Monday, January 30, 2006

Oh sweet glorious cool change!

Oh sweet glorious cool change! I had forgotten what normal weather was like. 23 degrees Celsius (69 degrees Fahrenheit). I knitted 1 1/2 more sections on the short-row ribbed scarf while on the train and tram going to and from work. I arrived at work with only a slightly damp bandana around my head instead of dripping in my own sweat. And everyone was just so more cheerful now the oppressive damp has passed. Even if they were sleepy from staying up watching the tennis.

I did the walk from the city to South Melbourne. I've decided this is definitely the way to start the day. No matter what else happens, how little I achieve, I've at least done 30 minutes of walking for the day. And it is far more pleasant than being crammed in a tram.

Lots of people do this walk - most wired for sound with earphones dangling. I love my i-pod but I'm disturbed by the way it can cut one off from one's surroundings; create a little isolationist's world. I think of cyborgs. I decide to save my i-pod for the gym and look around me as I walk.

I look at Melbourne in a totally different way since traveling overseas. Start at Flinders Street Station with the ancient but still working clocks, look across to St Paul's which is making a building appeal - before I know it we'll be like most European cities with scaffolding and constant renovations propping up the old buildings. Across from St Paul's is Federation Square a quirky new construction which is growing on me with time. As long as I don't walk there. I don't mind the buildings on odd angles but I find it too easy to trip on the sloping cobblestones. I attended a workers' rally in Federation Square last year. Times have changed since the 1905 workers' uprisings in Russia. Today we watch a multi-media presentation on the giant screens and take digital photos and contact friends with our mobile phones. And my grandfather thought watching the destruction of the Berlin Wall on TV was bizarre enough.

Past the Art Gallery with its Water Wall - I love Melbourne and its people. I remember as a kid with my brother and mum leaning up against the Water Wall. The arty-farty types when they renovated the National Gallery wanted to remove it permanently. It wasn't artistic enough. But Melbournians rose up in protest and wrote letters and rang up talk shows. It might be daggy but it is OUR Water Wall and we love it. So it was reinstated after the renovations and children still run up to press their hands against it. What could be better on a hot day in the city but a trip to the Water Wall?

Even on the hottest day, the lawns of the St Kilda Road boulevard remain fresh and green and the English trees provide plenty of shade. I don't know how they manage it, how they resist the sapping dryness of the Australian sun. I hope they are using recycled-water.

Past the College of the Arts. Sculptures - I like the abstract suggesting wrestling and a compact grey stone that just begins to emerge as a fist. But the perfect dancers playing a flute and holding a shell leave me cold. They look like they should be atop a bird bath in a Toorak garden.

Next is the floral clock, where perfectly position flowers provide a face for the mechanical hands. The Army barracks in a magnificent stone building. An ancient cannon decorates the lawn. I can just hear my husband whispering "The latest in Australian Army technology!"

More floral decorations. This time the flowers celebrate Melbourne's hosting of the 2006 Commonwealth Games. The buildings on the other side of the road are dull and uninteresting. A giant grey square entitled "The Melbournian". No wonder people think we are backwards.

Past the Governor's residence. I will never forget the day when as a school girl I witnessed an accident caused in his honour. Police car sirens screamed from his road, traffic slammed to a halt. One car was not fast enough and slammed into the back of another. The police cars roared passed, oblivious to the accident they had caused. They were escorting the Governor's car down St Kilda Road causing chaos to peak hour traffic. I never found out why it was so important for him to be rushed so quickly away from home.

Back on the west side of the road a modern interpretation of a Georgian hotel, complete with Sushi Express cafe. I can never see myself buying sushi there; the atmosphere is just wrong for that kind of food.

There is always a tram jam at the Domain Road interchange. I turn down Albert Road, past the construction site and the first group of cafes and lesser office buildings. Across Kingsway I see my old school, Macrob, in all its architectural gory. I never understood what was so impressive about its cream bricks and red and purple windows but it has been heritage listed. At least two of my former teachers are still there - and I graduated 18 years ago. For all its imperfections it is a good school and teachers, as well as students, compete to attend.

Albert Park Lake is in the distance. I still haven't managed to organise myself to go for a walk around the lake at lunchtime.

My office is a short way up a side street off Albert Park Road. I am always surprised at how quickly I come up to it; I expect the walk to be longer. But I check my watch and inevitably 30 minutes have passed.

1 comment:

Steve Middleton said...

Nice to hear from Oz - very cold here in the UK - and we've got a drought on as well. Can't win!