An Uncorporate Life

Tuesday 2 November 2010

Yesterday evening the manfriend and I drove down to Thai Angels for some takeaway.  While we waited half an hour for it to be cooked, we went for a walk around the side streets of West Footscray, down Warleigh Road and exploring the newly-formed Beaurepaire Way and adjacent streets, a new housing development on the site of the old Southern Tyres land.

Unbearably neat townhouses run along the length of Warleigh Road too, across the road from that old white Victorian house I went and looked at when it was for sale years ago, another lifetime ago when I was trying to find a house that would make everything okay inside my soul, out the tail end of a six-year illness and a marriage, me so unbearably messy, everything hanging out of me like sausages.

Now the Victorian has across from it a long row of townhouses in the current style, two storeyed, combining dark brick with lighter rendered areas, clean lines, every surface clean, straight lines, the landscaped gardens corporate style - completely inoffensive, like corporate art, wanting to make a statement and an impression without actually saying anything.

Down Beaurepaire Way is a children's playground, new and pristine, safe with its coating of rubber underlay.  Next to it is a large, grassed public area with a sign saying Keep Off the Garden.  The row of townhouses which run down two sides of this area have a bit of green for their eyes to rest upon.  It does give a nice feeling of space, and even a slight nod to community living.  It is not, however, apparently a space they're allowed to muddy up by placing their defecating, orgasming, farting, dying bodies upon.  A corporate public space, for show.  (Or, depending on your view and your selling point, an iconic space).

The long white Southern Tyres building and its art deco round-windowed office building still stand facing out the other side, onto Cross Street and the Sydenham railway line.  Many of the windows have been broken by disaffected 14 year olds asthmatic at the ambivalence of West Footscray on the one hand going pretty, on the other hand its new footpaths and walkways no more inclusive and welcoming than the previous incarnation.

The townhouses proposed for this site are ones I could never afford.  A one-bedroom apartment is yours for the bargain price of 340 grand.  A two-bedroom deal up on Warleigh Road will set you back closer to half a million).

We walk back along Cross Street and then round the back of these two buildings.  From here we are facing once again the public grassed area further out in front of us.  Its pristine safety is separated from this view by temporary fencing, from the as-yet unreconfigured mess of old abandoned buildings.  More townhouses ran off to the left of us, and as we walk towards them I think that if I was a new inhabitant of one of those townhouses, I would prefer it to stay how it is right now, the old buildings and their now-vacant land space, dirt turned to mud, glutted with water from the recent rains, the earth just lying there in the rest of being fallow, barren but honest space.

Earth breathing while it can, until another 40 townhouses get slapped down upon it, each one taking up 96% of its available footprint, blocking out the view of the Sita Bus Lines building with its red and yellow sign up on Sunshine Avenue, on the other side of the train line.  I've never seen that bus lines building from this angle before.  I've driven past it and ridden past it in a train carriage hundreds of times and thought it ugly, with its concreted yards and rows of buses lined up facing the wall, like kids in trouble at school in earlier times.

Perhaps it's just the chilliness of the air that suddenly fills me with melancholy.  Unseasonably chilly, making me feel like there should be a football game on the telly and a coat round my shoulders.  A melancholy come in suddenly sharp and tart like lemon on the tongue, right on the back of a moment of gratitude as I walk the streets with my beloved, in anticipation of a good meal, good company, a public holiday the next day, a spacious, workless day of meditation, yoga, walking, lovemaking, cooking, writing, of being inside a body and a life with mess, waste and tears, joy, snatches of hope, and music, and fear.  A real, Velveteen rabbit life, everything belonging.  An entirely uncorporate sort of a life.


  1. Your post reminds me of Catalog Living,, one of my guilty pleasures blogs of the moment. I must confess I am a huge fan of HGTV where couples view homes for sale or struggle with DIY projects. It always astounds me how these people are so obsessed with granite counters and stainless steel appliances, crown moldings and tray ceilings. Their lives would be incomplete without all the above. And some are prepared to spend over half a million dollars for such a home. Some folks have money, it seems. They probably only drink merlot because that is the wine flavour of the month. Like you, I am more free-form than cookie cutter.

  2. Thanks, Urbanmonk :)

    Barbara: Oooh, thanks for linking to that blog :) It's so depressing, ain't it, that we mistake our importance in the world by the crap we own, and whether our counters are granite? I mean, those things are nice to some degree, but it's scary how much people have bought into all that stuff. Just shows how small and scared we feel in the world, I guess.

    I'm addicted to shows like Grand Designs, where people are rebuilding old 12th century castles and stuff :)

    Yay for freeform :)

  3. yeah and they have a corporate salary to pay for it:) (the 12th century castle rebuilders that is)

  4. Yeah. I'm so mindful of that when I watch those shows. Makes it all feel a little dirty in some ways :(

  5. Only just spotted this, Sue - wonderful stuff!
    So alive you can taste it - whee!


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