Friday, May 25, 2007

Aussie Skimmers

Last night we went to see the men of the Australian swimming team ploughing effortlessly up and down our local pool. They’re going to be training here for the next month.

We were lucky to see them in Townsville. Not just cos it was really convenient for us, but because they had a real Townsville sense of security and paranoia going on – basically, the guy at the pool gate just waved us and our camera through, plus anyone else who wanted to go and have a gander.

However it did seem to me like they have been mucking around with the water. They seem to have replaced all the regular pool water with some scientifically formulated substance that has no more resistance than air. It was amazing to watch. They swam at the same speed that we were walking beside the pool. When they dived in they travelled exactly the same speed over the water as under it, and even after they had stopped their strokes towards the end of each lap, they would still be propelled towards the wall at full pace.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Sticky Mess

It’s true that recently I have been dissing Townsville’s meagre offerings in the realm of music and art. I even felt a bit justified and smug when I read Anna Goldsworthy’s report (in The Monthly) of the Beethoven concert that she and the Seraphim trio did in our local cathedral back in March. It was quite a hilarious recounting of their sweltering performance at the sticky end of Townsville’s wet season (email me if you’d like to read a copy).

But it’s easy to diss. And I feel not so much that my complaints have been heard and rectified as just shamed into a bit of an apology, because we’re getting not one but two really interesting performances up here as part of the Queensland Music Festival. Hayden doesn’t know it yet, but we’re going to drive all the way to Innisfail (about three hours north) especially to hear the one by John Rogers, a long-time favourite composer of mine. (I'll never forget his work based on The Inferno; the last part was performed on a flute and an oboe made of ice and the performance ended when the instruments had melted away.)

Also, I’ll be interested to see what the people of Townsville make of the other performance: the African Children’s Choir. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but it has been argued successfully in court that Townsville is a racist town - too racist for an aboriginal person to get a fair trial here. At least one Palm Island resident has had their trial moved to Brisbane for that reason. If it’s true that the town is prejudiced, it’s going to be interesting to see their response to the African kids singing, cos not only are they black but they’ve each lost at least one parent to the African AIDS pandemic (so, you know, probably gay as well?).

I used to be really wary of artistic performances that purported to have some kind of political raison d'etre or a social conscience of any kind ... it always used to seem to me like they were fishing for government grant money more than anything else (and I've written a fair few grant applications so I know how your mind bends trying to come up with an angle that gets them to share their grubby pennies). But this one is going to be co-ordinated by David Bridie who is another one of my old favourites, so it should be in good hands. And, you know, it's going to be one of the two good shows we'll get here this winter, so it's not like I'm going to pass it up.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Gentle days

Winter is definitely here. I know this, because I’ve got a cold. Winter’s here, we’re still sleeping with no more than a sheet on top of us, I haven’t even looked at my cardigan, but I’ve got a cold already. That doesn’t seem fair.

However, I’ve still been enjoying our perfect days of gentle sunshine. My cold is pretty bad, so I’ve not been venturing outside much - the front balcony is about as far as I’ll go, but at least there I get to see what’s happening at the start of Townsville’s “spring”. Actual spring and summer are a bit too hot for plants, so our growing season begins about now. Both Hayden and I planted seeds in our balcony garden a couple of weeks ago, in preparation.

Hayden doesn’t want his plants growing up to be wimps, so he hasn’t given them any fertilizer or potting mix, just plain dirt and a bit of water every couple of days.

My babies have got the full wimp treatment, and not that it’s a competition (of course it’s not) but mine have actually poked their little green heads out of the ground.

Winter’s lovely here.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Here I am

Look, I'm just showing you this because I'm so stoked I've found an alright hairdresser in Townsville. After a couple of disastrous cuts early on in our stay here, I sort of gave up getting my hair cut. That was a while ago.
Today, luckily, boredom came together with a some money burning a hole in my pocket and hey presto! looks OK, don't you think?

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Plenty of Class, all of it Low

I should have known. Every time we go out in Townsville, I mentally swear never to go out again. There are plenty of precedents: the "full moon drumming circle" held before the sun went down; the "night markets" selling fried food in a crowded park under blazing genny-powered lamps; the "theatre restaurant" that was just too cringingly awful to describe. But when we received a late invitation to the Lord Mayor's Ball, I didn't think to say no. Firstly, because it had the Lord Mayor's name on it I thought that surely it would have to pass some kind of standard (I should have looked more closely and seen that it was a local business charity ball, at which the Lord Mayor would be appearing briefly). Secondly, because the kind lady who gave us the tickets is also the kind lady who has been swinging me a little freelance work (finally! I'm a real writer now!). Thirdly, because it was dress up. A Pirate's Ball.

So I went down to the local costume hire shop that also happens to sell a couple of other things, including special cigarettes for mothers day.

And I scraped together a couple of costumes for us, out of what hadn't already been hired by people who got their invitations in the first round. Here's a picture of us before we left:

I don't know what I should say about the actual ball. There was a covers band which was OK. There was dinner. Because it was a charity event I was expecting to sit good-naturedly through a certain amount of lameness. But the 'entertainment' portion of the evening was EXCRUCIATING. There was a lot of terrible, way way way-past-the-line pirate humour of the 'Seaman Stains' variety. There were a couple of 'comediennes' who did an impersonation of Kath and Kim and a guy doing an impersonation of Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow (he called himself Jack Sparowfart). And THEN they held the charity auction, in which, for example, a member of the Townsville public paid over $3000 for a framed rugby jersey that may-or-may-not have been worn by Wally Lewis. Or someone else.

Today I am feeling quite tired. And somehow assaulted.