I will admit it to you, dear reader; I am homeless. My beloved flat of ten years was sadly in need of renovations and richer, more respectable tenants ... according to the owner. So I have been looking for somewhere new to set up my desk, my bowed bookshelves, my mismatched teacups for 3 months. To this end, while thunderstorms threatened I wandered the streets of Footscray yesterday in search of a block of flats without;
a) two mattresses moulderating on the footpath
b) cracked and crumbling letterboxes with unclaimed, and perhaps never to be claimed letters carefully placed in holes in the brickwork.
c) a tasteful desert garden complete with dead palms and rocks just the right size for youthful hands
d) a certain smell; a meaty sort of decay, mixed with orange peel and motor oil
e) abandoned shopping trolleys.
You will not be surprised to learn I was unsuccessful.
Dejected, and nearly purple with heat stress I repaired to a most promising looking Cafe; The Dancing Dog. It was in an old building, overlooked the railway line and advertised itself as a gallery/cafe: what could be more loverly?
As a vagabond I must pay for the privilege of sitting down. If I don't want to be harassed by insects, drunks or babies, my choices are public transport, eatinghouses, Libraries, theatres. Sitting on the street or in a park leaves a woman liable to unkind comments and unwanted attention; take my word for it as a lifelong public wanderer.
'We only got teabags, so it wont be a pot of tea' the dreadlocked shortie advises me. What choice do I have, having already drunk two glasses of filtered water and found a spot in the coolest darkest room in which to collapse? When it comes, a teabag in a mug, the only thing that distinguishes it from Public Service teabreak is the fact that the mug doesn't have a witty saying on it, like 'you don't have to be a snooty bitch to work here, but it helps'.
The Enemy of the Bourgoisie says when she sees my expression 'don't do me no favours; you don't have to have it if you don't want it'. I say 'how much am I paying for this?'
'$3.00' she says.
I say 'milk?' I don't know what face I am making, but its the one that has made people be rude to me all day.
When she brings it she comments,'perhaps you've had a bad day, or are you just one of those naturally grumpy people?'.
I say 'a bit of both actually, especially when I receive bad service'... but she has turned away, and to show her distain turns up the Reggae on the stereo and sings along.
The tea and the muffin are both unconsumable, and she begins mopping the floors with some noxious and noisesome substance, and my base temperature having gone down by a degree I wander out, $6.50 poorer.