About JaneRoutley

I was born in Melbourne, Australia, went to Preshil, Strathcona, and Monash University where I studied history, and RMIT where I became a Librarian. I've had a variety of careers, including Fruit Picker and Occult Librarian and I lived in Germany and Denmark for a decade. Now I'm back in my beloved Melbourne and working on the railways. I've published 3 books as me including the Aurealis Award winners "Mage Heart" and "Fire Angels" as well as "Aramaya", and one book as Rebecca Locksley - "The Three Sisters". My short stories have been widely anthologized, appeared in Meanjin, and have been read on the ABC. My favourite writers are Jane Austen, Angela Carter, Sara Douglass, and Janet Evanovich. My current life ambition is to see an erupting volcano.

A bustle in the hedgerow

Acacia dealbata
“with the introduction of a figure for idealistic purposes”
Wattle Nymph 1921

On the last beautiful Monday morning I became aware of something odd going on in the garden outside my station.  There seemed to be lots of people wandering about dressed in sheets???. So I pottered down to investigate and discovered some lovely young ladies wearing draperies lurking round in the trees.

“We’re Wattle Nymphs” they told me and kindly posed for a picture.  The whole thing had a very 1920’s vibe which was confirmed when another young woman showed up with a camera and told me they were making a film based on a series of photos from 1921 called Wattle Nymphs. http://www.anbg.gov.au/campbell.wattle/

Filming finished the modern Wattle Nymphs floated away across the railways line still in their draperies and drove off in a four wheel drive.  Not so 1920’s there.

Modern Wattle Nymphs

 

I meet a Celebrity

While standing on the barriers at the Junction with a work mate, an elderly gentleman in a scruffy suit and tie comes up and asks me my name.

“Hello Sister Jane, I’m His Royal Highness Emperor Ross and Master Commander of the Universe, ”  he says shaking my hand.

“Well done and thank you, you are now shielded, sister.”

He turns to my work mate and shakes his hand. ” And you brother, what is your name?  You are exuding the probity, responsibility and moderation appropriate to a man in your situation.  Well done, brother.”

He proceeds regally out onto the street and goes through a similar process with the officials outside. Probably it’s politically incorrect to giggle at those who reality is different to yours, but he is such a charming old guy and he leaves us with a smile on our faces.

 

Another reminiscence

Townsville station: an example of solid old fashioned station architecture (not the station in this story)

One of the old hands told me a story about how two railway workers burnt themselves to death in one of the stations on my line.

According to him they were embezzling from the ticket money to gamble on the horses and they’d been warned they were going to be audited. So they decided to burn the station down and it went horribly wrong.

I’ve always doubted this story. The original Victorian brick station is still standing at the station in question. I took the opportunity to ask the retiring SM and he said the story was true. Apparently the fire gutted the inside of the building but the Victorians built to last so the outside was still fine.

What happened on the night in question was that the station had an old gas powered fridge which had a pilot light. As the two perpetrators were throwing petrol around to start their fire, some of it went down the back of the fridge and the thing exploded starting the fire early and locking the outer door with the workers inside.

Railway stations have to be hard to break into which means they are also hard to break out of. Hence the fatalities. Grim.

A Station Master’s Reminiscence

It’s the Station Master’s last day.  He’s been with the railways since age 16.  I remember going to school by train. We school girls used to flirt with and giggle over such spotty young station officers. (Though I was on the other side of the city so I never giggled over him) The SM is full of stories of the old days. When he started they used to pay people in cash (I remember cash pay packets too because I too am ancient.)  All the little stations were manned in those days and the station master was given a pistol when he went to deliver everyone’s pay.  (There was a famous payroll robbery at Fairfield station during this period)  They had a shooting range under Flinders Street Station where they practiced. (shades of Hot Fuzz?)  “As a young bloke I used to help my SM deliver those pays,” says our retiring SM. “To be honest I was more worried about him with a gun than any robbers.  He was a terrible alcoholic.”

Freedom

Exhausted after a hard days night – in my case up till 1am the night before marshalling reluctant commuters into buses because of work on the rail – I muddled into sign on at the Junction and put my station keys in my pocket without signing them out. Ten minutes later, keys forgotten, and no sign of who had signed them out on the key register, I was searching frantically everywhere for them. I suspect the kind people who helped my search were a bit miffed when I suddenly found them in my pocket. Fortunately the office has more exciting things to speculate on. One of the Station Masters has chosen to retire on Bastille Day. Is this date symbolic? A day when the revolutionary French mob threw down the famous prison. We wonder.

I’m on tour (virtually)

The fine people at Goddess Fish promotions have organized this virtual book blog tour and here are the places and dates.  Looking forward to meeting lots of readers.

There’s a $25 dollar Amazon to be drawn and won by one lucky commenter.

So do yourself a favour!!

 

June 25: Mythical Books
June 25: Straight From the Library
June 26: Kit ‘N Kabookle
June 26: Stormy Nights Reviewing and Bloggin’
June 27: Rogue’s Angels
June 27: Fabulous and Brunette
June 28: T’s Stuff
June 28: Author Deborah A Bailey
June 29: Edgar’s Books
June 29: Laurie’s Paranormal Thoughts and Reviews
July 9: The Reading Addict
July 9: fundinmental
July 10: Deal Sharing Aunt
July 10: Jazzy Book Reviews
July 11: Thorntonberry Shire Press
July 11: Sapphyria’s Books
July 12: Long and Short Reviews
July 12: Author C.A.Milson
July 13: Locks, Hooks and Books – review
July 13: Sharing Links and Wisdom

 

Scratches and scabs

They had some kind of special meeting at the youth mental health clinic yesterday. At least a dozen dazed looking young adults with protective parents in tow came through.
One sweet faced, and clearly heavily medicated, young indigenous man wanted to chat and asked me all about myself. It was he who told me of the mental health clinic. He was there with his dad, and his dad’s mate and they were by far the most disadvantaged looking group of the whole lot. Their clothes were dirty and shabby and the older men had that toothless, scrawny, underfed look that the chronically poor get and hands covered in homemade tattoos.
The young man told me about his mob and sleeping at the Salvos, the father, who was Irish, told me how he’d been at the local juvenile detention center on – an ironically named- Care and Protection Order back when he was 14
Suddenly the dad’s mate who’d been sitting quietly reading one of the books from the children’s library, jumped up and started rushing around, picking at the scabs on his hands and looking for somewhere to wash them. By the time the train arrived, he had his top pulled off and was scratching his already very scratched looking back with a piece of stick.
But they were all lovely polite folks and the young man was so very glad to have his father there to support him.

Out classed by the Bolshie Lawyer

I’ve always been a bit smug/ proud of the fact that the brother of my Great Great Grandfather was transported for theft in the 1820’s, made good brewing beer and sent for the rest of the family, including my direct ancestor in the 1830’s.

The other day I was talking to one of my regulars who I’ve dubbed the Bolshie Lawyer.  This a very casually dressed man who does legal aid cases. He comes from a very privileged background where he went to Melbourne Grammar, Melbourne Uni and was probably put down for membership of the Melbourne Club and the MCC the day he was born. He has the jaded view of the Melbourne upper classes that comes from long familiarity and we were discussing a well-known local politician.

“I was at school with him and he was a (insert uncomplimentary noun here) even then.  So full of himself and his family. And mines been out here much longer than his.”

I couldn’t help bringing up my own ancestor then and the date 1824.

“That’s nothing,” said B.L. “My ancestor was a free settler and came out in 1810.”

That was when I asked him the surname and discovered his ancestor has a suburb and a railway station named after him and had built what is a now National Trust property.  Definitely outclassed.  Serves me right for such unearned pride.

And we must always remember our pioneer ancestors helped steal the land and destroy the tribes.  So is it pride or shame we should feel?  Or a complicated ambivalent mix of both that turns us away from the past entirely and reminds us to try and do better in the future.

This ambivalent looking gentleman is
Australia’s first British governor Arthur Philip from the portrait by Francis Wheatley

Last week

School Holiday artworks on the station platform

Ugh! All last week my body was very After Easter – meaning it kept telling me it wants to stay home, sleep in, watch tv and eat lots and lots of Easter eggs. But we must work and I console myself that if I hadn’t gone into work I would have missed;
– A small boy making squeaking noises to mimic the cry of the flocks of rainbow lorikeets that are feasting the gum trees around the station
– A young man wearing bright gold sneakers and carrying a flower a la Oscar Wilde.
– A man metal detecting on the grass nearby looking for old pennies. He found only bottle tops, squashed deodorant bottles and an American one cent piece. “I look on it as a deep clean of the landscape,” he said.
– A chat with young men from the Graz (Austria) Boys Choir
– Lots and lots of happy school holiday kids with their parents and grandparents and stuffed animals bought at the zoo. Noisy but nice.
On the other hand if I hadn’t been at work I would not have the bruise on my lower stomach that I got from trying to help an elderly man manoeuvre his scooter inside the train. He panicked and reversed by mistake and wedged me against a railing. Ouch!

Children enjoying the Royal Park Station Children’s Library (some at least)

Train Surfers revisited

An odd incident this week. A kid on a bike – maybe about 13/14 – came riding past the station and slowed to a stop.
“Hello! Do you recognize me?” he called out. “You used to yell at me and my friends for riding on the back of trains.”
I’ve been doing this job for 14 years now and I expected abuse at this point.
“I was only trying to save your lives,” I said defensively.“ It’s a very dangerous thing to do.”
“Yeah! We’ve stopped doing it now,” he said
And he turned round and cycled back up the hill.