M Y OLD mate Bondini put his cue in the rack a few days ago. He’d smoked 50-a-day since he was about 13 and had two heart attacks and a triple bypass almost 20 years ago. Nobody was more surprised than him to find himself blowing out 80 candles back in February.
None of which makes it any easier to deal with, and every time I look out the window of the Melbourne Bloke Centre I’m looking straight at his factory and his old ute, which is growing cobwebs while his family work out what the hell to do with it.
Bondini was well aware that he was part self-taught rocketscientist and part madman. About 50-50, I’d say. But having realised that many years ago, he subsequently understood that he also had the right to think laterally and apply that sideways thought process to everything he considered and everything he did. And that extended from politics (he was about as left as anybody I’ve ever met, and believe you me, I’ve knocked about with some lefties in my time) to spiritualism and everything else right down to how many times a steak on a barbecue should be turned. A genuine suburban genius.
He was granted this mental freedom by order of the fact that he was not classically trained much beyond an apprenticeship with the Melbourne Tramways back in the 1950s as a motor mechanic. And because hadn’t force-the education industry’s free to develop the Bondini ause he, therefore, hadn t been force fed ry’s views and protocols, he was ondini method and apply it to his world.
A world which I was ago when I bought had Bondini as a across the car park. the MBC would start 8.30am where I’d scramble a few things done, at roughly 9.30am would emerge from wander to his front scratching his bollocks and yell out “Coffee, Morley”. At which point, as drawn into about 16 years the MBC and discovered I neighbour, just . My days at art at about ramble to get because Bondini his pit, door cks ee, nt, I was required to scuttle across the car park to drink his coffee and discuss the world with the old bugger.
Some days he’d ring me early to tell me that if I wanted a cuppa that morning, I’d have to stop and get a bottle of milk on the way to work. By the time I staggered up the steps with the milk, he’d have the coffee made in a pair of dirty mugs that got washed every September, whether they needed it or not.
Bondini hated throwing anything away. Not in a hoarding sense, but he hated wastefulness in design. And he loathed buying something from a shop if there was any chance he could make it himself.
This led him to build a replica of a 1950s Moto Guzzi racer from a pile of bits and pieces. Most notable was the frame’s main-tube which began life as a Valiant tail-shaft. I first saw the bike as a pile of tubes in the corner of his workshop. A few months later, I was riding those tubes around the car park.
At his funeral yesterday, one of his sons mentioned that if Bondini could fix something himself, that was good. If he could fix it and improve it, that was even better. And if he could fix it and somehow make it faster, well, that was nirvana.
Today was the first day I have been able to make myself do it, but I actually bought a little bottle of milk and some instant coffee to work so I could brew up for smoko break. And for the M first time since I moved in here 16 years ago, I made my own coffee in my kitchenette and drank it without Bondini.
And it sucked.