Monday, July 11, 2011


We've been back a week now. There's something about coming home, something ambivalent. It starts with that sunrise you see from the plane - the red is burnt with residuals of black, a deep indian red, with a slightly sickly lurid yellow halo, and the whole effect, unlike the pink, blue and pale yellow pastels seen from the ground, I find unpleasant. It's like looking into some space not meant to be seen at all.

Then comes the forced squeeze through the pores of over-lit crass duty free shops before emerging in front of a sullen customs clerk. Everything is starting to feel crowded, and unlike most airports, escaping through customs in Sydney is just the beginning. Now the herding really begins. Another line, another wait, another sniffer dog, another layer of authority. When you finally burst through the crowded arrival hall into the day, they've saved the best for last. Ill-designed garden beds and hideous rust steel somethings, sculptures is too generous a word, need to be navigated before the piece de resistance - a cattle grid worthy of a Four Corners programme, stinking of whisky from a smashed duty-free bottle, hardly a taxi to behold despite thousands waiting yonder, harnessed till called, unable to cross some unimaginably poorly designed road network.

Why is this so cramped, so small, and that's without mentioning the minds, and the thinking.

The drive to the city is along one of the filthiest roads in the world. Rubbish and filth. And then the town house - ah, home. So small, so little. Some perceptions have been reset and something needs rebooting. It wasn't till some hours later as I drove up the winding red dirt road to pick up the dog, through a clump of white scribbly gums, ghost white against the brilliant blue sky, as tens of Magpies swooped from tree to tree, laughing and warbling, that I felt a little rush of pleasure.

Since then we've been buffeted with gale force cold winds, enough to cut off the power for four days and drive me back to town. So we lined up for Terrence Malick on a cold blowy night, only to find out it was sold out in just enough time to iphone our way around the block and into the arms of Bob Connelly and his wonderful documentary. And I cried, not at the end, but the beginning. I was home.


marcellous said...

The layer of authority I hate is the sign in the baggage and customs hall saying that "Border Patrol" is filming here and saying that if you object to being filmed you can approach them.

Right. You just want to go through on the nod and with as little official harrassment as possible, so of course you will fee free to object to a TV station filming you (in an area where you yourself are prohibited from taking photographs, mind you) and thereby draw attention to yourself for whatever arbitrary abuse or even arbitrary use of authority (because if authority is arbitrary there's not much of a distinction that you can maintain between use and abuse) that Customs and Quarantine officials may then choose to inflict on you.

wanderer said...

Absolutely. Thankfully I missed the sign, and the programme. And what authority isn't arbitrary - well said M.

David said...

Yep, that clip did it. I had tears in my eyes too. Will now try to see the whole thing - thanks for drawing attention to it.

wanderer said...

David, the news is that Emily has won a full scholarship to the Royal College (there's a fund raiser here next week to help her with living expenses). Here's some moving more private moments if you have a few minutes.

David said...

I'm anxiously waiting for the release of the entire film on DVD. Doesn't seem to have happened quite according to deadline.