Saturday 26 May 2007

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Snowy on the tram

© John Sawyer - May 2007

There were only two seats left when we caught the 109 tram the other night. My Advisor plunged in anyway. She ignored the jumble of baggage and the large cardboard carton next to the traveller opposite.

It could have been yet another mirror or flat pack of shelving from Ikea, but closer inspection showed that the grubby package was the product. It was Snowy's home.

Snowy had his eyes everywhere, taking in his fellow passengers, but avoiding eye contact by busily drawing in a large sketchbook. He had a short steel ruler and a draftsman's propelling pencil and was busily drawing in the weatherboards on the side elevation of a two storey house. He'd already drawn two elaborate chimneys and architrave around the windows.

Who is this bloke? I must have got it wrong. I look at Snowy's hair. It's thick and luxuriant. A bit unkempt, unwashed and matted. It was strangely like a hairpiece you sometimes see propped on some older tram travellers' heads but this wasn't a hairpiece and was not on sideways or back to front. Maybe he is an architect catching up on work during the commute. No that overcoat is pretty shabby and the Dunlop Volleys have that rained on smell. And the rucksack full of dog-eared sketch pads is not that normal.

Under the drawing was a short essay of about 75 words in an unusual script. I made out the words "STRANGE VIBE". The characters too had been meticulously drawn using the ruler and drafting pen. The curves painstakingly drawn with a series of short straight lines.

I could just make out the previous page through the cheap paper. It seemed to be in the same form; a diagram and some words. I wanted to look at the other drawings and the other books. What is the theme? What is the point? Are they all the same? Why does he do this and what is his story?

But how do you engage an eccentric and should I intrude into his world just to satisfy my curiosity? I imagined the dark happenings that might have led to this.

After we left the tram and walked to the theatre we discussed our fellow passenger. My Advisor had not seen all the detail without her reading glasses but she summed it up. He is some mother's son; he could have been somebody's brother, lover, father or grandson. Imagine their pain. I imagine his pain, but perhaps he does not have any. Perhaps he's happier than anyone else on that tram.

Good luck Snowy.


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