“Coffee dear, here it is darling. Sleep well?” “Yes, like an angel. How’s the day looking?”. “Oh, a bit pale.” “Trust you to come up with a limp answer, cheer up Gerard, you’re not dead yet.” “Easier said than done.”
This is the normal start of most days. A kind of repeat routine doing the rounds at millions of households. A waking up ritual all over the world. Of course amongst us retirees there is no urgency to jump out. They are not getting ready for the 6.45am bus and train to work like most people. We are wearing the laurels of well earned rewards of having caught trains and buses to work for decades. We can now sleep in.
I remember well the silence of workers in transit to work. Especially Monday mornings. Boy, was it glum. I, on the other hand was always happy for a Monday to arrive. I used to smile on Monday mornings. Sundays in my suburban outfit of western Sydney was unbelievably dull. It was more than dull. It was deliberately dead and limp. They were joy-killer of days.
The demon of Noontide was never so strong as on Sunday’s Australian suburbia in the nineteen fifties up till the first coffee lounge opened on a Sunday some decades later. It was a true revolution. Unbelievably, drinking beverages in public on Sunday did not strike down anyone, despite dire warnings from the saviours of our morals from Sunday pulpits…Shaking the Rev. Murphy’s hand after the service would be as exciting as it could possibly get on most Sundays.
We don’t want those dirty European habits to come to our shores, some shouted still in the late nineties. I remember a true to her tea doily Anglo lady complaining about all those ‘loafers’ sitting around sipping a latte on a Sunday. True enough. They should be mowing the lawn or clear the gutters while repenting lusting after some illicit and unlawful joy.
Even today, remnants of those feverously restrictive practices are still around us. Alcohol drinks can only be bought at ‘licensed’ premises. It is not as if you can buy a bottle of wine together with a packet of butter. The binge drinking excesses here might well be a result of never really having been at ease with joy and leisure with friends around. I remember buying wine for my mother at the greengrocer in Holland when I was 15. No one thought it was anything special. The last time we travelled back to Holland it was not unusual for a trolley to be wheeled through the trains offering coffee with croissants as well as a Heineken and a rookworst.
I doubt it could ever be possible here, even today.
The local train Bowral to Sydney taking two hours, doesn’t have water on board unless you want to drink from the toilet tap! I don’t know what tourists make of our abstemious beverage habits on public transport. I suppose on the Afghan train, Adelaide – Darwin, a distance of almost 3000kms, there surely would be a cafeteria on board or are tourists expected to bring their own jam sandwiches and cater for hydration needs?
How’s the coffee this morning, dear? Nice and strong? I did not sugar it!
Yes, it’s good. How’s yours? Good too. Very good. Oh, that’s good! Good.