A Santa Sighting and the Tiger Train

IMG_5358

Guess who I saw…..

Last night I was out in the Ford Focus Sport heading east along Glen Huntly Rd looking for an evening sugar hit when the railway crossing lights began flashing and the boom gates descended in front of me.

As I sat waiting patiently for three metro trains to pass I looked into my rear view mirror and spotted Santa in his bright red suit. He was cursing away at the incessant ding dinging and the protracted time it was taking for the trains to pass.

He was in the Blue Uber and his portly shape was silhouetted against the bright orange glow of the setting sun.

He looked hot, flustered and bothered.

Santa had not been spotted for ages; not since the 2016 Boxing Day Test match at the MCG where he had run into his mate Kirk Ham*.

Now, I know a lot of what I say is actually hearsay, but this I know, is in fact a fact, as it was I who spotted the two of them swilling lagers down by the fence in the members bay.

It seems that Kirk may have led Santa astray that day, not just for the swilling of lagers in the members dry zone, but for suggesting he jump on board the Tiger Train for the 2017 footy season. (Santa was previously footy agnostic)

A short time after this, I had heard from a friend who confirmed that Santa had indeed taken up Kirk’s invitation, and that he was relishing the whole Tiger Train thing.

Santa and Kirk celebrated long and hard after each Tiger victory last year; celebrations that reached a peak after the granny, where the partying continued on from the ‘G’ at both the Cricketers Arms and the Corner Hotel.

Someone with the twitter handle @tigersloveyaforever tweeted a day after the granny that he had seen Santa dancing his way into a barber shop on Swan Street…. and that it was after this that he seemed to have disappeared. A replacement Santa had to be found for Xmas 2017 through Seek.

Naturally, this story trended on twitter for days under the hashtag wheressanta.

As the Tigers winning streak continued to grow into this year, so too did Santa’s passion for his team. He was eventually spotted at various home and away games around Melbourne. I heard that Santa was dead sure that back to back celebrations were coming his way. He just couldn’t wait.

Until, of course, the tall mountain of a man from the US ran amok at the ‘G’ in one of the finals….Coxy? I think that was his name, yep, Coxy, number 46 in the black and white. He was the one responsible for the Pies pummelling of the Tigers that night in late September; responsible for hounding Santa out of the ground and back to his Magical Christmas Kingdom as the crowd chanted U-S-A.

Poor Santa’s high hopes had unravelled drastically, but this was how his senses were finally knocked back into place.

Reality had hit. Kirk Ham’s Tiger Train had crashed.

Besieged with remorse and struggling to fit his once shapely body back into the seams of the red suit, Santa realised the gift supply at the Magical Christmas Kingdom was now utterly depleted.

And in the back of his mind, a nagging thought made him question the wisdom of hanging out with his mate Kirk in the future.

With a meagre fifteen days now until Christmas it’s no wonder then, that Santa’s cursing could be heard emanating from the Blue Uber on Glen Huntly Road last night.

If I spot him again, I promise I’ll let you know.

*Kirk Ham is a mate of Santa’s. They met down at The Wick after an Amo’s Xmas Party back in the early 90’s.

 

(This is a Xmas spirited story built on from the ones I did in 2016; iPad drawing)

A little Bit Mad

IMG_7616

I’m sitting in a black vinyl covered swivel chair at Carnegie Hair place, Carnegie, of course.

Sophia is combing my hair into sections with the pointy metal end of a tail comb. She is singling out the strands, painting them with a cool paste and swaddling each bundle into a tight foil wrap.

The foils stand upright on my head, and flap about like pages of an open book when I move. An oversized pink clip holds the conglomeration of foils together, crowning the pitch of my silver tiara. The alarm is set.

I sit still for an hour, and try to put some order to my thoughts and words.

Sophia is four weeks away from giving birth to her firstborn. A son to be named Dimitri.

Dimma for short, I posit.

No, definitely not, his full name only. No nicknames.

The hum of the hair dryer in the background along with Sophia’s methodic process is softening my mind into a billowy state of sleepiness.

I fight the urge to drift into a complete non-compos oblivion, devoid of all weight, hope and expectation.

Danny, the barber, walks past me. He hands me the free Tiger mask from todays Herald-Sun. Good Luck Kate, Good Luck for Saturday. He feels the weight. He feels the pressure. He feels good.

Footy finals have overtaken my usual day to day routine with emails, ticketing and barracking, all requiring attention.

Last week I went to mass. I thought it might be peaceful. Inside the church sat a school full of young kids decked out in their footy gear. The Gospel was read by one of the Dusty’s, whilst prayers of the faithful were delivered by one each of the Hodgey’s, Rooeys and Dangers.

Toby and Cotch took up the gifts in the offertory procession.

And the choir sang, Do you believe….Yes Lord I do believe, they retorted.

It was a curious, joyful sight…and strangely peaceful.

The foil alarm sounds and I am suddenly alert. I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. My head is reclined backwards into the basin and adorned with a crown of purple suds. Tepid water streams over me and trickles down my neck washing the purple suds away.

In some ways I have been out of sorts, a bit distracted, a bit displaced and feeling just a little bit mad; in a good way, though.

I think of all the things I have to do for Saturday and I am reminded..Richmond…..Richmond is in the Grand Final, this Saturday and how mad is that?

Feeling coiffed and refreshed, I wish Sophia all the best with the arrival of the young Dimma , sorry, Dimitri and I tell her that I hope he has a wonderful life in this world.

Because, Dimitri’s world could well be just more than a little bit madder than mine.

Let it be.

Go Tiges.

 

Mysteries of the Track

pharlapshooting_katebirrell_2016

It’s Friday night, Derby Day eve.

I’m no punter, yet I love a racecourse. It is a mystery to me, I know.

I like the look of the racecourse, the open space, the greenery of the turf and the white railings circling the tracks.

I like the city track for its urbanity. The distant CBD, it’s buildings, its cranes, its smog and its blue-grey haze.

I like the commission flats rising up like pop up sprinklers above a flat botanic lawn; they are all beige and boxy; and a bit eastern European in appearance. They guard the perimeter of the Flemington track at odd intervals in the neighbouring suburbs of Kensington and North Melbourne.

I like the Queens Avenue Californian bungalows of Caulfield East, with their second storey bay windows and terracotta roofs peering down onto the far side of The Heath. The avenue meets with the Monash University block and the Metro towers running wires and persons along the Cranbourne, Frankston and Pakenham lines.

I like the members lawn at Caulfield on Cup Day. It is sheltered from the gusty Spring winds and the crush of the outside crowds, albeit, wilting in the sun as the day progresses, and sprawling their fluid limbs across plantar boxes and plastic turf as the day draws to a close.

I like the fact that a racecourse predates our Southern Cross and Spencer Street stations. Races on Batman’s Hill in a city barely named, let alone formed.

I like the country racetrack, with its low horizon and wide open skies; and the Black Angus studded across the granite soils in the background; and ochre wheat fields and paddocks of grazing ewes and gum trees and dust and mud, too; or not, depending on when and where you are, of course.

I like the architecture of the stands, ornate filigree and long wooden benches stepping upwards; the stewards towers and the finishing posts; those in the shape of the horseshoe – and the ads; Elders always, the local real estate agents, financial advisors and beer, too.

I like the Schweppes Ad at Kilmore.

I like the chrome green John Deere tractors lined up in the middle of a track way out west;

And the country girls with contours in all shapes, colour and dress, lining up for fashion on the fields, waiting to be judged by the owner of the nearest ladies fashion boutique. As judge for the day, she is demure in her refinery and ready for the responsibility she has at hand.

I like listening to the call of a race, on a radio. I don’t know why.

I like a torrential downpour at St.Arnaud, where everyone one runs to the betting ring for cover.

I like being at Towong when the skies are blue and the sun is shining and news of a ferocious storm ripping through Flemington filters through; the horses disappeared from the racecallers view, so the crowd at Towong said, and the meeting had to be abandoned.

I like the shady Oak trees at Woolamai in March, and the blazing heat and dust of Dederang in January.

I like sitting on a rug on the grass with my kids, especially when they were little, sleepy and dozing off in the open air.

I like the story of Pharlap. He was shot at, so the papers said, in a Glen Huntly street on Derby Day 1930. My neighbour was about thirteen. She remembers the day. Her friend saw it all.

And Feathers, the man up the road so named for the brightly coloured feathers adorning his hat; his horse trainer grandfather found the cartridge wadding. It says so in a book titled “A Century Galloped by”. He takes me to the page where his grandfather is named.

I like the colour and the character of people, all mixed in together, slipping between the veiled layers of place, time and memory.

I like the loneliness, and the camaraderie.

I like the mystery of it all.

A free Weekend; old books and new thoughts

Quite a while ago, when I was doing Yr 12, I remember coming across a book by Viktor Frankl. He was an Austrian psychotherapist.

It might have been in the Moonee Ponds library, the spot I retreated to escape the noise at home, and to pretend to myself that I was studying.

Or, I may have stumbled upon it at home, perched upon the skewiff bookshelf that inhabited the cool ante chamber near the back toilet. It stood upright next to the heavy Edwardian back door that admitted the chill Southerly wind on most days of the week; not just through the space below the door, but through its gaping key hole too.

The bookshelf was home mainly to an array of kids picture books, a collection of red cloth bound Enid Blyton’s from the 1950’s, handed down a generation, or two, and a scattering of 1970’s Australian literature; Donald Horne’s Lucky Country comes to mind, as does Ronald Conways’, The Land of the Long Weekend.

Another book I remember clearly on this bookshelf was titled Australian Pioneer Women by Eve Pownall. This text had a dust cover with an image of the 1904 Frederick McCubbin painting The Pioneer. It depicted a worn out looking settlers wife, languishing sadly amidst the steely blues of the Mt Macedon bush.

Loosely mingled amongst this dishevelled collection were a few other books, more esoteric in their nature. Among them authors such as Eric Fromm and Viktor Frankl. Man’s Search for Meaning was the title of the Frankl book.

I’m not trying to impress upon you. My philosophical readings are sparse at best, but they must have been relevant at the time and must have tied into the English theme for H.S.C. that year. I could also have been procrastinating over the ill chosen subject of Chemistry, one that has never drawn me back in.

Either way, something from this era must have resonated for me, as only yesterday when lounging on the sofa beside the fire, I recalled Frankl and the term he is credited with having coined, that of Sunday Neurosis.

My search engines’ definition reads as follows:

“Sunday neurosis, that kind of depression which afflicts people who become aware of the lack of content in their lives when the rush of the busy week is over and the void within themselves becomes manifest.”

It seemed relevant to this weekend.

A combination of things for me meant there was no kids sport, no significant social events and, of course, no AFL footy, nor finals. The structures that are usually built into my weekend had gone, albeit temporarily.

It’s an odd feeling. One craves free time, yet when it arrives, it can be confronting. The question is posed, what do I do? Or, the opposite, too many things to do and being paralysed by the choices and the subsequent indecision.

And so my weekend unfolded with leisure at hand.

Amongst other things, here’s a couple of things I did:

  • I took off to the South Melbourne market on Saturday morning, unburdened by time constraints, Paintball birthday parties, tennis matches in Seaford, and devestating games of footy at the MCG. I had company in my husband and our youngest who is eleven now. We, the tiger trio, sat down for coffee served in glass coffee cups and a milkshake served in a stainless steel vessel; not the takeaway varieties that come in the paper and plastic combo that must be steadily building as a waste management problem for our community when you consider how many are disposed of each day. Normally, I have two takeaway three quarter full strong lattes a day. That equates to 730 paper cups from me, alone.
  • Our fresh food supplies for the weekend were replenished, meaning that we did not engage with a home delivery service on either Saturday or Sunday evening. There are no pizza boxes scattered across the bench, nor are there any half eaten tubs of Rogan Josh loitering inside the fridge.
  • I was able to amble through the market and peruse the second hand book stall in the centre of the market. There, I came across a book titled How did Sport begin? Published in 1971, it has that musty smell and creamy, tan colour to its pages. Someone has inscribed in blue biro, upon the front page with a note to the recipient…To two real sports, Pam and Alfred…..(I can’t decipher the rest). I left the market thinking about sport, why is sport, sport? I left the market wondering who Pam and Alfred were.
  • The womens exhibition game of footy was televised on Saturday night. I sat down thinking I would watch a little bit of the game before going off to start my newly acquired, old book. I ended up watching the whole game. It was such a clean, open game of footy, that I had to watch until its celebratory end. It was a spectacle set against the backdrop of Western suburbia. If television ratings and twitter updates are a sign, it was surely a success.
  • With the open fire lit and a leg of lamb baking beneath a crusty marinade of garlic, rosemary and french mustard, I was reminded of that old tradition of the Sunday roast (minus the garlic and mustard marinade). And so with all the kids at home for a change, the family celebrated fathers day, and an early Sunday night dinner, seated together. It was complete with both conversation and argument, and in relatively equal measure.

In so far as football is concerned, the weekend was perfect in that it shone a spotlight upon the newly forming women’s league. How other fans felt about the bye, I can’t say. Nor can I comment on behalf of AFL finals players, will the break upset their rhythm? If so, I do understand.
As a footy fan, I think it was positive.

The free time and leisure opened up new possibilities and new thoughts, even a sequence of thoughts.

I get what Frankle was on about, that dissociative state one can feel when faced with emptiness, vacancy or uncertainty. But stepping into that space and beyond that emptiness can also be the opening for some new and creative wanderings….Perhaps a new and contemporary edition of Australian Pioneer Women with a more hopeful image on the cover….now there’s an idea and many possibilities….

Anyway, just thinking aloud. How was your weekend without the usual round of football finals?

contributed to and commented upon at The Footy Almanac here

The Drive Home

Into

the dark

of night,

heading

home,

 

from

a dwelling,

of God’s own.

 

Gates down

DING, DING, and

BT sounding,

over

kids in the back,

a gentle

idle-engine,

humming.

 

SHOOSH,

quiet,

 

iridescent light, flashing scarlet,

the night pauses,

for a bit.

 

It’s over

It’s over.

Turn it off.

 

The ball

somewhere,

non-Richmond end

22 tickings, chances

remote.

 

Keep, going

keep going,

a pass,

a chip

a little one over the top

 

what,

 

a good bounce,

a long boot

to where ….

 

NO,

Don’t turn it off

Slap.

 

Limbs retract,

as a shadow looms, somewhere

as breathless rumbling, pummels

the tracks

clack, clack

in time,

Broady bound.

 

LLOYD, LLOYDY,

a mark

with tickings, somewhere

to go

 

it’s Pentecost,

and confirmation

a holy spirit, now

bestowing gifts,

just perhaps.

 

The outside din

abates,

and a siren, shrill

within,

Oh, for a kick

after….

 

Turn it up,

Turn it up,

 

Be quiet,

Be quiet,

 

Lloyd for goal

45 out

at an angle, odd

it goes,

somewhere

 

through the middle.

 

GEE WHIZ.

 

A rising fever,

with a maddened crowd

and BT’s bellows, and

dashboard shudders,

and thumpings,

within

 

as panes, wound down

to remove the stifled heat

from the air,

and the air from the stifled heat;

 

and the dark from the dark, darkness

of a season

falling,

away.

 

Melodies flung, da de da

together,

with shimmers

of cheer

and glory,

 

and Allelulia

Spreading a ripple, wide

across the sharpened shadows of nothern abodes

and all around.

 

On this,

now bright and clear night.

Contributed to The Footy Almanac here

#firstgameoftheseason

The sweet and delectable taste of summer lingered as Hugo and I boarded the train at Caulfield just after 6pm on Easter Thursday.

We were in good company as the carriage was filled with like minded revellers draped in various garments that declared their football allegiance.

The Tiger colours probably outnumbered that of the Old Navy Blues. We were south of the Yarra.Read More