Hard News by Russell Brown


Sunday People

With one thing or another, including some challenging family stuff and a death in my peer group, I had a rough week and wound up neither communicating or sleeping well. Speechless, sleepless and exhausted. I woke at 5am today and eventually gave up on getting unconscious again.

After a cup of tea and a half-hearted look through the papers, I decided what I needed instead of sitting around feeling anxious was a ride to Avondale markets. I'd be back in time for Sunday poached eggs.

As I waited on the centre line to turn right from Carrington Road into the cycleway, a car came past to my left; too close, too fast, its horn blaring.

"Oh, fuck off," I said, loudly.

"Good morning!" I bid the pack of Sunday road riders who'd been watching.

"Ooh, naughty," laughed one. "You rode on the road!'

It seemed to make sense to make an effort to talk to people, face to face, in real life, so when I pulled up to lock my bike to the fence at Avondale Raceway, I smiled at the guy on the other side, who'd pulled up with an incredible-looking electric cargo bike arrangement.

"Where'd you ride from?" I asked him.

"Onehunga," he panted. "And the power ran out at New Windsor."

I came around inside the fence and asked if I could take his picture with my phone. He said sure. I decided I'd take more pictures ...

A man and his cargo rig. I think he said he was something to do with the Green Party Photo: Russell Brown

I came back later to see what he had in the box – which turned out to be a lot. We debated the price of a rare Sylvester picture disc. "$20," he said. "That's a fair price, but ..." I said. "Make me an offer." "Ten?" "Done." I got a couple of bags from a veggie stall and tied the record to my carrier for the ride home. Photo: Russell Brown

I was surprised how many stallholders weren't in position after 7am. The Afghani jewellery seller always places himself a little away from the crowd anyway, but he was early and alone. "As-salaam-alaikum!" he greeted two men who walked past after I took the picture. They reciprocated. Photo: Russell Brown

The secondhand housewares stall in front or on the steps of the grandstand is always worth a look. An extraordinary, catholic lot of books – from the deceased estate of an academic, I can only presume – has been slowly shrinking over months. Always, a young kid is tasked with overseeing the books. This Sunday, he had a couple of mates. Photo: Russell Brown

After I'd bought a book (Temple Sutherland's 1959 'The Silver Fern', $1) the kids let me take their picture properly. Photo: Russell Brown

This guy brought his daughter along. Those look like her bikes. Photo: Russell Brown

The man at this stall was striking – weathered, stooped, carrying ta moko – but I sensed he didn't want to be photographed, so I didn't ask. I photographed some of his stuff instead. No, I don't know what the ducks are for. Photo: Russell Brown

Outside the gate, I ran into Jed Town, he of Fetus Productions and The Features, who was loading into his car a swag of very weathered band gear he'd just bought as a lot for $50. He was very pleased that the lot included a set of original 1980s Simmons drum pads – which went for about $5000 back in the day. Cue synthetic drumroll. Photo: Russell Brown

I came back via the northwestern cycleway, and where a section of fence had fallen down, I nipped up on the new left lane westbound for a picture. Naughty me. Photo: Russell Brown

When I got home there was neither eggs or bread, so I nipped up to the Westmere butcher for the former. There was a pop-up coffee shop running in the window of what used to be Meola Kitchen. Seats for small people only. Photo: Russell Brown

And finally ... our kitchen overflows with funny little plates, dishes and bowls I've bought and I'm trying not to buy so many of them. But I saw a dish with an amazing pattern in its base and I thought "How could I not buy that for a dollar?" Photo: Russell Brown