THE differences between Sydney and Melbourne are many, but one of the most prominent features I noticed on my recent trip south was the sheer abundance of charity cases trying to stop people on street corners, buskers (both good and truly appalling) everywhere and homeless people.
The first two didn’t really surprise me – in many ways Melbourne is what I imagine Sydney would be like if people from Newtown were in charge. Cultural? Maybe – but at what cost? How many dreadlocks does a city really need?
What I didn’t expect, though, were the homeless people. Maybe up here they’re all residing in their tented communities in the middle of parks, but the number in Melbourne at any given time were astounding. They sit there, inert, often asleep, with those poorly written signs on damp cardboard that they know we’re not reading beyond the first line.
‘That’s the last time I take acid before using Google maps’
On my walk home from the train station the other day I passed through a nearby park, as I do every evening. It’s normally dark at the time I’m making this journey, and the park is so poorly lit that it’s practically pitch black, even just after 6pm.
Previously, I’ve seen a person urinating, I’ve seen a guy presumably passed out (but possibly dead) against a fence, and I’ve also seen teens making out on the play equipment. What these people have in common is the preference for darkness and the anonymity it creates, and I’m always fine to leave them to their activities, marching on and listening to music as I think about what’s for dinner, and why it’s not always tacos.
So you can imagine my surprise when I happened across what looked like the disembodied head of an Asian girl about 14 years old standing in the middle of the darkness. What the fuck was she doing other than being terrifying? Why was she unsupervised in an unlit park at night? Was she a ghost? Was she doing a Peter Dutton impersonation?
No. It turns out her face was lit up by her phone screen, as nearly all kids faces are these days, and she was wandering around, completely oblivious to me, looking for something. I let her be. Continue reading
Monsieur and Madame Garnerin – A love story for the ages
Before I jump out of a plane this weekend for the first (and hopefully only) time, I thought I’d do some research on those who had preceded me. This is what I found. While the invention of the frameless parachute is (almost) unanimously attributed to Andre-Jacques Garnerin, few knew how it really happened. Until now…
Andre, who had been chewing with his mouth open on a croissant, suddenly realised the conversation was still going on.
“Hrrmphfgght?” he spluttered.
“My wife was just saying, Monsieur Garnerin,” harrumphed an indignant Lacoste, “that the English have taken prisons to a whole new level, sending all of their nimble-fingered poverty-stricken to an island on the other side of the world.”
The elderly couple laughed derisively, and Garnerin was suddenly filled with an urge to kill them both. A holiday to the other side of the world would be nice – but this wasn’t England, this was FRANCE – where stealing a baguette was likely to end in you getting your head cut off in front of thousands of people and then kicked through the streets by children before being discarded and left to be consumed by ravenous pigeons and the homeless. How embarrassing. You’d never live it down.
“If only we could find somewhere to send our own poor people… I mean… criminals. Don’t you agree, Mr Garnerin?” asked Madame Lacoste. She raised her right eyebrow so high it climbed over her scalp, down her back and was never seen again. Continue reading
How about YOU shoosh, lady
It seems like every trip I take on a train of late fills me with inspiration for these posts.
Allow me to set the scene – you’ve boarded your peak hour train in the morning or the afternoon, ready for a long day or just coming home from one. You meander up or down the steps of the carriage with the faint hope that maybe, just maybe, you’ll get a seat. From your spot on the second step of the staircase, lo and behold, you see one of the three-person seats, WITH ONLY TWO PEOPLE SITTING ON IT. Oh happy day!
You stroll on over and ask (sometimes without actually speaking, more pointing to the vacant spot and raising your eyebrows inquisitively) if you can join the party and help the seat reach its maximum capacity, letting it fulfil the purpose for which it was made. What you’re met with is a tense, resentment-filled and thinly-disguised eye-roll as the person on the end, instead of just sliding over, picks up their belongings and stands in the aisle so you can take the middle seat, giving you an air of “if you must” – YES I MUST – FUCK YOU!
Where common courtesy comes to die
You might think that I’ve been using my public transport posts solely as a means of ranting about the types of people I don’t like.
Don’t get me wrong, that’s a large part of it, but occasionally I like to think I can also do a public service and examine the unspoken rules that exist within this unique social subset of a couple of hundred people crammed together for an hour or so.
As well as identifying the assholes that we all have to endure, sometimes I’ll try my best to provide you with helpful information so that you don’t end up as one of those assholes yourself.
TODAY’S LESSON: Relinquishing your seat
It’s early morning and you’ve got a seat! YAY! Even better than that, you find yourself surrounded by decent human beings who aren’t displaying the traits I’ve previously mentioned. What a beautiful world! Suddenly the doors open (hopefully when the train has stopped) and you’re confronted with the issue of whether or not to give up your seat. OMFG WHAT DO YOU DO?
Fuggen owyagoan mate? Straya!
It’s that time of year again, when a large chunk of the population get way too drunk, wave their flags and engage in casual racism thinking it’s the same as patriotism, and another large chunk write leftist articles, go on protest marches and/or put up memes and too-long-to-read-posts on social media to show not just how progressive they are, but how bad we should all feel for revelling in a day off from work, because of things a bunch of 18th-century Englishmen did and that we had no control over.
Then there’s the other group, and dare I say the most Australian of all – those who just don’t give a shit.
That’s right, it’s Australia Day/Invasion Day/Citizens Day/January 26/Tuesday/Whatever the fuck you need to call it to feel better about yourself and the world.
I honestly didn’t expect the first instalment of my contempt for pricks on public transport to receive much attention, but it got more than anything else I’ve written for about a year. It helps to know that I’m not alone in my unabashed hatred for these public transport pricks.
Did you honestly think that there were only two types? Ha! I present to you now the long-awaited (2 days) sequel, featuring even more of those fuckwits we all love to hate.