The reason: a person I know asked how I would know about that place, and why I would write about it. The answer is a long story (aren’t they all?), but she insisted because she didn’t know how I would know … so here you go – where the idea for the story came from:
In the not-too-distant past (well … it wasn’t long, long ago or in a land far, far away), I was a foster-carer. Most of my fosters were teenagers (two were toddlers, but all the others were teens), and teenagers cost a lot of money to feed, house and educate – especially if you want them to drive.
I’m a gardener, but when you move a lot, you move away from any garden you created – you lose the almost-free food that assisted with the budget. How to keep all these kids fed? Where’s the best place to buy in bulk and bargain for the leftovers and not-so-pretty stuff?
The markets. Of course. When I lived in Victoria (where Melbourne is the capital city, not any other Victoria), we would mount up an expedition every Saturday and into the city to go to the Vic Markets. Now, if you haven’t been there, let me tell you this: it’s amazing (except for the time the dog managed to open the side-panel window and came looking for us! We got booted out, of course).
After a couple of visits and the subsequent return home and unboxing of huge quantities of stuff, a few neighbours noticed. Elderly, mostly infirm, and most living alone. We knew this because it was part of our strategy to know everyone close – a matter of safety, or perception of safety, to the kids who came from [bad places]. When we had bits that were extra to our needs, we’d (I’d send the kids out) take some to the neighbours – and they paid us for those bits! Extra money.
Ah, a little business plan formed, and soon it was known far and wide (well, four streets or so) and orders were placed on Friday nights, the kids delivered Saturday afternoons, and we had a bit of extra dosh. Oh, and good food. And an exciting outing.
And then the other ideas flowed in. Other things happen at markets. Especially the Camberwell car park Market. There were enough vehicles to send one to Camberwell while the van did the Vic Market food run.
What to do with a stall? Well, we went through quite a lot of ideas. The ones that stuck were the stall to sell the quilts we made from rags (it’s amazing how easy it is to get a kid’s background, the whole story, while their hands are busy!), and the other was (ta-dah!) a tarot-reading stall (because I’d been doing that for ‘visitors’ for a while anyway). In fact, the tarot stall was busier, made more money and got return callers for years. There wasn’t even a set price. A ‘donation’ box sat on the table just inside the opening. People donated what they thought it was worth (of course, I could always see what went in through the little window on my side).
I still have one of the sets of cards from that time. A bit battered, and not used anymore (I’m afraid they might fall apart) and not the deck of cards you could buy. Four of the fosters made those cards; cut and drew and painted and polished each one. A piece of the hearts and souls of all the fosters went in – comments, suggestions, a new colour specifically for one card; the shape of a face for this card, a hand for that one, a characteristic or scar on another.
And there you have it, the exploration of where the story came from. A bit of experience, a lot of love, some hard work, and some of the time I lived in Victoria. And although the positioning of some things is slightly unmappable, they are there (at least in my memories of the place).
Cheers – and I’m onto the final stages of the second round of editing for the Valki story. Send me some inspiration – this is the hard part, the nitty-gritty, the pain and angst part. But it will soon be finished, and like the one above, there is a place it comes from, and the place may be real, but the story is an embellishment of what I know of the place.