This post was going to about lamenting good stuff from the past that has been overtaken by progress:
One of the joys of my childhood was summer holiday travel. That travel often involved visiting my parent’s friends’ houses. On one such occasion I was unwell, so running around outdoors (the preferred option) was replaced with sedate indoor entertainment. I was ‘sent’ to one of the bedrooms and given an old hard cover book of magic tricks to keep me occupied. It was a classic text, full of those old hand drawn illustrations typical the time before publishing included photographs. It still sits on my bookshelf.
I was hooked. In the years after that I spent countless hours in front of my parents full-length mirror attempting to perfect sleight of hand manoeuvres. Along with one of my mates, we would put on little shows for family, friends and primary school fates. While we could get hold of books to feed our passion, our semi rural town in Tasmania didn’t feature any shops remotely likely to stock the stuff we wanted. Some we could make ourselves or improvise, but when it came to the real stuff, our lifeline was Bernard’s Magic Shop in Elizabeth St Melbourne. We would save up our pocket money and chose supplies carefully, filling in order forms torn from the back of magic magazines, and then enduring the six or eight week turn around to open our parcels. Those were the romantic days when magic was the domain of top hat wearing, penguin suited males and misty black backdrops.
When I moved to Melbourne 25 years ago I was delighted to see Bernard’s shop in the flesh. To me it represented childhood innocence and connection to an era that celebrated a brand of entertainment that is rare in these days of electronic entertainment.
Last week, I happened to walk past and see the sad and sorry sight of an empty shop, dirty and deserted. My heart sank. I never met ‘Bernard’ but I wondered how gut wrenching it must have been to pull the plug, not just on the business, but on an era. In the subsequent days I periodically pondered nostalgia, I thought about the things from my childhood that are gone forever, ways of living and being that my own kids understand as ‘the olden days’. Of course everything moves very quickly. On the one hand I recall the old shops in my home town before the supermarket era, Coles variety stores and ‘real hardware shops with dirty floor boards. And then, recalled the exclamation from one of our kids a few years ago when we were describing our first use of computers, “What use is a computer without the internet?” Indeed.
And so I wondered about the passing of time and the impossibility of holding onto some of the really good things in life. As I sat down to write this reflection I thought I’d see what remnant of Bernard’s exists on the net.
… and lo and behold, I discover that Bernard’s has moved to a bigger and better location!!!! Doh!
… or is that ‘lol’?