“It’s a fine line between pleasure and pain“… lyrics matchlessly sung by Chrissie Amphlett of the Divinyls, run through my head; soundtrack to the dwindling days of our city life as I conduct a mental retrospective; some of the hits and misses curiously similar. Then I’ll say farewell in my usual style… humming Don Henley’s Boys of Summer “Don’t look back. You can never look back.”
In no particular order…
Customs House Library… the building is a landmark but the interior holds the real treasure, books and more books.
Neighbourhood cats with whom we’re on a first name basis… Davros, Ruby, Frank, Zac, George Junior, Ted… and freely share therapeutic pats and fur.
Local markets… bringing real food from the country to my city doorstep, and nice people too.
The dishwasher… I love its wooshy lullaby sound as cleans the dishes while I sleep.
Air-conditioning in February heat and humidity.
Public transport… inexpensive and convenient.
Paid employment… the comfort of a monthly bank deposit.
Gratis internet, phone and postage courtesy of aforementioned paid employment.
Sense of walking among living history of old buildings, laneways, streets and gardens.
Its intangible and random gifts… kindnesses, street art, buskers, footpath recycling…
Ten minute cab ride to airport.
Walking distance to lots of interesting and useful stuff.
Sitting at footpath tables outside cafés & pubs people watching.
The denizens, all the permutations thereof.
Soy chai lattes at Tramezzini in the AMP Building.
Air pollution, grime & noise.
Air-conditioning except in February heat and humidity.
Paid employment… working 5 days, 9 to 5.
Car parking congestion.
Living in a shoebox apartment in a street of shoebox apartment complexes.
Apartment complex strata rules…no smoking, no parking, no balcony railing plant pots, no…
Public transport… unreliable and crowded.
Workplace bathrooms… oh, the horror stories I could tell you.
Workplace kitchens… patronised by apparently normal co-workers with annoying habits, and refrigerators harbouring food turned science experiments.
Riding in lifts (elevators)… that might get stuck between floors but people risk limbs to enter or leap into like lemmings* and crowd like sardines… Why? Because another might be as long as a whole minute away.
The vagaries of home delivery pizza… hot & crisp, late & soggy, great, not-too-bad, inedible, how much did we pay for that?
Our favourite local haunts that have become too busy/popular/hipster.
Henry Ford “as long as it’s black” corporate attire… I’m keeping a couple of ensembles in case I need to attend a funeral… says it all really.
[*leaping lemmings – popular misconception but the metaphor endures.]
For me, a woman who has the kid from the country she once was still in her psyche; the experience of living and working in and around Sydney for the past 25 years has been pretty cool. Little did I dream as I played childhood games of ‘let’s pretend’ at an invisible typewriter I’d end up resident of an inner city locality I had no idea existed, doing a job involving computers and technologies not then thought of, employed by one of the world’s largest law firms, spending my week days in a skyscraper looking out over Sydney Harbour.
Of all the locations I’ve lived in as an adult, inner-city Sydney is where I’ve felt most at home. For almost 12 years I’ve wandered its streets, commuted by train to Circular Quay, strolled through the CBD knowing it wasn’t going to be forever but enjoying the pit-stop on my journey. We’re leaving the city at its best; in the warmer weather it sparkles and glows ready for the festive season.
“idealizes life with only its head out of water, inches above the limits of toleration of the corruption of its own environment… Why should we tolerate a diet of weak poisons, a home in insipid surroundings, a circle of acquaintances who are not quite our enemies, the noise of motors with just enough relief to prevent insanity? Who would want to live in a world which is just not quite fatal?”
It’s time for us say our farewells… for, in the words of Kahlil Gibran “life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.”
A day in the life…
I could get used to this. The G.O. not working on Saturdays, and spending time by the water.
Last Friday when the G.O. communicated the news he has at last finished working at the site where he’s been doing 160 kilometre daily round trip commutes, often working Saturday, I called my sister to see if she and our new niece, sunny Skye apple of her family’s eye, had a free Saturday. Not quite, but could meet up in the afternoon.
Excellent. That meant we didn’t have to rush our trip from Sydney to the Hunter Valley. And could take up a recommendation from a work colleague who’s a local, to stop for breakfast from the Estuary Kiosk on the way.
An hour drive and about half way along our journey, only minutes from the M1 motorway exit, Estuary Restaurant is at Kangaroo Point just over the old bridge and first turn to the left on the Old Pacific Highway on the Hawkesbury River driving towards Brooklyn. The restaurant has scored some spectacular reviews… currently some spectacularly bad… so we’ll be giving it a miss until that’s ironed out, but our takeaway coffees and bacon and egg rolls from the kiosk were first-rate. The refurbished park area is attractive and the views are amazing. We’ll be back!
We love the Hawkesbury River. The G.O. has a long affection for the area as he worked an oyster barge on the river for a few years, and still says it was the best job he ever had. Nearby Brooklyn is a favourite for fish and chips or meeting up for family celebratory lunches at Lifeboat Seafood, handy for us as we can catch the train from the city.
The Hawkesbury River is the setting for the 2004 Australian film The Oyster Farmer and recently the two-part ABC television mini-series The Secret River adaptation of Kate Grenville’s novel of the same name.
“This place had been here long before him. It would go on sighing and breathing and being itself after he had gone, the land lapping on and on, watching, waiting, getting on with its own life.” Kate Grenville, The Secret River
Trying to get the G.O. to celebrate his birthday is like trying to prise a stubborn crab out of its hidey-hole. Unsurprising as he is born under the Cancerian astrological sign. For the first time ever I managed to persuade him to ditch work on a weekday birthday. Coercion that involved me using a precious annual leave day and suggesting he wouldn’t want me to celebrate his birthday on my own. It worked. Just. My backup tactic was to suggest if he didn’t stay home with me, I’d go to work with him.
As work commitments prevented us taking a long weekend away the G.O.’s celebration of choice was a coastal escape within the city environs.
After a sleep-in, leisurely coffees and gift unwrapping in bed we followed the route of my usual morning commute to Circular Quay, even making a dash to the cafe in my building for a soy chai latte & hot chocolate before joining Tuesday tourists and day-trippers on a ferry ride across Sydney Harbour to Watsons Bay, a 17 minute trip as opposed to the other public transport option of bus that takes near an hour to cover the 11 km distance.
“Watsons Bay is located on the southern head of the entrance to Sydney Harbour. To the east is the Tasman Sea and to the west is the Harbour with a glorious view of the city of Sydney in the distance.
Watsons Bay is where Governor Phillip first landed in Australia. It’s also recognised as Australia’s oldest fishing village, having been established in 1788.
The Bay is famous for being the home of the first Doyles Restaurant. The site on which the restaurant now stands is where Doyle originally sold his daily fish catch in 1845. It’s well worth the trip to Watsons Bay to eat at the restaurant or, alternatively, for a more informal meal, buy a take-away lunch from Doyles’ fish and chip outlet, located on the wharf, and eat it in the park and feed the seagulls.
There are two walking paths from the wharf, both require around one hour for the round trip. From the wharf you can walk north past Lady Bay (see their nude beach) and on to South Head…”
And we did just that, walked around to the north looking across to Manly, didn’t see any nudists although the day was a pleasant and sunny 20 degrees Celsius (winter in Sydney at its best!), enjoyed a simple fish and chip lunch accompanied by attentive seagulls, postprandial strolled until the sun enticed us to a garden bench with a harbour view before a speedy afternoon return on the ferry to Circular Quay.
Despite widely being attributed to him, Sherlock Holmes never said those words “Elementary, my dear Watson” but no doubt he would have by way of approbation of the G.O.’s excellent choice of destination of the same name.
Note: Australia’s place names have lost their apostrophes.
Romantic that I am, for Valentine’s Day I gave the G.O. a print-out of a news article… Johnny Cash penned quite possibly the greatest love letter of all time because it reminded me of us, and a box of his favourite Ferrero Rocher chocolates.
The article details the top 10 greatest love letters and John’s love letter to June Carter.
“We get old and get used to each other. We think alike.
We read each other’s minds. We know what the other wants without asking. Sometimes we irritate each other a little bit. Maybe sometimes take each other for granted.
But once in a while, like today, I meditate on it and realise how lucky I am to share my life with the greatest woman I ever met. You still fascinate and inspire me.
You influence me for the better. You’re the object of my desire, the No. 1 earthly reason for my existence. I love you very much.”
The thing is, I would’ve printed the article and given it to the G.O. anyway. Ditto for the chocolates.
The G.O.’s gift to me was better: a no work Saturday. We slept in, drank coffee and wandered up King Street to see what we could see at Newtown Community Markets. The G.O. bought me a bunch of flowers. He does that from time to time. Rainbow roses on this occasion. My favourite colour.
Happy Valentine’s Day from King Street, Newtown.
Many weeks ago, before we embarked on pre-festive season efforts, on a typical post-work-week quiet Saturday night at home there was an email in my in-box promoting The Screaming Jets 25th Anniversary Tour.
The Screaming Jets, an Australian pub rock band are regulars on my playlist. The G.O. doesn’t mind their music but played at a much lower volume than is my preference.
In recent years we’ve tended less to go to big concerts and crowded venues. And because of his tinnitus loud music isn’t the G.O.’s thing. But a local gig at The Factory Theatre, Marrickville, $45 tickets and all work no play makes life very dull indeed, inclined the G.O. to agree to my suggestion that a Saturday night out was do-able.
Of course when it came around, the G.O. had worked 6 days in 40 C plus temperatures, I’d been busy with work and domestic stuff and what seemed like a good idea at the time now seemed to be just one more thing to do. And preceded by a last-minute email advising The Screaming Jets would be on stage from 9.45 pm it seemed way past our bedtime.
But it was the later start that saved us after our respective days of work & errands; allowing time for a late afternoon rest and a minor melt-down on my part as I was worried the G.O. was too tired, it was too late, too hot, too loud, too far… followed by an enjoyable mid evening stroll over to the Golden Barley Hotel for a nice dinner in the beer garden and a further short stroll through Enmore Park to the gig.
While quite at home in the city there are times I lack my particular “tribes” who are far-flung in terms of distance and/or lifestyles. My best friend Mrs S., a fellow Screaming Jets fan and her hubby were initially keen for a night out but couldn’t settle on arrangements. Nonetheless, as the G.O. and I sat ourselves down with a couple of Mythos beers at the bar amongst the blend of ages, types and fashions; it appeared dressed customarily in jeans, boots and black t-shirts, we were in the right place.
More apparent even after 10 pm when still with drinks in hand we made our way inside, the music started, the crowd chanted, photos & recordings were encouraged, and friendly hands extended to the stage were reciprocated by the band. Lead singer Dave Gleeson in between songs chatted to the audience, not necessarily politically correct but peppered by humour and social commentary, and we loved it.
I loved The Screaming Jets’ own set, and the few covers: Johnny Cash, Slim Dusty and Bon Scott era AC/DC, acknowledging the band’s roots. Encouraged by Dave the modest sized crowd sang, knowing every beat & word to every song.
After midnight, deaf as posts, we wandered home. I was elated. The G.O. was just tired but happy I was happy.
It was only after the weekend, reading The Practical Mystic’s post “The week leading up to a new moon (Saturday’s Sagittarius new moon) has a distinct flavour to it – influenced by the dark moon, we have a tendency to become quieter, more introspective and sensitive. The best thing to do, is as much as possible honour those feelings by clearing your schedule of all but the essentials and include as many self-nourishing activities as possible”.
Well, our new moon Saturday night out was quite the opposite of the suggested tendency but it was fun, and fun is what I most definitely needed. Accompanying me was an unselfish gift from the G.O. and me accepting such generosity does us both good.
This coming G.O. work-site-shutdown weekend is the culmination of the recent weeks of preparations, where we’ll travel to visit family tribes, deliver Christmas gifts to those we won’t see on the day, and make ready our house at Taylors Arm for the festive season and holidays.
As we go about, we’ll make a little time for ourselves and have some more fun. I could get used to it.
“Before silverchair came along The Screaming Jets were the most popular band to emerge from the Australian industrial town, Newcastle. More than silverchair, The Jets’ music is a product of that town. When the original band members were growing up in Newcastle they faced a future of either working in the steelworks and associated industries or not working at all. In a town like that the locals live hard, drink hard and want their rock hard.
The Screaming Jets gave them what they wanted.
Postscript: An interesting manifestation of Saturday’s Sagittarius new moon astrological conditions… but not what I wanted, needed is a throat infection. Nevertheless that is what I have. I am certainly “quieter, more introspective and sensitive”. So I’ve cleared my schedule of all but the essentials and am focusing on self-nourishing, and healing.
Sunday morning was sunny
I spent Saturday food shopping & cooking while the G.O. was at work
We had breakfast food but the kitchen was clean…
We had to get in the car to go out later
The idea of a café breakfast didn’t appeal
Marrickville Organic Food & Farmers Markets
Marrickville Organic Food & Farmers Markets is one of a kind happening near us on a Sunday, a long walk or a short drive from our apartment. We park a little distance away at Enmore Park and stroll the few blocks to the entrance of Addison Rd Community Centre where the market shares its location with Reverse Garbage, The Bower Reuse & Repair Centre and eclectic community groups.
Marrickville Organic Food & Farmers Markets is a diverse, vibrant, busy event where you can browse, shop and eat. We do all three, in that order. As I usually do food shopping on a Saturday at Eveleigh Farmers’ Market, our forays to Marrickville Markets are pleasantly recreational, we pick up extras & impulse buys, and delicious breakfasts we eat casually perched watching the heterogeneous throng. The G.O. inevitably opts for a Country Fresh lamb roll, while I amuse myself perusing the multicultural, vegetarian, vegan, traditional offerings before, this time, deciding on an Egyptian breakfast from Fritter House.
Marrickville Organic Food & Farmers Markets are on Sunday 8:00 am – 3:00 pm, located at Addison Rd Community Centre, 142 Addison Rd Marrickville, NSW Australia.
Over the past few weeks I’ve been spending a lot of time with another man. The G.O. doesn’t mind, he’s a fan too… of The Man in Black: Johnny Cash.
It started with a book – Johnny Cash: The Life by Robert Hilburn, my book club’s selection earlier this year I purchased despite being a weighty paperback tome knowing the G.O. would enjoy it also, but the size of which was practically daunting to lug for daily commute reading time on the train.
“In this, the definitive biography of an American legend, Robert Hilburn conveys the unvarnished truth about a musical superstar. Johnny Cash’s extraordinary career stretched from his days at Sun Records with Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis to the remarkable creative last hurrah, at age 69, that resulted in the brave, moving “Hurt” video.
As music critic for the Los Angeles Times, Hilburn knew Cash throughout his life: he was the only music journalist at the legendary Folsom Prison concert in 1968, and he interviewed both Cash and his wife June Carter just months before their deaths. Drawing upon a trove of never-before-seen material from the singer’s inner circle, Hilburn creates an utterly compelling, deeply human portrait of a towering figure in country music, a seminal influence in rock, and an icon of American popular culture. Hilburn’s reporting shows the astonishing highs and deep lows that marked the journey of a man of great faith and humbling addiction who throughout his life strove to use his music to lift people’s spirits.”
The heft of the book was soon immaterial as engrossed I read it every spare minute I had. At the end, sad to put it down, I gave it 5 stars: “Wonderfully absorbing. I had no idea I would become so captivated by Johnny Cash as his story is told by Robert Hilburn. This book doesn’t simply convey details, it makes you care and takes you along for the incredible ride. To enhance the experience listen to some Johnny Cash as you go through the book; the later Rick Rubin albums beginning with American Recordings as well as Johnny Cash’s earlier music.”
We already had a few Johnny Cash albums in our collection including the more recent American IV – The Man comes Around; American V – A Hundred Highways; and American VI Ain’t No Grave, which I have to confess at first I didn’t appreciate and languished in a cupboard. But, reading Robert Hilburn’s biography set me off on a shopping mission for classic recordings such as Folsom Prison and The Essential Johnny Cash plus the earlier of the Rick Rubin produced albums: American Recordings; Unchained (American II); and American III – Solitary Man.
Just after the book went back on the shelf awaiting the opportunity for the G.O. to read it I noticed a promo for The Man in Black – The Johnny Cash Story, a show at the Sydney Opera House for which I had tried unsuccessfully to get tickets during its previous tours.
“The Helpmann Award winning The Man in Black… Starring Tex Perkins, this is two hours of Johnny Cash’s magnificent music interwoven with the story of his rise to stardom, his fight for survival and his eventual redemption.
With his driving freight-train chords, steel-eyed intensity and a voice as dark as the night, the legendary Johnny Cash revolutionised music. The show explores his relationships – with hardened prisoners to the beautiful June Carter and lots in between. Johnny Cash was dealt a very tough hand, early in life, but through his music and dedication, he became a legend throughout the world.
Tex Perkins, one of the most electrifying front men of Australian rock ‘n’ roll, brings the hard-living country legend to life, and is joined on stage by Rachael Tidd and The Tennessee Four.
Enjoy Ring of Fire, I Walk the Line, Folsom Prison Blues, Sunday Mornin’ Coming Down, Get Rhythm, A Boy Named Sue, Hey Porter and over a dozen more hits.”
The weather was chilly last Friday night when we went but the show was brilliant, Tex Perkins doing an amazing account of The Man in Black, and the wintry late evening trip home well worth braving for the experience. I couldn’t really say a favourite song but “Hurt” originally recorded by the Nine Inch Nails and later covered by Johnny Cash was powerful. Over the weekend the G.O. and I both were still humming the tunes.
He was an extraordinary man.
“The Master of Life’s been good to me. He has given me strength to face past illnesses, and victory in the face of defeat. He has given me life and joy where others saw oblivion. He has given new purposes to live for. New services to render and old wounds to heal. Life and love go on. Let the music play.” Johnny Cash
Newtown Community Market is successful enough that in 2012 it won a council-supported business achievement award. Popular enough that last year the organisers, Newtown Neighbourhood Centre, lodged a development application to expand its ongoing operation, but eliciting objection to the effect “they stole customers from bricks-and-mortar retailers” and votes from a number of Marrickville councillors to actually cease operations. The response was almost 4000 people signed a petition fighting to keep the markets open. People power won. Personally, I believe the retailers benefit from the presence the markets attract.
Described as “small-but-hip” Newtown Markets are the lazy Saturday morning option for the G.O. and me. It’s a leisurely walk browsing the eclectic King Street shops en route. When we don’t need much in the way of groceries our produce necessities are simply & wonderfully catered for by Sariwa Fresh Foods. No need to fight for car parking or lug a laden granny trolley 2 kms home from Eveleigh Farmers’ Market.
And, with unspent grocery money burning a hole in our pockets there are my personal favourites: second-hand books and socks… [new socks, that is; I have cat socks, dog socks, fox socks, owl socks, pink flamingo socks and more, some remaining only singly which I mix and match]; and all manner of interesting things once encountered you could hardly live without.
“Newtown Market offers low-risk business opportunities for local artists and craftspeople in a high profile location to promote and sell their unique creations. The Market is organised by Newtown Neighbourhood Centre to raise funds for its community support programs. This community market has become the common ground, a place where people can interact, alive with social and economic activities. We believe our vibrant market strengthens the local identify and serves to amplify cherished aspects of Newtown’s local culture.
The Corner is a live music space located at the Newtown Community Market. The space provides local buskers with an opportunity to reach a new audience, promote their music while being encouraged to put out their cases and to sell their cd’s. The Corner has hosted a range of musical styles including Gypsy Jazz, solo artists, theatrical performances, blues, electronica, Newtown Primary’s Jazz Orchestra, soul, reggae and Latin. The Corner brings new life to the markets, entertaining market goers and stallholders with music to shop along to, or to sit and enjoy.”
Newtown Neighbourhood Centre is also the organiser of Newtown Festival which on one Sunday each November attracts 80,000 people to Camperdown Memorial Rest Park.
In April 2013 I posted about street art on this same wall, opening with the words Life is pretty
dull quiet at Chez EllaDee & the G.O. but luckily what we lack the neighbourhood provides, just a short walk away.
Same same… the chilly Sydney winter weather is a plausible seasonal explanation; our ancient natural inclination to hibernate derailed by modern work-life environment still exerts enough influence to subdue our out-and-about doings.
My convenient consolation is that wall is an ever-changing canvas. So I’ll avert my eyes; divert my Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock-type thoughts of decisions & revisions, coffee spoons, should I eat a peach while wearing the bottoms of my white flannel trousers rolled when walking upon the beach; and allow time to take care of itself.
Goddard Street is a great example of the street art Newtown is renowned for.