A couple of photos I like of people in the hood. The story which follows has a point.
• • • • •
(At left) The Tiges had just pantsed the Bombers. Could this photo have been taken in Leeds or Barcelona or Trieste? Halves of a couple happy to display their very different affiliations but equally happy to snuggle up after the game? (As it happens he was a barista at The Auction Rooms which I didn’t notice when I took the photo.)
That’s not an oddity; that’s the footy. The separate cheer squads sit apart but we don’t have to segregate supporters in the crowd. Families as well as groups of friends sitting together often have divided loyalties. That’s one of the reasons I like the big photo. We’re off to a pre-season game at Docklands. The shadows are fun, and number 3 could be Chrissy Grant or Ted Whitten as well as Mitch Wallis; but the sun and the one-arm hug somehow suggest good will, amiability.
Three o’clock in the arvo. Outside Sosta. Do you mind if I take your photo I said? They said, because they would, what’s it for? I said I dunno. You just look like you should: products of Maurice’s cooking and great wine.
Did I mention it’s urban? Did I mention there are very large expanses of asphalt and concrete? And that sometimes it’s jammed up with cars? Did I mention the mix of people who live here? Yeah I thought so. (The wooden step is good.)
Primers. A gym class for people aged 60 and above in the North Melbourne Football Club gym. Just about to get started. A very fine way to become/ stay flexible, strong and straight. A remarkably homogenous group which provides fertile ground for making new friends. Great parties.
• • • • •
It was one of those minor domestic crises that leave you howling for mercy.
I’d done some shopping up in Errol St and thought I’d just get one of those great sausage rolls that have that intangible but distinct lean to the Asian from Snax. Sat eating it on the step in front of the ANZ Bank and went home. But I couldn’t get in. My house key along with my credit and other cards, my money, my licence, my phone, my specs, my notebook and my pen were all in a small leather bag (at left) that I must have left somewhere.
Shocking moment. Shocking shocking shocking. It’s not Japan. It will have been taken for sure. Before I left I noticed a beggar setting up just where I’d been. But I could have left it maybe somewhere else. In the shop? Over the road at Andrew the optometrists? It’s not the value of the stuff, not the financial value of it anyway; it’s the incredible inconvenience of replacing it all.
I started running back but soon realised that wouldn’t do any good, phoned Myrna to see if she was still up the street, and she was about as far away as I was. Tried Snax and had a lot of trouble getting the idea of a leather manbag across; but clearly they didn’t have it. Went to the bank. Maybe someone had handed it in.
Inside it seemed like everyone knew about it. An older woman was sitting waiting for service and she had lot to say. ‘A man brought it in, and he tried to give it to the guard just to look after. This man (pointing decisively and angrily at the senior bank officer) said no, we don’t do that. They were just so unhelpful. Did nothing. So the man who brought it in said he’d take it to the police.’ She was disgusted. The bank officer was offensively defensive. ‘We don’t take anything like that. It’s not our business, mate. We have security concerns here.’ Thanks mate. Beauty. Unhelpful, officious, useless.
Which man took it? Someone else piped up. ‘A black man with’ — what sounded like — ‘a floral shirt’. A black man. With a floral shirt. Oh well. What do you mean, a black man? ‘Black.’ And what did he say he was going to do? ‘Take it to the police station.’ Which police station? ‘The police station.’ North Melbourne? ‘I don’t know …’
I had started thinking about how I was going to cancel all the cards and what else was required. Hopeless. Distressing. Myrna suggested ringing the North Melbourne police station.
I was Googling the number when three ‘black’ girls surged out of the bank. ‘It was Goulled’, one said. ‘Goulled. He’s married to my cousin.’ Then these three charming, helpful and generous young African Australians from Mt Alexander Secondary College, a school people like to turn their nose up at because it has more than its fair share of African Australians, gave us the number of their cousin and tried to ring her. That failed. She was at work. But at least we had a lead. And some warm sympathy.
Snax, the ANZ bank, even the Barber’s Saloon, at the corner I didn’t get across.
I thought we might hasten to the North Melbourne cops to see what was happening there. Before we’d even crossed Queensberry St this ute pulled into the corner with this grinning face, certainly black, above a fluoro, not floral, jacket calling out. ‘David’. I stuck my head in the window. ‘Hi. I’m Goulled. I found your bag. I found your address and have taken it to your neighbour.’ Goulled. Phew! What a champ. He gave me the most engaging of smiles. ‘South Sudanese?’ I asked. ‘Somali’, he said. ‘The best.’
We gave each other a fist bump and I trotted home to find Davey Boy Scales, neighbour extraordinaire, walking Ziggy the dog. ‘Dave. Dave’, he said as he often does. ‘You don’t know what’s happened, do you?’ ‘I do actually’, I said. ‘You’ve got my bag.’
(Dave and Jacquie at left, actually in the Deep South of the US of A. They insisted on inclusion. He doesn’t usually look like that.)
Goulled. ‘Like Goodlad’, he said. So much like a good lad. Not just honest as the day is long, but smart, efficient, and with great follow through.
Who are the good guys in this story?