It was a cool morning, and the huge building loomed up above me menacingly, blocking the early morning sun. Today was the day: the day I'd finally find out what that mysterious monolith on top of the Holland Street Housing Commission Block actually was.
Feeling every molecule of my white-arsed, fully-fed, blithering-busybody, nosey-parker persona, I decided to take along my trusty companion Milly as a buffer and bodyguard.
Just as we were about to cross the road, a swaying-but-smiling old gent approached. Time to be brave. "Er, good morning. Um, you wouldn't happen to know what that (I pointed dramatically behind him, hoping that his one good eye would have the muscle power to focus there) Big M thingy is on top of your building, would you?"
He paused for a few moments, allowing his not-so-good-eye time to drag itself away from my ample chest. "Yessssh, ishts the Polisht shstashtion." He nodded and repeated it again, to cement the idea in his mind as well as mine. "Yesssh, thatsh itsht alright," and swayed with a satisfied smile off in the direction of Cellarbrations.
Despite his help, I rather suspected that I might need further proof. Somehow, the idea of Melbourne's finest providers of law and civic obedience being busy working in an office shaped like a baby blue McDonald's sign twenty floors above the earth didn't seem quite right.
Another gnarled but steady bloke was herding some stray shopping trolleys out of the foyer. Any idea about the mysterious monolith on the roof.... "No no no, I just-a work-a here, then-a go-a home-a."
His attitude wasn't too comforting, yet the foyer and lifts were magnificent and gleamingly clean. No pongs anywhere, except for the soles of my feet (damn that compressed dog turd by the rosemary bush) and Milly (breath).
A youngish woman carrying a shopping bag crammed with about a dozen loaves of white bread joined me. "Hope you don't mind the dog," I said.
"Ah, that's OK. He's a cute little fella."
I didn't have the heart to correct her gender confusion and ploughed on. "You wouldn't happen to know what the blue Big M thing is on top of this building, would you?"
"Nah, but if you find out, tell me. I've been here for eight years and have no idea," she chuckled as she stepped off at floor sixteen, presumably to create one hell of a feast of vegemite toast.
Not surprisingly, there was no access to the roof beyond the 20th floor, so I leaned out of the passage window and took a quick snap of the edge of the pale blue - more like dull grey in close view - thingy. Not a soul was in any of the hallways as I poked around, starting to feel like a voyeur: who was I to wander into their living space, just so I could satisfy my own idle curiosity? Would I like it if someone poked around my front yard just to find out what the dangly feng shui thing on the verandah post was all about?
Still, the view of the Docklands and city was rather good.
Milly nudged me, letting me know by emitting a few other powerfully pungent odours that it was high time we legged it to Debney Park and used one of the nappybags tied to her lead.
Back at home and a few mouse clicks later it seems as though my dodgy-eyed friend was off the mark. The mysterious monolith is indeed the third lift-well, built in 1994 to accommodate the largest of the blocks with a new side wing. Not exactly as thrilling as having the local law enforcement agency working inside it launching themselves from sky rockets hundreds of metres up in the air in response to emergency save-the-world calls, but an answer nevertheless.