Sunday, September 27, 2009

A similar storm

On Wednesday, the day of the dust storm, the woman in the café told us that, after waking to see the city had turned orange, she'd rung her sister to discuss how, fifty years earlier, they had watched red sand pile on the seats and tables outside their house during a similar storm in Palermo – a house which, I imagined, was attached to the back of a café, just as her own place here was attached to the back of a café.

She had her grandchild with her. The child was restless. The day was paler outside now – yellow, opaque – and the child was watching ten minutes of one show and then a few minutes of another on a large television screen at the back of the shop.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Two distinct advantages

I listened with interest as the large middle-aged man sitting at the very front of the bus began a conversation with the elderly man next to him.

This man began by asking his neighbour where he was planning to get off and then, leaning back against the window and turning to face him, the larger man declared that the best seats in the bus were at the front and at the very back of the bus. The seats at the front and the back of the bus were far less likely to be taken, he was saying. There wasn’t much between them, although the seats at the back of the bus had two distinct advantages: first, you usually had the whole seat to yourself and second, you didn’t have to give up your seat to frail or less mobile people.

Since I got out of the bus at the same stop that the elderly neighbour did, I had the chance to wonder whether the man’s unsteady but rapid strides in his impeccably clean pale blue jeans had been influenced in any way by the observations of the middle-aged man he had left behind.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Decked with plastic fruit

Abercrombie Street is decked with plastic fruit, I told them. You know how you see sports shoes with their laces tied together flung over electricity wires – whether as a way of bullying some kid (look at your shoes now – try getting them down), or marking a territory, a sculptural tag – pairs of plastic fruit tied to string hang over the road two minutes west from Redfern Station: plastic oranges, apples, grapes, bananas, kiwi fruit, lychee, mangoes, watermelons, guava…