sharedhouse

You can be anything - Cameron's Story

telephone

Growing up as a young, gay TV aficionado, I was starry eyed by the glamorous independence of Mary Tyler Moore, Laverne & Shirley, Marlo Thomas in That Girl. They had it all – sass, style, and sing-a-long theme songs. 

Give us any chance, we'll take it

Give us any rule, we'll break it

We're gonna make our dreams come true

Doin' it our way!

But most of all, they had funky houses and apartments, in that special place – the TV universe. In fact, almost all apartments seen on that ideal – the US sitcom – were, for me, the epitome of Making It. At such a young age, I didn’t even have a firm grasp of what making it was. I had no inklings yet of life plans, or career goals or anything as concrete as that (On an exercise at primary school on “What I Want To Be When I Grow Up”, I’d listed “tennis player”. I’d never played a game, or even set foot on a court. Still haven’t.) 

However, what I did know, what late-70s/early-80s television had taught me, was that if you have a cool abode, somewhere full of character, great furniture and chunky American telephones, you were set. You could take on the world, wisecracking all the way. And men, those sweet fools, would swoon, but you’d always, always, get the last laugh. 

Diamonds, Daisies, Snowflakes,

 That Girl

 Chestnuts, Rainbows, Springtime...

 Is That Girl

 She's tinsel on a tree...

 She's everything that every girl should be!

And lo and behold it was from the back seat of the family car that I spotted such a place where such things could happen. A row of slightly worn, but undeniably groovy, two-story narrow houses near the junction of Punt Road and Swan St. They looked worn and well lived in, something straight from the TV universe. Originally possibly one building, or even two, they were subdivided into four homes. Set back from the street, up some stairs (you want a stoop). Arched windows. Decorative plasterwork on the top of the facade, and even a foundation stone in the centre. Live here! they seemed to cry. You’ll have zany adventures which will all be resolved in 30 minutes!   

At the time they were painted a pale green, and a little in disrepair. These were the places you’d step out of with purpose, looking confident and ready to take on the day, along with your hilarious co-stars (I mean, pals) and a dependable laugh track. I had also imagined that when “grown up” I’d have a chic convertible like Nancy Drew, so that would be parked out the front somewhere, ready to take me out. To some social gathering celebrating my tennis prowess, perhaps. The Hoddle Street/Punt Road thoroughfare, with its constant horn hooting, and traffic, added to this frenetic city-living vibe. 

Whenever we pulled up at the lights near that intersection, I’d look out for them. It was comforting to see them time and time again. I just knew I’d be there someday. I had already moved in.   

Love is all around, no need to waste it.

You can have a town, why don't you take it?

You're gonna make it after all!

Well, the dream never quite eventuated, although I have lived in some very lovely shabby-chic abodes, just not these particular ones. And I’ve had enough larks to make a suitably cute opening credit montage that would make Mary Tyler Moore proud. (Please universe, MAKE THIS HAPPEN). The Nancy Drew convertible, alas, has never eventuated. 

That row of houses? Well, I can imagine that when I was gazing longingly at them, they were not in an estimable location, and were probably quite rundown which was part of their character that I loved. Now, however, they are prime inner-city real estate. Painted cream, and no doubt renovated within an inch of their lives. Still gorgeous but, alas, a bit indiscernible. Homogenised. 

While I no longer live in Melbourne, if I’m in town and heading into the big, bright, still-exciting city along that famous road, I try to remember to look out for them. And they make me smile. Because they bring to mind a young boy from the ’burbs in the back of a family car who thought there was nothing better than to be an independent woman with Punt Road leading her wherever she wanted to go. 

Savour every day - Breda's Story

sparkler

As a student in Year 11, I remember having such a visceral, overwhelming reaction to the personal stories of the Hoddle Street Massacre. In the months that followed I devoured everything in the newspaper and was completely devastated by the randomness of Julian Knight’s actions and the effect I felt it had on my city thereafter.

I could barely believe it when, some years later, my share house journey began and I wound up in a wonderful house with friends a little way along Hoddle Street, in Abbotsford. Several years of elm tree-lined streets, Victoria Street feasting, the addictive stench of Saturday afternoon brews at the CUB brewery, the sights and sounds of life around the Number 48 tram, the proximity of cricket and footy traditions, and the fun of inner-city pubs and cafes evokes such nostalgia as my friends and I were setting up our lives beyond uni, and dreaming of travel and meaningful relationships. 

On one such adventurous night I set off to meet up with a young man I’d befriended through work. We were going for a drink at the wonderful Bakers Arms Hotel on Victoria Street. It was a ‘first date’ and my housemates farewelled me with excitement and anticipation. My friend and I enjoyed such a great night together and continued on to see comedy at the Prince Patrick Hotel across Hoddle Street. We were still talking and laughing hours later as we made our way back toward my house in Charles Street, back over Hoddle Street.

Whilst I still have no memory of that dash across Hoddle Street, I did not make it home to Charles Street that night. I was struck by a car and suffered serious and life-threatening injuries. I was taken to St Vincent's Hospital by ambulance and later to The Alfred. So began six months of intensive hospitalisation and rehabilitation and many years later I still bear significant physical and psychological scars and limitations as a result of that 1994 accident. My recovery has been amazing nevertheless and it is miraculous that I am fairly able-bodied and emotionally intact given the extent of my road trauma experience. 

We had attempted to dash across Hoddle Street in those wee hours and miscalculated, it would seem, the proximity of a car travelling in our direction. I was struck and injured very badly. My friend saw me go under the car, and ran to my assistance; he was horrified by the physical injuries to my right leg but maintained his composure enough to commence CPR until an ambulance arrived and in doing so probably saved my life. 

The road to recovery was a long one and was assisted by many talented and wonderful family, friends and medical specialists. But as I’ve often said in the intervening years it was a journey I would not walk away from as a truly enriching experience in the story of my life. It taught be so much about myself and my resilience and has equipped me with the most precious of all gifts, to savour every day of my amazing life.

Every single time I drive along Hoddle Street today I am reminded of my accident. These days, more often than not, I have three kids and a husband in the car with me and cannot believe the constant wonder of the days of life. My husband is not my lifesaver – he had mountains to conquer further afield from Melbourne.

Caroline's Story

photo by   http://s1197.photobucket.com/user/StarShip2000

photo by http://s1197.photobucket.com/user/StarShip2000

My grandmother, Bertha, the daughter of Sir John Monash, nagged her father to buy a horse so that she could ride to school (I think at PLC in East Melbourne) from their place in Hawthorn. This would have been in the 1900s. He (unwisely) bought her an ex-racehorse that was very hard to control – but after asking she did not feel that she could complain, and risk losing the horse.

One day she was riding under the railway bridge over Punt Road, at Swan Street, when her horse bolted at the sound of trains going overhead. It became completely uncontrollable and she could have come to grief except a man passing by managed to grab it by the bridle. This man insisted on leading her home despite her protestations, and made it clear to her father that this was no horse for a young lady, so that was the end of that. 

Many years later (in the 1980s) I lived in a shared house on Punt Road. This house belonged to the mother of a very good friend of mine and it so happens that her mother was friends with Bertha Monash, just as the mother of my friend was friends with my mother. Three generations of friendships independently formed – a real Melbourne dynasty of friendships.

The shared house was the house my friend had grown up in. It was a great house, one of those single-fronted single-story terraces not far from the river on the east side of Punt Rd, still there. I had the room at the back so it was not too noisy. Many share house stories could be told a la Helen Garner (but not really Punt Rd stories), but I do remember that peculiar smell – something to do with brewing? – that always pervaded that end of Punt Rd. Whatever industry that caused it has gone now.