Wednesday, June 21, 2017

June 21. Day 172. Up, up and away

Look closely. That's Brisbane on the horizon
Remember that Monty Python sketch? The one where one of the fourth of the Four Yorkshiremen alleged he "had to get up in the morning at ten o'clock at night half an hour before I went to bed"? That was how I felt this morning. When the clock reads 02.30, more often then not I'm going to bed not waking up. But this morning, 90 minutes or so after I went to sleep, I was up and ready to fly. Literally. This ungodly hour is what is required to be at the Gold Coast to meet the 4am balloon bus. The destination is determined by the winds and today we headed to somewhere near Witheren in the hinterland. It was a bumpy, slightly vomit-inducing bus ride. Indeed buses scare me much more than balloons. In a balloon's basket, the gentle waft is beautiful. The view is sublime. The serenity is unmatched. It is pretty much everything a bus is not. Today was my fourth balloon ride having previously flown over Brisbane twice (something air traffic control restrictions now makes impossible) and the Sunshine Coast. I don't have a favourite. Each is beautiful in its own way. Today's balloon was by far the biggest with a basket carrying 24. You might think that would have everyone fighting for the balloon equivalent of the window seat. In fact not. The basket has four separate compartments with six in each and everyone has a front row view. And what a view it was. My balloon buddy Alison and I had flights cancelled multiple times because the weather was against us but today was balloon flying gold star conditions. If you look closely you can see Brisbane. That early morning mist just added to the impact. Balloons only take off at sunrise and as today was the winter solstice today's departure was as late as it gets. Had we left it a month, I really would have been getting up half an hour before I went to sleep. But it would have been worth it. Who needs sleep? Well me obviously but not today

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

June 20. Day 171. Sunrise. Sunset

The winter solstice is tomorrow and thank God for that. These early sunsets are killing me. I've barely arisen from an afternoon nap and it's too dark to take pics on an afternoon walk. Woe is me. As a person who has lived in places much further from the equator I am fully aware just how sooky this is. I still remember walking home from primary school in the dark as a child living in England. We only lived there for a couple of years so it was an adventure for a little Aussie kid. I liked the seriously short bleak days far less during my mid 20s heading out to work in the dark in the UK. Honestly, most of the world would think this is pretty okay for winter. And those who don't really don't know what they are missing. Still I shall whinge because if you can't whinge about the weather what topics are left?

Monday, June 19, 2017

June 19. Day 170. A birdy with a yellow bill

A birdy with a yellow bill, hopped upon my window sill. Cocked its shining eye and said. 'Ain't you shamed you sleepy head. So asked Robert Louis Stevenson in Time to Rise. Am I ashamed of an inability to wake? Am I ashamed of being a sleepy head? No. Frustrated, exhausted and frankly totally p*ssed off, but not ashamed. Being ashamed of pathology is kind of pointless. Sleep apnea may be part of the problem but even my sleep physician thinks the numbers don't reflect the level of exhaustion. The second most likely cause is depression. That would explain a lot. Of course many people will say, go to bed earlier... or drop the afternoon naps. If only it was that simple. No-one who is not a shift worker or a teenager chooses to go to bed at 2am. Bloody annoying is my official diagnosis. So birdy, mind your own business. I saw you bullying just about every other avian species at South Bank this afternoon. Who are you to lecture me?

Sunday, June 18, 2017

June 18. Day 169. Don't worry. Be happy

"You're looking slightly more relaxed," my friend and work colleague said when we met at the University of Queensland lakes today. There were good reasons for this. It was Sunday. I'd had a morning AND an afternoon sleep. But most of all a walk in the sun with the dogs to the lakes makes me happy. Winter in Queensland is pretty awesome. Who wouldn't be happy watching goslings waddle or children frolic? It sure beats marking and spreadsheets and unit outlines. It also beats laundry, dirty dishes and catering. They were all still there when I got home but in the short term I was good to adopt the motto "Don't worry. Be happy".

Saturday, June 17, 2017

June 17. Day 168. I'll drink to that

The King and I opening night. I do love an opening night. I love the buzz, the bubbles, the nibbles etcetera, etcetera, etcetera (anyone who is familiar with the Rodgers and Hammerstein script will see what I did there). If I am honest, more than anything I love a small spot of people watching and better still people listening. It could be the journalist in me or just the sticky beak or both. Anyway, what I heard in the reception following Savoyards opening night was glowing. It reminded me that 1) not everyone spends on average three nights a week at the theatre. 2) Not everyone sits in an auditorium with a critical hat on. Most go just to be entertained. After all that's why they paid their dollars and a very important 3) Not everyone hates Rodgers and Hammerstein and those who do probably stay away. It can be sobering to remind yourself of that even after the champagne. Because the production was good I just didn't like it very much and that's Rodgers and Hammerstein's fault not Savoyards. Actually that's not 100% true. I do think theatre companies could try something new rather than recycle the classics especially those that feel dated and really demand a cast of actors from a particular ethnicity you can not hope to fill. But the King and I well and truly passes the bums on seats test even if it fails the Susan' Standard. So knowing the script was going to make me cringe with its inherent sexism and racism, I decided to concentrate on trying to work out what I was missing. I don't think it's the score. Getting to Know You, I Whistle a Happy Tune and Shall We Dance are jolly enough but the rest of the soundtrack is a little forgettable. The costumes and sets are always lavish and beautiful, you have to give it that. There's the cute factor of a tribe of adorable and talented children. And it's a love story and people love a love story. Okay, that's a few points in its favour. But tonight I found something else. As I tried not to dig my fingernails into my skin as our heroine Mrs Anna helped prove the King of Siam wasn't a barbarian by dressing everyone in western clothes, setting a table with western trimmings and stocking it with western food and teaching people how to shake hands and bow appropriately, it struck me. I say the musical is dated but really how much has changed? Is it not true that we are still hear almost daily complaints about cultures whose women should dress more like the west, where the food should be more like "ours" and where they should abandon their customs and integrate? The more things change the more things stay the same. It may be that I was the only one drawing that out of the dialogue not because I'm more analytical but because everyone else was too busy going with it and enjoying it for what it was. That's okay. That's the beauty of the theatre. There's no "right" response. There's no essay challenging you to explain why The King and I remains relevant in today's world. Some of us write one in our head all the while whistling a happy tune, afraid of the take home message. Most just drink the champagne. You can't argue with that. For more of what we thought of the production, listen to our podcast.

Friday, June 16, 2017

June 16. Day 167. Dining out

What's worse than going to a curry house and ordering the omelette? Going to a curry house and ordering nothing at all. I did that tonight. Four small people at the same table ate more than I did (and I must say they did so with great style and gusto). Just in case anyone thinks I'm one of those annoying people on a diet, not so. I'd been out for lunch and the Greek banquet left zero room for another bite. Now a "normal" person might have just not gone. But I was happy to dine out on good company. It's so hard to find a time that suits the "curry club" members that pulling out at the last minute because you couldn't even manage a wafer-thin mint is uncalled for. People may think I'm weird but that won't be the first time.

June 15. Day 166. Big Brother is Watching You

I'm so old that I remember when 1984 was a novel about a dystopian future (although I am not sure the dystopian fiction category had yet been given that label). But even then, 30 plus years after George Orwell wrote it, it was scarily accurate. What is terrifying is that in the 2017 world it seems even closer to the mark than it did in the 80s. The idea of the surveillance state, of thought police, of double speak, these things are scarily familiar. Everywhere you are someone is watching and quite frankly we invite the intrusion into our privacy through a social media obsession. These things were on my mind as I pointed my large lens in the general direction of strangers jumping all over the Brisbane sign. I'd just left the Lyric Theatre after opening night of the touring production of 1984. I've seen the play before but not like this. This was extraordinary theatre. This is the sort of thing that will haunt you in part because of Orwell's incredible vision and captivating writing. But this was the sort of stage production that haunts you in its brilliance. It took an incredible story and delivered it in a way that was not only technically brilliant but likely to mess with your head. Big Brother is watching you. Now is your turn to watch Big Brother at the Lyric Theatre. Our podcast is (mostly) spoiler free, especially if you have read the book. Listen here