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Podcast: Pet regs, kid noise, renos and rants

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Elsewhere in this post

There’s a lot to get through in this week’s podcast, not least the new regulations on pets in strata which replace the now defunct blanket bans on pets.

Even so, Jimmy finds time to indulge in not one but two full-on rants.

But first, we talk about noise, specifically from kids playing in and around strata blocks during lockdown.

Is it even reasonable to ask parents to tell their kids to keep the noise down?  And should we be bothered if they draw a hopscotch grid on the driveway in chalk?

And then there’s the noise from renovations. In Victoria, during lockdowns, renos in apartment blocks are banned if there is even just one apartment occupied at the time – end of story.


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In NSW, provided you have no more than two tradies working in any apartment at any given time, you can have as many renos going on in the same block as you want.

What about all the people forced to work from home and not able to go out for anything except shopping and exercise? Welcome to rant No.1.

Then we have the new pet regulations (which came out after we had recorded and edited the podcast, so we had to go back in and do that part all over again). 

The new amendment to the NSW strata Act say schemes can’t have by-laws that bans pets unreasonably.

And now you have retrospective regs that define “reasonable”, all of which makes it easier for residents to have pets, but easier for owners corps to remove them if they cause a nuisance, by defining exactly what a nuisance might be.

As you can read in this story, the onus is now on owners to have strata-friendly pets rather than find pet-friendly strata schemes.

And here is the promised link to the Companion Animals Act, which is referenced in the new regulations.

Finally, we talk about all the positives coming from the lockdowns, specifically the ways in which strata residents are helping each other get through all this.

And this includes rant No.2 – if you are a member of the Potts Pointers Facebook group, you might want to give this a listen. Enjoy.

If you enjoyed listening to this podcast (or reading the transcript), please share it with your friends using the social media buttons at the foot of the page.

TRANSCRIPT IN FULL

Jimmy  00:00

I am shocked and disappointed, Sue Williams.

Sue  00:04

Something I’ve done?

Jimmy  00:06

I’ve been writing a lot on the website, about how little concern is given to apartment residents by New South Wales Health. I’ve been saying there should be somebody in there who knows about apartment living and then I found out last week, that two of the ministers in the Crisis Cabinet are former Fair Trading Ministers.

Sue  00:32

Really?

Jimmy  00:32

Yeah, so we’re going to be talking about that, later. We’re going to be talking about noise, during lockdown. We’re going to be talking about the new pet laws that come in this week and, we’re going to talk about some of the good things that are happening during lockdown in apartments. I’m Jimmy Thomson, I write the Flat Chat column for the Australian Financial Review.

Sue  00:55

And I’m Sue Williams and I write about property for Domain.

Jimmy  00:58

And this is the Flat Chat Wrap.

[MUSIC]

Jimmy

Noise in and around the lockdown, Sue.  I mean, noise in apartments is one of the big issues, anyway and I’ve had a couple of posts to the Flat Chat forum this week, from people complaining about noisy children, like in normal times… Children running around, screaming and shouting and they’re not able to get any peace and quiet.

Sue  01:39

Yeah, that would be very hard, wouldn’t it? Especially I suppose, in lockdown, when kids are cooped up.

Jimmy  01:43

Yeah. Well, we saw a story in the Sydney Morning Herald (or was at the Sun-Herald), this week, about parents who’ve had complaints against them;  notices sent by their Owners Corporations, about the children playing on common property and using chalk to draw hopscotch grids. What can you do? You’ve got kids in the house, you’re not allowed to go out for more than an hour at a time. Surely the kids will be bouncing off the walls?

Sue  02:13

Yes, absolutely. Especially for people living in smaller apartments. I mean, you have to have sympathy for people on both sides. I remember we were living in an apartment once, where some kids drew a hopscotch grid…

Jimmy  02:25

Actually, if I may correct you, it was metal inspection grid covers, outside a cafe in Victoria Street and it wasn’t kids, it was the proprietor (idiot proprietors) of the cafe, thought it would be fun to draw. Because it was like a four wide strip of heavy metal and they thought it was perfect for a hopscotch grid.

Sue  02:53

And it kind of was, because kids would queue up to go on that hopscotch grid.

Jimmy  02:57

And at night, drunk people coming from the pub nearby, would decide to relive their childhood.

Sue  03:03

And the clanging of the metal plates was so noisy, it was horrendous.

Jimmy  03:08

Absolutely. So that was one of these great ideas, that wasn’t so good, when people actually started using it. So you’ve got kids; kids will shout and scream. That’s part of their learning process.

Sue  03:23

And I kind of quite like hearing kids shouting and laughing. Well, screaming, if it’s an okay scream, not obviously, screaming out of fear or misery. It can be a really nice sound and I wonder if people can re-educate themselves a bit to think “oh, that’s a nice, happy sound,” rather than thinking “ugh, it’s really interrupting my peaceful time again.”

Jimmy  03:45

But it’s a question of not just the nature of the sound; it’s the intensity and the frequency. I mean, if you’re living in an apartment, and you’ve constantly got kids running on a poorly-insulated floor, ‘thump, thump, thump;’ back and forward, back and forward, screaming and shouting, dropping things… It’s gonna get the most tolerant person on the planet… It’s going to start wearing thin.

Sue  04:13

Back in the olden days, when we used to go on planes, and you’d hear babies screaming and crying and kids crying, I always used to say to myself “well, wouldn’t it be so much…” I mean, it was quite irritating, but then I would think to myself “wouldn’t it be so much worse if I was their mother, trying desperately to keep them quiet?” So I think you can actually re-educate yourself to try and make it less of a nuisance for you. I think during lockdown, we have to be a lot more tolerant than we perhaps are normally.

Jimmy  04:45

I remember in planes Sue, a couple of people we knew would send their kids down the back either in the care of the older kids or the nanny, and they would sit up the front in peace and quiet and business class. The kids would be screaming and shouting down the back but then you’d think, if you were in business class, would you want those kids screaming and shouting near you? I can’t remember; I think it’s Singapore Airlines. Their Scoot has a quiet section?

Sue  05:13

Okay.

Jimmy  05:14

So you know, there’s a section of the plane that, it’s not a special seat or anything, but there’s no kids. It doesn’t have ‘no drunk people, refusing to wear masks,’ as I saw online overnight. Some bloke in Glasgow was dragged off a flight, because he refused to put a mask on. So, you’ve got the kids playing outside… You know,  I made a joke the other day, on the the Flat Chat website about how the government was going to deal with this by sending everybody noise-cancelling headphones. But I tell you what, a noise -cancelling headphone; it’s not going to cancel out all noise, but a headphone that covers your ears and cuts out a lot of sound and allows you to listen to music and podcasts and things like that…

Sue  06:04

That’s a good idea.

Jimmy  06:05

It’s a good way forward, for those of us who cannot tolerate random noise coming in, and frequently, as well.

Sue  06:15

Absolutely. I think the neighbors who were complaining about the children, were also complaining that they were drawing hopscotch squares, on the path in chalk, and saying they were ‘defacing common property,’ which seems pretty unreasonable, as well. Chalk is not really defacing stuff.

Jimmy  06:33

If it was paint, it would be different.

Sue  06:35

But then, a hopscotch thing in paint;  even that… I mean, that’s kind of a nice use of a bit of space, isn’t it?

Jimmy  06:43

No, it’s not; that’s a permanent thing. We’ve already discussed this,  just a minute ago. It’s all very well for the kiddies, who are jumping up and down and getting a bit of exercise and burning off some energy; it’s terrific. What about the drunks coming home at night and going “oh, it’s hopscotch, hey!  Let’s play hopscotch!” Of course, the drunks aren’t coming home at night, because they haven’t been anywhere.

Sue  07:08

That’s right. There are no pubs open and if they’re in a lockdown area, they can have a curfew.

Jimmy  07:15

Yeah, that’s true.

Sue  07:16

So, they’re going to be home anyway, the way they should be.

Jimmy  07:19

So this could damage our prospects of winning a hopscotch tournament in the future.

[MUSIC]

Jimmy

There’s another aspect to noise and apartments, which is becoming quite a heated issue and that is renovations.

Sue  07:41

Right, because now they’re being allowed again, aren’t they, in apartments?

Jimmy  07:45

Well, they’ve never stopped them being allowed in New South Wales.

Sue  07:49

Oh, it’s Victoria, where they’re not allowing them.

Jimmy  07:52

Ever since they had their lockdown last year, they quite specifically say, you cannot do a renovation in an apartment block, where there are people in residence and it quite specifically says in their public health orders. If there is one apartment, which is used by residents, then all apartments in that building are considered to be occupied and that makes perfect sense. In New South Wales, you can have renovations in an apartment, provided there’s no more than two workers at a time, but you can have as many apartments in a building being renovated at the same time, provided the workers wear masks in common property.

Sue  08:39

Right and that’s really hard to enforce, isn’t it? It’s hard to police as well.  So, in one building of maybe 100 units, you could conceivably, have about 10 renovations going on at the same time.

Jimmy  08:51

Absolutely.

Sue  08:51

And that means, quite a lot! At least 20 people, coming in and out of the building across common property, using the lifts; in small spaces with people. If you don’t have a building manager, you don’t have a concierge…

Jimmy  09:08

Which most buildings don’t have…

Sue  09:10

Who’s actually going to be checking that those people have well-defined working protocols and actually are wearing masks. And you know, there are some jobs where you need more than two people to do them.

Jimmy  09:22

There are some jobs; very noisy jobs, where you don’t.

Sue  09:25

Yeah.

Jimmy  09:26

You’ve got drilling up tiles and things. All the other workers will be off down the park for a smoko, while the guy’s drilling up the tiles in a bathroom, because it’s so bloody noisy.

Sue  09:41

And it could well be that the noise is prolonged, because you’ve only got one person doing it, rather than a couple of people taking turns or something.

Jimmy  09:49

So that’s what I will be explaining to our former Fair Trading Ministers, who seem to have forgotten that we even exist and I’m talking about Victor Dominello and Stuart Ayres, who are in the Crisis Cabinet. I’ll be asking them to cast their minds back to the Brady Bunch… The opening titles of the Brady Bunch, was a grid of nine boxes and  these are all the people in the family. Okay, you imagine a renovation is in that middle box; all the boxes around it, are affected by the noise. So you’ve got two people are employed, eight other people are driven to distraction by the noise.

Sue  10:33

And there’s nowhere they can go to get away from it. They’re having to stay home. They’re working from home; they’re doing zoom conferences and meetings.

Jimmy  10:41

They can’t go to cafes, because they’re closed. So, it’s ‘stay at home,’ and put up with this, so that two tradies can get work in a renovation and as you are writing about, renovations in houses, can’t get enough tradies.

Sue  10:58

That’s right, because most of the trades people in service in Greater Sydney, live in south and southwest Sydney and Western Sydney, which are areas that are all hotspots and which are all locked down. So, there is a critical shortage of tradies. I talked to a family who are renovating a house in the inner-west and they were told at the beginning of June, that their renovation would take six weeks. The guys came in, ripped out their kitchen and bathroom and now, they’re having to live in an apartment, because they can’t live in their house, because it doesn’t have a kitchen or bathroom anymore. They’re saying it’s probably going to take about six months, because of the shortages of labor, as well as the shortages of materials.

Jimmy  11:38

Yep. This is the point I want to make to Mr Dominello and Mr Ayres; you’re not doing the tradies any favor by forcing apartment residents to put up with the noise from renovations, because the tradies… If they can travel to do the work, they’ll get the work anyway; the work is there, so, you’re not helping them. Renovation that’s being done is annoying at least eight families. You could probably add another nine, for another layer of the next level of apartments, behind those ones. So, there’s 17 different households being disrupted by two tradies who don’t need the work, because they could get the work somewhere else. I mean, get a grip, guys! Were you so upset by your experiences, Fair Trading Ministers, that you now hate us all and want us to suffer?

Sue  12:32

Well, maybe we present so many problems, they’ve just kind of moved on and thought “thank goodness, we don’t have to deal with strata anymore. We’ll leave it all to Kevin Anderson,” and he’s not in that cabinet, is he?

Jimmy  12:41

He certainly is not. They say ‘oh, this just affects a minority of people…’ 2 million people live in strata in New South Wales. The effects of the work going on around people…When you think that right now, more than half the apartments (or, about half the apartments), in strata are rented… Vacancy rate in rentals in New South Wales, in apartments, has never been higher. So, you’ve got all these people who are sitting at home going ‘our apartment is sitting empty; there’s nobody in there. Now would be a great time to do a renovation.’ Guess what? The government doesn’t care. The government does not give a shit about us, doing a renovation. You’ll get some buildings where there may be two or three apartments sitting empty and people going ‘let’s get all the things fixed up for when our Airbnb tourists come back,’ or whatever. I’m really, genuinely annoyed by it.

Sue  13:40

I can tell!

Jimmy  13:43

I’d better go and cool down! While I do that, when we come back, we’re going to talk about the new pet laws and then after that, you’re going to tell us about the good things that are happening in apartments.

[MUSIC]

Jimmy

Normally, we record the podcast on a Sunday afternoon and when we recorded this section originally, we were expecting the new regulations on pet ownership in strata to come in on Wednesday. Typically, we’d just finished editing this on Monday and the new regulations came in two days early. So, we’ve dived back in. If there’s a slight difference in sound quality, between this section and the other sections of the podcast, it’s partly because it’s raining outside and partly because you can never get things exactly the same way as they were before, but maybe you won’t even notice. Let’s get down to business. Just to recap slightly, late last year, Matt Kean, the environment minister in New South Wales, brought in an amendment to strata laws that lowered the threshold for permission to change common property, if it had an environmental sustainability element to it. Emma Hurst, the Animal Justice Party leader, jumped on this and added another amendment to the change, which was to basically wipe out all no-pet bans. That got through in the upper house. In the meantime, the famous Jo Cooper case was resolved at the Court of Appeal, which basically said all blanket bans on pets, were no longer valid. That’s just for strata, obviously. And then, the government was faced with this thing; they had to deal with this change in the law. They didn’t particularly want to remove the ban on pets and Alex Greenwich, the Independent MP for Sydney, stepped in and managed to wrangle a compromise, which went through in February. It was agreed that the ban on pets would be removed, subject to regulations that would come in, that would kind of define what was reasonable and what is unreasonable. Those regulations logged in on Monday afternoon, and now we have them.

Sue  16:15

So that’s the circumstances in which the keeping of an animal unreasonably interferes…

Jimmy  16:20

With all sorts of things. The main thrust of this, I reckon, is that rather than saying, here are the reasons on which you can stop pets from coming in, it’s saying, here are the reasons; the valid reasons, that you can ask people to remove their pets from the building.

Sue  16:37

Right. So, it’s kind of a reverse?

Jimmy  16:40

Yes, absolutely. Instead of saying ‘is this a pet-friendly strata building,’ it’s saying ‘is this a strata-friendly pet?’

Sue  16:50

That makes it actually easier to get pets into apartments, because it’s actually harder to kick a pet out, than it is to just say it’s not allowed to come in, in the first place.

Jimmy  17:00

Yes, but it really puts the onus on the pet owner, to make sure their pet complies with all the conditions that could result in the pet being removed.

Sue  17:10

Which is only fair, because you probably don’t really get bad pets, but you do get bad pet owners who don’t train them properly, or look after them properly, or make sure their hygiene doesn’t disturb anybody else.

Jimmy  17:23

So, here are the conditions under which your pet could be removed from the building… Number one is ‘the animal makes a noise that persistently occurs to the degree that it unreasonably interferes with the peace, comfort or convenience of another occupant.’ So, we’re talking about barking dogs and yowling cats.

Sue  17:42

Okay, or that ‘the animal repeatedly runs at or chases another occupant, a visitor of an occupant, or another animal in the same building.’

Jimmy  17:51

The third one is ‘animal attacks or otherwise menaces another occupant, a visitor or an animal, kept by another occupant.’

Sue  18:00

Number four, ‘the animal repeatedly causes damage to the common property or another lot.’

Jimmy  18:05

That is a very bad animal!

Sue  18:07

They have been very busy!

Jimmy  18:09

‘The animal endangers the health of another occupant, through infection or infestation.’ Now, we might come back to that one.

Sue  18:17

Yeah, so that’s not allergy or anything like that. Or, ‘the animal causes a persistent offensive odor, that penetrates another lot of the common property.’

Jimmy  18:27

This is for cats; ‘the owner of the animal fails to comply with an order that is enforced under the Companion Animals Act 1998, section 31.’

Sue  18:38

Or, for a dog kept on a lot, if the animal fails to comply with an order that is enforced under that Companion Animals Act.

Jimmy  18:44

Section 32(a) and the animal is declared to be a menacing dog under the Companion Animals Act and the animal is a restricted dog within the meaning of the Companion Animals Act. We’re going to put links to that Act, on the show notes that go with this podcast, if you need to track that down and read it. It’s quite complicated and lengthy.

Sue  19:07

But it looks quite reasonable, doesn’t it, really?

Jimmy  19:09

Here’s the list of… Nuisance cats; I didn’t know there was such a thing as a nuisance cat?

Sue  19:15

A feral cat would be a bit of a nuisance, but then if it’s inside an apartment, it isn’t allowed to roam outdoors.

Jimmy  19:22

We know of apartment blocks where cats do roam outdoors and they go from one balcony to the next.

Sue  19:28

I guess it depends on the design of a building, doesn’t it? And of course,  this is all strata, so it can include things like retirement villages. My parents are in a retirement village and a dog sometimes wanders onto their property and barks a bit, but they don’t seem to mind. They think of it as their watchdog, really.

Jimmy  19:52

I suppose if a cat was on common property and digging up your plants and things…

Sue  19:58

Or, peed on common property. That wouldn’t be so great.

Jimmy  20:02

But you know, there is a whole other rigmarole about the Companion Animals Act and getting cats and dogs declared in breach of the Act, but people can read that for themselves. Here’s the interesting thing about ‘dangerous dogs’… The meaning of dangerous; ‘has without provocation, attacked or killed a person or an animal, other than vermin.’

Sue  20:26

Wow! That is quite extreme, isn’t it, really?

Jimmy  20:30

Yes. This is the Companion Animals Act; this is not the strata thing.

Sue  20:35

You remember we had a problem in our building? A dog in a lift once licked the hand of somebody else in the lift and the person whose hand was licked was outraged and said that she was terrified of this dog. It was just a really friendly dog. It wouldn’t be a dangerous dog, would it?

Jimmy  20:53

That woman who had her hand licked was the mother of the chair of the building, who was trying to get pro-pet bylaws. And, ‘a dangerous dog is also one that without provocation has repeatedly threatened to attack or chase a person.’ Section d, ‘a dog that is kept for the purposes of hunting is considered dangerous.’ That’s not to say ‘a hunting dog,’ but ‘a dog that is kept for hunting.’  A hunting dog is a dog that actually hunts and kills, but there is a list of dogs that are absolutely forbidden. You can look up this Act from the link yourself and see.

Sue  21:37

It’s interesting, though, because one of the arguments that people who don’t want pets in their building often talk about, is that they have people with allergies to dogs or cats and this doesn’t cover that, does it?

Jimmy  21:50

It doesn’t mention it, but I’ve written to the PR person in Fair Trading, who’s actually going to raise this with them and say ‘well, what about people with allergies?’ So, that’s something else; it’s all a bit involved. It quite specifically says ‘infection or infestation,’ which would be fleas. Do you want to know the dogs that are restricted?

Sue  22:16

Okay.

Jimmy  22:17

You can’t have these in strata, at all… American Pit Bull Terrier or Pit Bull Terrier. Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino, Perro de Presa Canario, or Presa Canario. They seem to have something against South American dogs. Fila Brasileiro, or any other dog of a breed kind of description whose importation into Australia is prohibited. And any dog declared by an authorized officer of the council, under Division 5, to be a restricted dog. Basically, there are some breeds that you just don’t even bother trying to bring in. It shouldn’t be in an apartment block, anyway.

Sue  22:58

And it perhaps, shouldn’t be in the backyard either.

Jimmy  23:00

No; shouldn’t be in Australia.

Sue  23:02

Well, I guess that’s good news for pet-lovers, isn’t it really? I think it’s probably going to be a bit more difficult for people who don’t want pets in their buildings, to get them out again.

Jimmy  23:12

Well, yeah. I mean, there’s always been in the Strata Act; long before this thing started… There were sections of the Strata Act that said, if a dog was there by permission and it proved to be a nuisance, it could be removed, but it never really defined what ‘a nuisance’ was. I mean, you can see how these restrictions here; the new regulations… They’re not going to work for people applying to have dogs. You’re not going to turn up and say “I want to bring my dog into the building and by the way, it bites people, and it’s very smelly,” because then, you’re not going to get that dog allowed. But, if people know that their dog or cat is potentially problematic and bring it into the building, they only have themselves to blame. If, you know, two or three months later, they’re told “no, this is in breach. You’ve got to take it out.”

Sue  24:12

Okay, well, hopefully, that may be the end of the pet controversies, or it just may spark a new one.

Jimmy  24:17

I think we’ve already found one loophole (or one hole in the law), which is allergies. We’ve got to take allergies seriously, because when people are affected by them…When you think, 10 or 15 years ago, you would never have seen a warning on food packaging that said ‘this was produced in the same machinery that deals with nuts,’ and now it’s everywhere. I’m sure it will be a fruitful area for discussion, in the future. I think that was good news and there’s more good news about what people are doing to help each other get through the lockdown.

[MUSIC]

Jimmy

Sue, you have been writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, about some of the good things that people are doing in the lockdown. What’s that all about?

Sue  25:13

Well, my editor said to me ‘what are apartment residents doing?’ So I put out some feelers and made some calls. During lockdown, there are some really good things happening, quite apart from people complaining about kids being noisy and playing hopscotch. Some apartment buildings are really rallying to help people within them, who maybe aren’t coping very well, so I had a chat to some of them. It’s amazing, the kinds of things people are doing. People are making chocolate cupcakes and leaving them outside the front doors of their neighbors on their different floors, to cheer them up.

Jimmy  25:51

And of course, that has the benefit of the fun of making the chocolate cupcake in the first place.

Sue  25:57

Absolutely. One building in Chiswick has organized art competitions for kids, because they realize kids are stuck at home, homeschooling and they’re a bit bored. So, they’re doing art competitions on zoom and the local convenience store supplies prizes for the winners every week. It’s kind of really nice; you know, things like colouring-in books and things like that. Somebody else, her bubble-buddy is somebody on her floor, so she comes in every other day and they have dinner together, or they have wine o’clock. This lady was saying that she’s really distressed by her hair, because she obviously can’t get a haircut. The neighbor decided to come in, bring in scissors and dye and all the kind of stuff you need. She got her hairdresser on FaceTime on the screen and then the hairdresser told her exactly what to do with the woman’s hair, which was really a good idea. Other people are doing lots and lots of baking. They’re providing food; they’re doing shopping for people when they’re in isolation (so they can’t go shopping for themselves). They’re dropping bottles of wine off outside their doors…They’re phoning neighbors much more often, just checking that they’re okay.  I think it’s really nice. One person said “look, I see my neighbors more often; just in the corridors and lobby and stuff, then I would see my own family and this has now become a real second family for me, this apartment building.” So that’s really fantastic, I think. There’s some great stories out there, as well as the bad things.

Jimmy  27:32

Yes, I have to say (you’re probably going to be annoyed at me for saying this), but when you ‘put out the feelers,’ as you said, you went onto the Potts Pointer Facebook page and some tool comes back and says “why is she writing this puff piece, when there’s so much misery?” Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Okay, can I just make a point (just in case anybody knows who this plonker is)?  A ‘puff piece’ is a promotional editorial, okay? So, if you’re going to be abusive, get your abusive terms, right, you idiot! And the other thing I’d like to say is, God help us, for trying to bring some light and a sense of community into this world. Now this guy comes back and goes on about ‘the msm is not telling the whole story,’ and we looked up msm and the first thing that came up on Google was men having sex with men. I don’t think that’s what he meant; I think he was talking about the mainstream media. But really, you know, you’re talking about people doing nice things. This is part of the story, buddy, so pull your head in and if you’re gonna abuse people, get your words, right. Just look up the some of the words you use, because you’re using them wrongly and it makes you even more stupid than you already are.

Sue  28:58

I just wanted to tell you about a couple of other great things, as well.

Jimmy  29:01

We’re back to the happiness!

Sue  29:05

There’s a building  in the inner-west that’s organizing ‘Superhero Sunday’s.’ I think it’s mostly for kids as well, where they dress up, and then they film themselves and then put it on YouTube, so they can all watch each other. They get prizes for the best dress-up as well. There’s another building in which there’s a chef who’s not working at the moment, so she organizes cooking lessons for everybody. They just go on once a week; people go onto Zoom and she does little cooking lessons. Then they can all provide each other with their results and they can put them outside people’s doors and they can all judge and see who’s doing…

Jimmy  29:46

She could do a Masterchef thing; “here’s a cheese muffin from Beryl, in 1503. A bit too cheesy, Beryl!”

Sue  29:58

There’s another guy who imports wine from overseas and he’s been doing wine -appreciation lessons on Zoom as well. It started off in his building, for residents in his building and then he’s doing it for other buildings, as well. It’s going further and further afield. So how do you get

Jimmy  30:13

How do you get everybody to drink the same wine?

Sue  30:16

You provide the wine, so people pay for it. It’s become really quite professional now, so people pay and you deliver (well, you obviously get somebody else to deliver), little packages of wine. Sometimes, he does cheese-tastings with them, as well and if they’re all in one area, he’ll get one restaurant to deliver the same meal to each participant as well. He will talk about which wines you pare with which course of the food. So, that’s kind of a really nice idea as well. I mean, it’s become a business now, but it just started off…

Jimmy  30:48

There’s no harm in that. These things cost money and time and energy.

Sue  30:52

Sure. On the North Shore, we’ve got people who have set up lots of WhatsApp groups for people in their buildings, so they can all communicate. It’s become a bit of an issue, when there’s lots of deliveries happening all the time, because we’re all shopping online now and we’re all getting takeaways brought, delivered to us. Sometimes, things would go missing. So now everybody on the WhatsApp group; when anybody comes in, they see there’s a parcel there, or some food waiting to be picked up by a resident upstairs and they’ll immediately take a photo and put it on WhatsApp, so the person knows that they’ve got the stuff, they’ve got to go pick it up. Somebody else is producing COVID information sheets and signs for people and he’s got somebody else in his building, translating them into Mandarin and then he’s publishing them and then sending them out to all the buildings in his area. This is Chatswood, so you’ve got a high percentage of people from non-English speaking backgrounds.  It’s really nice when people share their resources. There’s one scheme in Cammeray that has erected a ‘positivity tree’ in their complex and people post up poems and drawings on the branches. They leave toys, books and food at the bottom of the tree, for neighbors. And, there’s also (kids beware), a bucket of chalk for kids to draw on the pavement as well, so it’s okay there!

Jimmy  32:22

Careful kids; you’ll be getting evicted, before you know it!

Sue  32:26

I just talked to a few of these people and it was really quite nice, because people can feel really isolated in lockdown; they can feel quite lonely. It’s really nice for them to know that their neighbors in an apartment building (many of whom they’d never, ever spoken to before), have now turned into these people who they count as friends. You know, one guy was saying that he was walking out of his building one day and he saw a woman who’s very proud and independent and never usually talks to him and he said to her “how are you going? Is everything okay?” And she immediately burst into tears and said that she was so lonely and she wasn’t coping. He said it really brought it home to him, how we should all be caring for everybody else in our blocks and work out if people do need an extra hand, especially if they live alone and offer it.

Jimmy  33:13

Right, I hope you’re listening Potts Pointer, idiot-person, because this is the real world, not your fantasy/conspiracy-theory crap, that you allow to occupy your brain. You’re talking about deliveries and things; I wonder if we’ll ever go back to not having quite as many deliveries, because it’s a little buzz, isn’t it? You get a note; you get an email, from the concierge or whatever,  saying ‘there is a delivery for you downstairs.’ “Oh, I wonder what it is?” The funny thing is that we spend so much time ordering online, that it is a little bit of excitement. Was I very drunk when I ordered that new dartboard?

Sue  33:55

But then again; you get that excitement, but then when you get the parcel…

Jimmy  33:58

Oh, it’s always disappointing.

Sue  33:59

It is. It’s often a book that you’ve ordered for a certain project and you kind of think, ‘that’s a shame; I thought it might have been chocolate or flowers.’

Jimmy  34:09

I really stuffed up the other day. You were raving about your Uniqlo face masks and I saw them online; a packet of three of them, for about $19. I mean, how can you possibly go wrong?

Sue  34:19

And you did; you managed to go wrong…

Jimmy  34:21

Because they came in a small size; kiddie size, which is never gonna come close to covering my giant face.

Sue  34:31

And big mouth.

Jimmy  34:32

Certainly not the big mouth. I think on that note, we’ve probably gone as far as we can. Thanks again, Sue. Thanks for the uplifting, positive stories. I think a lot of people would like to do that, but they’re maybe a little bit reticent; anxious… They don’t want to be seen to be intruding on other people.

Sue  34:53

I think it really is worthwhile, being kind at a time like this. I mean, it’s funny; I speak to a lot of people with my work and I phone them up and talk to them and interview them. These days, they’re always saying at the end; they always say “are you okay” and “take care” and that kind of thing. It’s kind of nice and even if you’re in a rush, it’s quite nice to have that. I think it’s lovely. I think a bit of care, even if occasionally, it’s rebuffed. There’s always going to be some people who are a bit strange. There won’t be another opportunity like this, to offer help and make friends with your neighbors.

Jimmy  35:38

Just postpone those renovations, folks!

Sue  35:40

Oh, yes!

Jimmy  35:41

Have a heart, for god’s sake! Thank you again, Sue. And thank you all for listening. Bye. 

[MUSIC]

Jimmy

Thanks for listening to the Flat Chat Wrap podcast. You’ll find links to the stories and other references on our website, flat-chat.com.au And if you haven’t already done so, you can subscribe to this podcast completely free on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your favorite pod catcher. Just search for Flat Chat Wrap with a W, click on subscribe, and you’ll get this podcast every week without even trying. Thanks again. Talk to you again next week.

 

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