Welcome Back to Thursday Doors.
That leads to your door
Will never disappear
I’ve seen that road before
It always leads me here
Lead me to you door….
This week’s door is personal. Indeed, back in 1988 as a 18 year old university student, this was my front door. Home for this once grungy terrace is 279 Abercrombie Street, Chippendale. Talk about location! Location! Location! This place was a hop, step and a jump away from Redfern Station and just around the corner from Sydney University my former stomping ground. Back in our day, it was parked right on top of the pedestrian crossing used by hordes of university students walking to and from uni. This was fantastic because we could sit out on our front balcony and spot our friends walking past and call out. It used to confuse the hell out of them, and we’ll see them looking around baffled by where the voice was coming from. However, this crossing was rather treacherous, and was removed, replaced with traffic lights further down the road. Party poopers!
Of course, it goes without saying that our student digs were far from glamorous and had a sort of rustic charm. We had a semi-outside toilet. There was also no running hot water. That meant we had to boil the kettle to do the washing up and the shower had a gas heating contraption to heat the water up. You had to be a bit careful because you could burn your bottom on it, which at least happened once. Our backyard from memory was an industrial wasteland of rugged concrete. At one stage there, I was selling chocolate cakes to the Reasonably Good Cafe across the road, which was also the scene of my very first public poetry reading with the Sydney University writer’s group, Inkpot (what a cute name!) This was before you needed an industrial kitchen, and let’s just say we’re lucky no one died.
Needless to say, our place was the scene of numerous parties, get togethers and pretty much had an open door policy. The party I remember most was called: “An Interstellar Overdrive Spider Gathering”. Not surprisingly, the word went out that it was an acid party. I’d never touched the stuff and barely even needed a drink to get into party mode. However, at least 80 people packed out the terrace and most of them were in varying degrees of other-consciouness. One such friend thought my lime green beanbag was attacking people and I have a photo of him carting the offending beanbag upstairs to lock it up. That dear friend used to rate his day by how many bottles of Guinness he’s had after Manning Bar opened at 12.00pm. However, to be fair he’d been in a nasty head-on car accident and was only trying to find his feet. We all were. I don’t think many of us knew who we were. What I do recall, was at the end of first year, we were just praying for 51% in our exams. It was too late to hope for brilliance. We just wanted to pass right under the radar into second year.
After all, there was far too much to do on campus than attend lectures, tutorials or even study. I won’t mention the birds and bees. Mostly, that was all hype or heartbreak or an unbroken chain on unreciprocated love. By the way, there were no mobile phones back then. So getting someone’s number and calling them up was a feat in itself and you could simply text when your vocal cords were paralyzed with nerves. I distinctly remember writing down phone conversations before I called up. I also remember trying to get through the St Paul’s College switchboard. It was worse than trying to get through to the Sydney radio station. Another aspect of the phone back then, was that if you were still living at home, your entire family knew there was “a boy on the phone.” The modern generation have it way too easy.
My days at 279 Abercrombie Street ended abruptly after the house had been extensively burgled. They clean swept my room, even stealing my school formal dresses and seemingly everything but my undies. I’d been paying off this really groovy hand-made ceramic t-set which I’d bought from this incredible, never-to-be forgotten shop in Glebe called Aho Doddo. Even the guy who owned the place was a treasure. He drove one of those big old citroens where the exhaust pipe rises and falls. This wasn’t Paris. It Sydney’s inner-west. Sadly, it had closed its doors before I even graduated.
This burglary was our second strike. One night I was woken up by the rattle of chains on the front balcony which opened into my bedroom. Much to my horror there was a burglar staring me right in the face. No doubt, we’ve all watched at least an episode of the Brady Bunch where Carol anxiously taps Mike on the shoulder: “Did you hear that?” Truth be told, I wasn’t quite on my pat malone and had a friend staying over. Friend. I swear moving into that terrace cursed my personal life. My memory, I was eternally single, although perhaps I complain too much. It was 30 years ago. Anyway, the burglar must’ve had a delicate constitution and disappeared back over the balcony and that began a lengthy vigil of keeping my ears open through the night in case of further trouble.
By the way, since we’re talking about doors, I should mention that we were often listening to The Doors back then as well as David Bowie. So I’ll sign off today with their haunting anthem: The End
This has been another contribution to Thursday Doors hosted by Norm 2.0. Why don’t you come and join us and share a few of your favourite doors. It’s a lot of fun and helps you see parts of the world you’ll never get to visit.