I blog when I go abroad, and occasionally when I do stuff in the UK too. There's a nicer interface over here.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Sunrise, clouds and gambling

Gah. I'm hungover. Although a bit less now that I've had breakfast, now I just feel really full. Got what appears to be ITV coverage of yesterday's Premiership on TV as I write this. It's 9am and I've been up for almost 2 hours.

So, last Tuesday was my last full day in Sydney. Didn't really have a plan 'cos all the main things had been done the previous week, so we sort of played it by ear. Started the day watching Sunrise on Channel 7, as each morning had started in Sydney in fact. More GMTV than BBC Breakfast, it's hosted in the main by some bird and a fella called Kochie. I saw a book by him for sale in Perth airport, some self-help "how to start from nothing and get famous and minted" affair. The presenting on Sunrise is a bit hit and miss and in the main I thought the programme was bearable, but not unmissable. But on Tuesday I was massively impressed by Kochie. In one segment they interviewed the fella that wrote Fast Food Nation 'cos the film's about to come out -- I didn't take much notice of it but later on they read out one of the emails they'd received, someone complaining about them (the presenters) being too much on the side of big business, McD's and the like. Kochie's response was to go off on a rant, virtually shouting at the viewer, pointing out how it's their job to put across the alternative viewpoint to the guest, to not let their points go unchallenged, etc. Good on ya, Kochie.

Actually later in the week I was watching it in Perth and he went into one again, about some news that Australian cricket fans were being told it's OK to call the English "poms", but not "whinging poms" or "pommie bastards". Turns out someone's whinging about the term whinging, and how the use of it as a modifier turns a harmless nickname into insidious racism. Cue Kochie saying it was ridiculous, what the hell is the world coming to, "when I was young I got called wog, spic, dago bastard, all kinds of things. And have you ever been to England? They call us convicts!".

Come to think of it Kochie also used the term "back, sack and crack" when interviewing a beautician about male grooming too. Good effort. Not sure you'd get a phrase like that coming from whassisface. Dermot.

Anyway. Kevin dropped a bag of clothes off for me at the launderette (spelt "laundrette", though) while I got ready and we started off with a bit of a walk to get some breakfast. I had a big belgian waffle thing covered in strawberries while he had, er, something else. Can't remember what. Something egg related? It was fucking huge whatever it was, and both our meals were top notch.

Hmm, this isn't highlights on TV. This is the whole of Sheffield United vs Middlesbrough. In fact they're even showing half time(!)

Finished breakfast and a bus was due, but I had enough time to nip over the road and buy a diet coke. No sign of the bus after a few minutes so we walked down the end of the road to another stop where more than one bus stops. Wanted to look at the timetable but what's true in London is true in Randwick, Sydney: when there's only one person at a bus stop, and a long bench, you can be sure they'll sit at the precise point which obscures the only thing anyone else who comes along might want to read. FFHS. Anyway we got the bus into town, once more to Circular Quay 'cos we were off to the magnificently named suburb of Manly.
How to dispose of dog shit

The Manly ferry is probably the longest ferry trip you can do in the inner harbour area, the longest one our travelcard things are valid on anyway. It's a fair old way (mind, the boat is slow). Unfortunately the weather on Tuesday was pretty grim really, all wind and clouds and stuff. Kevin got a phonecall from a recruitment consultant while on the boat and that's about the most interesting thing that happened. On the other side we started off around the little beach, to the entrance to the aquarium which we were about to go in when Sal phoned, to talk about ADSL but when hearing of our location warned us off. Apparently it's shit, that aquarium.

So we walked up the main pedestrianised shopping bit instead. Can't remember what it's called, but it's a building site at the moment anyway. I guess they're making it look nice but it doesn't at the moment. At the other end is the main beach, a hefty one at that. Again, not much to look at because of the weather. We walked along to the edge, then back a bit, then Kevin took or made a half-hour call to that recruitment consultant again, pimping himself out but proving too expensive and intransigent (just learn a bit of .NET you arse!) for any jobs on the books. Watching the seagulls was fun, as they occasionally attempted to fly against the wind -- really not worth the effort -- and occasionally decided to fly with it. Never seen a gull move so fast, I really hope they have a sense of fun because it didn't half look like it.

Outside was cold. Inside was beer. Into the Steyne we went, then a wander back towards the ferry place where we stopped for another beer, some food, and another beer in the German biergarten thing. Lots and lots of glasses suspended over the bar. Decent pint 'n all. After finishing up there we jumped on the ferry back to town (via coffee/diet coke) and from there a walk to Martin Place (from where Sunrise is filmed, as it happens) for a train to Bondi Junction. The Junger. Having been raving about members' clubs since I first arrived Kevin had decided to show me a proper one: the Easts League's, or something similarly difficult to pronounce.

Oh, on the walk to Martin Place we stopped off to buy and write and send a postcard. Kevin's fucking useless at sending postcards home to the old man! Last year in New York I went so far as to buy him one, and a stamp, and gave them him while we were all sat eating burgers in the basement of a hotel. He left the bloody thing there, unaddressed and maybe even unwritten. So this time we wrote the card together, and I took photos of him posting the damn thing. As it happens I phoned Dad last night and he's already got it. Sorted.

Anyway. Easts Leagues, or whatever it's called, is a giant members' club. As per usual you can become a temporary member just by writing your name and address on a bit of paper, and that's what we did. These clubs are devoted to 2 things: drinking and gambling. Subsidised beer and row after row of pokies, I thought it was about time I gave these damn machines a go. We'd been on them in the casino the week before but it hadn't made a lot of sense. This time it also didn't make much sense, but I won $60 ($40 profit). Deciding to cut my winnings and run I hit collect, and that's where the confusion started.
$60 pokie win claim form

When you press collect, money doesn't come out. It tells you to contact someone who'll come and give you the money. So we asked the fella walking past and he said no, don't just stop someone, press the "come pay me" button and someone will come pay me. He pressed that, and a bird came along a few minutes later. Shoved a special key in some slot which brought up a bucketload of stats (eg, that machine had taken $1.4 million since whenever) and proved to her that I had indeed won. So, she didn't give me any money, just a slip of paper saying I was entitled to it. Um, OK. Went and sat down flushed with success, if not actually flush with cash, and while sipping a beer stopped another guy on his way past and asked him how to actually get my damn winnings. Turns out you go up to a cashier guy and exchange the slip for currency. Also turns out "all pakistanis are cheats". Nice one. Can't even remember what prompted him to say that, pretty sure it wasn't anything we'd said though. Perhaps Australians have some weird idea that all English are racist so we're a safe outlet for their prejudices.

Back to the flat after that, Mara cooked a mean egg+bacon on toast and we slumped in front of the TV. Some tit-for-tat accusations meant we ended up watching way more of Dancing With The Stars than intended (I thought we were waiting for Kevin, he thought we were waiting for me) before going out for more beer at the DOG just up the road. A mostly quiet bar was livened up with the arrival of a crazed puppy who was straining so hard to get off his leash his legs were all splayed out to make him look like a frog. Mental thing. Stayed in that bar until it stopped serving, but were allowed to move into the other one. The bar you have to get to via a room full of pokies. The bar that's also a bookmakers. They do love a gamble them Aussies. Won a bit on a pokie, but then put it all back in and ended up down, but who cares -- last day in Australia anyway so the currency had to be spent somewhere.

Oh. it wasn't my last day in Australia. I was off to Perth the next day. D'oh!

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