Sunday columnist Peter Leith is 89. He’s seen a lot of the world, a lot of Australia and a lot of life. In addition to his observations, real short stories and impassioned pleas on behalf of older Australians, today he starts an occasional series broadly titled Vanishing Australia.
As a 20-year-old junior storeman working in 1950s Adelaide I learnt that overtime was called âworking back’. One night, after âworking back’, Lyn, the other junior storeman, said: “Let’s ride our bikes down to Victoria Square for a floater.”
I had been in Australia long enough to have learnt not to ask dumb questions.
Victoria Square is set dead centre in the city of Adelaide and surrounds a statue of Queen Victoria about which the irreverent locals used to say: “The only virgin standing around in Victoria Square after dark.”
We rode our bikes down King William Street to the square, leaned them against the side of a long trailer kitchen and pulled up a couple of stools. It was a chilly night and the smell of hot food was mouth-watering.
Sitting next to me was a man busily wrapping himself around a big bowl of thick soup with something submerged in it. It looked and smelt delicious.
When the motherly looking middle-aged woman came to take our orders, I said: “Can I have one of those please?”
Lyn said: “Me too please.”
“What are they?” I asked.
“Pea soup with a pastie in it,” she replied. “Floaters.”
Do you have an idea for Peter’s Vanishing Australia series? Send it to [email protected] and put âSunday’ in the subject line.
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