The Eastern Suburbs Experiment, Part I

September 30, 2006 at 3:18 am (Uncategorized)

In just over an hour, I am going to a birthday lunch for a friend. It couldn’t BE more convenient for Llew and me, since it is being held at a cool restaurant at the other end of the beach from where we live. Here in Sydney, it’s a fairly glorious, if a little windy day. I’ve punched out 10 kms this morning, been for a wonderful, reviving swim in the big blue (household motto: it’s always a good idea), and just been around the corner to feed a friend’s pet (cat food stinks). Life is good.

But I know what’s coming, and here’s the little experiment I am going to play. Let’s call this post “Expectation.” For those of you who don’t live in Sydney, it’s a city of fairly intense demarcation. It’s divided, like most places, in four directions, and we all live and die by the code. The post code, that is. Now, today is an unusual and interesting case. The birthday girl is an eastern suburbs stalwart, but she’s recently been seeing another friend, who was inner west but has recently moved north. Cas, the birthday girl, has shown real flair and daring by opting to hold her birthday celebration north, near her boyfriend Simon’s place, instead of east, where she lives. This is her way of introducing her eastern suburbs friends to the alternate universe that is the north (or so absolutely everyone who lives in the east seems to think).

I am better qualified to speak about this Sydney hang up than most people. I was born in the east, spent my infancy south, moved back to the east, was taken to the inner west, then further north, then west, then I left Sydney altogether to live first in British Columbia, Canada, and then Australia’s much maligned capital, Canberra, then back to Sydney and the inner west, then London, then back east, then north. I know whereof I speak. Sydney is full of people who don’t ever, ever leave their own area if they can possibly avoid it.

Between the east and the north, there exists a special enmity. They are in a competition without any rules or prizes or…point, if you want to get right down to it. I used to play in the competition when I was still living in Bondi, the flagship beach of the eastern suburbs. The game goes something like this: you would rather set yourself on fire than go to “the dark side.” Of course, when I moved to said dark side, I realised everyone here says exactly the same thing about the east. I had simply switched sides. And boy didn’t I know it. Llew and I literally LOST FRIENDS when we moved here. We were just smote from their world. It was deeply unsettling, until we decided not to give a rat’s arse.

So, today, here’s how this thing is going to play out. I could almost bet money on it. People from the east are going to arrive in a flap, exhausted, near-hysterical, from the effort of crossing Sydney Harbour into this strange world of raving savages. We will listen politely to every tale of woe and inconvenience, as they detail the abject trauma of leaving their little universe to venture across the maw to the great unknown. Then they will look around Will and Toby’s, an eastern suburbs favourite that has set up – SHOCK HORROR – north, and say “Thank GOD Will and Toby’s is here, where would you go otherwise?”

Yes, the only way to secure an eastern suburbs showing north of the Harbour Bridge is to provide a little piece of the east. Like homing pigeons they’ll fly in, directly, without looking right or left or making eye contact with the natives, and then they’ll fly out, talking animatedly about all the curious creatures and peculiar things they’ve seen.

That’s my expectation. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post, tentatively titled “Outcome.”

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