About 15 years ago my sister, and her then husband, fell in love with a house in Mont Albert North that had once been home to an Australian artist – I can’t remember which one. The whole family rocked up for the auction, and, as my sister was too nervous and my brother in law insufficiently confident it was decided that I would do the bidding on their behalf. The auctioneer was the nearest thing to a celebrity real estate agent in Melbourne, Tim Fletcher, who was at the time one of the expert reporters on a lifestyle program called Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise. On the occasion of this auction they had decided to record for the show, and so a couple of cameras were there catching the action.
I don’t remember much about the auction. I remember taking very little notice of my rivals. When I bid I did so firmly, without hesitation. At least once I threw in an extra gigh bid to put them off. I totally ignored my family, except on one occasion when their limit had been reached. I thought we just about had it, but was reluctant to go ahead without their say-so. I glanced over. Do it, I said. I got a quavery nod of the head and then put in what was the winning bid.
Afterwards Tim Fletcher came over and asked if he could interview my about my ‘bidding technique’ for the show. Sure, I said, and he asked me questions while the cameras rolled, and I answered not dissimilarly to how I described it above.
Fast forward 15 years and I take Rigby for a walk. A couple of streets over the people who bought this place are about to auction theirs. It’s overcast, it’s been drizzly, but there is a reasonable crowd there. The vendor recognises me as I walk up and stops. we shake hands, I wish him luck, then step back. People come over to give Rigby a pat, telling me, as always, how beautiful he is. A little boy squeals in delight patting him, and quick nippy kiss Rigby gives him. Rigby is loving it.
There’s a camera there, and an attractive female presenter. The auction begins, the bids start slowly before gradually winding up. The camera films it, the house is sold, people drift away.
By this time my sister has joined me. We’re standing there talking when the reporter comes over. Do you mind if we interview you about Mont Albert she says? They start with my sister, who responds that it’s a great place to live, very family oriented, lots of parks, close to the freeway, and so on. Then they turn to me. I’ver already explained that I don’t really live here, but they want to know what I think nonetheless. I grin a little guiltily as I explain it’s a little too quiet and staid for me, I’m more of an inner city guy. And what do you like about the inner city? The bars and cafes I tell them, the restaurants, the tram to the city, and so on. She smiles and they move away.
Now I doubt this little snippet of an interview will ever get broadcast – especially as I’m the naysayer in a report as to why Mont Albert has become Melbourne’s favourite suburb. It got me thinking though as I’m walking home.
I’m presently on the look-out for a home. I’ve been scanning the online sites and have already attended one OFI. What was telling, for me, was how easily the words slipped out of my mouth, about how I was such an inner city dude. There’s a lot pretty complex about that, as I explored in another recent post, but the reality is that – minus a family to keep me warm – I’m lost without the (once) familiar delights of the bohemian inner suburbs – good coffee, people who enjoy a tipple or two at one of many decent bars, and the attitude – slightly hip, very current, and most often engaged, culturally and politically, in the world about us.