The last time I updated this – it was either late December or early January, I can’t remember which.
To begin with, the year began just like any other – with those of us who were returning to work before everyone else, blearily blinking the New Year sleep out of our eyes and wondering if anybody had died yet.
Thankfully not and that was a relief to say the least.
As for me, my 2017 began very quietly with a return to work around Jan 3rd 2017. Everything was pretty much the same except my work place was still allowed to wear neat casual to work and my train line was down for track works until Feb 5th. This meant that I had to catch the Glen Waverly line train instead of the Lilydale Line train which is my regular line.
As a result of the track work, there has been replacement busses at various stops along the way. Rather than tackle that – I opted to travel into the City via Glen Waverly instead. Sure it means getting up at 5am every morning and sure it means leaving the house at 6:3am and sure it’s an extra 20 minutes out of the way – but at least it means I don’t have to tackle people and their impatient push onto a replacement bus every night and for that alone, it’s worth it.
My health has been reasonably OK as well (I’ve only had 1 day off this year so far due to extreme pain and I plan to keep it at one day) and I’ve had less issues since reducing my working hours to 4 days a week.
I’ve been without my new Camera for most of this year either due to it needing to be replaced or needing a new memory card. This has left me most disappointed as I had hoped to start Vlogging at the beginning of January (at time of writing all issues are now fixed) although, that being said, I did have quite the adventure with it the other week when I took it out for a test run- albeit before my memory card died.
About 2 weeks ago on a Thursday morning I decided to take my little G5X with me into the city to take some photos and shoot some video of the surrounds. I had planned to do a little vlog and call it something like “My Trip into the City” or something lame like that.
Anyway, I had come out via a walkway near Melbourne Central Train Station when I noticed a busker busking with … a recorder. You heard me. A recorder. Yes, recorder! You know, one of those plastic things with holes in them that every kid in Australia during the 80’s had to learn how to play? One of those!
I’d never seen someone game enough to busk with a recorder before, but as I was taking photos and filming some of the graffiti wall near where he was standing and busking, I thought it best to stop what I was doing and continue on my way with photos and video once I’d walked past him.
Now, picture this if you will dear reader. You see a short, fat, woman with a limp come towards you with a bright pink walking cane in one hand, a backpack on her back and a camera screwed to a hand held tripod in her other hand filming stuff – what do you do? Most people tend to either step out of the way or watch me as go about my business with bemused looks on their faces because they can’t figure out why a short, fat woman with a limp holding a bright pink walking cane in her hand and carrying a backpack on her back – would even contemplate being a vlogger (let alone out in public) at any given time of the day. And you know what? I’m fine with that. That’s the norm and what I’ve come to expect with being in the City of Melbourne. Frankly, if you’re in Melbourne CBD and you’re not stressed out, carrying two cups of coffee and look like you’ve just woke up and gone to work in the clothes you went to bed in – then you’re considered from out of town and are bound to get looks.
So, I continue on my way when I hear:
“Oh, so you’re a photographer are you?”
Startled, I turn around and discover that the recorder playing busker has decided to strike up a conversation with me. He seems nice enough and appears to have an honest face. Seeing I don’t have to be where I need to be for at least another hour, I decide to stop and chat to him.
“Um, no. Not really” I say, “I only just got this camera the other day and I thought I’d just bring it into town to try it out”
“Oh” He replies. And then, “You better watch that! Someone could steal that camera and then sell it for Ice!”
Right. It’s at this point I start to worry and start to find ways to remove myself from any further conversation “Oh, it’s fine” I tell him “It’s screwed on tight to the tripod here. It’s not going anywhere”
He then proceeds to mumble half to me half to himself as if to be looking for something “No, no, no. I’m not happy with that. That’s got me concerned about your safety”
I tell him I’m fine and I really need to be on my way. I tell him that I just need to go into the building across the road from the train station as people are waiting for me (This is technically true. The building across the road from Melbourne Central Station is where I work at my day job) He tells me to wait and wants to find something to help me make the camera and the tripod more secure and I tell him again that I’m fine and he doesn’t have to do anything.
Preferring not to listen to me, he then starts trying to take the strap off his money bag and when I question this he replies with “Oh this? Don’t worry, it’s just the strap off an old wine cooler bag that my Missus takes to the races”
My “Stranger Danger” alarm bells are ringing rather loudly at this point and my stress levels are starting to rise. I never used to be like this. I used to be very relaxed around people, regardless of who they were or where they came from. However, after 8 years of being taken advantage of from just about everybody I’ve ever met (With a few notable exceptions, you know who you are) I don’t trust anyone anymore.
So, here I am at roughly 8:30am on a Thursday morning, standing near the entrance of a train station while some guy I’ve never met proceeds to tell me all about his time as a photographer, what kind of Camera gear he used, what to look for when taking photos and or filming videos and what it is he does for a living – which is why he was playing the recorder. He called himself “Chris The Flute Man” and he specialises in the Irish Tin Whistle. He also plays the recorder rather well and aside from being told by one passer-by, “Jesus, can’t you do any better?” He boasts that he’s been told by everyone else who’s seen him that morning that he should give lessons to people and teach them to play the godforsaken instrument of bored to Death, err, I mean, the recorder. So yes.
At this stage, Chris The Flute Man has gone and asked the guy at the newsstand nearby for a pair of scissors (What?!) with which he uses to cut the strap off his wine cooler bag and proceeds to strap both the Camera and the tripod to my arm (I still have both in my hand at this point) and despite my protests of “No, really, you don’t have to do that” and “No, really, I’ve got this. I’m OK” I find that he’s strapped everything quite snuggly to my arm (with fancy knots to boot) and seems quite happy with his handy work.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Why didn’t you just get up and run?” I’ll tell you why. Because I weigh 91kgs, have Cerebral Palsy and Osteoarthritis. I can barely walk on a good day let alone run. So I had no choice but to wait it out and hope for the best.
Thankfully, he left me be not long after that and I continued on my way to work, looking like a knob-head with a camera and a mini tripod strapped to my arm. I got away with a little bruising and spent the rest of my day looking over my shoulder every five minutes .. Just in case.
He wasn’t there on Friday – which was a relief so I was able to go about my business that day as per normal …Until sometime just after lunch.
By now you (the one reading this) and the world have heard about what happened that Friday afternoon in Melbourne’s Bourke St Mall.
From where I was, on Lonsdale St we could hear the sirens and the gunshots but weren’t real clear as to what was going on. It wasn’t until about 2:30pm when we realised what was happening and why that part of the City was on complete lock down. It happened near another building that’s part of the company I work for which is located in Bourke St. (Ironically enough, from the building I am in on Lonsdale St – you look out the window and see directly across to our sister offices in Bourke St)
The rest of the afternoon was almost like walking through a fog. People were calling friends who worked in the area to see if they were OK. Others were receiving photos to their phones showing what was going on and others, like me, were just stunned that something like this could even happen in a place as vibrant as the Mall
Even leaving work that afternoon was weird. There were still ambulances and MICA paramedics racing to the scene and police cars everywhere at almost 6pm that night. Trams were only traveling as far as Melbourne Central Station before being told to stop and turn back and everybody wanted to get out and go home quicker than I’ve ever seen.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t cry… because I did. The following day I was an absolute mess and cried for everyone who was affected and for the lives lost. Even now, I still feel sadness for them. I’m glad they caught the guy that did it and I hope he gets what’s coming to him.
I can’t remember what else happened that weekend but I know Aunty flow came to visit and I was pretty much down for the count as a result.
Thursday 28th January was Australia Day or Invasion Day or Survival Day or “Screw you guys; we’re not doing anything because we’re Fremantle” Day. I have some thoughts about that but I think I’ll leave that till my next blog as this one is quite long and if I keep tying I swear my fingers will fall off!
Thanks for reading,