Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Rare Books Week at the MCC

My walk up to Camberwell this morning does not end with the round trip back home, but at Flinders Street station. My destination: Melbourne City Library, for a Libraries Australia User Group meeting. After listening to Nikki Darby talk about recent developments with the seach and document delivery software, I skive off the meeting once it breaks up for morning tea.

Shortly after midday I am sitting in the Melbourne Cricket Club Library next to a glass case of Wisdens, starting some time before 1879. Mysteriously the latest one in the cabinet is 2005-06.

The Rare Books Week panel discussion with Russell Jackson, Gideon Haigh, John Harms and MCC Librarian David Studham will be starting at 12.30. John Harms's Twitter handle @ratherbeatlunch seems more appropriate than usual. I am sitting next to Cmdr Warren Kemp RFD RANR, President of the Royal United Services Institute of Victoria. I now have a standing invitation to visit the Institute Library, at the Victoria Barracks.

Collecting sport panel discussion
Collecting sport panel discussion

These are some notes from the discussion. John Harms's early favourite cricket books were, appropriately enough, the ABC Cricket Books. The first (now very rare) ABC cricket book was issued in 1934. John showed us the library copy. It is quite small and flimsy and is kept in a protective plastic pocket.

Gideon Haigh calls himself an accumulator rather than a collector of cricket books. His primary purpose in writing his books is to fill the gaps, such as his book about Warwick Armstrong. Gideon likes the MCC Library because it is accessible, with nearly all its collection on the shelves. He thinks it is the best sporting library in the world.

Russell finds many sporting books are available online. Decreasing interest in collecting by a younger demographic is assisting collectors. Slower paced, smaller ball sports (cricket, golf, tennis and baseball) lend themselves to literary reflection, according to Russell.

The panel discussed the so called 'Argus centered view of history', which is an issue because the Argus is on Trove, whereas the early editions of the Herald are rotting away at Fishermen's Bend. The State Library of Victoria generally has only one daily edition of the Herald, although three or four would have been issued each day. Thus means that vital information such as the match results may be missing from the library copy.

The MCC catalogue on Trove is on the way. MCC management attitude is now to share information about its resources, whereas in the past they guarded it jealously because of a fear of theft.

After the session I catch a tram at the Rod Laver Arena stop. On the way home I visit Hawthorn Library to collect Talking to the Dead by Harry Bingham, as recommended by Ross Harvey, and then the IGA to pick up a few supplies. Back on the tram at Glenferrie Road, then home to make some fried rice for dinner. A rare day out.


Saturday, May 3, 2014

Discovery XLV

Our first discovery for the not very new year was a rediscovery of an old favourite we first visited just over a year ago, The Quiet Man in Flemington. The location was chosen for its proximity to The Lodge, but we also had fond memories of the food from our last visit. This time we booked a table for an early start at 6.30, which was a good thing as we found that most of the tables in the dining room were either occupied or reserved for later.

Our trip to the Quiet Man was via the long slow 57 tram journey, chosen for its convenience to the traditional pre-discovery rendezvous of Dikstein's Corner Bar (I have to have Hawthorn amber ale now, as they no longer stock VB or Little Creatures and the NZ export gold tap beer is not the best beer I have ever tasted by a long way). The tram was already packed by the time it arrived at the new Collins Street super stop (stop 2) so we had to settle for separate seats. But in due course after its devious route through North Melbourne the tram arrived at stop 24. After taking our lives in our hands crossing from the safety zone to the footpath through the busy Racecourse Road traffic, we were ready for a drink.

We had a nice big table right near the bar and were given excellent service after a small confusion about our booking. Unfortunately Mr 29 was unable to join us but our group was supplemented by Mr 31's little brother who is staying at The Lodge for a couple of weeks. Once we had all settled at our table with a drink, perused the extensive menu and placed our orders, we had to wait half an hour or so for our food to arrive, which is understandable on a busy public holiday eve.

This time I had 'Mullingar's stuffed mushrooms' which came with a large pile of salad and about three enormous potatoes cut into crispy roasted chunks. The other discoverers had fish and chips and steak with colcannon and chips respectively. I tasted some of Mr 31's colcannon and it was delicious. I think next time I might have colcannon and veggies instead of a main course. The other 'Out of the soil' option I haven't yet tried is baked potato with coleslaw, which doesn't seem particularly Irish, but there are heaps of delicious looking side dishes on the menu.

Mullingar's mushrooms
Mullingar's mushrooms

When we could eat and drink no more, our youngest discoverer escorted us to Newmarket station on his way back to The Lodge, leaving Mr 31 in contemplation of a Guinness and a jar of Anzac biscuits (some of the three dozen I had made during the afternoon).

After a short wait at Newmarket our train obligingly rolled in, taking us the short distance to the city very efficiently compared to the tram, but sadly just in time to miss the 9.09 Belgrave. However a three car Ringwood train appeared not long after, so we caught that back to the dark and quiet city of Boroondara, walking home from East Camberwell in the frosty clear night.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Discovery XLIV

This discovery happened a long time ago. It turned out to be the last discovery for many months, and as my usual process is to rustle up the previous discovery's review just before starting on the next one, this has lain idle for a very long time.

Despite the long time interval I still have some fond memories of this night. Firstly I broke all the rules by driving to Moonee Ponds. However I did this well before peak hour had a chance to get nasty. I found a nice parking spot in a handy side street half way between the Ascot Vale Hotel and Samanee Thai.

I settled into the tram stop bar of the Ascot Vale and put the word out that a pre-dinner drink was on offer. Sadly not everyone got the message in time, so while Mr 31 happily got off the train at Moonee Ponds to collect his Guinness in a jar, the city worker had to backtrack after her long tram ride, and Mr 29 waited it out alone at the restaurant. This experience has taught me that it is not necessarily a good idea to change the rendezvous plans at the last minute.

Samanee Thai was very quiet and moodily atmospheric. I can recommend it for its beautiful food, presentation and service. This is a picture of a fish curry served in a coconut shell.

Samanee Thai
Samanee Thai

After dinner we made a quick trip across the road to The Sporting Globe, which is not a defunct pink newspaper but a sports bar. On a quiet weekday night it was very quiet indeed and we had an enormous choice of sports events on the big screens to keep us entertained while we had another beer or two.

Leaving the boys to continue their sporting experience, we found the car and drove home through the dark quiet streets of the inner north west to the even darker and quieter streets of the inner east, not realising that this would be our last discovery for a long time to come.