Lazy Luddite Log

27.7.09

Twixt Snow And Spray

That subject line is inspired by the city of Hobart but could well cover everything I have done in the month of July. I have been to four capital cities and slept in twice as many beds. It has been a busy time and worth reporting on. And I will report on life in Canberra as well as my travels away from it.

Canberra

I have now settled into the bush capital pretty well. I find on a day-to-day and week-to-week basis life is pretty much the same here as back in Melbourne.


I live in suburbia and can walk in semi-bushland. I ride a bus and have been working in an office. I go to dinners and movies and gigs. I wander shopping centres and perv at the latest Transformers on shelf there.

I have done a few things to ‘put down roots’ such as join the local library (with its excellent views across Lake Tuggeranong) and the Dendy Cinemas Club for cut-price movies in Civic. Having work helped me keep busy in a new setting (that temp role ended and I am hopeful of finding more soon).

What is different is who I spend time with. I am lucky that I have friends here both old and new and almost every weekend has had some kind of fun thing. I have even had visitors from Melbourne. One weekend old friends Sean & Olivia stayed with us (they were in town for a live Impro event) and one day we took a lovely drive to Cooma and Jindabyne. But I do miss lots of Melburnians and the kinds of things that happen because of having lots of friends and acquaintances – like big house parties.

I am feeling very at home here with Petra and we are managing remarkably well in this small place. I have discovered that, for me, privacy is more about the freedom to do ones own thing, more than it is having ones own exclusive space.

Sydney

I went with Petra to Sydney for a few days. We stayed at the home of her parents. We did some very suburban things like walking the family dog to the local milkbar. But we were there for something more glitzy. Sydney always makes an impression. I know that Melbourne has the tallest Australian skyscrapers and yet everything in the Sydney city seems taller. Maybe it is the number of skyscrapers and the narrowness of the streets. Whatever it is it definitely gets me ooing and ahing. Our excuse to visit Sydney was to see French And Saunders live and it was a hoot. Those comediens still have it (and the way Petra responded to the show was a bit of a side-show in itself).

Melbourne

My big adventure recently was to attend the 2009 Australian Intervarsity Choral Festival in Hobart but on the way there and back I spent a bit of time in Melbourne. Melbourne has always been the fixed reference of normality for me and yet this time I noticed its size and age and complexity as something different – even just three months in a new city has done this. Still it was fantastic to spend some time there.

I stayed one night at the home of Sean in Brunswick (so as to be close to the airport for a flight at a godforsaken hour). I also stayed with former housemates Polly & Olav in Mount Waverley. Even small things about my visit here are nice – like the way the local milk bar operator remembered me and wanted to know how long I was staying.

Hobart IV

Petra and I arrived half-way into IV proceedings. We had a hire car from the airport and drove to campsite in Lauderdale (which is in the Greater Hobart street directory but looks like a distant coastal township). We got there to discover most choristers were in the City for a publicity sing. And also that some had been taken to hospital to be screened for H1N1 Influenza. What had we driven into?

It was okay in the end. All IVs are marred by some sickness as infections from across Australia are concentrated into a small space and time. This was more marked but we all survived and the final concert still happened (including a mix of new stuff by the likes of Matthew Orlovich and old stuff like the 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky). Still it did affect proceedings and this included the re-arranging of dorms into sick and healthy rooms. This was a way of forcing me to interact with choristers I may have overlooked otherwise. This also accounts for two of the four beds I stayed in while in Hobart (as we were moved from a mixed health room to a supposedly ‘healthy’ room).

An IV is an exercise in logistics and I think we were the victims of both too much and too little organisation on our first night. We had made an informal arrangement to sleep in the dorm of some friends who definitely had spare bunks. However we were then formally instructed to go to another dorm at an auxiliary campsite (in part because we had our own transport). This is the “too much organisation” aspect in which working informal arrangements are over-ridden. On getting to this other site we never managed to find our room and even woke a total stranger in the process. This is the “too little organisation” arising from a lack of campsite-specfic maps and an absence of organiser phone numbers to call for help. In the end we stayed on the living room floor of a dorm we did have phone numbers for (accounting for one of our four Hobart beds).

The last few days of IV were spend at billets and personally-arranged accommodation in Hobart proper. We got our own room (the fourth bed in Hobart) in serviced apartments along with several other choristers (mostly MonUCS). Hobart is a beautiful city to stay in with its harbour and its mountains and with everything close together. Here is the view from our front door! I had visited once before so was somewhat relaxed by the prospect of missing much of this city due to rehearsal commitments. Still we got to see a lot of cool stuff including the top of Mount Wellington and the Salamanca Place markets. There was also plenty of IV-specific fun like the Academic Dinner (my first). And a group of us even got to see the latest Harry Potter on opening night (there were crowds but nothing like what they would have got on the mainland).

I have looked back over my writings concerning SNIV and am reflecting on the differences. Frankly I was pampered by the last one what with its university halls-of-residence setting that allowed one to have a room to escape to. This IV was more what one should expect and I did need more alone-time than I got (also solitary walks are so much more attractive in warmer conditions than we had). I faced the new challenge of attending an IV both as me and as part of a relationship. I made some errors of judgement in terms of just how much I could represent the needs and preferences of both Petra and I. But we muddled along and got better at that.

Overall it was fantastic to see old friends and make new ones. I was particularly interested to observe changes over time as I (for instance) saw more confidence in someone I had last seen eighteen months previously. I was also happy to discover I still felt at home with Melburnians despite the small changes that have happened in my absence. And now once more I am back in Canberra feeling sated from the recent visits.

Update: I have indexed my seven IVs as of 2013 in this post.

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