With all due respect for actual places of war, Oxford St is like a war-zone at the moment. I half expect to hear Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Run Through The Jungle on my walk from train station to office. The bit of the strip I most deal with has everything a war-zone has (except, of course, the horror and mindless death): big bangs, cool machinery, irritated civilians and lots of blank-faced square-jawed guys standing around in funny clothes. Actually, in a lot of ways it’s like a Mardi Gras parade.
Now they’ve like, halved the bit of footpath outside the Star‘s offices, and we’ve become closer to some of Oxford Street’s more colourful characters. You know the feeling when you’re at a party in a single-storey terrace in the inner west, and you have to pass someone in a hallway so narrow you each leave a coating of your dust/ dead skin cells on each other? That’s kind of what it’s like on our end of the strip at the moment. There’s an uncomfortable acknowledgment you have to make when you pass someone in such tight quarters, and we now have to do it every time we leave the office.
Now when the guy screaming you’re wrong! goes by, it seems rude to not at least give him a half smile or a supportive nod. And when the guy with dreadlocks whose clothes are exactly the same colour as the road is sleeping, there’s a strange sense of intrusion. Like we should offer him a cup of hot chocolate or something.
Yes, it’s all been a big pain in the arse. But apparently it’s for the greater good, because eventually we’ll have newer, wider, more consistently grey footpaths with less bumps. From my office window I can see pedestrians on the Burdekin side of the street, just loving the new footpath like it’s made of sunshine. They strut over the wide grey expanses like it’s a New York catwalk with Anna Wintour in the front row.
Over on this side we have to walk in single file, often diverted in wide circles around random bits of truck. Even the homeless dudes are moving to the other side of the street. I’m just trying to get down the street without brushing against too many strangers. I’ve received more than enough unwanted bodily fluids trying to muscle my way across the dancefloor, thanks.