Eternities : The Bondi Tram

Whenever I drive down Bondi Road towards the beach in the afternoon (but, curiously, never when I drive back up towards the Junction) an image comes to mind: it is of a man in an upstairs flat in one of the shop-fronts that line the street on the right hand side. He is wearing a white singlet, high-waisted trousers, black shoes and is engaged in the process of preparing a simple meal on the single hot plate plugged in and sitting on a formica-covered shelf next to the stainless steel sink. Scrambled eggs perhaps; baked beans. There’s a long neck of Resch’s dinner ale open on the table where he will eat and he swigs from this as he stirs the pot. Sometimes he looks out the window at the blue-green fire sparking from the overhead as a tram goes by – for this room, and this man, are in the past, the 1950s probably. After he has eaten he will go down to the street and stand on the corner smoking an unfiltered cigarette, Capstan or Players, and watch the world go by. When his friend comes along in a humped black Vauxhall Velox he will get in the front seat beside him and they will drive the way I am going, down to the beach for a night of – what? It’s either crime or pleasure, if those two are mutually exclusive, but I don’t yet know which. Maybe they’re just going down to the Kings in Campbell Parade to see a movie. Sometimes this image is so strong it is as if I am the friend who drives the Vauxhall and he the ghost who will sit beside me was I go down the hill in the early evening towards the blue sea that rises steeply to the horizon as the land, as steeply, falls away.

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