“Is it hot enough for you?”, my niece asked me as we embraced on my arrival at her place in Darwin tonight. “Surprisingly, it’s not as bad as I expected”, I told her.
I’ve been to Darwin twice before: in 1998, Damien and I came for a week-long holiday, and then in 2002, I worked here for a while. On both occasions, it was during the dry season (though when I arrived in 2002, I experienced the “build down” from wet to dry, characterised by hot, humid conditions with little rain relief”).
“You should be here during the build up”, a lot of people had previously told me, describing the unbearable agony of this time of the year with similar conditions, though in a reverse. It’s said to drive people a little crazy, and I’d previously met a woman who worked in a “women’s refuge” who’d told me domestic violence increases significantly during this period. “How’s the build up going”, I asked my taxi driver as we came in from the airport in the early hours of the morning. “No one’s driven their car off the wharf yet”, he told me with a laugh.
After waiting for several hours for the delayed flight yesterday, the worst case scenario was going to be a tightly packed aircraft. And so, as I made my way on the aircraft at ten o’clock last night, I asked one of the flight attendants if it was a “full flight”. “Don’t worry, you’ll be fine”, he told me with a smile. I quickly discovered why: on a flight that might have held a few hundred people there was just twelve of us. Yes, just twelve. Which meant no lengthy delays for the meals, complimentary drinks to compensate for the delay, and plenty of room to stretch out. The flight crew were fabulous.
Having left Sydney at about 1.30pm (Sydney time), I finally arrived in Darwin at 12.15am (Darwin time) which – accounting for the time zone difference – amounted to over twelve hours travelling time. “You could have been in LA”, a couple of work-mates commented when I told them my news.
Since I had passed some of the time by a combination of reading, blogging and sleeping, I was quite mentally alert into the early hours of the morning. So, having checked into my hotel closer to 1.00am local time, I read for a while and finally completed my book.
The book was called, “Power Crisis” by former NSW politician, Rodney Cavalier. As I looked at the range of non-fiction books at the airport yesterday it seemed the most interesting, least self-serving and substantial of the “political biographies” on offer. While there were lots of books about the recent federal election, this one was more concerned with the Labor Party in NSW, and how they’ve managed to go fairly quickly from being a party of political dominance to one which, perhaps, faces a degree of political annihilation in March next year.
Cavalier’s central thesis is that: the Labor Party has become increasingly disengaged from the grass-roots through a “take-over” by a “political class” of trade union officials, people with a family connection to previous officials, and an all-too-similar approach to selecting candidates. His thesis seems to be the debate about electricity privatisation was the issue which brought these long-term “worrying” trends to a head.
Mostly it was a pretty good read, though I did skip a few pages when it got into almost unbearable detail about the history of Labor governments in NSW. And as I read the book, in the back of my mind, I was reminded of a group conversation I’d had recently with a senior Liberal Party figure in NSW who confided: “Look, we should win, but the Liberal Party has a history of fucking things up at the last minute, so you can’t take it for granted”. The next NSW election could be over in 60 minutes, or perhaps it could drag on for weeks, as it did back in 1995.
Anyway, after a few hours sleep, I woke this morning, and almost immediately went to work. It was a fairly intense day, and by the end I was pretty exhausted, and so I came home and sat down for a little while.
And that’s when I went to Julie’s place. Over several hours we sat around, chatted, drank a few beers, and enjoyed a meal in their undercover outside area. Great stuff.