19 February, 2007

Hanging At The Mall

‘Hanging’ at the mall is not really how I expected to spend my retirement, yet here I am, at 10:30 on a Monday morning, killing time until Wifie re-appears from the 'coffee morning' she's having with some lady friends. At least this particular mall has comfy leather sofas where a chap can sit and watch the happy shoppers go by - or , in my case, write his blog.

And the shoppers do, on the whole, appear, if not quite happy, then, at least, not unhappy. (You know, some people say I use too much punctuation. I, on the other hand, maintain that punctuation is there to ensure that sentences are read as the author intends and that, as long as it is use correctly and with the comprehension of the text in mind, there is no such thing as too much punctuation.)

You might expect a mall on a Monday morning to be full of women doing the shopping. After all, it is generally the women who still get stuck with this job in the modern Australian household and, although in roughly 90% of households where there are couples living, both partners are in work, it is still the woman who is most likely to be working part-time or not at all. Looking around me - and I can see about 50 or 60 people at any moment from where I am - I'd estimate that, indeed, 80% to 90% of them are women and that they are mostly in the 30 to 50 age group. The few men around are either young (probably students) old (my fellow retirees) or obviously businessmen using the mall as a meeting place. (I have spotted two chaps in their thirties with pushchairs, though.)

It's quite a pleasant environment, really – spacious and airy, air-conditioned and bright – but it's a little noisy for my taste. Generally, it is an unobtrusive kind of noise - a background rumble of escalators and conversation, with the occasional shriek of laughter or the scream of a child. However, I can see how you could get too much of it. (There is one little rug-rat who emits a high-pitched squeak about every thirty seconds. I am formulating plans for its assassination and the torture of its criminally stupid mother. If I stop posting to this blog suddenly, it will be because I've had to go on the run to avoid the police. It may be worth it though.)

In fact, the more I think about how tailored and managed this environment is, the more I think about the alternative. I could, for instance be sitting outside in one of the many street cafés around here. The rumble of the traffic (and the mall's gigantic air conditioners) would hardly be louder than the noise inside and there would be the compensating wonders of blue skies and bright sunshine. (Even though it is mid-February, we're having a very mild Summer and the temperature today is probably less than 30 degrees with a cool breeze. With any luck, it might even rain later. I've learned to appreciate rain since I came to Australia. Besides, the rain here is so much more exciting than the cold, grey drizzle they have in Northern Europe.)

That's it. I've convinced myself. I'm switching off my little palmtop computer and heading for the exit. I want sunshine and rain and cool breezes. Care to join me?

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