Friday, August 01, 2008

The Homeless Homeless

For some years a bearded chap lived in a hut on the bank above Queens Way, or St Kilda Junction underpass as it sometimes known, or even Dandenong Road. The hut was barely high enough to stand in and was perhaps four metres square. He had a brazier for heating, but there would not have been any running water and certainly no electricity. How he ever put up with the noise of the traffic, especially trucks, I don't know.

I was going to post about it a while ago, but as the location is so identifiable, I decided not to. Doesn't matter now. It was quite hard to notice from the road, or even a tram.

He was still there before we went away in June, but upon our return, a fence has been erected that would have straight through his hut. The hut is gone. I wonder where he went?

Not too many people live in huts nowadays. I recall a couple in the country near where we lived when I was young. They tended to be scary types, probably made grumpy by kids harassing them. Of course during the depression of the nineteen thirties, many, many men lived in huts. Perhaps some women did too.


  1. "For some years a bearded chap lived in a hut on the bank above Queens Way..."

    That'd be Sedgwick.

    "He had a brazier for heating..."

    No, he had a bra, which he used to wrap around his head to keep his ears warm.

    "...there would not have been any running water..."

    Just the sound of distilled gin trickling through his 'Y' fronts.

    "I wonder where he went?"

    He's over at Copperwitch's house stealing her 90th birthday presents.

  2. Yes well, I did think of M'lord when I wrote it. Clearly he would not be at Copperwitch's house taking her virginity.

  3. My God, I thought I was the only one who noticed that guy. It's sort of good to know that I'm not the only one with wandering eyes...well, you know what I mean.

  4. I never noticed him until an unrelated to work friend told me.

  5. I never knew he was there. An excellent hiding place...where no council officer dare venture unarmed (with a big sponge).

  6. Yeah, he was there for yonks and no one bothered him, to my knowledge.

  7. I still think there's no excuse for homelessness in a country like ours.

    Either way my brother told me that there was a regular homeless guy in Canberra (where my brother lives). Then one day my brother went down to the central coast of NSW and saw that the homeless guy had somehow made his way there. It was like he saved up enough money to pay for his own holiday down to the beach!

  8. TDW, I think he was the type who was quite happy to live in that manner. Of course, you are right, it should not happen in Australia.

  9. Entire families lived in shanty towns during the Depression. Huts were built from whatever they could find; corrugated iron, mainly. These were people thrown out of work by the collapse of Capitalism -then evicted from their homes by mongrel landlords. One of the largest shanty towns was where Southbank is now, another was in La Perouse, Sydney.

    Capitalism likes a little display of destitution, just to remind the suckers of what they're avoiding by working their guts out. In San Francisco I saw people sleeping in doorways like corpses, legs out across the footpath, and there was a shanty town beside the Oakland bridge. I thought I was poor with five dollars a day for food and a dormitory bed.
    It's nice to see someone worse off than yourself.

  10. Like that homeless bloke who was found long deceased under the bridge near Windsor last year- no one saw him because the homeless learn to be invisible.

    The unemployment camp at La Perouse was called Happy Valley and the one in Dudley St West Melb was called Dudley Flats, although there were hundreds more all over the states of Oz.
    When WW2 Aussie PoWs wrote home, to get around their captors propaganda censor, they'd describe their living conditions as "really beaut, just as luxurious as at Dudley Flats".

  11. 'Capitalism likes a little display of destitution, just to remind the suckers of what they're avoiding by working their guts out.'

    Never thought of it like that Robert, but I expect you are right.

    Great anecdote about the letters home Jayne.