Monday, 28 November 2016

A sick pigeon

As I was walking down Dixon Street near Goulburn Street today I saw a sick pigeon sitting on he pavement. The poor creature looked bedraggled and wan, just sitting there on the grey pavement with its feathers sort of ruffled and not smooth. It's head was down pointing toward the pavement and its shoulders were hunched.

Probably if I were a kinder and more decent human being I would have picked up the poor thing but with avian diseases you never know ... In any case, I left it there to cope with its hardships on its own and continued walking down the street on my own way.

It wasn't so long before that I had been like a sick pigeon on the pavement myself, liquored up with white wine at 1pm and feeling sorry for myself. Then she called and we had one of those long, rambling romantic conversations which end up with both sides agreeing but it takes forever to reach that point, oh the hardships and the pain that has to be recounted by both parties. Anyway that turned out ok and I wasn't head-down on the pavement myself as a result, just flat out on my back in bed sleeping off a drunk.

Then later in my walk as I was crossing Fig Street I thought about her because I had driven up Fig Street in the car on my way home from her place yesterday after having dropped her off at her place.

As for the poor pigeon, I doubt anyone did anything for the sorry little thing, it's probably dead by now or sitting unfed somewhere with people walking past uncaring. Like one of  those smelly bundles of clothes you see on the street, which way is the head and which way are the feet. There was Mr Smelly yesterday saying hello to the firies at Pyrmont Christmas Party at John Street Square. I was walking right behind him so I knew that he was homeless, although he didn't necessarily look like it. He just looked a bit unkempt and the shirt was a bit sweaty, but with a shower and a load of laundry he'd have come up ok.

God forbid if ever I should end up like that, destitute on the street with noone to turn to, all my friends long lost. I've got an appointment with the psychiatrist tomorrow so that should be ok.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Up on Manning River

On Friday I got in the car about midday and drove north onto the Pacific Highway on the way to my cousin's place on the Manning River, which is located a couple of hours north of Newcastle. The trip up took four-and-a-half hours. I could feel the steering wheel start to vibrate at around 110km/hr but as usual I sat at around 90km/hr to 100km/hr for most of the trip even though the highway in that region is now completely divided and the speed limit is 110km/hr for most of the way.

I arrived in the late afternoon and was soon sitting in front of a beer as the family circulated around me. The house is built on a hill in front of a curve of the river, with the upstream side curling around to the left in the photo. The river in this stretch is tidal and they say bull sharks breed in the deep waters off the bank. Around the dining table conversations formed and broke up as people came and went. I retired later than the rest, had a shower, and went to bed.

On Saturday morning we all piled in the car - my cousin, her husband, two of their children, and a friend of their oldest daughter - and went to a lagoon fringed by scrubby eucalypts. I stayed with the clothes on the bank while the rest of the group went swimming. It turned out to be a hot day. After swimming, we went further down the road and had fish and chips for lunch, then headed back to the house. We sat around talking for a while then I had a nap. Later, we drank beer and sat on the balcony overlooking the river and ate chips.

Yesterday morning I woke up early as I had previously on the river and then had some breakfast before getting back in the car for the trip home. It seemed to take less time going south, than it had going north. I stopped a couple of times for coffees and food and water. Coming back into the confines of Sydney I felt slightly claustrophobic, as I usually do when I get off the highway at Hornsby. After arriving home and napping for a couple of hours a friend came over and we had dinner.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Reflections on my state of mind

Over the past few days people have been contacting me about my blogposts asking if I was feeling suicidal, because I had said that I was happy with life and could end it without any qualms. But I think that the blogposts contain quite another message. In fact, I think that it is an extremely life-affirming stance to take.

I was thinking about these things while I was taking my usual walk today down through Chinatown and up Harris Street. It's a Monday today and so Paddy's Markets is closed. There weren't as many people around as there sometimes are.  During the walk, in fact, I was feeling really positive and happy about things, in a way which is perhaps unusual. I was quite content.

Things are different later, after lunch, when it comes the time to have a nap. I don't usually like having a nap during the day unless I'm particularly tired, but these days I have been fine except on the weekend when I had a friend over who broke up my routine a bit. When the friend left, I had a nap.

I had a dream last night about school again. It's usually a dream I have where I haven't been studying my French, and have been missing classes - something that never happened in real life, I was always very punctual and dutiful when it came to attending classes. But last night the experience was transposed to university. I used to have regular dreams about the higher school certificate - the matriculation examination that all year-12s have to sit in New South Wales. I don't know why this time it was French that was giving me trouble because at school I was very good at French and eventually topped the year with my mark.

Then the dream shifted and I was back at Yamatake unpacking rocket capsules make from cardboard. The capsules had cardboard figures that were painted, in them, and floppy disks to operate the figures, and all the necessary parts that I had made all those years ago. But now they were being unpacked and given the respect they deserved as elements of the company's historical record.

Strange little dreams on a strange day. 

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Sitting inside on a November day

Yesterday morning I went for a walk in company to Barangaroo instead of to Chinatown and ended up not in the park (it's such a tiny little park) but in a gelato bar having a flat white while my companion had a gelato milkshake (if there is such a thing). I caught a bit of sun, as you can see. It was a hot and sunny day and we were walking at the hottest time of the day.

I got back home today after dropping my friend off at her apartment and went back to bed to have a nap. I dreamt about my father, which is unusual. What was more unusual was that it was a civil and polite dream. Normally when I dream about him it is an anxious and disturbed dream.

He was a younger man than I am now and I was explaining to him some things about demography and the economy in Australia. I remember from the dream that he listened to what I was saying politely. I took this as proof that I have surpassed my father in some essential quality, in something like wisdom, as I enter the last stage of my life. I have become the bigger man, at least in my eyes. The lack of anxiety - which normally accompanies dreams I have where he appears, as I mentioned - serves for me as a kind of signal that I have achieved something important in life.

My blogpost of yesterday contains a few clues about where my head is these days. I have reached a kind of impasse vis-a-vis experience, and feel myself to have come to a kind of limit in life where the rewards of experience are totalled up against time served. (Excuse the penal metaphor.) The dream gave me an idea that I have reached a kind of acme of contentment and self-awareness - I am a bit afraid to talk of wisdom - beyond which it is not really possible to go.

This might be cause for some alarm. In normal circumstances. But other things that are happening tell me that I am not far off the truth. I feel quite happy with things now and would be happy to drop of the proverbial branch in the near future as long as it wasn't too painful. I guess I have my father to thank for this realisation. No doubt he served other purposes during my life. But my life has been long enough and I see no particular reason to continue it. Come what may.

Friday, 11 November 2016

Demolition of IMAX

Under the Western Distributor they've constructed hoardings to keep people away from the IMAX, which is currently being demolished. A big crusher on wheels is attacking the theatre's external parts each day, ripping pieces off and chomping into the wooden structure. The Darling Harbour managers constructed a walkway on the outside of the hoarding so that people can still get from the south side of Darling Harbour to its north side.

I walked past this demolition site today as well as yesterday but this photo was taken yesterday.

Once I went to a film showing at IMAX. It was a Harry Potter film, I remember. I remember the theatre was very steep, constructed at a sharp angle against the enormous screen. You had to go down a lot of stairs to reach street level.

For myself, I am almost ready to go. I will do what I can to help my family but after those measures are in place I don't care how long I continue to live. All I want is to make sure my family is looked after. I know it sounds a little melodramatic to say this but it's true. I have been through so much in my life, and I am almost at an end of the process of discovery. There are no new things under the sun, and I can happily pass to the other side of the dark curtain that separates us from the other life, the life of the spirit.

What happens to us in that other life I don't know. Perhaps we drift on the winds in clouds like transparent jellyfish, watching the living go about their daily activities and praying for their wellbeing. Someone has to be watching out for us, we are so fragile. I hope it will be me. I can do it. I can look down on the crowds of the living marching up Market Street of a morning before work, bags over their shoulders or held in their sweaty hands. I can wait at the lights while they stop at the cafe for a cup of brown before going into the office. I can do all that. Let me.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Major loony wins US election

The Sydney Morning Herald is currently giving Donald Trump 264 electoral votes out of 270. It looks therefore as though the American people have done the unthinkable and elected a complete loon to their highest office.

The signs were there from the beginning of the evening, when Hillary started to lose key states like Florida and Ohio. Now, Trump is even looking set to win traditionally Democrat states like Michigan and Wisconsin. He has targeted the rust belt, the areas hit most forcefully by the GFC, where property prices have collapsed and people are trying just to get away, if they can.

Trump's foreign policy looks likely to set the US on a track of aggression against China - he wants a 45% import tax on goods and services supplied from China to the US - and he also wants foreign nations like South Korea and Japan  to pay for more of their own defense. This means that Japan and South Korea will be forced to develop their own nuclear defense programs. As far as Australia goes, it is likely that we will be more responsible for our own defense and the US might even pull its Marines out of Darwin as it scales back operations globally.

At least now we know that Trump was right when he called this pending election "Brexit plus plus plus". This is a backlash of the American white working class against its traditional rulers - the college-educated middle class. And it is a stunning victory, one which noone could have seen coming. We'll have to see if China now decides that it's a good time to invade Australia, but there are millennarian feelings and intimations surrounding current events that make such an outcome seem at least possible.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

A windy Saturday

I noticed on the way through John Street Square this morning that the light rail had been stopped and that they had put on buses to transport prospective passengers to their destinations both up and down the line. In the Haymarket I saw the reason for the stoppage: a fairly major exercise in repairing the tracks, or something possibly related to the introduction of a light rail line along George Street in the CBD. The photo shows the measures the authorities have set up in the Haymarket to suppress sound from the repairs.

Back up on Harris Street a young woman sat in a car facing south with a paddy wagon with flashing lights sitting behind it. She looked preoccupied, as I suppose you would be in that circumstance.

It was a windy day out, with whitecaps on the harbour up behind Pyrmont and dark water generally about the place. The gusts of wind pulled up my shirttails and had made women tie up their hair. In Chinatown the restaurant spruikers were out in numbers but the tables were empty; no doubt it was too windy to sit outside under the trees. The trees up along Harris Street were still dusting the footpaths with their seeds.

Walking in the bright sunshine of a Sydney weekend I thought of my family in Tokyo and how they would have liked to be able to visit in this kind of weather. The restaurants for tourists along the Darling Harbour waterfront were doing good business as it was sunny and warm. Ideal weather for people to sit on the tables under the umbrellas designed to keep the sun off diners.

For myself, I stopped at one of my usual Japanese restaurants on Harris Street in my locality and had a bowl of udon with karaage chicken and a stein of beer. Then I went home and had a nap.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Still missing Japan

Late this morning I went for my customary walk down to Chinatown and up Harris Street back home, stopping off at a Japanese place for a bowl of noodles for lunch. Once home I did the ironing and then had a short nap. I got up at about 4pm to step up to the computer. And then at some point in the late afternoon I contacted my daughter on Facebook Messenger.

Messenger has changed its layout, moving the service to a dedicated URL and making the interface a bit bigger and brighter. It's not at all an improvement as far as I'm concerned because you need to open a new tab now to use it, so it's less easy to use for me. But at least it works in the same way that it has always done, which is a relief.

I miss my kids terribly after getting back from Japan a week ago. Their lack has replaced the lack of my mother that dominated my life previously. I still remember Adelaide introducing her boyfriend to me one day in Chinatown, Yokohama. We went to a nice restaurant and drank beer while eating our way through the course meal. Courses of food that are modified for the Japanese palate, not like the authentic stuff they served me in the Chinese place in my hotel in Shibuya.

Adelaide and Ryo - for that is his name - took me for a walk around the Yokohama foreshore until we arrived back at a railway station where I could catch a train back to Shibuya. They were courteous and considerate. They chatted easily between themselves. I could feel that they liked each other, which is the most important thing for people their age from my point of view. Later, when Adelaide and her mother and I were sitting around in her flat in northern Yokohama, I asked if she wanted to marry Ryo. She said she had talked about it with Ryo. They had discussed having children. They had discussed Ryo's job. There were a lot of things to talk about.

What was clear however was that my daughter wants me to be part of the process of discussion. She had introduced her boyfriend to me even before introducing him to her mother, after all. She thinks I still have something to contribute.

My son also tells me things about his girlfriend. These children are still looking for guidance and help in their early maturity. It's up to me and my ex-wife to try to deliver the help that they need, when they need it. It's out job, and we are obliged to take it seriously.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Taking a stroll on Melbourne Cup day

This morning I got out on time - at about 10.15am - and made my way down to Darling Harbour. As I was going down the hill next to the entry to Pyrmont Bridge a guy on a bike riding the opposite way up the hill looked at me and told me to "smile, buddy". Which I thought was unfair so soon after getting out of bed. Maybe he had been up for hours, I don't know. But I had only been awake for about 30 minutes at that point.

I made my way under the bridge past the first of the restaurants - which were already open for breakfast or whatever it is they serve at that time on a weekday - and came across the assemblage of things shown in the photo here where an enormous TV had been set up on the concourse with fake grass and chairs in front of it. Next to the furniture was a TAB van painted green - and there was another van exactly the same further down near the CBA offices - with mostly men in green-and-white striped shirts hanging around. One or two people were sitting in the big padded chairs on the Astroturf. It was a bit early for punting, but everything had been set up in preparation for a big day. Maybe this was what the cyclist had been telling me to smile about.

On Harris Street a butterfly or moth coloured black and yellow dropped in front of me, startling me, as I walked up the street.

I got back home and had some lunch and then lay down for a nap while setting the alarm on my phone to wake me up for an appointment I had later in the afternoon. When I got up I put my clothes back on and went out. I walked down Harris Street to Miller Street, and at the intersection there a Commodore sedan suddenly started flashing police lights, making itself known to the flow of traffic. I turned into Miller Street and walked down toward the Fish Market. At the lights at the bottom of the street was a marked police van waiting for the lights to change, travelling south. When I got to my appointment I tweeted from the waiting room that there were cops all over Pyrmont, to which someone online asked "why". "Melbourne Cup," I answered.