Every suburb has its eccentricities. In Balaclava, you can walk from the Orthodox Jews on one side of the street right into the transvestites on the other side of the street. In St Kilda, the McDonalds sits almost opposite some of the oldest and best European cake stores in Melbourne. In South Yarra, there are more hair saloons than people have hair. In Thornbury, underpants have a habit of falling into your hands from out ot the proverbial clear blue sky.
In Coburg, we have our fair share of weirdos too.
For some reason, along Reynard Street, there are a lot of goths - kids who, on leaving school and moving from home, feel the mysterious urge to wear spiked collars, wear black make up, and whiten their faces. They can generally be seen walking down the street at night and looking sad.
When I first moved here, there was one guy down the road - he has a house on the corner with garden - seemed to spend all the time in the garden, and none in the house. He'd just stand there, carefully placing himself behind a tree, and wait for you to struggle around the corner with your shopping bags. (He seems to have stopped it now, though.)
There's another house, also on the way to the shopping centre, that has a front garden cluttered with dolls. And they're not Barbie dolls, either - mysterious action figures or cartoon characters, and I have no idea who they are. They're everywhere, sitting all over the verandah and front garden. Their position keeps on changing, too, although I've never actually seen anyone come out of the front door. The dolls used to be dominated by a gigantic Red Indian figurine, that came up to just below my waist height, but he's disappeared.
Another house on the same street had a singing Christmas card lying on the verandah for three or four days. Every time you'd go past it, it would set it off again.
Those places are right next to an abandoned nut factory.
Alongside the train track, that runs from Moreland Road to Bell Street to Upfield, is a bike track that I've walked plenty of times on the way to catch the train to work. There's a Chinese lady there that's often seen walking her dog. She wears sunglasses, a deep Terry Towelling hat, and a face guard. I'm not sure whether it's because she has a long-running cold, or she thinks we have one.
One evening recently, I happened to run into a young Asian couple wandering down the street in a fine drizzle. The guy wasn't overly dressed, but he had his hand on the arm of the girl, who was wearing a voluminous, tent-like rain coat. She was also on roller skates. They continued gliding along the street past me, out of sight.
On another occasion, in the middle of a terrifically hot and dry day in summer, I was walking along the same street. Walking in the other direction was a Japanese woman, carrying a beautiful filigree umbrella (she might have been in a kimono as well, the umbrella caught all my attention) to protect her fine skin from the sun. I'd never seen anything like it before, and I doubt that I'll ever see anything like it again.
Another time I walked passed a guy who was hosing his verandah and front driveway in the middle of the night, possibly a ruse to escape the prying eyes of neighbours (but not bloggers) and elude the water restrictions that were autocratically imposed on us by Steve 'Nice Guy' Bracks. And no, water Nazis, I'm not telling you where his house is.
And this is not to mention the market (where, to this day, a heavily accented Italian guy will harangue you to come in and enjoy the concrete floors, the rapacious crowds of little old ladies, and the forty-two different types of salami!), the cafes (including the possibly tax-evading one that sells incredibly cheap coffee and seems to be run by two gay Lebanese guys and their aunt), several holes in the wall that seem to transport you into mysterious 1980s-style malls, (and one which contains an awesome pie shop), and two Coles supermarkets in incredibly close proximity to one another.
I'm not going to stay in this suburb forever (heck, give me a house with a good rental price and I'll move out tomorrow), but when it comes to odd-bods, freaks and geeks, you can't go better than Coburg.
... though God knows what other Coburg denizens think of the Fedora-wearing, umbrella clutching freak who has a habit of walking through back streets at night, carrying a notepad under one arm and a book in his pocket, and making one-too-many trips to the supermarket...
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