Thursday, May 03, 2007

some characters

Sand Castle Girl

Picked her up on the Bondi Junction rank, tall, leggy, young, with an unlit rollie in her hand. She was from Rye on the Victorian south coast, in Sydney for a month with her father, their business was sand sculpture. Had just made her first visit to Bondi Beach, could not believe the way a thousand eyes checked her and her accessories out as she walked down the strand. A lovely mixture of wide-eyed innocence and all-but-unconscious sophistication. Gave her the black Bic lighter someone had left in the cab.

Archaeologist / Accountant

In Riley Street, going to Presbyterian Lady's College in Croydon for a Parent-Teacher evening. He was an uncle, his niece would be reviewing career options. Soft-voiced, understated, highly ironical, had trained as an archaeologist but ended up working as an accountant. Said he still didn't know what he wanted to do with his life, even though he was passing fifty. Just ... to stop working. Was he gay? Did he have children of his own? Hard to say ...

Red-haired Boy

On a street corner in Petersham. Going to the ABC building in Ultimo. The red hair was shading towards pink and certainly not natural. A radio producer, he did a talkback show that started at 10 pm. Handled all the technical aspects, screened callers, managed delays ... told me a joke: Advisor to Bush: Mr President, today's kill figures in Iraq are: twelve Americans, three British, one hundred and seventy Iraqis and one Brazilian. Bush's face puckers up. Long pause. How much is a Brazilian? he asks.

Chinese Car Hunters

In Pitt Street, City. Going to a bar in Chatswood. A young couple, about to get married. She was enamoured of cars and wondering which kind he would buy her? Nervous of her prospective mother-in-law. Totally materialistic in a completely unselfconscious way. English not so good, she must have grown up in China. He, monosyllabic at first, I thought perhaps he spoke it less well that she did. Not at all, he was Australian Chinese. Don't worry about my mum, he said.

Party Girls

Corner of Redfern Street. Two blondes in little black dresses, going to a party in the City, a bar next to the Hilton. Chatting about the peccadillos, and worse, of the stars. Their drug habits, their compromised immune systems, their high class despair. One said: I've brought my camera, so if Nicole Ritchie starts snorting coke, I'll photograph her.

Marrickville Pair

In King Street, Newtown, going to a block of flats in Marrickville. Vaguely gothish. A couple, not long together. She from Melbourne. He: This wedding ... in terms of style, how would you rate it? She: Zero. The wedding was in Brisbane; she'd been asked to speak at it. The bride a friend of hers, the groom doesn't like her. The bride visits her in Melbourne then spends the whole time fucking this other guy; the groom doesn't know but clearly suspects something, hence his dislike of this girl. I don't want to go, she said, I won't go. Clearly, she would.

Cardiac Technician

A radio job, Summer Hill to Camperdown. Just round the corner from where I live, a pretty, serious young Indian woman. Going to the RPA. You a nurse? I ask? No. Cardiac Technician, she replies. I just got home, now I have to go back. Heart attacks don't wait. Me: I couldn't do that. She: Somebody has to. She didn't want to talk any more after that, obviously preparing herself for the op. At the hospital, I pull up at Emergency while she goes in to get the cabcharge docket. A curious delay, given the urgency of proceedings. I leave her to her higher purpose.


He's standing at the bus stop outside Sydney Uni in City Road, his arm out. Big guy in a baseball cap. Two cabs in front of me both make to stop then swerve away at the last moment ... so I get him. He's Aborigine, that's why they wouldn't take him. Fucking wogs! he says as he gets in the front seat. Articulate and very angry. Not interested in anything I have to say, just wants to get his message across. Used to rob cabbies when he was young, for fun, but wouldn't do it now. Hates priests and judges. Despises those who treat him with prejudice, enjoys getting right in their faces. When we stop down a dark street in Balmain, he pulls out a sheaf of fifty dollar notes, pays the exact amount then slopes off up the hill through a park.