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Bloody idiots

Bloody idiots

The barrage of lies, deceits and downright stupidity unfolding in the US Presidential Campaign caused Bruce and Fran to enter a period of solemn reflection this week.

It led them, in a rare moment of soul searching and honesty, to admit that they had been rather hasty in naming their vehicle the Hoonmobile back in May.

Sure, it was bright red and, as a three-litre guzzler that undermined their claims to care for the planet somewhat, had more power under its bonnet than the 1.2l Punto they left in the UK. What’s more, of all the great Aussie-isms they’d enjoyed in their early weeks in Melbourne, hoon was one of their favourites; what’s not to like about “DOB IN A HOON!”, up there with “YOU BLOODY IDIOT!” for promoting sensible driving (although, like Asbos in the UK, one can imagine certain sorts taking the mantle of hoon or even bloody idiot as a badge of honour).

But, no, the Magna is not a souped up super-Ute, a lowered Impreza or a boom box-laden Holden. It’s a car. A bit of a middle manager / family car at that.

Or so they thought, until Thursday night, when, enjoying a post-victory beer with the Mountain Goat indoor cricket team (having carefully plotted the route out of Northcote to avoid the Booze Bus (bloody idiots)*), the throbbing, insistent roar of altered car engines hit our ears.

Oooh!

Oooh!

One after another, swerving from side to side like F1 drivers warming their wheels pre-race, came a convoy of 25 cars, all with body kits and neon lights. Reaching the corner, they slowed, before accelerating into a series of the most pitiful front wheel spins and disappearing into the industrial site.

“Did you see that?” yelped one of our players excitedly. “The Magna Club! Doing that. In a Magna! Of all the cars!”

Bruce’s pride initially dented, his eyes followed the cars until they parked around the corner and opened up trunks and bonnets for fellow retards to inspect.

It took him back to Sunday nights in Nottingham, when the local retards would gather from across the Midlands to parade their modified Vauxhall Novas, Ford Fiestas and Citroen 2CVs around the “circuit” in one of the most pathetic and misconceived attempts at manliness (far less glamorous than its assumed title, the “circuit” was actually a small ring road around an ugly 70s concrete stack car park).

But, tail between legs – and upset that he’d been given a lift to the game and couldn’t show off his dented rear end (“YOU BLOODY POOF!”) to the other Magna Boyz – he returned home to Fran.

Then it dawned. They were hoons. They drove Magnas. They’d been right all along.

Their car was a Hoonmobile after all.

* One bottle of beer only. We’re not bloody idiots, you know

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Northcote's entertainment hub

Northcote's entertainment hub

“So you’ve come from shit weather to more shit weather,” said the man from Brisbane as a young girl on a skateboard hurtled past him before being brought suddenly and painfully to a halt by a bench on which were scrawled a selection of childish rude words – balls, wees, poo.

Now, while Bruce would be foolish to deny that Melbourne’s flirtation with above 20C temperatures has only been tantalisingly fleeting, he is reminded of the words of Bill Hicks whenever people question why he and Fran chose Melbourne over the warmer climes of Queensland. Then, speaking of Los Angeles, the great man said:

“Hot and sunny, every single day, hot and sunny. And they love it. ‘Isn’t it great, every day, hot and sunny?’ What are you, a fucking lizard? Only reptiles feel that way about this kind of weather. I’m a mammal, I can afford coats, scarves, cappuccino and rosy cheeked women.”

Moments later, the young girl by now carried to the relative safety of a nearby shrubbery patch by her friends, a skinhead in a red hoodie approached the same bench at speed, leapt over it while performing a somersault, mistimed his landing and careered into a row of parked bicycles. Half an hour later he was back pretending to be a dog and giving someone’s black labrador the time of his life. Welcome to Northcote’s High Vibes festival.

Despite being located in a section of Northcote High Street, it did a remarkable job of capturing so much of what festival-going is about:

  • You don’t actually see any of the bands (in this case, because the venues were so packed by the time we arrive there mid-evening rather than any lack of willing to traipse through fields knee deep in mud)
  • No matter how drunk you are, there is someone far drunker only yards away. Always reassuring
  • The police are there in body only
  • Grown men who would otherwise guard against it think nothing of displaying deep affection for each other in public
  • You realise just how little it would take for Western society to descend (rise?) into anarchy
Boatyard blues

Boatyard blues

That Bruce and Fran had spent the preceding few hours watching a bunch of good ol’ boys (and some not so ol’ boys) playing soulful rockabilly and blues in a wooden boatyard in Williamstown (featuring a man playing an armoured breastplate with metal thimbles), which itself came less than 24 hours after they’d watched some pretty nimble breakers and talented graffiti artists at the Don’t Ban The Can protest event in Brunswick, made for a colourful weekend.

Then there was the Spanish food in the couldn’t-sound-more-Scottish Robert Burns Hotel, in Collingwood, a great and very popular little place that combines the decor of the mercifully defunct Berni Inns of 70s and 80s Britain with tasty food and generous bar staff. And The Detonators rockin’ and rollin’ at The Gem around the corner, complete with a singer whose quiff was only outdone in its audacity by the leather holster belt in which he carried his eight harmonicas. Quite what was so special about the ninth – kept in its own separate padded container – is perhaps best left secret…

Reflecting on this as a crowd gathered to form an impromptu choral line for some buskers in Northcote High Street as the festival came to a close, Bruce wondered why anyone would choose not to live in Melbourne. Even the visitor from Brisbane admitted: “Only in Melbourne.”

Then he remembered – it’s not hot and sunny every day.

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Nothing like this

Not even in their wildest dreams

In the dark corner: an Iberian-looking communista; a huge pair of lamb chop sideburns; a dead-eyed, pot-bellied hitman possibly of Eastern Mediterranean origin; a ginger; a skater; and a dank-haired Goth pre-application of foundation and eye liner.

In the light corner: an equally motley bunch of six, most of whom had met for the first time in the previous half hour. An underworld stand off? No. These new acquaintances were charged with defending the honour of the Mountain Goat brewery indoor cricket team at the Northcote Indoor Sports Centre. (Honour is a relative term here, given the team’s record stood at: Played 10 Won 3 Lost 6 Drawn 1. Equally, the six’s links to the brewery were sketchy: one player had once done a shift behind the bar, the remainder had drunk its beer.)

Sadly, the surrounds – four top quality indoor cricket tracks accessed by climbing through a giant red vulva, a beach volleyball court and bar – failed to inspire much in the way of quality. Chasing a paltry 52 for victory, Team Mountain Goat faltered after a bright start as Marilyn Manson’s snail paced, looping mortar bomb leg breaks proved to be an unlikely weapon. By the last over it was like the Champions League final all over, at least in terms of tension if not ability, importance, quality, fitness, financial reward or viewing figures (one: the Goat’s female driver).

Well I never

Now that’s what I call a surprise weapon

One Goat headed to the bar before the end.

“I can’t watch. I’m getting the beers in whether to celebrate or commiserate,” he said.

Were the men in white, yellow, beige and light blue, like John Terry before them, going to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory? No! Two wides at the close of the innings ensured a crucial win that moved them one step closer to escaping the relegation zone. Not that anyone from the brewery was there to see it.

Playing sport in Melbourne

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