My Morning Walk to Work

3 November 2001

Spring; and finally Mel­bourne shakes off that infernal, ubiquitous, red- and- black- on- camel check. Worn with brio by few, and bloody- mind­ed­ness by many. It’s Burberry’s, I think. This January, across Europe, and in Spain, especially, it was everywhere.

This is how I get to work each morning: I wake up at some time between 7.00 and 8.30, de­pend­ing on how late I was up the night before. I take a shower and eat cornflakes. I collect my things and leave via the front door. I turn left and walk along Rowena Parade, turning right on Lennox Street. I walk down the hill, passing a shop with a sign outside that reads “MOLE SKINS $66”. Next I come to the London Tavern Hotel, which I have not yet been inside.

Further down I pass “Contin Hairdresser”, which is open about three days a week for four hours at a time. It’s run by a strange old Greek man with huge swoop­ing sideburns, and, though it does appear that his primary busi­ness is hair, the shop is strangely filled with some very old junk. So if for some reason you want to buy old, sun-faded packets of chewing gum say, I now know where you can get some.

A block more down Lennox Street is the “Hellas Con­ti­nen­tal Cake Shop”, where you can buy quite good almond cookies. If you’re short, you can through a high window see what looks like cig­a­rette smoke being pro­duced by some­thing in the kitchen next door: if you’re tall you can see that the smoke is in fact produced, with gruff pleasure, by the baker himself.

When I get to “Curry Munchers”–Indian take-away–on the corner of Lennox and Swan, I turn right. Soon I come to the Corner Hotel; from there I go under the railway bridge, taking care to walk down the middle of the footpath, because that’s where the dog turds are least likely to be.

Rich­mond Station is just after the railway bridge. I walk through the bar­ri­ers and onto plat­form six, from where I take a train to Huntingdale. This part of my journey takes about six or seven minutes.

It takes about half an hour to get to Hunt­ing­dale Station, and six or seven to bus to Monash University. From the bus loop I walk to my office; this takes about five minutes. It typ­i­cally takes an hour to get to work each day.

I’ve never had a “neighbourhood” before, by which I mean a place where there are places you can walk to. All my life I’ve lived in the suburbs. So this is nice. I’m also en­joy­ing public transport, al­though as has been pointed out, I’ve never had to suffer the crush (and odours) of peak-hour travel. But fun stuff happens on public transport. A few days ago a guy got on the train carrying, in one hand, a half-eaten stick of salami, and in the other, a plastic bag con­tain­ing a family-sized block of “Old Gold” chocolate. He fin­ished his salami off pretty quick. When you get a craving for salami, you can’t delay, you must act. I understand.

N.B. Manu Chao is genius. Have you heard his album Clandestino?