I get asked a lot of questions while on tour, during international literary festivals and in the bath with groupies. Some of the most common include “Was that really an okapi?”, “Will you take off your mask?”, “What’s Sam Marshall really like? and “Whatever happened to those nice Grape Men?”
The answers, in order, are
“Yes, and it was eating a daikon.”
“I wouldn’t be much of a superhero if I just took off my mask willy nilly, would I.”
“A delightful fellow with a predilection for fine vodka.”
And, as for the Grape Men, well, that’s a slightly longer story.
The picture above shows the Grape Yard as it is today: bereft not only of fruit, but of the verve, colour and mechanical engineering wizardry of the men who, throughout autumn, turned it into a northern suburbs institution: a secret garden that Frances Hodgson Burnett probably would have based her magnum opus on were she not nearly a hundred years dead and had she her time again.
Some believe the Grape Men merely left because grape season concluded. I consider such a prosaic explanation an affront to their name and to their legacy. These are truly kings amongst men; logic and reason is something they themselves eschew – why should those who speculate on their whereabouts employ it?
The idea that these Wellsian Men Like Gods would simply sell the last of their stock, lock up the gates and just quietly return to domesticity is utterly preposterous. At the very least, they would have commented loudly on what a “fuck” year it had been before exiting.
Far more likely is that they were chosen by the Porco Dio they so loudly and reverentially praised to do important celestial work and ascended into heaven some time in late May. I can imagine the Archangel Gabriel in a battered ute trying to back out through the Pearly Gates, guided expertly by the Big Fella’s newest recruits:
“Easy. Easy. Easy. Easy. Easy. Yep. Yep. Yep. Nice. Very nice. Yep. Back. Back. Oh. Watch for rut in cloud. Watch for rut! WATCH RUT! FUCK! NOH! FUCK! NOW YOU GET STUCK!”
“WHY YOU NO LISTEN, GABRIEL, YOU FUCK!”
“He spend too much time with that stupid fuck horn and not enough time listen to us.”
“He probably do sex with horn.”
“He look like woman, too.”
Another possibility is that they are a travelling band of entertainers, and have simply moved their seemingly ad-libbed (but in fact carefully-honed) street routine to another part of Melbourne, Australia or the world.
I like to think that they’re making Parisians chuckle on the banks of the Seine.
“Hey, where your baguette and stripe turtleneck, you suini francesi?”
“Eh, Enzo, no need to resort to crude stereotype, Oh-Kay?”
“Ah, get fuck, you corrupt salami-eating lothario with a weird fuck Oedipal complex. If they no want crude fuck stereotype, why they have fuck piano accordion play in every fuck quarter of the fuck city? I do shits in public toilet yesterday… there man in cubicle next to me play piano fuck accordion.”
There is also the possibility that they were never there to begin with and I just made them up.
Whatever the case may be, they’re still around in one form or another. I can feel it in my bones. Their ghosts may be heard as you pass by that vacant block. And if you’re nowhere near Thornbury, you can come a-waltzing putana with them whenever you like on Twitter:
Haught fact of the day:
The Grape Men stole some old rich woman’s Twitter account. Cheeky buggers.