The Great Auburn Adventure

First there was reading to do and TV to watch. I was racing to finish a book about a man named William Moxley who was executed for murdering a couple in Sydney in 1932. It’s a pretty little volume, designed tastefully, and produced with care, and it’s called Mad Dog, by Peter Corris. I read it in a day, which is unusual for me, because it was short and well-written, and it was the perfect blend of history and macabreries to appeal to a twisted sensibility like mine. Meanwhile Laetitia watched ‘Snog, Marry, Avoid’ a “makeunder” show where they typically take an English slapper who wears too many cosmetics and prosthetics and remove most of her makeup and do her hair in a reasonable manner, and they often find that when the young woman in question isn’t dressed as something from the Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras she’s actually quite pretty. In fact they always find that she’s rather pretty – that’s the point of the show – even when, as sometimes happens, the subject refuses to see sense and pledges to go back to caking on the fake tan and exposing her goodies to the world at large. Actually, the point of the show is to laugh: to laugh at misguided people and be thankful that you aren’t like that.

We got into the car and embarked on a short journey of a few suburbs to visit a warehouse outlet place which sells flower arranging accoutrements at reasonable prices. The TomTom GPS told us that we would be arriving in half an hour or so. Maybe twenty minutes. Yes, twenty-odd minutes sounds about right. We trust the TomTom, or “guidey” as Laetitia calls it (and I have been sprung calling it too) to help with our navigation choices and to offer sage advice when it is required on any trip encompassing unfamiliar territory. But we aren’t precious about it. When we know better we ignore the reassuring English woman’s voice, with her strange pronunciation of Parramatta Road, and we sometimes deviate from the plan which the device’s little computer has carefully mapped out, knowing it will recalibrate itself and create a new route as we go. The TomTom was purchased because we thought it would be a good idea to have computerised navigation assistance, but it was also introduced into our in-car experience because the human element of navigation had become the cause of some tension between the two of us – Laetitia behind the wheel and me struggling with the map or street directory or combination of both. I can read maps, and so can Laetitia, but we don’t seem to be able to read them together very well, when the pressure’s on, and motorists are sounding their horns as a gentle reminder to get going or get the hell out of the way. The TomTom has avoided many arguments. It has caused the occasional outburst though, from both of us, aimed at it, as it seems to have some strange ideas about how to go about driving in Sydney, and if you don’t have your wits about you you can find yourself on a very unpleasant detour. One time it erroneously took us from one side of the Harbour Bridge to the other – which meant we had to find a way to get back, and then find out how to get where we were actually going, all over again. The experience was not an enjoyable one. Although we laugh about it now: a kind of mirthless, war veteran laugh.

There was reason to take the guidey seriously then. But events were not to unfold smoothly. Not as smoothly as the little device which makes a “Ba-Dum-Dum” drum noise when you turn it on had predicted anyway. It took longer than twenty minutes. We resisted when it suggested taking a motorway. We theorised that it wouldn’t be necessary. It would be a short trip, after all. The traffic we were in would lessen. It always does. But it didn’t. It was slow moving, still really, and reminded the passenger of times when everything moves at a funereal pace until you get past the site of a major accident, often involving a truck, and from there everything’s fine. But there was no truck. No accident. And everything was not fine.

Car dealerships gradually gave way to other types of commercial buildings. Light industrial mainly. Small warehouses with offices attached. Businesses on this stretch of Parramatta Road seemed to all have names like Smith Holding Company or Pacific Corporate Solutions or Addison International Wholesalers & Sons Inc. They had closed and locked doors with boarded up windows and I wondered what sort of business actually went on behind these front doors which looked like they never get opened and inside rooms never lit by the natural light of the sun. Porn film production was one idea I entertained. Something to do with drugs or arms dealing was another. An undercover office for ASIO also suggested itself. These lurid ideas possibly say more about my rather puerile imagination, and the fact that I was becoming a smidge bored, than they do about the strange appearance of these unloved businesses.

Before long we made the decision to take a detour, to get off the main road, and see how far we could get by going that way. It worked well, for a time. But others did something similar and before long we, all of us, the cars which had made a run for it, were approaching another main road, and it was moving very slowly as well, and it was no better. It was the same traffic jam, just in a different place. We thought about turning back – although that wouldn’t have been easy to do either – and decided to press on.

And eventually we found it. A medium-sized warehouse in an industrial street near railway tracks. The prices were good and Laetitia made mental notes and we bought some things and planned to buy others in preparation for a big event we are planning for next year.

So it was a success. A strange kind of success, but from a shopping point of view it was an undoubtedly positive result. It had taken ninety minutes to do a twenty minute jaunt and by then it was half time in the rugby league game I had planned to try to see on the way back home, and thus there was no point trying to do that, and the shadows cooled us as we packed the pots we purchased into the car, and the drive back home was no less painful than the first leg, but we were together, Laetitia and I, and that’s the main thing. That’s enough.

Published in: on June 28, 2012 at 8:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

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