I love Sydney; she’s like an unconscious, vomit smeared drag queen unconscious in a gutter the morning after Mardi Gras. Surprisingly, most of the real estate I looked at in Sydney was remarkably tasteful, I feared that my search for a truly tacky terror would end empty handed.
That was, until I looked at the property in Coogee.
There’s a problem with chasing a suburb as a status symbol, namely that it’s not just you, there’s an ungainly horde of cashed up noveu riche aspirational bogans trying to snap up some bragging real estate. Every last cent that can be borrowed will be borrowed, just to get that house. Sadly this means that there is nothing left for tasteful refurbishment. You might have to make some sacrifices.
“Salmon paint is on special? I’ll take a thousand litres!” says our aspirational bogan or colour blind new Australian as the case may be. Maybe you could splash a bit of green around to highlight the railings. Maybe you could gouge your eyes out with a spoon.
Let’s look inside though, firstly at the built in verandah. Why lumber yourself with a tasteful transition to the outdoors when you could create a long narrow sand coloured tomb with a pine ceiling made to endure the indignity of a walnut stain.
So they placed a country style setting (in pine no less!) in the sand sarcophagus. Ask yourself, would you take breakfast in that room? Or would you throw some soft toys in there and close the doors to create a child-aquarium for the amusement of guests? It’s not like you’re leaving them in a car with the windows up, well, not entirely.
Maybe you could throw Grandma in as well, as dementia and incontinence sets in, she’ll have no more idea of how to escape than she does of how to appropriately toilet herself. The sandstone effect tiles means you can just hose the whole affair out in the evening.
Of course, for those times when social services pop around, you need more than just one room to store Grandma in her twilight years, but you still want the versatility of a hosable surface, nothing says low maintenance like lino flooring. Cane furniture gives the elderly a hobby in the form of endless dusting. There is nothing like cane furniture to suggest a rustic tropical get away in some plantation, you can complete this illusion in your own home, as these people have, with a black velvet painting. Contrast all of this with a harsh industrial look by putting steel girders into your home, contrast this further by using Grandma’s best Sunday bonnet as an upcycled light shade.
More girders, more hats as light shades. A non-ironic red recliner with little matching protective mats. Does the sweat of the elderly stain that badly? Or does it just linger with the scent of imminent death?
Beer bottle coloured wall lamps knowingly nod to Australia bogan culture of the 70s. An octagonal coffee table hints at the wildness of the owners in the 60s before they settled down to a grim Sydney suburban existence.
Did they start each morning with a cup of coffee, or simply an eye-full of coffee coloured bathroom? Most truck stop road houses take years, nay decades, to brew coffee as ugly as these walls. You can almost taste the bitter tang of regret as some wog patriarch looks at his hair collecting in the drain. These tiles reflect light in the same way our subconscious reflects our fears, it’s simply a nightmare. Like all nightmare existances, people tend to take refuge in escapism, maybe you drink, become a morphine addict, or maybe you join a cult.
You know the type of cult I mean, the one that would insist it’s not a religion, simply a gathering of friends and they have a secret handshake. Possibly they have a secret outfit too, like the moose head get up Fred Flintstone had.
A few vinyl seats hint at a diminishing membership, picked off by prostate cancer and aged care facilities. One can imagine that this would have been quite the sought after location for meetings of the local cult for aged men. The bar would have been buzzing as perhaps as many as 40 men crowded together in the sweaty gloom. Sadly, without a trace of homoeroticism.
The kitchen is a wooden number adorned with a print of the “Chinese Girl” by Vladimir Tretchikoff, a foray into hipster cool done completely without intention. It’s almost like Hellen Keller pulling off a copy of Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” after she blew her nose on the curtains.
The whole thing speaks of a kind of desperation, an almost inability to go on with a reason to live. This house is the embodiment of the decay of the soul as suffered in suburbia. There’s a pool at the back without a fence, possibly the last ditch attempt to keep the grandchildren away, those little spectres of potential coming around each weekend to gloat about what they want to be when they grow up, as their grandparents silently muse if they’ll make it through the night.
One night they didn’t, and it was sold at auction. For how much? I no longer care.