Author Archives: James O'Brien

City Tatts

City Tatts, Sydney

City Tatts, Sydney

It was definitely on a whim that I took out Gold Membership at Sydney’s City Tattersalls Club, earlier in the year. I’d been there only on a couple of occasions with friends for a drink, having had no previous idea the club actually existed. But when I saw they were offering a “gift card” to the value of $155 upon paying the annual membership fee, I figured it was a damn fine investment.

Since joining I’ve popped in quite a few times for a drink when I’ve been in the city. Four dollar discounted glasses of wine can’t be sneezed at, especially when you get to sit in some seriously comfortable lounges in the main downstairs bar. I’ve even attended quite a few of the twice-weekly badge-draws, though the pokie room is all a bit much. I’ve also toyed about the idea of joining the gym/swimming club. The one thing I hadn’t quite gotten around to was doing something with the gift card, until last night when a friend and I decided it was time to cash it in. So we booked into Zest, and over a couple of hours of great conversation, enjoyed an awful lot to eat and drink. The card covered most of it. The food was good, not great, but we had a terrific time.

Had A Little Cry

Martin Place, Sydney

Martin Place, Sydney

I was chatting to a colleague on Tuesday morning about the siege at Lindt Cafe. Neither of us knew any of the people involved. Neither of us were involved in reporting the incident, though I had a minor role in coverage co-ordination. But when I mentioned to her “I actually had a little cry last night”, she admitted she had also. “I’m so glad you said that”, she told me, “as I was thinking I was being a little over-dramatic”.

I felt the same way too. Why would or should I be brought to tears over such a random incident? Especially when you consider the horror the attack in Pakistan and later in the week, the terrible stabbing murder of all of those children in Cairns. The answer, I guess, is that it was all too close to home, and all too random. I’ve been to that shop on many, many occasions. “It could have been me”, is the reaction I guess most people in Sydney have had to this.

On top of the sadness of the children losing their mother, and the guy losing his partner, there’s the general sadness of what it means for life in Sydney. Although we like to think Sydney is a place full of hustle and bustle, it really is a bit of a sleepy backwater in many ways. We lead a fairly charmed life. Despite what happened this week, we still do. In the midst of it all, you could see the look of concern on the faces of people as you walked around the city. People were definitely on edge. By the end of the week that level of concern was starting to fade.

As I walked around the city today that level of concern was pretty much gone. It was a sunny day. People were wearing shorts. I know some people are really cynical about public displays of grief, but I was really heartened to pay a visit to Martin Place today and to see all of the people who had bothered to lay some flowers there. In the midst of our modern lives, I think it’s great that people still care.

Important Cultural Artefact

Peeing in Public

Peeing in

“It’s an important cultural artefact”, I heard one American tourist tell an other. As I stood at the traffic lights, I heard her tell her friend she needed to wait until the sign came around. In the midst of other warning signs, there was a sign warning people that if you were caught peeing in public, it could cost you $200. I laughed and showed them the photograph I’d snapped earlier. Deep down though I wondered why we needed to have the sign anyway. Yeah, it’s a bit gross, but at the end of a week which has involved a hostage siege in Sydney, the tragic death of over 100 kids in Pakistan, and the stabbing murder of eight kids in Cairns, it does seem a little unimportant eh?

Capsis and Porteño

Though initially we had booked in for the ten o’clock show, we were both a little concerned about having done so on a “school night”. When you find yourself in your mid to late 40s, the idea going out so late leads to both excitement (hey, we’re not so old), and yet fear (how will we get out of bed in time for work?). I’d previously warned my close colleagues I mightn’t be able to make it to the office at the usual time of around 8.00am. Thankfully, we were able to get into the eight o’clock show, have a bite to eat afterwards, and still get on with our normal lives.

I’d mentioned to a shop-keeper in Surry Hills earlier in the afternoon I was going to see Paul Capsis that night. “He’s such a lovely guy”, he told me, adding that Paul had often brought in clothing for adjustments, saying “If it’s too hard, don’t worry about it”. I’d also seen Paul around the shopping centre in Surry Hills, and have come to know his manager over the last few years. He’s a wonderful performer, with an amazing voice and stage presence. The last time I saw him perform was in 2010 at the launch of his CD. As then, he delivered an amazing performance, and well worth seeing, as he performed some great standards that ranged from jazz to rock. These shows are well worth seeing.

Afterwards we grabbed a bite to eat at nearby Porteño. Though I remember it fondly as Dimitri’s – the Greek plate breaking restaurant – it’s become one of the hip places of Surry Hills. Oddly enough, I don’t think I’ve ever eaten there before, and what a disappointment it is that I haven’t. Honestly, great food – beef with a beetroot salad – which I’d also recommend.

Overall – a great night was had, and not too bad for a couple of forty-somethings on a school night :)

The Potting Shed

Until earlier today I thought I was still reasonably hip and groovy. When it came to restaurants and bars I thought I knew all the “hot spots” of Sydney. But when we arrived at Alexandria for workplace Christmas Lunch, I knew instantly there was a “blindspot” in my knowledge. I had no idea there was a restaurant, shopping, farm thing going on in the area.

We’d booked in for lunch at The Pottery which we all realised pretty quickly was hipster heaven. In short that meant lots of waiters with bears and armpit hair. “In another environment, James and I would think this was okay, I’m just not sure about it for lunch”, a colleague joked.

The food was okay, though the chips accompanying my cheeseburger were a little salty for my liking. Everyone else seemed to enjoy their choices, which included prawns, schnitzel, and pulled pork. Accompanying the meals were a few jugs of fruit-flavoured beverages. “Is there alcohol in this?”, a colleague asked. “Oh no, I’m sure there isn’t”, I told her referencing the large amounts of ice and fruit. Working in middle-management these days, we all kept ourselves nice, returning to work after only a couple of hours.

The environment was quite nice with all of the plants, and especially with the cooling effect of the light sprays. The only negative, we all agreed, was the music was probably a little too loud.

Also, I’m not so sure about the “caged” animals, including a pig called Kevin Bacon.

It was incredibly busy, though, for a lunchtime on Monday, even in the run up to Christmas.

Boomali Aboriginal Art Gallery

Boomali Aboriginal Art Gallery

Boomali Aboriginal Art Gallery

Sue and I enjoyed a fabulous afternoon at Boomali Aboriginal Art Gallery.

The current exhibition is on there until February.

Both Sue and I really liked a couple of works, which might turn out to be our Christmas presents to ourselves. As with all art purchases, there’s a degree of “think it over” involved.

That said, it’s a really great exhibition with lots of really great works from NSW artists which are worth checking out.

Conversations @ Giant Dwarf

Had a fabulous night at the Richard Fidler “Conversations” event at Sydney’s Giant Dwarf Theatre.

Here are some photographs from the evening.

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