Twists and Turns – Matthew Mitcham Cabaret

I think Matthew Mitcham is stalking me. I wish. On Tuesday we jockeyed for position in the coffee queue at the ABC cafe, ahead of his appearance on Midday Interview with Margaret Throsby. This afternoon, he was in the reception of 702 ABC Sydney, ahead of his appearance on “Thank God It’s Friday”. “I loved your show last night”, I told him.

Indeed I did. He has a cabaret show – songs, stories, acrobatics – based on his autobiography, which I read a couple of years ago. At the time, I observed how amazing and complex was his life story, moving me in many ways.

As I read about his early years in Brisbane, I couldn’t help but be connected to his story. “Oh my goodness, he lived around the corner from my aunt”, I noticed. And the gay bar he went to where they allowed him in as an underage patron? I’d been there too. With a good cultural knowledge of Brisbane, I knew instantly where that was, even though he failed to name it (for obvious legal reasons). I’d also been an under-age entrant to a gay bar in Brisbane many, many years ago. I was fifteen at the time, and was accompanied by a slightly older friend. Not much older, but old enough to be able to whisper in the ear of the bouncer and guarantee me entry. Twenty years later, and it seems little had changed when Matthew found himself in a similar position. Unlike Matthew, however, I was never accompanied by my mother.

His mother was in the audience at last night’s show, along with his diving coach, and seemingly, several hundred of his closest friends because there was a lot of love in the room. There were lots of people who have obviously followed his story ever since Beijing, which, by contrast I completely missed, as I backpacked my way through Europe at the time.

Matthew’s quite a good singer, with a reasonable vocal range, and with dramatic qualities, brings life to a range of songs, many written for the show, along with others such as “True Faith” by “New Order”. He’s also a talented story-teller, and displays a charming self deprecating sense of humour. One of the highlights was a mood-lighting re-enactment of his perfect 10 dive at Beijing, accompanied by Matthew singing a rather haunting song.

At the end of the show there was a 15 minute or so Q&A session. He was asked whether or not he would be going to any of the Mardi Gras parties. “Oh no, I don’t know how to party safely”, he told the audience, showing a greater level of self-awareness than I did at that age.

After the Q&A everyone wandered outside for selfies with Matthew, and for the purchase of a range of signed merchandise. A fun evening was had by all.

4A’s Twilight Garden Party

These are some photographs from the 4A Gallery Chinese NY Event at Sydney’s Chinese Garden of Friendship, held earlier tonight, featuring works by the visiting artist collective, Yangjiang Group. As noted by the burb on the 4A site…

Celebrate the Chinese New Year with 4A and Chinese artist collective Yangjiang Group as they take over Sydney’s Chinese Garden of Friendship! This one-night-only special event will feature live art performances led by Yangjiang Group, a contemporary art collective hailing from the coastal city of Yangjiang in China’s southern Guangdong province. Featuring DJs as well as food and bar by pioneering Sydney laneway outfit Grasshopper Eating House and Bar, this is a rare opportunity to experience a night of contemporary art and performance set within the beauty of the Chinese Garden of Friendship, Darling Harbour. Yangjiang Group will be bringing their unique brand of art and reverie to Sydney’s Chinese Garden of Friendship with a series of performances and encounters that take calligraphy off the page and into every aspect of the celebrations

Millers Point

“We’re just trying to brighten up the area”, the woman who was painting a “mural” on the windows of a house in Sydney’s Millers Point told me, as I asked her if she minded if I took a photograph. Although I’d read and heard about the plan to relocate some Housing Commission residents from Millers Point, it wasn’t issue I was fully across. I visit the area probably only once or twice a year. Nor was I aware of the local campaign currently underway to stop this. It was an interesting diversion along the way, as we took part in a Craft Beer Tour. I wished her good luck, as we continued to The Lord Nelson for a late afternoon bevvy.

Craft Beer Tour

“This tour combines two of my passions: history and beer”, our tour guide told us, as we began the Craft Beer Tour yesterday. I don’t recall exactly how I discovered the tour through Foodi, though it was possibly doing a search for “history and beer”, as they’re also passions of mine.

The tour covered Sydney pubs such as The Hero Of Waterloo, The Lord Nelson and others, and the beers we consumed ranged from light to dark in style, and from well-established brands like Reschs and James Squires, to those made only on site. The tour also covered some really interesting insights into Sydney history, including a visit to the basement of the historic pub, The Hero Of Waterloo (which was really terrific). The tour was well-paced, with enough room to sit down down and enjoy the experience, without the feeling you were constantly on the move.

By the time the tour ended at the Lowenbrau, we were a little tired of beer, having spent close to four hours wandering around, and so headed to a nearby bar for some wine instead. It was a really enjoyable tour, and good value at $35 (plus beer).

Friday Afternoon at Coogee

So it’s Friday afternoon, you’re sitting at home in a t-shirt and shorts, and a friend texts you to say “I need a drink”. A tough week at work, apparently. So you agree to meet for a bite to eat, and can’t decide where to go. “Let’s go to the beach somewhere”, we decided, agreeing quickly on Coogee. “Of all the Eastern suburbs beaches, it’s my favourite, I declared”. “Besides the people on the 372 bus are much nicer than those on the 393 or the 395″, I added. “They stand up for old people, they don’t think their shopping bag is entitled to a paying seat of its own, and they don’t ignore you because they’re so engrossed in their mobile phone”, I said. Ten minutes later we were at Coogee and exploring the options. Quickly we settled on fish and chips at the outdoor cafe near where the buses stop. The food was good, though not great. Later, a walk along the beach, and we both concluded that “oh so necessary drink” wasn’t needed after all. Ice cream, on the other hand :)

Worth the wait: Chinatown Noodle Restaurant on Quay Street

For many years I’ve been a fan of the two dumpling/noodle restaurants in the Burlington Centre in Sydney’s Chinatown. There’s the “popular one” (the one on the left) which always has a queue, and there’s the “less popular one” (on the right) where you can usually get a table fairly quickly. Both sell reasonably cheap, good quality dumplings and noodles. There are countless other restaurants and cafes in Chinatown where you can purchase steamed or pan-fried dumplings, in both Northern and Southern Chinese styles, but these two seem to be the most popular in the part of Chinatown close to where I work.

But even closer, around the corner, there’s far better offering in my opinion at the Chinatown Noodle House on Quay Street. Unlike many other restaurants who pre-prepare and often freeze their noodles and dumplings, these guys appear to make them for you “on demand”. You have to wait a bit longer, but they’re definitely worth the wait. They also have a really fantastic eggplant dish. Highly recommended.

Actions for Tomorrow from Yangjiang Group at 4A

“You always have great exhibitions, but this is the best in a good while”, I told Aaron Seeto, the curator at Sydney’s 4A Gallery. Their current exhibition, “Actions for Tomorrow” is the first solo exhibition in Australia of Yangjiang Group and it’s fantastic.

At the heart of the exhibition is the work of three artists, each with their own speciality who work collaboratively. My own personal favourite is the artist who works with wax, dripping wax over clothing. As you enter the gallery’s ground floor, it’s almost as if you’re entering a clothing store. The surprise is the clothing is covered in candle wax. Here are some photographs from today’s exhibition launch.