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The kindness of strangers

Sign found in Coburg Station waiting room.

The middle aged man with the beard and the big coat clearly wanted to chat, but I was at the exciting part of my book and had been looking forward to using the train journey to read it. So I replied politely and then disengaged, firmly gluing my gaze to the page
Further down the line, the man got lucky. I was so enthralled with the conversation I stopped reading.
A young bloke with a skateboard got in and the man started a conversation about his neck chains which moved rapidly onto talking about homelessness.
“I lost my f… house, my daughter, my wife two months ago.”
“How are you finding it?”
“F… freezing last night. Terrible.”
“Yeah I know what it’s like. I was homeless for 12 months after my f… step dad kicked me out. Almost died of f… hypothermia a coupla times.”
“Yeah! F… hard to find somewhere dry.”
“Did you know where you can get a free feed every weekend?”
They slipped into talking of ways and means.
Then coming into the junction, the young bloke said,
“I found a place and I’ve been there almost a year. We got two spare couches in the living room. Here, why don’t you take my address and phone number, just come round tonight and we’ll put you up.”
The middle aged man was touched and I, eavesdropping, got a lovely warm feeling in my chest.
“You sure?”
“Yeah, yeah! Just show up tonight. I know what it’s like.
“That’s pretty f… great of you.”
My heart was lifted by this conversation yet at the same time I was fearful. What if someone was hurt? What if someone was assaulted or taken advantage of? I was brought up to distrust the kindness of strangers which is sad. But also wise.
But homelessness cuts down your choices

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.

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.

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)

Looking for Advance Reviewers

I’m looking for 10 people to receive and review The Melded Child on Amazon for me within the next month.    I’ll be able to send out free review copies in your preferred ebook format hopefully by the end of next week.

I’ll send free copies to the first 10 people who contact me on

rebeccalocksley@netspace.net.au

 

Naked Dancing with pot plants at Flinders Street Station

Two young men, two stolen potplants and a suggestive dance.
Last Saturday night two young men were arrested after dancing naked and performing a “lewd act” while in possession of two pot plants stolen from Melbourne Town Hall. Given that one of our Metro Trains in the back ground, I feel reasonably confident this isn’t a hoax.  (I’m also glad the pot plants weren’t involved in the lewdness as this would have confirmed all of Cory Bernardi’s worst fears about same sex couples)

2 Men Stripped Naked, Rooted, & Danced Around A Plant At Flinders St Station


Its a station story that writes itself. The Daily Mail said [Shocking moment a couple are caught on camera having SEX in front of horrified families on a platform at Melbourne’s Flinders Street Station]
but at 11 pm even on a Saturday night it seems unlikely that many people on the platform would have been under 18.
Also it looks more like a cuddle than any particularly pelvic action.
You can even watch the video footage although be warned the ad before is longer than the footage itself.
https://www.9news.com.au/national/2017/11/27/10/03/naked-men-arrested-after-lewd-act-at-flinders-street-station.
p.s. its not the same advertiser every time. Presumably a number of companies are happy to be associated with this kind of activity.

I guess the fact that I took more time wondering what the potplants were than anything else is a sign of my advanced age.

Infidelity??

A young couple regularly waiting at the station are clearly very much in love/lust.  They seem to spend the whole time draped over each other exploring each others tonsils to the occasional discomfort of tourists from more repressed countries who seem to look at me to “keep things nice”.  What I find interesting is that the other day I saw one of the couple holding hands with someone else and leading them towards home in a way I would not like to see my own partner doing.  Yet the next day the original couple were back in place.  I do wish I could take the presumably deceived member of the couple aside and warn them they are about to get their heart broken, but in no way is this appropriate or probably even wanted. I may be misinterpreting the whole thing.

My friend, Melbourne arts and culture critic Mark Holsworth

https://melbourneartcritic.com

 

told me of a piece of railway graffiti he once saw that seems pertinent to this situation.

“Just remember I didn’t give it to you”

The music war

Spring is sprung and youths are riding on the back of trains again.  Two of them went by on the 1.04 on Thursday, bandannas round their faces and long blond hair flapping in the wind.  “I’m going to report you,” I yelled after them. You go inside and report them on the two way radio and by the time they reach the next station the driver knows they are there.  Very satisfactorily, these two jumped off and ran away at the next station.  These days I report them as coupling riders. If I report them as train surfers that really panics the control desk.  Train surfers are those who ride on the top of trains and since they are up there with a whole lot of high voltage electrical wiring they are really dicing with death.

It was a pleasure to stand outside in the warm spring sunshine watching the birds squabble over the sprinkling of chips left by a team of teenage footballers.  A man with a stylish haircut, wearing leather trousers and gold and black cats eye glasses (you’ll have to look them up- I couldn’t download a picture) jumped off the train, handed me a lost backpack containing a Nepalese passport and jumped back on.

Another man was singing along loudly and reasonably tunefully to some folksy album on his iphone.  Some thuggy looking 14 year olds arrived, full of attitude, carrying blaring loud rap music. For a while the two kinds of music warred in the waiting room.  The man’s singing was completely out of step with the kid’s music, but he was in his own little world and completely unaware of them. Interestingly enough he won the war and they turned their music down. Their leader, a solid looking girl with red dyed hair, shot me an anxious look.  She clearly thought he was mad.  I guess madness trumps attitude.

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