Hello Again, Sydney

One Sydney-sider's experiences moving back to Sydney after a long absence overseas.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Business casual

It's been a week of challenges, as you'd expect with any new job. The biggest of these has been the 'business casual' wardrobe. Somehow I've avoided getting into this fashion grey area until now. To me it seems you end up buying casual clothes that you don't really want to wear, or you wear legitimate casual clothes to the office and contaminate them with workplace associations. Lose lose dude!

It does give me the perfect excuse to go shopping though. The last couple of years have been the most frugal of my life, but the urge to buy things was always lurking. Not so much a lack of materialism as a lack of money, or to say it another way, you can take the boy out of Sydney, but you can't take Sydney out of the boy. And now I can shop with impunity - it's for work!

My first stop was Myer, where I had a bit of a low moment. For a start, I'm not a big fan of the way the clothes are laid out by label. Can't we just have the great wall of jeans, with every brand known to man in one place? Perhaps a store attendant or two? Instead I ended up in the change room with a pair of slim leg jeans. WTF? This style is so temporary, you can practically hear the denim ticking. Plus it's totally impractical heading into summer. But it wasn't just the jeans that did me in. All through the store I felt like I was looking at the wardrobe department for Australian Idol. Okay, so I may be getting old, and I may have become a bit of a tight arse over the last couple of years, but the idea of paying $50 for a t-shirt that is just 'okay' doesn't seem quite right to me. I got out of there with a pair of jeans that aren't too 'restrictive' (and they'll stretch, right? Tell me they'll stretch.) and a shirt. Next on the agenda, shoes.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Commuter of the Year

I have a new job! Starting next week, same type of thing but in the city, which means I'll be saving about 2 hours a day travelling time. I'm trying not to think about that too much until I finish at the old place - I'll probably collapse otherwise. And I'll be getting more money. As we used to say, many moons ago, thank you big mother.

But it will be goodbye too. Goodbye to the long rubbish and crow filled streets of Auburn and Silverwater, to green spaces wedged between factories, fibro cottages and three-lane highways and car repair workshops in backyards where they buy two write-offs and araldite the undamaged halves together. Ta ta to cars, semi-trailers, cars, motorbikes, cars, cars, cars. Chao to anti-dumping ads in four languages, none effective, and the press of schoolkids on the platform in the morning. Will they ever finish the station upgrade? No more cheap prawns, spices and condiments, or smiles from the shopowners. Farewell to the Auburn RSL and Melton hotel, where I never did have a drink. See you later fellow commuters who will go on without me - the man with the now lump-less forehead. Bye bye pedestrian overpasses that feel like exhaust pipes, playing chicken on Parramatta Road, outlet stores, industrial takeaways. Goodbye Western Sydney, it has been ... it has been ... it was.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Moth Ball

Mothballs - remember them? Do they still sell them? If not, they disappeared before their time, as we could certainly use a few boxes of them to plug up the gaps in our window frames and ward off this year's Bogong infestation.

And yet, some would argue they are more to be pitied than despised (and still others that they should be de-winged and deep-fried, see below). These poor bastards fly all the way from Queensland - that's about 900km - just to get stuck and suffocate in our window frames and flyscreens. I can just imagine them murmuring (surely moths murmur) in their great clumps about how Sydney isn't all it's cracked up to be.

If they were butterflies they'd be greeted with great elation, public holidays and commemorative coins. Instead we get the grizzly cleanup, mothdust smudges on our shirts and the annual observation that the indigenous Australians used to eat these creatures. That's another national pastime - grossing people out by telling them the things we eat: witchety grubs, Vegemite, even the animals on our coat of arms. This article at the Sydney Morning Herald capitalised on this quite nicely, even if it was a French chef espousing the delights of Bogong omelette.

Bon appetit, mate!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Grand final weekend

It was one of those special weekends in Sydney when the sun seemed to shine especially for us. We had Monday off for Labour Day and that gave everyone the opportunity to enjoy their barbecues in a more relaxed fashion, i.e. get a bit looser than usual. It was also grand final weekend, with the AFL on Saturday and the rugby league on Sunday. The rugby union world cup is on at the moment too, so it was pretty much a football lover's dream.

Here in Sydney, we're fond of confusing visitors with all our different codes of football, and in my wife's case, the effort is quite unnecessary. I keep promising myself that I'll teach her a bit about the games (lucky woman eh?). She has been to one AFL match and we have tickets to see the cricket in the summer. But blame it on the male inability to multitask, I just can't seem to watch football, drink beer and explain what's going on all at the same time.

The other thing we like to point out to visitors and 'new Australians' is the intense body contact. "They don't wear any protection," we boast, as if that makes it more worth watching. It's also another way of Yank-bashing by insinuating that American Football is played by a big bunch of girls' blouses. There was one moment of spectacular brutality in the rugby league grand final, when Manly fullback Brett Stewart was 'tackled' after taking a high ball.

It was not illegal, nor malicious, but it was ugly. It's a grand final, so we need to find a way to smooth things over. Enter the referee who ruled that Stewart was held with the ball. In fact he was knocked senseless with the ball, which made it hard for him to hang onto it. To audible sighs of relief he walked to the sideline, a team mate played the ball and it was game on again. Pass me another beer.

And while we're on the subject of heavy tackles (and, at a stretch, American Football), here's one of ex-AFL player Sav Rocca taking his first punt after moving to the NFL.

Now the boys have a few months to get over their concussions while we enjoy the cricket ...