Podcast 100: Upside of a stairlift stand-off


Before and after pics of an external lift installed by liftshop.com.au

Elsewhere in this post

There are two major strands to this week’s podcast.

The first stems from a question raised in the Flat Chat Forum, about an apartment owner who wants to install a stairlift – one of those seats that trundles up a staircase – in a narrow common property stairwell.

It’s for his elderly mother, so you have some sympathy, as you’d have for the other owners who had to squeeze past the rail every day.

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Now the plusses and (many) minuses of this proposal are thrashed out in the Forum but here in the podcast, we have come up with a cunning plan.

Depending on the structure of the block, owners might be able to install a small passenger lift on the outside of the building for between $100k and $150k.  Ouch, I hear you say. $150k?

But get this, the value of EACH apartment that benefitted from the lift might easily go up by about the same amount.

So say you had six apartments (excluding the ground floor units) who each contributed $25k – about the cost of a bathroom renovation – you could raise the value of every upstairs flat by about four times that or more … and make your lives a lot easier.

Of course it would depend on the layout of the block –  the stairwell would need to have one external wall – and by-laws and what not. 

But the point is, it’s do-able and the owner in the Forum story would be able to get him Mum up and down the stairs without any trouble at all.

The other major part of the podcast is a chat with Karen Stiles, the Executive Officer of the Owners Corporation network.

She is working with NSW Minister Victor Dominello to create a register of every strata scheme in NSW, including their major points of contact, whether it be the secretary, chair or strata manager.

It’s one of those ideas that’s both radical and logical – probably the two main reasons why it hasn’t been done before.

There’s all that and more in this week’s Flat Chat Wrap.

The transcript, in full

Jimmy  00:00

This is a momentous occasion.

Sue  00:02


Jimmy 00:03

Believe it or not. This is the 100th podcast.

Sue: 00.07


Jimmy 00:08

We have done 100 of these things.

Sue  00:10

That’s incredible. Congratulations, Jimmy.

Jimmy  00:13

It means we’ve been doing it for almost two years.

Sue 00:15

Wow. It’s gone quickly, hasn’t it?

Jimmy 00:18

It has, and, and the numbers of people listening are slowly growing.

Sue  00:23

Fantastic. Thank you very much listeners.

Jimmy  00:25

Yes, thank you and to help us celebrate her 100th, pass it on to your friends. Get more people listening; that would be very cool. If you enjoy it, your friends will probably enjoy it too. This week, we have an intriguing story about somebody who wants to install a stair lift, where we suspect no stair lift should be installed. And we’ll be talking to Karen Stiles, the executive officer of the Owners Corporation Network. I’m Jimmy Thomson.

Sue 00:56

And I’m Sue Williams.

Jimmy 00:57

And this is the 100th Flat Chat Wrap.


So here’s the scenario that was posed on the forum. Older building, narrow stairs; an apartment on the third floor. The owner, he’s put up a bylaw to give him permission to install a chairlift; a stair lift. They call it stair lift, not a chairlift. That’s what you use in ski resorts. It’s not quite as elaborate as that.

Sue  01:37

So that’s up the fire escape, up the fire stairs?

Jimmy  01:39

No, no, no, no, it’s in the commonly used general staircase thing. I don’t think there are fire stairs.

Sue  01:47

Oh, okay. Well, there wouldn’t be I suppose, would there. There’s just one, one staircase. There’s only fire stairs if you’ve got a lift.

Jimmy  01:53

So he’s got a situation where there’s 16 apartments, or 18, 12 in one block, and six in his block, but it’s all the same strata plan. And he’s worried that the 12 people in the other block won’t really care about what’s happening in his part of the building and the whole thing will go through an electronic voting, all that stuff. And he was wondering how he could prevent this stairlift being installed.

Sue 02:25

So he doesn’t want it installed?

Jimmy 02:26

He doesn’t want it installed.

Sue 02:27

Oh okay,  I thought he was the one who wanted it.

Jimmy 02:29

No, no, no, he doesn’t want it installed and you have to think, it feels like, I’m sure he’s thinking he feels a bit mean-spirited. Because it’s, the guy wants to install it for his mother.

Sue 02:40

And he wants to pay for it as well?

Jimmy 02:42

Yes, he’s gonna pay for it and get the bylaws and all that stuff. The mother doesn’t  live there. So it’s not like it’s a disability access thing.

Sue 02:52

So it’s just that she’d be able to visit him?

Jimmy  02:53


Sue  02:54

Okay. And the thing is, it would take up a bit of room, wouldn’t it, so are the stairs wide enough?

Jimmy  03:00

well, I don’t know. Because there’s a lot of not-detail coming through from this person.

Sue  03:06

I guess you’d probably have to talk to the local council and to the fire brigade, to see if that will be permissible, I suppose.

Jimmy  03:13

Yes, at the very least, they’d have to get… and the guy who’s applied has said, ‘subject to council approvals, etc, etc.’ I’ve done a bit of research and, you know how in buildings-older buildings- you don’t have to bring them up to code unless you’re changing stuff? So, like you could have a balcony with a balustrade that is too low by current standards, but if you were fixing anything on the balcony, you’d have to bring the balustrade up to get council approval. So, the Australian standard width for a staircase, an internal staircase in an apartment block, is 600 meters, 600 millimeters, 60 centimeters.

Sue 03:53

Oh, okay.

Jimmy 03:54

Right? A standard popular brand of stairlift is about 250. When it’s all folded up, the chair itself;  It takes up about 30 centimeters in width, with the rail.

Sue  04:12

That’s a big proportion.

Jimmy 04:12

It’s a big chunk and we don’t even know how wide the staircase is. It couldn’t, it might not even be up to Australian standards. But it sounds like it’s going to be below Australian standards. And I think the guy has absolute Buckley’s chance of getting this approved, if he goes through the correct channels.

Sue  04:33

Okay, so you’ve got a cunning plan. What’s that?

Jimmy  04:35

I do and it relates to a story that you did a few weeks ago about the apartment block in Bondi that sold space, built a couple of apartments, sold them and financed an upgrade of the whole building.

Sue 04:50

Oh, .

Jimmy 04:51

So you can get an external lift on an old building. If you’ve got a stairwell that has an external wall as part of it, then you can put a lift on the outside of the building, and cut through to the stairwell. And so everybody gets…

Sue  05:08

Oh, that’s an interesting idea.

Jimmy  05:10

Right? Then how do they pay for it? It’s a big expense. I’m, I’m going to try and find out. And by the time people listen to this, I should have it in the show notes, how much it would cost, I can’t see them doing it for any less than $100,000.

Sue  05:26

But you’re saying maybe finance that through…

Jimmy  05:31

Build a new floor.

Sue 05:32

On the top?

Jimmy 05:33

On the top.

Sue 05:34

Ah, subject to council zoning regulations and things?

Jimmy 05:35

. Things like that. But  this building was built 50 years ago, so it’s probably well underneath. So you build a couple of apartments on the top floor, which can now be accessed by this fabulous new external lift. And everybody, everybody’s happy, everybody… Mum can come and visit and everybody has access to the lift. It doesn’t cost the strata scheme anything and in fact, they get a bit of money to upgrade other things in the building.

Sue 06:07

And the value of the building would improve.

Jimmy 06:08

Oh, totally. Every apartment would be worth more because they would now have lift access.

Sue 06:15

, because one of my friends wants to buy an apartment and she was looking at one that she really liked but it was on the fifth floor, and it was only stairs. And she was really worried that it would affect the resale value of the building; of her apartment if she bought it, because maybe,  it cuts out a big percentage of the demographic who are buying apartments.

Jimmy 06:33

Oh, presumably she would get it cheaper too, for the same reason. So that’s the trade off. But I think in that kind of building, if there was an opportunity, the technology for lifts now,  you don’t have to have a big lift tower, or anything like that. They’re  quite self-contained. And , and there are companies out there that install lifts in people’s houses,  you can get a little lift inside your house. If you know if you’ve got a house that people are getting old, but they don’t want to leave the house. But they’re having trouble getting up and down the stairs, stick a lift in it.

Sue  07:10

. Now that sounds a good plan. Jimmy, I’ll look forward to reading the show notes to find out how much it costs

Jimmy  07:17

Indeed, indeed. So . But it’s, it’s nice to be able to come up with a solution for a problem, rather than just saying, ‘yes, you can do that,’ or ‘no, you can’t,’ coming up with something with a little bit of lateral thinking, and makes everybody happy.

Sue  07:32

, maybe we should get on the woman who specializes in retrospectively fitting older apartments; old apartment buildings and finding spaces and adding bits on top. Maybe we should get her in one day to join the podcast and have a chat to her?

Jimmy  07:46

That’s your homework for this week.

Sue 07:48

Okay, alright.

Jimmy 07:49

You get in touch with her, and then we’ll get her on here. The person we have to talk to this week is Karen Stiles, the executive officer of OCN, the Owners Corporation Network, and we’re going to talk to her after this.


Once again, we’re back on zoom with our guest speaker, Karen Stiles, the executive officer of the Owners Corporation Network and she’s got a couple of things she’s going to tell us about. As usual, the sound quality will be a bit different, but it’s all pretty clear and audible. Hello, Karen.

Karen  08:33

Hi, Jimmy and Sue.

Sue 08:35

Hi, Karen. Nice to talk to you again.

Karen  08:37

Always a pleasure.

Jimmy  08:39

So you’ve been negotiating with Mr. Dominello, I believe. What’s all that about?

Karen  08:46

It’s really exciting. I’ve had a long held dream of an ASIC-style register with two contacts at,  updated annually, so that regulators could be in touch with them. And I put that concept to Minister Dominello in February 2018. That it was really sorely needed…

Sue  09:10

So sorry,  to go back to… So to be in touch with whom? Are we talking about registered developers, or are we talking about a register of strata plans, or?

Karen  09:21

A register of strata plans with two committee contacts updated annually.

Sue  09:27

Oh right, I see.

Karen  09:28

So that regulators could communicate directly with schemes.

Jimmy  09:33

Right. And when you say regulators; so we’re talking about a registry of strata schemes, as you say, we’d have the presumably the chair and the secretary and they’d be required to keep that up to date. Would it also have the strata manager?

Karen  09:51

Well, so, being the self-confessed data nerd that Minister Dominello is, he leapt on it. In fact, he couldn’t believe that that information wasn’t already available. It was, but it was buried in, within land registry services and not easily available. And of course being the year following the Grenfell flammable cladding tragedy, the government at that time was desperately trying to identify high- risk buildings here in New South Wales, and had no way of knowing or contacting them. So, , I know, it’s incredible. So what started as a simple register, in our minds, grew under his leadership to capture much more information, with more hopefully to be added over time. And to answer your question, Jimmy, yes. So, the basic functionality, which we hope to see commence in the middle of 2021 will have a strata manager, if relevant, building management company, if relevant, core details like number of habitable lots,  being apartments. And basic information like that, that will give a good starting point to then add more.

Jimmy  11:16

Because when I spoke to Victor Dominello-Minister Dominello- around about the same time, it would be, he was, he was thinking of adding, he told me, he wanted to have (obviously been inspired by you)… He wanted to have a register of every building, how many lifts it had, whether or not it had a swimming pool, how many parking spaces it had. as you quite rightly said, he is a self -confessed data nerd. And, and, and he just loved the idea of being able to go,  kind of go like how many apartment swimming pools are there in this area, that kind of thing.

Karen  12:01

There’s that. And there was also in his mind the opportunity to assist house hunters and renters on their Saturday morning searches, so that they could see what facilities were there, if you’ve got somebody who’s disabled, they know there’s a lift, and that’s never advertised in,  rental notices and things like that.

Sue  12:22

So would this information, go out to anyone,  to access; so  I could think, ‘oh, I wonder what’s what’s what’s going on at Horizon,’ or something or another big building and I could look and I could see the name of the chairperson, and the secretary and their phone numbers, and the strata manager, so it will be open to anybody?

Karen  12:39

There will be information that is available to regulators only, and that’s all levels of government, local council are desperate to speak to their constituents. And then there will be things like the lifts and the pools, if that gets added on in time, that would be publicly available. They won’t have personal details; you’ve got privacy issues around that, Sue

Jimmy  13:04

Hmm. But ASIC the company’s registry, it tells you the name of the company owners. I don’t know if it has their addresses. I really can’t see the problem with, like,  I can  see the problem with, now that I think about it… It’s a huge problem with the chairs and secretaries of some strata schemes, who don’t even want the residents in their own building to know who they are. So I can see that being an issue for some people who have this idea that they should stand for public office, but not let anybody know who they are. And strata is full of those kind of people, so I can see why strata schemes wouldn’t want that. But regulators… I’m sure local councils as you said, but I’m sure also strata managers would love to be able to get hold of that information.

Karen  14:07

Yes, we’re still working through the details of the portal and what’s available to whom.  then there also need to be protections from their point of view, as to perhaps other competitors, seeing what buildings they manage. So I think there’s a lot of care that needs to go into exactly what’s made available to whom.

Jimmy  14:32

, but I do know, I occasionally get posts to the Flat Chat website, saying, ‘we’ve got a problem with the building next door to our building.’ It could be  somebody has set up their balcony as a rock venue. And, more realistically, it’s somebody who’s constantly having noisy parties and the people in the rest of the building either don’t care or they’ve given up doing anything about it, or there is some leak from one building that is affecting the common property of the other building. The point I’m getting to is that the building, the affected building, is saying ‘how do we find out the name of the strata manager and the chairperson, or the secretary?’ And you say, ‘well, every strata scheme has to have a letter box for the strata secretary.’ And they say, ‘, and it’s stuffed full of pizza vouchers and stuff like that.’ And it’s obviously never emptied. The point being, that there are buildings that are not well run, and the chair and the secretary might not even live there, because they’re investors. And as long as the place doesn’t catch fire or fall down, and they get the rent reasonably regularly, they don’t give a  stuff.

Karen  15:51

Well, you can’t legislate against idiots. You just do the best you can. And the more light I think we can shine on the strata sector, the healthier it will be.

Sue 16:01

, I think it’s great.

Karen  16:02

even, , well, when you think about it, the strata sector supports upward of $3 billion worth of economic benefit, and people don’t think about that. But the government needs to start thinking about that, and taking it with  due seriousness. even the building commissioner has recognized that this portal can be a really valuable source of information, and he’s been adding his wish list to it as well.

Jimmy  16:34

, it just amazes me that  there is all this information that’s needed and is useful and is helpful to the people who live in strata, not just to the government and nobody, there’s no central point for it. And it also makes me concerned about the much vaunted short-term letting registry that’s supposed to start in June. And I’m writing well, by the time people hear this, I will have written in the Finn Review about how the short term letting  the ‘party animals legislation.’ The Code of Conduct  has no real bearing at all, that people will be put on a registry that doesn’t exist and won’t exist until June the 1st.

Sue  17:25

, it will be interesting, if there are any big announcements coming out from government. The government, in future, would be able to maybe email their announcements over to the chairpeople and secretaries of every strata building in New South Wales, which will be kind of helpful, wouldn’t it, really?  You wouldn’t have to rely on a strata manager to convey that information, or for buildings that don’t have a strata manager, it would let them know.

Karen  17:48

That’s right. And we still don’t know what percentage don’t have strata managers. I think we’re about to find out.

Jimmy  17:54

. , absolutely. when we started writing about strata, everybody said it was about 50%. And that may still be true of the number of schemes. But I certainly don’t think it’s true of the number of apartments.

Sue  18:07

No, because it’s mostly two apartment schemes that don’t have them, isn’t it? Or, four apartment schemes.

Jimmy  18:11

, they’re small; two/ three-storey walk ups. Right. So you’ve been talking to the Minister about data. So what else has been going on?

Karen  18:22

Gosh, we’ve been so busy with the new branding, and the website. It  has been a blessing in terms of giving me an opportunity to really look back at what OCN has achieved over the years. Just to make sure that we capture that for posterity, and of course, we’re coming up to our 20th anniversary.

Jimmy 18:43


Karen  18:46

I know, isn’t it amazing? Sue we’ll be in touch!

Sue  18:50

. Sounds great!


Karen 18:53

Well, aiming for anyway!

Jimmy  18:56

For those of you who don’t know this, Sue Williams, sitting opposite me, was one of the founders of the OCN. Way back, apparently, 20 years ago.

Sue 19:08

A few years ago now!

Karen  19:10

Yes, and Jimmy, you’ve been a staunch supporter all the way through, emceeing events, and  helping us with seminars and content and promoting things. We couldn’t have done it without either of you.

Jimmy  19:23

Oh, that’s very kind. the thing is, Sue bullied me into supporting it and I’m just terrified not to!

Karen  19:33

Hold on, Sue! So I thought about,  some of the things that we’ve worked on that nobody else would take on, on behalf of strata owners, and one of them was terrorism cover.

Jimmy 19:48

Oh, right!

Karen 19:49

, we had  911, all that time ago and the government brought in a reinsurance pool to protect commercial buildings, because they were concerned about economic loss, should there be a terrorism event. But of course, the Sydney CBD in particular, and perhaps Melbourne, (I’m not so familiar), has been reinventing itself for many commercial buildings, are now residential apartments. , they weren’t covered.

Sue  20:21

And especially those buildings that have got faulty cladding;  you’d kind of think they would be even more nervous really, just in case.

Karen  20:30


Jimmy 20:31

There we go.

Sue 20:31

I shouldn’t have even mentioned that, but there you go.

Jimmy  20:35

One thing that just occurred to me, and I’m sure a lot of people aren’t aware of this…  how we all have to have compulsory insurance for our buildings and basically it is, if  in a disaster or an extreme event, you should be covered for the complete replacement of the building? Yes, they will replace the building; not necessarily where it’s standing at the moment.

Sue  21:00

Oops! Really?

Jimmy 21:01

. I think it’s a close… It’s an interpretation of the standard insurance policy, is that they,  you say you’ve got the 100 apartments of,  certain sizes and that’s what you’ve insured. And the insurance company. look, it hasn’t happened here, yet. But the insurance company, I mean it’s come pretty close to it in Mascot Tower. But the insurance company can say, ‘yep, we will give you the money…

Sue  21:30

We’ll build your building, in Broken Hill.

Jimmy  21:34

, Well, maybe not quite as far away,

Sue  21:36

You’ve probably given them that idea now.

Jimmy  21:38

Well, they, well… First of all, you’ve got to have a building that falls down completely. But  the idea is yes, we will build, we will give you the money to rebuild a similar building of a similar size with a similar number of apartments, but not necessarily in the place that your rubble is now standing in a heap. Anyway, that’s a bit of an aside. Um, what else have you got, Karen?

Karen  22:02

Oh, well, so the good news with the terrorism insurance is it came in in 2017, that residential and mixed use apartments are covered. So I think that’s a terrific win for owners; they can sleep  peacefully at night.

Um, the portal; we’re really working hard with the minister’s team to make that something that not only where government agencies can communicate directly. For example, when the new laws in 2015 required us to consolidate our bylaws, they could have told every single scheme that at the time, but to also be able to identify and analyze trends, and hopefully better support the strata owners as a result of that, because they really have no insight into this,  magical beast called strata.

Jimmy  23:00

And since we last spoke, of course, we’ve had the Court of Appeal ruling on pets. So where are you getting a lot of people frantically, asking you for a pet bylaw that means they don’t  have to have pets in the building, or is everybody just surrendered to the new ruling?

Karen  23:20

We’re not getting requests for actual bylaws, because we haven’t done a lot of those ourselves as OCN. But certainly, there’s a lot of angst out there on both sides. And we’ve taken the position that it’s a critical issue, along with many others that really needs to be broadly canvassed in the strata law review that’s coming up, hopefully at the end of this month, so that all stakeholders get a say, and that we  drive good public policy, rather than having knee-jerk reactions. Because it’s easy to say this is about pets, and specifically it is, but there are broader implications. Like for example, we’ve got currently, got model bylaws that ban smoke drift. Is that up for grabs now? Do people have to defend that? It’s hard to know. So we don’t want to be doing anything rash. We want to be thinking about it and getting the best outcome for everyone that we can.

Jimmy  24:25

Right. And then when you have your pet bylaws, you’ll be able to put that on the new, the new portal, that these buildings have very lax pet bylaws. I’m joking, of course! So what events have you got coming up for OCN, Karen?

Karen  24:42

Ah, yes. Well, on the second of December, we’ve got a fabulous seminar on electric vehicle charging that is aimed to change the way we think about that. It’s not as difficult as it looks, and it’s not about if, it’s when, EV charging will be coming to a building near you,

Jimmy  25:04

Right, and this is a webinar, ? It’s an online thing. It’s on, is it on zoom or something else?

Karen  25:12

It’s on zoom. And it’s gonna have a couple of real life case studies of buildings that have been working on this for a year or two. So it should be really good for people to understand the fundamentals and think ‘I can do that; we can do that in our building.’

Jimmy  25:29

Terrific. That’s just what we need.

Sue  25:31

And they’ll, they’ll have details of that on your website ocn.org.au

Karen 25:35

Yes Sue, we will. We do and registration, and it’s free.

Jimmy  25:40

I mentioned I did a piece about EV in the Finn Review, in my Finn Review column the other week, and I mentioned that Hummer, they’re bringing out…  GMC are bringing out an electric Hummer, which goes from nothing; from zero to 100 kph in three seconds.

Sue  26:01

Oh, that’ll be handy in an apartment carpark!

Jimmy  26:07

It’s not the biggest car in the carpark, by the way, the Hummer; the Ford Ranger  takes up more room than a Hummer.

Sue 26:14


Jimmy 26:15

, yep. But  see who’s the data nerd now, hey? When they put in the pre-orders; it won’t come out until 2022 in America, but when they put the pre-orders in last week, they sold out in 10 minutes.

Sue  26:31

Oh, how much are they?

Jimmy  26:33

A lot. I think they’re about 180,000,  Australian.

Sue 26:39

Okay, I don’t think I’ll be getting one.

Jimmy 26:41

, you could buy a small apartment in Broken Hill for that.

Sue  26:45

We could buy a very big apartment in Broken Hill.

Jimmy  26:47

, , you could. . Karen, thank you so much for catching up with us again. It’s always good to talk.

Karen  26:53

Yep, lovely to speak with you, Jimmy and Sue.

Sue 27:00

Yep. Good to talk again.

Jimmy 27:01

All right. Talk soon. Thanks.

Sue 27:03

Bye, Karen.

Karen 27:05


Jimmy  27:07

Wow, a register of strata schemes.

Sue 27:12

Hmm, pretty cool.

Jimmy 27:13

I remember talking to Victor Dominello about this, as I said, when we’d chat with Karen. And I think he was talking about being able to know how many apartment blocks there were in a certain area, how many swimming pools, how many lifts they had, how many apartments they had, obviously, how many people lived in them. he is a real kind of data geek. And I think he was really excited at the idea of being able to collate all that information. But it is important,  to know where services are required and, and things like,  should they have a branch of Fair Trading offices in an area where there’s a lot of people, although I don’t think considering that most of the people in Sydney live in, well, it used to be right in the middle of Sydney, and they moved the Fair Trading offices out to Parramatta. But there’s a lot of people live out there as well.

Sue 28:08


Jimmy 28:10

And the Hills is a big district as well. In fact that they say it’s going to be more densely populated even then the city center.

Sue  28:16

Really, cuz I think the most densely populated area at the moment, of apartments is Pyrmont.

Jimmy 28:21

Yes, absolutely.

Sue  28:22

And then Green Square will be coming up.

Jimmy 28:24


Sue 28:25

And then areas of the Eastern Suburbs, maybe like Potts Point, or Elizabeth Bay,

Jimmy  28:30

But in the Hills, they’re putting up I think, probably low to medium rise buildings, but a lot of them, because they’ve got a lot of space out there.

Sue 28:39

, sure.

Jimmy 28:40

So ,  the whole geography and demography of Sydney is changing and I guess that’s one of the reasons Minister Dominello wants to get some facts and figures together. So that’s interesting and the other thing Karen’s talking about is they’ve got a seminar coming up about electric vehicles. And that’s, that is going to be; it should be a big thing, although I’m reading that Renault have pulled out their little electric car. They’re not selling it in Australia anymore, because they say the Australian Government is so unhelpful when it comes to things like that.

Sue 29:16

Shameful, isn’t it, really?

Jimmy 29:18

. So, but if you want a little electric Renault thing…

Sue  29:21

Are they going cheap, now?

Jimmy  29:23

They are! I think they were $49,000 they’re now selling for $39,000 for a little two-door car.

Sue  29:28

Tres bien!

Jimmy  29:31

. Okay, when we come back, we’ll have our Hey Martha’s for this week. And we’re back. Sue, what is your Hey Martha  for this week?

Sue  29:47

Well, I guess it’s a bit self indulgent.

Jimmy  29:50

Okay. We’ve never been accused of that before.

Sue  29:53

I’ve just come back from a cocktail party and I was just talking to a woman who I didn’t know and we were chatting, and she was very, very nice. And she said to me, ‘what do you do?’ And I said, ‘I’m a writer’ and, and then we were talking further and I said, ‘I have to leave in a minute because I have to do a podcast.’ And she said, ‘oh, what’s your podcast about?’ I said, ‘it’s about apartments; apartment living.’ And she said, ‘oh, apartment living is so interesting. Do you know there was a book out about 15 years ago, called Apartment Living,’ and she said, ‘and there was such great advice in there, I followed it to the letter.’ And I said, ‘really?’ And she said, ‘Yes, part of the advice was go and live in the street; go and rent in the street, where you’re thinking of living…

Jimmy 30:38

Buying, .

Sue 30:39

Go and rent an apartment there,  if you’ve never lived in an apartment before, to see if you like it beforehand.’ And she said, ‘I did that I rented an apartment for six months. I loved it. And then I bought the apartment opposite. So I did exactly, and I followed the line of all that advice.’ And then later on, she said, ‘what’s your name,’ and I said, ‘it’s Sue Williams’. She said, ‘oh, are you with Jimmy Thomson?’ I said, ‘yes,’ and she said, ‘oh, it was your book!’ So it was kind of funny. It was quite gratifying, really.  And she was saying, ‘when are you going to bring out the next one about apartment living?’ I said, ‘I’ll ask Jimmy about that one.’

Jimmy  31:17

Well, everybody, as we pitched this to a publisher recently, and the response was, ‘people get all their information off the internet.’

Sue  31:24

Hmm and podcasts.

Jimmy  31:25

And podcasts. It’s, uh, but I still say… , I looked at the text for the book, thinking I would update it recently. I looked at it; it’s so angry, that  book. We were so angry when we wrote that book, because we, this whole thing, we’d come through…

Sue 31:43

We’d been through hell.

Jimmy 31:45

Terrible situation. But  it just jumped off the page. I thought, ‘, well, if I was doing it, I would probably tone it down a bit.’ But I think it was, if I was doing it, I would do it via the internet,  do via the website. So, break the chapters down into,  how to rent, how to buy, that kind of thing.

Sue 32:01


Jimmy 32:03

And, and I don’t know, if we’d give it for free, or just sell it for very small amounts of money. We’d have to think about that. Talk to our accountant, see what he says.

Sue  32:14

And what’s your Hey Martha this week, Jimmy?

Jimmy  32:16

Well I’m just,  we’re in the post-American election phase and hopefully, by the time people hear this, President Trump will realize that on January 20th he’s not going to be president anymore. But it’s finding out people that you know are Trump supporters, and not just Trump supporters, they  believe all the crap about the election being stolen.  I know lots of people who, I disagree with their politics. I could never tolerate spending time with a racist, or,  anybody like that; anybody with the ugly side of politics. But when you find out people that,  and you quite like, buy into all these stupid theories…  these crazy conspiracy theories that somehow the Democrats managed to rig the election so that they could get rid of Trump, but weren’t smart enough to rig the election so they could take over the Senate. And also lost seats in the House. just basic stuff like that. And then Homeland Security comes out and says ‘it was the most secure election ever in the history of America.’ And people going, ‘, well, that’s all part of the deep state.’ And you go, ‘geez,’ and I don’t want to, I don’t even want to be in the same room as people like that.

Sue  33:35

Or on the same Facebook page.

Jimmy 33:37

Yes. .

Sue  33:38

I’ve had the same experience. A couple of people I know quite well, on Facebook. They’re kind of espousing this kind of rubbish too and I just think ah, I think I might unfriend them. Is that too narrow -minded?

Jimmy  33:52

No, I think that’s  what the unfriend thing is there for.  It’s the only way they’ll learn. I remember my sister had…I used to get messages from my sister on Facebook and then this woman in her little social group in Scotland started spouting all this nonsense about Trump and what a great person he was and, and how all the bad things that were said about him were fake news and lies and I said to my sister, ‘I’m sorry, I can’t have you; your Facebook links on my page anymore because, because of that woman.’

Sue 34:29

And how did that go down?

Jimmy 34:31

She unfriended the woman.

Sue 34:33

Oh did she? That was lucky!

Jimmy 34:34

But  for her; that was a big deal, because she, this woman was,  it’s a little town in the northeast of Scotland, so people kind of know each other. It’s not just Facebook friends, they are   people you meet in the street. So you unfriend somebody there, it’s the talk of the town.

Sue  34:52

But do they always know that you’ve unfriended them? Maybe they just…

Jimmy  34:55

I don’t know. I don’t know enough about it. I just know that you stop getting these crazy, stupid messages. I also can’t abide the little homilies and inspirational thoughts. I get uninspired by them.

Sue  35:11

You’ve always been like that, I guess.

Jimmy  35:13

I have been accused of being cynical. Okay.

Sue 35:16

Great, Jimmy. Nice to chat to you and to you.

Jimmy 35:17

And to you and I hope you enjoyed your cocktail party.

Sue  35:20

It was very nice. Thank you.

Jimmy  35:22

And you met a fan. You met somebody whose life you changed. How cool is that?

Sue  35:27

, that was amazing. And the other person I met said she’d just read my new book, Healing Lives.

Jimmy 35:33

Oh, ?

Sue 35:35

And she’d loved it and she’s now lending it to 10 of her friends. Which as a writer, you hate. You don’t want people to lend your book;  you want them to tell them to buy it.

Jimmy  35:45

Don’t lend your books. Don’t lend your books if they’ve been written by us. You never get them back. No, it’s a bad thing. Tell them, point them in the direction of a bookshop or Amazon or whatever. And that way you can, especially in the case of Healing Lives, you can help the charity.

Sue  36:03

, exactly.

Jimmy  36:05

So stop depriving the charity of money and buy, tell your friends to buy the bloody book, but I think that’s probably enough on that topic.

Sue 36:12

, absolutely.

Jimmy 36:13

Um, thank you very much for coming- forcing yourself to leave the adulation of your cocktail party-and we’ll talk again soon.

Sue 36:22


Jimmy 36:23

And thanks to you all for listening. Bye.

Sue  36:25


Jimmy  36:27

Thanks for listening to the flat chat wrap podcast. You’ll find links to the stories and other references on our website, flat hyphen 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 podcatcher. 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.

One Reply to “Podcast 100: Upside of a stairlift stand-off”

  1. Jimmy-T says:

    If you want to start a discussion or ask a question about this, log into the Flat Chat Forum (using the link above). More people will read it there and you can more easily keep track of responses.

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