Words and Photos by Paul Hollingworth
“Look at this stupid b*tch”, or How to School an Old Man to Cross the Road.
It was a wonderful winter’s morning in Melbourne – overcast, windy, and very cold (8°C, but feels like minus ten million) – when a hearty, but smallish, band of Motafrenz met at the Eternal Flame on the forecourt of the Shrine of Remembrance. It was surprising how much heat was being produced by the flame, even on such a cold morning.
Here, the early arrivals discussed what the Shrine meant to us. For me, it is a great historical building, uniquely Melbourne, a long-standing memory of my childhood, and a place where mothers would once mourn the loss of their young adult sons and daughters who never returned from a dreadful war (and thus never had a grave locally). For my comrade, it was quite different. For her it represented all that was evil and misguided about the human race – the greed, the loss of life and potential, and the selfishness of those in charge. In reality, I suppose, it is all of those things. We should look at this grand building and think, “please, never again!”
Also, as a lifelong vexillophile, I was very distracted by the unusual flag display. Here I saw a combination of the national flag, the state flag, and the Aboriginal flag – displayed in that order from left to right, where previously I had only seen the three service (military) flags, or a combination of the Australian flag, the New Zealand flag, and the Union flag. The order of the flags seemed unusual too – usually the national flag would take the position of precedence which, in a three-flag configuration, is in the middle
While I’m still banging on about flags – I promise I will get to the actual event soon….maybe…. – from the Shrine we could see the nearby Government House. A very strange sight, the flag flying was not the usual yellow flag of the Governor of Victoria, nor was it the state flag (used when she is not home), but it appeared to be the flag of the Governor-General. I didn’t even know he was in town – and where does the Governor go when the Governor-General kicks her out? It sounds like some strange vice-regal Airbnb!
So once Chris arrived (with some strange story about not being able to cross St Kilda Rd due to roadworks – even though the rest of us had), we headed off to our next stop. What a minute, I’m 400 words in and I haven’t even mentioned what event I am writing about!
Today was our Annual Walking Tour. This time we took the City of Melbourne’s “Classic Design Icons Walking Tour”. A self-guided, two kilometre trip discovering some of the city’s most acclaimed buildings. We did the circuit in reverse. The first stop was the Shrine, the next few stops were in that Arts Precinct. Here we stopped for one of our few photos with a tongue-in-cheek tribute to the Beatles, before heading off towards the Eureka Tour.
One the way we encountered the topic of this article’s headline. We were waiting to cross the road when our dear Gordon saw a lady crossing. “Look at this stupid b*tch! Doesn’t she know to wait for the green man?!” It was only after we saw others crossing did we realise the light was green and we had been standing for quite some time for no reason. One point to the Millenial, zero points to the Boomers and Gen X-ers.
We didn’t go to the Skydeck at Eureka as it was’t open until later, so we continued the tour over to the city-side of the Yarra, past Banana Vaults – which Chris assures me nothing sordid ever happens there – on to a building one of our number wanted to see that wasn’t on the official tour. The Mitre Hotel is recognised by the City of Melbourne as the city’s oldest building – not the oldest public house though, as it started life as a private home. The food here was great, as was the decor, but by far the greatest asset here was the wonderful group of people assembled and the convivial conversations that ensued.
After lunch, some of us departed at various stages during our unplanned (and off-tour) meaderings before the three hardcore attendees decided on a final coffee and cake at Brunetti’s in Myer’s. Before you give a look like Gordon is giving Chris, I know that Brunetti’s would likely be more correct as de Brunetti, but the crockery says Brunetti’s right on it; and as for Myer’s, this is what is was called when I was a child, and even though the store holds the founder’s name for branding, you would surely say, “I’m going to Myer’s shop” in similar way as you go Woolworth’s supermarket, or Paul’s house.
If you got to this point in my story – well done! You deserve an award for persistence. Please let me know and I will arrange one for the next AGM.
(*stock photos of flags from the internet, and the photo with Paul in it was taken by some random walking past)