A new café is opening at the end of our street. The space is what I call a “doomed location” because every business that goes in there doesn’t last long. In the ten years we’ve been on the street, it has been vacant half the time, and in the other half the location has seen the speedy demise of at least four previous enterprises.
Most recently it was a “formaggeria”, a cheese-centric café which billed itself as a “cheese laboratory”. It took them forever to complete their build out before opening — presumably cheese-makers have some unusual needs. In anticipation I developed fanciful expectations of the joys of having a cheese maker right down the street. When they finally opened, I was disappointed to find they offered a narrow range of unfamiliar products at exorbitant prices. It also dawned on me that I was not entirely comfortable eating laboratory outputs. Test cheese? I am no lab rat. Continue reading Doomed→
I did not expect to take up beach volleyball at the age of fifty-one. A friend, Barbara, was doing a secondment in New Zealand, living on Papamoa Beach where Frank and I visited her. One day while she was at work we walked the sixteen kilometre length of the beach to hike up Mount Maunganui. Descending the Mount, there at its foot on the beach was Barbara, as arranged. We watched her play what she described as “social beach volleyball”.
I didn’t play that day, not that I wanted to. I was impressed, though, by the casual, unpretentious nature of the sport. A referee kept score in rather haphazard fashion, but it wasn’t as if anybody cared. Players sipped beer between points and laughed at their own foibles. It reminded of the American company softball game, something I have missed since moving to Australia. Continue reading Digging St Kilda Beach Volleyball→
I saw him coming. The goofball in his mid-twenties was riding on the wrong side of the foreshore bike path, helmetless, not looking where he was going, abreast of friends, if not the road rules. I rang my bell with increasing urgency, then came to a screaming halt – literally, I was screaming – all to no avail. I was motionless when he crashed into me with the stunned look that infants reserve for, well, you know.
Near as I can figure I’ve ridden about 80,000 kilometres (50,000 miles) over four to five thousand hours. I’ve spent half a year, 1% of my entire life, riding a bike.
Many of us recall the joy and freedom we experienced with our first bicycle. The bike enabled us to go places faster, farther, and harder to find than Mom and Dad could, or the school, or the police, for that matter. It bred a sense of independence, as well as irreverence for authority and the law. It was borderline anti-social, especially when we did it in packs. Stop at traffic lights? Stay off the footpaths? Signal before turning? Wear a helmet? Are you kidding? Continue reading Bicycling Bingles→
I admit it: I am a terrible driver. I come to a full stop at stop signs, overtake only when safe, signal before turning, obey speed limits, and give way to pedestrians. Naturally, everybody on the road considers me a hazard to navigation. Judging by their fondness for horns, there must be many Wagner fans amongst St Kilda drivers.
For me, the last straw was the red light camera installed at the corner of Barkly Street and Carlisle, effectively a $258 toll to take a right turn at peak hour. The solution was obvious: get rid of the car. Continue reading Driving St Kilda Mad→
A quirky tradition of St Kilda is the impromptu recycling residents perform by leaving their unwanted rummage on the footpath for others to usurp, free of charge. Beggars can be choosers after all. Almost all of it seems to get snatched up. When I put a refrigerator outside after dutifully duck-taping it closed and calling the council to pick it up, my neighbours came a-knockin’ asking whether it still worked. “Of course,” I answered “but once I couldn’t cram anymore cash inside, what was I to do with it?” Ask a silly question…
Some stuff nobody wants; tube TV’s and CD racks come to mind. These spend a long time out there. When analogue broadcast met its demise, one couldn’t walk down the street without climbing over once-loved TVs. Continue reading Trashing St Kilda→