Local Body Politics

I was about to scatter a handful of small coloured iridescent stars down the stairway of this building when the former Mayor of Ashfield came calling. I was hoping to attract some angel to my door so threw them anyway. He had with him a film treatment called Wisdom, after his novel of the same name, and was wearing, as is his habit, a black hat. He declined any refreshment but did tell me how he came to wear that hat: a drunken poet, aeons ago, had fallen from his chair to the floor and dislodged the one he was wearing: the former, then future, Mayor of Ashfield placed it upon his own head; the poet (I know this man, he is a friend of mine) consigned it to him and he has continued to sport it, or its likenesses, ever since. He said it helped identify him when door-knocking, handing out flyers at Summer Hill station and in other situations. Moved here, from Broken Hill, in ’69 and has lived hereabouts ever since; might yet return to politics, even though he’s 71 years old. He told me that the next Mayoress of Ashfield (god forbid) (we’ve just had elections) once told a Councillor, cancerous, stretchered into chambers to help vote down a pernicious development proposal (high rise along Lackey Street!?), that it was a pity they had operated between his legs and not his ears. I wanted to know if he remembered the department store that once stood where the fountain before the carpark on the main drag is now: he said only the ashes. The grand Spanish style deco cinema, muralled on the wall of Da Vinci’s pizza parlour, he never knew at all. Except in photographs. It seated 1700 plus and, in the ’60s, was a revival theatre where you might have seen something like Fellini’s La Strada; which Wisdom somehow resembles, albeit in a vernacular version. He is the man who saved Ethel Malley’s house from demolition; it’s in Croydon, I’ve been there, though not inside. He knew the place, 49 Wellesley Street, I almost moved into when I came here myself, just seven years ago now. I have read the novel (it’s beautiful) but not the film treatment; I’m saving that for the angel who might yet find that path of stars to my door: maybe tomorrow. When he left we stood out by the letter boxes chatting a while; as he walked off up Morris Street I saw that there were green and red and yellow stars adhered to the soles of his white running shoes. Whether he stands again or not, he has my vote.

image : Lackey Street, Summer Hill, c, 1911-1916; by Rex Hazlewood


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