Ol Man River at Roselands

Ol Man River at RoselandsPosted on September 4, 2010 by gerard oosterman


It was many years ago, when children still had birthday parties in parks with friends and parents. A couple of kilos of sausages and some cordial were all that was needed. The barbecue was soon set up, the bread rolls buttered and gifts unwrapped. Not anymore now. It has to be at Fox-Tell studios, at MacDonald’s or at the Ten pin bowling alleys. They are all now screaming hordes demanding endless wallet openings of stressed parents unable to resist the exploitation by commerce. They capitulate, roll over and give up a battle that was never there to be won anyway.

I remember, again, many years ago, the start of a future of which wallet opening would become the norm. There was a six page spread in The SMH and bands playing on the streets with banging drums and blaring trumpets. It was the opening of Roselands shopping centre in Sydney.

 Opened in 1965, Roselands was Australia’s largest shopping centre in the Southern hemisphere for years, even though it is quite small by today’s standards.

 It had a magic waterfall of three stories high. Some liquid; was it water or oil? Whatever it was would be cascading down along nylon lines creating a faux effect of luxury and steaming jungle. It also had a restaurant with a small stage, called The Viking. We had dinner there with another couple some time after the opening, perhaps around the late mid sixties. Our choice was ‘chicken in the basket’; I suppose it came with baked potatoes. The desert was peaches with ice cream ‘a la framboise’, or some expensive name like that. The conversation was starting to falter; perhaps the Barossa Pearl had not yet worked its way down yet. Fortunately, the peroxide chanteuse started her show with a stirring rendition of ‘Old Man’s River’ albeit at a much higher pitch than usual. After all, Paul Robeson’s deep base would be a bit hard to follow for any man, let alone a woman. After the peaches arrived she changed the music to a less demanding, “I never felt like singing the Blues”. The rest of the evening I have forgotten accept than the wife of the couple solemnly declared,” she is not a good singer but she has a lovely personality.”

From then on it all became a world of fast bucks and faux reality, tingling cash registers and a world swept away by the money merchants and their seductive easy terms on everything. Wallet openings not only became the norm, it became the main driving force for families to continue. Now Roselands is dwarfed by much larger shopping centres which work like giant vacuum cleaners sucking in entire societies with millions of pale looking shoppers, hopelessly addicted to endless wallet opening giving a very faux respite from the ennui of everyday living. They then get spat out to the concrete reality of the car park.

There has to be more to life.


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