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Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Some curry on Oxford Street

This is the first flaneur collage that I’ve done in several months. The first of such posts was posted on 29 March and the last – one with lots of pictures – was posted on 25 July. I decided to restart the series now because when I stopped writing them two people remonstrated with me. So: back by popular request.

I headed up Harris Street and next to John Street Square outside the doctor’s clinic a woman was standing talking on her mobile phone. In the pram that she was holding with her other hand a baby was going, “Aaaargh aaaaargh aaaaaargh.” At the building site where they are putting up townhouses three women traffic controllers were standing around a workman who was looking at his mobile phone.

There were several young men playing basketball on the council-run basketball court on Harris Street, their voices mixing with the sounds of their shoes on the ground and the sound of the ball bouncing. The woman who had been talking on the phone and her baby went past me on the pavement, his mother holding her mobile in the hand that was not pushing the pram.

On Union Street I saw a child’s bracelet placed on the building parapet because someone had dropped it and someone else had put it in a safe spot in case the owner came back for it. The bracelet was made of pink, yellow, white and red beads. “Hey, we can go in the Star and walk out that way,” said a schoolgirl to her friend as they stopped at the lights on Edward Street. They were both wearing identical sports uniforms. They headed northeast down Edward Street when the signal changed. A middle-aged woman hurrying across Union Street fell over and made a sound as she landed awkwardly on the pavement. I asked her if she was ok. “Ok, ok,” she said as she stood and held her right palm against her cheekbone. A man on his phone came up to the woman and put his hand on her back. He pointed to the bicycle path and said something. “She tripped on the curb,” I said to him.

In Darling Harbour two small boys wearing identical green shirts went into the Ferris-wheel enclosure with their parents. A woman’s voice was singing a slow song from the speakers mounted on the marine bollards. As I walked past the motorway support the sound of a truck decelerating against its gears was audible.

“Free Jock,” said some graffiti on a motorway support where a line of traffic was backed up at the lights. A broken piece of turned wood was in the gutter at the end of the pedestrian overpass I had used to arrive at Bathurst Street. Further up, at the corner of Castlereagh Street, a young man said into his mobile phone, “So if, yeah, if ...”

At Whitlam Square an early-model white van turned east into Oxford Street from College Street. A late-model white hatchback turned north from Oxford Street into College Street. “Two three oh three five three six three,” said a man wearing shorts and a T-shirt on Oxford Street, speaking into his mobile phone which he held horizontally at his mouth. I ate a plate of curry - beef vindaloo, chicken Madras and matter mushrooms - and left the restaurant. A morbidly-obese man in a white shirt and black trousers entered a Thai restaurant. Inside at a table next to the door sat two young men in hi-vis shirts.

A man with “Hoops USA” printed on his T-shirt had full-sleeve tattoos on both arms; he was walking up the street talking with his male companion. On Liverpool Street next to Hyde Park a state-transit bus with ‘Kubota: Buiding Sydney” printed on its side was waiting at the lights. As I went past it the engines roared and it set off east. Outside the Downing Centre a homeless Indian man with his hands full of bookmarks plaited out of different-coloured stuff – they were too short to be wrist bands – was sitting on the steps. I asked him how much they were and he said, “$34.“ I said, “It’s too much” and walked on.

Further down Liverpool Street a portable street sign had illuminated letters serially spelling out a message: “HARBR ST CLOSED” … “BATHURST TO WESTN DIST” … “5-11 TO 14-12 10PM-5AM”. The traffic light turned green just as I arrived at Sussex Street and I walked across with the crowd. There were mounds of fragrant new earth in the construction site under the trees alongside the slope at the end of the pedestrian bridge across Harbour Street. A truck with “everything for your garden” lettered on the back came up from Harbour Street into the pedestrian zone.

Further up near the motorway overpasses a young man walking along separated from two young women, heading south, saying, “I’ll see you later.” There were seagulls fighting over food going, “Aaaargh aaaargh aaaaargh.”

Two men were walking down Union Square and one said, “Is that Kate?” As I walked on I heard him calling, “Kate! Kate!” Two young women walking up the hill turned to look back, but kept on walking. Then I looked again and the women had stopped and turned back down the hill, smiling.

A young woman in a black dress on Harris Street said into her phone, “So I don’t know if I should just go to ...” but I didn’t hear the rest of what she said. A man on Harris Street said to his younger male companion who had “Bundanoon Sandstone” stencilled on the back of his hi-vis shirt, “And are you guys involved in the development?” “No just the extraction.” They went under the flagged cord into the building site where there were big blocks of sandstone and earthmoving equipment.

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