Sunday, August 31, 2008

Getting Softer

There’s nowhere in my experience like Sydney; cosmopolitan and dynamic, forward looking and welcoming. It’s set on Port Jackson, possibly the world's most stunning harbour, easily surpassing Cobh or San Francisco Bay. And around the city’s shores are numerous sandy beaches that put Santa Monica to shame. But the Siren’s song that lured so many of us to these shores is the sunny, moderate climate which defines Sydneysiders' relaxed lifestyle and love of the outdoors. So why is it so fecking cold! Seriously, the Australian tourist board owes me some warmth.

That’s the thought that wafted through my head recently as I awaited a friend at Newtown station. I was stamping my feet against the cold and wrapped in full body armour against the winter; a blue Michelin man in my Dad’s old duffle coat, thermal hat and gloves.

I’d have been sidestepped by all and sundry for appearing a little gauche were I at any other Sydney station. Newtown is adequately alternative for me to have been unremarkable were I sporting a balaclava or peacock’s feather. As it was, the entrance to the station had been laid siege by a smugness of over-zealous revolutionary socialists and the casual observer could be forgiven for assuming I was one of their number.

I noted that my new comrades were engaged in a futile effort to elicit signatures from weary commuters. The petition was to be in support of one cause or against another perceived grievance; whales, Iraq, Iran, the-closure-by-health-inspectors-of-a-vegan-friendly-Newtown-cafe. It really didn’t matter; no one cared, least of all me. The only people interested in discussing the burning issue-du-jour were Newtown’s burgeoning population of homeless loonies. These are harmless folk, all too eager to engage our lead tovarish on the topic of what was wrong with Sydney. He in turn politely nodding in agreement, equally eager to move the fellows along as he was to add new X's to the meagre list on the bottom of the supplication.

Meanwhile I stood, ruminating that there was precisely nothing wrong with Sydney other than that it was a tad glacial at the moment. I had checked, and the temperature was expected to hit an overnight low of 11 degrees Celsius. These are insufferable, polar, Arctic conditions! Call in the National Guard! Well, at least it is dry and nice during the daytime. And since that low point the Spring is finally bringing finer weather. Seriously though, perhaps my peacenik friends are right; maybe we’d all be better off in Soviet Russia. Brrr...