Wednesday, August 13, 2003

In Sydney: take a moment to reflect
(and other sappy calendar slogans)

Every time I’m back in Sydney for work (and this trip makes three), seems to be a moment to consider what I left behind exiting stage left from the life of a corporate lawyer and moving to Melbourne, and how happy I was to do it.

Many, many, of my Canberra friends live here now and it’s a shame more of them weren’t about while I was still in Sydney.

Still, looking back over “Sydney trip/Sydney sucks” entries numbers one, two, three and four – I have become progressively less bitter about my time here. Though the thought of returning to a firm still fills me with visceral horror.

Walking down to the legal precinct this morning the full two-block length of Hyde Park was beautiful. It was drizzling a little, and terribly humid (when is Sydney not?), but the central axis of the park with its canopy of trees is delightful.

The Hyde Park war memorial is about level with the apartment I’m splitting for the week here with two colleagues, and it’s art-deco era plinth-like outline is quite dramatic lit up at night. All the good buildings here are native sandstone, unfortunately most have been pulled down by successive waves of development, leaving the town with much less architectural history (for my taste) than Melbourne.

I also had a little nostalgia attack, smelling the leaf-mould in the park this morning, its scent fusing with the salty, heavy, humid air off the harbour. I'm growing very fond of the Archibald fountain in Hyde park, too. (Donated by the founder of the Archibald Prize for National Portraiture at the NSW Art Gallery?)

The best thing about this trip, so far though, has been the people – easily. It has been great seeing everyone again, there’s been a real celebratory air to it, in fact.

Monday I saw some of the old Balmain gang, all lawyers – and had a fabulous night of drinking a little too much, joking, reminiscing, gossiping, talking a little too loudly about law-type social issues, and having dinner at the Angus restaurant at the Sheraton on the Park. It’s lovely to catch up with people who you only met on moving to a city, who are genuinely happy to see you again, and genuinely excited for you about what’s going on in your life.

Tuesday I had dinner with Rob, Lyn, Davo and Lara (all of whom have commented on these pages from time to time), Patrick and Petra. Those of us who could get away early went to two for one cocktails at Martin Place Bar (so often my downfall) and we then had dinner at Chinta Ria Temple of Love, which looks something like a Malaysian temple and perches atop the Cockle Bay complex of restaurants. We had great seats outdoors until it started raining, but they scooted us inside pretty quick.

Old Canberra and Coogee friends, some of whom I’ve not seen in months, it was a great night. Hlaf of them had been in Canberra on the weekend – maybe I shouldn’t have just hidden out at the folks’ place.

Also, hanging out with and speaking with my lawyer friends up here has confirmed one thing: I know very few twenty-somethings who are still with a big law firm and genuinely enjoying their job. Those who've gone in-house, on secondment, to smaller firms, or switched career-path look happier and healthier than I've ever seen them. Tends to confirm my own choices, really.

Still, all this drinking and socialising ain’t helping my persistent cold.

PS Went to “Shaolin Soccer” at the Film Festival on Friday and it was spectacular: a really brilliantly funny martial-arts comedy sports romp.

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