pintonpunt

Prahran People - Imogen's Story

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We were Prahran People. Every outing was a chance to traverse that great road, whether to join the Fitzroy folk, or sashay with St Kilda souls. We had a pint on punt, sometimes at the Pint on Punt, sometimes at someone’s home on Punt, then launched into the car. The shortest, lightest person was chosen to lie across the back seat people, like a seatbelt.

We chose the new girl to be the seatbelt. No better way to breakdown boundaries. We were too young for common sense. 

“What’s with the boa?” I asked, not sure if I liked her. She was a newcomer. She was someone’s housemate, or someone met her in a Richmond squat, in the bar, at uni or somewhere else. She was just someone who was invited. 

Whether in our own car, or someone else’s, whether we fell out of a cab or were thrown out, every trip down, up or across Punt Rd was an adventure. And every adventure began and ended with Punt Rd, because we were Prahran people.

We only went out at night, so the traffic problem was a party. Could a car ride be more fun than a destination? We chose our favourite music and touched up our lipstick. The back seaters toasted the passenger filled vehicles in the next lane with their Sub Zeros or Carlton Draughts. (Our favourite drinks in the nineties.) 

The girl with the feather boa seemed happy enough. 

We sang as we reached the other side

“Hoddle, Hoddle, Hoddle,” we chorused, huddled like backing singers around an old fashioned microphone on a radio show. We held the feather boa like a microphone. Why? Because at that moment, on a Saturday night, we were our most exuberant, uninhibited selves. It was ritual as we crossed to the other side. The girl with the feather boa joined our car song.

We went somewhere, drank, danced, enjoyed, then looked for our beacon boa. 

Homeward bound again. Strangers at the beginning of Punt Rd could become friends or lovers, on the way back. 

Quieter now, we crossed the river (where a punt once floated) to reach the hill. The Punt Rd hill, our beacon of home at the end of another perfect Melbourne night out.

Fight, Flight, Freeze - Paul's Story

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On a dark evening in 2004 I was making a call from the phone box on Punt Road, near St Kilda Junction, when a man became agitated and started verbally abusing me. 'Get off the f**king phone,' he shouted, before manhandling a woman he was with so she crashed into me.

'Hey man! Leave her alone!' I said, and I ended the call and walked into the shop in a nearby convenience store. But the man followed, picked up cans from a shelf and started throwing them at me.

I used the ice cream freezer as a barrier, and we paced around it like kids playing a game. All the while he was throwing cans of beans and soup at my head! Funny in retrospect but not at the time.

I offered to pay for a drink but the shopkeeper said, 'No, it's alright mate.' (Meaning 'Please get out now while you can!') I paid anyway, stepped outside and the man punched me in the face (what would today be called a coward’s punch or king hit). 

I did what any grammar school boy would do when being assaulted; I ran like the wind! I ran to the Pint on Punt and sheltered beside the bouncers. But It was dark and I couldn’t see the man, so I wasn't sure which way to escape. Then I heard horns beeping from the junction on Punt Rd. 

I learned later that the man had got a metal bar and started smashing the windows of a car waiting at the traffic lights. The car was trapped and could not escape. The man smashed the panels and windows while the driver beeped her horn in desperation. 

I gave a statement to police. My evidence was important as I was asked, 'Did the man have any distinguishing characteristics?' 'He had a messenger bag over his shoulder,' I mentioned casually. 'Aha, that’s important,' said the police officer.

Fast forward a few weeks and I attend a photo identification session at St Kilda police station. There are about 16 photos of men who all look like my assailant. I studied each of them carefully trying to remember what the man looked like. Then I spotted him.

'That’s the chappie!' I announced. The police officer wrote down my exact words. Apparently they have to state exactly how the witness makes identification.

Anyway, I needed victim counselling as the experience challenged me – still challenges me – as to whether I behaved bravely, 'like a man'. Do men run away? Do men stand and fight? Did I do the right thing? I wish I could answer those questions.