FAIR dinkum pain in the C4 when a garage door decides to yo-yo up and down in cold weather, yeah? You’d think they could make a decent one by now, especially in Geelong.
The town’s played a fair role in the Oz automotive industry over the years. We’ve housed Ford and Shell, International Harvester, parts gurus Pilkington and Hendersons, made boats and planes in WWII, run the brilliant Speed Trials at Eastern Beach, hosted a peripatetic transport museum that’s presently in abeyance.
We’re even making Ferrari wheels and next-gen aerospace gear at Carbon Rev. The first bloke to put an Aussie satellite in space was a homegrown brainwave, Owen Mace. Geelong’s even played an historical role in the household garage.
Yep, the humble garage is one of ours, along with the ute, rotary clothesline, fridge and wine cask. Bloke named Arthur Purnell’s to blame. Did architecture at the Gordon, designed a heap of stuff in China, the old Southern Stand at the MCG and the early incarnation of the man-cave, the automotive vehicle’s garage.
As for the modest garage itself, he did small garages with adjoining stables, larger examples, even a thing he called a “romantic garage’’. Not as easy as you’d think, either. Acids emanating from the stables repeatedly tarnished the brass trim of the cars and even threatened to damage the paint, if you get my drift. So you reckon by now someone could get a garage door to stay down when you press a remote. I’m not naming and shaming but I will say it’s not the B&D mob who borrowed the Geelong Footy Club’s ‘We Are Geelong’ for TV advertising purposes. Great lyrics, by the way, feel free to sing along:
“Use the Roll-A-Door, that’s what it’s for, “You’ll get much more with the Roll-A-Door, “A hundred and forty-nine sizes, each is custom-made, “Do not be afraid, “They’re virtually wear-out proof, “And windproof, and waterproof as well, “Dependable as a clock, “The door with the centre-lift lock, “You’ll get much more with Roll-A-Door.”
Of course, it featured one of the best outro waivers in advertising history: “Get a garage first.”
So, yeah, the Cats and garages have done their bit to keep the original tune, The Toreador Song from Bizet’s Carmen, alive for generations with their re-hash of its lyrics, But lately, if we’re completely honest, there’s been some wholesale mangling by the Cats of the melody with their flat, rapid-fire “We are Geelong, boom, boom, boom, boom …”
What’s the world coming to when our role models can’t be trusted to safeguard the integrity of an operatic classic without referencing John Lee Hooker? Happy Hammond and his 1963 grand final accordion must be turning cartwheels in his grave.
Anyway, in the same way the wowser Henry Ford conspired back in 1925 to shut down the Corio Shire Hotel opposite his North Geelong plant, to keep his workers off the grog, things are a bit haywire in the garage universe, too.
No dependable clock in my back yard.
Reminds me of when two US Navy vessels turned up in Hobart back in 1999 and jammed hundreds of local garage doors because their radar frequency was the same as the remotes for the doors.
If I was a bit more paranoid, I might think a Chinese spy ship was hacking not just Aussie hospitals, businesses and governments but my garage too.
Another aspect to Purnell’s oeuvre, as erstwhile Geelong architecture wunderkind Derham Groves tells me, is the psychological and social impact of the garage’s evolution from vehicle shelter/status symbol to ubiquitous man-cave. Kind of explains why the bloke behind me is ticklish about me parking in ‘his’ back lane. His garage isn’t a garage anymore, it’s a man-cave, and he needs to put his car somewhere else.
That’s not my beef, though. I’m dirty about the door buggering up five minutes after the warranty runs out. Just like your phone carks it just as the latest model comes out. And the central heater supposedly can’t be fixed, only replaced, when in fact it can be fixed.
I’m dirty on TVs, remotes, fridges, printers, kettles, air-fryers, washing machines, toasters … every-bloody-thing that comes with hi-tech built-in redundancy. I understand the old thing about the locksmith who designs a lock that burglars can’t crack just putting himself out of work. I get it but, seriously, who’s going to go back a second time to the car salesman who flogs you a lemon?
No wonder the ‘Right to Repair’ movement is getting such traction these days. Backyard ballistics expert Owen Mace’s famed line, “There was no manual”, doesn’t hold water with so many tech manufacturers holding you over a barrel.
They should remember the old adage: When one garage door closes, another opens ….
This article appeared in the Geelong Advertiser 27 July 2021 as ‘Tech not an open and shut case’.