General George & The Rio

the rio milk bar summer hill sydney shopfront 14-02-2011 4-15-50 PM

Cosmo just walked past my building, his tiny steps shuffling along the footpath. He’s a Greek who grew up in Russia and was in his youth a Cossack dancer, which may be why his legs don’t work so well any more. If I meet him in the street he always grins and says what a lovely day. Best country in the world, he says. I wonder if he knows that George, the old Greek man who had The Rio, the antiquated, eccentric, time-lapsed dairy just round the corner on Smith Street, has died? Francois, of International Hairdressers, on this side of the Rio, told me this morning that Thomas the Tailor, whose bespoke tailoring business is on the other side, saw the Rio’s door open one day this week and went in to check on George. He was dying, but did not want Thomas to call an ambulance or otherwise provide any help. He wanted to go alone, to take his own way home. There was a bunch of orchids and a tiny pot plant, with jewel-like flowers, on the doorstep yesterday. The note said farewell to the man sometimes known as General George. They’re gone today.

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