First stop was down to the river for the local market. Yes, we have a market now. Picked up some fresh bagels, and then I went straight to the plant guy. I’ve bought, and carried back, uphill all the way, one cumquat (which the caterpillars loved to shredded bits) one mandarin, and two lovely oranges. This time I fell over two blueberry bushes. I mean, goodbye washing, but what the hey.
Anyway, being a semi-regular now, he asked after my garden, and I repeated my oft told but never listened to tale of woe about how I’d been ill and the garden had got away from me, and then I’d hired some so-called ‘gardeners’…
Say no more, says he, and bags me up $10 worth of herbs for free as a re-starter kit. It was so kind, I was so close to tears. Of course, the ruddy possum ate them all overnight, but it’s the thought that counts. That wicked possum is a fiend for kale. At least he got his greens?
After the market it was a quick and necessary cup of tea and change and then off to the theatre, via the record shop (2 actually good CDs from the bargain bin) and the burger joint (for lunch/dinner). Somehow, I’d managed to stumble out the door and onto the bus and had arrived more than an hour earlier than I expected, so I had time to kill.
Theatre was just a screening of NT Live’s Follies, the Sondheim musical, but it was pretty good, better than I’d expected (not a real fan of Sondheim, but I’d heard good reviews). I’ve seen Imelda Staunton tap dance now, so that’s something. It was, as explained, a piece about being bitter and growing old, something I could well relate to, and a couple of the songs were actually catchy, and the costumes were magnificent.
It was nice at the theatre, too, some air conditioning and the usual suspects in the audience.
After that it was a hot dusty walk across what used to be park but is now construction site, to the many pens that made up Tropfest. They’d arranged the crescent in metal sheep pens according to price, with the cheap seats being cordoned off to the side and up the back, which coincidentally was where the shade was, so a rare win for the plebs. Not that I didn’t get absolutely roasted, despite half a bottle of sunscreen and the world’s most ridiculous sunhat.
I dragged myself into a far corner, away from the dust and close to a tap, but I also had a good view across the celebrity pen. I remember having a strong reason to bitch-slap Susan Sarandon for many years, but thanks to being hit on the head, I couldn’t remember why, only that I felt she’d done something to really deserve it. And there was my opportunity, and I let it pass me by.
Well, it was either that or turn into the Alzheimer Avenger, bitch-slapping people for reasons I can’t remember any more. Ah well, plenty of people I can and do have very good reason to bitch-slap and/or feed to a boa constrictor of late, and I haven’t forgotten why.
Although, until I was herded to the back paddock at Tropfest, I was, quite unusually for me, full of the milk of human kindness from the gift of the free herbs, and willing to stop and chat and hug old and new friends, as occasion demanded, on my travels. But the heat and dust and un-zen vibes from Tropfest soon curdled that milk. And it wasn’t just the heat, dust and blazing sun, it was the mood. The hosts were trolling everything, including films, filmmakers and guests in ways even I, shrew that I am, found on the nose.
Also, the films weren’t very good. There were a few that I found passing amusing, and the bug animated one actually laugh-out-loud funny, but nothing compared to some of the absolute gems from the year before (I guess those filmmakers had two years to hone and polish, adding the theme item as a pick-up). I liked the one that won, if only because it blocked the ones I thought would win, ones I really didn’t like because of their cynical manufactured earnestness (perhaps Ms Sarandon is more alike in my tastes than I would prefer, and her BS detector is equally acute).
Not that I stayed for the winners’ parade. I ran for a bus, which I missed, and was languishing at the stop thinking if I had a phone that wasn’t 98% dead I could be watching the wrap-up on YouTube right now. Fortunately, someone else at the stop had a working phone and was playing the live feed loud enough to hear the winner announced (they weren’t impressed but I hated the popular favourite).
I think that’s a wrap on Tropfest for me. I felt too old, it was too structured (last year it was just a picnic in a field) and the films were too precious. Shame, now that it’s finally held close by. That, too, being made to feel unwelcome metres away from the actual place of my birth (long, long, long since demolished). Or maybe I was just tired, overheated, dehydrated (same six non-functional portaloos again, so nil-by-mouth) and unimpressed.
The next day I was doing the laundry and gardening at the same time, trying to restore the garden beds and plant my trees (before they wilted beyond saving). And it was hard digging, because the clay soils had baked to a solid wodge of ceramic. Tink, went the battered old shovel as I tried to lever it in. Like trying to dig through a metre of roof tile. No wonder those orange trees were watered with my sweat, blood and tears. Still, I got it done (while Himself was out gadding about, again), in time to wobble back indoors before the sun hit its zenith, and in time to catch the latter half of The Avengers (Steed and Peel version, obviously).
The next day, after a day at work that was more like detention (though I did score a leftover meeting sandwich in the lunchroom while peckish, result) it was off to the Opera House to see the STC’s production of Top Girls. Shrill, early Thatcher era feminist tract, by that Churchill woman who flails all over the place with characters and scenes, more of a soup of ideas than structured story (yes, I’m so orthodox in my desire for some sort of narrative flow). Still, the themes (men are awful, women aren’t much better) had more cohesion than the last play I saw by her, and it had its moments, all entirely due to the wonderful actors on stage (the usual suspects, never disappointing).
Bonus lunar new year lights around Circular Quay on the walk back to the bus stop. I liked the monkeys, but the horses were my favourite.
And that’s me, all cultured out. Also, sunburnt and my knees are killing me. The rest of the week is given over to classes as I’m told I can’t write. Ah, well. Never could.