Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.

9.12.16

G'day, mussels*.

Mussels in garlic and white wine.

This just about cooks itself, so you don't need to miss a ball of the cricket.

Take a kilogram of Portarlington mussels.

Chop an onion and four or five garlic cloves finely. Warm these through in some olive oil in a large pot.

Before the garlic starts to change colour, add a cup of white wine. Bring almost to the boil and quickly add the mussels. Grind some black pepper over the pot, and add a finely chopped chili or two. Then scatter some chopped parsley and a few chopped spring onions. Salt to taste.

The mussels will clatter around in the pan as they open in the boiling fluid. I give them about two minutes.

Place mussels in large bowls, pouring cooking liquid over the mussels, ensuring you scoop up the garlic and chili that tends to settle at the bottom of the pot.

Serve outdoors on a hot evening, with the sun sailing away to the west and day-night cricket on the big screen. Cold beer or white wine.

Serve with thick Turkish bread or the like to mop up the salty, garlicky juices.

(This is not good manners, but I build towers from the empty mussel shells in a spare bowl as I eat the mussels. My record was a cross between a minaret and the Sydney Opera House that topped eighteen inches. I should have photographed it, but one of the children knocked it down before I could get the camera.)

*A word-play on 'muscles', an Australian slang honorific used in place of 'mate' or 'champ'. Another alternative, now sadly slipping out of usage, is 'sport'.

7.12.16

Timorous CEOs skewered.

Australia's Mark Steyn is Terry McCrann:
Their (energy engineering pioneers) efforts and inventions enabled the use, directly or indirectly, of hydrocarbon-based energy so fundamental to ending the Hobbesian "nasty, brutish" and short-lived experience of literally everyone who had ever lived, well into the 20th century; and still, many of the 7 billion alive today who do not have good access to hydrocarbon-based energy. ... even if one doesn't care for the two billion or so in that category — let them breathe deadly burnt dung particles or literally pedal for power, as pompous pampered Western greenies vicariously propose — a CEO of a company like BHPB should take at least some pride in its contribution to the long and difficult march of civilisation.

1.12.16

Steamed salmon and asian greens: singing a song of summer.

But first, the recipe.

Poached salmon and greens.

You don't need to mess around with Tasmanian Atlantic salmon too much. Fish doesn't get much better than salmon and it is economic, holding its density and shape while staying tender; where basa, for example, seems to melt away to nothing.

I placed four salmon fillets in a bowl with a few shakes of soy, a teaspoon of powdered ginger and a chopped garlic clove and put it in the fridge for a few hours.

I poached the fish gently in a non-stick pan with a lid, adding a little water. Meanwhile, I wok-tossed two bunches of choy sum, a dozen chopped spring onions and a handful of trimmed snowpeas in some peanut oil and a few drops of sesame oil until they were sweating lurid green and still snapping; not to the wilt stage.

Then I cooked some fresh udon noodles, drained them, added them to the wok, and folded them through with a dash of oyster sauce.

Noodles and greens on serving plates; fish fillets on top.

*

Kitchen Hand's Top Ten Best Summer Songs Ever Recorded.

1. Summer in the City - The Lovin' Spoonful. Complete with jackhammer and a band member's Volkswagen in the mix.
2. Summertime- the Zombies. Pick your own version of the Gershwin lullaby.
3. Summer Wind - Frank Sinatra. The master.
4. Summertime Blues - Eddie Cochrane. What it feels like to work on a summer day.
5. A Summer Song - Chad and Jeremy. Sixties psychedelic folk with perfect harmonies.
6. Summer Rain - Johnny Rivers. Hopes and dreams, before they come crashing down.
7. Those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer - Nat King Cole. The 1950s expressed, by the other King.
8. Summer Wine - Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood. Drunk on summer.
9. In the Summertime - Mungo Jerry. Best jug band ever.
10. School's Out (For Summer) - Alice Cooper. Shock rocker who wrote touching ballads, which this wasn't.

Kitchen Hand's Top Ten Worst Summer Songs Ever Recorded.

10. Summer Rain - Belinda Carlisle. Annoying enough to be satirised on Top Gear.
9. Summer Holiday - Cliff Richard. Also savaged by British comedians, on The Young Ones.
8. Boys of Summer - Don Henley. Get over it. She's gone. There's plenty more fish in the sea.
7. Summer Love - Sherbert. Horrible repetitive bogan rubbish played too loud in HQ panel vans in 1975.
6. Summer Breeze - Seals & Crofts. Overplayed; so no-one remembers their superior 'I Will Never Pass this Way Again'.
5. Summer Nights – John Travolta & Olivia Newton John. Just destroy the master.
4. Come Said the Boy - Mondo Rock. They didn't dare put 'summer' in the title because it was a rip off of Bobby Golsboro's lyrical and suggestive 'Summer (The First Time)' complete with sand and seventeen.
3. The Other Side of Summer - Elvis Costello. Elvis's glass is half empty, as usual.
2. Summer of '69 - Bryan Adams. Too much detail, thanks Bryan.

and the worst ever:

1.. Summerlove Sensation - Bay City Rollers. God knows what they were doing in the studio between takes.

30.11.16

That's not umpiring; this is umpiring.

AFL umpires' coach Hayden Kennedy, talking to the Herald Sun about a world tour of 25 elite umps he led to 'pick the brains of the best officials from soccer, rugby, tennis and cricket'.

According to Kennedy, " ... one EPL ref said he makes about 200 decisions a game and runs 12km over 90 minutes. We'd do that in the first 15 minutes of a game."

29.11.16

He lives.

I was walking the children home from school on Tuesday.

It was a sunny afternoon, and we had crossed the Upfield railway line and were passing the old TAFE building where the pathway is overgrown by ancient oleanders.

A figure approached from the other direction and disappeared behind us. I caught a glimpse of him. He had some kind of a hat or cap, a grey straggly beard, a hook nose, and a haunted look. It's amazing what you can catch at one glance.

"Hey," said Thomas. "Wasn't that the old guy in the paper?"

"What old guy?" I asked.

"The one with the cap and the grey beard."

That didn't tell me anything more than I had seen, but I knew staright away who he meant.

"I know who you mean," I said. "Now let me see." We turned the corner heading north. A plane came low overhead, heading for Essendon airport.

"Didn't they cremate him straight away? I believe they did. They used to let people see them afterwards."

"That's horrible," one of them said. I forget which.

"They'd lie in state," I said, "So you could pay your respects."

"So if that was him ... " Tom said.

"He would have had to have been smuggled out several days ago."

"And flown here in a disguise."

"And released in an obscure area where there are not many houses but lots of old factories and warehouses that are no longer used."

"And then his death would have been announced."

*

He told everyone at school on Wednesday that Fidel Castro is alive and well. He'll probably fit in quite well in the City of Moreland.

23.11.16

Old name rejected.

Black Flat? Let's ask someone who lives there and has taken that original title as their strangely appropriate business name:
Black Flat Coffee Brewers was named after "Black Flat", the original name of Glen Waverley before it was renamed in 1921. Originally developed as orchards and farming lands, Black Flat ... was in reference to the dark, rich soil and flat ground.
Being precisely descriptive, the original name makes Glen Waverley - a name doubly adopted from a Sir Walter Scott novel via Edinburgh - seem a little pretentious. Perhaps that is why the suburb within a few decades became synonymous with the somewhat pretentious 'Sherry Belt', a sardonic Barry Humphries reference to 1960s stay-at-home upper middle class wives who, bored, took to entertaining their guests with sherry parties.

22.11.16

Quote: "If you don't like the roads, take up croquet."

The book is to be ready by the end of 2019. I have plenty of time but I like to get onto things.

Story from the archive:
Our route outwards lay through Caulfield till the Waverley Road is reached, thence a straight run to Black Flat, when a sharp turn to the left brought us into the aptly-named Mountain View Hotel, which is about fourteen miles from the GPO. After dining sumptuously and well we inspected a couple of mines, which are to some day make Black Flat famous, to which one is inclined to say – Heaven Forbid! – if it is to ruin the present rustic beauty of the surroundings. Returning, we took a cross road to Tally Ho, thence through Burwood to the Riversdale Road, and through Richmond to town. The road after leaving Caulfield was wet and sloppy and in a state of being repaired, which in these latitudes seems tantamount to a state of disrepair. But the cyclist who never expects to meet with bad roads on a trip should confine his attention to croquet.
The story was published in 1902.

(And where is Black Flat? Answer tomorrow.)

21.11.16

Lost in the archives again.

I'm turning yellowed papers in an upstairs boardroom. The yellowed papers are 1910 originals and the quality of reporting is very good. Yet the writers do not call themselves journalists. They are 'correspondents'. There are no typos and no mangled language. There are words - good words - that have since fallen into disuse. And this is a sporting newspaper, the Australian Cyclist.

Someone had stared a cycling club in the 1890s. Electric power and the car were yet to arrive, a long-gone power-stationless green dream. Solar power dried the washing. You hung it on a line strung up in the back yard. Then a crash followed a speculative boom and a third of Melbourne's breadwinners were thrown out of work. There was no welfare payment. When things got back to late-nineteenth-century normal, people bought bicycles. The safety cycle had replaced the dangerous penny farthing, on which you could die standing still, simply by falling off. The safety cycle let you put your feet on the ground. Hit a pothole or a stone on a penny farthing and you were thrown off. Worse than a runaway horse.

So everyone wanted bikes. They replaced the horse for small business deliveries, and you didn't have to feed them or call the vet. They were ridden to work and school. They were used for recreation and sport. They broadened your social reach. You could ride home from the pub.

The cycling club's carefully-kept archives describe its rides around Melbourne during the first decade of the twentieth century in fine detail. Sometimes, members cycled by night, when a full moon rode high in the sky: no street lamps.

On these night rides, the cyclists leave after a good dinner, pedal to Kew or Templestowe (countryside) or some other destination, visit a hotel; and return by eleven or midnight, puncture repairs permitting. It is a golden era for the fit young cyclist. He had freedom of the road. The horse was on the way out; and the car was yet to arrive. Depression was over, Australia was a new nation, and Melbourne was the national capital. The future looked bright in 1910. The optimism would last four years.






29.10.16

The Cup Day Holiday Part Two: Yasmiijn draws the sweep.

On Friday morning before the Melbourne Cup weekend, there had been furious jockeying between the creative staff to win the Cup Eve Monday off as a holiday. Creative director Jason had a kind of reverse-Solomon moment in preventing inter-staff jealousy by awarding the bonus Monday to himself (as he had in the past three years).

Meanwhile, everyone had been called into the boardroom for drawing of the annual Melbourne Cup sweep, which Yasmiijn de Reverien was to draw. Jason has recently appointed her as his new personal assistant, a job title he changed to 'creative co-ordinator' to deflect any suggestion of inferiority, servitude, misogyny, sexism etc. Yasmiijn's employment was greeted with scepticism from the rest of the creative department; and raised eyebrows from management, but Jason insisted he be allowed to staff his own department without interference.

Yasmiijn has flame red hair and is wearing a silky thing that looks like it was woven by butterflies. It is probably a dress. To say she is wearing it is probably overstating the case. Rather, she is in its general vicinity. It floats and sighs with her every movement.

Although Yasmiijn's name suggests Dutch East Indies and French extraction, her grandparents were migrant waterside workers from Glasgow, and her original name was Cheryl Hodgebottom. Cheryl changed her first name to Yasmiijn when she turned twenty-one, giving it a double 'i' and a 'j' for some European intrigue. However, the new name didn't really work with Hodgebottom, so a year later she changed her surname by deed poll to de Reverien, which everyone seemed to agree was an improvement. Yasmiijn was hence able to hide her original no-nonsense anglo-scottish character behind an exotic persona.

*

JASON HAS ASKED YASMIIJN TO HANDLE THE MELBOURNE CUP DRAW, WHICH IS USUALLY THE KIND OF THING THAT IS RUN BY THE PRODUCTION DEPARTMENT, OR A JUNIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE, OR THE AGENCY MD – IN OTHER WORDS, PEOPLE WITH NOTHING MUCH TO DO ALL DAY. MAYBE JASON HAS NOTHING MUCH TO DO ALL DAY, OR JUST WANTS TO BE THE CENTRE OF ATTENTION.

JASON: There's fifteen thousand riding on this which the agency has so kindly tipped in from its media graft proceeds ...

(HE WINKS AT ANNETTE, MEDIA BUYING CHIEF)

ANNETTE: If only, Jason.

JASON: Rubbish, Annette. How do you think Harold Mitchell bought a cattle station? And of the fifteen thousand, ten for the winner, two for second and third; and, as usual, a grand for last just to keep it interesting.

YASMIIJN HAS PLACED ALL THE HORSE NAMES (WHICH SHE HAS CUT OUT FROM RACE FIVE IN THE FORM GUIDE) AND STAFF NAMES INTO TWO DIFFERENT BOXES AND IS ABOUT TO START DRAWING THEM.

SHE REACHES DEEP INTO THE FIRST BOX, DRAWS OUT A TINY PIECE OF PAPER AND READS THE NAME WITH A FURROWED BROW.

And the first horse to be drawn is ... (LOOKS AGAIN AT THE HORSE'S NAME TO DOUBLE CHECK THE PRONUNCIATION) ... Lucretia's Dream!

THEN SHE REACHES INTO THE BOX OF STAFF NAMES, AND UP COMES A TINY PIECE OF PAPER IN HER FINE, LONG-NAILED FINGERS.

YASMIIJN (SMILES AS HER EYES FLASH AROUND THE ROOM LOOKING FOR THE PERSON WHOSE NAME SHE HAS DRAWN): And Lucretia's Dream has been drawn by ... Annette! Congratulations, Annette!

ANNETTE, THE MEDIA BUYER, IS OF MEDIUM HEIGHT WITH DARK HAIR AND RED LIPS. SHE WEARS AN EXPENSIVE TAILORED TWO-PIECE TWEED SUIT, ITALIAN SHOES AND INTERESTING JEWELLERY.

YASMIIJN REACHES AROUND TO THE WHITEBOARD AND PLACES THE PIECES OF PAPER UNDER MAGNETS AT THE TOP OF TWO NEAT COLUMNS HEADED 'HUMAN' AND 'HORSE'. THE WORD 'HUMAN' INSTEAD OF 'DRAWER' IS JASON'S IRONIC ANIMISTIC TOUCH; BUT BOB THE CLEANER, AS THE AGENCY ARBITER OF COMMON SENSE, CALLS IT BULLSHIT.

YASMIIJN TURNS BACK TO THE BOXES AND STARTS TO DRAW THE NEXT HORSE. INTO THE BOX GOES HER LITHE FRECKLED BARE ARM. SHE LEANS A LITTLE LOWER. SEVERAL PEOPLE, NOT ALL OF WHOM ARE MEN, ALMOST VISIBLY WINCE IN A KIND OF SUPPRESSED EMOTION WHICH COULD BE ADMIRATION OR COULD BE JEALOUSY OR COULD BE SOMETHING ELSE LESS INNOCENT OR COULD BE THEIR HEAD ABOUT TO EXPLODE, FOR THAT MATTER.

YASMIIJN (LOOKS AROUND AND BEAMS): Massimo? It's you. And your horse is: Zelad Marcos!

MASSIMO (PRINT BUYER, GUFFAWS LIKE ONE): You beauty! Zelad Marcos! (TURNS TO ONE OF HIS MATES) What are its odds? (MATE SHRUGS. HE'S NEVER HEARD OF IT. BUT THERE IS A MURMUR OF SOMETHING AT THE BACK OF THE ROOM)

YASMIIJN DRAWS AGAIN (COQUETTISHLY): Leon! You this time! And your horse is ... Maurizio's Apparition!

THE MURMURS GROW AROUND THE ROOM, AND A VOICE SPEAKS FROM THE BACK. IT IS ...

ZIGGY: Hang on, Yasmiijn ... there's no horse called Maurizio's Apparition running in the Cup.

GRAM (WHO WAS NAMED AFTER A ROCK STAR THAT NO-ONE REMEMBERS ANY MORE SO HE HAS TO CONTINUALLY EXPLAIN THAT HE IS NOT A UNIT OF WEIGHT): Nor is there a horse called Zelad Marcos, Jason.

GRAM POINTEDLY ASKS JASON, RATHER THAN YASMIIJN, TO EXPLAIN.

JASON (RED-FACED): Ah, Yasmiijn, you cut out the horses. What's going on?

YASMIIJN: I cut them out from the form guide you gave me, Jason. Race Five. It's still on your table ...

JASON DISAPPEARS INTO HIS OFFICE AND EMERGES AGAIN WITH THE REMAINS OF A CHOPPED UP FORM GUIDE.

JASON (STARING AT THE SHARDS OF PAPER): Ah, Yasmiijn ... this isn't the Melbourne Cup field ... you cut out race five from tonight's Harold Park trots.

TITTERS SPREAD AROUND THE BOARDROOM WITH THE OCCASIONAL GUFFAW, DIRECTED AT JASON. MEANWHILE YASMIIJN BITES HER LIP AND GIVES A SAD LITTLE SIGH. SOMETIMES WHE WISHES SHE HAD KEPT HER OLD 'CHERYL' PERSONA, BECAUSE THEN SHE COULD HAVE TURNED TO JASON AND TOLD HIM TO FUCK OFF AND DRAW HIS OWN STUPID CUP SWEEP, A RESPONSE HE SO RICHLY DESERVES. BUT SHE DOESN'T. SHE FEIGNS MOCK SELF-EFFACEMENT, CUTS OUT THE CORRECT RACE, AND REDRAWS THE SWEEP.

*

ON CUP DAY, YASMIIJN'S HORSE WINS AND SHE PICKS UP THE TEN GRAND. JASON'S HORSE IS INJURED DURING THE RACE AND IS PUT DOWN BEHIND A SCREEN ON THE TRACK. YASMIIJN FAILS TO LOCATE JASON IN THE MARQUEE AND ABSCONDS WITH A DUBAI-BASED HORSE-OWNING SHEIK WHO NEVER FINDS OUT HER NAME WAS CHERYL.

27.10.16

Cup Day Holiday, Part One: Jason takes Monday off.

Warning: offensive language, sexist stereotypes, threatened violence and more. Section 18C would not survive a morning in a robust advertising agency. In a place like this, a 'trigger warning' is when you walk through the front door. The following story is true. Some names have been changed.

IT IS THE FRIDAY BEFORE THE MELBOURNE CUP. ACROSS THE CITY, THOUSANDS OF EMPLOYEES GALLOP TO THE MANAGING DIRECTOR'S OFFICE (OR IN THIS CASE, THE CREATIVE DIRECTOR'S PENTHOUSE-LIKE SPACE COMPLETE WITH LEATHER SOFAS AND TWO BRETT WHITELEYS) TO ASK FOR THE MONDAY OFF, MAKING IT A FOUR-DAY WEEKEND.

JASON IS THE CREATIVE DIRECTOR AT BLAKE, BROWNING, BURNS. WITH HIM IN HIS PALATIAL OFFICE ARE ART DIRECTOR ART (YES, ART. ART IS SHORT FOR ARTHUR. IF YOU ARE YOUNGER THAN FORTY YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW THIS BECAUSE THERE HAVE BEEN NO ARTHURS BORN IN THE LAST THIRTY YEARS, EXCEPT THIS PARTICULAR ART, WHO IS 26) AND JAKE, A WRITER.

JASON: I'm not coming in Monday, so you guys will have to take the IronTown brief.

ART (MOCK OBSEQUIOUS): That's fine, Jase. We'll look after it. Have a great four-day weekend. You deserve it after all your great work this week.

(INSIDE, HE THINKS: 'FUCK YOU, JASON, YOU FAT LAZY PRICK, YOU DO THIS TO US EVERY SINGLE YEAR.')

JAKE: Yeah, enjoy your four-day weekend, Jason. Are you going to the Cup?

(SLIGHT PAUSE)

By the way, I thought Ziggy and Gram were taking the IronTown brief.

JASON: Yes, of course I'm going to the Cup. I'm in the TRV corporate marquee with Yasmiijn. And yes, Ziggy and Gram were to work on the IronTown campaign, but the COFF campaign for organic cocoa tofu has come back and Ziggy and Gram have to redo it.

ART: Oh, why?

JASON: The COFF* people rejected the concept. They thought an animated soy bean and coco bean going to bed together might offend their key demographic.

JAKE: What, don't self-obsessed vegan hippies who eat only non-genetically-modified wilting things grown on communes and picked under moonlight ever have sex?

JASON: I'm sure they do, Jake, although it would probably be better if they didn’t. Either way, you guys will have to do the campaign for IronTown's new range of roofing nails.

ART: Thanks, Jase. Ive always wanted to work on a roof nail account. And it's a shame about the bean idea. I loved the idea of beans having sex with each other and producing little choco-soy beans. It was sooooo cute. Reminded me of the that sixties song, 'Melting Pot'.

JASON: Don't be sarcastic, Art. And that was actually the intended soundtrack:

(HE SINGS)

" ... keep it stirring for a hundred years or more ... turn out coffee coloured people by the score."

(HE COUGHS)

And Art, just be thankful you're not a roof tiler or you'd have to do a lot more than come up with a campaign for roofing nails; you'd have to get up on the fucking roof and nail them in yourself.

ART: Might be a lot less stressful than this business, Jase.

THE LOUDSPEAKER INTERRUPTS

Would everyone (crackle crackle) into the (inaudible crackle again) for the Melbourne Cup (crackle crackle).

JASON: That speaker has been playing up for more than a year. Incredible. We're producing billion dollar campaigns for multinational companies but we can't fix a speaker in our own roof. One day the building will burn down, and they won't be able to tell us to evacuate, and we'll all burn to death because of a single broken speaker needing one tradesman with a screwdriver to fix.

THEY ALL TROOP INTO THE BOARDROOM

TO BE CONTINUED

*Completely Organic Food Favourites Pty Ltd.

21.10.16

Winning post.

A cold wind blasted up from the south and the sky was steel grey. I was walking through a patchwork of emerald green paddocks where I once walked as a child with my parents, picking mushrooms. The mushrooms still pop up occasionally but these days the fields are given over to another purpose.

I walked along a fence line and saw a horse standing in the cold air in the middle of the paddock. I came closer. The horse seemed to be on a slight lean. It was old. Its eye was on me. It picked up its hooves and ambled over. I walked slowly along, outside the fence. The horse followed me a little way, and then its attention was drawn by another horse in the corner of the field.

I came to a gate. On it a sign read: Fields of Omagh. Suddenly I heard a thunderclap. It sounded like 30,000 people screaming, willing a horse past a finishing post on a tight, curved racecourse track. Then silence.

Another paddock. Another old horse. Another sign: Might and Power. The noise and vision this time was a much larger crowd, a louder noise, a longer track, an interminable distance, a horse well in front, just in front, a short half head ... Silence.

I walked on. It was like a dream. More senior steeds. They came out of their middle distances like ghosts, some grey, hobbling. Some shared fields. Two were nipping each other in play as I watched.

Once millions of eyes had been on these creatures; now just mine. More signs. Brew. Chief de Beers. Maluckyday. Rogan Josh. Paris Lane. Zipping. (Zipping! Four Sandown Classics on the gallop!)

*

You can book a guided tour and they tell you about the horses. Going on your own is better. In a sports-mad city like Melbourne, this is a religious experience. Not 'quasi-': this is the real thing. Decades of winners standing stolidly in the fields, you, the grey sky, and no sound except the gentle pad of an approaching horse; and if you're lucky, a deep, muffled cough that was once a triumphant whinny.

15.10.16

Knockin' on the Institute's Door.

From a news report:
But others called the academy’s decision misguided and questioned whether songwriting, however brilliant, rises to the level of literature.
And can you believe they're still smarting from the time he picked up an electric guitar?

14.10.16

World's most out-of-the-way cricket ground.

I was researching a long-defunct 1960s cricket team called the Northern Cricketers.

The Northern Cricketers were a social side who played on Sundays at Holbrook Reserve, West Brunswick. The ground was at the westernmost point of the suburb, perched on a horseshoe bend of the Moonee Ponds Creek, so that a good stroke over cover would land in that part of Moonee Ponds immediately south of Moonee Valley Racecourse. Just a short way south of the ground is the Essendon Hockey Club and Ormond Park, home of the Moonee Valley FC, once known as the Fog, as anyone familiar with that low-lying area would know, especially on those cold autumn evenings at the start of footy season.

OK, the place is dripping with sporting history.

I didn't know if Holbrook Reserve still existed. So I investigated. A glance at the map showed that it looked to be almost obliterated by the Tullamarine freeway, which was built in the early 1970s. However, the ground survived, and I found it. The freeway is its east boundary, and it is so close you can touch it. I stood there at square leg wondering how many balls have smashed windscreens heading to the airport in the intervening years.

Holbrook Reserve has a nominal street address - 8 Jewell Crescent - but that's like saying Ronald Ryan's last address was Champ Street, Coburg. It kind of was but kind of wasn't.

I got to Holbrook Reserve by finding Jewell Crescent near the start of Dean St, or the end of Brunswick Rd, take your pick. Then I drove down Jewell Crescent to what appeared to be a dead end. On closer look, it wasn't. I turned left into a virtual drainway under the Tullmarine Freeway, and crunched over some gravel in the darkness, on a very narrow concrete lip parallel with the Moonee Ponds creek. It would be easy to slip into the creek here. I wondered how many cricketers cars ended up in the fast-flowing channel after a few beers on game day over the years.

I managed to safely negotiate this frightening piece of below-freeway infrastructure, and emerged blinking into the midday sun shining on a hidden field, like a crop circle in a vast industrial estate.

Around the perimeter was a circumference of daisy-spotted grass, a coin-in-the-slot barbecue, and a pavilion. That was all. It was the quintessential Australian cricket ground.

When I arrived, the roller had just finished and was loading back up onto the truck. The pitch looked perfect, with that pale green tone that contrasts so beautifully with the deep green of the surrounding grass.

*

I suggested to my old running friends that they take a run up the Moonee Ponds creek walking path, cross over at Brunswick Road, and add in a lap of Holbrook Reserve.