It was the Tin Lid who found the passageway, cowering behind a pile of poles, neglected and long unknown. It is the green mile for a old girl losing herself to the times, a concrete snicket snuck between towering walls dank and abandoned. We ducked beneath meaty railway sleepers stacked and forgotten, over rusted manholes and between discarded shards of life…
What we found was the relic of a memory, the fading glow of nostalgia dispersing softly into empty air, no-one to hear. I don’t know who once lived here, though I can guess at the sound of ready laughter, the scent of rollies and nag champa and cheap snags, the clink of toothbrush mugs brimming with Fruity Lexia and the rabble of joy at the end of a long night on King Street.
I can taste the stolen lust of a pool-room hook-up, the splash of pizza grease on a tatty sleeve that gets you through till lunch, and grazing for food at Newtown’s happy hour haunts. I can hear the opening strains to the midday movie, the slam and rattle of a favourite track and the crinkle of hot water hitting instant coffee.
I remember lost afternoons adrift in a sea of marigold green, limpid skies that stretch to forever, and long nights of venal delight roaming in packs along wholly owned streets and in bars that bawl and titter with conspiratorial vim.
And I sense the familiarity, that innate understanding that life can wait – there’s living to be done.
In the fading breath of a dying life the ghosts of the past are ripe. Fat veins of memory pulse with propriety while the deeper recesses crank out serotonin-laced recollection, hazy chapters with happy endings. Words clatter into my mind, sodden with the past: the Oxford and its sticky carpet; a snort of tequila from the depths of the gutter; a pride of marchers howling righteous discontent; a velour sofa, home to a family of four on a summer’s night. Light spilling from open doorways, no need for an invitation; sprawling across a robber’s grave drinking in the moonlight that blankets the cemetery; a vigil beneath I Have a Dream…
Those days are gone my son…
And the remembered corners of the city will be sold to the highest bidder, reams of DA notices papering over the folds of history.
The former glory of this happy realm lies dormant, waiting for its next incarnation, “prime commercial units that front a nineteen-unit four-storey build” like a gap-toothed wallflower dreading the slow songs.
Show’s over folks, the fat lady has sung.