After two decades of wishing I could swim in the sea more often and 10 years of working out of the Junction, I finally clued to the fact that there’s a beach 20 minutes train ride from there. Doh!
An organizational task which seemed at first overwhelming, checking train-time tables, packing uniform and bathers and towels, proved on closer inspection to be perfectly doable.
All my life I’ve assumed a visit to the beach must begin with a hot hour (s) long drive to the beach, a heavy hike across dunes from the car park and a day spent rubbing sandy sun screen into boiling skin in the inadequate shade of an unstable umbrella.
But all through this long hot summer, I’ve taken the 8.47 to BeachTown and spent an hour bobbing round in the crystal green ocean, peering at fish and sea lettuce through my goggles and getting well and truly chilled to the bone. Sometimes a friend comes too so much talking gets done.
A quick rinse off and maybe a muffin and a cuppa at the kiosk and its back on the 10.55 to the Junction in time for work. A low carbon treat that has the added pleasure of sounding like I’m in a novel by Agatha Christie, Conan Doyle or Enid Blyton. (hopefully without the murder)
Last week I entered the mysterious world of Hanson fans. Two middle-aged women fans met in the waiting room and with the shining faces of true believers were talking of their love for the band while waiting for the train. That was how I learnt (1) that Hanson the band (MMMBop – yes that Hanson) were still playing after 25 years and (2) that they were playing two sell out gigs at the Zoo after playing a sellout gig at the St Kilda Palais.
“I’m going to all their shows and next week I’m following them to Sydney to see all their shows there,” says the middle-aged woman in the brown floral dress.
“Me too,” says the other one, a tall woman in a tight leaf-pattern sheath. “They’re so good to their fans, every year they hire out at a resort in Jamaica where you can spend a week with them.”
“Is it a competition or do you pay to go?” I ask.
“Oh I paid. Last year I went. It was awesome”.
“You went!” cries brown floral dress. “You lucky thing.”
“They appeal to everyone” says leafy dress. “I took my daughter to the gig at the Palais.”
“I took my mother,” says brown floral dress.
“And do they still look as wonderful as they did back in the nineties?” I ask thinking of the bands I used to follow and how they have aged.
“They look better,” says brown floral dress. “My mother took one look at the drummer and said, “You have no business being so pretty.””
There are so many other realities out there and when you brush against them and try to imagine living in them the world gets bigger and stranger.
A four carriage train with a blues singer/band in every carriage? How great is that! And it was too. We arrived at 6.30 and were served a delicious meal of salads and slow cooked meats on the quaint little Queenscliff railways station. After a day of 36 degrees, it was fabulous to enjoy the cool sea breeze and watch the sun going down over a golden inlet covered with flocks of swans and pelicans. As darkness fell we boarded the train and set off towards Drysdale. At every stop we changed carriages so that by nights end we’d all seen four gigs. And very excellent gigs they were too. Dancing was not easy in a moving carriage but it was impossible not to tap your feet and claps your hands. We warmed up with International Blues Challengers, Rhythm X Revival, got really revved up by Japanese blues man, George Kamikawa, (Kampai!) chilled to the orginal songs of Wayne Jury and got dancing again to Tiana Martel’s powerful voice. The blues, the train and the hot velvet night – maybe we really were in the Mississippi Delta.
You can’t buy drinks on the train but you can get them (and an ice bucket to carry them around in) at the station. And an ice cream at Drysdale. Now that’s living!
Many thanks to Hugo Armstrong of the Blues Train for the complementary tickets.
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