Unexpectedly full house more/less at Glassmerchant, brunches the reason. Crickey! The old dame partly hidden among the foursome by the kitchen was sighted last of all in that group of retirees. Well-to-do clearly. In his late-seventies, sir had just insisted on settling the bill with a patrician half-wave, pacing across to the register in his silver, almost-disco gym shoes. Totally new, or perhaps only worn from the car to the restos. His lady would give the former Foreign Minister here a terrible fright laying eyes upon her. Doppelgänger to the max, 7-8 years her senior. Second thoughts, factoring the skin & hair treatment, perhaps 10-12 years. Shortly thereafter, once the other pair who had been treated had taken their leave, the wheelchair was suddenly revealed. Disco hub bent to lower the footrests and soon the lady was wheeled out. Car? Skiing? The pool or bathroom?? They suffered too, the rich; softening for them only went so far. (The sole justice in life, Bab used to say, death.) The line was drawn however at the former FM with all her tasteful jewellery, attire from a particular Sydney designer, the hair & skin, — in which guise all the various positions delivered at the international forums with utmost unction. It had been a horrid show to endure even in only glimpsed newsfeeds. At the same time the principled lady had stoutly upheld the standard for the white middle-class prof fem. Pitilessness. Nothing but pitilessness would be reserved for her kind at the final tribunal…. Four younger gals in the end booth against the wall dressed to the nines/tens in conservative unattached/childless dowdiness, celebrating what the balloon they had raised at their table displayed: 40 fetched by the one ensconced facing outward later opening the boxed pressies. You did need a break from the street-wrecks outside the grog shop beside Faisal’s in Footscray, muttering to themselves as they leant on the garbage bin. But certainly there had been no signing on for this on the other side of the river. Unavoidable pillar to post battering back in the old town. Nearing the first quarter after noon. Op Shop for shoes first of all, then sushi & bread from the Ruski baker, where a couple of words in the language would be produced like the balloons from the old circus pistols. That little round there you had signed for. Before making off an ABC update telling of the Ethiopian airstrike on the Tigrayan U. A final push on Mekelle was underway, the Ethiopians reported. 30,000 refugees had already fled to Sudan and the fighting now had reached near the camps in Northern Tigray that held 100,000 earlier Eritrean refugees. UNHCR had 4,000 crossing the border daily, half of whom were children. Few of the men at Faisal’s, veterans of the long war of independence, wanted to talk about the unfolding disaster, at least not with the white guy, however pleasant and familiar. The path needed to be beaten there in the morning nonetheless before the market. (The former Oz FM had reminded of the other too, the recent Minister of the Environment in Singapore: late-50s, reddy dyes, lashes on stalks, glittering pendants and into the bargain good reason to suspect sculpting. Holding the eco-justice portfolio and saving the planet for us both.)
….Come the morning at the coffee machine Faisal did in fact offer some broader context to the conflict: there had been the former US close cooperation with Haile Selassie, and then in more recent time, especially with Abiy, the Chinese supplanting. More deadliness still.