I felt I would write a blogpost before I became consigned to history as a self-confessed crazy cat woman or was totally overtaken by spammers.
The gloom has suddenly descended here in Melbourne in the way it does, once daylight saving ends. My flat, which is somewhat diminutive, now seems a little dark and dingy at times. It's about the size of a hatbox, except that it mysteriously has a good old-fashioned, suburban-sized bathroom. It's about the same size of my first flat in Balmain -- different dimensions, but better bathroom. But after all it's all about location, location, location in the inner city and here, as there, I find myself gravitating to Life on the Street...as in, High Street plays the role of my former lounge room, and I'm even recognised now at a cafe as a regular who always sits in the same place (i.e. near the wall socket) and orders the same thing.
Melbourne has really boomed, tho: there are all sorts of long radial streets leading out to suburbs draped in darkness. Melbourne's almost starting to remind me of LA in this (and only regard): you can be walking along what seems like a fairly suburban street and suddenly you're in another 'neighbourhood'. I mean, not only is Northcote cool these days, but apparently Thornbury and Fairfield are too. I even drove over to Station St just to make sure, and I saw a glimmer of what people were talking about on my drive. Thornbury (the time I went there) just seemed to stretch on into the night, with the infinite possibility of mysterious bars cropping up. Someone loftily said that 'Brunswick St is the new Chapel St', but I'm not sure I'd want to spend much time on either of them. Northcote has much more of that organic feel that Brunswick St seems to have lost over the years.
The other thing that's nice about Melbourne is the friendliness factor. Another ex-Sydneysider and I were commenting on this the other night. People aren't affronted if you start a conversation with them. They often start up conversations with you. It's like Alice Springs, without the Obscure, Extraneous Waffle that accompanies many a random conversation there.
And down here... Today, I went to Dymocks to redeem a book voucher. I was in the city for a meeting, and while I was there, I realised that I'd only been outside the Golden Triangle of Northcote, North Fitzroy and Clifton once in the whole time I'd been back in Melbourne. I used to like to accuse Sydney people of sticking to their boroughs (or burrows) -- now I'm doing it myself.
Back to Dymocks: the good thing about Dymocks, apart from the fact that they have a shop in Alice, is that they let you rack up loyalty points whatever the purchase.
But when I got to Dymocks on Collins street, I realised I didn't have my loyalty card with me because I'd left it behind in Alice where it was stored in an alphabetised box behind the counter.
The woman at the counter stared at me and said 'What?'
I repeated everything and added, 'They do things differently in Alice.'
Ah yes, indeed. Now there's an oasis of story opening before me. C, another Alice expat, and I had a conversation today about this, and what was the Alice view of things (largely relating to Abl affairs, tho this is about nationhood too) -- if there was one, without getting all hegemonic.
In Alice, I went to lots of meetings with people saying things like, 'Can we trade off a takeaway-grog-free day against extended trading hours?' or 'Hospitalisations for stabbing were down in the last quarter.'
Here it's more: 'You have to understand how an Abl person feels when they enter a shop and it's full of white people', and 'Hardly anyone came to the anniversary of the apology in Federation Square. They were giving away the balloons.'
Incongruous mental images flash through mind of being only white person in queue in local shop many times over the past six years. And of asking some Aboriginal people sitting under a tree if they knew what had happened in Canberra on the day of the apology, and them shrugging. And I don't quite know where to place those images.
Anyway, too late for philosophising. It's time for a bath in the hatbox.
* A biblical allusion (for anyone who might have missed this exciting little verse): 'Can any good come out of Nazareth?' -- a cynical, laconic comment, not a peachy, Cecil B. de Mille extravaganza type comment, as I remember things.