind”. We’re not living in the 1960s, you know.

Unlike Bert the Flirt and PP. Where are you now, guys? What do you think about modern vandalism? Will anyone visit “No gods or kings only man” in 2062? So many questions, so few answers.

Moggy alert


Coming back from the dog park last night, I ducked down into the creek near the TAFE as the tide was low; much nicer than walking the roads with Jambo on a lead. Just by the rail bridge I came across this dead blue-tongue lizard.

Is there anything more beautiful than a lizard, even when dead? His underside was spectacular, a mottled contrast to his dark, tea-coloured back.

I felt sad for him. I wondered if he was the same blue-tongue I’ve come across basking near the gap in the chain-link fence near by; it’s only about twenty yards away. But blue-tongues prefer the long grass, the undergrowth, the canopies of lantana. Seeing him here on the bare concrete was strange. What could have drawn him down here, or what kind of predator big enough to take him but drop him? I’ve seen swamp harriers around the creek but there were no talon marks.

Weirdly, his two front claws were gone. I couldn’t tell if they’d been bitten off or caught in a snare, whether they’d been cut off at death or lost and then healed over. Is this why he’d died? Had he lost them in a fight and then been unable to catch prey or feed himself?

I kept wondering about it, wondering about those stumps.

Then, this morning, I think I saw the culprit. Cats are usually very good at sensing human presence but this big feral moggy was completely engrossed in something in the beck, so engrossed that I got quite close (Jambo was off chasing rabbits in the gasworks).

We stared at one another for a while. This photo doesn’t do him justice: he was big and raggedy and looked like business. I have friends who are naturalists and the stories of how cats can wipe out an entire population of bilbies overnight are blood-chilling. I hope this fella isn’t going to take up residence in the gasworks.