Do not eat

donoteat[c]alphabetcitypress

The first thing I noticed about this texta-on-cardboard writing was not its grammar, or even its message, but how neat the writing was. There tends to be two types of greengrocer writing in my neck of the woods: the stylised signwriting style; and the messy uneven scrawl of the handwritten notice, where the length of the words have not been considered when pen is first put to paper, so the first letters are large and confident and as it becomes clear that the paper is going to run out before the message is fully written, it becomes increasingly squished to fit. This one stands out for its all-round penmanship—in two languages, no less!—as well as its message.

Barbed wire

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Here’s another detail of the Catherine Hill Bay jetty barrier. It’s pretty intimidating for anyone trying to climb over it, but I love the sculptural aesthetic: the shapes formed by the strands of wound barbed wire, the shadows of those vicious teeth along the top of the gate, the dramatic blue and tones of steely grey, the stark brutality of it all.

Jetty

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Catherine Hill Bay is a coastal village south of Newcastle, on the southern peninsula that forms the opening to Lake Macquarie, and is significant for the coal and rutile mining that was carried out in the area. The large jetty, used to ship the coal, is now abandoned and closed—very seriously closed judging by the amount of barbed wire and corrugated iron used to deter trespassers. It hasn’t stopped the graffiti however, which is a dramatic sight.

Seat of knowledge

knowledge[c]alphabetcitypress

Two weeks in an enclosed airconditioned environment, with the usual handful of snifflers and coughers. Mix it up with the lunchtime throng of sneezers in the shopping centre across the road. Yet I survived unscathed, patting myself on the back for maintaining excellent health! Then, on the weekend, I dropped by the travel agency, and in the split second that I let my immune guard down, I knew (too late) I would be leaving with more than the flight information I had been seeking. If only I had stopped a moment, when I had the chance, at this seaside surf club seat of knowledge: perhaps I would have learnt the cure for the common cold.

Beware

beware[c]alphabetcitypress

At this time of year the snakes are more likely to be hibernating, but it’s a funny thing to come across a warning such as this, at a roadside rest stop, spraypainted onto the concrete path between the car park and the restroom. It could well make the unwary traveller more than a little nervous to discover that the facilities are the eco-self-composting-hole-in-the-ground variety rather than safe and civilised autoflushers! Although perhaps, given that the rest area is off the Federal Highway, en route to Canberra, this warning could be interpreted as a political statement.

Help

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I had no plan about what to write about today, so I decided to put it off and go to the gym instead. (See! I really didn’t know what to write about!) On my return the street was busier than usual for the time of day so I had to park further down the road, a spot which afforded me a view of the sky that I would have missed had I parked in the usual place in front of my house. So today I am thankful to the Taoist principle of wu wei—or ‘right place, right time’, where action does not involve struggle or excessive effort but instead allows for the harmonious working of the universe. In fact, I was so thrilled to see this single, perfect word in the sky that I did not hang around to see another word appear and turn it into some advertising gimmick. The irony also amused me: that a pilot with such control of the plane that they could write the word ‘help’ was certainly in no need of it.

Apartments

apartments[c]alphabetcitypress

There’s a shop in Queenscliff, Victoria, that has an enticing walk-through entrance full of overgrown plants in aged moss-covered terracotta pots. It’s the kind of courtyard garden I would love to be able to cultivate, but lack the particular type of green thumb that allows selective neglect to metamorphose into a harmonious, established mess of leaves. The courtyard walls are covered in ivy that has extended around the corner to take over this apartment block, transforming the very ordinary bricks and signage. I particularly like the way the letters appear to be emerging from their camouflage.

No paper

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Oh joy, to have a notice like this on your door so that you didn’t have to deal with all those pieces of paper you never know what to do with. Unfortunately, my office is no more paperless than anyone else’s. The idea of a paperless office—to minimise paper by keeping information in digital form instead—was first touted as long ago as 1975, when it was predicted that the office of the future would see paper become redundant for routine uses such as record-keeping and bookkeeping. But everyone who has ever worked in an office knows how much paper is used! Improvement in printers and increased electronic communication (much of which is printed out) actually resulted in the worldwide use of office paper more than doubling between 1980 and 2000. I suspect there is plenty of paper in the room behind this door, and that they just don’t want to take delivery of the local rag.