Woke up to the kind of light that crackles in the cold. Crystalline skies and words that you can see come out of your mouth as they disappear into the world.

A friend and I arranged to have breakfast in West Brunswick, which isn’t in my part of town, and is deep in the organic cola belt. I steeled myself for a bowl of hair-shirt and a footpath strewn with baby strollers, but it happens that Miss Marmalade turns out food that you want to eat rather than Instagram, and it was too cold outside for most sensible people. We got seats right away. My friend and I both had the same meal, which was smoked salmon, poached eggs, potato stack and asparagus. It was even more delicious than that because I ordered a side of bacon which was practically still squealing when it hit the plate. I think I stole that line from Bill Bryson, but I don’t think he reads this blog so I’m fine.

The crowning glory was Coca Cola in a glass bottle. I heard an angel or a car alarm.

My friend talked about what she was going to do that day, patiently explaining what shibari is all about. It was utterly fascinating, not for prurient reasons, but because she was so enthusiastic and excited to talk about it. There’s a lot to be said for other people’s keen interest in things about which you know nothing. I went home a little more educated, and keen to make the most of the rest of the day.

Home again, I talked to Erin about what she had planned for the rest of her day, which turned out to be research for a new project she’s working on. She was going to be neck-deep in it for the rest of the day so I decided to make good on some loose plans I had made with my friend Jason, who is part owner of the Rainbow Hotel and has also recently been laid up after falling off a ladder and fracturing three more vertebrae than the recommended number of zero. When I had my spinal surgery a while back, Jason picked me up from hospital and took me home and sat with me and patiently taught me backgammon for about the fifth time. He’s a solid friend and not being able to get about must be driving him crazy.

I rugged up, put a jacket on the dog, and set off on a leisurely one-hour walk down to Fitzroy. The earlier wind had eased, the sun was honey in the sky, and the new Matthew Sweet record twanged on my AirPods. I put on my mirrored aviators to ensure I looked as aloof as possible, but as I strolled down High Street people smiled at me anyway. Everyone smiles at me when I’m walking Hitch.

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I sauntered into the Rainbow’s beer-garden, where my favourite booth was both empty and drenched in the sunlight. Jason lives upstairs so I sent him a text to let him know I’d arrived, ordered a pint of raspberry lemonade (I have the tastes of a particularly unsophisticated child) and said some casual hellos to other regulars.

Jason arrived, walking softly and carrying a big chess set. It took an hour for him to politely put me out of my misery, during which time we solved a lot of the world’s problems. He also put two bottles of imperial stout out of their misery. We chatted a while longer, about nothing and everything. I wondered aloud when sunset was so I could time my walk home to avoid the re-advancing chill. There was about enough time to make it home before dark if I legged it right then and there.

I took a different way home through Edinburgh Gardens so Hitch could run around in the last-fallen leaves of what has been a late Autumn. He took a lot of interest in one particular greyhound’s butt, but I pointed at another dog-butt in the distance and he moved on, got distracted by a stick, and then started just trotting along at my heels. We got to the skateboarding bowl at the northern end of the park just in time to capture slow-motion video of a labrador chasing its skateboarding owner into the bowl and getting mad air at the transition.

Keep your eye on the dog. He gets mad air.

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I showed the video to the guy riding the skateboard, and he said some words that I didn’t understand because he was young and I am old, but I can tell he was what we old-timers would call “totes stoked”.

Walking back up Ruckers Hill someone had written a 20 meter long declaration of love in chalk along the retaining wall. A little further along, a couple gazed toward the city’s facets of red, blue, and gold.

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By the time I flopped on the couch, I’d already walked about 12km for the day. I remembered that back when I got Hitch from the breeder, he said that French Bulldogs don’t need much exercise. Even so, Hitch was jumping around the house, excited to see Erin again after either three hours or forty years. Dogs are pretty stupid.

The Wesley Anne is a couple minutes walk from the house, and we hadn’t eaten there yet in the couple of months since we’ve been in Northcote. I suggested to Erin that we try a meal there because if there’s a better way to end a cold day than a pub meal it’s probably illegal, embarrassing , or both. The kangaroo was hands-down the best meal featuring an animal from the coat of arms that I have had in my life. As we paid for our meals, I told the staff exactly that (not the coat of arms bit) and they told me that it would be on special the next day if I wanted to have it again.

Made a quick stop at the shops to buy some utterly shameful treats for myself (Cherry Coke and a family size Hershey Bar), walked into the house and was greeted by a dog who hadn’t seen us since we left for the war all those years ago. We spun up Netflix and settled into Bong Joon Ho’s beguiling new movie Okja. It has two Tilda Swintons in it and some spectacular prosthetic teeth.

I think this is the first time I’ve ever really blogged. But it was a wonderful day.

 

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