LATELY — 3 November 2001

My Morning Walk to Work

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?