As counter-intuitive as I find the notion, apparently ‘exercise’ can do you some good. So, lately I have been walking around the fair city of South Perth at a brisk clip. I say brisk, but my brisk is someone else’s 'Cliff Young shuffle'. But I have years of not exercising to undo. From little things big things grow, as Paul Kelly once wrote.
I’ve seen some unexpected things out there in Southy. (Keep in mind that I’m a borderline shut-in. I’ve only just discovered that the age of VHS is over.) On Labouchere Road, at dusk, I saw a taxi-driver kneeling on the verge, next to his cab. He had a prayer mat out and his shoes were placed at the top. A very common thing in some parts of the world, but not what I thought I would see while walking past the South Perth Bowling Club.
Down on Sir James Mitchell Park, I heard a woman take on a couple of male cyclists over their dog. She was walking. I didn’t catch the beginning but I did hear her saying, “You f**king moron!” He replied just eruditely, “Get f**ked!” She said, puzzlingly, “Some people are trying to do the right thing. Just f**king be nice.”
I was walking by the river, along the stretch between Mends Street Jetty and the Narrows Bridge when I saw a guy riding along the bike path with his arms wide open as though he was on stage, accepting massive applause. “Look, Ma, no hands,” as my Father would say. I thought he might be doing it to impress a woman who was walking up ahead of me, but as he rode past her I figured that he was just an exhibitionist making an entrance. He doubled back and started talking to the woman. I was only about five metres behind them and I attempted to eavesdrop. Did he know her? Was he a pest on two wheels?
I was trying to work it out when I noticed that a dolphin was swimming next to us. It was quite near the retaining wall, only about ten feet away, maximum. Its grey fin cut through the surface. As it rose, I could see its blowhole and its long-snout from above. A young Mum and Dad with a kid in a stroller were on the path, going the opposite direction to Bikeman, the Woman and me. Mum said, “Is that a Dolphin?” Dad agreed it was. I thought, should I take a snap of this on my phone for my blog? but then thought, no why don’t I enjoy this unmediated by technology? Thanks to uni that’s the sort of sentence I say in my head, unfortunately. Anyhow, I was feeling pure. Zen. I was part of all things. All things were part of me. The dolphin had conferred upon me a kind of resonance with the Universe. You know the drill. That’s what dolphins do, man.
The Woman said, “Are you getting this?” to Bikeman. And indeed, he had his phone out, getting footage. While still riding his bike. Mum had one eye on husband who was pushing the stroller. Suddenly, Dad shouted out a loud, Oi! at Mum. Because she wasn’t watching her step and nor was Bikeman watching his. Bikeman came within a metre of running into Mum and pitching her into river. She probably would have had a good shot at landing on the dolphin.
Sure, it’s a story about what didn’t happen, but sometimes that’s good, too.