Cruise Control

Catriona and I are enjoying life in Melbourne now, after the main articles of living were located, Article 1 being a house (a lovely wee spot 5 minutes from Fitzroy) and Article 2 being jobs. Catriona got herself a temporary number processing orders for a Christmas hamper company and has already been scoped out by the boss to do the overtime hours, so she’s raking it in. I now find myself as a tour guide on a riverboat cruising down the Yarra in a city I’ve been in for 3 weeks. It’s an interesting job.

First up, the captain of the boat is a bloated 72 year-old Croatian guy who turns up 20 minutes late every morning. I spend this 20 minute period apologising to passengers and promising them of his imminent arrival, like a Second Coming Evangelist preacher. “Do not fret folks! The Captain is coming, I just know it! And he’ll take us to the promised land!” The promised land being Herring Island, which sits next to a council cleaning depot and a freeway.

Second up, I spend the period before all this scraping seagull shite off the roof of the boat. The boat has become an unofficial seagull sanctuary. There are several dozen of them waiting for me every morning. I look around and there are literally none on any other boat, just mine, where they’ve apparently been having some kind of dumping festival. It’s unbelievable how much 60 seagulls can shite in a night. The roof of the boat looks like a Jackson Pollock painting. There is more shite than visible roof. I hoist myself up there with the hose and squirt aimlessly at this vast panorama of poo, it’s enormity stretched before me like the opening credits of Eastenders, black and white spires towering over brown smears and yellow smudges, my trickle of water the lowly Thames snaking impotently amongst them. But after about 45 minutes the roof is passable and I go prepare the complimentary tea and coffee.

Third up, people go really wild for complimentary tea and coffee, especially Chinese tourists, who spy the free beverages as some sort of challenge. My commentary on the cruise might as well stop after the introduction, where I say, “and please feel free to help yourself to the complimentary tea and coffee.” From hereon in, the Chinese tourists have formed a kind of human chain where paper cups filled with hot liquid are passed back frantically like they’re bailing water from our stricken vessel. The kids end up tearing at the sachets of sugar and knocking them back like shots. No notice whatsoever is made of the passing scenery. They do a selfie at the end and then presumably spend the remainder of the day on the toilet or getting checked for diabetes. Honestly, if we were offering complimentary anthrax I don’t think there’d be any less enthusiasm.

Needless to say, it’s a people watching paradise on the wee boat. I’ll try to write everything down.

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