Ketchup time

I seem to have been frantically busy the last few days. Alas, a good deal of the weekend was tied up with work. The nature of the work beast is that anything substantial has to be done outside of operating hours, so in summary, that’s how I spent a joyous Saturday night. And Sunday morning. And some of Sunday night, too. Yes, it was substantial, and no, it didn’t go entirely smoothly.

Saturday lunchtime I sent a couple of spies over to My Favourite Prospective House to check out the inspection and see who was nosing around. They reported back over a cup of tea, telling me that there seemed to be a few people looking in, dammit. Interestingly the agent rang me a couple of days later to see if I was still interested. I tried to sound interested enough that she should contact me if someone else puts in an offer, but not so interested that she sees dollar signs and tries and drive the price up beyond my limit.

My bike was due for its complimentary "a few months use" service, and a little later on Saturday arvo I was just heading out the door when Mr Phone Company appeared. I’d rung them almost a week before about my phone line, which went crackly the Sunday before. No less than two phone company blokes had already been out during the week when I was at work, and left cards proclaiming that (as I’d told them to expect) I wasn’t home when they called, and that the problem wasn’t in the wiring out on the street, it was somewhere inside. So it was the third bloke that actually caught me at home.

He came in and pottered around with some telephonic gear, poking it into various phone connections around the house. After a bit of fiddling he narrowed it down to an unused extension, which runs along the hallway, past the bathroom and into my bedroom. I was wondering why it should have suddenly caused problems on Sunday when I remembered how the washing machine outlet had been blocked on Sunday morning and caused a heap of water to spill onto the bathroom floor and out into the hallway, some reaching the carpet in the doorway of the bedroom, and much of it no doubt soaking the telephone line.

While I was remembering this, Mr Phone Company, squatting next to the phone point, looked up at me with a knowing look as he said "yeah, if there was any dampness down there, it would short the line out straight away". He disconnected the unused fatally wounded extension and sent it to cabling heaven, and everything phone-wise was hunky dory again.

Traffic on High Street
Ah the joys of the traffic on High Street

What was I doing? Ah yes, the bike.

I had rung the day before to arrange to drop the bike off, and didn’t particularly want to postpone it, especially as the squeaky front brake has been bugging me. It was now a tad after 3pm, and the bike shop closed at 4. I had no wish to get myself killed riding the mean (and congested) streets to Prahran, so I’d planned to ride to Elsternwick and catch the train to Prahran. But was there time? Quick, jump on the web and check the
train timetable
. Trains only every 20 minutes. 3:06. I’d miss that. 3:46 would be too late. And in the middle, 3:26. Could I get there to Elsternwick station in time? Well, I could try.

I zoomed out of the driveway towards Elsternwick, heading along the side streets. In the time I’ve had my bike, I must confess my time on the main roads has been limited. Knowing what dickheads some car drivers are, I definitely prefer the side streets. Okay so dickheads are no less likely to display dickhead-like behaviour on side streets, but there is likely to be less of them.

So, there I was, with about 20 minutes to get to Elsternwick via unfamiliar back streets, with no Melway to guide me. Thank goodness my neck of the woods was laid out in the late 19th century, before town planners decided to go all decorative and swirly and design streets the way they are in the outer suburbs – curving all over the place, so no amount of logic can determine where a street goes, and getting from anywhere to anywhere takes hours, most of it taken up by stopping and checking the map every few hundred metres. No, this was all entirely logical. I just kept going towards Elsternwick, and if I reached a T junction, looked for the nearest street that kept going in the right direction. Easy. Indeed, I surprised myself by getting there in around 15 minutes, not much longer than it would have taken in the car along the main road, especially if finding parking is taken into account.

Arrived at the station in good time for the train, which duly arrived and whisked me into the heart of Prahran. I rode up to High Street and decided on a whim to brave the traffic the block or so to the bike shop. It wasn’t bad actually, not as scary as I thought it might be, and it was fun being able to inwardly gloat at the cars stuck in traffic that I was passing. Got to the shop, and dropped the bike in.

Walking back to the train I saw a frail old man fall over at a tram stop. Onlookers crowded around to lift him back up and park him on a bench. Hmm. I really should ring my dad, see how he is.

Anyhow, I’ll do it all in reverse (the bike bit that is, not the stuff with the phone line and work) next weekend when I pick the bike up again.

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.