10 km in 1 hour 20

The timetable promised a travel time of one hour and ten minutes. In reality the journey on the 370 took a further ten minutes. 

Many bus services have been diverted due to the construction of a light rail from Central to Randwick and Kingsford. 

Rather than sitting for even longer to follow a detour around three quarters of the University, I opted to stretch my legs by taking the main walkway from lower to upper campus. 

Be, bee

Sitting on the left hand side of George (not the Beatle) Harrison’s English Language class, I recall a grey cloudy day. Typical English weather regardless of the season. 

Individual timber desks with lift up tops and a place for an ink pot with a sliding brass cover were arranged in rows of two. Monica with long brown hair and a Mediterranean complexion sat next to me. It was unusual to have a pupil from America at Harborne Hill Secondary Modern. 

While travelling to work yesterday morning I was cogitating the word live. It brought back this happy school memory from 1979. It was the day I learned about words that sound the same but have different spellings and meanings. There and their is an everyday example that causes some to agonise over which to use in a sentence. 

An in-class competition of which pair of students could come up with the most examples was run. It doesn’t matter if we won or not. Even today I play the homophone identification game in my head. It brings focus to my otherwise  chaotic mind. 
I took the photograph of the bee mural while on an Experimental walk

Marriage inequality

Forty five years ago today on a chilly Spring morning in England my brother aged five and I aged eight pulled on purple velvet trousers. Long sleeved shirts featuring a small floral motif in shades of purple, lilac and lavender against a white background and cravats completed the outfit. Later that day in 1972 we would parade down the aisle of the Church of the Redeemer in Birmingham with our mother as she took the hand of my first step father. This was the beginning of a decade and a half of an abusive relationship that at its lowest point saw us experience the despair of living in a ‘battered wives home’. Marriage vows didn’t hold much weight with this step father. 

Seventeen years ago today on a chilly Autumn day in Australia my partner aged thirty seven and I aged thirty six stood in our underwear as our torsos were smeared in Vaseline and glitter. White faux fur boots, shorts and polar bear heads and arms completed the outfit. Later that day we would parade up Oxford Street onboard the Noah’s Ark float with hundreds of other people celebrating diversity and calling for equality as part of Sydney Mardi Gras 2000. 

Under UK law and being British subjects we were able to marry at the Consulate in Sydney in 2014. Our non-abusive marriage is not recognised in Australia. The choice of entering a loving same sex marriage is not available to our Australian friends. 

Happy Mardi Gras 2017. 

Experimental walk

Rear lane, Newtown

I was at my physical fittest when I walked for forty minutes to work and the same amount home again every day. Increasing living costs and a change of employer has led to living further out from the city and a reliance on public transport. I try to incorporate some exercise into my journey by catching the bus from a stop further from home, walking for longer than is necessary between buses and getting off early on the return trip. 

As the start of a new academic year looms my thoughts are taken up with how to avoid the morning frustration of having to wait for ten to twenty minutes for the express bus from Central Railway Station. The queue stretches around a quarter of Belmore Park to facilitate the transportation of ten plus thousand students each morning. 
There are a few options available to me, including a ten minute walk down the road to catch the 370. The route is picturesque, zigzagging from Leichhardt, through Annandale and Glebe to Newtown. As the total journey time can take over one hour on one bus I opt for a split journey that includes joining the 370 later along its meandering path. 
This morning leaving the house at 8:15, I catch the bus from the stop nearest home on the Parramatta Road. Alighting at around 8:30, I walk a few steps along Mallet Street to be greeted by the familiar sound of song birds that reside in the area. Also, the electric buzz of cicadas in the trees of Camperdown Park; it’s going to be a hot day! 
Being on a schedule I refrain from stopping to take pictures every few steps as I rediscover the quiet backstreets of Newtown. Row upon row of simple Victorian terraced houses squeezed into every available space and pockets of vegetation jostling for a spot to burst forth. 
When I reach King Street I am confronted by the thunder of cars, buses and trucks speeding towards the city. This is an aspect of the suburb I don’t miss. 
Taking my place in the shade of the awning I forget to look around to check if it’s safe to stop. The look on the face of a young skateboarder barely missing me lets me know that it was not. 
The journey from Newtown to work usually takes twenty minutes. Queuing for the traffic lights as we approach Botany Road in Alexandria has quickly eaten into this overly ambitious target. I reach work at 9:50, an hour after boarding the bus. Even though I managed to take a rather lovely twenty minute walk the outcome of my experiment was disappointing. Maybe I can improve on the overall time by setting out earlier from home. 
 

Renaissance woman on a bus

This butterfly reminds me of a morning journey in Spring when I experienced living art. 

I look up to see an attractive woman in her early forties glide down the aisle with the grace of a ballet dancer.  

I notice she wears silver sneakers without laces and black stockings beneath a soft black, calf length, bias cut skirt. The combination provides contrast to a loose fitting, burnt orange, wide necked, bat wing sleeve jumper. 

An oversized black leather shoulder bag guides my attention to the glimpse of a tattoo of ancient script on her right forearm and tasteful antique gold rings, four on each hand. 

Dark brown hair is scraped back into a small tidy bun. Gold dropper earrings with pale yellow stones, maybe citrine hang from sensual lobes. A clear Mediterranean complexion provides the backdrop for thin high arched brows above dark accepting eyes, a slight shadow of tiredness below. A slim refined aquiline nose carries my gaze to unsmiling dark blue-purple lips. 

I realise this person is an ideal subject for a modern variation of a renaissance portrait. 

Dreaming


Dreaming last night, I walked through a door into a white painted room. I noticed an ABBA Studios sign on the left hand wall. Turning to look at the sign I realised band members, Björn, Benny, Frida and Agnetha were sitting casually underneath on separate pieces of furniture. While retrieving a mobile phone from my right hip pocket, so that I could take a picture, the artists moved away. 
In my mind I could hear the haunting sound of a flute playing the track, Eagle. This song has been with me for almost 40 years, being one of my favourites on ABBA: The Album, released in the UK in 1978. Listening to Eagle always gives flight to the endless possibilities available to me, through my thoughts. The story of my connection with this album is described in Thank you for the music

Artwork information from Wikipedia 

Polar’s official cover featured an entirely white background, and is the basis for current CD versions. However, Epic Records’ original UK release of the LP featured a blue background on the front cover, fading to white at the bottom. It also featured a gatefold sleeve. The back cover was altered, incorporating a similar photo of ABBA to that used elsewhere in the world for the inner sleeve, and referencing tracks included in ABBA: The Movie. The inner gatefold was designed to look like an air mail envelope, similar to the style later used for Gracias Por La Música and even had a photo of ABBA incorporated into a stamp in the corner.

Room with a view 

The original eighth floor room allocation was okay until the 8-4 maintenance work started on Tuesday morning. The view from the bay window was uninspiring unless one looked right toward the Swan River. 

As the repairs are scheduled to occur for the remainder of our stay, the Hyatt Hotel kindly moved us to the third floor, well away from the sound of angle grinding and drills. 

As of 4pm the temperature is 41 oC in Perth, Australia. We have spent the last four hours by and in the cool water of the pool. The above picture is taken from the comfort of our air conditioned room. 

Gift story

We have two sets of keys for our home. We gave my set to our friends so that when we fly back from Perth next Friday they can bring Stan home, ready for our arrival from the airport. 

The temperature in Sydney hit a sizzling 36oC earlier this week. With one of us sipping a cocktail in the pool I needed a way to get into the house. In good old fashioned style, a key under the doormat did the trick. 
The cool hall appeared gloomy after leaving the intense heat of the late afternoon sunshine.  I spotted a narrow striped object lying on the coir runner, about five inches long. A gift for me, I thought, perhaps chocolate? I picked the cylindrical parcel up. As I walked into the light of the dining room I noticed a corner of the white and gold paper had been torn. The name Stan was written on the paper, not for me then! Inside, one of his favourite treats sealed in a plastic wrapper. I walked into the study. On the floor lay a medium sized box containing more gaily clad items.  
As I sank into the cooling water, an Aperol spritz in hand, I relayed my journey through the house. We laughed in admiration at the stealth Stan had employed in retrieving his gift. It had been tucked deep inside the box. None of the others were disturbed. 

Fifties fitness

New challenges at work will require peak physical and psychological performance, no more excuses. Time to do something about fitness in my fifties. 

Procrastinated for a year; moping and moaning in melancholic moodiness. Finally I shook off the can’t do attitude this morning. 

Only one other person in the gym. Fifteen minutes of cardio followed by forty five of weights has set me up for the day. Hoping I will be able to do it again tomorrow. 

The plane, the plane

Public transport is a necessary evil in the daily grind of Sydney life. Since moving here almost nineteen years ago planes have been a source of wonder, excitement and irratation. 

When living in Brighton le Sands we were so close to the flight path that we could see our community reflected in the belly of the aircraft. Passengers could be seen gazing from the windows. The noise pollution and vibration was intense. It was no wonder that we looked for quieter surroundings in the Eastern suburbs. 

After a couple of years of noise from garbage trucks outside the bedroom window in Paddington we headed to the inner west. Newtown delivered distant plane and train noise and the neighbour from hell. She loved to party in the early hours of Tuesday morning and any other time she fancied. 

The town house in Petersham was directly under the approach to the runway. When outside we would pause our conversations until decibel levels returned to normal. 

Lewisham was all about the noise from the traffic bombing along a concrete road that joined two arterial roads. We awoke and nodded off to the sound of aeroplanes at either end of the day. 

Leichhardt used to be a suburb plagued by  aircraft noise. In recent years flight paths have been adjusted to share the intrusion. Mornings and evenings continue to be our designated times. At other times it is so quiet you could hear a pin drop. 

The Etihad flight above has its landing gear down. It is about 15 minutes away from the terminal building. 

Thankfully attempts to extend or lift the 11:00 pm to 6:00 am flight curfew have failed.