Saturday, July 21, 2007

We apologise for Melbourne

Lots of interstate and inter-city rivalry here in Sydney, legion of fans, as all three of you locals will know. I was telling occasional-visitor-to-this-site, and literary erotica critic Muriel (she's very critical of my rude bits, though she is, in fact, a very nice person), who lives in South Africa, my thoughts on Brisbane the other day, and may have sounded less than charitable.

I won't go into details, as I have a number of friends living in Brisbane and the nether regions of the state of Queensland. I'd like to maintain those friendships. What's odd about Australia's other cities (other than Sydney, that is) is that their inhabitants say things like "it's more like a country town", or "it's like Sydney was 20 years ago" as though these are good things.

My recollections of Sydney 20 years ago, when I was a young man, are of chaotic nights of drunken lalwessness in The Rocks district where thousands of young people engaged in drinking, drug taking, fighting, vomitting, and other lewd acts which I won't mention here. Come to think of it, this reminds me of my last Friday night out in Brisbane, on a work trip. So, QED - just like Sydney 20 years ago.

I'll say nothing about Perth here except that it has a very nice river and the quokkas on Rottnest Island are charming (I don't wish to alienate 50 per cent of the people who post on this blog). Lovely city. I like it.

Anyway, zee target for today is zat Moscow of zee Antipodes, Melbourne. Cold, grey, cluttered with a peculiar mix of Dahli-esque (bec is that how you spell Salvadore's surname?) modern art monstrosities and office blocks that remind me of the old KGB headquarters, and inhabited by people who only wear black, Melbourne has caused me problems today.

July 21st is, legion of fans, my birthday. My 43rd to be precise. Jane, 22 ("I'm nearly 23") could not understand why I wasn't getting excited about it. Mrs Blog just rolled her eyes as Jane forced the 15th glass of wine on her. I told Jane that in 23 years, when I am 66 and she is 45 ("almost 46") that I would ask her how she feels about birthdays, and we would discuss her response.

Anyway, it's also the wedding day of my long lost cousin (she wasn't actually lost, just living in Brisbane, which is kind of the same thing) Samantha. Mrs B and I roused ourselves from our hungover snoring ("Just one drink, I promise," lied Jane) and stumbled, reeking of alcohol, across the highway to catch a cab. We rushed to the Qantas Club to check in and were told our plane had been delayed three hours because of fog in Melbourne.

Curious, Australian fans, is it not, that fog in a city 1000 kilometres to the south of Sydney could cause a three-hour delay to a flight heading to a city 1000 kilometres to the north of Sydney.

So, a decision had to be made. To catch a cab home, sleep for an hour, then catch a cab back, or to roam the Qantas club, in search of diversions. We chose the latter option.

There are worse places, it turns out, to be stuck for three hours than an aiport lounge. Free food, appalling coffee, computers (where I am right now), a bookshop selling novels by Tony Park (African Sky, A Format, $20.00 rrp), and showers. Mrs B and I do everything together for six months of the year when we live in each other's pockets in Africa. Being stuck in the airport lounge was, dare I say it, almost like being on holiday. So we ate free food, drank appalling coffee, used the computer and inspected the shower room.

All in all, a good birthday.


bec said...

Dali. When in doubt, go for the choice with fewest letters.

Enjoy Brisvegas. I know it still gets cold up there, but I've been having fond thoughts of its tiny cbd and muddy river as the temps drop and drop here in Sin City.

Hard to beat Sydney, though, as cities go...

(and happy birthday, dude).

Muriel said...

There's inter-city rivalry between Cape Town and Johannesburg (Jozi) here in South Africa. Jozi (where I grew up) is undeniably much more friendly and vibey (and wealthy), but also significantly more crime-ridden; Cape Town (where I lived for 20 years), like some human beings I know and don't like very much, rides rather cynically on its fabulous good looks (the mountain, the sea, the vineyards...). I have a great essay on the topic (not written by me) published years ago in a local magazine that's too long to place here but I'll post it on salma-gundi.blogspot. Read it. It's a hoot and wonderfully close to the bone.

Hann said...

Perth .. good old Perth! We have it all, the mining the boom and the freekin expensive houses too, so actually every thing but the big Australian dream.
But it's pretty here and we love it.
Happy Happy Birthday Tony, wishing you many many more beautiful years to come.

meggie said...

I have very much enjoyed meeting your writings here, Tony. I am an import from NZ so cant join in any rivalry between cities in OZ. I have not been to Melbourne -yet. But I lived in Sydney for 20 years, & now live on Central Coast. Much slower, &, for an old fart, nicer.
I think I am going to have to read your books!
I am a fan of Bec's.