Archive for December, 2010

27 December, 2010


Aah, Christmas. ‘Tis the season of over indulgence, awkward social moments and terrible versions of clichéd songs.   Like millions of folks all over the globe, I headed home for my annual dose, driving the 700 odd kilometres south from Canberra to Melbourne.

When I crested a rise north of Melbourne, seven hours after I began my journey, and saw the city towers rising in the distance, like the spires of Oz, I was well and truly exhausted.   But heartened by the sight of my home city, I turned the music up and headed unerringly for home, like homing pigeons of yore. An hour later, I was settled down at a dinner table heaving with food, wine, aunts, uncles, cousins and the familiarity and ease of people who had known me since I’d drawn my first breath.

And now, the over indulgence is – thankfully – over for another year (bar New Year’s Eve!).  It’s time to sleep, rest, reconnect with friends and family and get ready for the New Year.

And a restful, reinvigorating, lovely holiday season to all!


14 December, 2010


Jackson Pollock’s Blue Poles: Number 11, 1952 hangs in the National Gallery of Australia, courtesy of one of Australia’s most controversial Prime Ministers, Gough Whitlam.

It is breathtaking in real life.

And being able to wander down at any time into the NGA, and contemplate it, with none of the usual hustle and bustle that accompanies renowned paintings in the galleries of Europe or North America is a real privilege.

In a small town given over to the business of nation running (and the political sideshow which goes along with that) and which, architecturally, wants to preserve its status as a city/monument, life can be a little austere and cynical. It has been a slow, not altogether successful, process finding touchstones of culture, warmth and authenticity in this city. But the NGA, and Pollock’s gorgeous Blue Pols, is one.

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5 December, 2010


I’ve been feeling despondent of late.

Canberra is, for all intents and purposes, a small, provincial town of 340,000 people.  Much as I’m enjoying work, being fitter than I’ve ever been, the lack of traffic and good, clean, fresh air, family and old friends are a long ways away, and much of what I loved about growing up in Melbourne and living in London can’t be found here.

My mood has coincided with some stormy weather in this part of the world.  During the last week, steady, heavy rain and occasional hail was punctuated by bolts of lightning, rolling bursts of thunder, a temperature drop and only occasional bursts of sunshine.  I was feeling blue and all I could see were grey skies and stormy weather ahead.

And then yesterday, after a day of ominous clouds and hot, humid temperatures, all went dark, stopped and fell silent – a moment of quiet – before, with a roar, the heavens burst open, unleashing sheets and sheets of torrential rain.  The gutters filled, water spewed from storm drains and the roads flooded. Not an unusual happening in tropical parts of the world, but definitely atypical for Australia’s capital.

‘I’ve never seen it rain like this in Canberra before,’ said a friend (a fellow refugee from Melbourne who has lived in Canberra for six years).  We watched cars, their headlights yellow in the purple evening, proceed gingerly through the free-flowing streams snaking across a broad Canberran avenue from his balcony. Earlier, only a quick gutter unblocking had saved his balcony from turning into a swimming pool and then a waterfall onto his neighbour’s balcony below.

And then, as the stormy turbulence ceased and the pounding rain turned into an insistent drizzle, this:

And I was reminded that all storms eventually cease and wondrous things may emerge.