Newcastle

It’s Wednesday night and I’m sitting at home having a glass of wine, although I should actually be at The Metro for the Chrissie Amphlett book launch. I would have gone, except that I’m a little tired after the last few days.

I’ve just spent the last three days in Newcastle, due to work. The work was good and interesting and it was great to catch up with some of my colleagues from around Australia. But it also gave me time to catch up with Kate, and we went out to pub trivia last night which was a load of fun. I really quite like Newcastle. The place has a reasonably good vibe about it. Mostly when I visit, due to Kate, I hang around with an artsy kind of crowd. But I also see, when visiting Newcastle, a pretty good cross-section of working class Newcastle. It remains a fairly working class Anglo town with thongs and shorts abounding. It’s a bit old fashioned in many ways. That’s probably why I like it!

In the last week I’ve also spent a bit of time exploring around Sydney. Last weekend, for example, I went for a look at the Danks Street galleries. The works that impressed me most were from a Korean artist who, mostly working in wrapping up small boxes and turning them into “relief paintings” (I think that’s the right phrase), had works which which were both visually outstanding, but also conceptually interesting. Nothing else at the galleries stood out for me, to be honest.

And then I wandered off to Moore Park. Knowing that IKEA was about to close, I thought it was a good idea to wander over to see if there were any bargains. There weren’t! Along the way, I wandered through the modern architectural monstrosity that Moore Park has become. Boxes, boxes, boxes. Plastic boxes at that. Moore Park is fast becoming worse than I expected it would. Modern day Eastern Bloc housing commission is the only way to sum up some of what I saw on the weekend. And I’m not being judgemental about the people, just about the business models that allow such architecture to develop.

The only other highlight from the last few days was catching up with Mark and Glen, as we celebrated Mark’s birthday at the Strawberry Hills Hotel. I’m too tired to write, so I’ll just quote Mark… Then I head over to Surry to meet up with James and Glen at the Strawberry Hills. It’s a lunchtime on a sunny Sunday morning and everything is peaceful in the city. James rocks up in his shorts and tells me about the virtues of watching cricket as I grimace at the big-screen TV and wonder. Then Glen brings me this little book called The Relevance of the Humanities which was the response of a bunch of Aussie academics to the impending HECS apocalypse in the 80s. Glen is also wearing shorts but it’s less of a thing with him. We have the famous Strawberry Hills lunch and chat on the veranda where the light is so bright that I almost fall of my seat.

That’s it, that’s all. Hopefully lots more to say on the weekend.

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