Sunday, 25 March 2007

speak strayan

Yesterday was a scorcher but I still managed to have a generally delightful day. I met up with Huey and we went to the Fishmarkets for luncheon and sat at a table in front of the bay and had a most wonderful luncheon, a bottle of Jansz, two big bottles of mineral water and a good old natter for a couple of hours.

Following the delicious luncheon we strolled around the markets and ate a gelato, mango for me and coconut kaffir lime for the Meister. We then decided we should make tracks to our respective digs and walked to the light rail station to catch the tram to Central.

We determined we were on the right side of the tracks (always of the utmost importance, yours Lloyd Waddy) and sat at our stop marvelling at the sandstone, the spic’n’span station, my freckles rapidly multiplying and skin burning while we melted along with another passenger to whom Huey proffered a tissue and in unison we all sighed as we mopped our brows.

The light rail seems to be a most efficient service, runs every 12 minutes, and right on schedule the tram and its promise of glorious air conditioned comfort glided in.

We boarded and were instantly soothed by the coolness, quiet and spaciousness. Our conductor for this voyage came and sold our tickets. The conductor was a little taciturn. I idiotically showed my bus, ferry and train travel pass thinking that it might somehow cover a privately run tram service, no wonder she was gruff with me (“This is a tram, lady”) but when Huey cheerfully commented what a relief it was to be in the air conditioning after that stinking heat, Conductor snapped that the heat was to be expected in mid-summer. Professor Peabody here bit her tongue from saying as at 21 March it was officially autumn – it had after all been 3 days since I’d flipped my mattress. Still the conductor was working on a Saturday probably without penalty rates - lightrail is private, whereas we'd just had a long luncheon and she might have mistaken our bonhomie for smugness. It was bonhomie i tell you.

We bought our tickets and basked in the tram’s coolness and revelled going down Dixon street and the absence of traffic jams. We were soon jolted from our self-satisfaction by hearing the conductor in an altercation with some French tourist seniors.

The tourists were refusing to buy a ticket as they had an all in one day pass which had been accepted by a previous conductor on another trip earlier that day. Conductor barked that they had to buy a ticket as their pass didn’t cover light rail, tourists emphatically disagreed, in French mind you. The debate continued for a bit, both sides doggedly arguing in their first tongue, with le français exasperated and shouting in English “don’t you speak French!” to which the conductor retorted , “Don’t you speak strayan? People visiting straya should know how to speak a little strayan.” Her delivery not the content was very William Brown but he'd say oughta.

At this point Huey and I looked at each other, appalled and rolled our eyes. Huey said we had to intervene, which was right but I also felt both sides were well matched- the conductor a Hansonite and the français seniors probably lePenites and never penitent. However I could not stand by after hearing the strayan comment, touche pas mon pôte and whatnot, so dutifully got off my derrière and entered the fray.

We went up and switched from speakin' strayan to français to assist and explain; neither side backing down. Fortunately the tram soon drew into Central and the conductor yelled “you all have to get off now” – she had had enough and no doubt needed to be surrounded by some normal strayan speakers but the tram was also terminating.

The français got out of paying and we hastily alighted from tram and a possible episode of Rosemary and Thyme with a glower from the conductor and a merci from the français . Was this a rrrresult? Was an outcome achieved?

Perhaps the conductor was suffering from a personal trauma but no circumstance justifies the speak strayan imperative. Or perhaps she is just a bigot and currently telling her pals about the pesky foreigners coming here not speaking the language and these do gooders interrupting and adding to the chaos.

Metro Light Rail will be advised and Tupper Mansions no doubt torched. Here's hoping little Rusty Crowe will get a gorgeous bit of Hollywood backing and film the conductor's story.

1 comment:

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