So, I was halfway through posting the tales of my October visit to Queensland when it started to rain. And it rained quite a lot and started to flood all over the state. The fake beach I visited turned to mud, cars were swept down rivers, houses collapsed and people died. So it all seemed a bit weird to keep on with my tales of the fun time before the floods came; those simpler, drier times.
But slowly Queensland is recovering. In a lot of places things are back to normal; in other places things will never be the same. So I reckon now’s a good a time as any to keep on telling my Brisbane stories, looking back at how sometimes it’s the ordinary things that can seem most exotic and end up being most memorable, like going to the shops.
I was meandering around the central Brisbane shopping area and came across a Borders book store. It was a fairly ordinary Borders, only there was a big gap in the shop. The music section had recently been cleared of stock, leaving a mass of empty CD shelves.
Whenever I discover the closure of a music retailer, I always feel a little conflicted. Part of me is cheering “Viva la digital revolution, bitches!” and gleefully buying digital tracks of my favourite little bands that otherwise couldn’t afford to press CDs, but another part of me is deeply sad at the loss of the ’90s-style record shops I grew up with, all those racks and racks of music.
For Borders, ditching the CDs department probably isn’t that much of a big deal, but it probably also means that elsewhere a little record shop has also closed, taking with it some of those nice record-shop experiences. Oh well.
The mall called. My bro and I ventured out to Westfield Chermside, which is pretty much like any big mall you might have been to. I was excited to visit this particular mall because it had an Apple Store. As it happened, I needed a new cable for my iPhone, so I took the opportunity to shop there.
The place was swarming with people, most of whom seemed to be cheerfully fondling iPads. I found the cable I needed and looked for a till. The long counter at the back of the store was the Genius Bar thing, but that’s not a sales area.
I couldn’t see anywhere that looked like a sales point. I wondered for a moment that if they didn’t actually have any tills, perhaps they could just, like, intuit the money from you.
But no. Eventually I stumbled across a queue of people and at the end of the queue was a staffer standing next to a piece of minimalist furniture with a Mac on it. This was the till and they were happy to take my credit card.
Across town, we also paid a visit to the IKEA, which is still a huge novelty for me in this IKEAless land in which I dwell.
Somehow we ended up entering the IKEA maze from the exit-end, and so travelled against the carefully constructed retail flow. This meant starting with the kids area and ending with tiny-apartment ideas, which actually worked better for me.
There’s one thing that I really covet at IKEA – the Billy shelf system. It’s a really simple range of bookcases, and is one of their global bestsellers. I have books – I have too many books – and I have an inadequate bookcase I bought from Freedom furniture in 2001 (ex-display model, ’90s curled metal flourishes). All I want is a simple bookshelf like the Billy. It will house all my books and some decorative items too. Oh, globalisation, why dost thou foresake me, etc?
Instead I bought some $1 picture frames and tried to block the joy and simplicity of the Billy.
Brisbane has brilliant public transport. I borrowed a spare transport pass from my bro and enjoyed easy travel on the bus, train and ferry services. Any New Zealand dickface who thinks that trains are some sort of Edwardian antiquity that has no place in modern New Zealand, should be forced to spend a week in Brisbane riding the trains. They are splendid.
There was a curious disruption to the ferry service while I was there. A troubled man (a New Zealander!!!!) had tied up his yacht to the central ferry terminal – one of the ones that was later to be munted by the flood – and threatened to blow up his yacht. “I’ve got supplies and reckon I can stay awake for two weeks,” he told the local paper.
But it ended 16 hours later with a fire, a stabbing and the police eventually subduing him. He later claimed to have been suffering from marijuana-induced paranoia. New Zealanders, don’t smoke that reefer – you’ll end up mucking things up for Brisbane commuters.
But when the ferries were running, making the short trip from the city over to Kangaroo Point was a real pleasure, especially at night. It’s all lit up, looking like a proper fancy city, making me feel like I was in Brooklyn, or Devonport.