No Bloody Seats
John Sawyer © March
“What sort of a city can have a major tram stop without
seats?” She was too young for her walking stick but old enough to have the
confidence to engage in banter with a fellow traveller. Her eyes had the hint
of a mocking smile that sucked me in.
“Well there are these bar things you can rest against.
That’s the best we can do these days of sardine travel.” I squeezed along to
make room. “Oh, I see, your bum’s too low.” Shit, why did I say that? Well it’s
a nice bum and she did point at it as she tried to place it on the stupid bar
thing. “Not real good is it. I could boost you up. No. Perhaps
not.” Shit again, I could be taken for an old perve.
“There’s a tram coming now, can you see the number?” “No,
but it’s old. See the light in the middle. It’s probably a Circle.” Of course
it’s a bloody circle you dill, she can see that. “I mean Circle tram. Where are
you going?” “Bridge Road, Church Street” “You need a 48 or 75. There’ll be one
We look along the track searching for a tram to get us away
from this heat. After 8 and it’s still in the high 30’s. My rucksack is glued
to my back. I probably smell bad but I won’t be alone.
“Are you from Melbourne?”
“Yeah but a long time ago. Everythings
changed, well not Flinders Street Station. That’s still the same.” She points
across to Fed Square,
“I can’t say I think much of that monstrosity over the road.”
“Well, I didn’t think much of it as I watched it being built
and when they finished, I was making smart arse comments wondering when they’d
take down the scaffolding.” Shit there I go with bums and arses again, “but I’m
a convert now. I reckon it’s the best city square I’ve been in. It holds heaps
of people and everyone can see. A great space for a
celebration or a demo. I’ve sung there.” “Oh do you sing?” She beams
now. “Yeah me and my wife sing a bit in choirs.” I’d
better be upfront.
“But there’s no shade?” Hmm.
“I suppose you’re right, ‘specially
on days like today.” That smile is broadening, I have
to defend my home town. “Did you go to the gallery? I guarantee you’ll change
your mind if you go there.” “No, I didn’t see the gallery.” “Well it’s up the
other end near Russel Street.
Argh… Ian Potter Gallery. A great indigenous collection.” “That sounds good.” “And all
the old iconic paintings you’d remember from your school papers.”
“Sounds great! Ian Potter you say.”
“Yes. Go to the top and walk down. It’ll be easier with the stick. Make sure
you look at the building itself and look back out the windows and see how the
city is framed.” Our eyes hunt along the track for a suitable tram again.
“How long have you had the stick?” She looks me straight in the
eye, “Twelve years” We both look away again.
“Here’s your tram, enjoy the rest of your stay.” She goes in
the front door. I sneak in the back, embarrassed.
I watch her as she gets off at Church Street. What sort of a city on the edge of a desert has
a meeting place with no shade? What sort of a city has a
tram stop with no bloody seats?