Sunday, 3 May 2015

A trip across the ditch - Part Three

On Sunday we drove partway down the mountains to Springwood to visit the house and studio of the late Norman Lindsay. He was a pantheist who was roundly and publicly condemned by the christian establishment; he was an artist, cartoonist, columnist and journalist during WWI, and he wrote children's books as well. By today's standards, his writing for children contained a fair measure of racist and jingoistic stuff. In his paintings and sculptures he was very focused on women's breasts, and many of the paintings on display had multiple pairs of very shapely bosoms and diaphanous gowns (it would be diminishing their beauty to call them skirts) that started below them. Of course, the women had heads (all beautiful), but clearly the breasts and nether regions were more important ... OK, I will spare you a feminist rant, but will remind you of Margaret Atwood (Canadian author and poet) who said "there are no women in men's novels; except perhaps the landlady or the horse. If there are women, there are parts missing - the heads, for instance."

However I did enjoy the paintings and sculptures – after all the female form is rather beautiful. His pen and ink work during WWI was very thought provoking. As an aside, we had tried to avoid too much exposure to Anzac Day celebrations as all three of us find it very saddening. So what do we find at Norman Lindsay’s home but two of the rooms making up more than 50% of the display space had WWI as their focus.  Not surprising really, as Australia's and NZ's service contribution to the UK during both world wars and other conflicts have been significant defining factors in our national psyches.

Back to Sydney on Sunday arvo on the train which was quite full. The trains are double decker and very comfortable. However they have no luggage racks overhead or at the ends of or between carriages. Consequently, people stack their luggage on seats which means fewer seats for people. We three managed to use only one seat as a luggage compartment by stacking them up. We felt virtuous ...

That evening, Kirsty took us to see Stephen K Amos who was appearing in the Sydney Comedy Festival. We hadn't heard of him but coincidentally saw him on a UK gameshow on TV one evening in Katoomba. On stage he was very funny and clever. Does a great line in impressions and accents. We will keep an eye on his schedule when we are in the UK and try to see him on stage again.

We said goodbye to Kirsty after a quick dinner after the show and watched her walking off down the street towards her place, and so back to the hotel we went, feeling a bit sad knowing we won't see her again until at least November. We had said that we would come back to see her in October, but then I thought of those damn equinoctial gales that stir up the air over the Tasman during October and decided I would prefer to wait another month ...

As I said at the beginning of this post, I am not a happy flyer. When we come to and from the UK I take phenergan tablets which do a good job of keeping me calm so David can keep possession of his full set of fingers, but as the flight over to Sydney was 3.5 hours, I decided against drugging myself up. However, come Monday morning at 5am we got a text from a dear friend in NZ (Bruce, you know who you are!) warning us that there were gale force winds expected in Wellington that day with gusts of 130km per hour. Oh sh*t, oh dear, and more loud expletives and instant panic. So at the airport I sought out the pharmacy and purchased phenergan to take once on board. I should have taken it sooner and given David some too - Getting through security and passport control was a bl**dy nightmare. The queue was not very well organised (read not at all organised), had two entrance points and it seemed as tho every tourist in Sydney and half its residents were exiting the country through this airport. We thought we’d headed for the Departures in plenty of time, ie an hour to go till we had to board. But no. We were in the queue for an hour before we even got to passport control, and that involved some queue jumping, which we hate doing (it’s our British heritage, don’t you know). Then quickly through passport control making sure we didn’t end up behind anyone who may come in for additional questioning. At the security check, I was following a woman in partial hijab, and she and her husband were given additional searches. I would have screened him too – he had a mullet and that is a sure sign of a disturbed mind, in my view… Although there was no telltale beeping when I went through the screening portal, I was pulled aside to go into the cone of silence thing. And it showed something at both my ankles – yeah right! My socks perhaps??  I think I was the token searchee to show that there isn’t racial profiling taking place, based on my being short, 64, grey-haired, of pale skin and female. By this stage we were getting a bit panicky as it was already time for our plane to be boarding and on leaving security we saw it was at the furthest away gate, ie 10 minutes’ walk. So off we went, wending our way through shoppers meandering in a relaxed fashion in  Duty Free, us moving at a great rate of knots, in spite of David’s sore heel. Boarding was almost complete when we got there, so we could calm down in line.
On board, my fear about the upcoming flight re-appeared so I took the Phenergan and settled down a bit. As it turned out, the flight was actually rather smooth, but obviously the air approaching Wellington was moving at speed in giant lumps, so the pilots didn't start descent until the last minute and it was a steep path downwards. We had to land from the south, into the northerly so that involved a 180 degree turn with the wind coming across the plane - very bumpy indeed in a yawing way rather than up and down. I had hold of David's little finger and the woman next to him was trying to managing her fear by playing Celine Dion extremely loudly, having polished off a small bottle of Kahlua to dull the senses; but even so, she was having a full blown panic attack. So I told David he had to hold her hand. "She'll be frightened" he said. "She's already bloody terrified" sez I, "just do it". She clutched him like someone drowning. Then I looked over at the guy across from me, a big strapping chap who had got the vomit bag out and was looking very green.  All of a sudden I was fine and confident, and thought "oh FFS! what am I worrying about? I used to do this every week when commuting between Wellington and Auckland and I always used to say to people that it was meant to be bumpy coming into Wellington and that the pilots always concentrate extra hard because of it." The approach was fairly lumpy and it looks scary because from either end it's over the sea. But they got it down successfully - as always in lumpy conditions, they put it down as soon as they are low enough and level enough, so it's often a pretty hard thump on to the tarmac to make sure they don't have to go around again. You could sense the palpable relief on board …

Bruce and Gary picked us up, drove us back to their place to collect our car, and after a cup of tea, off we went home to Waikanae. Joe had cooked a roast of pork and served it with a fabulous roast potato and beetroot salad - I must get that recipe. Then it was off to bed for me as the phenergan had taken over, aided by a glass of Church Road chardonnay, and David stayed up working until 2am. Don't know how he does it!

1 comment:

Lesley Bateman said...

Yes, scary landing place is Wellington.