Saturday, March 21, 2015

forgotten tubes

My brother in law has always been wonderful at finding pneumatic tube references in literature. He found another in the book he was reading recently, called Amnesia, by Australian writer Peter Carey:

"So it was, strolling across the Swanston Street bridge for the first time in forty years, I found myself swimming in the giddiness of time, knowing exactly where I was and having no idea at all. I chose to go to Henry Bucks by way of Flinders Street, in order that I might pass the embalmbed corpse of The Herald building (where I had once been so firmly edited). The bitter wind drove lolly papers past its shuttered doors. I sometimes dream of the Herald as it was so long ago: the marble and terrazzo, oak panels, the whistling thumping vacuum tubes above your head. There are always bizarre copy boys and copy girls with carbon-paper smudges on their cheeks. People come and go in pursuit of unimaginable business. Some walk directly to the banks of clunking lifts. Men in hats rush past the front desk and through a swinging door"  (p53)

As I currently stroll Melbourne's Swantston Street and Flinders Street I also find myself "swimming in the giddiness of time", drowning or floating in the unfamiliar known, the uknown familiars of a city I have lived on and off in over the last 10 or so years. On the train into the city, I look out at the old Herald building and imagine all those newspaper copies whirling through tubes many years ago.

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