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out and about

  • A brown Dachshund prances across the road, its tiny legs like springs on the asphalt.

  • At Wynyard the tiny girl squeezes past on her fatherโ€™s arm. She looks right at me and I wiggle a finger at her. Her mother smiles. The girl is unmoved.

  • Inside the bus, a tiny girl is higher than everyone, squeaking real words as her dad points out the sights.

  • On a slope beside the Harbour Bridge approach two excavators lurk, one above the other.

  • A plump woman stands on the footpath, feet together, back straight. She holds out her phone like a certificate she’s been given at assembly.

  • Neutral Bay. Grind and Dose. Faces at the window.

  • 88 and family decamp at Spit Junction. The girl and two women stand talking. The boy swings his arms.

  • A building site on the Spit. Sheds at the water’s edge and logos, an architect’s name. Yellow barriers floating round a couple of pylons.

  • The bridge is up. Three lights flash in a triangle at the bottom of the hill, but we stop half-way down where a wall of vegetation blocks the light. Alien plants. Scrappy invaders. They’ve captured an orange and white lane marker with a printed message taped around its perimeter. It can’t escape, and no one’s looking for it.

  • ‘Wo-o!’ says a smiley girl with red-hair and freckles. She’s barely reached the top and the bus is lurching away. She grabs a pole and follows her friends. ‘Oh my god.’

  • A girl nearly goes head-first down the stairwell, tripping on her own foot as she crosses the aisle. But her hand grabs the pole and she descends in good order.

  • A young teen girl leans in to hug her mother at the B1 stop in Dee Why. Her hoody has woolly Autumn stripes and a big blue 88.

  • Outside Wills and Wishes, hands clasped, a middle-aged woman stands beside a big red wheely suitcase and a thing that’s fallen, like an expeditionary neck pillow. She wears a white three-quarter jacket and an air of formality.

  • Phone in lap, buds in ears, a man in the bus shelter gestures, frowns, shakes his head and his fingers, points, cajoles and argues, just as he might do over a cafe table. But of course, he’s the only one there.

  • A dark-haired woman passes by with her red walking frame and two Aldi chiller bags. She wears long grey pants, sandshoes and a chequered coat. Her face is pale and weathered.

  • A skinny, bare-footed boy with a mop of hair runs past, in long grey trousers and a lemon yellow polo shirt from school. He vaults onto a pointy bicycle stand and hangs there with his legs splayed, risking his future, then slides down to safety and runs on.

  • The dog park is busy. Two dogs frolic together, and a girl does cartwheels around them.

  • A girl of seven years, perhaps, kitted out for school sport in blue shorts and t-shirt, waits at the lights with her grandmother. The girl has a huge pack of toilet paper, and hugs it to herself as if it’s the most special thing in all the world. Her grandmother smiles at her. She wears a big polka dot top and glasses.

  • A man crosses the street in a full body wetsuit, zipped up tight. His left leg wanders sideways as he walks, and it makes him look bow-legged.

  • A girl glides on a bicycle, one leg fully extended, the other bent at the knee and lifted. Only her hair moves, flying in the wind. She slips between sandstone blocks and away, down to the beachfront.

  • A man, a chocolate Labrador and a small helmeted boy on a skateboard cross the road. The man leans forward, clutching the boy’s shoulder and tottering after him. The dog trots behind.

    All three of them are grinning.

  • Sydney is awash with snow white Pomeranians.

  • A man with curly grey hair takes in the winter sunshine, head tipped back, legs stretched out, arms extended on the back of the bench.

  • A baby coughs in the wind, as grandparents rattle a paper bag from the pie shop.

  • A woolly, red-jumpered woman holds a little white shape, like a pixie’s suit bag cut off half way down the arms. It hangs against her black trousers, on a string.