Lumpentour #3

Sorry to keep you waiting for so long since the last leg. People kept asking me for a light. Long story.

You didn’t get mugged or nuthin’, did you? Good. Let’s get moving then.

***

It’s slicker than I remember (2011)

Elizabeth Shopping Centre! I can remember when it was John Martin’s instead of Myer, but alas, John Martin’s went belly up at the end of the 1990s. They were one of the better employers in retail, too.

Of course, they’re all up against the wall now, about to be shot to bits by online sales.

(Dear upper management; it’s service provision that’s the issue, not the employees, nor the things you’ve been obsessively tweak-and-squeezing for the last decade).

How this place has changed… It’s all so shiny.

I can remember an episode here once after work, in ’97 or ’98, when public smoking restrictions were first being implemented. In the thickest, most nasally affected Strine, Miss Bogan announced to all and sundry, ‘The Sissem wun stomme frumm smokin’ wereawanna [fark fark fark!]’. And it didn’t, or at least it didn’t for as long as I watched her light up and puff her fumes indoors.

Who says you can’t fight The Sissem?

Never saw her again, mind you. Maybe she’s hidden in an abandoned bank somewhere, pickled in a barrel.

***

Anyone for tennis? (2011)

Honestly, this was more swish in the 1990s, which was difficult considering the troll-monsters from Elizabeth-Freemont High were just to the north…

No, I lie. It was still a tennis court back then, but a pretty shit one. The only way you could get more swish while visiting here would be with an overdose of laxatives. Swissshhh-prtle!

When you can’t see the surrounding buildings, it almost looks like a setting out of Mad Max. Maybe I can snare some punk off his motorbike with the rotted netting…

***

I just wanted to drop in for a Picnic (2011)

I like to think I’m being Epicurean when I say that I can recall purchasing my first Picnic (aka type 2 faeces bar) from the petrol station that used to be here, but really, I wolfed it down in a hurry. Work mornings can be like that…

I can understand why the station closed down, in addition to all the usual reasons.

Over a few months in ’98, it was held-up at gun-point on a weekly basis, in the small hours of the morning. Can you imagine what this would have done to the poor employees?

There have been security features added in upgrades to petrol stations all across Adelaide since then, but this station was probably too small for an overhaul (what with all the extra features they pack into newer ones). Sometimes I wonder what it is about the location that stops re-development.

Mad Max goons, probably. That’s it.

Anyway, enjoy the apocalypse for a moment, and then we’ll move on.

***

The third classiest shopping centre in all of Elizabeth (2011)

The balcony you see is upstairs at The Rose and Crown – Elizabeth South’s finest drinking establishment. I sometimes imagine having Christmas dinner here, using the balcony entrance to fall out of and break my neck in embarrassment. No, not really. I’m talking rubbish.

Something that is true, is that in 1997, when I first moved into the area, some poor little old lady was abducted from the car park here, taken away and murdered. This within a few weeks of another local’s life coming violently to an end; a young lad killed by his ‘friends’ for sleeping with his girlfriend on his mate’s father’s bed. They beat the tar out of him, he wound up in hospital in a critical condition, they confessed to beating him, and then he died. Tragic.

For some reason when I told this to extended family members at the time, they’d tell me… ‘Don’t worry Bruce,  we won’t turn you in.’

Hilarious. Real smart.

Serial killer turned-cannibal, John Bunting, lived within an hour’s walk from here at the time. Not that he had anything to do with these two killings, consider it an aside contributing to the ambiance.

Oh, and light multicultural irony; who says Australian Muslims can’t peaceably get between other Aussie’s beer and gambling?

***

In around back… (2011)

We’re still here at Elizabeth South Shopping Centre waiting for Dex to pick up a few parcels I tidy-bagged while you were inside.

The chip shop just out of frame probably has the only vegetarian food within a mile; chips. So I’m plonking my butt on the bench here and having some.

That book exchange over there – that’s old school. It’s been there for ages. At least since the 1980s. It’s probably worthwhile having a look, if you like recession-vintage genre works. (He’s got a few newish Alastair Reynolds as well, I’ve noticed, if that’s your kind of thing).

I’m probably more guilty than most of depleting his stock of Moorcock novels.

***

That’s not a mosquito you hear… (2011)

Normally, prior to 4am, it’d be the sound of sprinklers, smack-addled bird life, and the rust-bucket that used to dart around delivering newspapers, you’d hear. After eight weeks of being too late to catch the jerks holding-up the afore-mentioned petrol station, the cops got pissed off enough to go all gung-ho. My first awareness to this state of affairs arrived via the sound of a police helicopter falling in behind me as I crossed the oval, illuminating me in spotlight’s glare.

I thought about giving them a six-shooter salute, but it was probably for the best that I didn’t…

At any rate, there were police cars with cops in Kevlar at every intersection from here to Elizabeth Shopping Centre. They were kind enough to let me continue through the war zone on my way to work. As it happened, there was no action.

***

Mi casa es mierda casa… (2011)

This is the end of the road, class tourists. Walk right in, shit right down – I used to live here.

Most of my neighbours at the time were ordinary schlubs like me, just a little down on their luck. But there were more colourful residents as well…

Within a few weeks of moving in, there was the guy who decided his bedsit doubled as a carport, managing to back his station wagon inside. All of it. The funny thing was, there was this gaping chasm left behind with a window frame hanging down inside like a loose tooth, glass intact.

The insurance companies dived in like a fat man chasing a chicken nugget down the back of a lounge chair, and eventually, not being able to sate them, our friend was sent to jail. What he probably needed was a psychiatrist.

On another occasion, I went for a squizz into one of the other flats with the property manager, after it’d been abandoned by the tenants. All they left was porn and used needles.

I’m going to venture the opinion though, that this wasn’t as bad as the hyper-vigilant white supremacist we (the neighbours) had to call the RSPCA on for mistreating his dog. Another poor sod needing a psychiatrist, and another dog deserving a better home.

Still, don’t let me give you the impression that the experience this place provided was barren. If you have any doubts that there is grandeur in this view of life, consider the wise words of a once-was-neighbour at barbeque; ‘I wish that Stephen Hawkins (sic) was here right now, so I could listen to him blow my mind!’

~ Bruce

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