Weekend of living relatively safely

Winter must be on its way – for the first time this year I saw some bloke in Lonsdale Street actually wearing a scarf on Friday night. A real scarf that is, not just a footy scarf. I didn’t think it was that cold. But maybe he was on his way to an all-night candlelit peace vigil. You just can’t tell these days.


I was looking around the gaggle of camera shops in Elizabeth Street for my preferred option of a digital camera, the Canon A70. It only came out last week. All the reviews sound good, and the shops have started to stock it. It’s tiny – smaller than I thought it would be. So what’s stopping me buying? Well with the impending move, I’m suddenly having second thoughts about blowing $700+ (‘cos I’ll want a bigger memory card, right?) on a new toy. Should I wait? Should I go for a cheaper model which doesn’t do as many groovy things? Or should I just damn the torpedoes and splash out? (Whoops, danger! Mixed metaphors!) I’ll mull on it for a few days.

Car-free; houses

With the aim of gaining more exercise and of course contributing just a tiny teensy bit to air quality, I managed to go more than 48 hours without using my car. Okay so I never use it to go to work anyway, but on Saturday I was out and about looking at houses. I took advantage of the glorious weather and rode my bike or walked.

House A looked like crap, and there’s no way I want to be spending $312,000 on something that looks like crap. House B looked better – quite nicely renovated, but probably at the upper-limits of my price range. Too near the highway and the railway line for my liking – I could imagine being awoken by B doubles or freight trains in the dead of night. Not to mention the health effects of the smog. I pity the half-a-dozen overseas-looking students living in it, they looked a bit dazed when the agent and house hunters descended on them to look around. I don’t know how good their English was, but the agent seemed to have to emphasise "open for inspection" at them. One of the other inspectors obviously assumed the inspectees couldn’t understand a word, and spoke of them almost as if they were animals being led to the slaughter. "They don’t seem to realise."

House C looks okay from the outside, and the pictures on the web of the inside look okay too. It’s in a good quiet location, but not too far from the shops and station, but I haven’t been able to take a look inside or see the layout. Have to get in contact with the agent and find out when it’ll be open for inspection.


My cloth shopping bag shortage doesn’t seem to be a problem so far. I found a second cloth bag skulking in the bedroom courtesy of the good people at the Birkenstock shop, and will use that as my backup. But so far even at my most organised level ($40 of groceries on Sunday, though mostly small items) everything fit okay into the original cloth bag, which is rather TARDIS-like.

Year Of Living Dangerously

Meanwhile, after seeing the film, I’ve started reading Christopher Koch’s The Year Of Living Dangerously, and a few dozen pages in, it has become apparent that in doing so I may well gain new insights into my father. So far almost every bit of narrative about the character of Billy Kwan mentions some characteristic that is obviously based on Dad.

What’s also funny is that the review snippet quoted on the front cover is from another of Dad’s long time friends, poet extraordinaire Les Murray. I get the feeling that Koch, Murray, David Malouf and others who all seem to know each other (and my dad), probably have some kind of inner circle, and end up reviewing each others’ books, though I have no doubt that they have achieved their formidable reputations for their abilities, not by communal backslapping.

So, what of Dad is there in Kwan? I might keep a running list. So far:

  • Philosophical thinking, quoting of classic authors
  • Claims not to speak any Chinese, though given his Chinese parentage, this seems unlikely
  • He keeps calling people "old man"
  • "Kwan was one of those people who rarely answer questions directly, and who start conversations in the middle."
  • Has an English girlfriend who wears glasses. (Fortunately that’s where the similarity to my mother ends)

More to come, I’m sure of it.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.