Sunday, 4 March 2012


Not enough sleep, even on a large, comfortable couch, in a dusky living room populated with charming antique furniture and slapdash abstract art. The birdsong is a lower register than back home and there's a lot of it coming from the many trees, but I've not seen any of the actual choristers yet. Peter sings too, in his bedroom. After breakfast we toured the city by bicycle, tram and foot. I've totally changed my opinion of Melbourne - on a sunny day it is super cool in a down at heel kind of way and has all the pizzazz of any US city. We started out in uber grungy Fitzroy, with its graffiti and crackled paintwork; and where I took my bike to be looked over in case it has suffered post-box trauma and the breaks and gears definitely needed a bit tweaking. On to a Telstra store in the CBD to buy a phone, then to Vodafone, another Telstra, Target, Telstra, Target and Telstra... As I'm a bit slow on the uptake when it comes to technology, the experience was less of an education and more of an obfuscation. I got one anyway and that's all that matters. There was an fellow in Telstra ranting at an assistant about the 'shameful' service he'd received from the call centre over his contract phone. The young male assitant listened respectfully for a while and when the rant was over, said in a perfectly calm, quiet voice, "I believe we're done here," which had the desired effect of calming the guy down, who had just wanted to get his 'call centre rage' out of his system by erupting at someone face to face, and terminate the discussion.

It was pretty frustrating for me dealing with all the gobbledegook, as well as taking everything in, in a big, brash, busy city. It was a sunny Sunday afernoon, but the city was heaving with vehicles and people. We had some mushroom and tofu pies from a delicatessen down beside the Yarra and people-watched. It just shows you how you shouldn't go by first impressions, because today the populace appeared anatomically correct and sartorially complis mentis. Amongst both genders there's a fashion for short back and sides with a slightly bouffant top. Now I'm certainly in no position to criticize the follically exuberant, but it does give the wearers a gay look, although that might be what they're after. Of course, in the warm sunshine even Glasgow can look chic, but Melbourne has the advantage of a much more laid back starting point and has cafe culture down to a T. It made me think how anal and tightly-laced the Brits are, compared to the low-rider jeans, 'let it all hang out' vibe here.

While I'm on the subject of unfettered flesh... the best was yet to come. We had to get back to Fitzroy to collect Peter's bike and I'm so glad I opted to walk the last mile, because, who should pass by? Only about 100 nude cyclists! I took photos, not for perverted reasons you understand, only to document this flash mob. I think they were demonstrating about green issues rather than obscenity laws and some had warpaint and fancy dress to catch the eye - not that my eye needed any catching. I was carrying my helmet, and innuendos aside, one of them shouted at me, "Where's your bike?" and others called out, "Come and join us." En masse they looked proud to be in the raw, but a couple of stragglers who passed by later on just looked uncomfortable and if you saw them alone you'd think they had mental health issues. I admired their spunk, but I wouldn't want to borrow a bike from someone who'd ridden it bare-botomed... Later I found out it was an annual event - and I was lucky enough to witness it! Apparently they ride naked to highlight the vulnerabilty of cyclists on our roads, although I'm sure a lot of them had nothing planned and simply thought it would be a fun thing to do on a Sunday afternoon. Hopefully this link works : Pity the poor editor of this video who had to try to be as tasteful as possible in his cropping of rude bits.

Back in the ambient gloom of Peter's living room, we had pizza and watched 3/4 of a film, not through choice, but because the DVD stopped at that point. Novaries the cat contentedly lay on my lap throughout. It's not only half her nose that she's missing. Then I made a terrible discovery. I am a total klutz when it comes to losing things. So far, not only have I nearly lost my bumbag... Now, much much worse than that... I'm shaking as I type this... I have mislaid my chocolate and sweet supplies.

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