October 20, 2009 at 6:40 am (Uncategorized)

Another hectic day here at DoctorDi HQ, but my story is coming together. Research, research, research. More on that in a moment. It’s also another perfect day, so I have had a quick run and a swim, and I’m pleased to report that the water temperature has increased by what feels like a solid couple of degrees. How does this happen overnight? I just don’t know.

So. Research. For this story and the past two in the series, my research is taking me right around Europe, and I am getting very, very hungry for some more Continental travel. I know, I know, I’m about to head to the ‘Hai, so even talking about it makes me horribly greedy, but I really do find myself poring over certain information pertaining to all these countries and thinking, “What I wouldn’t give…” – nothing whets one’s appetite for travel more than discovering where one most assuredly is not. I love Sydney, I love my home, but there’s a whole world out there. All that history, literature, art, music, architecture… all those people, all those lives. People unfairly think of Sydney in particular and Australia in general as a lifestyle mecca/cultural vacuum. It’s not true, but I can see why the label sticks. Most of the best of our architectural heritage was criminally destroyed, not by the ravages of war but the shortsightedness and poor taste of state politicians and developers. It’s sunny here, a fact some cultural elitists brandish at us with ill-disguised disdain, as though good weather were any sort of impediment to the creation of good art. Still, it’s true we don’t have a visible history of venerating our artists and intellectuals. Some suggest we all but drive them from our shores, but I don’t think that’s true either. I’ve met far too many vastly talented people throughout my life in Sydney to give that idea more credence than it deserves. I’d also suggest that particular hostility is rarely a one-sided thing. Some expatriates do a mighty fine job of coming over all sneery and patronising about Australia from the safety of their Manhattan lofts and London pied-a-terres. It’s like a kind of cultural peer pressure. Say it’s a vacuum, or you can’t join the Euro Club, say it’s a wasteland, go on, admit it, say it, say it, say it, damn you, infernal colonial! Kill the pig, cut his throat, spill his blood. You know the drill.

I don’t think there’s anything contradictory in my love of country and my insatiable lust for elsewhere. So there.



  1. litlove said,

    The book I read by Robert Dessaix was preoccupied with this idea that Australia lacks culture. Dessaix was making an imaginative link with Turgenev out of the fact he felt that both of them were running away from civilisations with only borrowed culture. I always assumed it was my ignorance that meant I didn’t know much about Australia – I imagine it’s jam-packed full of history and art and folk lore and literature. Anywhere that produces Peter Carey and Drusilla Modjeska has to be pretty cool in my estimation. AND you have sunshine and wonderful food!

    • doctordi said,

      It is full of all those things, LL, which is why I find this idea that Australia lacks culture frustrating and infuriating. Indigenous culture is ancient virtually beyond comprehension, and frankly our convict history is CRACKING. Far from being ashamed of it, I think it’s one of the biggest success stories going round. Talk about thumbing their noses at the authorities back in the UK. So many convicts went on to become prosperous pioneers of this great southern land, and the many stories of the seamier side of life are breathtaking too.

  2. Charlotte said,

    Oh, come to Germany and I’ll take you round my favourite Heidelberg haunts! I understand the insatiable lust for elsewhere – I live with it permanently.

    • doctordi said,

      Charlotte, Llew and I visited the Berg back in… 2000 or 2001…I’m not sure if that predates your time there or not, but I sorely wish we’d had the benefit of your local knowledge. Still, I liked Heidelberg. I recall the odd walk from the train station through a massive industrial area, and then encountering the old town beyond that as a beautiful reward.

  3. Grad said,

    I think I told you before that when my husband and I lived in Hawaii our best friends were Aussies. Every single person who came over to visit them from Australia was gorgeous! How does that happen? Are there NO bad looking Australians? Anyway, the way Jenny talked about Australia made it very fascinating to me…exotic, far away, different from anything I’d ever experienced. But very expensive to get to, so I never went. I have a big warm spot in my heart for Australians because of Jenny. You have some of my favorite wines to boot, and Diane Jenkins, I hear, is poised to be one of their great authors.

    • doctordi said,

      That Diane Jenkins – damn her! She beats me every time!!!

      Yes, I love that Jenny already blazed a trail to your heart, Graddikins, I feel I owe her a debt of thanks for paving the way for others. And unfortunately there are plenty of bad looking Aussies. Increasingly there’s plenty of whopping great obese ones, too. I guess that’s partly what I’m saying – Australia IS fascinating. But I guess I believe most places are.

  4. Paddy said,

    Well, I hope to see you in Europe next (Northern hemisphere) summer! More very soon…

    • doctordi said,

      Of course I was thinking about that yesterday too, Paddy! We’ve got it firmly in our sights.

  5. woo said,

    Having lived in London for 8 years, and as an ex-pat Pom now living in Oz, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by Sydney’s vibrant cultural life and artistic scene.

    People here, it seems to me, go to exhibitions and cultural events, the theatre, concerts etc far more than Londoners do. In London, its only the tourists (and the history geeks like me) who go to the museums and galleries, and only the wealthy who go to the opera or live classical music.

    For my money, Sydney has the best of both worlds – a wonderful climate which makes outdoor existance so much more pleasant, as well as more than enough to offer in the way of events, exhibitions, festivals and so on to please all but the most determined Europhile.

  6. doctordi said,

    Woo, that’s nice to hear. I always think it’s such bunkum, because there’s always so much happening, and everything is always sold out, and everyone always seems so enthusiastic and savvy that I just find it weird to keep hearing my city and by extension myself described in a way that doesn’t sound anything like the reality. It’s good to have your perspective – although I would have said Londoners were great doers too – certainly when we were living there everyone seemed to be heading off to do stuff around the clock, ourselves included. But I did miss my Sydney sunshine and sky, so I’m happy to have the best of both worlds… at least for now!

  7. Lilian Nattel said,

    No contradiction at all. And no lack of Aussie talent either. I think we have the same issue in Canada.

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