This very week, I complained to a friend about not being able to buy a meal past 9.30 pm. We’d been to a flick that started at 7pm, it was after work so there wasn’t sufficient time to make or even buy dinner. By the time the screening was over, all non-fast-food options were closed to us. But this is the Perth experience, so live with it, kid.
I pondered this later over my home-cooked meal of krakowurst, mee goring noodles and Iceburg lettuce. We’re a small city that runs on mining dollars. Many Perthites either work for mining company or in a business that provides services to the mining industry. We’re a 9 to 5 city. We do things in daylight. When it’s a crackling dry 39 degrees Celsius out there, we get out on the river or down to the beach. We’re about healthy daylight activities.
Staying up late is not the mind-set of a good worker. The weekend is for fun in the sun. Night is for charging one’s batteries. And this is where your artsy, performancey, musical, literary, insomniacal film-going creative types get it so wrong by wanting to gab away on a sidewalk, talking about John Cage or Justin Bieber while quaffing the grape at hours approaching 11 pm on a school night. Which is why anyone who wants an ill-advised quantity of vino or carbs after 10pm and who used to live here, eventually buggered off to Melbourne, possibly Sydney or effed off out of the country entirely.
If you make the choice to live here in Perth, then you accept these limitations. Which is why I am suspicious of all the palaver, malarkey and brouhaha about re-configuring the trading hours in our fair minitropolis. Perth and the whole of Western Australia is the non-daylight savings zone. We’ve voted against it twice in twenty years. And yet we believe we is hipster enough to take on extended trading hours.
Do the people whose eyelids droop as soon as the sun disappears over the horizon, truly require a place where we can buy general goods after dark? Do we need to transact the purchase of Crocs after 7’oclock? Do we need to buy a kayak after Fat Cat has announced our bedtime? I don’t believe so. Sure, trading like heathens on a Sunday – during the daylight hours when Perth people feel safe – makes sense. But more night trading? Meh.
My housemate, a.k.a. my brother, and I went up to Garden City, Booragoon on Friday night to buyt some groceries from Coles and some general house stuff from K-Mart. We expected it would be quiet. The big retailers who pushed for extended hours have said that shopping centres will have to educate consumers. Yes, I know this seems inconsistent with the supposed need, but you have to live here to understand how this contradiction is just commonsense, really.
Anyhow, Garden City was quiet. Empty and desolate, also. Let’s say it had the welcoming air of the first evening of The Zombie Apocalypse. Parking was excellent. Lighting was poor. Security and signposting (around the few entrances that were open) was non-existent. Other than Coles, Woolies and K-Mart none of the other stores were open. No doubt they feared being attacked and eaten by the undead, too.
So the retail-starved hoards who clamoured for this innovation, and yet need education now it has been launched, stayed away, possibly at home, catching up with highlights of The Ashes or brushing their Irish setter or whatever it is Perthites do on a Friday night when not taking advantage of our new consumerist freedoms.
So impressed was I at the low turnout, that I took some snaps on the iPhone 3G to show other Perth people, Eastern States folk and our international friends how lucky we are to have this kind of space in which to roam and dream less than month away from Christmas day.
Phil Jeng Kane