Wednesday 12 August 2020

Wednesday, August 12th, 2020 - My Town in Lock-down, The NightHawk Has Landed, De Havilland Gets Her Wings, Marlowe Says a Long Good-Bye & Recent Wristwatches.

Coronavirus cases in Victoria, Australia, Pop;- 6.5 million (approx.);

Fri, July 31st - 627 new cases, 8 deaths

Sat, August 1st - 397 new cases, 3 deaths

Sun, August 2nd - 671 new cases., 7 deaths. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announces stringent measures to be announced the following day.

Mon, August 3rd - 429 new cases, 13 deaths
                                                                      Premier Andrews announces Victoria to go into lock-down for six weeks at midnight Wednesday. Non-essential workers to work from home if possible, retail stores, restaurants and bars to close, nightly curfew from 8:oopm to 5:ooam, people allowed to go outside for one hour of exercise, masks must be worn when outdoors, except for strenuous exercise (jogging, cycling), people cannot travel more than 5 kilometres from home when going shopping for essentials, and only one person from each household is permitted to shop for these essentials. On-the-spot fines for people not wearing masks in public or out and about after curfew. Heavy police presence on the streets (although I haven't noticed any). Fines can be anywhere between $200 to $1,600 for individuals found to be breaking these quarantine restrictions. Work permit required for people who have to go to work in a semi-essential service, such as charity workers. 

Tue, August 4th - 439 new cases, 11 deaths 

Wed, August 5th - 725 new cases, 15 deaths 

Thur, August 6th - 471 new cases on first day of lock-down. 8 deaths.

Fri, August 7th - 450 new cases, 11 deaths

Sat, August 8th - 466 new cases, 12 deaths

Sun, August 9th - 394 new cases, 17 deaths

Mon, August 10 - 322 new cases, 19 deaths

Now, these numbers are nowhere near what other countries have experienced. We have, however, seen cases occurring in a few nursing homes and a couple of meat-works/abattoirs, and this has most likely convinced our state government to introduce this severe lock-down measure in an effort to 'flatten the curve' and reduce the spread of this virus.

It all feels like some dystopian bad-future sci-fi, with a little bit of '1984' and 'Escape From New York' thrown in.
Apologies if I sound flippant, but I think that's what's gonna help me get through the next six weeks.

As we continue through this weird year of 2020, I first thought that writing about what watches I wear on any given day seems a little silly, in light of what we're all going through. 
And then I thought; "Well, fuck it. I'm writing these posts as much for my own amusement as anybody else's. Yes, they're just wristwatches, and we all have bigger things to concern ourselves with at this point in time, but writing these blog posts, and looking at watches, cameras, and such on the web is a brief respite from all that's currently going on. 

Aside from watches, I've found myself mixing up a Dry Martini on Friday nights, as a book-end to my working week. Three olives makes for a pretty crowded glass. No social distancing going on in there. And rather than using a modern V-shaped cocktail glass, which holds 160ml (5.4 oz), I tend to scour the thrift stores for those old-style cocktail glasses that hold around 90ml (about 3oz). These tend to hold the same amount as a sherry or port glass. Either way, three ounces (90ml) is three shots of alcohol. Factor in the ice used in the cocktail shaker and you end up getting a little less than that into the glass when all is said and done. Generally, I pour two or two-and-a-half shots of gin into the shaker. That's 60 to 75ml. The ice dilutes a little and adds volume, even though the gin doesn't spend very long in the shaker and I stir the mixture for about twenty/twenty-five seconds rather than shake it. That's enough time to chill the gin without diluting it too much. A Dry Martini calls for some White Vermouth as well, but that stuff barely gets a look-in in my Martini. 
Regular readers may recall my post about Dry Martinis from some years ago;

I plan on changing some of the photos in that post, since I have a better camera and some better lighting. I'll get around to it at some point. 

Wristwatch-wise, let me see...Ah! This one came in about two months ago;

It's a Citizen NightHawk from around 2010/2012, I think. I got it from an upmarket pawnbrokers (if such a thing exists) that sells power tools, electric guitars, out-dated PlayStation games and other stuff. 
Despite the whole slide-rule function around the dial (which I don't know how to use), the bold hands and dial markers make for a very legible watch. Two-hundred metres of water-resistance AND it has Citizen's famous Eco-Drive movement. Basically, the dial is a solar panel. Yes, there's a battery inside the watch, but it doesn't need replacing for a long, long time. Once the watch is fully charged, it'll run non-stop for six months. If kept in the dark, that is. With day-to-day wear, the dial is constantly recharging the battery as the watch is exposed to light. 
Okay, remember how I just said that the battery in these Eco-Drive watches don't have to be replaced for a long, long time? I just did a little reading up on these Eco-Drive movements. The battery is recharged by sunlight which is converted into electrical energy. The battery in these watches is considered a 'secondary' source of power. As such, they don't need to be replaced for about FORTY YEARS! They do, however, drop down to 80%  of their capacity after TWENTY YEARS. 
Folks, if you only ever want to buy one watch in your lifetime, a Citizen Eco-Drive (or a Seiko Solar) could be that one watch. 
Oh, and it has a 2nd time-zone dial, visible over on the left of the main dial, but obscured by the hands. If there's one thing I'm not crazy about with this watch, it's the date window. Or rather, the date wheel, which is the disc inside the movement with all 31 days of the month printed on it. It appears to be fairly recessed and it looks to me like I have to look through a window into a room to see the date. And it's a little smaller than I'd prefer. But that's a small quibble. 

So anyway, I'm working from home at the moment. To be honest, there's a limit to what I can actually do, since my job entails a lot of hands-on stuff that can't be done at home. The watchmaker has taken a bunch of repairs home to work on while the office and workshop are closed. I spend a couple of hours checking e-mails in the morning and then again later in the evening, in case there have been any replies. I reply to any customer enquiries and we have a Zoom meeting each morning at 10:30 to discuss anything from the previous day that may have come up and requires attention from other departments. 
So far, I'm hobbling along okay with it all. For sure, there will be a tonne of stuff to deal with once the office re-opens in the middle of next month, but that will all be dealt with in due course. 
Considering the circumstances, it's all working as well as it can. 

Since I have some free time throughout the day, I've been taking pictures of items to sell on eBay, not because I'm desperate for the money per se, but it seems like a good time to clear out some stuff that I no longer need, want or use. 

I gave it a lot of thought and decided that my Olympia SF typewriter should go. I've been holding on to it for years because of this picture of Ian Fleming in 1964. 
Getty Images photo courtesy of

Still, I can't say this machine thrills me when it comes to actually using it. My Tower Chieftain III (a Smith-Corona Skyriter by any other name) has a nicer feel to it. I also have my Olivetti Lettera 32 that I bought back in high school and that one's going nowhere. And then there's the Groma Kolibri which is a slightly better type than this SF, in my humble opinion. 
So, the SF should go. And go it shall. 

Watch-wise, ever since I got the Hamilton Khaki Automatic to use as a 'beater' watch...

...I've found myself using the Seiko SKX031 'beater watch' less and less. A beater watch is what collectors call a watch that is used with no regard for how it's treated or bashed around. Some folks will wear it for heavy-duty water sporting activities where it may get knocked around, others (like myself) will use a beater for handyman or gardening chores where the watch could be subjected to knocks, scrapes and scratches. I figured that the Hamilton might look good with a few marks on it here and there, and so I tend to wear it when using power tools and such. So far, I haven't managed  to put a mark on it. I think I'm still reasonably careful with my watches. And so, I decided that, after almost twenty years, it's perhaps time to sell the Seiko so that it will get more use from its next owner. I gave the case a light polish with a Cape Cod cloth, re-fitted the original bracelet and added all extra links to it, and gave it a quick rinse under warm water. It looks as good as it ever will. 

It definitely has marks on it from use, but that's what a beater watch is for. Regardless, somebody's gonna get themselves a good watch. They can either leave it as is, or they can modify it with after-market parts to really jazz it up a little.

Tues, August 11th - 331 cases, 19 deaths.

I got back into reading some Raymond Chandler. It was finally time to give The Long Good-Bye a crack. I have a 2nd Edition hardback from December 1953. I have to say I really liked it, but I was amazed at the amount of typos I found in this book. Little things, like sentences beginning with a lower-case letter, or a letter missing from the end of a word. Or the word 'butler' laid out as 'but ler'. 
Silly little mistakes that I've come to expect in modern magazines and newspapers, now that proof-readers have become extinct thanks to computer spell-checks and the like, but I don't expect to find these kinds of rookie mistakes in a vintage book published by the esteemed Hamish Hamilton. 
The editor and proof-reader must've had a golf game that day.

Aside from that, I liked the book. Now, you don't actually read Chandler for the plotting. You read it for his protagonist Philip Marlowe, the Los Angeles private detective. The gumshoe who rarely carries a gun, the shamus who has a clear-cut moral code, and doesn't do divorce work - it's the romantic in him, you see -, the sleuth who plays out old chess strategies on a board set up in his living room, the PI who has a smart mouth that gets him in and out of trouble. 
I read Farewell, My Lovely back in 1982 (or '83), as part of our English curriculum in high school. Miss Butler, bless her, was a fan of it. The book must have had an effect on me. Coupled with the smart-assy web-slinger of Marvel Comics' The Amazing SpiderMan and Warner Bros. Golden Era of Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes featuring the wise-cracking Bugs Bunny, that I read and watched in the 1970s, I developed a liking for character that were wise-asses. Throw in old Hollywood movies of the 1930s, '40s and '50s, plus the early Connery Bond movies, and my smart-aleck apprenticeship was well underway. 
Of course, as I got older I learned that real life ain't like a Bond movie or Spiderman comic, and cracking wise can get you into a lot of trouble. I found that out the hard way over the years.
I now use my smart mouth a little more sparingly, or when I have the ammunition to back it up. 
Much safer that way.

Anyway, I read the book, thinking that I'd now read of of Chandler's works, but then I remembered that I have never read his classic, The Big Sleep. Probably because the Bogart/Bacall movie is so firmly etched in my head. So, I have that book to look forward to. 
As an aside, Chandler began work on a novel called The Poodle Springs Story, which finds Marlowe freshly married and living in a town modelled on Palm Springs. Chandler wrote four chapters before he died in 1959. I get a buzz out of the fact that he included a character named Tino in the last paragraph that he ever wrote. 
That's my name. 
What are the chances? 

The book was finished by Spenser crime author Robert B. Parker and published in 1989. I have it, but have yet to read it.
I wrote this little snippet and put in on the blog about seven years ago. I added a couple of extra paragraphs - where Marlowe gets to his apartment - last month. 

I turned the corner where Lowenstein & Lowe, Attorneys at Law, had their offices on the ground floor back when Eisenhower was running things. Their office is long gone. It’s a pizzeria now. And sure, Aldo makes a nice Napoletana, but I miss the old neighborhood. There’s a Yoga studio upstairs. Back in the day, you’d have been arrested for running a yoga class in this burg. This town had changed a lot. Like some squeaky-clean distant cousin you saw at a wedding when you were kids and bumped into years later to find that they’d turned into a juiced-up hop-head who’s first words to you after all this time were “Hey, nice to see ya, pal. What’s it been, twenny years? Say, listen, can ya spare me a few bucks?”
Up ahead, I saw a drunk stumbling towards me. He took a few wavering steps and would have fallen flat on his face if he didn’t have the wall of the Venus Building to hold him up. He got about ten feet away from me when he straightened up and in a very sober voice said “Gimme yer wallet and watch, man, and you’ll get to have breakfast.”

I thought he was kidding at first, but the one-eyed stare from the .38 in his hand kept a straight face. Served me right for walking the streets at this hour. Did I mention that this town had changed a lot? I slowly reached into my jacket pocket and fished out a pack of Luckies. I flicked it one-handed and a butt popped up half-way out of the pack. And some people say I have no skills.
"Think I'm kiddin' here, man?", he added with an edge.  Whatever happened to patience, anyway?
His hair was long, the way kids are wearing it these days, thanks to that band from Liverpool, and his faded Levi’s were torn at one knee. I tossed the cigarette pack towards his face. Amateur that he was, he lifted the pistol up to shield his eyes. That was all I needed, despite my age. I lunged at his gun arm, grabbed his wrist with my right hand and twisted downwards. He pivoted away from me. Good. I then clamped my left just above his elbow. Then I pulled back a little with my right. Not too much. Just enough to make it memorable for him.
I couldn’t say which was louder, his scream or his elbow joint popping. I grabbed the gun by the barrel and clocked him just under his right ear with the butt of it. He fell faster than yesterday’s stock prices.

“I’ll keep the hardware, chum. Sleep tight”, I said, but I doubt he heard me.

Back at my apartment, I slid off my jacket and threw it towards the sofa as I headed to the kitchen, giving the drinks trolley a sideways glance. A glint of emerald green caught the light. The fresh fifth of Tanqueray dared me to tangle with it. The ice tray in the freezer held six cubes, the lower shelf in the door showed a half-bottle of Canada Dry tonic water and an unopened jar of olives. I could mix up a Gin & tonic or a Dry Martini, which suited me just fine. A man oughta have options, after all.

The Gin & tonic won. I cracked the Tanqueray open and built myself a night-cap in a highball glass even though I wasn’t expecting Hepburn to come calling. Neither one of them.  I took the drink back to the sofa, slipped off my shoes and sat down. I heard a sigh, but it could have been the sofa cushions or me. I took a first long gulp of the drink, as thoughts of the young punk took a walk through my empty head. I reached for the jacket and pulled the revolver from the side pocket and placed it gently on the coffee table. Then I stretched out my legs and poised one ankle on top of the other.
“You’re getting too old for this, Marlowe”, I murmured to myself as I loosened my tie.                        

But I’d known that for years.


That's the Oris Artelier hand-wound up above, which I wore a few times throughout July. By the time I got half-way through The Long Good-Bye, I was getting cravings for Gimlets. That's a drink that Marlowe and his enigmatic new friend Terry Lennox imbibe in the book. 
I hadn't had one since the '80s, when I was working in bars and poring through cocktail recipe books. 
Basically, take a glass, cocktail or tumbler, and add a shot of gin and a shot of lime juice cordial and ice. Rose's Lime Juice Cordial is what's used in the book, but we can't get it anymore in Australia, so I used Bickford's. 
In the Chandler book (and most recipe books), it's prepared as a cocktail in a shaker with ice. Then it gets poured nicely chilled into a cocktail glass with a slice of lemon or lime peel as a garnish. I did it differently, by just building the ingredients into an ice-filled whisky glass and giving it a decent stir.
Tangy, with a little kick at the end. 
A nice sipping drink on a summer evening.

Olivia de Havilland passed away late last month at the age of 104. I considered her to be the Last Keeper of The Old Hollywood Flame. I can't think of any major other star of that era who's still around. She appeared in Captain Blood (Dir: Michael Curtiz, 1935), The Charge of The Light Brigade (Dir: Michael Curtiz, 1936), The Adventures of Robin Hood (Dirs: Michael Curtiz, William Keighley, 1938), as well as Gone With the Wind (Dir: Victor Fleming, George Cukor (uncredited), 1939), as well as other films throughout the 1940s and '50s. She was nominated for Academy Awards on numerous occasions - losing out to her sister Joan Fontaine*, who won the statuette for Suspicion in 1941- and was awarded the Best Actress Oscar in 1946 for her role in To Each His Own (Dir:Mitchell Leisen).
Truly the end of an era. 

* de Havilland and Fontaine had a long-standing feud. Accounts vary. It is said that they patched things up in later years, other sources state that they remained estranged all their lives. Fontaine died at age 96 in 2013.

 Wed, Aug 12th - 410 cases, 21 deaths

Most of the deaths in recent weeks have mainly occurred within the 80+ age group and many of them were aged-care residents. A few people in their 70s succumbed to COVID-19, and there have been deaths among those in their 50s and 60s, as well as a few people aged in their 30s, hence the stringent lock-down measures currently in place. 
I think it may still be a week or two before we begin to see a significant drop in cases. 
Wash your hands, wear your masks in public, keep your distance, folks. 

Okay, enough doom and gloom. I wore these watches since my last post;

The late 1960s Seiko Skyliner. No date, just time. Nicely made, it conjures up images in my head of old National Panasonic transistor radios and Mazda 1600s. That stock-take that we did at work that day went pretty smoothly, I have to say. Very few discrepancies, and they were accounted for once we put our forensic hats on and systematically sorted through the finer details. I've kept a closer eye on watch straps and bracelet movements over the past six months, in an effort to keep track of stock coming in and going out.

The Oris Big Crown Pointer Date Small Seconds, from circa 1996.    This picture was taken just after I got to work and parked the car. This is a labour in itself, as I don't have my own parking space at work, so I park in a 4 hour parking zone a few streets away and then rush out of the office four hours later and move it into a 2 hour spot closer to the office. Within this two-hour time-frame, I'll usually head out to grab some lunch. When I get back, I park the car in another 2 hour zone behind our office building and, sometime after 2:30pm, I put the car into our building's internal car-park because one of the other tenants in the building closes their office at 2:15pm and five or six spots in the car-park are then (unofficially) available for a couple of staff in our office to use. It's a friggin' song and dance, but I've yet to get an eighty dollar parking fine as a result of this musical cars process.
                                                                                                                                                                   The Omega Seamaster 300 also spent some time on the wrist, since I'd been without it so long while it was being serviced.It was out of action for almost a year, while the watchmaker hunted around for a movement part which I ended up finding on eBay. The watch is currently on a '90s Speedmaster bracelet which makes for a slightly snug fit, but gets the job done. This watch is one that I'll never get rid of. Took me five years or so of looking at crappy-condition models on eBay before I finally got this one through a guy I used to work with.
And the Rolex Submariner 5513 from 1982 got some wear as well. 
I have a thing for dive watches, but I don't dive. I like the legibility of the dials, the more-than-I-need water-resistance, and the rotating bezels, which come in handier than you might think.                             I don't know what Rolex are planning to release in the next six to twelve months. Not that it matters to me. I'm not in the market for a new Rolex. Mind you, anybody who is in the market for a current Rolex sports model is going through agony as most dealers have empty display cabinets. Demand is high world-wide and supply (for whatever reasons) is very low. Meanwhile, the prices keep going up incrementally. For a product that nobody has. 

And that's it for the first six days of this lock-down. I have more that I could write, but I figure I'll start a new post in the next few days in an effort to produce shorter posts. Even though this has been a long one. 

I hope you're all keeping well under the circumstances.

Thanks for reading, and stay safe!