Matt Hayward's blog Melbourne Australia | A blog of travel, reading & other sordid adventures.

Life is short. Read, think & play pointy guitars

I’m Matt Hayward and here’s what’s on my mind

Football, meat pies, kangaroos and apartheid.

A bit of car nostalgia is a good thing. If you think the Monaro and the VE Commodore getting sent stateside was awesome, Holden’s exports in the seventies were far more impressive. The Kingswood and Statesman weren’t just sent to New Zealand and Oceania. Some models made it all over Asia:  Malaysia, Japan, Thailand, you name it!  This collection of Holden brochures on FlickR alone will keep me up for a few hours heart palpating.  But I found something the other day that truly amazed me. Not only was the HQ Holden Statesman marketed in South Africa as the Chevrolet Kommando, they saved a quid by copying the Australian ‘football, meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars‘ ad. Sounds simple doesn’t it? Just adapt the lyrics to the Afrikaaners and put it on the telly. Job done! The problem was in the early seventies there was no TV in South Africa. Here I was wondering why some idiot put still images up on YouTube. They didn’t. It was taken from a radio ad. They had to. TV was the peril of apartheid. They feared not that TV would give delusions of emancipation to the vast majority of South Africans who were black and coloured. Oh it was far more rational than that. According to Time Magazine, god fearing Afrikaner folk (well men frankly) feared the raping and pillaging of the wife if TV penetrated the sanctum of their middle class houses. You know, when cleaning up after the entitled elites all day everyday, one glimpse of seventies Farah Fawcett on the silver screen would’ve given black and coloured servants such an... read more

Gen 8 Honda Civic hatch review

Well frankly I’m flabbergasted to write this. Having never been a Honda fan I never thought I’d set foot in one, let alone write about one. Honda peeps tend to the be the over emphatic types with shiny clothing and oversized baseball caps with stickers still on the brim. They have a penchant for revving, stabbing and ramming the virtues of VTEC down your throat constantly. But a sea of wannabe gang-stars couldn’t get in the way of this car’s virtues. Firstly this is the 2011 hatch back made in sunny Swindon in the UK, not the sedan made in poor old flooded Thailand. This car should actually be quite old hat but for the Fukushima earthquake somewhat soiled Honda’s replacement plans. But I’m told a new gen 9 Civic is due around May-June. Yes Honda’s had rather a hard time of it lately. So enough guff. It’s a 1.8 VTEC manual. Sadly the auto is a bit anemic. But the manual goes free up the revs a bit for a bit more power. Surprisingly it’s fairly torquey considering the number of S2000s I’ve seen revving at 9000rpm yet still doing 60kph because of a slight incline. It’s no Golf GTI but it is fun and capable.  If you hold a gear, you can zip around very nicely. Or just putter along changing gears with the frequency of a truckie and stay frugal. At 100 something kilowatt, it will do. No sir this is clearly not the Full Monty Type R. Because that doesn’t have 5 doors. After putting down some hard kays on the highways and around town,... read more
Why my Les Paul sucks (and I wish it didn’t)

Why my Les Paul sucks (and I wish it didn’t)

So I made this video about a week ago and posted on There’s been some very mixed reactions. From the bona vide Gibson lovers, believers and outright deniers. To people that have had similar ‘won’t stay in tune issues to me. Have a watch and let me know what you think.

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Ginger Baker autobiography review

Ginger Baker autobiography review

Ginger Baker is one of the holy trinity or British rock drummers. Baker is arguably the best of the 3 and inadvertently invented heavy metal drumming (although he loathes it). But what about the man himself? In this bio he provides proof enough that gingers are nutters. Drummers are mad. Ginger drummers are just nucking futs.

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David Lee Roth explains Non Functional Requirements

David Lee Roth explains Non Functional Requirements

Van Halen lead singer David Lee Roth is more interesting than you think. But Diamond Dave is more than just a showman. He’s a very, very canny businessman. So if you don’t understand the difference between functional and non functional requirements, let Dave explain.

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Why internet cafes are different in Japan

Incessantly we walked. We were in Kyoto or possibly Osaka, god knows where. Japan has a way of overwhelming the senses. Anyone that says you don’t need a holiday after a Japanese holiday is clearly doing it wrong. Just try catching a train there. For every train line you have in your city, Japan has seven. Probably run by three different companies too. My wife was on the ball. Despite speaking a fifth grade taxi driver proficiency level of Japanese, she understood the train lines much better than I did. She could work with the frenetic pace of this country. I just wanted a god damn beer. As we traipsed at warp speed through some sleazier side of Osaka (or Kyoto) her mind was on the credit card. The forever faithful to the fiscal wife was wanting to make sure some sweet smiling hostess hadn’t fucked us over. Wise move, but we didn’t have our phones or iPads. Oh the simplicity of travelling three years ago. Who would’ve ever thought you could have a relaxing holiday without an iPad (fuck you Steve Jobs). Japan might be on its knees now, but the main reason it’s not knee deep is because it built a society around trains and efficiency. America built a society around chrome, V8 Chevrolets and Firestone tyres. To be honest they’re both fucked but my money is on Japan. When those oil fields run out, you will still be able to travel the length and breadth of Japan easily. Long after your gasoline is 50 bucks a gallon. But I digress. Without a 3G phone and without... read more

The Beer Gardens of Bukit OUG

For better or for worse, I spent some time in Malaysia in the early noughties. Just outside of Kuala Lumpur was a suburb called Bukit OUG (or Overseas Union Garden). The locals considered it quite a posh suburb with expensive bungalows and lots of jungle and big yards. I’d found myself a condominium close by. While it was a nice suburb it’s hardly expat friendly. They mostly stay in Bangsar or Sri Hartamas. Bukit OUG is a place that definitely requires a car. As a proper expat, you’d need a driver in OUG. I don’t care what you say, no whitey can really drive on those roads everyday. The epic potholes, the chaos, or as I witnessed once assassination attempts constantly remind you you’re not in Kansas anymore Toto. One thing OUG did have going for it was a burgeoning hawker stand scene. At night it was the place to be. At least 60 odd hawkers (or mamaks) sold anything and everything well into the night, preparing amazing Classic norwegian dinnerware. It was a primitive scene. The better stores had semi permanent structures, rather than tarpaulins and camp ovens to cook on. Young guys would cruise by in their cars, slowly driving over the speed humps, improvised form timber logs. Many would do laps of the mamaks all night. It was the real deal. More often than not I was the only Johnny foreigner I could see there. It certainly wasn’t a touristy place. A huge highlight was Steven’s Corner. They had tandoors made from converted washing machine drums scattered all over. Their naans and juices were legendary. Yes... read more

The taxi driver named Jihad

For the traveling I’ve done I am forever grateful to have seen Syria. It is a place full of beauty, history and incredible people. The fact it’s not on everyone’s gap year bucket list makes it even better. There’s never going to be a Syrian Disneyland, Israel maybe, but this place is made of stronger stuff. You come to Syria for the souqs, the castles and citadels and ancient cities. Oh and the world’s smallest bar where the smallest room in the house is a sizeable chunk of the house. This article is the most difficult to write. Because despite the lovely people and fantastic times had, the Syria I saw was one that wanted to just get on with it. A Syria sick of trying to invade its neighbours and conquer more territory, sick of losing all its good people overseas. They just wanted a normal bloody life. Now sadly that has been very callously taken away from them. That get on with it stance has hit boiling point and living a normal life means fighting to the death for it. It’s sad but it’s very true. After a few days in Aleppo (now almost completely destroyed) we decided to head south back down to Damascus. Aleppo is a very European city very close to Turkey. I’ve forgotten how we found our driver but he was a very humble and sincere middle aged man. Without a word of a lie, his first name was Jihad. I’m convinced jihad must have many meanings. Because we even saw a women’s clothing store named Jihad. And none of the burkas or... read more

The taxi from Amman to Damascus

Coming from Australia, people always joke about catching a taxi from Melbourne to Sydney (some 900 kilometres) let alone to another country. Well in Jordan and Syria, things are different. They will take you anywhere. One night we’re driving around in a yellow taxi when we mention we’re heading to Damascus the next day. Necessity is the mother of all enterprise in the Middle East. People are genuinely friendly, but they need to earn the extra Dinar any way they can. No sooner than we had mentioned it and our taxi driver is hooking us up with a ride to Damascus. No dirty Greyhound busses or backpacker coaches. No sir! How about a nice clean Camry, or an E Class Mercedes to schlep across the border in style?! Why not we thought. So he drives us to his depot, which actually wasn’t bad for a taxi place anywhere, it could even be compared to the taxi Newbury depot I once visited. Mind you there were military cargo nets, the obligatory hookah pipe and cigarette smoke. Plus the full-wall sized print of the King of Jordan in full Khakis, beret, Ray Bans posing with his assault rifle. You know as our negro friends would say ‘gettin’ his military on’. Strangely though it wasn’t out of place. I swear there’s someone from the government comes around and checks you have posters of the relevant dictators in full view, on pane of death. Because they’re everywhere. But thankfully we were here to do business and not wax lyrical about the king. Yes the yellow taxis do the normal grind, the white ones... read more

Reflections on Shanghai

I’d like to say I’ve been to China but I don’t think I have. If you count 3 weeks in China with a long weekend in Beijing, then yes I’ve been. But at no point though to do I think I’ve really seen China. You can see China through cracks in the concrete. If you look beyond the KFC at the Great Wall of China, it’s there. If you count eating a steaming hot bowl of intestine (and various other internal organs) soup as an experience, then yes I’ve seen China. Sure I was the only ‘gwai lo’ (white guy) in the place. Though tragically I’m still not convinced I’ve been. I could’ve been anywhere. The China you see in Shanghai is through rose Coloured Louis Vuitton glasses. There are cars on the road, by god there are more cars than road. It must be the only place you will ever see a brown Porsche, yes brown. Because money buys status in China and no one really gives a rats arse what colour your status is. So these monstrosities not only exist but are common. One day I saw at least 5 Porsche Panamera’s (the ugly four door sedan) in brown. They would’ve been bought in cash by their newly bourgeois owners. In Italy if you sold someone a brown Porsche, you would be shot on site for fashion hate crimes. Well dressed shooters would jump out of the bushes in Versace suits and shoot you for destroying other peoples’ dream cars on general principle. They’d then speed off in a stylish black Maserati leaving nothing but a lasting... read more
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