Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Garcon! Red Cordial and Lots of it S'il Vous Plait!

Or How I Ran Myself Ragged This Year and Had  a Ball Doing So


Some may see this as a sign of the apocalypse, but this was the year that a raging sore throat (a week of swallowing agony that I do not care to repeat thank you!) and torrential rain & wind meant that I ddin't make it anywhere near any of the traditional Domain events like Symphony or Opera, or the crowded mad fun of First Night in the City, when the Festival formally kicks off. I really hate missing my chance to sit on a rug, eat picnic goodies by the truckload, and get some kulcha, but there's something about feeling like the crap that crap wipes off its shoes after walking through a toxic waste dump) or squalling rain and crazy wind angles that leaves me less than enthused about braving the great outdoors (such as they are in the tame environs of Sydney's Domain, which is technically part of the Botanical Gardens). As I said at the time, having a break from things you do every year isn't such a bad thing, and renews your enthusiasm for attending them, and I can't wait for January 2011, and the chance to roast in the sun till the harsh rays fall behind the skyscrapers of Macquarie Street....kidding. I hate the sun but love all the rest of it...


But when something isn't free, and you have committed serious cold hard cash, virtual though it often is these days, you turn up pouring rain or not and that is just what we did, at least two times of the four sessions we booked. Thankfully, the movies we saw on the rainy nights were absolutely wonderful so that made the dampness kind of fun. I said kind of..... having to huddle under a plastic awning over a table as water threatens to pour into your wine and dinner as water rushes under your feet isn't a hoot and a holler, but in a way, it built a fun camaraderie between everyone there since we realised we were all as mad as each other!
Dinner in the chairs tonight as we didn't get there early enough to grab a table. That was entirely due to the fact that I had been sick all week with a roaring throat infection and only went back to work on the 15th to discover to my horro initially (around lunchtime) that I had  a date with the OAC that night! It made for a busy start to the outdoor cinema season!

I ended up seeing four movies this year with different configurations of boyfriend & friends, and eating los of delicious gourmet food and drinking white wine as dusk, when it wasn't pouring rain like Noah was bidding for a return to sailing boats, settled over the Harbour and the lights of the City, Bridge and Opera House lit up. As always the view competes with the movies for my attention, but this year the movies - Whatever Works (15 Jan), The Informant (2 Feb), North by Northwest (6 February) and A Single Man (13 February) were uniformly excellent in their own ways, and as I said, made even the soggiest of evenings, clad in glamorous white plastic ponchos, enjoyable. We even managed to get rides from the parking garage each night in an air conditioned Toyota Prius as part of Toyota's sponsorship of the event,  which on hot muggy Summer evenings is a joy.

Man it's wet!

Even wetter and darker! it POURED all through the movie - North By Northwest

AUSTRALIA DAY (26 January 2010)

Ah yes the day every Australian loves because we get a day off! Whatever our feelings about the day's origins, it is hard to find an Aussie who doesn't love the ancillary benefit of a day away from the corporate coal face to BBQ a few snags, drink some beers and chill out with friends... in our case head to a park in Marrickville, eat some Greek haloumi, some quinoa and drink some wine with locally made gourmet ice cream for dessert and then chill on a rug as the  sun sets and the fireworks begin. It was a blissfully relaxed day with my boyfriend Steve, and close friends, Fahmi, Stephen, John, Esther, and their two children.

FAIR DAY (21 February 2010)

Yes, in full flight as Knob the Builder I look like a 70s porn star;  no, I don't want to clean your pool

Most of the gang including my darling Steve as Pierrot the Clown

Yes we did it again Britney! After last year's fabulously camp, colourful over the top attempt to add some fresh glam-laden zing to the launch of the Mardi Gras Festival, we couldn't resist going over the top again, and despite all the exhaustion from long nights preparing everything from primary-coloured letter blocks to riotously coloured mobiles hanging from the tent roof (including getting to bed at 2 a.m. the day of Fair Day and getting up at 6 a.m. to get it all to the park on time!), and more schlepping than a Yiddish family moving home, we had an absolute blast celebrating our theme this year of TOYLAND. Everyone in our group dressed up as toys - I was Knob the Builder; Steve was Piroux the Clown, but the standout was our dear friend Ian as Jackie-in-the-Box who not only looked fabulous but glammed it up to the hilt! - we had brightly coloured cupcakes and all manner of yummy hot food, got interviewed by everyone, posed, as last year, for millions of photos, and even though we were all ridiculously tired by the end of it all, were sad when the day ended. FUN, PEOPLE, FUN!!!

MARDI GRAS (6 March 2010)

We switched sides this year! No, not those sides, thank you since we quite liking row on the queer side of the stream, but the side of the street (Flinders in this case) we stand on to watch the parade. Instead of standing in the harsh sun all afternoon waiting for the sun to dip behind the church, we stood on the same side of the church and enjoyed the blisss of shade until Dykes on Bikes, the traditional opening act of the parade roared down the street and got the party started!
My lovely guy Steve & I with my dear friend Tina Fanning, glamorous as always and the centre of much attention on the night!

The parade was as colourful and fun as ever, but did seem to lack cohesion and as much zest as previous years. Even so, we took a ton of photos (till my camera died midway), enjoyed the all the guy candy, and soaked up the wonderful atmosphere that always pervades the event. I love standing with my friends, and complete strangers, gay and straight and feeling the warmth of joy and community and sheer fun that washes over everyone. A wonderful night!

Way Up North - Brisbane (September)

My wonderful friend in BrizVegas, Jason, turned 40 this year and being the king of birthday celebrating, I could hardly turn down his invitation to head up to Brisbane (for the frist time in YEARS) so Steve & I made a weekend of it. We booked a great hotel in the City, met up with my dear friend on the Friday night in 'Paris' - an Italian cafe beneath a replica of the Eiffel Tower! - and spent Saturday seeing Jason at Southbank (where Expo 88 was located, which I had worked at; it was fascinating being back there after so long and seeing just how much it had changed) before visiting his home which he is renovating, catching up with Steve's friend Michael & his boyfriend, before heading to Fortitude Valley for a yummy Italian dinner with 30 or so of Jason's closest friends, who were a lovely bunch of people! We had a ball! Finished off with some drinking and dancing on the inside at the Wickham, a gay club in the Valley before crashing at the hotel. We got just enough sleep to have the strength to go sightseeing the next day with Kerry - way up in the Brisbane Eye which gave a great view of the city - before sitting down at the hotel we were staying at with Kerry for a chocolate feast - the entire buffet was chocolate oriented and I am sure I put on a million calories in one cocoa-drenched meal!

WAY DOWN SOUTH - Melbourne (June & October)

A year ago I had only really been to Melbourne for bi-annual WORD Bookstore manager meetings, which were held out in the middle of suburban nowhere, and never allowed me to truly soak up the many delights of this wonderful city (Yes I know - as a Sydneysider I am not supposed to admit to such unbridled love of our southern neighbour but I won't tell Clover Moore, the mayor, if you don't). I had managed to visit St Kilda back at the start of 2008, but given that that was while I was dating a guy who turned out to be a world class emotional idiot, the less said about that the better.
Steve & his lovely sister Carolyn

Steve & I at the tram stop near Flinders Street station

Flinders Street Railway Station - my favourite buidling in Melbourne

ABBA tragics unite! Carolyn & I bonded at ABBAWorld

In the Arrival helicopter

Shopping at a rather damp St Kilda Markets

Steve's family and me - Andrew, Melissa, Carolyn, Darren, and Steve's parents, Kath and Ken

So this year, as I look towards my third trip in 12 months, I am thankful I have got to know the city a whole lot better, as well as the family of my gorgeous guy who is from Melbourne way back when. The first trip this year was to visit his parents and various siblings, and while I take most things in my stride as only a garrulous extrovert can, I was nervous meeting the in-laws as any partner would be. Naturally I had nothing to worry about and every last one of them were as delightful, warm and friendly as promised. Fortunately I met them in stages, starting with Steve's brother at the airport on the Friday night, then his sister, Carolyn, in the Saturday morning/afternoon over brunch and a bonding experience at ABBAWorld (full of ABBA memorabilia and for an ABBA tragic such as me, manna from heaven) then his parents and brother and sister in law, Brian and Sue over afternoon tea and then the whole gang over lunch on Sunday. Add in trips to ABBAWorld, Brunswick Street Fitzroy (love the delectable food at Blue Chillies) and the cafe district in the City around Degraves Street and I fell hopelessly, totally in love with Melbourne and Steve's wonderful family.
In Bourke Street mall on the night we arrived

Hot chocolate in Degraves Street

Steve in front of the milling crowds at the Titanic exhibition, Melbourne Museum

Steve & I outside the Tim Burton exhibition at ACMI, Federation Square

Eureka Tower - very tall!

Andrew & Monika

Steve's siblings & me : Brian, Steve, Andrew, Darren & Carolyn

So it made sense to head back down in October (photos directly above), to see them again (over a big family get together on the Sunday), and using a day's leave to extend the weekend, to see Hairspray the Musical (fabulous technicolour gorgeousness!), and exhibitions on the Titanic, and Tim Burton, see Melbourne from on high atop the 88 floors tall Eureka Tower,as well as more fabulous cafe visits, tram rides (one to see my lovely friends Andrew & Monika), shopping at the various arcades and Rose Street Markets and walks through a city I can wait to see again and again).

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