Eppur si muove

Things I Think About, by Peter Bowditch

Friday Shopping Poetry

During 2013 I posted a series of rewritten songs and poems to Facebook celebrating grocery shopping in Katoomba on Fridays. I’ll leave it up to you to guess at the originals.


Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
Shall I shop at Coles or Aldi, or spend a bit at each?


I should shop at Coles not Aldi for the word has passed around
That the Flybuy points are triple this weekend.
But the pork is great at Aldi and it’s cheaper pound for pound.
Choice like this can really send you round the bend.


It is an ancient Surveyor
And he stoppeth one of three.
“By thy short grey beard and glittering eye,
Now wherefore shoppeth thee?”

“Cause Aldi’s doors are open wide,
And Coles is Parke Street in;
With Woolworths near in Leura town
Makes choice a merry din.”


I’ve heard there is a better price
At IGA and the staff are nice
But who wants to drive to Springwood through the roadworks?
It goes like this: my chips would thaw
Before I got them to my door.
Aldi’s close and they play music by the Kraftwerks!


In K-town Mall did Council Man
A brand new, well-lit Coles decree
Where Parke, the second roadway, ran
Past Kmart’s bones of I-beam span
Down to where Aldi be.

Carpark. Circle round it thrice
And squint your eyes with holy dread.
But look, a Prius up ahead
Has left a spot. Oh, paradise.


I am he as you are he as you are me
And we are all together
See how they run from dog food to cheese see how they fly
I’m shopping

Looking for the cornflakes, waiting for the man to come
Wearing a blue work shirt, stupid bloody Friday
Who arranged this Aldi store? I’ve been here far too long.
I’m in Katoomba, where are the eggs, man?
I am the shopper goo goo goo joob


I had written him a letter which I had, for want of better
Knowledge sent to where I met him down in Parke Street, years before.
He sold track pants when I knew him, so I sent the letter to him,
Just on spec, addressed as follows, “Clancy, at the Kmart store”.
And an answer came directed in a writing unexpected
(Which I think the same was written with a fruit bun dipped in tar)
‘Twas the baker man who wrote it, and verbatim I will quote it:
“Kmart’s gone from in Katoomba, and we don’t know where it are.”

In my wild erratic fancy visions come to me of Clancy
Selling pants at Lowes in Penrith where the westie bogans go;
As the credit cards are ringing, Clancy walks behind them singing,
For the shop clerk’s life has pleasures that the shoppers never know.
And the ‘Riff has friends to meet him and their kindly voices greet him,
With the smoulder of the Winnies and the Red Cow and its bars,
And he sees the vision splendid of a Panthers’ lead extended,
And at night the wond’rous echo of the huge-exhausted cars.

And I sometimes rather fancy that I’d like to change with Clancy,
Like to spend my days in Westfield where the single mothers go
While he watched the fog aclearin’ round the Grandview or the Gearin
But I doubt he’d suit the mountains, Clancy of the plains below.


It came upon a Friday clear
That shopping trip, I’m told,
‘Cause cupboards here revealed a dearth
Of food to feed the fold.
“Peace on the earth, goodwill to men”,
(For shoppers ne’er a thing).
Their world in rush and rudeness lay
To hear the checkouts ring.

Still through the frozen skies they come,
Recycled bags unfurled;
And still that awful Muzak floats
O’er all the Colesworths world.
At Aldi they have taken pains
To change their EFTPOS thing
But still you hear o’er Babel sounds
The bankcard plastic sing.


Some people park far away from the door
If there’s a chance that the car might get scratched.
They see signs saying “Leave trolleys here”
And think “That’s for others, so screw”.

Some people live with the fear of a walk
After packing their stuff in the boot.
They do not care about any sign
That’s telling them what they should do.

I know they’re only protecting their feet
I know they’re thinking of nobody else
Folk like you and me
But I take some pride
Scratching lightly the side
Of some bloody huge Range Rover Vogue
I’m not above doing anything
Except maybe the spraying paint can.
Some people see through the eyes of the blind
When it comes to what others might feel
I’m always willing to hear them cry
Because I am a shopping cart man.
I am the shopping cart man
Oh yes I am.


I’m gonna raise a fuss, I’m gonna raise a holler
About a working those weekdays just to try to earn a dollar
Every time I try to spend it and tempt that bloody fate
Client says “Ha, ha son, you gotta work late”
Sometimes I wonder what I’m a gonna do
But there ain’t no cure for the shopping time blues

Well the man at Coles told me “Son you gotta have some money,
If you want to have some food to be eatin’ next Sunday”
Well I didn’t go to work, told the boss I was sick
“But you work for yourself, son, are you really that thick?”
Sometimes I wonder what I’m a gonna do
But there ain’t no cure for the shopping time blues

I’m gonna take two weeks, gonna have a fine vacation
I’m gonna take my problem to the Wenty Falls station
Where I saw a politician and he said, quote:
“About September 7, do I still have your vote?”
Sometimes I wonder what I’m a gonna do
But there ain’t no cure for the shopping time blues


A friend bet me that I couldn’t do this one.

It is spring, moonless night in mountains town, starless
and fogbound-black, Katoomba Street silent and the hunched,
shoppers’-and-tourists’ wood limping invisible down to the
bycrack, bike, wrack, bikerack, shoppingcartbobbing park.
The houses are blind as moles (though moles see fine to-night
in the buzzing, fluoro tubelights) or blind as Refereee
there in the muffled middle by the milk and croissant aisle,
the pubs in mourning, the Carrington in widows’ weeds.
And all the people of the lulled and dumbfound town are
shopping now.


Not shopping. The bush fires were too close that week.

I’m driving in my car, I look out the right window
I’m looking at smoke, I say “Oh, no!”
I know I don’t like it, but the smoke clouds billow higher
It’s what we hate, fire

Late at night I’m packing my home
I think I wanna stay, the plan says “Ready to be gone”
Photos on the back seat, clothes around the spare tyre
It’s what we fear, fire

I loved living here, right from the start
A grip so tight I couldn’t tear it apart
My nerves all jumpin’ but I’m not a fool
Me and Cody are packed but our heads stay cool

RFS and SES, firies and the ambos
Put themselves at risk and didn’t ever ask “Why?”
Thousands on the ground, more up in the sky
Beat that bastard, fire.


Well, I was on my way home to go to the shops.

At Strathfield station, waitin’ for a train.
I’m feelin’ near as saggy as my [you know the rest, fill in the blank].
Peter flagged a V-train down, just because it came
Rode it all the way to Wenty Falls.

I pulled my blues harp from my backpack on the left seat
I was blowin’ loud when someone yelled “HEY, YOU!
SHUT UP IN THE QUIET CARRIAGE. DIDN’T YOU SEE THE SIGNS OR THE FACEBOOK PAGE?”
No, it’s not! Face slappin’ time! Passengers all clap in time.
We sang every song that carriage knew.

Freedom’s just another word for “Oldies’ all day pass”
$Two-fifty ain’t quite nothin’ but it’s close.
And feelin’ good was easy, Lord, when I blew the blues
You know feelin’ good was good enough for me
Good enough for all in 9103.

You can follow me on Twitter here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *