Just back from Melbourne. My first trip anywhere in a year, so that was special. Less special was the state I was in (food poisoning with virulent rash, worst camps ever, coming down with flu) but somehow I made it through the working day, made it onto the train to the airport, made it onto the plane, made it onto the bus, and the other bus, and finally the very lovely hotel with the soft fluffy robe, squishy bed and stacks of T2 tea. Oh yes, it did very nicely.
So I was right to pay up for a nice hotel room. This is how one survives travelling while unwell – a little bit of comfort.
Saturday it was up…just a few minutes more…up…just a few minutes more…well, I eventually wrenched myself out of bed and soft fluffy robe and staggered out into the bracing winter air of Flinders Street to wobble my way down Collins to spencer St, where I found the charming 1932 Café open, as Art Deco as. Here I feasted (made a pig of myself) on the veggie breakfast (I’d have taken a photo but I was too busy eating, due to an ick factor I’d not eaten/kept anything down in days). Delish.
Ok, yeah, there was an ick factor later but that was the evil hormones (still giving me grief). Kicking in so hard I had to give up my planned round of the shops and race back to soft bed and soft rob and lie down and go urgh for a couple of hours until I braved the world again.
I’d not been idle though – I’d picked up a What’s On mag and had identified the likely location of the poster of Greek pots I’d seen while circling the city multiple times on the hotel transfer bus. Turns out it was Gods, Myths and Mortals at the Hellenic Museum , and it, I think was my favourite. They should have called it Bad Boys, because we started with some stunning statues of Herakles and Paris, and ended up with a painting of Byron, no less. Troublesome lads, to a man. It was very small, only a few rooms, but each piece was a cracker, and I had the place to myself, so I could study every piece in quiet, meditative detail, without being jostled by a busload of tourists like at a large European gallery. Lovely.
Next up it was a walk down the street to Inspiration by Design: Word and Image from the Victoria and Albert Museum at the State Library Victoria which I’d been looking forward to, but I think I was a bit tired, and upset over losing my glasses, so it wasn’t as wonderful as I’d hoped. Also crowded.
The glasses, oh yes, on my way back to the hotel I’d lost my reading and sun glasses, expensive prescriptions all, so I was very upset with myself and buying a new bag, while blaming the old one and it’s lack of zips, didn’t help, nor did the chai tea.
Anyway, tram up the hill to the exhibition at the Ian Potter Museum of Art (as opposed to the other Ian Potter art gallery) and more old pots (what I will put myself through for a peek at an old pot, eh?). Anyways, some really nice pieces, again, all to myself, again. Very much a gentlemen’s collection of ephemera, but I liked it.
Then it was a quick stop in the nearby garden and I finally contact my friend who says they’ll be picking me up in an hour so it’s on a tram! And another tram! Which stops, turns, and goes back so off the tram! And run! And change! And Phew!
We ended up, eventually, after a car ride that felt like three hours but must have been minutes as we were only going as far as Fitzroy, in this Asian Fusion joint with many lanterns called Rice Queen. After more back and forth the banquet was finally decided upon, which I enjoyed immensely, the parade of mystery dishes, all delicious, including Korean fried chicken (the best) and the Earl Grey infused gin cocktails, which I kept lining up. I’m sure they think I’m a lush but I needed some nerves deadened and it worked a treat (I have also discovered a Hogarthian Darwinian inheritance which means I can put away buckets of gin with no ill effects whatsoever. Yay).
After dinner we walked the wild crazy, colourful streets of Fitzroy at night, I bought the most outlandish shirt of primary coloured parasol print ever, and ended up in an ice cream shop with one of the guys from Real Life. Melbourne enough for ya? The ice-cream was delish too, an Argentinian caramel.
The next day, ok, yes I sleep in a bit long but I had the blast curtains closed, and anyway, I could see the NGV from my hotel. Off I trotted to see the main attractions: Exquisite Threads English Embroidery 1600s–1900s which had enough sprigged muslin to fetch Mr Tilney all a quiver. Then Medieval Moderns: The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood – my boys, my boys, my beautiful boys. The PRB, the original bad boys punks, givers of gloriously twee paintings and lurid wallpaper, but I love them so. It was mainly prints and studies, but I saw a few new pieces, and I’m always happy to see my beloved, actual red flag waving socialist, William Morris so enshrined.
Funnily enough, later, at dinner, they played Roxy Music’s Avalon, because I hadn’t had enough Arthurian themes for the day – grin.
Last, and sadly possibly least and they didn’t have all the cool stuff out that they used to, was Nordic Cool: Modernist Design: From the NGV Collection but it was still pretty cool and I love me some mid fab 20thC gear (especially as I was still all a jingle jangle from seeing the very promising Man From UNCLE trailer).
Then it was a quick trot back to the hotel to change into the exquisite Art Deco-esque cloak I’d bought (more than pushed into the purchase by watching Phryne on IView and the Art Deco gowns in the V&A exhibition at the NGV) and up Spring Street (huff huff huff) to sip luridly pink cocktails in the bar at the Princess Theatre to see Anything Goes.
Well, original book by Wodehouse, songs by Cole Porter, you knew I would. I must. I did. Aside from the couple we were all hoping would go home and finish their domestic, it was brilliant. Very, very silly (pure Wodehouse, even though it’s been so re-written) and, well, I never knew how much I’d wanted to see a tap-dancing chorus line of sailors, but apparently I did, and I’m so very pleased I have now done so. Tick.
So that was great. (Later I was describing how they finished with the Chinese version of Anything Goes, like from Temple of Doom, which Himself dismissed with a withering, shrugging critique of ‘Short Black, Flat White, whatever he was called’). Snort.
Then dinner, not at my favourite Chinese (still roiling from my other favourite Chinese) so I went to this Thai fusion place, where they played Roxy Music and Bowie, ordered the specials (char-grilled king prawns in red curry, mandarin sorbet), rolled back down Spring St, past the Burns statue.
Man, Melburnians are no respecter of the little green man, as I nearly had my arse taken off again crossing the road, on the lights. Sheesh. To drive far more aggressively than your average Sydneysider is a sure sign you’ve got problems, buddy. Deep, deep problems.
That was the only thing that bothered me about Melbourne. Well, that and the feeling that the whole trip was a test of some kind. I lost my glasses case, with my very expensive glasses inside, only to find them a day and a half later (In the place I’d looked, half a dozen times). Then the lock on my luggage jammed up completely and after jiggling, twisting, begging and pleading with it to no avail I’d made a hot cup of tea and rehearsed how I was going to call down to the desk and ask if, by any chance, they had the tools to break into luggage. Before that I went to the loo and gave the bag a kick as I went past, just ‘cause. Well, you can all guess what happened, can’t you. Pop, open, all innocence, like, was there a problem? Hmmm, such moments are sent to try me.
Last day and breakfast in my favourite café, (because I felt like I’d been cheating on it, seeing other cafes, all weekend) then six and a half hours to get home, only one of them on the plane. Grrr. I tell ya, I was bearing up on every challenge thrown at me, until I got back to Sydney. I’d even found my glasses, hooked to the back of my jumper, of all places (but phew). But then Sydney. Defeated, again, ground down and smeared like paste. That’s Sydney.
Anyways, that was a lot of fuss and bother to see a few old pots. That’s me, completely mad.