Optimism is in the Air

November 30, 2007 at 1:45 am (Uncategorized)

I think part of my sadness at not making the Varuna long list has been offset by my genuine euphoria over Kevin Rudd’s successful tilt at the top job. I thought I was teary only at the thought of him losing, but I choked up equally Saturday night and Sunday at the sweet realisation that he’d won.

Why? Why has this politician and this election meant so much to me? Kim Beazley never had me reaching for the Kleenex. And even recalling my childhood memories of him with great affection (no one will ever forget the morning of our America’s Cup win), I always used to think Bob Hawke was more classic Aussie caricature than man. Only Keating had and continues to have a similar affect on me – I just fundamentally believe in his vision for the future of Australia (and as a new and unsupported university student, I was terrified of John Hewson’s push for upfront fees), and perhaps that’s what I am sensing in Rudd. Someone I can put my faith in. Of course, Keating has been a vocal critic of Rudd, or more specifically members of Rudd’s team, and Keating is hardly the picture of perfection either way (although by George the man has style – please tell me Llew and I aren’t the only ones who saw Bill Leak’s hysterical cartoon of Keating joining Rudd and Howard in the ring? Keating’s wearing a Zegna buckle on his boxer shorts, Leak’s little devil always in the sublime detail. God that man makes me laugh out loud – the 15 round fight series should have won him last night’s Walkley for best cartoonist but somehow didn’t), but who expects any politician to be the answer to every single one of our prayers? I don’t. Rudd’s just a man, of course he’s just a man, but I think he’s a good man, and I know he’s a smart one. Two ticks already as far as I’m concerned.

Faith is an interesting part of the equation with Rudd, because he has it in spades. He’s very knowledgeable about his faith (as anyone who read his fabulous essay in The Monthly over a year ago will attest), but he’s still able to rationalise and interrogate the role of organised religion, and keep that strident proselytising some people go in for completely out of his frame of reference. As someone who is not religious at all, I admire that very much. It’s a mark of his integrity and his intelligence that he doesn’t presume we all secretly need converting to his way of thinking.

Now that his new ministry has been announced, there’s even more reason to believe that this guy is the real deal. He’s ignored factions – as he absolutely must if such petty but damaging squabbling is to be rendered permanently impotent – and he’s been unafraid of demoting people from the front bench. Bravo, Kev, it’s a good start. Then there’s obviously the rise of people like Penny Wong to critical positions (her portfolio could not be a bigger endorsement: climate change and water). Rudd has named a record 7 women in his cabinet, and Julia Gillard has quite literally been given the job of two men. This fact in itself is not enough – clearly the weight of expectation rests on all these women. They must perform. They must out-perform. But he’s chosen some bloody smart cookies, some very real talent, and it’s exciting to see government finally catching on to something the business world already knows: women are awesome contributors, and they’re already well accustomed to working like hell.

The whole picture in these first days is looking good. The image is sharpening, coming into focus, and as it does I feel myself taking tiny little hopeful steps toward the future, like a small child who won’t stumble across the room unless there’s someone waiting on the other side they’re sure they can trust.

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Oh Well. Fuck ’em.

November 29, 2007 at 1:02 am (Uncategorized)

I’ve had a pretty ordinary couple of days, I must confess. Sorry for the absence of a post yesterday – I just couldn’t face it. I wrote in my diary instead. And then I edited and printed out a short story I wrote some time ago and sent it to a magazine. And then I went back to redrafting my manuscript. I can’t help it. It’s what I do. I’m always writing something.

I’ve given myself a sty in my right eye from crying. I think I also genuinely alarmed Llew – I don’t think in eleven years he’s seen me this despondent (not on a professional basis, at least, personally things have been much, much worse than this). And it was a new thing for me too. I’ve been very fortunate never to suffer from depression, but I think I had a glimpse down that dark, dank well in the last 48 hours, and I did not like the look of it one bit. It was very cold and lonely.

Thank you to the people who emailed, phoned and facebooked me to say buck up – I really appreciate your kindness. I know in the big (and even just in the medium) scheme of things this doesn’t really register on the richter. But take my word for it: I felt like some malevolent and super powerful force was holding me down and thumping me into a deep despair and a really drowning sense of defeat. I didn’t know following my heart was going to make me feel so unbearably sad and like such an utter failure.

But following my heart I am, so fuck ’em. I could drive myself crazy second guessing the judges, but it won’t help me. It won’t help my writing. So I have booked in for one of the follow-up phone sessions, I’ve sent my $110 to pay for it, and I’m just going to scrape up what’s left into a little cardboard facade that looks a little like what used to be me, and I’m going to keep trying. I don’t see that I have got any other choice. I really wish this other outfit I’ve paid quite a bit more money to for actual feedback would hurry the bloody hell up and give me my MS appraisal… It’s six weeks they’ve had it now and I really need to know what’s so wrong with it that I can’t get on a long list of 35 names. Let me say again: ouch. Ouch. I don’t know where I’m going so wrong… All I know is I have to keep trying. Is it delusional to keep going even in the face of this kind of failure? Quite possibly, yes. Absolutely. I can see that, don’t think I can’t. But it’s my dream, my one consistent dream in life, and nothing really changes that. It just makes it harder. But that’s okay – no one said it was going to be easy.

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Rejected. Again.

November 27, 2007 at 2:34 am (Uncategorized)

I was feeling tired and emotional even before I checked the Varuna website to see whether or not they’d announced the long list for the Manuscript Development Award. They have, here it is, and I didn’t make it.

They had 366 applicants. And they’ve whittled the list down to 35 names. Thirty-five. That’s a long list, all right. But apparently (the first 14,000 words of) my manuscript still doesn’t have what it takes to advance to the next round. The writers on the long list now submit the full manuscript. Then the long list is further reduced to 15 projects, which are sent in full to Harper Collins. Harper Collins chooses the 5 writers who are invited to attend the MS Development Award workshops early next year.

So there you go. I’m out. I did not make the grade. My MS is, again, getting absolutely no traction in any quarter. I can’t really describe how this latest defeat feels – I only just found out. Lousy. Upsetting (there were tears – there may be more). Headache inducing. Humiliating. Confidence destroying. Confusing, certainly, because I have no choice now but to once again question the entire enterprise. If I’m not a good enough writer to make it into a long list of THIRTY-FIVE names – the first of three selection stages – then maybe I need to just give the whole thing away. It absolutely gets harder (read virtually impossible) to continue justifying this course of action to myself and others when all I’m doing is repeatedly failing to make an impact.

It is not working out, is it? (no need to answer)

Just making the long list would have been incredibly validating. Even if I hadn’t made the final 15, I would certainly have felt incredibly buoyed by having been thought promising enough to make that first stage. But I didn’t. And – of course, how hilarious – for the first time, Varuna has decided not to send out personal feedback to rejected writers, but post a general essay. So…once again I won’t know what was wrong with mine. Oh, no, sorry, I can pay for a consultation. And I guess I’ll do that. Still waiting for the results of the MS appraisal. Now I need it more than ever.

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You Little Ripper!

November 26, 2007 at 1:25 am (Uncategorized)

I am one relieved, hopeful, happy Australian after Saturday’s federal election. You bloody beauty: it’s all over and Kevin Rudd has won. I hope my faith in him and his abilities proves well-founded; I am certainly one of the many Australians who have placed my confidence in his party’s ability to steer Australia in a new and exciting direction.

Saturday itself was anxious here at Chez J. Llew and I both slept badly, our minds whirring with a range of conflicting emotions. I wanted to be outright confident about the result, but I couldn’t be; I just didn’t know how, on the day, the country would behave. Media talk of a late Liberal surge and of a nail-biter added to my sense that any optimism was cautious at best.

We sat in our courtyard reading the newspaper coverage and chatting with a neighbourhood friend who dropped in for a coffee. He’s met John Howard many times because of his job, and he said ‘Look, he’s a good bloke, I like him. He’s such a proud Australian.’ Let me say I have never doubted that Howard is a proud Aussie. In fact, I think he has helped stir nationalism in this country to a new (if flash-flood like) fever pitch. I find excessive nationalism really unpleasant and alarming, and what always disturbed me about Howard’s brand was that he gestured toward this intense, genuine love of country as justification for even his most extreme positions. It had to be the right thing to do, so went the logic, because there was no doubting the man loved Australia. Well, no, actually, in some ways (and often) that passionate nationalism horribly distorted the issue at stake. His tacit support of Pauline Hanson and her vile One Nation party really underscored the problems inherent in Howard’s claim to the role of No. 1 Aussie. Interestingly, our friend was planning to vote for Kevin Rudd because he believed Rudd’s small business policy was better for he and his wife.

Now, this brings me to the suggested increased homogeneity between the two major parties. It’s worked very, very well for Rudd, because if people perceive the politics of the two parties are becoming more and more aligned, then they start looking – finally – at the policies. This is Llew’s observation and I think it’s really astute: Saturday’s Labor win was a triumph of policy over politics, and it signals a huge generational shift in the way Australians vote. For our parents’ generation, many Liberal voters (and Liberal MPs like Bronwyn Bishop) still believe they are locked in a fundamental battle between capitalism and socialism. They have dark memories of the Whitlam era, and they think that a vote for Labor is a vote against a free market economy, against entrepreneurship, against individual responsibility and possibility. They believe this incredibly strongly.

What we’re seeing now, though, is a younger voter who looks at the two major parties and sees that in today’s domestic and international climate, they’ve become much more ideologically aligned than either party’s actual founding principles would suggest. Both parties have arch conservatives, both have small ‘l’ liberals, both have social progressives and social conservatives, both have economic rationalists and reformers. What that means is that average Australians, and probably in particular the younger voters, increasingly simply DON’T CARE if it’s a Labor or Liberal government in power as long as they see the right policies in place. It was a battle won on policy, not politics. If the Labor party and Rudd misinterpret the win as a wholesale endorsement of the union culture, they’ll get a nasty shock at the next election, because (total paranoia aside) many people are frustrated and angered by certain consequences of the union movement’s power in this country. A vote for Labor on Saturday was not a vote for unionism, and I hope the new leader grasps that and grasps it now.

It is a given that we expect our government to responsibly manage our economy. Voting for Rudd was not Australia’s way of suggesting we don’t wish to be an economically prosperous nation. We are a capitalist economy, and that’s not going to change. We are also concerned about climate change, and education, and health, and reconciliation, and a whole raft of issues that fall under the banner of something like ‘social progressives.’ Surely it is possible to be pro a robust economy and competitive workforce and pro world class public health and education? Pro immigration? Pro improved processing standards for refugees seeking a new life in this country? Pro equal rights for same-sex couples? Pro affordable childcare? Pro research and development in the area of alternative energy sources and water management? Pro further R & D into Indigenous health and education? We are a liberal capitalist democracy, so that’s the challenge, isn’t it? Having strong economic growth coupled with strong social growth? They’re not mutually exclusive, and they absolutely can’t be if Australia is to genuinely prosper, which takes a whole lot more than a budget surplus.

Australians are very passive aggressive when it comes to our politics. We’re not activists per se, we don’t go in for a whole lot of mass demonstrations and so on. No, it looks as though we prefer to store our ammunition and then unleash it in one day of reckoning. Saturday was one such day. We were coy, guarded, no one really knew what was going to happen. But when it came down to it, we unleashed a barrel of fire on Howard’s conservative vision and left the Liberal party in no doubt that the economy is not enough. Like the good little capitalists they’ve taught us to be, we want more. More for our money, including some social, environmental, and cultural good.

And it was a fine day too for Australian women, a mighty fine day: Maxine McKew relieved Howard of his own seat of Bennelong, Julia Gillard is Australia’s first female Deputy Prime Minister, and our new first lady Theresa Rein is a formidable and successful businesswoman, wife, mother, and potential role model to the women of Australia. Bring it on, ladies.

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Mackellar MP Bronwyn Bishop, You Are An Absolute Disgrace.

November 23, 2007 at 12:22 am (Uncategorized)

Imagine my surprise when during my usual breakfast and cup of tea ritual in my courtyard this morning, during which I catch up on local news with the Manly Daily, I came across this headline on page 5:

BISHOP LINKS ALP TO NAZIS

For those of you not in Australia, the ALP is the Australian Labor Party, and (hallelujah) they look like they’re going to win tomorrow’s general election and finally end the long, wretched reign of John ‘I want power’ Howard. Bishop is a Liberal MP, and she’s thoughtfully distributed a ‘warning’ to her electorate by way of an advertisement and letter to voters. The Manly Daily reprints some its contents, and I think you too will find them interesting:

No matter how much Kevin Rudd tries to make the Labor Party look and sound like the Liberal Party the fact is the Labor Party is based on collectivism. Collectivist parties range on a scale from National Socialism (Nazism), International Socialism (Communism) down to Fabianism and our own brand of Labor’s socialism, and this philosophy stifles the individual growth and attainment of young people.

Oh dear, Bronwyn. I don’t even know where to begin untangling all the levels of offence here. First let’s start with the incredible and entirely rogue connection Bishop tries to make between Nazism and the Australian Labor Party. Hopefully the majority of Australians will be voting for the ALP tomorrow, but at the very least many will. And the suggestion that those voters – on Bishop’s logic – have Nazi-style sympathies is so deeply offensive, ignorant, appalling, and enraging that I don’t even know how to properly articulate and direct my disgust.

It’s frightening just how low she’s prepared to go to try and drum terror into the hearts of her constituents. Terror and the idea of terror have, I grant you, Bronny, worked very effectively for your party in the last couple of elections. I suppose it’s not surprising that you’re dipping into that Magic Pudding once more. But it’s ironic, really, that you talk about the stifling of individual growth and attainment of young people, when it was actually your party that did such a bang up job of detaining children in refugee detention centres (I’ve been to Villawood Detention Centre, and it is a prison), and of introducing draconian laws that are mighty stifling when you consider people can be held without charge and without access to counsel on alarmingly spurious grounds, and of spectacularly ignoring the plight of our Indigenous children for eleven years right up until it became an election pitch. Individual growth and attainment of young people really only concerns this current Liberal party if they’re the right kind of young people. You know the sort: white. Oh, and ideally wealthy and privately educated. They’re the only young people that count, they’re the Ordinary Decent Australians you guys constantly invoke aren’t they, Bronny? Admit it, you bigoted snob. You make me ashamed, and I’m genuinely embarrassed for the many good, sensible, broad-thinking, inclusive Liberal voters out there who still remember what your party originally stood for (if he’s still speaking to you, you might want to ask Malcolm Fraser to give you a quick refresher course). My husband is one of them, and you and others like you in the current Liberal Party have lost him (and I trust many more) precisely because of incendiary bile like this.

Oh, and by the way, Liberals involved in this week’s pamphlet scandal: you didn’t satirise racism, you only demonstrated yours.

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The Moral Imperative

November 22, 2007 at 7:41 am (Uncategorized)

I want to shout it off rooftops and grab people by the collar and pass out copies and email everyone I know: READ THIS. Read it.

It’s like the man has read my mind and then put everything that scares and sickens me about John Howard’s government into his far more eloquent words. I cannot say it any better. I don’t think anyone can.

Do you know, I was sitting here thinking about this Saturday’s election yesterday, and at the thought of Howard winning, I actually started crying. Actual tears. Because the thought of it is so crushing. The thought of what it will say about us, about this country, about what we’ve become and what we’ve lost. I just can’t believe it’s going to happen, and I don’t think it will. I think Australians know we’ve gone somewhere darker down his road than we were ever meant to go. It’s time to change direction. It’s not too late for us, and I believe Kevin Rudd as our Prime Minister will simply care more about some of the things really worth caring about in this life.

As Albert Einstein said, not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.

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Sidney Nolan, a New Retrospective at the Art Gallery of New South Wales

November 22, 2007 at 12:29 am (Uncategorized)

I love the AGNSW after dark. It’s probably my favourite time to go. Every Wednesday, the gallery remains open until 9 pm, so you can go straight from work, cruise around the exhibitions and permanent collection for a couple of hours, and then slink off for a drink and/or dinner afterwards. I think it’s brilliant. I suppose I think it’s especially brilliant because I like to spend weekends with my husband, and rarely does he feel like going back into the CBD in his free time. He hops on that Jet Cat of a Friday afternoon and that’s it: he’s out of there, and who can blame him?

So I’m a fan of the after dark opening, although now Daylight Savings has kicked in, it’s not exactly dark. And the big ticket item at the AGNSW at the moment is of course the Sidney Nolan retrospective. And let’s be clear: I was not really expecting to like this exhibition very much. That whole Ned Kelly fetish of Nolan’s – and until last night, that’s about all I knew of him because that’s all anyone ever shows to represent his body of work – has always been iconic, sure, but also a little bit ho hum to me. I’ve never been a fan. And so I was going more because I believe that good children should always eat their greens, not because I think that they will necessarily enjoy them.

It’s always really thrilling, therefore, when the broccoli surpasses expectation (Brussels sprouts simply never do). That’s the very real reward for pinching your nose, chewing your cud, and swallowing. Likewise, it turned out – surprise, surprise – that the Nolan exhibition was thoroughly edible. I mean…edifying. It was very edifying indeed.

I even saw some of the Ned Kelly series in a whole new light, and in fact light was the word of the exhibition: how did he get the light so right? Nolan seemed to have a truly uncanny ability to capture the peculiarities of Australian light – as it reflects off the river in the extraordinary Riverbend I (1964-65) and II (1965-66), as it moves across the icy plains of Antarctica (1964), as it becomes hopelessly entangled in and oppressed by the mist of the Chinese Mountain Landscape with Three Boats (1982), as it’s expelled from the eerie escape of the Convict in Swamp (1958), and, yes, as it slips through the trees and hides in the sky of Return to Glenrowen (1946) and Kelly and the Landscape (1960).

It’s quite a trick of the light.

His range surprised me. The variety of material, theme, and method. I had no idea he was quite so versatile. I felt quite humbled by my total underestimation of his talents and contribution to Australian art. I would never have recognised the dark, perverse erotica of the Leda and the Swan series (1960) as his. And the bad-ass Miner (1972), well, he seemed to reach forward out of the frame to spit and bum a smoke.

Finally, there was the Self-portrait in Youth (1992), ironic, it seemed to me, elegiac, mysterious, and eternal. Like much of his work, I see now.

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Settle Down, Simon!

November 21, 2007 at 2:57 am (Uncategorized)

Last Tuesday, Simon Thomsen, restaurant reviewer for The Sydney Morning Herald‘s Tuesday Good Living section, gave new Darlinghurst eatery A Tavola a score of 15/20. As it happens, we’d been to A Tavola just the week before; Sarah wanted to go before she took off for the Big Three (New York, London, and Paris, the lucky cow), and Llew and I were keen to wave her off with a good night out. So there we were on a Tuesday night at A Tavola.

I just really beg to differ with Simon Thomsen on a few key points, and I say this purely in the interest of preparing people who might otherwise blithely accept everything Good Living says as gospel (you know who you are):

1. The table/tavola in question. Thomsen correctly identifies the room itself as skinny, but neglects to mention the communal table of Indian marble is really quite broad when you consider you’re sharing it with everyone else, and they’re all just as keen to make themselves heard. We were there with our friend Matt, who sat diagonally across from me, and I quickly abandoned all hope of finding out how he was doing because I could not hear a single bloody word he said. Not one. I waved at him occasionally and pointed at my ears and used my napkin as a semaphore and that was about it for us. Not great. The table is too wide.

2. Simon says (sorry, I couldn’t resist) that the ‘calamari fritti [is one] to rival Fratelli Paradiso’s legendary Sant’ Andrea version.’ Really? Ours was downright ordinary. Bland. Utterly forgettable, so much so that I thought ‘That’s it, I’m never ordering this dish again.’ Make up your own mind, by all means.

3. The staff: ‘The smiles from the obliging floor team light up the room.’ Hmmm. One can only wonder if Simon Thomsen is vigorously shagging members of said floor team after-hours. There’s just no other explanation for that starry-eyed gush, especially not when our waitress might well have been installed thanks to a ‘Care in the Community’ program. Not the full quid, capisco?

4. The noise. Yes, we’re back here again, because as I get older I get more sensitive to noise. I don’t like sub-woofers, fully sick muffler work, death metal, or really bloody loud restaurants and bars (remind me to tell you about In Situ tomorrow). And I find it nothing short of incredible that – though he does concede it’s loud in the breakout box summary – nowhere in the review does Simon Thomsen warn diners that it’s a racket in there. Close quarters, bad acoustics, communal table = RACKET.

On one matter we are in full agreement: the rabbit ravioli. Oh my god… it was divine. I have thought about it just about every day since. It was lip-smacking. It was exactly what I searched for in Italy. I loved it. So don’t get me wrong – I left floating on rabbit ravioli-shaped clouds – but I just think a good review ought not to shy away from a bit of tough love. Favore, Simon.

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GetUp, Action for Australia

November 20, 2007 at 12:02 am (Uncategorized)

Now that the final countdown to Saturday’s federal election is underway, it seems a good time to mention an organisation that offers a directed outlet for those of us frustrated by the current political direction of Australia. One of the toughest challenges seems to me to be overcoming the entrenched apathy of the broader community; I think people are feeling defeated by constant evidence from the country’s leaders that what we think no longer counts for anything. Well, I hope Saturday brings a result that undermines that attitude once and for all. If John Howard hadn’t been such a deaf, blind autocrat all these years, more people might still believe that Australia’s a democracy, and therefore might still believe in their individual power and responsibility to contribute to the community in which they live.

It really is time to GetUp.

Here’s what GetUp says about itself on the website:

GetUp is an independent, grass-roots community advocacy organisation giving everyday Australians opportunities to get involved and hold politicians accountable on important issues.

Whether it is sending an email to a member of parliament, engaging with the media, attending an event or helping to get a television ad on the air, GetUp members take targeted, coordinated and strategic action.

GetUp does not back any particular party, but aims to build an accountable and progressive Parliament – a Parliament with economic fairness, social justice and environment at its core.

GetUp is a not-for-profit and receives no money from any political party or the government. We rely solely on funds and in-kind donations from the Australian public.

An accountable, progressive Parliament? A Parliament with economic fairness, social justice and environment at its core? Gee. Imagine. I like the sound of that. In fact, it’s exactly what I’m looking for. If I could find a political party that genuinely, unequivocally stood for these same principles, I’d join them. I used to think it was the Democrats. Maybe it still is, they’re just so powerless at the moment I haven’t heard a peep from them in years. Bummer about crossing the floor, Cheryl – your party really had potential for a while there. But at least I can join GetUp, and at least that way I know I am not alone or anything like it in wanting Australia to prosper socially, ethically, culturally, peacefully, environmentally – not just economically. And in order to work towards that Australia, I do believe that in some small way, each and every one of us needs to get up and bloody well do something about it.

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Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi Beach

November 18, 2007 at 10:46 pm (Uncategorized)

There’s a lovely annual sculpture exhibition in Sydney called ‘Sculpture by the Sea,’ and it takes over the coastal walk between Icebergs at South Bondi and Tamarama Beach. It’s an incredible setting for an art exhibition. The path itself already takes in some of my favourite views in the world, and I love the way one’s gaze tends to wander in a seamless transition from a sculpture, out over the cliffs, down past luridly green, algae-coated rocks, and then across the Pacific to the horizon. It’s wonderful, especially late afternoon as we were doing it.

Of course, we were far from the only ones with that bright idea. It was uncomfortably crowded, and made me think that next year I might try and get over there bright and early one morning. I don’t mind crowds in a downtown New York and Tokyo kind of way – not at all, oddly enough – but I hate crowded spaces when everyone’s objective is identical. You don’t get that feeling of millions of people all pursuing their own goals; it’s just millions of people impeding my ability to pursue mine. And my goal yesterday was a leisurely stroll along the coast enjoying the sculptures up close and in my own sweet time. Fat chance.

We were there on the last day, so you might think it serves me right, and what was I expecting? Well, we were there for Llew’s mum’s birthday: meet at Flic’s, do the walk, head out for a family dinner in Bondi. All of which we did. A glass of champagne at Flic’s to fortify us for the walk, a couple of hours on the walk, and dinner at the relaxed and friendly Japanese restaurant RAW BAR (Cnr Wairoa and Warners Ave, Bondi Beach, +61 2 9365 7200).

The organisers of Sculpture by the Sea have an annoying habit of refusing to identify the name of the artist and the work anywhere but in the official program. I would really like to be able to tell you all about the pieces I loved, but I can’t, because by the time we got there no one was selling programs, so I couldn’t buy one even if I’d wanted to. It’s a free exhibition, so I make no quarrel with this policy on the basis of the fact that I wouldn’t mind paying something toward seeing it, but I do think they could at least have little cards telling you what the damn thing is called and who the hell did it. The program could then go into all the symbolic and material detail. As it is I really don’t know what to say except stupid, meaningless things like ‘I liked the whimsical nature of the one with the three floating figures and the umbrella.’

Bah.

Anyway, although the crowds get tedious, at the same time it was terrific to see people from all walks out there on the, er, walk.

We were going to go to North Bondi Italian, but a cast of thousands beat us there, and then some 12 year old waitress was rude to Flic. It’s one thing I don’t miss about living in Bondi: attitude. Reams and reams of attitude. Manly, on the whole, is just nowhere near as pretentious and full of itself. Don’t these people get at all tired of sitting around posing and telling themselves how fabulous they are? It sure bores the shit out of me just seeing it happen. And as for the rude waitress: check your job description, honey. Dealing with a customer asking for a table kind of goes with the territory.

I’m glad we didn’t go there. RAW BAR was lovely food (good, flavourful miso with tofu and seaweed, tasty gyoza with a dipping sauce I could drink by the glass, generous and so delicately battered seafood and vegetable tempura, and a sushi and sashimi combination platter that persuaded us that we really deserved one more) and very cheerful service. We knocked back a couple of bottles of wine as the sun went down and an evening breeze brought sweet relief. And as I do every time I’m in Bondi, before dinner I nervously popped around to Gould St to check my old family home at Granddad’s had not yet been razed to the ground by money-mad developers. Nope – it’s still standing, at least for now. It’s always such a relief to find it’s still there. Ah Bondi, I do love you so, but I think I am finally starting to be able to let go.

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