Once I gave someone directions to the Melbourne Town Hall on the corner of Elizabeth Street and Bourke Street. Although, as it turns out, the Melbourne Town Hall is a block away, on the corner of Swanston Street and Collins Street: I had accidentally given them directions to the Melbourne old post office.
Though I have to wonder: did I give them the wrong directions to the right place, or did I give them the right directions to the wrong place? In such circumstances, I'm tempted to act a little like W C Fields does, in the film International House, when he attempts to fly to Kansas City and ends up in China. "I'm not lost! Kansas City is lost!" he cries, and helps himself to some nearby liquor. If I was in an expansive mood, I could claim that I wasn't the one who was mistaken, merely everyone who had built the GPO and the Town Hall, named the streets, compiled the street directories, (and so on).
And you have to wonder. This is a city where even the trains will lie to you: "We are now approaching Richmond Station!" the train will say, with all the confidence of brainless idiocy. You might be approaching Anstey, or Flinders Street, or Camberwell, or Dandenong, or Box Hill, or you might even be approaching Richmond: (they get it right once in a while, despite all their efforts to the contrary). Occasionally, you find yourself on a train that announces the stations you will get to in a couple of stops, but not the station you are arriving at now. "You are now approaching Flemington Bridge!" the train chirps in your ear, as you stop at Jewell. "Now approaching Macaulay Station!" the announcement will be, as you stop, most decidedly, at Royal Park Station. When the train actually does pull into Flemington Bridge, the announcement will be: "You are now approaching North Melbourne Station!"
But then, it's easy to get confused with the train stations; after all, we have a Richmond Station, a North Richmond Station, an East Richmond Station, and a West Richmond Station, but no South Richmond. What happened to it? Does this mean that South Richmond does not exist? That be a little like a man with an amputated left-hand saying that the direction 'left' does not exist. But where did it go? You can't lose a part of a suburb just like that. Has it been temporarily misplaced? Will it one day appear back into fully functional existence, a train station where previously there had been none?
Once, tantalisingly, I took a trip on the Upfield line into the city, only to be informed as we wound our way slowly down that track, "You are now approaching North..." The train never completed its message. It was probably referring to North Melbourne, but with that level of ambiguity, it could also have meant Northcote; North Richmond would fall into its list of possibilities, as would North Brighton, or even North Williamstown. Maybe we were even, amazingly, approaching the abstract concept of 'North' itself, that mystical place that lies somewhere to the north of the north pole. You can never tell with Melbourne public transport...
Melbourne's streets are, as someone once said to me, 'deceptively straight', and Melbourne's suburbs are equally guilefully named. We have suburbs named Fitzroy, and Brunswick, and St Kilda, and we have a Fitzroy Street, a Brunswick Street, and a St Kilda Road. But Fitzroy Street runs through St Kilda, and Brunswick Street runs through Fitzroy, and St Kilda road runs through neither (well, to be fair, it touches on the outskirts of St Kilda at one point*). Brunswick even boasts a Sydney Road.
Anyway, the possibilities for confusion here are obvious, and epic: it would be easy to direct someone mistakenly to the Brunswick Street, on the corner of Sydney Road and Fitzroy, or to St Kilda Street, on the corner of Fitzroy Road and Brunswick, or even to Brunswick Road on the corner of Coburg and Sydney. Nothing would be stranger than to find the city of Sydney nestled in one of the suburbs of Melbourne, but I wouldn't put it past my city...
All of which is to say, I guess, that I should never be trusted to give directions. If I ever end up giving you directions to a location in Melbourne (or elsewhere), just do something different, and you'll probably end up in the right place.
Take it from me.
*Be quiet, pedants! For the purposes of this post it does!
Tim, your links stink, you fink!
- John Bangsund's Threepenny Planet
- Broken Biro
- Poetry 24
- Superlative scribbles
- Kirstyn McD!
- Rorrim a tsomla almost a mirror
- More Sterne
- Cam the man from the Dan.
- Too hot to Raaaaaaandallllllll!
- Erin's Excellently Everlasting Effervescements!
- Slammy Infamy
- Hail Paco!
- Baron Blandwagon, purveyor of cyberbunnies, hawker of Roger Corman, and Misruler of the Multiverse
- The Bolta. Aiyeeeeee!!!!!
- Bad Apple Audrey
- The cartoon church
- Sir Martinkus
- A Zemblanian abroad and at home
- A hodge podge of hotzeplotz
- THE SLAMMA!
- Jottlesby's nottings, or should that be Nottlesby's jottings?
- The Snarking of the Hunt
- Jazzy Hands
- David of Metal City
- David the Barista
- The Blogger on the Cast Iron Balcony
- Be an Opinion Dominion Minion!
- ... and Fel
- His brilliant career - from whale sushi to crumbed prawn
- Jo Blogs
- Yet another Tim
- Was two peas, now three peas
- ... Still Life - now with extra rotating cats!
- An Amazingly Awesome Australian Ampersand!
- Blink and you'll miss 'er
- Red in the land of the tigers!
- Wire of Vibe
- Chase him, ladies, he's in the cavalry!
- The Non-palindromical Editrix in Germanium
- Old Sterne
- The briefs...
- ... and the brieflets
- The Purple Blog
- Blairville, lair of all that is wicked and perfidious
- The enticingly acronymical CSH
- EXTREEEEEEEME WYNTER!
- Mark of California
- Silent Speaking
- Lexicon the Mexican
- ► 2015 (106)
- ► 2014 (135)
- ► 2013 (173)
- ► 2012 (275)
- ► 2011 (261)
- ► 2010 (288)
- ► 2009 (290)
- ► 2008 (316)
- Nice weather we're having
- Schrödinger's Duck
- The great short shortage
- Pustules of purple Jenkins-shaped fungus
- The person I'm not, and you probably aren't either...
- A moral vacuum
- A street map for getting lost, and how to get the ...
- My day so far, as a conceptual free-verse poem
- Don't hedgehog your bets, and other helpful advice...
- Concrete poetry
- McCrappy Day
- Important breaking news of importance
- Morish sentences
- Not good, not advice
- The bookshelfless
- This is not a word game
- noitnetta ot gnidnatS
- ... and then I did the Thesaurus...
- Exchange of unpleasantries
- More sentences
- What your trousers say about you (behind your back...
- Socks! Socks! Socks!
- A disquisition concerning eggs
- ▼ November (24)
- ► 2006 (373)
- ► 2005 (287)