Saturday, 12 August 2006

looking deep within Your Self

For as long as I've lived in Melbourne - fifteen years give or take a couple - I've wondered about the story (and there must be one) behind the things you can see through a window in the side of Fry's Self Storage in Alexandra Avenue, Collingwood - between Officeworks and the Fitzroy baths.



The window in question is clearly visible as you come into Collingwood off the Eastern Freeway or as you turn into Alexandra Ave from that street in Clifton Hill where the guys are always trying to wash the car windows. The window is on the ground level and it looks on to a storage room which is piled higgledy-piggledy high and lots of things are pressed against the glass. The first thing you see is a sort of rattan bookshelf thing in the lower right hand corner. It's all household stuff like that. And over the years I've watched it slowly deteriorating in the sun and the stale air.



(clicking on the image will take you to a larger version, posted at Flickr, which has notes.)

Why would anyone go to the trouble of storing and paying for such a pile of tat? It's tempting to think that there's some dark secret hidden in there - a head in a jar or something, like in Silence of the Lambs. On the whole though I prefer to imagine a less melodramatic but more quietly tragic situation - some person went overseas, intending to be back within eighteen months, but her plans changed: she met somebody, they had a baby, he kept promising he'd move back to Melbourne with her, but it never quite happened somehow....or maybe she wasn't sure enough about him to completely commit herself and preferred to keep an escape route open, although by this time it must be a symbolic option rather than a fully real one.

21 comments:

Another Outspoken Female said...

I've noticed this one too! A marriage break up, a career overseas? But storage costs a lot of money, it'd be a decent deposit on a house by now. My guess: A government employee posted overseas, probably ASIO - so we are paying for her to store her deteriorating tat! (And yes, such employees do get overseas postings, posing as lowly embassy staff)

Lucy Tartan said...

As I was writing the post I thought you would probably have seen it.

Zoe said...

I read an interview with Cate Blanchett where she talked about coming back from a couple of years overseas during which she had hit the big time. All the things she'd put in storage had nothing for her anymore, like shabby beach sandals or half used lipsticks. Maybe it's Kylie Minogue's?

Kate said...

I was thinking perhaps one of the employees gets it on the cheap.

My Melbourne mystery is the fabric shop at the top of Bourke St in Melbourne [near Parliament]. I have never seen anyone go in there - how are they still running? Is it a front for something?!?

Kate said...

Perhaps someone lives in there too, one of those urban legend variety rich but crazy person?

dogpossum said...

I've been into that fabric shop - it's a treasure trove, but the man who runs it is really odd. You must know exactly what you want and be brief. I went in there with 'cotton curtain fabrics from the 60s and 70s' and came out with exactly that. It was awesome.

But I like your post, Mz Tartan - I noticed this exact same lot of stuff the other week, and wondered who'd leave that sort of stuff in storage. It's on my mind right now as a friend has just been staying with us while she returned to Melbourne/Aus to sort out visa stuff before heading back to London indefinitely. She decided to chuck it all, and not store anything.
It's something I think about a lot, as I have heaps of junk and am prepared to (keen to) move anywhere for work. What will I store, and where?

It's fascinating stuff. And I like the way your post puts it.

JahTeh said...

I can't believe that fabric store is still there. I used to work at 3UZ across the road and if it's the same man he must be 100 years old. I was reliably informed way back then that it was a front for "liberated" items.

Lucy Tartan said...

It's called the Job Warehouse. I bought some 1960s poly crepe there in the early 1990s - it was pale green with maroon and white cranes printed on it and it was a lot better than it sounds.

The owner of my regular/local fabric shop told me the original owner had died and the place is now run by his son. It seems they really do run a business there, unlikely as the front windows make that appear. I got talking about it with my regular/local person because I heard her directing another customer to go there for black Chantilly lace.

It would be a great place for somebody to blog about....

Lucy Tartan said...

And they have a website - http://www.jobwarehouse.com.au/index.html

the photos of the interior show it marginally tidier than I remember.

oh no, now I have a craaaaaving to buy material......

Pavlov's Cat said...

I used to haunt that place at the top of Bourke St when I lived in Melbourne -- even though I was very frightened of the owner (not the son, I think, back then), who would sometimes actually yell at you if you didn't know what you wanted. Must go to the website immediately.

Given how many of us seem to have been there and bought things, I'm starting to understand why they're still in business.

But not before I say that I can never go past one of those U-Store-It places without thinking of the one in The Silence of the Lambs, and Starling in there with her cuffs tied up 'to prevent mouse intrusion'.

kate2 said...

Maybe the person whose storage it is made the same mistake as someone I know - she put her stuff in (to go o.s. for a bloke, it all turned out well and she stayed) but left the keys with her family. Her brothers keep sticking their stuff in their too, and next time she's in Melbourne she's got no hope of retrieving her camping gear.

worldpeace_and_aspeedboat said...

oh. ooohhhhh... that warehouse. how I long for that sort of shop up here in Sydney. I used to go to one way down in Kogarah - stock which went back to the 60's, at least. now it's just full of cheap tatt, and not the good sort...

Ben.H said...

Kate2, just hope your friend doesn't wind up in the same boat as my girlfriend: put your stuff in storage before going OS, give a key to sibling, come home to find sibling has taken your stuff with her to New Zealand and left her crap in its place.

R H said...

Ben h. That's funny, a ripper.

Miss Laura, watch out, I'll be at Latrobe on Friday, in the barber shop, getting my hair cut - like a professor. Don't greet me, because I won't answer - like a professor. ha ha ha.

Robbert!

Lucy Tartan said...

Thanks for the warning, RH. Tell Nigel and Silvana I sent you.

R H said...

I might. We'll see. Surprise is the spice of life.

kate2 said...

ben h. - one of the siblings is my partner, so he'd be in trouble from more than his sister if he buggered off to NZ!

Mel said...

There was a story about the Job Warehouse in an early issue of The Monthly. All sorts of stories: eg, an old lady wet herself and the quick-thinking guy threw a bolt of black cloth on the puddle - and then sold it later to someone else!

Apparently the old owner was a Holocaust survivor, which the story seemed implicitly to say, was the root cause of his cantankerous attitude.

Val said...

Ooh, I bags the bamboo thingie which takes pride of place in the window. I too have wondered about what's stored in that building.
Haven't been to your blog in a while, and I can see I have been missing out. Love your description of your work experience at Fletcher Jones. SO sad the days of people with expertise such as those tailors are vanishing.

Helen said...

In another life I used to know people who were really ace garment constructors - they all swore by the Job Warehouse but you had to be a professional or semi-professional like them to actually use the place.

Yes, the scary old guy is dead now so it's probably safe to go in there.

MrLefty said...

After Futurama I can't help but expect it to contain cryogenically frozen people.