Thursday, August 16


Blue Forgotten Monday*

Corner of Oxford and Newland Streets

At twenty to eight I gave up waiting for the tram and started the long slog down towards the office. In the civil service, it is always better to be definitively late than uncertainly on time, and my spex showed three amber dots doing an impression of Brownian motion amid the maze of city streets. Which meant, with roughly equal likelihood, that the transponders were down, the feed was down, the trams were genuinely stuck in traffic, or all of the above.

My spex were up, at least, and I chirped in with a revised ETA.

It was Monday, one of those increasingly rare summer days when the temperature and the humidity dropped into double digits simultaneously, and I could use the exercise. My transfer last year from field work to an analyst’s desk had failed to induce any reduction in my pastry habit, and the unending overtime left me with no energy to stop at the gym on the way home of an evening. So I took my jacket off, slung it over my shoulder, and I walked.

The office is part of the sprawling sandstone edifice of Central Station. If you enter from Eddy Avenue through the colonnade, turn right into the first service corridor, go past the bathrooms and the authorised personnel only signs, enter the baggage elevator and take it down to P3 and then back up to P1, you will find yourself in a narrow pedestrian tunnel with an arched ceiling, pale green walls, and fitful fluorescent lighting installed around the time a young Marconi was first toying with spark-gap transmitters.

And if you follow that tunnel far enough, you will come to a closet door labelled DR JBB BELL.

I opened the door and went in, because that is me, and this is my story.

Don’t try to follow those instructions, by the way. Not only will you be surreptitiously fingerprinted and retina-scanned, and then very politely but very firmly arrested, but I lied about at least three critical details, and in any case, it’s not there any more.

My name is Jocelyn Barrett Beresford Bell, known as B.B. to my more irritating friends and Baby to people I refuse to talk to. My father is an astrophysicist, and my mother is a fruitcake. I have an MSc in statistics, a PhD in abnormal psychology, I turn thirty in June, and I work as a transit cop. Which partly explains why my office is a renovated broom closet in a service tunnel deep below Central Station.

But only partly.

Sydney’s Underground system is the most complex in the world, a last gift of King and Country in the decades before independence. Bored Scots engineers, run short of London silt to burrow through, had been shipped off en masse and run riot in the rich southern soil. Or so the story goes, and indeed the city had inherited an Edwardian knotwork masterpiece of brick and cast iron, weaving a spell of rapid transportation from the beaches to the mountains for over a century.

Being unique in scale brings with it unique problems, so unique – if you will forgive my phrasing – so unique that the sociological actuaries are required to carry backup weapons.

[To be continued, maybe.]

* The title I mentioned previously.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 08:13 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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1 Long ago and far away I work briefly many levels underground in the bowels of Wynyard Station. My desk backed onto a cinder-block wall the other side of which was a train tunnel. Whenever a train passed through (which was frequently) the desk and all on it would rattle disconsonantly (or maybe that was just me).  

Posted by: tombei the mist at Saturday, August 18 2012 07:44 PM (hGCqM)

2 Most people never even notice that Wynyard Station is missing two entire platforms...

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Sunday, August 19 2012 12:23 AM (PiXy!)

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