Thursday, February 12, 2004

(The Age: Esplenade hotel, Melbourne.)

Melbourne nostalgia

It’s funny, the place I get most nostalgic for in Australia is Melbourne, a town where I lived for only 10 months.

The Age’s “My Melbourne” photos aren’t helping, but it was delightful to receive a postcard view of Flinder’s Street Station from Daniel. (Anyone else wanting to send me postcards from home is welcome - e-mail me if you don't have my address.)

I guess I miss my Melbourne hang-outs as much as anything.

The casual grunge-chic of pubs, the seventies lounge-room retro-flair of the Comfortable Chair on upper Lygon Street, the Toblerone cocktails at Kelvin in Northcote. I miss the wine bars. Pubs are fun, but generally it seems like that's all there is over here – with the honourable exception of La Razza, which with entry by a narrow stairway, low couches, and live jazz on a Wednesday is everything I like in a bar.

Even the sticky humidity of heat-wave summer and the long, lazy horizontal sunlight of the late afternoon holds a certain charm at this distance. That said, there’s less difference in the winter weather than one might expect. OK, the snow was very exciting, but largely the winter has been much less cold than I was expecting, really.

And perhaps not such a contrast to Melbourne, when you think about it. Also, I was never this warm or comfortable indoors in Melbourne. The Brits have discovered central heating and taken to it with a mighty vengeance of which I whole heartedly approve. (Other than the fact I like sleeping under a doonah – duvet for the English – but get horribly dehydrated if I do so here, even with the heating in my room ostensibly switched to zero.)

Obviously, there are some similarities. Umm ... let's see, both have a sluggish river and people wearing striped team-colour (OK, college-colour) scarves here.

Rather shamefully for a Bulldogs supporter, my college scarf is Collingwood white and black.

Will I dare wear it in public back home?

PS: just when you think you've seen everything

Cycling home from my first encounter with undergraduate on-stage nudity (not sure I'd be prepared to drop my towel while leaving the stage in the name of art at the Amatuer Dramatic Club theatre, but that's just me) I cycled past Sidney Sussex college and encountered a couple of Irish guys engaged in bicycle tossing.

Seriously, they were throwing it into the air (repeated) to see if they could make it come down facing the other side up.

Note to self: always chain your bike to a railing.

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