By happy accident rather than good planning, it so happened that my trip to Melbourne coincided with White Night, and I'm so glad it did. Best night ever. So much to see and do, and I never even made it to dawn (I blame the twelve hour day I was flogged through on Friday). But it was so delightful, so magical, so wonderful.
At first, though, I wondered why on earth I was doing this to myself as it was sheeting down when I struggled up to the bustop to try and get to the airport. I was soaked through, and kept dripping, rivulets running down my back. Didn't matter if I was running late, my plane was nearly three hours delayed, no surprise, as we were copping the tail of another nasty storm. Apparently it got really bad Saturday night but I neither know nor care because I was in warm, sunny, wonderful Melbourne.
Lovely hotel, lovely trams. Checked in and raced into the city for a late lunch and a spot of shopping (I had a list that could only be filled at my fave Melbourne shops, they have stores we don't). I had meant to do shopping, then lunch, then nap, but thanks to shitty old Sydney It had to be back to the hotel to change out of still damp clothes and then back out by tram to where I'd decided to start my odyessy: the library.
That was marvellous. The sun started to set, the crowd gathered, the wooden doors were flung open and we raced up the marble stairs to the rarely opened Queen's Hall, which was everything a high Victorian hall should be. Wandered, admired, attempted photos (I'm far too shaky in low light to ever take useable photos, as you will see) and was initiated into the Whispering Society - billed as popup theatre but was really just a LARP across Melbourne, but it was fun and it took me to places I might have missed.
In the lit up big domed reading room, there was a beautiful choir singing, and the accoustics of that dome are the most amazing I've ever heard, which is ironic when Himself pointed it out (Silence!). Those Edwardian larks (twas built in 1913, rest of building 1850s), bulding a library reading room where every rustle of paper is perfectly amplified and broadcast.
Lovely. Next stop was round the corner to Lonsdale street to my favourite Vietnamese restaurant, which was either under new management or upgraded, as the decor and menu had changed, but it was still a restaurant, and I was coaxed into ordering the special, which turned out to be sizzling duck. Rather fabulous.
Came out to find the sun had just set and the streets were taken over with people. Crowds as far as the eye could say. They say it was 300,000, and it sure looked like it, and felt like it. I'm not sure they meant to close off the city, but there were so many people, we just filled the streets. Such a wonderful, mellow crowd, willing to oooh and ahh over all the buildings lit up with lasers. Some said the lack of opens bars was a flaw. I thought it kept the crowd still nice and tidy by 3am. It meant if someone (not always me) fell off a gutter or stumbled over cables, an apology would do (there were so many people you just couldn't see where you were walking, and so many lights going off, one was always looking up, instead of down).
Next stop, the Town Hall, where they had little cloth versions of the faceless chaps from John Brack's Collins St., 5 pm,not to mention a poster featuring the man who was Melbourne, Graham Kennedy.
Onto St Paul's, whee they had a whole of smoke and lasers going on inside (very Vegas) but I loved the biplane dogfight going on up the wall in Flinders Lane (I had a Sopwith Camel pilot on the family tree who ended up in a French field so I'm not entirely frivilous, mind, but still, whee, cool!), and the ghost in the window (creepy!), but my favourite had to be the projection of the stained glass windows displaying the one, true religion of Melbourne. Heh. Let us now turn to Up There, Cazaly in our hymn books.
More pretty lights, all the buildings lit up with moving tapestries, not to mention the grooviest bands of groovy playing on the steps of Flinders Street Station, no less. As I heard one chap comment as he crossed my path, 'they really went all out, and shit'.
You wouldn't think it's take more than 40 minutes to get from Federation Square to the Arts Centre, but you'd be wrong. Got there just in time to see Joey, from War Horse, make the stage door appearance to end them all. With a chant of 'Horse! Horse! Horse!' from the crowd, Joey appeared, sniffing, stamping, shidting, shying, flicking and flinching in the crowd, before he decided to give the surrounding shrubbery a good nibble, then reared up to clear the way back, and with a diva like flick of the tail, disappeared within. Silly, fun, but as others commented, amazing puppetry. Proper.
I'd intented to do the ghost tours at the theatre, but alas I was three people from the counter when the declared it sold out, so I queued up to get into the NGV instead (by now the foam sculpture was a damp patch on the ground) and queued up to get an iced tea, and finally hooked a stool to sit on. Popped into the post-Impressionist exhibition, which I already had a ticket for, because my joy at seeing the mighty Surat in Chicago was still a rosy memory, but either I was getting tired by then (twas past midnight, pumpkin time) or the scant three rooms were a touch disappointing (certainy I don't recall seeing half the paintings mentioned in the catalogue and I wasn't that tired).
I did like some pics, though, very much. There was one with fuzzy, puffy trees, which I liked, but also remember getting in trouble for drawing trees just like that. Harumph. One has to have pulled a stint in Paris or summat to get away with that sort of thing, I guess. Certainly it looked like Reg Mombassa was familiar with the post-Impressionist forms, as it reminded me a lot of his stuff. I also liked the laundry day one, mainly because I though it caught exactly the light of the yard when I take out the first load, and when I looked closer (remember, these were pointelists and I'd been up since 4am) I saw that was exactly what it was, a woman putting out the first load. so sad that I keep identify with the drudge paintings, and never the ladies who lunch (plenty of those in the last room, lots of Sargent influences over there in the portrait section).
I think that's half the fun. No art at school, no education, never saw an art book in my life at skool, but at least now I can see that someone has obviously seen a Whistler or two, without needing to be told (cause I've finally seen a Whistler r two myself now). In art, it's called homage. In modern parlance, you'd be done for copyright infringement.
I didn't mind. artists, they get away with so much. Such preety, pastel-y piccies for a bunch of rabid anarchists. And not just coffee shop talkers, either, but actual lobbers of explodey things. These days they'd be called terrorists, but these chaps are just quaintly socialist in their ideals. Ah, art.
One wonders what one has to do to be embued with tht magical coverall excuse for any trangression, as in it's for my art, I am an artiste. Even today, the ones who get away with it and the ones who don't seem entirely arbitrary to my ignorant eyes. Like Banksy is an artiste, not a common vandal. And I'm not even going to touch certain personages and thei sexual trangressions, which, tis true, owe more to the fashions of the time as much as anything.
But I digress. Still squeeing in Melbourne, across to the park, back up the street, music, music, music, until my feet gave out and it was time for the long slog back to the hotel (only 2km on the map, but it felt like 20 or 40 at the time, I was well tired, like an Energiser Bunny on his last drumbeat). I picked the right time, too, as the dickheads had started to arrive. Literally, I saw a chap with an inflatable penis on his head. Just chucking out time as the usual Saturday night rowdies moved from pubs closing to those with an all night licence, but it was time for bed, as the old song goes.
Ripping night. Sweet, fun, no trouble. Well done, Melbourne.
The morning after the night before, with had only ended three hours earlier, found me beary eyed at an astonishly spotless Federation Square at 10am precisely, grimacing at a peeling St Paul's like any Wodehouse character slightly the worse for wear, ready for another day's gallery going.
I don't know why I let cute hotel guy guilt me about not going to the NGV proper, as I'd already been that morning, but no, I thought the Ian potter centre thing was more my speed, smaller, hopefully less crowded, and as I'd trawled the Oz galleries the other week at the NGA, I wanted to continue that narrative. So I got my Bunnys, my McCubbins, my Streetons, Roberts and Condors (who guested in the Toulouse-Lautrec exhibition), and I squeed when I saw Sid's squiggly trees across the room.
I also discovered John Brack, I really loved his version of A Bar at the Folies-Bergere, which is just a Melbourne bar.
Then it was onto ACMI, just a quick trip around the main exhibition area, which is fun, old clips going off all over the place. In the distance I could hear the Homicide theme playing while I watched a clip of the 1906 Kelly film, which was a cute bit of Melbourne meta.
And on that note, it was time to bid the most fabulous city on earth adieu, with a quick romp through the shops, onto the tram, bus and plane and then back to dreary old Sydney.
Life quickly reverted to normal service. At great trouble, with everything that's going on and off right now, I took a day off to attend to the mountains of washing and weeding, but no. The water mains had exploded up through the road so no water all day. Which meant no washing or any work that would require me to wash myself off at some point (like mucking out the rosebeds).
What I should have done, instead of fluttering about trying to find stuff I could do, would have been just to grab the bottle of grenache, saying, quite rightly, it was the only thing to drink in the house (no tea as the water in the kettle was the only water I had), and slob about just watching stuff off the pvr. That's what I should have done. Sigh.
Monday: Okay, so what I did last Monday was shuffle off to see Mrs Warren's Profession at the STC, the still rather confronting George Bernard Shaw play. Play and players excellent. Audience not so much. This is what I get for going for the earlier sessions (mainly because of my limited transport options). This time it really was like they'd bused in a Mike Walsh Show audience. The old dear beside me was old enough to have seen the first performance of the play and she kept her old handbag open on her lap and kept rustling endlessly about for sweeties which she would then suck and rattle noisely, just like my grandmother and, I realised, I didn't miss that, not one bit. I know, I'm a terrible person, and it gets worse. During the intermission she was still with the digging into the old handbag, but I saw her chequebook, and I zeroed in on it and stared hard at it until the old dear finally shut her bag and kept her bony claws nervously tight over the clasp for the remainder of the performance. Mean, I know, but she was driving me nuts and all I did was psych her. If I can't psych a 310 year old biddy, then what's the point of me?
It's not like the play didn't deliver its own kicks, and, to be honest, I think discovering Simon Burke was playing the old fogey and not the young swain was a far greater pain than any of the mother and daughter stripped bare stuff. My gosh, that was raw and spicey, and for a century-plus old play, too. But yeah, Simon, ouch. He was as twinkly as ever, though. I still love him heaps. The guy playing the twanker Freddie (And Mr F is always a twat in GBS plays) was quite the thing, vicious and silly as over-privileged young boys are, and the actor had something of a young Cillian Murphy about him. Yes, I said young Cillian. Ouch again.
I did enjoy it, zinging lines, snappy cast, actual costumes and a few props (mercy) and what seemed to be a fairly faithful adaptation. I also enjoyed by shiraz and pate in the bar as I read the programme (STC programmes are the sole source of my knowledge of the yartz) as I had to trot down in snappish fashion, having been kept back well past the pint where I wanted to have been leaving at work. Did drop into the old Dymocks shop that is definitely showing signs of closing, like empty shelves. Weep. The only place that ever had the books I can't find anywhere else. (And I like books, I like the smell of them, the feel of them, they don't need batteries, they can recover from being soaked - within reason, and I can read them on the bus home with all the guys with the badly drawn prison tattoos). Sigh.
So that was Monday.
Tuesday was the whole exploding road farago, thus proving that nothing in life can ever be simple.
On Friday we set off on an absolutely soaking night to see Wil Anderson do a trial gig in an intimate (meaning we were on each other's laps) cosy and quirky wee pub in Glebe. It was free because he was testing out material but I thought it'd be interesting to see Wil in raw and unpolished mode and it was, especially as he was just off a plane from the States so he was rambling all over the place, but still very funny though (the bit about the needy chips is still making me giggle). I really enjoyed it and Himself seemed to love it.
Cheap night out, too, as we'd only had burgers for tea, and then I picked up a few paperbacks in one of the second-hand bookshops there (I can't help myself). Very interesting pub, the decor indescribable (crocodile skin, toy train, parrot), and even the horrid 90s leather couches were comfy (though I still can't get out of them once I'm in them).
So that was Friday.
Saturday was an exercise in Murphy's Law, Sunday was wet so I dd a lot of pvr clearing and typing. Yes, actual typing. Turns out, after trying every other seat in the house, that the old couch is the comfiest place to type after all. Actually finished off one notebook and started on the next. It's not much, but I felt like I'd done something.
Parrots hate me, but at least I got through my first weekend at home since January without being arrested. Yay.
Canberra photos from last week:
White Night Melbourne
Melbourne captured by the charm of White Night
Queen's Hall - State Library of Victoria
Collins St., 5 pm
Up There, Cazaly
White Night – Black out
Six Ways To Tell If You're Staying in a Murder Hotel
The unseen archive of Lee Miller
Can We Really Stop Bullying?
9 People That Dare To Dress Not Normally
Spot the psychopath near you
Bury him in York, say Richard III's descendants
In Pursuit, on Wheels and on Foot
The map London has in its head
Doctor Who smashes through the Shard to introduce the Spoonheads and Ice Warriors
Downloads don't matter
Crocodile spotted in River Thames turns out to be James Bond prop
Sleep deprivation has genetic consequences, study finds
Friday Fiction: Light Up!
No baby on board
"Cashmere Sweaters" - Lord Love a Duck
Five essential radio plays
A Calendar of Tales
Atonement Director Planning Neil Gaiman Adaptation
Trust people to pay for music: Amanda Palmer at TED2013
Amanda Palmer: The art of asking
Scientists Think They've Found a Lost Continent in the Indian Ocean
Spike: The 'Spock' of 'Buffy'?
Buffy: James Marsters on Spike, Spock and romantic vampires
Joss Whedon shares his favourite 'Buffy' episodes - video
From guest star to guardian (Sasha Roiz)
Misha Collins Upped to Series Regular on Supernatural
Castiel Will Be A Regular Character Again In Supernatural Season 9
CSI: Miami's Emily Procter Talks White Collar: It's a Nice Way to Start Dating Again
White Collar: Exclusive Clip Shows Neal Pulling Double Duty While Examining Art
Matt Bomer 'White Collar' Q&A: 'I'd love to film an episode in London'
White Collar Season 4 Episode 15 Lead-in: Finale in Focus
White Collar Episode 14 Preview - Shoot the Moon
Matt Bomer finally discusses playing Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey
White Collar Review – 'The Original' – Do you also LOVE the walks and talks?
White Collar, Season 4 - The Original Promo
Exclusive White Collar Finale Video: Neal and Mozzie Plot a Champagne-Inspired Break-In
Exclusive 'White Collar' Finale Clip
‘White Collar’ season 4 finale spoilers: Matt Bomer’s tricky situation
Fifty Shades of Grey: Matt Bomer vs Henry Cavill as Christian Grey
White Collar’ Recap: How Dreamy Was Matt Bomer?
'White Collar' Season 4, Episode 15 "The Original" Recap
White Collar Episode 15 Preview - The Original
Matt Bomer: My New York
23 November 2009