Sunday at the markets

Easter is almost upon us and the high holiday season is palpable in the open air ambience of the Rozelle Markets on this mild autumnal morning.

Alex is playing on the swings which she’s enjoying all to herself. She’s clearly outgrown them, but still as restless and demanding of my attention as ever, which I’m happy to indulge her with. ‘Hey dad!’ ‘Ready dad?’ ‘Look dad!’ ‘Are you watching dad?’

How can I not! I am, for the most part, attentive but periodically look down at my notes on my iPhone to record what I am experiencing around me.

Nearby, a Greek woman of middle-age appearance who’s had a stall for several years selling lady’s clothes, is still here. The lines on her friendly face, a little deeper than I remember, mark the passing of a thousand Sundays. Seated comfortably on a chair, head down, her face a study in concentration, she seems intensely involved in solving the cross word puzzles. It’s as if her clothing business takes care of itself, while she tends to her beloved words. A perfect arrangement.

At a glance, it’s mostly older couples visiting the markets this morning, drifting lazily between stalls which sell this and that. How did all these lovers start their day I wonder? Exquisite sex at the crack of dawn, followed by a luxuriant sleep-in? An easy breakfast somewhere on Darling Street peppered with cosy chit chat over coffee while gleaning interesting tidbits from The Sun Herald?

Okay, perhaps that wasn’t how everyone’s Sunday morning began, but it’s fun to romanticise the close-up scenes of other people’s lives. Anyhow, I’m imagining a sequence of events from the standpoint of the present moment, which seems so idyllic, hence the poetic licence.

There’s a young guy playing an REM song, which I can’t pick, and he sounds like Michael Stipe. The gentle breeze is carrying his soft melodic voice and sublime acoustic guitar-playing across the tops of the white canvas tents, filling the morning air with a collective sense of wellbeing.

The playground is buzzing with children now. Alex’s mum casually walks up to me while our daughter is swinging upside down on a cross bar. Angie tells me the guitarist reminds her of me, the way I used to sing and play. I feel quite flattered. Our eyes meet for a split second and there’s a flash of mutual affection between us. Just like old times.

Now he’s playing Paul Kelly’s beautiful ‘How To Make Gravy’ and something inside me shifts. I’m reminded of an old mate of mine and our shared love of the song writer’s early work with the Coloured Girls, a love that cemented a casual school friendship into a deep camaraderie.

Dancing to the beat of a talented electric harpist playing a crisp and funky version of Dave Brubeck’s ‘Take Five,’ Alex skips past the Bacon and Egg Burger stall, making her eager way towards China Dragon Dim Sim. She orders four pork dumplings and three of something else for a tenner. A bit pricey in my opinion, but I can’t refuse her peckish nine year old eyes petitioning me for consent, which I give readily.

It’s almost midday and it’s time for us to go our separate ways. The Greek lady is on her feet now. She’s smiling. In fact she’s always smiling. What’s behind that knowing smile I muse? As I make my way out onto Darling Street, I pass the guitarist who sounds like I used to. His face looks a bit older than his boyish sounding voice, and I notice he’s wearing love-heart shaped shades. I love this.

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