Posts Tagged ‘tram’

What with Victoria Park being closer to home and trains generally offering a quicker route into town (when they deign to turn up) Bruce has been somewhat neglecting the number 86 tram from Smith Street. For while trains might still offer moments of unexpected entertainment, there’s something about Melbourne’s trams that ensures a higher amusing overheard conversation / junkie / threat of violence / entertaining driver to trips taken ratio.

He was reminded of that today while passing along Bourke Street towards the Parliament building. Onto the seat across from him sidled a borderline clinically obese woman clutching a bag to her bosom. The grey hair pulled back tightly from her forehead was losing its battle to iron out the wrinkles and excess chins making a Blitzkrieg attack on either end of her face, but at least allowed Bruce to spot the sparkle of glee in her eyes.

Dammit! Series nine's rubbish!

Dammit! Series nine's rubbish!

The bag appeared to hold the key to her excitement and, sure enough, soon her mitts were inside. Her body tipped forward, the faded workplace identity card swinging from her neck nudging against the bag, so she could sneak a glance at her prize as it was retrieved. A smile spread across her face as she leant back; there it was: the complete series nine of Murder, She Wrote.

After carefully removing a strip of sticky tape (and folding it perfectly in half) her chubby fingers began clawing at the plastic wrap. As they did, her face became a study in concentration: jaw working overtime like a champion gurner OD’ing on MDMA crystal, tongue lapping at her lips like a dog anticipating Sunday dinner leftovers.

Sadly, the plastic proved a troublesome foe, although her cause was hampered by an apparent desire to remove it tidily (the late Angela Lansbury deserves to be treated with reverence, after all) and the DVD remained cocooned when the time came for her to alight. Still, it did mean she could go through the entire process again later in the day.

Other than reminding him of the joys to be had from riding the tram, it did leave Bruce pondering two questions:

  1. Isn’t Murder, She Wrote on all free-to-air channels in the Western world every day at 2.05pm anyway? Or is Columbo back in that slot these days?
  2. Had the poor wretch forgotten that the show entered a three-year slump after episode eight of series seven – ‘The Great Twain Robbery’ – only to recover midway through series ten (‘Love and Hate in Cabot Cove’)?

Oh dear. Would hate to be around when she realises her error.

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I love the smell of aerosols in the morning

I love the smell of aerosols in the morning

You gotta love Smith Street. Bruce’s aunt and uncle are in town for 48 hours; the first visit by any of his parents’ siblings or friends. In the absence of Fran, who can usually be counted on to make up for his indiscretions in the company of people who require impressing, he’s walking the tightrope well (the tightrope being the need to have good reports sent home to his still-in-mourning mother, but not so good she thinks he may never return to the UK).

They’ve enjoyed a delicious Thai meal, the house is spotless, the dining table laid for breakfast with piping hot tea and coffee when they rise, his behaviour impeccable. Then it’s time to take them into town to meet friends via a brief guided tour of Collingwood and its colourful inhabitants before the 86 pulls up – their first Melbourne tram journey.

As it does, Bruce spies a particularly colourful inhabitant lurching hurriedly down the pavement, eyes darting maniacally, cheeks sunken like he’s permanently sucking on lemons, clothes flaunting their stains on the wind, trainers begging to be allowed to rest in peace. All of which is fine. It’s the blue plastic bag / aerosol combo in his hand that’s of most concern.

“This is the one,” he says, indicating towards the door of the tram. “This will take you right outside the GPO to meet your friends.”

Glancing north, the chromer appears undecided about whether to get on board, before snatching Bruce’s sigh of relief away from him at the last second and squeezing through the closing doors.

He lasts no longer than Gertrude Street.

fsssst… fsssssssssst… fssssssssst… and inhale

Bruce’s attempts to distract the relos from the man – now sat squatting in the aisle at the rear of tram with his bag fixed to his face – are futile; their eyes are transfixed.

“Oh no, it’s fine,” they say. “You get all sorts in Edinburgh, too.”

“Not all trams are like this, you know,” he says, ignoring the fact these public transport experiences are the ones he usually finds most enjoyable.

Not content with abusing his spraycan, the chromer spots a couple of barely teenage girls sat a few seats away and begins hurling abuse at them. They (bravely or foolishly) return fire. Two stops later they disembark. After a brief, vocal debate with his own mind, their abuser follows, but loses them as another tram cuts off his path.

“So, what time did you want me to come and meet you later?” asks Bruce.

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A world of wisdom

As the number 64 tram rattles into Domain Interchange, three Melbourne Grammar School boys hop on board oozing public school confidence, early teenage bravado, giant hair and bad acne.

A conversation ensues about the merits or otherwise of the Arctic Monkeys.

“I like their music, but I think they’re a bit up themselves,” says one.

“Oh really,” says another. “What makes you say that?”

“Erm,” says his friend, clearly caught off guard by the challenge. “Because of the stuff they say.”

‘Hmmm…’ thinks Bruce, ‘Kids’, before returning his attention to the road markings reflected in the opposite window that make it look like the tram is going in the opposite direction (much to the annoyance, it must be said, of the woman who thinks his eyes are boring straight into her head. They’re not, but the glass wouldn’t act as such a perfect mirror without her head being behind it, so she’ll have to lump it and give him his optical illusion this once).

“What iPod are you listening to?” says the Monkeys’ erstwhile critic to the third of their group, at that moment preoccupied with thumbing the cover of his MP3 player back and forth. He names the model.

“Oh yeah, that’s old school,” says character number one, hoping to regain a little cool in their unspoken three-way battle.

“Everything becomes old school one day,” comes the disdainful – and searingly accurate – reply.

No.1 crumples visibly: shot down dead in his tracks by a lovely piece of unwitting wisdom. Fran always tells Bruce: “Never underestimate children.” To his left stands living, breathing evidence of her own particular wisdom.

All the more reason why he wishes the Grammar School sage hadn’t responded to a statement that “Latin is hard because there are too many endings to learn” with…

…drum roll…

“I know. That’s why they got rid of it.”

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