Saturday, March 9, 2013

A ghost sign tour on a hot afternoon with the odd couple

Yesterday afternoon I took a journalist and cameraman from a Sunday paper on a hastily-arranged, whistle-stop ghost sign tour of North Carlton and Fitzroy. After meeting up at the newspaper's city offices, we piled into the cameraman's little red VW and almost immediately got caught up in Friday afternoon traffic, slowly melting as we inched our way there on clogged roads (there's been an extended heatwave in Melbourne over the last weeks). The journalist and cameraman knew each other well and bickered like a married couple about which road to go on and who was feeling grumpier. It was all quite amusing and surreal, especially when the cameraman took a call in Parkville and announced he had to pull over and send some pics in a hurry to the office. While he sat on the pavement and pored over his laptop, the journalist and I made conversation as we sweated in the car.

In the end the tour itself went quite well, given the short timeframe to think about a one-hour route that would pull together a selection of a dozen or so signs. I was lucky that the Indian Root Pills sign had been uncovered in the area this week (see previous post). We went there first, and then on to a selection of other local signs. In the end the tour took two hours all up, ending up at a North Carlton French bakery, an former grocery covered in exposed and preserved ghost signs for food and soap. Here the journalist took her leave and caught the tram home, and the cameraman snapped his last pics for a gallery of ghost signs, after I failed to convince the shop assistants to wave for the camera through the window.

A car is a good environment to discuss topics at length, and I talked quite a lot about ghost signs and what they could mean. It will be interesting to wake up tomorrow morning and see how the story turned out, what angle was taken by the journalist, and how the gallery looks. I hope they don't use the pic they took of me though.

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