The Chaser at Giant Dwarf

The Chaser’s Empty Vessell at Giant Dwarf

“Twenty years ago”, I told Ronni Khan from Ozharvest, “I worked at Coles New World, and one of my jobs was to document the shrinkage, and to make sure the bins were locked so people couldn’t steal food. Is that still the case, or are the supermarkets now on board? Who do you still get resistance from?”.

She knew exactly what I was talking about: shrinkage is what the supermarket chains refer to and what they mean is food they throw out, and indeed, many still have a policy of locking up their garbage bins to avoid so-called “dumpster dining”. She said with the exception of ALDI, the supermarkets “say they’re on board, but they’re not really, and we could use your help in convincing them to help out”.

In asking the question, I was mindful of an earlier comment from Julian Morrow that questions should be “more than just a statement about your own life, seeking affirmation” (or words to that effect). Having worked in the media for a long time, I’m conscious of how badly constructed are the questions of some journalists. They often asked closed questions to establish facts which could have been established differently. The best questions are usually those which seek to establish fact, but then gain further insights, and of course, they shouldn’t be questions which elicit the answers your already know. I think my question did all of those things (I hope), even though it was a double-barelled question.

Ronni is an interesting character, and so is Greg Combet, and so is Jeremy Moylan. Jeremy is an activist who famously pranked the media recently, Ronni is the founder of an organisation which feeds homeless people with food otherwise thrown out by restaurants, and Greg is a former ACTU boss and federal minister.

Greg was very much in “book selling mode”, as he has recently published an autobiography, focussing on his life generally, but more specifically about his years in the Rudd/Gillard ministry. Like a bunch of people – Gillard, Swan – he’s in reflective mode about the years of the Labor Governments, and in particular, about the impact of the dysfunctional relationship between members of the ALP. The only really interesting anecdote from him was about how, in front of Bob Hawke, he described Bill Kelty as the greatest president of the ACTU. “Bob looked pretty uncomfortable”, he said, but then argued it’s usually harder to be the President of the ACTU when you have a Labor Government in place”.

I’ve been to Giant Dwarf only once before, but enjoyed it very much. For about twenty bucks, you have an hour or two of great entertainment and interesting conversation. I suspect it’s the space where The Chaser team are trying out some new ideas for television programs. The space has been on my mind once again in the last week – at work, we’re planning to hold an event there – and so I decided I’d pop along to remind myself what it’s like as a venue. I’m also a fan of the work of The Chaser, so it wasn’t like it was only for business reasons.

Sydney Airport

Apparently, it’s raining in Sydney

Earlier today I discovered the key advantage of being seated in the final row of an aircraft: while you’re always the last to be fed and often the last to get off, you’re also the closest the toilet. This was an important realisation I came to earlier this morning as I sat and waited desperately for the seatbelt light to go off.

Although I’d received a message last night my 0700 flight was cancelled, I still arrived at the airport fairly early. As I live fairly close to the airport, it generally doesn’t take me long to get there. I can usually catch a cab for about twenty dollars. The combination of heavy rain and traffic slowed things down, and the cab fare came out at thirty-three dollars. But I was still early enough to sit around, have a juice, have a coffee, and read the papers, knowing I wouldn’t have to wait too long for the re-scheduled 0800 flight. Unfortunately, the flight was further put back to 0825. At about 0820, the captain told us there would be further delays, but that we should be on the runway in “about eighteen minutes” but that we might have to wait on the runway for a while.

Visiting Melbourne

Visiting Melbourne

We finally left Sydney at about 0945. It was about ten o’clock before the seat-belt light was switched off, by which time we had all been waiting, patiently on the flight for about 1 hr and 45 minutes. The combination of fruit juice and coffee had come back to haunt me. I was busting for a wee, and as soon as the seat-belt light went off, I jumped up. The only person who got there faster than me was one of the flight attendants. As I emerged, there was at least a dozen others in the queue.

It’s raining here in Melbourne also, though not as heavily as it was in Sydney this morning. Melbourne seems to take wet weather in its stride, whereas Sydney really doesn’t cope well with the rain, does it?

Penelope Seidler by Fiona Lowry

Archibald Prize 2014

I really love the winner of this year’s Archibald Prize: the portrait of Penelope Seidler by Fiona Lowry. Although I’d seen it previously online, it wasn’t until I saw it in real life today that I realised how much I like it.

It’s the kind of work you could spend hours looking at and see many layers of complexity emerge, although the story behind the portrait is quite simple. It’s set in the yard of a house designed by Penelope and her husband Harry, and in which they lived for many years. Harry’s dead now, and Penelope no longer lives there. For the painting, Penelope and the artist went back to that house, and what you see is a portrait of Penelope looking back at the house.

“When you’re doing a portrait it’s said you should always start with the eyes”, the tour guide told us at the Art Gallery of NSW today. Although the image above is cropped (it’s a full-length portrait), the eyes draw you in.

The other works that really captured my attention today were the portrait of Ash Flanders as Hedda Gabler by Wendy Sharpe, the portrait of Tim Maguire by Mia Oatley and the portrait of his father by Anh Do. Anh is one seriously talented guy. As well as his acting, writing and comedy, he’s also a really fantastic artist (I never knew). Our guide today explained Anh also worked in a bakery, and his attitude to paint was probably drawn from this experience, spreading large amounts of paint around as you perhaps would pastry or confectionery.

It was a really lovely way to spend the afternoon, and especially nice since my friend Sue now lives in Sydney. It’s quite a luxury to be able to chat in morning, and organise something for the early afternoon without the need to book a flight and fly 1,000 km.

I’ve concluded that when I retire, I’d like to spend my time evenly divided between being an art gallery tour guide and conducting history walks. Now that would be really nice.