Thursday, August 27, 2009

..always keep a diary

One noted guest amongst the glitterati like tiny singer Leo Sayer, bon vivant & style meister Leo Scholfield and Lord Mayor Clover Moore at last night's re-opening party for the glorious Queen Victoria Building with it's $45M re-vamp was former Town Clerk Leon Carter. Carter, a Scottish baron , was Town Clerk under 11 Lord Mayor's and keeper of the city secrets.

Recently uncovered by builders in the Town Hall ceiling-just across the road from the QVB-was the legendary "shooting gallery", long rumoured to be there but only just re-discovered in a remote corner of that vast building.

The shooting gallery dated back to WW2 and when Sydney was often described as the "Chicago of the South Pacific". No, not because it was windy-mainly because it was run by bent cops in co-ordination with criminal gangs. It was decided it would be prudent that town hall workers be armed and skilled in shooting, hence the shooting gallery.

Carter, who has seen off more Lord Mayor's than memory can handle also has a reputation as a no-nonsense official. One town hall worker who preferred to remain anonymous related how Leon "sensibly kept a pistol and a little black book in his desk drawer. No-one knew which was more dangerous !"

Leon also revealed the history of the word 'camp'-the word once used in Sydney and Melbourne to describe gays (the existence of lesbians as usual, being completely ignored). It began in the former colony's convict days when women were scarce and young lads turned to other activities to make a buck or two. When arrested for prostitution in the city known throughout the South Pacific for it's male bordellos, an offender would have his record stamped by police with the initials KAMP-"known as male prostitute" !. And you thought it was all about wearing hideous feather boas and miming to Babra Streisand songs !