Day seven – things I like about Melbourne

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I saw a film today that has stayed with me and I would recommend it – Being 14, a French drama about the ups and downs of being a teenager. I was disappointed by Margot Nash’s memoir The Silences and you can read my overly long rumination on horror films in my review of the US film The Witch.

I feel like I am getting to know Melbourne again. Most days I have time between films to walk the streets, explore shops and find interesting food. Melbourne has changed. There are a lot more shops – big shopping centre-like places that believe in the Gruen transfer*, overheated, over-privileged. There are a lot more restaurants and cafes, particularly asian ones – hot pot, Pho, dumplings, barbecue, sushi, tea, ramen. I like that. So here are some things I like about Melbourne:

The attitude toward coffee. The barista where I ordered a strong coffee this morning asked whether a double shot would be enough.  He gave me a triple.

The cold. It bites at your face and your breath steams but, walking, your body is warm and your hands are tucked in your pockets.

The rain. At night the reds and whites, oranges and greens are reflected off the glossy dark roads and pavements like puddles of melted sugar. You are never far from shelter and striding from building to building is like plunging into a fast flowing river.

The people who hold your gaze for a second and smile. They’re rare in a city where people try to avoid being pulled into a stranger’s world but you will find some everyday if you look.

Strange shops in odd places. In one of my favourite places to fossick, up tiled stairs in an old old building, through heavy doors and along quiet corridors. I bought a vintage jacket, missing a button. Opposite was a bead shop, the lady there sent me upstairs to the button shop, which was next to the Victorian gothic shop and along from the poetry bookshop. All run by lovely people seemingly committed to singular things.

The food. The possibility to try something new every day for the rest of your life.

*The Gruen transfer is a technique of shopping mall design where the layout intentionally confuses you and distracts you from your intended purpose. You often can’t find an exit once you enter and everything looks the same, keeping you trapped there and more likely to shop. It’s also an Australian TV show.

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