Puppy in training

One of our favourite TV shows is Border Security, a behind-the-scenes look at Australia’s immigration, customs and quarantine departments. To keep Australia’s flora and fauna free from pests and diseases, strict quarantine laws are in place. Numerous travellers featured on the show try to bring in food (either intentionally or not), narcotics and a variety of prohibited items.

Incoming travellers should declare any products with dairy/egg products, seeds, nuts, plants, animal products, live animals and all fresh fruits and vegetables. The customs officers are quite strict, with on-the-spot fines routinely issued. Drug moles, with their creative ways of concealing narcotics, are no match for customs officers who seem to have a sixth sense for spotting carriers a mile away. And if that’s not enough, they have trained detector dogs who sniff luggages for anything suspicious.

And speaking of detector dogs, hubby took photos of this cute detector puppy in training. We sighted him at our platform in Flinders station tonight. The lady who was in charge of him was gracious enough to let Geejay take a couple of photos and even made the puppy sit still during the shoot. Isn’t he just adorable with his vest emblazoned with the big L (for learner)? I’m certain he would have a bright future, with his movie-star looks and intelligence.

Published in: on August 22, 2006 at 10:14 pm  Comments (5)  

Please Stop Playing

Age must really be getting to me because here I am again with another rant that would make me look meaner than I really am. Still, I want to vent so…

There’s this busker who has taken a spot in a big intersection in the CBD. He sits on a stone bench at the corner of the intersection, a tambourine tied to his feet, Walkman head phones over his ears and a tin whistle in his hands.

Normally, I wouldn’t mind the sound of tin whistles (also knowns as pennywhistles, flageolets, or Irish whistles) due to their similarities to the recorder (another flute-like woodwind instrument) in sound. But these things can be pretty loud — in the screeching sense of the term.

It doesn’t help matters that the busker was playing the tin whistle with absolutely no regard for tune! He taps his feet to the beat of whatever music it is he’s listening to, thus making the tambourine ring out rhythmically. Okay, no problem there.

But the whistle playing…! He’s listening to what must be this beautiful music over his head phones and he tries to keep up with the tune of it on his tin whistle. Forget that. He’s not even trying to keep up with the tune at all! It was like the sound of a twitter bird being tortured. Fast-paced high-pitched shrieks of pure noise accompanied by the sound of a beating tambourine. He’s giving tin whistlers everywhere a bad name. Imagine a wanna-be singer auditioning for Australian Idol singing out of tune whilst listening to his or her iPod. Only worse!

I’m don’t normally rant about performers who are mediocre in their chosen specialty. If I think an actor did bad, I normally just let it go. There’s this guitarist busker every morning in the Flinders Street subway who simply doesn’t have the voice for singing and I just ignore him. But the whistling busker? I couldn’t take.

Now I feel bad for thinking this, but I even considered telling him up front: “Could you please stop playing?” Yeah, I know it’s mean of me to think it, but that’s how much it annoys me. I know I should just be thankful that he’s at least doing something to earn money instead of just sitting on his bum and begging for it.

I’ve read somewhere that there was a plan to form a sort of committee to assess whether a busker would be given a busking licence in Melbourne depending on his or her level of skill. At the time, I couldn’t believe that they would think of doing this. What? There’d be auditions first before getting a busking licence? What would be considered good enough for the streets of Melbourne? I thought it was ridiculous and it would be unfair.

Instead of a committee, maybe there should just be a box where people can submit complaints regarding specific buskers. Get enough complaints and you get your licence to play in the CBD revoked. Those buskers who are mediocre performers probably wouldn’t get complaints as it will be too much of a hassle for the passers-by. But for the annoyingly poor performers, well, they might just be bad enough to push a few people to submit a complaint.

Okay. I’ve vented now.

I don’t really want the busker out of business. It’s his way of earning a living, after all. Goodness knows he might need the generous donations he gets from busking. In the end though, his “music playing” annoys me intensely. I might just have to avoid that intersection during lunch break in the future. Still, all the best to him. I hope somebody would be kind enough (or annoyed enough) to offer him free lessons in tin whistle playing though.

Published in: on August 22, 2006 at 12:06 pm  Leave a Comment