Uh Oh, here comes economic rationalism.
Whatever happened to my baby?
For those who haven't been following the plot -The date set for the demolition of the premises that I have occupied for the past six years is 20th March, 2007. It is a sad time, as it has been a beautiful house in its own way, obviously loved by its previous owners, and also by its tenants, as very little - apart from the inevitable small ravages of time – has damaged it.
One of those houses where one senses “good vibes” and feels immediately “at home” - but all that is about to come to a relatively violent end.
Am posting this in advance,
also post dating it to the date of the happening, as am sure that this next week will be somewhat busy, and I may not have much time to write anything at length or in detail, but may be able to drop in a quick update or two behind (or in front of) it.
Some personal history.
After spending most of my early adult life in Adelaide, I packed a few pots and pans, some bedding, into the back seat of a second-hand Holden HJ and departed for the “Big Smoke” in 1982. (was that only 25 years ago??, seems longer).
Drove through Melbourne and on up to Sydney. Spent a few weeks there, “couch surfing” among friends and acquaintances, but the “culture shock” was too great for a basically shy farm boy, so returned to Melbourne which seemed to be far more cosmopolitan – in that there were more “wierdos” accepted into the fabric of daily life there, and felt a little more comfortable. (am not inferring that am in any way similar – but Sydney could never produce a Michael Leunig nor Barry Humphries.)
Have always argued that “cosmopolitan” is a far better ideal than the divisive “multi-cultural” .. but that is a detailed essay for others, or a later time.
Some memories of traffic that still persist. Melbourne drivers were chaotic, rude, and unpredictable. Sydney was much simpler to understand, drivers had only two rules. Flat out, or stopped. High speed or stationary. Though once the rules were understood – when changing lanes – indicate, then move, they'd back off by an inch or two .. but don't slow down!!
A room in a boarding house on Ackland Street, St Kilda for a few weeks -
(Tollarno, from dimming memory - and also a memory of my introduction to the Melbourne police. Had been used to the polite, British ethic police of Adelaide. Sort of initial gentle “would you move along, sir”, which became increasingly firm and impolite depending on the level of resistance. Can remember the day I moved out of the boarding-house. Checked out at 10am, but for some reason, couldn't move into the flat until 1pm. Was sitting in the car – SA plates, all piled up with pots and pans - in a side street off Ackland St, quietly reading a book. Next thing I know is a burly bloke in blue uniform banging on the window with his knuckles. ??, think I and wound down the window. “Give us yer keys.” sez the bloke in blue. “Why?” say I, all innocent and mystified. “Give me yer bloody keys.” repeats the bloke in blue, somewhat more forcefully. OK, sez I, and hand over the car keys. He takes them round to the back of the car and opens the boot. Starts sorting through the pillows and blankets. At this point it is so far from any previous experience am struck dumb. Watch with incredulous fascination. He finds a bottle of vitamin tablets. “Wot's this”, 'e sez. “Pluravit”, I sez, frowning.
At that time South Australia had far more liberal laws relating to marijuana than probably anywhere in the world. I suddenly remembered that there was a matchbox with a few leaves in it at the bottom of one of my bags. At that point a slow chill began creeping up the nape of my neck. Uh Oh, think I.
Was “saved” by the German bloke from the next room in the boarding-house who happened to be passing by. “What's going on?” he asks. “Dunno”, sez I, “was sitting here quietly, then these blokes started searching my car”.
“Bloody fascist pigs.” 'e sez, loudly. Well .. it all became a bit confused after that. The cops threw him up against the wall, there was a bittuva shouting match, I quietly closed the lid of the boot, we all went to have a chat with the manager of the boarding-house, he told them that i was a country hick from South Australia and no trouble at all .. and everything sort of dissipated. )
- then a 3rd floor bed-sit at the back of a drab, grey-brick building not far away; my days looking out over a rusting rabble of industrial backyards, playing Solitaire. My nights spent listening to seemingly endless sirens, and screams of domestic disputes. It was an intensely lonely time. Supported self from savings and the occasional small role in the “soapies”. Cop Shop, The Sullivans, Carson's Law, Prisoner, etc. A few others for ABC Melbourne.
Another “impression” from that time. Sydney people were very friendly, very quick to say hello .. and just as quick to forget you. Melbourne people were very difficult to get to know, stand-offish, cautious, hesitant about friendships .. but once a friendship was made, it was for a lifetime.
While am basically solitary and independent, the loneliness in Melbourne became so intense that I re-ignited a previous relationship (begun in Adelaide in 1978) that had come to fizzled halt in 1981, convinced her to join me in Melbourne, found a beautiful flat - olde stone, two bedroom, second floor, overlooking a tree lined street in Hawthorn – and began another phase.
My ladyfriend was an IT PR person, and quickly found a job. Became “supported house-person” for a while, but that was uncomfortable - then, when a job where she worked (Computer Accounting Services – a division of Mayne Nickless) became available – I settled down into being a “clerk” for three years.
Life became very pleasant for a while. A beautiful woman, two incomes, two cars, a beautiful residence in a city - close to ski slopes and big bays for sailing – even bought a little red trailer-sailer (pictured in a previous post).
Buuuut, all good things must come to an end. The relationship fizzled (yet again. Long story. It was always rocky. Sort of “can't live with, can't live without” on both sides) (as a sort of post script, my lady went to Sydney on a holiday, met a meek and mild, nondescript computer programmer with lots of money and a house overlooking Pittwater, eventually married him and has three or so children. As of last contact, we are still friends.)
My life lost impetus again. Couldn't see much sense in anything. Resigned the job, sold most of my belongings, relinquished the flat. Drifted from friend's house to friend's house.
Ah, at this point, have forgotten to mention a very important element in the story. All this time I did, in fact, still own a house in Adelaide. A little blue-stone cottage in Kent Town.
It is, actually, quite weird to think of it now. The first house (bungalow) I bought (1969) was in Myrtle Bank – all of 5 minutes drive from the central city. $10,500. Thought that that was too far away, so sold it a couple of years later for $23,000. Bought the cottage – five minutes WALK away from the city - for $21,000. Oooer, how times change – can't get anything much in those areas for under $400K, these days. Even this place, land value alone is $375K. The Myrtle Bank house is still there, as is the Kent Town cottage.
However, back to 1986.
Pondered the problem of housing a restless soul. Even at that time, house prices in Melbourne were double, triple those in Adelaide. Pondered purchasing a house in Williamstown, a cheapish, backwater suburb underneath the newly built Westgate Bridge - (Hoo boy, if only) – but couldn't reconcile a hefty mortgage with an unpredictable income. Have always loved boats and sailing, so came to the compromise decision. Would sell the house in Adelaide and buy a boat that I could live in (1986-1998).
I renamed the boat “Tycho Brahe” (look him up, you may understand why). There are many stories attached to that boat and its skipper. I may write about them, one day.
Came back to Adelaide in a Toyota Coaster bus in 2000.
The boat was either the best decision I ever made – or the worst.
Only time will tell.
At this point (10th March) , I may be moving to a house that has no telephone – and therefore no internet – and so, am having to put Wombat's Waffles into hibernation for a while.
I truly thank all those who have supported it since January 2005, you are all wonderful people. May whatever emotional Power that sustains you Bless You and inspire you. Try to take care of Mother Earth, and Always remember that HOPE exists until the last human breath, the final expiration.
ADDENDUM: 12th March, haven't gone yet. The possibility that was looking at yesterday (Sunday) sort of fell through, now have to wait 'til Thursday for something else .. sheesh, nothing like living on a knife edge.