Monday, 4 June 2012

A strange memory not of football

Today, after having some surprising finds of old football games I have been after ever since beginning to collect them early in 2010, I went to Croydon to collect them and avoid the possibility of Australia’s poor mail service costing me valuable items. Although I was scheduled to meet the person with whom I was trading them at 14:00, I was as usual preoccupied on the computer and thus took until quite a bit later to get to Mooroolbark.

The train ride was not bad, and I tried as best I could to avoid blocking people with my bicycle - for which I assumed I would have to pay a concession fare on the return “peak” period journey. It did seem to me as though people actually did avoid my place on the train because they feared a blockage, though I still accosted too many people about the weather, with familiar story that Tasmania does not have the best weather in Australia for most people. On the other hand, I tried to avoid placing myself in difficult places when travelling to Mooroolbark, and when I went to pick up the games, it was much less difficult than I thought to cycle via only modestly steep side streets to the home. The house was apricot brick and flanked by a garden of wet grass like my old Keilor Downs garden in cooler and wetter weather, and the man with whom I was trading - a kind young man - gave me the games and I had a very good discussion of the games I had listed for him as my most wanted. Perhaps I was much too long-winded about why I was so interested in certain games, and probably I should have left sooner - still, I was satisfied with such rare games as Brisbane v Fitzroy where the Bears scored thirty behinds and Fitzroy v West Coast where the Eagles held the Lions to 0-2 (2) for a half on the only wet day for two months.

The trip home, however, reminded me of rather unsavoury days at Melbourne University when I watched over peak-hour trains. It was then that I studied the running of peak hour trains to Ringwood, Frankston, Dandenong and Werribee when I intended merely to go to Rushall station and to a rented home in North Fitzroy.

What bothered me, extremely angry then as now that a government in the most fragile nation in the world would waste any money on roads instead of rail transport, was how so many of the trains were cancelled every day “due to defective trains at Flinders Street”. One week, the 17:00 (five P.M. said the announcers) Mooroolbark train, running express from Richmond to Box Hill, did not run once due to defective or vandalised trains. Often, the 17:14 and 17:29 Upper Ferntree Gully trains which also ran express from Richmond to Box Hill would also not run, and at home and even on the station I would talk about running express from “Moneymond” to “Fighting Hill” or simply to “…Hill” while punching my fists. I recall a later day when I went all the way to Mooroolbark on this 17:00 train to see why it only terminated at Mooroolbark and on one of the Upper Ferntree Gully trains for the same reason. An oddity which attracted me then was how the fullest expresses ran to Upper Ferntree Gully only and not to Belgrave - an anomaly rectified with the first major timetable change after 1996.

The notion that “Richmond” should be where rich people live and “Box Hill” where boxing takes place deserted me between about 1986 and 1994, but the way it recovered when I noticed trains were running express between the two places en masse in peak hour alarmed my mother and even me eventually. Still, it has proven tough for me to dissociate, and whenever I think of “Box Hill” I think of punching and drawing a hill, usually in such a way that can embarass me afterwards and is not understood by others even when I wish to help them.

When I came home after receiving the games, the tendency to think “Box Hill” must be a reference to boxing turned a little ugly at the station, since whilst I was waiting I with my bicycle punched and drew a hill in a mood that can only be described as over-tense. I had also eaten a full chicken and a number of other items without telling my mother and brother I had had dinner. thus, in the dark at Croydon station as I observed the only current train to stop at Mooroolbark rather than Lilydale during the evening peak. Repeatedly punching instead of saying “box” in a calm voice without the silly but really humorous notion that it was named because of boxing there really is not good, and I admit it so quickly now that I wish I could give up an idea that is just too amusing.

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