A WELL done and "please keep it up" is overdue.
The recipient is the worker overseeing cleaning around both ocean baths and the beaches.
It's recognition of a job well done when it's been years since the job has been well done. And the fact that it is being well done is evidence that it can always be well done.
Regular readers will know a lack of detailed attention to cleaning in and around our ocean pools has been getting my goat for yonks. The personal goat of Newcastle's most miserable man carries quite the burden.
My most recent litany of complaint in this column concerning cleanliness at the Newcastle and Merewether ocean baths was outlined last November.
"Sure, a sweep of the promenade and areas around the pools and cleansing of the outside showers removing human detritus and built-up sand on the promenades might follow a rant in the Newcastle Herald, but conditions soon revert back to a default "normal".
And normal is not good enough.
"I've previously argued in this column that those charged with supervising the cleaning work at the pools need to regularly attend the pools and ensure cleaning duties are constantly and properly carried out according to "the list" in a manner that reflects the significant symbolic capital our pools have developed locally and beyond."
As a sidenote, this esteemed organ conducted a poll in conjunction with that column. The poll asked readers to respond - yes or no - "Do you feel City of Newcastle does an adequate job of keeping up public infrastructure?". Fifteen per cent of respondents voted yes. You can guess the rest.
There can be little doubt such polls are methodologically fraught. And that problem is often pointed out when the poll doesn't provide the result desired by the afflicted. But if nothing else, such polls can provide a barometer of perception and inspire further conversation.
Local users of the ocean baths have also taken opportunity to express concerns about cleanliness in and around the ocean baths via the Herald's letters to the editor. Back in January 2018, correspondent David Tinson from Smiths Lake recalled the golden days of pristine conditions at the Newcastle ocean baths. Mr Tinson highlighted the fastidious approach to cleaning of on-site caretaker Peter Walmsley and referred to "the glory days of Walmo's Water Wonderland ...".
While it might be a huge leap of faith to think we're reliving the "glory days" of sparkling surrounds, in the past few months there has been a very noticeable improvement in and around our iconic baths.
An overseer, foreman or ganger or whatever the position is called in these enlightened times has been engaged by CoN. And that, right there, is the major change resulting in major change.
The painting of the walls of Merewether ocean baths has recently been done to a high standard and MOB now presents the best it has since the $4million upgrade was completed in November 2014.
Brooms have been consistently used around the promenades. Sand that has been building up for an extended period has been removed. Showers have been cleaned and rubbish has been picked up in the car park not long after it has appeared.
A new set of eyes with specific responsibilities was all that was ever needed to deliver and keep the ocean baths and surrounds at the standard locals and visitors can appreciate. It has taken multitudes of relentless complaint, but the improvement is most noticeable.
The recent appointment of a man-in-charge is the breath of fresh air that has been sorely needed. He's been occasionally asking regulars how they find the baths and explaining cleaning processes in the baths. Old mate Percy Reckons had a chat with him and given the thumbs up.
Percy will tell anyone who'll listen about the good ol' days when the Town Clerk's appearance at a council site drove fear into the hearts of less enthusiastic employees.
This appointment has made a huge difference and one can only hope the appointment will be ongoing. It's not unreasonable to think the newly found attention to detail will last only as long as the level of appointment remains intact.
Of course the water in the pools is always cleaner in winter. There are fewer users and nowhere near as much sunscreen oil in the water.
But it's not just the water that users notice.
The "new normal" that has been achieved "under new management" is the standard that must remain.
Surely it's not that hard of an ask?
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: