SF Lyons

A Secondhand Tale of Horror, Death and Realist Literature

In bookery, lesser arts, talkies on January 14, 2006 at 12:00 pm

If I see a piece of paper on the footpath, at a tramstop, on a train, and there seems to be something written on it, I’ll usually pick it up for a look. Until I do I’ll be left wondering what sort of dirty, curious, sad and painful secrets I’m allowing to be kept from me: intimate messages, bizarre shopping lists, dark private ramblings, maybe even some useful banking information. Usually it’s just a run-of-the-mill grocery list or a photocopied handout from work. But every now and then one of these lost or discarded scraps will be a fascinating portal into the mind and life of someone I will never otherwise know.

Eight years ago a small spiral-bound notebook on a footpath in Mount Waverley started me along this voyeuristic and probably unhiegenic path. Its pages were filled with men’s first names, their phone numbers, and handy personal details such as “too much hair”, “7 inches uncut”, and “will leave front blind halfway up if home alone”. Near the back was a list of birthday gift ideas for the owner’s mum.

The other night I caught a train at Flinders Street station and the only available seats were littered with the discarded plastic bags and wrappings from someone’s Saturday night shopping expedition. As I moved this mess onto the floor I found some associated receipts which opened up a fascinating 40 minute window into the tastes and recreations of some young strangers.

Let’s assume it was a couple –

At 20:07, they score some Belgian Death Metal from JB HiFi in Elizabeth Street:

Comatose Quandaries – $26.99

Unseen to Creation – $27.99

Not wasting any time, just 8 minutes later they’re handing over the lobsters in JB’s DVD store a few doors up Lonsdale street. They’re clearly a pair with good communication and an intimate knowledge of what will make the other happy:

Seed of Chucky – $12.98

Demons 2 – $23.99

Mr. Bean Collection (Volume 1) – $34.98

Our friends’ last stop is City Central Books in Swanston Street. They take a bit more time here and I imagine them holding hands, quietly perusing the shelves, gently debating The Best of McSweeney’s versus the new Zadie Smith before finally agreeing on:


“BK” would be short for “book”?

I believe City Central Books are also exclusive Melbourne stockists for the Pulitzer shortlisted Sluts with Nuts.


A parting thought:

The list of items purchased is going to be a dead giveaway anyhow, but if a porno shop operator is really concerned with helping their customers in the secretive pursuit of “adult interests” they should maybe stop ending their “bookshop” receipts with:


My red hot tip. So to speak.

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