The Human Aquarium Part 2

In which the Reverend Hellfire continues his observations at the Human Aquarium that is Boodumba Shopping Centre


Human Aquarium Part 2


Four young women are standing in line in front of me

at the checkout. It offers an interesting opportunity

for cultural comparison.

The first three are dressed in Boodumbah’s standard

White-trash Summer Uniform of cut-off denim shorts, singlet (with bra straps visible) cheap rubber thongs and hair bunched untidily into a sweaty bun.

They all look hot and bothered.

By way of contrast, the fourth lass is a slender, young African girl swathed in voluminous black robes, or some sort of robe-like, full length dress reaching almost to the floor, and leaving only her ankles and sandalled feet bare. A kind of nun-like cowl covers her head and drapes down in elegant folds to her shoulders.


The only splash of colour in her ensemble is a vivid, violet sash or scarf wrapped across her forehead. She looks cool and serene, stylish and exotic beneath the mundane fluorescent lights of the prosaic Boodumbah Shopping Centre. Everyone else in sight seems somehow two-dimensional in comparison to this archetypal presence. It’s like we came out of a vat and a mold, while she was handcrafted with care.

She is clearly newly arrived in this country. I find myself praying she doesn’t become too assimilated

by Australian culture  and just ends up dressing

 like everyone else after a few years here.


The Orthodox Priest

Giving me some hope that my African girl won’t change her customary style of dress to fit in with prevailing societal norms, is another Boodumbah old-timer;

 the aged Orthodox Priest.

I’m uncertain as to which particular brand he runs with, whether it’s Russian, Greek, Armenian or whatever, but he always appears wearing his uniform of full-length black cassock that reaches down to his sandalled feet and long sleeves that bell out around his wrinkled wrists. Around his neck hangs a large, ornate, Eastern style crucifix.

He has red-rimmed, watery blue eyes and a long grizzled beard that was salt-and-pepper when I first saw him but these days is Santa Claus white.

His long hair is tied up in a tight bun.

He moves through the shopping centre slowly, with a kind of bewildered gravitas, as though slightly out of his depth with the fast paced, ever changing modern times. Sometimes elderly parishioners stop and chat with him in a babble of archaic dialects.

Sometimes his ancient, diminutive wife trots along beside him. She clasps the shopping list authoritatively in her hand.


The Girl with the Terrible Tattoo

I notice the girl standing in front of me in line at the checkout because of the ugly, second-rate tattoo of a tree covering her right shoulder. It was a clumsy attempt at a Chinese style weeping willow sort of thing and at first glance I thought it had been unfinished, like they’d given up on the botched attempt years ago

and hadn’t bothered to add colour.

The tattoo’s appearance certainly wasn’t improved with what appeared to be a terrible rash of some sort on her back and shoulders, with enflamed sores erupting through the tattoo.

It looked painful, a bit like that outbreak of shingles

a friend of mine was struck with recently.

Suddenly I realise that they’re not horrible, weeping sores at all! They are in fact part of the tattoo! The splattering of ugly red-blotches supposedly depict delicate cherry blossoms, or ripe apples or something. The penmanship is so bad it’s hard to tell for certain.


The Encyclopedia of Bad Tattoos.

I idly contemplate the possibility of compiling an Encyclopedia of Bad Tattoos from the staff and customers of the Boodumbah Shopping Centre. There could be special sub-sections for categories like “Prison Tattoos” or

“Tattoos so old and faded that they’re illegible” or

“Tattoos of former lovers in inconvenient locations”.

Perhaps I could get some sort of Arts Grant or government funding for the project, I muse hopefully. Pitch it to the bureaucrats as something that will improve local Community Pride and help foster Boodumbah’s unique sense of Cultural Identity.

Then I decide the coffee’s going to my frontal lobe

and that I’d be better off just opening

a tattoo removal parlour.

Do I need to ask the local Bikies permission

to remove tattoos, I wondered,

or is that just for putting them on in the first place?


For Part 1 of Human Aquarium go to;


Quiet Life Jpig Reduced


reverend profile red

The Reverend Hellfire is a practising Performance Poet

President of the Kurilpa Institute of Creativity

and an Ordained Minister of the Church of Spiritual Humanism

AND the Church of the Universe.

We shall not see his like again.



~ by reverendhellfire on October 11, 2015.

2 Responses to “The Human Aquarium Part 2”

  1. That’s an interesting term…

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