Thursday, January 1, 2009

01 01 09

... and a Happy New Year.

This year it was McMahons Point, or rather Blues Point, the tip of the peninsular that projects into the harbour much further than you realise until you actually go there. Blues Point was granted in 1817 to Billy Blue (I don't think I'm making this up), a convict turned harbour man. From Blues Point, the Bridge is seen virtually side-on, from as close as is possible with dry feet.

We had been invited to a friend's super-view-spot at the top of the dreaded Blue's Point Towers. K was reluctantly mid-Pacific on the way to Californ-i-ay, and would arrive before I would be back home. Getting there was easy, certainly compared to getting out. It was a pleasant good-natured walk from North Sydney station down Blues Point Road, all bustling with excitement, a charming mix of residential and retail, stalls selling jazzy New Year things, police everywhere, and even a bag search at the lower end. The atmosphere was good, not unlike the 2000 Olympic days, with the acceptance that some serious social order was needed or the whole thing would teeter into chaos.

The view looking south to the city is spectacular, the old wharves fingering out to you. And yes, right in front, was a fireworks launch barge, fully loaded, as they say. This was going to be very close up and personal.

The great unwashed were a long way down,

the bridge just there for the touching,

and the city slipped into night in all its end-of-the-day end-of-the-year glory.

And it was very impressive, close, noisy, unnervingly physical, one of those rare occassions when people just cry out, in unison, the crowd crescendoing as the show went bigger and bigger, great roars from below heard through the explosions at ear level. It is beyond criticism I think. An essential bread and circus affair, pleasure, excitement, thrill, the city brought to face itself and its citizens, the infrastructure tested, routines maintained, huge commercial benefit (job creation, people spending spending, food, clothes, fashion, presents, travel, international fame) and lots of fun. No time for wowsers.

..and then it was over, up in smoke, the huge flotilla of little boats, big boats, carnival boats, bobbing green starboard lights, all heading home under the big orange sunrise of the New Year

By the time K was in San Franscisco, I had just made it home, 3 am. Down-hill was now up-hill, what had taken a day to assemble was dismantling itself in hours, but tempers stayed cool, queues were orderly, staff were friendly, trains were crowded, frequent but slow. A pimply face youth with his very pretty girlfriend asleep on his shouler announced to the stuffed carriage, over mobiles, ipods, chatter and laughter, as the train lurched haltingly through the Wynyard tunnel, that every jerk was a bit closer to home. There's hope for us yet.

As I finally rounded the street corner, home at last, a woman's voice in the dark called out "Here's someone!" The new Californian next door neighbours were sitting on their front-step, swilling huge Martinis, just back from being blown-away, in all senses, from Circular Quay. "Get him a drink!" I begged passage, mumbling something about driving to the country soon, and breathalysers. "Well suck on a mint" she slurred as I slid past. "Well suck on something" was the last thing I heard just as I got my key in the door.

Happy New Year everyone. Go Obama.

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