I call up Neil, Mayhem’s friend who works for the railways. There’s a RailCorp training centre in Petersham, and I’d love to see what goes on there. But Neil says he’s not stationed in the ‘sham at the moment, and besides, he’s just a trainee. Best to contact the folks at HQ and get permission through the proper channels. Of course, I never get around to making that call.
But as I’m walking past the station, I spy a group of uniformed rail workers huddled around a fire in a metal box. One by one, they all have a go at putting out the fire. Big clouds of white steam drift into the air. Each worker hunkers down with arms extended, upwind of the flames. The trick is to get the extinguisher as close to the fire as possible, while keeping your body at a safe distance. Once the fire is out there’s a small ripple of applause from the rest of the group. Then the boss takes his gas applicator and starts the blaze up again for the next person’s turn. I stand and watch through the cyclone fencing, my fingers clinging onto the wire.
The Petersham “radio talent committee” meets at the bowling club. I arrive late, accompanied by Mayhem. In fact, we’re too late for dinner, but Fiona serves up some hefty and delicious apple crumble. It’s a meal in itself. The latest news is that the broadcast is going to happen on evening of the 21st of June. It’s going to be a big affair, with music, bowling, food, drinks, with James O’Loughlin riding the airwaves from right inside the clubhouse.
Marie (who’s on the committee) tells me that one night, a few months back, she was flashed as she walked up Palace Street in the dark. The flasher stepped out of the bushes, presenting his naked body in a proud display. Marie sprung back and cried out, aghast. She hurried along home to call the police. She remembers only a few essential details. The man was naked, wearing only a headband (not a tennis sweatband, more of a printed bandana), gymshoes, and a beer gut. And yes, we had to ask…apparently, he wasn’t particularly well endowed…
I also meet Danni and Gary, who live just across the way from the Bowling Club. So close, in fact, that you can see their place from the window. The clubhouse is like their second living room. Tonight, for the first time, their experimenting with a hi-tech radio transmitter. They’ve left their baby fast asleep at home, and in theory, the transmitter will alert them at the first sign of crying. In the middle of his beer, Gary pops home just in case….