Speakers and Smokers

It’s Sunday night and I’m kind of half-watching the program, Outfoxed, screening on World Movies. It’s interesting enough, although the polemical nature of the program means I probably won’t watch it all that closely. Why watch a program that’s sole role is to reinforce a viewpoint, rather than open up a debate, unless of course it’s entertaining? I’m not sure if watching it will tell me anything I didn’t already know or suspect. I’ve also just been watching a terrific series, Broadway: The American Musical which has been running over the last few weeks on ABC-TV and which I’ve totally enjoyed as I’ve learned so much about the history of Broadway and its characters. Anyway, it’s been a reasonably interesting week in my life, so enough of the tv watching…

I went out for Yum Cha today at the Regal with fellow-blogger, Mark and work colleague (and friend), Christian (and two of his friends). Christian who is from Perth is in Sydney for a couple of weeks and so and Mark is also from Perth… and so I thought it would be a good opportunity to get together. As it turns out, four out of five of us have a Perth connection, and so there was gratuitous use of words like Leederville and Scarborough. One of the topics of discussion that came up was the progressive move towards smoke free restaurants and hotels in NSW, which made me remember instantly that one of my local pubs has now installed outdoor ashtrays for those who need to smoke outside. An interesting sign of the times. The conversation was fun and the meal was good.

Actually it’s been a week of good meals. I made a brief visit to Melbourne (for work) this week, which was good, especially as Sue and I went out for dinner. The restaurant we went to, Madame Sousous, located on Brunswick Street, Fitzroy was quite good. The meals were good, the service was good and the atmosphere was also good. In 10 years time I probably won’t recall the restaurant, but I thought it was worth noting. We had lots to talk about, with both of us facing interesting challenges in our work situation at the moment. We also went for a wander down Brunswick Street, which I’d never been to before but which I felt a certain affinity for because of the bookshops, the restaurants and… oh and I loved the old fashioned fruit and vegetable shop.

I also received a terrific sms invitation from Damien yesterday which said Am ciooking duck and truffle risotto for dinner, washed down with a fine burgundy. Wanna join me for a meal? The meal was excellent with some very tasty truffle butter from David Jones adding a terrific element to the flavour. The 1996 Volnay was a great accompaniment. We also watched a Jancis Robinson DVD about wine. It was good fun – I like her sense of humour – and also historically interesting as it was recorded in the mid 90s before she started to enjoy Australian wine. My favourite moment in the DVD was the Hobart Wine Show, featuring a group of larger than life wine judges, all of whom could have been played by Bill Hunter or Jack Thompson. So yes, an excellent evening all around.

On another level, I went to a lecture yesterday afternoon at Customs House. Given by the City of Sydney’s Research Historian, Lisa Murray, it was an illustrated talk on Sydney’s early burial grounds. Amongst those discussed were the the Old Sydney Burial Ground, Devonshire Street Cemetery, Camperdown Cemetery and Rookwood Necropolis. Lisa had some great stories about when, where, how and why graveyards were established and some pretty amazing facts about the relocation of the Devonshire Street Cemetery (now the site of Central Station) to Rookwood, including the relocation of some 30,000 graves for which they had no idea who was buried there. It was also interesting to see some images of Campderdown Cemetery from the 1950s in which it appeared to be no more than a paddock in the middle of a country town. The other really interesting thing was an insight into Mortuary Station, an odd looking building near Central Railway which I often pass, but which I didn’t know much about. Turns out that betwen 1867 and 1948, Mortuary Station was used to ferry coffins and people to Rookwdood.

And the other interesting thing I’ve done today was spend an hour or two at Speakers Corner at The Domain. I had intented to go St Marys Cathedral for a few moments of prayer, but it turned out St Marys was closed to a special Cathecist Mass. So I wandered downto Speakers Corner just before 2pm, found myself a nice spot in the sun and lied down to listen. At first it was quite good, with one bloke offering a good analysis about free speech etc, but then it quickly deteriorated as the usual suspects offered the expected opinions about the expected suspects. The one interesting moment was a woman in her 40s maybe who wandered through, briefly, had a spray about the Catholic Church being the largest paedophile ring in the world, and then wandering on. From the reaction to her, I get the impression she might do it on a regular basis.

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