The return of the comfy couch

This Friday, four youths got out of the rear carriage of the 12.44 carrying two couches (yes furniture!) between them.  Ignoring me (I was right down the front of the train) they proceeded to carry the two couches off the rear end of the platform and up the cutting behind.  When I went inside to report it to the control room, I found the driver had already reported them.

This cutting already has a long history of couches and comfy chairs. For who knows how long, a group of young guys used to hang out among the bushes up there on a collection of broken down chairs with a table with ashtray. Not ideal but they were well clear of the trains even if they were trespassing on railway property.  But then said youths started throwing stones at the passing trains and jumping out in front of them.  The “vaster than empires and more slow” might of Metro ground into action.  For a couple of weeks, police and security guards visited and kept watch regularly. Very exciting stuff! (which I might add I was completely left out of) One evening during rush hour they swooped and arrested two of the youths.

A halt was called to the train services while these two young men were marched along the tracks in handcuffs past a rush hour platform full of commuters who must have known they were the reason their train was late.  Death Stares all round.

After that a cleaning crew came and tidied away the chairs and table.

So what I was witnessing on Friday was the resurrection of the cubby.  No doubt another battle of wills will ensue between the unstoppable force of bored young men and the immovable might of Metro.  And dammit, I’m on annual leave and will miss the whole thing.


Captain America

Saw a little girl (4) in a Captain America costume and had a light bulb moment. There is nothing in the name that disqualifies Captain America from being female. May seems obvious but it certainly reminded me to think outside the box.

Good on the little girl’s mum.

P.S. She didn’t look anything like this


Joe Quinones take on Captain America



A woman in the waiting room looks very sick.  I rush inside to get the rubbish bin for her.  She clutches it in her arms and throws up.

Shortly afterwards we discover the bin is not watertight.  Yuck!

Note to self – next time leave the garbage bag in.

When I go back to the junction they have a much worse situation. Some poor woman has taken too much ICE and has had a psychotic melt-down on the platform.  Police AND Ambulance.  Makes my sicky bin story look a bit pathetic!

An Art installation?


For some reason 🙂 St Patrick’s Day last week made me remember some photos I took back in January.

Why were these bras hanging outside Brunswick Station? Could this be an Art work?  Somehow they didn’t look like it. The fact that there was a backpackers hostel and pub nearby could have been relevant.

I ride past the station on my bike every day and after they’d been there 48 hours, I undid them and put them in the local charity bin. (I noticed they were all the same size.  Relevant?)

I asked the cleaner who is a devout Iraqi Christian (from Mosul, poor man), “Did you see the women’s underwear outside Brunswick.”  He said he had but he didn’t like to remove them. “I thought they might be part of your Australian culture,” he added.


A charming thing and a disturbing thing.


On Friday one of the zoo volunteers told me she’d been working in animal enrichment all day – making popcorn for the elephants. Apparently they’re not allowed any sugar or fat on their popcorn. She left on the train before I could find out more – leaving me with a vision of elephants frolicking through vats and vats of popcorn.
That was the charming thing.
Then I listened with great pleasure to the HooDoo Guru’s tuning up for their evening concert inside the zoo. I remember going to see them when I was in my mid-twenties. They still sounded good. Then someone told me that their current tour is being sponsored by APIA – Australian Pensioners Insurance.   OMG!!! I’m 54!!! How did that happen????

Small Acts


One of my regulars had clearly come off her bicycle.  She was covered in dust and had a huge spike shaped red gash on her arm. With the train 2 minutes away she didn’t want me to do anything for her, but I insisted on getting her some damp paper towel to clean the still bleeding gash.  Then as the train rolled in a complete stranger stepped up and offered the lady one of those big band-aids in plastic for her gash!

Thank you, stranger. Another person who understands if you think someone should help someone, perhaps you’d better be the one to do it.

I’m a firm believer in taking responsibility for making the world a better place through small daily acts.  I’m getting more and more involved in Climate Change activism through a group called Climate for Change. They encourage people to have everyday conversations about Climate Change concerns in order to encourage a ground swell of support for government action. The more of us pestering companies and M.P.’s the better. So now at when someone at the station says we’re having strange weather, I take my opportunity and say “This is what 1% climate change looks like.” I get some strange looks but also a lot of nods.  Scarey to think what 2% will look like.

The things you read

Those who know me, know I will read anything. Even the back of plastic water bottles found while tidying up the platform. This particular one assured me it didn’t just look good, it “had ancient wisdom” as well. That made me stop and take a closer look.

Apparently this is because it is “infused with native flower essences”. “Handpicked native flower essences” no less. Apparently Northern Australian indigenous people are involved in this process. I couldn’t resist taking a quick sniff of the remaining water, but I can’t smell anything floral. Perhaps that is because it is “refreshingly non-flavoured”

But I can smell something.

Ahh! The scent of male bovine manure.
P.S. School’s back and I had my first train surfers yesterday. They even wore balaclavas as they rode on the rear coupling. Guess the summer holidays are over.

The man-kini

So was D wearing something like this on Elizabeth Street. The mind boggles


D is studiedly bogan. He shakes my hand with an iron grip, tells me he’s from Gippsland and that in his depressed country town every third street has an ice-lab. Shades of “Winters Bone”. He describes getting drunk and driving down the main drag yelling at the shards (ice addicts.) Then he tells me he’s joined the local medieval re-enactment society and how much he likes fighting with the rattan canes. (thus exploding the whole bogan persona in my eyes.)

A pleasant young man. I’m not sure why he’s in Melbourne, but I haven’t pressed him in case he’s here with the Mental Health Service or the Juvenile Detention Service both of which have flats in the area. He may just be here to go to University. What I’d really like to know is his relationship with the two different young women he took the zoo the week before Christmas both of whom he seemed to be on arms-around-waist relations with. (Watch out for your station staff. They notice things.)
Today he looks a bit rough. Apparently, he drank too much on New Year’s Eve.
“I don’t remember much but my mates say I was wandering round Elizabeth Street in a man-kini singing and playing the guitar.

“Did people tuck money into your man-kini?” I ask.
“No,” he says, “But I do remember getting smacked on the arse a lot.”

School holidays

The woman at the ticket machine seems to be putting money onto a dozen smartcards. At the same time she is batting away the 4 or 5 children who crowd around her, all poking at the touch screen, grabbing at the cards and bickering with each other. Around us the waiting room is thunderous with the sound of children and wall to wall with parents and prams. A toddler is wailing piercingly while another really, really needs a nappy change. A very tiny Jack Russell terrier is worrying my shoe laces. My ears are ringing! Three different children have asked me to admire their new stuffed toy at the same time and another one wants a hug.
OMG how do parents do this? All the time?
Outside four or five exhausted-looking parents are desperately trying to suck some energy out of cigarettes. Braving the blinding sunlight, the regulars have all fled out down the platform for the sake of their sanity.
At last the train comes. I herd people into the train, trying to help with prams and keeping an eye out for lost property. The platform clears, I give the driver the sign that there’s no more. He closes the doors. As the train pulls out, another tired family straggles into the station. While telling them they’ve got 20 minutes till the next train, and listening to their moans of dismay, I grab brush and shovel, sweep away the melted icy poles, chips and squashed strawberries and get ready to do it all again.
Its school holidays at Zoo Station so it will be like this for the next 6 weeks. At least the days pass quickly. Roll on the 6.00 gin and tonic!

Inquiring minds want to know

So on the last day of the year a little old man potters into the waiting room  – carrying a pick.  I’m so curious and just a tiny bit concerned. What sort of person carries a pick on the train? Is he a miner? A madman? An assassin?  .

The old guy looks rather sweet.   He seems to know me – we must have spoken before.

“They making you work even now,” he says sympathetically.

“I see you are too,” I say, hoping for more information.

“Oh I’m still working on that primary school. But I’m a volunteer and can stop whenever I like,” he says and potters off down the platform.


I hope the primary school is still there when the children get back from holidays.

Happy New Year to you All.