The day started early for me. I set the alarm for 2.55, so I could be at work by about 3.30, which gave me plenty of time to prepare for our broadcast of the Martin Place Dawn Service.
Like a lot of my peers, when I was a late teens, early twenties person, I was of the view Anzac Day “glorified war”.
But when you go to a parade, and to a Dawn Service in particuar, and REALLY look around at the assembling crowd you realise it isn’t.
One of the figures that stunned me today was that 40% of Australian men enlisted in World War I. I can’t begin to imagine the impact that had on the mindset of the country.
And of course, they were ordinary run-of-the-mill people doing what they felt was the right thing to do.
So yeah, I spent a fair amount of the day in Hyde Park enjoying the atmosphere near the Red Cross tent. It’s a great place, actually, since you see lots of people gathering around for a cup of tea after the march, which must be quite exhausting. Quite often you’ll see three (sometimes more) generations of people together for the day. I am always particularly touched when I see a grand-child taking care of someone who has just marched, who needs a seat, who needs a cup of tea, and who is sometimes a little overwhelmed by the day.
After that, I headed home for a while for a bit of an afternoon nap.
But when I caught up with friends tonight on Oxford Street, I was pleased to see there was still a bit of military colour around, with lots of service personnel on the streets.
One of the great untold stories, of course, is the large and significant number of gays and lesbians in the defence forces. And tonight, there were a lot of them in the bars.
And while maybe ten years ago, they would never have felt they could do this, for fear of losing their jobs, tonight they seemed a lot more confident.
We went out tonight on Oxford Street to catch up with a fellow ABBA fan visiting from Adelaide. He and a friend were over for a few days of fun in the “big smoke”.
After dinner and some drinks, we ended up at Palms for a bit of a disco dance.
As we joined the queue (I can’t believe the Oxford Street queuing policy!!), we got to talking to a couple of people behind us. There was a young German bloke who seemed lovely, and the most humourless Swede (I don’t THINK that’s a tautology or maybe it is?) I’ve ever come across. As our friend’s friend was German (born and raised in the East), she had a great time chatting with the young bloke (also born and raised in the East). It was great to see bonding across the generations, as he was about 25 and she was 60. Meanwhile, the humourless Swede stood there with a bored look on his face. Through my mind, I was trying to work out how to say “Get over it, you humourless prick” in Swedish.
And then we got inside, had a few drinks, and a few laughs, and we had a great dance.
I love the way at Palms how they combine all sorts of music together, and how the DJ has absolutely note pretentious about the music he plays. I get the impression his view is that “so long as people dance” it doesn’t matter what they play.
This was also perhaps the philosophy of David Hiscock, a well known Sydney DJ.
In an otherwise joyous night, there was one sad moment. As we arrived at the Midnight Shift, there was a “service” underway in memory of David who passed away yesterday morning from a heart-attack (I understand).
I guess David was most familiar to people at the Shift and the Newtown Hotel by his famous toupee. But for me, the most striking thing about his work was the absolute joy in the music he played. He was well known for playing good sing-a-long music with a great pop sensibility. He was also known to slip in the occasional Swedish pop song upon request. There always seemed to be a lot of heart and soul and passion in his work, and I was a little sad to hear of his passing.
So yes, it was a day of contrasts.