Sunday, December 21, 2008


A parade came down the street: some successfully returned sporting team welcomed home like they’d won the war that saved civilisation. Crowds I thought were window-shoppers abruptly turned, their faces were painted red and yellow, and they were suddenly chanting sidewalk tribespeople moving along with the motorcade. At the cue of the third car, I entered their procession. Walking calmly, briskly but not hurriedly, I became another set of legs in the celebration caterpillar. My mark was a man with red hair, wearing an appropriate team jersey at least five sizes too big for him, which was saying something. Big Red Reg was his moniker in certain circles.

I sidled up to him, and he let out a whooping holler decrying the domination of his chosen sports team over all others in the same competition. I followed suit.

“Julian,” he said to me, without looking at me. “I didn’t know you were in town.”

“If I’d wanted you to know,” I told him, “you would have known.”

“Clever,” said Big Red Reg. “You’re always so good with the one-liners, aren’t you.”

“It saves expending too much energy talking.”

As if to illustrate my point, Big Red Reg let out another bellow, indicating his preference, in triplicate, for being Australian.

“I need to meet someone,” I said, clapping with the crowd as another polished SUV went past carrying two more members of the successful sports franchise.

“You can meet the whole team if you want,” beamed Big Red Reg. “I can easily arrange it.”

I gave his shoulder a withering look. “If I wanted to meet neckless thugs in dark sunglasses, Reg, I would never have left home.”

“Fair enough,” he chuckled.

I left Big Red Reg at the next corner, and I walked away with an address in my pocket and the beginnings of a headache. This city was all sunrise and noise.

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