Bland On Bland – Fitzroy

Photo By Jools Thatcher
Photo By Jools Thatcher

The theme for this week’s JVG Radio Method poem is “ Fitzroy “.

I lived in Fitzroy back in the seventies, in a shared house with musicians, artists, actors and activists. So I was pleased with Jon’s choice of theme this week, a chance to look back. I will always have a soft spot for Fitzroy and love the way it keeps reinventing itself.

To play this poem directly in your browser – just click the “play” button below:

Also have a listen to the tracks on the new EP “Once We Were Kings Of The World


Fitzroy; early seventies
The guts of Brunswick Street
You’d struggle to get a coffee
Let alone something to eat

The cobbled lanes and back streets
A hive of sly grog shops
All were well frequented
Especially by the cops

The odd Italian tailor
And a boot maker or two
But many shops were boarded up
Old blankets blocked the view

You could rent for thirty dollars
Less if you pushed hard
Three bedrooms with a dunny
Down the bottom of the yard

Actors, artists, writers
Seemed content with those arrangements
Most had drinking problems
And were in between engagements

Debates, ideas, philosophies
A banquet for the soul
Picassos, Shakespeares’, Gielguds’
Out of work and on the dole

`A glass or two of cheap red wine
Fuelled repartee and wit
But once we’d drained the flagon
By God we spoke some shit

One by one we drifted off
As rents began to rise
Fitzroy reclaimed, a slum no more
It changed before our eyes

Today boutiques sit comfortably
Beside Commission Flats
Old buildings find new purpose
You can’t want more than that

The middle class floods back
To the StKilda’s and Fitzroy’s
Move in beside a pub
Then complain about the noise

Old factories reborn
As restaurants and bars
Streets designed for horse and cart
An endless stream of cars

Dan Warner cut his teeth here
Lisa Gerrard, Andy Baylor
The streets where thugs once ruled
Like the cowardly “Squizzy” Taylor

If “Squizzy” had the chance
To observe his legacy
He’d note the price of rent and gasp
“They’re bigger thieves than me!”

© Copyright 2012 Ian Bland

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