Stories from the City
Posted on October 8, 2015
Chart Collective in Melbourne recently asked people to anonymously submit 300 character vignettes of true stories that have taken place within the Melbourne CBD. They will post the winning entries on posters stuck up near the actual locations where the encounters took place.
What a way to bring the city to life, as the backdrop and also as a another character in the myriad stories that she plays a part in. My cousin Fi sent me a link and my imagination immediately began peopling the city with stories from my own life.
There were just 2 problems
1. My stories took place less in the CBD itself, and more in inner suburban Melbourne, which disqualified a lot of them, and
2. When I did go to pen a handful of vignettes that did take place in the confines of the city, I mistook 300 characters for 300 words. Oops! I did end up doing some extreme pruning to 2 of the stories and submitted them, and I meant to attempt it with the other two, but it made me think of the power and pathos of the 6 word novel generally attributed to Hemingway
For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn.
and also about the fact that I would love to write my own mosaic memoir of 3oo word (not character) vignettes, though the anonymous angle and the posters telling the stories are both delicious things. What freedom there is in anonymity. How brave do we have to be to divulge our secrets in tiny peepshows? What about if we could collect people’s stories and stick them up all over our cities and towns? Paint the town with our collective memories?
Here is one of my 300 word stories, which I didn’t prune for submission, just so you know that my groupie non-adventures were not strictly limited to Del Amitri haha, although this experience pretty much marked the end of them, oh except for that time that I (very) drunkenly introduced myself to Tex Perkins at a little club as “Danielle, yeah, like the song”. He was very gracious. I wasn’t 16 years old for that one either. All class, that’s me. Without further ado….
In September 1991, my 17 year old BFF and I went to see the band EMF at The Palace in St Kilda. We had been giving our fake IDs a good workout and had seen the band Del Amitri recently at both The Palace and The Palais. We had chatted to the sound guy then, and he happened to also be mixing for EMF, who were riding the crest of their hit song It’s Unbelievable. At the end, he told us where the band were staying, at Rydges in Exhibition St and we arranged to meet him there later.
We went back to my place and got changed before going into the hotel to meet this guy, his name might have been Rod. He led us to the penthouse, cautioning us to “Be cool” outside the door.
The whole band were sitting slouched on an enormous bed together, sipping lagers and watching Rage quietly with the lights turned down. Rock! It was not. They offered us beers and we watched Rage with them. If there was any conversation, I don’t recall it. My lasting impression was admiration for the fact of there being a wall phone next to the toilet in the expansive bathroom.
Do you have any 300 word city memoirs to share? If you would be interested in publishing them anonymously, send them my way and I will publish them in another post of other peoples collective 300 word (or character, if you’re that way inclined) city memoirs. I want to go off and write up a bunch of them, but they will be tales of Elwood, St Kilda, Prahran, Richmond, South Yarra, with a dash of Northcote and Fitzroy. I might make a “thing” of it. I love the idea of the memory of landscape, and the concept of cityscape as silent witness is an alluring one. What do you think? Does your location loom large as a secondary character in the stories of your life? Any non eventful groupie experiences of your own to admit to?