23 December 2006

From A Windblown Street In Sydney

Wow, I see it's been a long time since I posted here. It seems even longer on this side of the world, where it's only a few hours away from Christmas Eve, whereas back in the States it's still yesterday. If that makes any sense.

In any event, yes, I am back in Sydney again, though not quite as enthusiastic about it as I've been the past couple years. This may have something to do with the fact that the weather has been kind of crap, more akin to an English summer than an Australian one. Yesterday we had a our first sustained bit of sunshine since I've been here, and while it got sufficiently warm to make it worthwhile going to the beach, there was a pretty stiff wind, and the water still had a bit of a chill to it. Robert, ever the consummate Sydney booster, was going on about what "a beautiful day" it was, but I felt it necessary to point out that while it might have qualified as a beautiful day in London, it was slightly sub-standard for Sydney.

Never mind, though; down south (which here in upside-down land is like saying "up north") it's been blazing hot and fires have been raging across the state, so they need this Antarctic blast of cool air and the rain it's bringing. And soon it will be hot and humid and sultry here in the streets of Sydney, or so they keep saying. If not, well, I've got a couple good books and there are a lot of cafes. I don't, however, have internet access at home, so my time here in blogland will necessarily be limited.

The other reason that I'm not quite as thrilled to be here as I have in past years is that I'm kind of antsy to get started on my new life in New York. I suppose these three months will qualify as some of interlude or intermezzo (I didn't know for sure what an intermezzo was until I looked it up just now, but it seems to fit), during which I can try to make sense of the now-ended London years and ponder what's to come when I finally settle down in Brooklyn this spring. Or perhaps "settle down" is not the most accurate term; I have a feeling that a new burst of activity and excitement is on the cards. But not just yet; Sydney seems positively sleepy by comparison with London or New York, and yet it's just enough of a big city to keep me on my toes. I found out last night that one of our dinner guests had recently been robbed at knifepoint right in front of our door.

Later on in the evening, over coffee, talk turned to the various things we had done for a living, and I went into a lengthy disquisition about my drug dealing career back in the 1970s. Our guest's eyebrows went up a bit, and shortly afterward he excused himself. "Who was that fellow, and how do you know him?" I asked Robert, only to be told that he was a District Court judge who had spent much of his life's work putting people not unlike me in prison. It should make for interesting conversation next time I see him, which I surely will, since I also learned that we are members of the same neighbourhood gym.

Just now I'm sitting in an internet cafe in the heart of King's Cross, one of Sydney's seedier districts, having just helped a lost Singaporean family visiting Sydney for the first time find their hotel just up the street from here. I kept wanting to ask them if they really wanted to stay around here, and to warn them that not everyone who offered to personally show them to their destination would have similarly good intentions, but the language barrier was sufficient that I didn't bother trying and simply hoped for the best. A chilly wind is scattering debris up and down the block, and clouds are hanging low over the building tops, promising a wet and stormy Christmas. I've been invited to the beach, the same beach where the shark alert sirens were blaring last time I visited. My crazy Aussie hosts will probably insist on going for a swim even if the temperature is only in the teens (60s for you Fahrenheit people), but it will be beautiful anyway.

Tomorrow I'm going to midnight Mass in the cathedral, though a couple locals have encouraged me not to because the Cardinal in charge is allegedly a homophobe and right wing control freak. I will do my best to concentrate on the music and the prayers and the message of the season, and if said Cardinal wanders off into unpleasant territory during his sermonising, I will resort to the old standby of clapping my hands over my ears and singing "La la la, I'm not listening." Call me a bad Catholic if you want, but just as I'm not going to let George Bush or Tony Blair ruin America or England for me, I'm not letting the occasional crackpot spoil a religion that's lasted 2,000 years. And religious considerations aside, I just plain adore Christmas carols, and will put up with considerable aggro to hear them. I know this may lay me open to excommunication should the Pope get wind of this, but unless I'm mistaken, I was already expelled from the fold back during my teenage years and have only sort of snuck back in by not calling too much attention to myself. So please, any of you potential troublemakers out there, could you do me a favour and not rat me out to the Vatican?

1 comment:

Zachary said...

just want to say merry christmas:)