A number of years ago, seems like a lifetime, a friend and I use to visit the niteclub/entertainment area of Brisbane called Fortitude
Valley or 'the Valley' to locals. Think Kings Cross in Sydney with lots of late-night revellers, live music venues and adult entertainment spots. After wandering
around checking out live music or 'gigs' as we called them, we would often sit at a particular bus stop and talk about stuff and watch the passing parade of people. I usually didn't drink at all or not much on these meanderings as my mate did not drink at
all. So there we were completely or fairly sober talking about all sorts of things, in fact anything that came to mind. Some times others would join us on our wanders but it was never quite the same. We saw many things on those nights and had many crazy conversations.
As an example, one of these conversations came from observation. At the time it seemed to us that every second or third person was wearing the colour lemon yellow. We were use to seeing
black being the colour of choice for many but lemon yellow was something different. So we started the phrase “Lemon yellow is the new black” We even went as far as deliberately talking about it in the earshot of others in the hope that the saying
would take off/catch on. No matter how hard we tried and how much we did this though no-one ever even asked us what we were going on about. Now I see that if you do a google search on 'lemon yellow is the new black' it comes up with the title picture.
Try it for yourself....
This was the same friend I formed a band with many years before, had shared a flat with and who I first met when we started at the same workplace on the same
day. This was the same friend I went on 'poster runs' with to laundromats and shopping areas looking for gig posters. He was a collector and at one stage when sharing a flat we virtually wallpapered the white walls with these posters. Our neighbours in that
flat were an odd assortment which fitted the area. We lived for a short time in West End, an alternative inner city suburb of Brisbane. It was the first time I had lived away from home and so sharing a flat in an alternative area was a lot to take in for a
We had the asian couple next door who we suspected might have been drug dealing. On one occasion we had to call the ambulance for the wife as she was bleeding and some
guy was trying to bash down their door. We had the older butch lesbian and the obese gay guy who shared a flat downstairs, they often had loud arguments and would talk about a witches coven. Strangely, I helped them move to another unit not far from ours.
That was not long before I left that unit. The final resident of our block at that time was an elderly greek guy who told me he spoke seven languages but that english was not his best and seemed to be the sort of 'caretaker'. This background provided
some of our conversation material.
Anyway, a number of our conversations or 'convos' as we liked to call them lead to disagreements / arguments / debates and a few of these have even
seen times when we didn't communicate at all. We first met in the early to mid 90s and it is now 2013. However, we still keep in touch to this day and we still disagree on issues political and social etcetera. Many of our convos at that time and over
the years could have been the stuff of an alternative aussie version of the tv show Seinfeld. There's an idea - Maybe I should write this and make a fortune? All I need is a bit of comic timing.... now who would I get to play us?
We saw a lot during these visits to the bus stop. We usually stopped there late in the night either Friday or Saturday and would sit there for quite a while. For instance, we saw many intoxicated people, sometimes
they would stop and say something to us, occasionally there were young ladies who would drunkenly flirt even in front of their boyfriends/partners. Now we were no oil paintings, just a couple of regular blokes sitting at a bus stop usually talking crap. I
particularly remember one girl who came and kissed us and even went to sit on our laps though she was promptly dragged away by a couple of friends. We had seen her staggering around and her speech was slurred. The friends who dragged her away were at the same
time apologetic for her behaviour but also telling us off for encouraging her. Many times we saw young women in groups or sometimes just with a couple of young men usually wearing little and struggling to stand up. Seemed like a recipe for disaster to us but
it would usually end up as part of our convo on the night. Often we would see these girls and others try to cross the road when drunk only to be nearly hit by passing cars/taxis etcetera. We often saw fights break out but were luckily never involved, we would
quickly try to move on when we sensed trouble.
There were warnings in the media about random violence, drink driving and drunken pedestrians getting hit by cars in the Valley but
it never seemed to make much difference to these individuals. With stories of young women being abducted in the news it never failed to amaze me why these girls would put themselves in these situations. Is it a case of 'girls just wanna have fun'?' to quote
Cyndi Lauper. I realise that no matter how someone dresses it's not an invitation to take advantage. But surely there are friends/family members out there saying to these girls that wearing little and getting drunk might seem like a bit of fun but is
not necessarily going to give you a good time.
We saw the same things at music festivals, just more concentrated. We attended the 'Big Days Out', and 'Livid' festivals during
this time. A lot of the people we spoke to talked of drinking before the event to get 'warmed up' and then drink a little more inside the venue as it was quite expensive. Some of these events started in the late morning so there must have been a lot of drinking
at breakfast time. You would see a bloke at 2pm in the afternoon passed out on the grass in the blazing sun with his shirt off and think he will truly look like a beetroot by the end of the day. He obviously wasn't there for the music but to get 'plastered'.
Makes me wonder why he would bother paying a hundred bucks to get in to some of these festivals if only to wipe himself out in the early stages of the afternoon and most probably miss all the good bands and other activities. Each to their own I guess.
You see it at the races, the Melbourne Cup for example where people get all dressed up spend up big on booze and end up a mess on the grass by the end of the carnival. Don't get me wrong,
I do understand the drinking culture, I have been known to imbibe a little too much at times in the past. For me I hated the hangovers and would do a number of things to try and avoid those without going without the social lubricant. Of course, most of the
time I would fail and would wake up the next day with a bad headache and nausea. I have been known to repeat the mantra 'never again' over the old porcelain seat only to do it again the next weekend.
I think Australia got its drinking culture from the UK, in some places in England and Ireland there is a pub/inn/hotel on every corner and sometimes one halfway down the block as well. These also have a reputation for random violence and all out brawls
in some places. I never saw that side of it while i was there but then I never hung around long enough to find out. You see, I have tried many different beers/ales/wines/spirits however one of my favourite alcoholic beverages is Guinness, I call it a meal
in a glass. Its so thick, dark, rich and creamy that I cant drink it quickly so its great socially for me. It has to be 'on tap' though not out of a can and it is an acquired taste. Most people wont 'shout' you at the same rate as they would someone with another
type of beer/ale as this stout takes longer. I have been told it's good for the blood so mine must have been worth bottling while I was travelling around the UK.
When I was in London,
we stopped at a pub to get some 'grub' i.e food. We saw advertised a meal and a beer deal so we ordered the food and grabbed a beer/ale. Well, the beer was warm and flat so we took it back to the bar and asked for ice cubes. The barman replied “you must
be Aussies?” “That we are” said we. To which he just laughed and gave us back our beer with ice cubes. The amber liquid on that occasion wasn't that great at all. Given the conversion rate of the Aussie dollar to the British Pound at that
time, the lasagne meal was straight out of the packet and the beer was warm and flat it wasn't a great deal.
These are just a few of the adventures one must have being a social animal
as we all are. I'm sure most of you have similar stories or can think of friends/family members with similar stories. Unfortunately the world and human societies are sometimes divided by race, religion and/or culture. Soo, my next post will be called “Divide