What I did on my holidays – Melbourne stop over

Sunday 19 July 2009

I’m standing in front of the Flinders Street Station waiting for my pares to arrive. They will be at least another 15 minutes. It’s now 9.15am and the city is beginning to wake.

Haven’t been able to check into my hotel room, which is a bugger, but the bill’s paid and everything is being held in storage till I get back. I’m in Melbourne to see two exhibitions: John Brack and Salvador Dali.  The trouble is I think my pares only want to see the Dali. The reason why this is a problem is because the Ian Potter Gallery (Brack) closes at 5pm while the NGV (Dali) not until 9, so I could easily see both if I saw the Brack first. I’ll mention this to them, but I’m not sure how eager they’ll be. They’ll still need to travel back to Bendigo and I’m sure they’ve already planned their homeward timetable. Anyway, breakfast is the first thing. I’ve had about an hour and a half’s sleep and will kill for a coffee, bacon and eggs.


I needn’t have worried about the exhibitions. While my pares didn’t know about the John Brack I did spent a bit of time selling its fine points (how Bendigo’s gallery has a couple of his works, how they would probably recognise his very early work 5pm Collins Street, how Dah might appreciate Brack’s representation of 1950’s men) before steering them towards the gallery and towards the lift. I think they really enjoyed his work and were particularly impressed how diverse his styles were. Like Mah said, you’d have thought that the works were done by three different artists. I think Dah was impressed too as he regularly commented on realistic some of his older pieces looked, or on the faces of his earlier pieces. We didn’t spend a huge amount of time – well, not a huge amount for me anyway, but we did see everything and went back to some pieces to review again. My legs were starting to feel tired too so I’d had enough and was desperate for a cuppa. So we trotted down the road to the NGV for a pot of tea each before tackling the Dali exhibition.

The Dali was designed as a retrospective and covered his very first works (at 15 years old) through to his final days in the 1980’s. I’m in a quandary but this exhibition; I’m not sure if I’m disappointed that his iconic works (melting clocks, swans turning into elephants, bowls of fruit becoming faces, the Venus chest of drawers), or pleased that I was able to see unfamiliar work (umm… well, basically everything on display). I was happy that two of the pieces were film works: An Andalusian Dog (Un Chien Andalou) (1928), Dali’s collaboration with Luis Buñuel; and the 2003 completed Disney piece Destino (2003) that was considered for the second chapter of Fantasia. The two last pieces I went back to the gallery and saw after saying good-bye to the pares. I rushed back, saw them, then went back to the hotel and fell straight asleep till my alarm went off at 9am.

In between my two visits Dah and I were dragged to the casino – “for a late lunch” Mah said –  but we both knew better. After our meals Dah and I sat in one of the bar areas while Mah went and fed coins into the bandits. She enjoyed herself, I suppose.

I’m very glad we did both exhibitions, especially after Mah said that she enjoyed the Brack – who she had never heard of – more than the Dali. There is more a commentary with Brack’s work and what he was trying to achieve throughout his career – to capture human interaction. I enjoyed his work much more too.


What I did on my holidays – Melbourne, Canberra then home

Friday 9 January 2009

I know, it’s late, but I’ve either been unable to get to a computer, busy doing more exciting things to warrant wanting to get to a computer, on a bus where there was no computer, or asleep. So please accept the lateness of this entry and enjoy the exciting conclusion to my hols.

On New Year’s Eve, after the fireworks so I probably should say on New Year’s Day, there was a horrid moment as I was walking to the Laird when I heard a worraworraworraworraworra* sound emanate from my tummy. Uh oh, I thought. They say the way you spend New Year’s Eve is the way you spend the rest of the year. There was a moment where I thought I was to spend 2009 squatting in dark alleyways wiping my arse with a handkerchief. Luckily (not only for me but the owners of driveways of dark alleyways throughout Collingwood) I found a petrol station with a public loo where I was able to relieve the burden. On telling Vincent the next day of this little adventure he nodded sagely. “Too much cheese,” he said.

The rest of my time in Melbourne I sort of alternated between staying in and going out, so one day I’d go to an exhibition and wander the streets for a while then go out that night with Vincent and Ben, and the next was recovering back at the flat watching film after film. One day Vincent and I watched five films in one sitting, all great films too. A couple of times I planned to go see a new film only to get to the cinema and change my mind. Actually, just the wandering about bit was some of the nicest times I had. 

On my last night in Melbourne there was to be an underwear party at the Laird, so I caught the train out to Collingwood and signed up for that. I’ve been to one of these Laird events before, I think the third or fourth one, and the word had obviously gotten out about how much fun these things can be – it was packed. Basically, unlike the Underbear parties (note the subtle difference of spelling), these first Monday of the month nights consist of a normal night at the pub but with a dark corner, for doing… dark deeds.** So bascially – get the image in your head – except for this dark space everyone is standing around in their underwear drinking beer. Admittedly, it’s all just a little bit silly and a number of times I had to go out into the courtyard smoking area to regain some perspective. 

Actually, I’m finding all this nudity and underwear stuff I’ve been going to lately all a bit silly***. I think what makes it so silly is how damn seriously every else seems to take it.

One of these trips outside was bizarre. I’d been chatting to this Perthian, now living in Los Angeles, who enjoys urinating on people and had escaped outside while getting another beer. Outside everyone but one was also in their underwear (the courtyard is shared with the front bar) so the outside area, with people smoking and admiring the resident possum, was probably even more silly than that indoors. The one still dressed was sitting over by himself. I thought him quite a handsome fellow and I think he must have thought likewise of me as he seemed to be always staring my way. But I finish my beer and go back inside. 

That’s not the bizarre trip outside, by the way, this one is:

Later I again go outside and the dressed fellow has moved away from the front door and into the garden area, so I figure I’ll go over and talk to him. I was planning on some sort of scintillating opening line such as “What’s a fully dressed man like you doing at a underwear party like this?” (gold, pure gold) but I got as far as “Hello” when he said, “You’re Clyde, aren’t you?” “Umm, yes,” I said. “You’re a friend of Ben’s,” the fellow said, and then I knew who he was. Turns out on Friday night, when Vincent, Ben and I where out, there was this couple (the dressed fellow John and his partner Mark) who took a fancy to Ben and me, thinking we were a couple. They saw us together again later that night at the Sircuit Bar, which has an upstairs area for… well, doing whatever you like really. Anyway, at Sircuit, they approached Ben hoping to arrange a foursome but I had already left for elsewhere (I thought the whole upstairs thing was extremely silly and was drunk enough to comment so aloud) so Ben and his two new friends went off together. That night Ben told them about me, then later Ben told me about them. And it seems every night I went out John and Mark just so happened to also be there watching from the sideline (it’s all a bit stalky when you think about it). So there is me talking to John, who had wanted to talk to me from my first night out in Melbourne.

So that was a fun night. John and Mark are also from Perth and have invited me over for a holiday. I’ve quite a small number of friends in Perth now… if it wasn’t so damn far away.

So that was Melbourne.

On the trip back to Sydney I stopped a day in Canberra to see the Degas exhibition. It was very much worth the extra time and bus induced sleep deprivation. Of the five major and three minor exhibitions I saw over the 14 days, this was by far the most satisfying. Degas’ work is so stunning and he really knew how to make women look beautiful. I was so pleased with my time there, and I similarly enjoyed wandering around the rest of the gallery, even though I was beginning to feel very tired. I was in the NGA for over five hours and was absolutely knackered by the time I got back to the bus station that the moment I sat on the bus I feel asleep.

I was back in my little home by 10pm, happy to find that while the window had smashed further no water had gotten in. I’ve also a note to call the police and when I did I was told the officer wouldn’t be in till Monday and to call back then. Outstanding service. Thursday, the glass man came and replaced the glass, though the did say that the windows are so rotten that he would be amazed if they last till July. Great, I thought. He did the best he could and filled all the gaps with silicon to help strengthen frames, but I get the impression that they are now more silicon than timber. Still, he did an excellent job and I’ve emailed Strata to let them know.

I suppose that’s it, then. A couple of quiet days pottering around and back to work Monday.


* Which, incidentally, is the same noise that Winne-the-Pooh hears outside his door one night. It turned out to be Tigger.

** Which, incidentally, is the same thing that Mia says to Harry at the office Christmas party in Love Actually.

*** Which, incidentally, looks like being my expression for 2009.

What I did on my holidays – New Year’s Eve in Melbourne

Wednesday 31 December 2008

Yes, well, here I am. I arrived late Tuesday afternoon and I’ve already had my first hangover. Damn that Vincent; he will be the death of me, or at least my liver. 

It is so good of Vincent to put me up for the rest of my trip but my biggest dread is to be a burden during my stay. He’s got his own things to do and, well, I’ve a list of places to go and sights to see too. Art galleries don’t visit themselves. I am so grateful to Vincent for inviting – nay – allowing me into his home, but I don’t want to seem like I’m treating him like a hotel – which is exactly what I planned to do – but somehow I don’t think he will have much of a problem with that. 

There are a few things I need to be wary of while I’m here, some basic house rules of doors that stay open and others that must remain closed, but they are all because of one thing – the cats. Vincent’s cats are, well, they don’t really look like cats; they’re more like pillows with eyes. They remind me of showground gonks… large showground gonks. There are three of the fluffy felines but there is so much cat hair covering the living room that I think there might have been a fourth that exploded. After spending time in Bendigo with four incredibly affectionate cats that enjoyed nothing more than lying on your tummy and obstructing your view of the telly, it’s a bit of a disappointment to now be with three – how does Vincent describe them? – “disturbed creatures” who scurry at my presence. If I’m lucky by the end of my trip I’ll be allowed to tickle one behind its ears.

Blake, Vincent’s partner of many years, and I are getting on far better than ever before. Not that we never didn’t get on but this trip we’re casually chatting and enjoying each other’s company. This is probably because he’s bought a Mac and so I at least understand some of the technogabble that comes out of his mouth. Blake knows – and I mean – knows computers, and I think he finds it difficult to understand that other people don’t. He reminds me of a Flanders and Swan routine about how to talk to scientists. You can’t say “hello” and “how are you?” and things like that; you have to talk in their language. So: “H2SO4, Professor. Don’t synthesise anything I wouldn’t synthesise! And the reciprocal of Pi to your good wife.” Blake’s a bit like that. 

Tonight I am watching the fireworks from a room at the Hilton. The boys are already there but I didn’t want to start too early in the afternoon as it would mean that I would then be ending too early in the night. I have hopes to head for the Laird Hotel (men’s bar) after the fireworks, so I don’t want to be too messy, just happy. It’s now nearly 6.30; I’ll have a shower, put on a ravishing shirt, and walk out the door by 7. I’ll be at the party well before 8.

Happy New Year’s, everyone.