My Apec Story
I felt a bit like Muriel yesterday at Coolangatta Airport. You know the scene in “Muriel’s Wedding” where Muriel has returned briefly to Porpoise Spit for a funeral, has breakup sex with the sexy South African swimmer she married, and now finds herself contemplating her future, returning to Sydney? Yeah, that bit. Yeah, I’d been back to Porpoise Spit, yeah I’d been to a funeral, but no, there was no breakup sex.
Well actually, I wasn’t supposed to be at Coolangatta Airport, I was supposed to be leaving from Ballina. For some unknown and undeclared reason – I suspect a lack of APEC-level security at Ballina Airport – flights were being diverted to Coolangatta, which meant a 60 minute bus trip on top of the 30 minute drive from Lismore. And then at Coolangatta Airport, we had to wait for the plane to arrive from Sydney, which had been delayed by an hour. Although the official line was that it was normal delays, we all knew, and someone in the chain of command at the airline I travelled with told us bluntly it was due to APEC. Thus, the 90 minute flight which would have seen me returning to Sydney at about 1.00pm, turned into an extravaganza, resulting in an arrival at Sydney airport at 5.00pm.
And from there I wandered down to Circular Quay to meet Damo for a drink and a taste of life in East Berlin. Or so it seemed with the erection of the cage throughout the city. Actually, of course it’s not as bad as the old GDR, having gone through Checkpoint Charlie in 1983, but forgive me some dramatic license, won’t you? After a few hours enjoying the delights of the newly re-opened Quay Bar (which is excellent), I headed off home just in time to hear GWB arrive in Sydney. The choppers were loud and noisy over my home, and I suspect a couple of official cars made a “sweep of my street” given the speed of three vehicles in a row which drove down just before the motorcade arrived. Damo and I exchanged text messages – “Are they over your place yet?” – ahead of going to bed.
It was a reasonably productive day at work, but I was well and truly hanging out for a beer, by the time six o’clock arrived. As I caught the bus to the Lewisham Hotel I discovered a brand new public transport syndrome. It’s when you look up at someone on a crowded bus who is older than you, but you decide they’re not old enough for you to get up and offer them your seat. I’ve seen people do it to me previously and I did it today to a man of about fifty. Sorry mate, I thought to myself, you just don’t look old enough.