Sunday, 24 May 2015

Setting out to flane near my home

I went up to see mum in the nursing home this morning but I was sneezing a lot and so thought it best to leave before lunch so as not to infect anyone with my lurgy, and I drove back down the motorway home then parked the car in the garage, popped upstairs to attend to nature, then left the building, turning west. It was well past 11am and I headed toward the Sydney Fish Markets where I stopped to have a bite. The food was ordinary. The chips were fresh and hot but the baby squid, which had been grilled with some kind of sweet sauce, was cold and rubbery. The pieces of fish were overbattered and overcooked and cold, as was the battered prawn and the seafood stick. The oyster mornay was edible and warm, as was the oyster kilpatrick. I finished this all quickly and headed out toward Glebe to do a bit of flaning. (From "flaner", a French word which can best be translated as "going for a stroll through the streets" but which incorporates the idea of people watching as well.)

I skirted Wentworth Park on its northern edge, passing in the bright autumn sunlight close to the detritus piled up around the trees' roots. It smelled sweet and rotten because it is filled with the fallen fruit of the ficus that are planted along that axis. I turned into the street away from Pyrmont Bridge Road at the foot of Blackwattle Bay and went along for a bit before stalking carefully out into the traffic, which had temporarily stopped as the lead car attempted to park by the kerb, and a passing cyclist said something to me ending with "mate", which I think was probably not complimentary as he had to swerve around me to navigate his way up the street. On the other side of the street I went up a set of stairs set into the sandstone cliff and emerged on a small, quiet street just west of St Johns Road.

It was not far to go to wend my way through the streets lined with public housing - terrace houses as well as small blocks of two-storey apartments that have delicate ornamentation on their facades - before I came out on Glebe Point Road. I turned toward Broadway and near the turnoff to the shopping centre at Franklin Street I stopped in at Gleebooks to have a quick poke around. I have no plans to buy physical paper books any more these days because of the matter of storage, and I have now purchased the requisite Kindle that enables you to read electronic books, but it is always interesting to look at what is on offer at one of Sydney's premium booksellers. I made a note on my phone for future reference and left, turning into Badde Manors where I ordered a takeaway flat white and used the amenities out the back.

Back on the street I headed down to Broadway and turned toward the city, making my way along the dirty pavement. I passed a man who looked distinctly shabby with long hair, a beard and a shy demeanor, as though he meant to disappear among the grimy shopfronts of this part of town. He wore a checked shirt and saggy trousers. I omitted to take note of what he was wearing on his feet, but he definitely seemed to me a likely candidate for residency in one of those unkempt terrace houses in the backstreets of Glebe, those parts of the suburb that have not changed in 50 years, and whose occupants have probably lived there for that long. At the bottom of the hill I turned left.

Past St Barnabas, the sexy new Anglican church located on this block, I saw a fishbone fern growing out of the grouted crack between two tiles on a building's facade (see picture) and I held up my phone above my head and in front of me in an effort to take a good photo. From there I walked across Wattle Street and up the hill past an imposing 19th century facade with "Farmers & Graziers" plastered permanently on its frontage, before I made my way to Harris Street. I turned left onto this major thoroughfare and eventually came home. Once there, I undressed and had a nap for a couple of hours because I had been unwise in the way of things the night before, hence the sniffles and sneezing. Let's hope my affliction's gone by tomorrow.

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