My new paying gig takes me from Southern Cross Station, up the road and along Clarendon St to York St in South Melbourne for work on publications and with management that overlap with my already existent and ongoing gig at Media House.
The first couple of mornings, and with plenty of time before my 9.30am start, I enjoy the leisurely stroll.
But those two days’ work become three, with a fourth declined because of another commitment, and by now I’ve had enough of the whole Flinders St, Crown noise-and-ugliness, so I hop the light rail.
I’m looking forward to ambling through the early hours of a new day at South Melbourne Market, pondering lunch options as I go.
But to my surprise, the market is closed.
It seems bizarre that such a major-league market is closed on a Thursday.
Oh well, I happily settle for a coffee from a top spot adjacent to the market at which I have already become a regular. Only two more coffees and I’m up for my first freebie.
As well, just up York St is a low-rent Indonesian joint – just the sort of place to set my pulse racing. At lunchtime, though, I majorly wuss it, deciding against one of the ace-looking laksas that several customers are slurping for fear of ponging up my new office and irritating new colleagues.
It’s a mistake – the gado gado I go for is barely acceptable, though my two fried pork balls are pretty good.
My new workplace is fine and the work nothing but a pleasure. Over the course of three days, I work on a lot drool-worthy food stories and mostly well-written pieces and profiles about many interesting topics and people.
Predictably, I already a know a few of my new colleagues from other places and times – including one fellow sub-editor with whom I last worked on the long-defunct Sunday Herald more than two decades previously. There is barely one degree of separation between myself and every other journalist in the place.
But while I work across a number of mastheads, I have been summoned here for one specific purpose – to work on Geelong stories for the flashy, glossy new Weekly Review that is being launched in the town of my former employment.
The irony is rich and deep.
Just a few months after being given the flick from the Geelong Advertiser, I am happily working on a project that is targeted directly at that newspaper’s advertising base.
In the process, I am handling stories written by people likewise dismissed from the Advertiser and writing captions for photographs taken by another former colleague who left about the same time.
Moreover, my understanding is that this new publication is no tentative step into Geelong and that this is very much about being in it for the long haul.
There are jokes in my new workplace that the Geelong Advertiser should be renamed the Geelong No-Advertising.
If this was just a matter of sticking it to News Ltd management that has seemingly been so busy, um, streamlining the company, by some accounts turning its suburban and regional titles into branch offices for the Herald Sun and seeing sub-editors as a cost burden rather than assets to be fostered and fought for, I would glory in every story, every headline written and every paid hour, and all those to come.
But the pleasure is muted somewhat by the knowledge that this is bad news indeed for many good people who were so recently my colleagues at the Advertiser.
Still, I can’t help but reflect on the swings and roundabouts of it all.
There’s no permanent positions for me, or a whole lot of other folks with whom I’m currently working. Those days, perhaps, have gone forever.
But there’s security of a kind in being in places and at a time where what I’ve always done is accorded value.
For very tasty, reasonably priced Indonesian food in South Melb, try Garamerica on Dorcas St. (The name means Salt and Pepper in bahasa Indonesia). I’ve been there for dinner a few times with Indonesian friends and we’ve all given it the thumbs up. It’s open for lunch too.
South Melbourne Market is open Wednesday and Friday only during the week, except for the restaurants on the side closest to Clarendon St. Victoria Market is closed on Wednesday though.