Category Archives: trains

In which Rocco evokes a series of unfortunate events …

Rocco sent his mumma a txt msg which said, ‘an old fart jst ran into me’.  The sending of this unfortunate missive occurred on Friday 13th, a date which his mother had (up until then) always thought was a very lucky day altogether. She had, in fact, woken that morning assuming everything was going to be very pleasant and only good things would happen.  She thought she deserved good things to happen and it was her right. Rocco managed to leech the last bit of hope out of what should have been an ordinary and uneventful day. As usual.

On phoning Rocco, who was in the carpark of Food-o-rama, his mother found it was a bit difficult to hear the entire story because the aforementioned old fart was carrying on in the background like a demented gnome filled with Hitleresque bile . The gnashing of teeth and stamping of little feet was evident even over the airwaves. Rocco’s mother could see the little black moustache in her mind’s eye, though it was very difficult to hear the wood for the trees. Rocco then told the OF to ‘please shut the f up’, which his mother thought was probably not a good idea. You do not swear at people when you are in the wrong. You do not swear at people at any time really – but when you have just backed out of a carpark into them, the f-bomb would not seem appropriate droppage.

The police would not come, because they deemed two driveable vehicles and no injuries constituted a waste of their time. They didn’t want their jam doughnuts to go stiff. Rocco was left to deal with the problem on his own, and because he had no clue as to the name of his insurance company (or even whether he had one), he was unable to furnish the OF with the details. Therefore, his mother received a phone call from the OF’s insurance company a few days later.

By this time, Rocco was away at his TAFE course for the week, and the rather spiteful insuro-bitch on the other end of the phone naturally refused to speak to his mother, because although she had endured several hours of unpleasant labour ejecting Rocco into a horrified and unprepared world in the first place, she was not entitled to know his personal business – even though she would inevitably end up dealing with the unpleasantness of the personal business and Rocco’s father would end up paying the money in question. Insuro-bitch (and Rocco’s mother could see the little black moustache in her mind’s eye) smugly informed R’s M she’d send Rocco a letter instead, which she duly did. The letter was also dipped in venom, and informed Rocco he was to pay $3,528 immediately in order to shut them up finalise the matter.

As if this incident wasn’t quite enough, Rocco also managed to incur a $200 fine for purchasing a concession train ticket in order to return home from his TAFE course. He hadn’t realised his travel card had expired, and blissfully purchased the ticket as usual – only to find the transit police were not in the least sympathetic and wanted their pound of flesh. Rocco’s hapless mother (who does not have time for a life of her own) is currently in the process of writing her second appeal letter on his behalf in an attempt to shut them up finalise the matter – which won’t work, because the first one didn’t, but will buy a bit of time.

But Rocco’s disastrous fortnight hadn’t quite offered up its finale yet.  There was more to come because naturally, although he’d been told numerous, mind-numbing times to always lock his car and never leave valuables inside it, Rocco parked his car in the driveway on Friday night with his wallet and his iPod on the front seat and expected everything to be tickety-boo in the morning. As you do, when you live in lala land where the moon’s a balloon and the flowers pick themselves. The fact Rocco’s pay was in his wallet at the time was just the icing on the cake for the thieves – they scored admirable booty from their heist and then turned to Rocco’s parents’ car for good measure. This gleaned only a couple of packets of cigarettes and a few dollars in small change – but there was the fun of hurling the contents of the glovebox all over the car and opening boxes of computer parts which were obviously not exciting enough to be bothered taking. Naturally the police wouldn’t come. They’d just purchased another dozen fresh doughnuts.

There are other things that could happen this week, and they probably will. None of them will be good, because Rocco’s stars (and those of his parents) seem to have aligned in a clashing cacophony of misadventure.  In fact, when Rocco’s mother heard the postman dropping something in the mailbox a few minutes ago, she curled herself up into a ball and hid in a corner …



A bit of hum and rattle on the tracks …


            Something exciting for us all to look forward to is the imminent introduction of classical music to railway stations.

            This is not for the benefit of those of us who love classical music – it’s more in keeping with the ‘music soothes the savage breast’ thing. Yep – because it’s a well known fact you wouldn’t be able to muster up the enthusiasm for whanging a pensioner on the back of the head to the strains of Handel’s Water Music. You’d be more inclined to visit the restroom. The thought of acquiring a dog-eared pension card, three fluff-encrusted polo mints and the pre-decimal equivalent of $3.20 would go right out the window, wouldn’t it? It works for me, anyway. Not to mention your urban Bovver Boy, who’d presumably feel totally mellowed out and have an overwhelming urge to crochet a lime-green nylon swan for covering his granny’s spare toilet roll. As you would. Classical music would knock the edge off any intended shenanigans you might have considered perpetrating on a railway platform. Unless, of course, it was the 1812 Overture (with cannons), in which case there wouldn’t be a pensioner left standing and bugger the crochet.

            They’ve used music in supermarkets for ages – to make us buy stuff we don’t want. It’s a brilliant concept. Any marketing person worth their salt is well aware Barry Manilow reminds us of eating sweets in the back row of some fleapit back in ’74 when we had more reasonably distributed flesh and the attentions of a spotty youth in a purple jacket called Graham. That’s the youth being called Graham, not the jacket. One croon from Barry and we’re off down the confectionery aisle as if we can revisit our perfidy with a box of Jaffas and a kilo of microwave popcorn.

            While music in fast food outlets is designed to make us eat faster and get out sooner (so they get a rapid turnover and we get indigestion), the supermarket variety is the ‘linger longer’ type – so you moon around in a stupor and forget what you came in for in the first place. When you get home with the Jaffas and stuff, some smartarse will say, “Where the hell’s the milk?’ Still in the refrigerated cabinet, obviously – because you were having fun wafting around with a soundtrack, pretending you had pert breasts and buttocks which looked mighty fine in a black vinyl skirt.

            There is a marketing opportunity here. The possibilities for the development of useful soundtracks for all occasions are limited only by your imagination. Consider – music to make kids hurry up in the shower. Or better still, recordings of times tables so they’re forced to actually learn something while they’re letting your heard-earned water trickle down the drain. And Doris Day numbers which start playing when the ‘fridge door is opened so teenagers don’t stand there staring in for half an hour with their eyes glazing over, hoping something interesting might materialise. Which it won’t, seeing as I’ve eaten it.

            Then there’s that popular choice for parents to pop in teens’ Christmas stockings this year – ‘Music for Hoons to Drive To’. There’s an opening for a bit of Bach here. Almost impossible to do road rage to, and takes away your credibility during ram raids.

            Waiting on the telephone for six years to get an insurance quote could be made halfway bearable if companies had the teensiest clue what the public really wanted. It’s obvious nobody has really looked into the problem with any great intelligence. Instead of the crappy 60s Muzak, it would say; ‘Press 4 to hear a really decent sticky date pudding recipe’; or ‘Dial 8 for Harrison Ford’s extremely positive opinion of your wit and beauty’; or (for men) – ‘Helga is waiting to teach you Swedish … just press 3 after the beep’. You wouldn’t feel cranky anymore and they could add a bit extra to the insurance quote. By the time you got it, you’d be feeling no pain.

            Noise in general can make or break you. There are radio stations which make listeners want to rape and pillage. There are decibels pouring down on you from every which way – and most will not be to your liking.

            Live in hope – at least you’ll be able to rely on a bit of Beethoven on the 9.45 to Central …




Midnight train to an underwear emporium …

I had this nightmare the other night, and I’ve had to make a very strong cup of coffee indeed.

            It basically boiled down to being on a crowded train (pretty ordinary at the best of times), wearing a nightie. This could have been an acceptable scenario, given today’s dress code, had the nightie been of the satin variety, or even the starched and spotless genre – but naturally it was not. It was the one I’d gone to bed in, which happened to have birdpoo on it, as well as cruddy dried blobs of Patented Babybird Handfeeding Porridge. In addition, I had no shoes, knickers, handbag – and worst of all, my hair was not brushed.

            The cruelty of nightmares is mindboggling. The only thing I did have (apart from the parrot-crap encrusted nightie which was supposed to be hidden under the privacy of my own bedsheets), was a peculiar red woolly scarf thing around my neck. I’d never seen it before in my life and hadn’t the faintest clue what it had to do with anything. I spent a few kilometres wondering whether I could fashion it into a sort of loincloth, but it seemed a bit of an exhibitionist thing to stand up and do.

            Anyway, it was the messy hair bit which was really upsetting. You don’t feel right if you’re not well groomed. With nice hair, you can sit there confidently in your nightie on any old train, even the city commuter – and snub your nose at the world, basically. People will look at you and think you have nice hair. If you haven’t, you leave yourself wide open for them to notice all the other anomalies, which in this case were legion.

            After a couple of hours sitting on the train, with various subplots (too complicated to be bothered going into) unfolding around me, I eventually realised (because in nightmares these things take a bit longer), I had better get off at the next station and attempt to return to whence I’d started – which was not going to be a doddle without money, or identification even.

            The last thing I remember was standing in front of the ticket office trying to explain I needed to go back the way I’d come. The ticket man in the nightmare was just like ticket men everywhere, which was reassuring. He stared at me blankly because he evidently had no command of English and kept saying ‘Bosnia’. At that point, I woke up.

            I’ve never been more ecstatic to be in my own bed, I can tell you. I groped around for the red woolly scarf thingie, but it hadn’t crossed the barrier between the phantom train station and the doona.

            I woke the Hunter-Gatherer. I said, ‘How could you abandon me on a train without any knickers?’ He was understandably baffled, and pretty annoyed I’d shamed the family by being seen at a railway station in the birdpoo nightie.

            The thing is, what does it all mean? There is a fair chance it indicates I was running away from something without being properly prepared. The train meant I didn’t have the ability to drive that far, and the incoherent ticket man meant it’s hard to get good help these days.

            What’s scary is, I don’t particularly want to go to sleep tonight in case there’s more to come. I keep wondering if I wear trousers and a jumper to bed, will I be better covered – and will a wallet and hairbrush tucked under the pillow make any difference? How can your subconscious betray you, when you’ve purposely decided not to be a drug addict or alcoholic so you can keep control of all your faculties? What good are your faculties anyway, when you’re not even awake enough to use them?

            Anyway, I’m going to sit up all night, fully dressed. I don’t much like the thought of Episode 2 – Barefoot Escape to Bosnia. It has the potential to be worse than Episode 1 – Knickerless in a Non-Smoking Compartment.

            If I do drop off though, this time I’m hanging on to that red scarf thing. It was cheerful and soft – and rather appealed.