Brother Alec is a most excellent cafe on High Street, Thornbury. The staff are warm and welcoming and serve up delicious house-baked things. Even the prices are friendly. And because it's only a few blocks from Joe's share-house in Leap, and slightly resembles one of his workplaces, co-owner Malia has agreed to sell the book over the counter with the coffee.
Leap in situ at Brother Alec makes me strangely happy. In part, it feeds my delusion that Joe is still just up the road – if only on paper, surrounded by mugs. But I also like the idea that local readers will be familiar with the settings in the novel, and so I set up the Brother Alec challenge – the first customer to find and photograph Joe's laundromat wins a prize.
I've always been one for quests, games and any breed of bonus. I was the girl by the rotary phone on Friday mornings trying to win obscure albums gratis EG; most were not to my taste but I listened gratefully. In 1992 I scored the hamper in a Community Aid Abroad raffle – that kasundi tasted so good for costing me nothing. Falling in love involved Backgammon and complicated stakes, leading to a house, a dog and two kids. And a few years ago I coaxed those living, breathing prizes around an English village using a self-guided treasure trail; racing to be first to find the brass knocker in the shape of a buck on the ancient basement door; entering our answers online in the vain hope we'd strike it big. If life is a game of bingo you might as well order nice snacks and play it. Legs eleven.
So, in the assumption there are others out there like me, I am throwing the gauntlet down again here:
The first person to stick a picture of themselves at Joe's bridge on my FB page will win a copy of Parlour Games for Modern Families (in Chinese or Italian if you want) and a batch of gingernuts to go with the games. I can package and post, just like your granny, or meet you at Brother Alec with the goods.
CLUE: If you start at the end, you're close. Very close.
NEWS FLASH, 13 July: KR of Northcote took home the goods. 'The end' was the Terminus Hotel on Queens Parade, Clifton Hill.