A Smashing Time

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The long-awaited return of St Kilda’s most Irregular Columnist Henry Shires (The Old Man @ The Sea). 

I was born by the sea – one of Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Brought up by the sea – bucket and spade working class Weymouth on the south coast of England. And may well die by the sea, here in St Kilda.  A rogue gene, ironically called Filamen “C”, has left every living member of my maternal family with a diagnosis of some form of cardiomyopathy. Which could likely eventually see me drowning, not in the sea, but on the land nearby. In my own lung fluid. From congestive heart failure.  

But I am not the only thing a little polluted in St Kilda. 

Despite its bold, brash and boho beauty something smells a little off – a little fishy – in 21st century St K. On Christmas Eve 4,000 people got around the loophole in Port Phillip’s ‘dry’ holidays policy by partying on Christmas Eve rather than the more traditional NYE. In the process turning St K beach into the biggest public “bottling” incident in recorded history. 

And Fitzroy Street, despite the contentious departure of The Gatwick ‘roomers’ hotel and the much-touted arrival, in its place, of Channel 7’s ‘The Block’ is still almost entirely reminiscent of a combination of a cheap rate zombie movie and Hieronymus Bosch’s deeply disturbing 15th/16th century depictions of hell. 

Putting aside the whole boho or gentrification debate, I feel – and I’m sure that this is partly my own jaundice – that the problem is not only one of poor local government planning and management and lack of both local and federal government investment.  

People do not value their environment, or themselves – or even life itself – if they are not IN TURN valued by others, including their communities and governments. Port Phillip Council and particularly our current government, I feel, tend to perceive people only as potential producers. Or, as in the case of St Kilda, as consumers. 

Basically, I believe, Australian central and local governments are most interested in getting your time, and/or money. And, after that, you can go hang. 

So people – particularly young people who are the most strongly affected by the crass lack of caring – smash bottles on the beach. And poison themselves with ice and other “recreational” drugs. And women re-sell their often already poisoned and polluted bodies on Grey St and Inkerman Street. 

While local retailers and restaurant owners often only care about “bums on seats”. To be “processed” as fast as possible. Fleeced of their golden dollars and then given “the bums’ rush” and simply left KICKED TO THE KERB. 

Henry Shires was a Winner of St Kilda Poetry Idol in 2011 and is a highly experienced local Creative Writing Tutor who can help any human being (old enough to write) to find their UNIQUE written voice. henryshires@gmail.com 





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