Monday, June 16, 2008

Grow Up

What if an Obama presidency changes nothing? Here's John Pilger:
It is time the wishful-thinkers grew up politically and debated the world of great power as it is, not as they hope it will be. Like all serious presidential candidates, past and present, Obama is a hawk and an expansionist... The "truly exciting and historic moment in US history" will only occur when the game itself is challenged.
Speaking of Pilger, this article about his return to his childhood roots in Bondi rings all kinds of bells for me, because I grew up in the same area about 20 years later.
I found a stretch of the tramline and stared at it as you do at an archaeological dig. I lost it in the climb up to Denham Street and the Royal, where the trams had disgorged drinkers for the Six O’Clock Swill (the pubs closed at six). As a newspaper-boy, I was allowed into pubs. My mother, being a woman, was barred, apart from the ladies-only room in the back. On Saturdays, my father would bring her out a shandy or, if they had things to discuss, a DA (dinner ale).
I climbed that same hill, up past Denham Street to Waverley Oval, many a time. I even had a paper run for a while (just a week, actually: I never could get out of bed that early as a kid). And Pilger's old home on Moore Street would have been only a few hundred meters from the big red flats on Birrell Street where my family lived.
Past where the art-deco picture house used to be, there was Moore Street. It was silent now, a former trench of domestic warfare, with bodies and bottles thudding against thin walls, and opaque-eyed men back from the war against the Japanese, their ribcages protruding, and sorrowful women in aprons. The dazzling green of the South Pacific was unchanged, though no longer framed between smoking chimneys and sturdy dunnies.

I stood outside the tiny, dark house in Moore Street where I grew up. The corrugated-iron roof had gone, otherwise little had changed; even the old wooden box containing the gas meter, where I liked to sit waiting for people to come home, was there. I stared at it, and at the same window frames, and the same peeling window ledges, and at the front door; and I failed to find the courage to knock on it.