Tuesday, 25 July 2017

A walk to Paddington

Yesterday I went out early because I had an appointment at home in the afternoon. I had lunch at Mikey's on Oxford Street, Paddington, and I made my way out down through Haymarket and up Foveaux Street and Surry Hills.
The photo above was taken in Darling Harbour, showing that the ice skating rink has now been removed. On the water you can see the pontoons have been installed for the boat show to come.
Trades Hall in Dixon Street, Haymarket (above). The foundation stone was laid in 1888.
A discount store in the cloister on Eddy Avenue at Central Station (above). There used to be two-dollar shops like this on Pitt Street and Park Street in the CBD but high rents have resulted in their moving out. I wonder how long this place will last ...
In the photo above the car with solar panels on its roof was parked on Foveaux Street, Surry Hills. The car has the number plate "E MINI".
The photo above shows Victoria Barracks from Moore Park Road.
This clothing store in Paddington (above) was once the St John's Presbyterian Church. Construction started in 1855.

Monday, 24 July 2017

There is no middle ground online

This is the story of something that happened to me recently on Twitter that brought home to me the way that the public sphere has become radically polarised in the era of mass participation. It was a few days ago and I had seen someone in my stream retweet a comment about Clinton Pryor - the Aboriginal man who is walking across Australia to raise awareness of issues surrounding his community - and I replied saying that I thought it was a waste of time, the era of protest is over and other forms of communication are needed now. This is what I think. So we started to discuss the matter, the other party being a human rights lawyer, and because I felt that he was just rehashing old arguments I got a bit angry and told him to show more respect for my intelligence.

The thread started to gain attention and people began to attack me for questioning Pryor's undertaking. I had touched a nerve, and this is the way it is online with certain issues to do with identity politics. People take these things very personally and if you even cast doubt over a cherished belief you have to be prepared for a full-scale pile-on.

I stopped participating in the discussion eventually because it was all becoming a bit too hot. I tend to do this when I don't want to get involved in something. The same thing happened earlier this year with my involvement with a group of people promoting the public profile of the Myall Creek Memorial, which was set up in 2000 to commemorate the Myall Creek massacre that happened in 1838 in New England. I had gone along to a number of the annual gatherings outside Inverell - they're held on the Queen's Birthday weekend every year - and then I had started to go along to the meetings held in Sydney by supporters here. I'd offered to open a Twitter account and had started tweeting from it but I didn't know what to say most of the time so I started asking other group members for suggestions when we met in the CBD. One person responded but the rest of the group ignored my request.

This wasn't the only reason I stopped going to meetings, but it was a major deciding factor for me. I felt that the Twitter account should be a group effort, and that it was unreasonable to put the entire burden of running it on one person. But there were other things that bothered me about the push. One meeting of the group was held in Bingara, near the memorial site. Most of the Sydney group travelled there by car to participate in the meeting and everyone was hoping to meet up with people from the local area who are also involved. But none of those people turned up, even though it was only a short drive to Bingara from the other towns. I felt let down. Why had the Sydney friends put in so much effort and the local Aborigines hadn't even bothered to show up?

I stopped going to the meetings. I felt that people were being let down and that the civic responsibility of participants was not being adequately valued. It was easier for me to just stop going to meetings, rather than to kick up a fuss. So when I started being attacked on social media I did the same thing: I just shut up.

But this is the way things are online. Noone at the beginning of this phase of the social project could have imagined that debate would be dumbed down to this extent, once the great mass of people started to get involved online. But it's what has happened. Nuanced thinking and considered approaches are ignored or deliberately misconstrued. You are either with us or against us, they seem to be saying. It can be disheartening.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

A walk on a sunny Sunday

Today I decided to go to Enmore for some Egyptian food and so I went out the back of the building and down to Wentworth Park. It was a sunny day but the wind was quite cold. I wore a slicker against the wind.
The photo above shows the tents of rough sleepers under the railway viaduct in Wentworth Park, Ultimo.
The photo above shows the new construction hoarding that has been put up in Wentworth Park. The state government is going to build a new school in the area behind the hoarding, up against the greyhound track.
They're renovating this shop on King Street, Newtown (above). Shops on King Street command high rents because the area is very popular as an entertainment precinct for young people. This used to be a Japanese restaurant.
There's always someone begging outside the supermarket on King Street near the cinema (above). When I was walking back home the other way there were two beggars in this spot.
This photo above shows defaced ads belonging to a popular global sportswear brand. The company had tried to sidestep taggers by making their ads look like graffiti, but the street artists just took a paintbrush to the whole thing.
Enterprising businesspeople put up ads on traffic signal poles, like the one shown above that was on a pole in Enmore.
My lunch (above) at Cairo restaurant on Enmore Road.
Indian mynahs are fearless little birds (above). This one is eating something off Enmore Road while the traffic glides right past him.
A beautiful Art Deco facade on this building on King Street, Newtown (above).
At the university looking down City Road toward the central business district (above).
In the photo above you can see someone is advertising in the street for a roommate. This traffic signal pole is outside the Broadway Shopping Centre.
They're constructing new public housing on Bay Street in Glebe (above).

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Meeting Tanner again

This is Tanner the poodle and I met up with him and his owner today in Hyde Park as I was walking to Darlinghurst. I stopped and had a chat with the owner, a clean-shaven middle-aged man who wears a cloth cap. He didn't recognise me but I've stopped to talk with him on two other occasions. Once was in Darling Harbour when I was walking back home with a friend from overseas after having eaten yum cha. The second time was on the corner of Pitt and Bathurst Streets in the city when I was walking back home after having eaten lunch out.

When I met Tanner and his owner in Darling Harbour my friend - who owns a chow chow back home - took a photo of the dog and chatted with the owner. The second time when I was alone I exchanged a few words with the owner as we stood on the street corner.

This time, when I saw Tanner walking along in his usual energetic way, I hailed the two of them from across the way, near the War Memorial. Tanner changed course to come directly toward me, lolloping along. Perhaps he knew who I was. He snuffled his snout in my hand as I stood there talking with the man. I tousled his thick fur. His owner told me he had to trim the fur, which he said was a leftover from the dog's puppy days. "I need to cut it," he said.

When I said I wanted to take a photo of his dog, he told Tanner to sit. I took the picture and then said goodbye, heading off across College Street up Oxford Street. There was a street market being held at Taylor Square but I didn't stop to browse. A few people were standing around but it wasn't busy. I went to Victoria Street and had a sandwich for lunch and a beer, then went home, stopping at the tailor's to pick up my Nike slicker, which they had repaired.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Getting the desktop back and running

About a month ago I had to take my new PC back to the retailer because it stopped booting. I had bought the machine in March, so it was still covered by the manufacturer's warranty. I left it there and then returned home to wait, and a few days later the store phoned to tell me that they were working on it. I asked about the personal data on the PC and they told me it would cost me money to have them back it up. If I didn't have a hard drive they could use they would also charge me to buy a new one.

I took my remote hard drive down to the store and then returned home. While the desktop was away I used my laptop, an Asus PC bought in 2012. I would end up using it for several weeks, so I was glad I had it as a spare.

Some weeks later the store called me again and told me the computer was ready to pick up, so I drove down there and parked, picked it up and drove home. I then brought out a tech guy from a Sydney firm to set it up, including the email client and Microsoft Office. He took two hours to restore the backed up data and to install the software I needed. He also set up the email program so that I could see all my email accounts.

But after I shut it down for the night, the next morning the computer still wouldn't start. I videoed myself starting the computer, as they had requested at the store, and when I went back down to the store one day while I was out on a walk I showed the staffer there the video. He told me not to hold down the start button for so long. When I got home I tried starting the PC the way they had told me but still nothing came up on the screen, so I took the computer back to the store again. They connected it up and told me everything was fine, and that the problem must have been my monitor or monitor cable. They sold me a new HDMI cable and I went home.

When I connected everything this time the computer started and I was able to use it for a few days with no mishaps, but then this morning it took me three goes hitting the start button for the thing to boot. I managed to get it to work finally but it's still on probation as far as I am concerned. And one of the USB ports is broken, so I have to use one of the ones on the front of the machine for the video camera. My brother suggested quietly to me the other day when we were talking on Messenger that I might want to think about buying a Mac next time ...

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

A hot bowl of noodles

This morning I went out and after stopping to get a button sewn back on a pair of trousers I dropped a book off at the post office, before making my way to the psychiatrist's office. He asked me about my dieting because that is a health issue and he is interested in my health. I said that I had cinched my belt in another notch, but that things were happening slowly these days in terms of weight loss. He seemed pleased, but told me that eating fast usually meant you ate more. It takes about 20 minutes for the stomach to tell the brain that it has taken food in, apparently, so if you eat too fast your stomach doesn't have time to let the brain know about the food it is taking in.

After the session with him I left the building and went out walking with my umbrella. It was raining lightly, almost not at all, but as I went along the promenade through Darling Harbour the rain strengthened. Despite the rain the children were still going round and round the temporary skating rink near the water. A woman wearing a hijab and a loose black garment skated quickly along in the direction I was walking in. I went to Chinatown across the bridge at Liverpool Street but by the time I got to Dixon Street it was coming down heavily and I ducked into a small restaurant instead of taking a longer walk. I ordered a bowl of noodles with soup and sat down, taking the remote announcer they gave me when I paid.

After the food arrived I ate all of it. I had made a promise to cut down on carbs but the volume of noodles here was not enormous so I felt as though I hadn't broken my diet. You have to treat yourself occasionally, anyway, I thought. I left the place and headed back home, sloshing through the puddles. There was a lot of water on the ground in the Darling Harbour precinct and my shoes soon became completely soaked. They are not designed for use in the wet. Poor choice, I thought to myself, but since I didn't have any other walking shoes it was bound to happen. I made a note to buy another pair of shoes.

Once home I stripped off wet shoes, socks and trousers and put the trousers in the tumble dryer.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Buying a washing machine then lunch

With a basket of clothes to wash I decided to put on a load of laundry this morning but the washing machine decided not to start. I phoned the repairman, who I have used before with the same machine, and he told me that I should buy a new one, so I went down to the shopping centre this morning. Before leaving home I tweeted my plan and the retailer replied, sending a link to their web page for washing machines, so I knew before leaving the building what model I wanted to buy. The model I chose had a special offer included where the retailer pays for delivery and installation. They also take away the old machine for you. In the store I got the attention of a staffer and told him what I wanted and he looked up my record on a PC in order to book the delivery for Monday, then he took me to the register where I paid.

After leaving the store I went down to the ground floor. There was a woman with long pink hair walking toward me on the concourse, and she wore a cream top. I left the building and crossed Broadway into Victoria Park. I could hear Indian mynahs calling as I walked along the path. To my left there was a flock of the birds walking on the grass. As I passed the gates to St Paul's College three men came out onto City Road, heading toward Newtown in the same direction as me. They all wore fluoro shirts and one had the word "Interspan" printed on the back.

At the Chinese herbal medicine shop there was a man behind the counter. On a telegraph pole on the footpath there were sheets of pink flyers with "Flamboyance fundraiser" printed on them with other details designed to get people to go to a musical evening in Marrickville. A man walked toward me with a picture on his T-shirt of a bear with horns and "Beer?" printed underneath it. I went down to the cinema and entered the cafe there, then used the toilet. When I had come out I took a table at the back of the room and ordered a flat white. To my right at the next table were a young couple, talking. I drank my coffee when it arrived and used social media.

After paying I went outside and walked toward Enmore. There were hemp bags for sale in the markets at the square opposite the train station that were described as being from Tibet. I passed a poster showing a woman with heavy makeup holding a sign reading "Don't deny the arts, it's what feeds our souls". A man and a woman were heading toward me on Enmore Road and the woman held a leash with a dog. They passed another couple walking a dog. The first dog lunged at the second dog and growled menacingly. As the couple passed me the man said to the woman, "Just control him."

At the Egyptian restaurant I ordered some food and a beer and sat down. When the food arrived I ate it then left, heading back the way I had come. On King Street there was a woman with two teenagers walking in my direction, but slower than me. "Pumpkin and ginger soup," said the woman as I walked past, reading from the sign set outside the cafe next to the cinema that I had used earlier. Further up, inside the bakery, a man turned toward the door, where I was walking past. "You too," he said to the person behind the counter. He came out of the store and passed by me carrying a baguette and a paper bag full of goods. Even further up the road a man wearing a fluoro jacket crossed King Street toward where I was walking. He carried three pizza boxes in his hands.

Because I had to use the toilet again I went up onto the bridge at the university but the Wentworth Building was closed and so I hurried across City Road and into Victoria Park. I went into the shopping centre and used the facilities there then went into the shop run by my ISP to talk about my plan; I wanted to cancel the landline because I had decided not to use it anymore. The young woman in the shop gave me a phone number to call. When I told her about the slow internet service she advised me to get a new modem. I left the building and turned down Bay Street toward the park. As I crossed a side street two women came into Bay Street, and one of them said "They won't have enough people to put on".

A man waiting to cross into Wentworth Park held a bag of frozen "straight cut" chips and a box of a dozen eggs. I went into the park behind him. On Wattle Street near the railway viaduct a man came walking toward me who had "Google" embroidered on his T-shirt. I went around behind the Fish Market and crossed into Saunders Street, where I noticed that the man with the frozen chips was still walking ahead of me. He carried a rucksack on his back with "West1' embroidered on it. He continued along the street but I turned right into Quarrymaster Drive, then went up the stairs and into my building.

Friday, 7 July 2017

A trip to Crows Nest

An appointment at lunchtime got me out of the house late this morning, and I headed into the city down Harris Street. "It was like another main road," said a man in fluoro clothes to his companion as they walked down the street. I went across the bridge and onto George Street, heading for Wynyard Station. "Everything 70 percent off," said a woman standing outside a basement discount store, as I walked past.

I saw a woman with two teenagers trying to get into the health insurers. They couldn't find an open door as the street door was locked, and they started to walk back toward the QVB. As I went past them I saw that the company had relocated its store a few doors further down so I turned and called out to the woman, "Hey! It's here!" She heard me and turned back, understanding after a moment what I was saying. "Thanks very much," she said to me. I turned back up the street and continued along to the train station. The entrance leading down to where the turnstiles are had been changed radically, I saw. The pavement had been split into two sections: a ramp, and next to it a series of steps leading down. I got to the platform and while I waited for the train I talked to a friend online.

At North Sydney I got off the train and walked through the turnstiles into the shopping centre. I found a shop serving chicken and salad and paid for a plateful of food, then sat down to eat. When I had finished eating I returned the plate to the person standing at counter of the shop and headed up toward the shopping centre's topmost entrance. Exiting the building, I walked past the post office and up the Pacific Highway. I walked past two men in fluoro gear on the footpath and as they went by me I heard they were speaking Japanese. "So that's the bus," said a teenage boy to his sister and mother as they sat in a bus shelter on the main road. I went into an office building when I had arrived at Crows Nest and had my meeting.

When the meeting was over I left the building and headed back down the highway toward North Sydney. "Discover a new taste experience," said an advertisement on a bus shelter. When I arrived back at the shopping centre I took the escalators down to the lower level. A young woman walked past me wearing a shirt that had "Everlast" printed on the front. There was also a young man with a shirt with "Gap" printed on the front. I went to the station platform and got on the train heading into the city. A woman seated in the carriage had a small child with her and an enormous stroller in front of her on the floor. She wore a pink baseball cap with "John Deere" embroidered on a green badge. "So I've taken these things into consideration," said a large man on the train wearing a dark grey coat as I got out at Wynyard Station.

On George Street a woman said to her companion, "When I was younger ... ." Further up near Martin Place two girls walking hand-in-hand started calling out to two other girls walking in front of them. "Guys we have to stop," said the older girl. "Guys stop!" cried the younger girl. The two girls in front stopped walking and turned around to face the others.

At the western end of Pyrmont Bridge a woman was standing facing a young man. "I heard about that story," she said to him. "I heard about that." On Union Street I heard a woman behind me say "Why would she?" "She's been through so much shit in her life," said another woman. They overtook me and as they did I saw that they both wore pants. One of the women held a small child by the hand.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

A Caesar salad

After visiting the post office to buy a stamp and mail a postcard I headed down into Darling Harbour, aiming for the eastern suburbs where there is a restaurant I had seen on another day and had wanted to try out. Near the shadow of the bridge two women were sitting on the wooden benches lining the foreshore a few metres apart and taking selfies of themselves. I passed by the temporary ice skating rink and saw dozens of children on skates there. Some of the children were pushing big plastic penguins for balance as they moved along on the slippery surface of the ice. The side of the motorway further along was dappled with the reflection of the water where the bright sunlight shone.

Heading along the pedestrian walkway into Bathurst Street I saw a truck towing a trailer speed into the Cross City Tunnel. Both the truck and the trailer had the word "Boral" painted on the side. As I walked up the hill past a record store there were two men loading blue plastic milk crates into a white van that was parked there. "So, thirty," said one man to the other as I went past.

There was a busker singing a Leonard Cohen song on George Street and I emptied the change out of my pocket and put it on the bag he had placed on the footpath. "Any requests?" he asked me as I walked off. "It's all good, " I told him and continued on my way. Further up next to Castlereagh Street a jogger wearing a green T-shirt with "Forever Faster" printed on it went past. I crossed at the lights into Hyde Park and walked up Oxford Street.

A man with a dark beard and a beanie on his head had the word "Boy" printed on his shirt. He was smoking as he walked along the street. I kept going and in Paddington passed a veterinarian's just before County Avenue. There were two AFP cars parked outside Victoria Barracks. I stopped at Micky's, the restaurant I had earmarked to try today and went inside, where I ordered a bottle of craft beer and a Caesar salad. After eating I paid and left the building, turning right back the way I had come. I saw that one of the AFP cars had gone from outside Victoria Barracks. Near the petrol station I passed three uniformed Army personnel, whom I had seen on the way up the hill as well. "Unbox your phone," said an advertisement on the bus shelter outside the courthouse at Taylor Square.

On Pitt Street I met the owner of a poodle named Tanner I had met on an earlier occasion and we chatted briefly as we stood on the street in the sun. When I had said goodbye to man and dog I headed across to the QVB and used the toilet in the basement then headed down Market Street toward home. There were lots of people on Pyrmont Bridge. "It's not far to the city, guys," said a woman to her three companions as they headed into town. "Hey Chris, what's in here?" piped a boy to his friend as they ran on the bridge near the shopping centre. Two men were walking down Union Street in the direction of the harbour and one said to the other, "I can well imagine." "So it's not fast, I don't run fast," said a woman to the other women in the group she was walking along with.

Nearer to home I saw my downstairs neighbour on the street walking in the opposite direction on the other side of the road, and I saluted her. "It's a nice day," I said without stopping. "It's very good walking weather," she agreed.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Back to country

Very early this morning - well before nine o'clock - I headed out because I had an appointment with the therapist in Bondi Junction. I headed down to Pyrmont Bridge and crossed with the morning foot traffic: what seemed like thousands of people walking eastward into the city with its towers and glass windows. It was brisk out and I went up Market Street then made my way to Martin Place, where I caught a train. A elderly man in shorts who was carrying a tennis raquet got on the train at Kings Cross and got off at Edgecliff. I got off the train at my destination and took the Grafton Street exit, walking north to the shopping centre, where I used the toilet.

I went to a cafe and ordered a flat white because I still had half-an-hour before the appointment. I took the order number on its stick and sat outside. There were three young men sitting at a table nearby but they got up and left while I was sitting down. I got out my phone and used social media while I waited for the coffee, which turned out to be strong and hot. After 15 minutes I got up and walked south down Spring Street to an office building, then went inside and caught the lift up. At my floor I got out and went to the waiting room for the consulting suite and sat down in a chair. There were two other people in the room. The therapist came out a couple of minutes later and went to a filing cabinet in the room, then turned back to her consulting room and called me in from the doorway. I went inside and sat down.

When the session was over I left the building and walked up Oxford Street to the bus terminus, then crossed the road and went to the park exit nearby, where there is a pedestrian crossing. I crossed Oxford Street at the lights and made my way up Queen Street. There was a council truck parked on the footpath at the corner of Oxford Street, where I turned right toward the city. A bit further down there was a young man on a small green plastic skateboard rolling along the footpath.

At Victoria Street I turned into Darlinghurst and walked along past the hospital. There were people on the footpath there from the wards sitting in the sun. One man sat in a wheelchair. I went into a restaurant near the Cross that I've been to before and sat down, ordering a glass of beer and a beef salad. After eating I paid and left, turning left up the street. I turned right into Liverpool Street and walked down the hill into East Sydney, then turned north and crossed William Street into Woolloomooloo. At the Domain I walked up the hill and turned right toward the gallery. "I know they had something earlier from last week," said a woman to her companion as they walked along the road under the trees.

Inside the art gallery, I asked at the desk where the watercolour exhibition was and the young man sitting there pointed me in the right direction. I bought a card after walking around and also a catalogue for the "Making Modernism" exhibition that I had recently seen, then left the building. A man sitting in a parked car was arguing with a woman standing on the footpath. A woman was walking toward me with two teenage children walking with her. As she passed me she said "It is a remembrance thing." To my left across the road at the Police Wall of Remembrance there was a crowd of people, some of whom were sitting on the grass. There were others standing. All of the people were facing the stone wall with its black granite.

In Hyde Park many people were enjoying the sunshine and I gave the coins that were in my pocket to a busker playing an electronic keyboard next to the fountain. In Market Street I heard a woman say to her companion, "I know, that's my theory." They walked past me down the street. Both were young. "Say yes to the taste you love," said an advertisement on the street in front of the pedestrian bridge. The people flocked past in both directions. On Pyrmont Bridge a man was taking a photo of the backs of two women seated on a bench, with the Western Distributor visible to him in the background. "Like, have a great day, walk away," a woman said loudly into her microphone as she walked along the bridge past me. "It's very complicated," said a man standing outside the pub at the end of the bridge, to his companion, an elderly woman, who was holding a smartphone in her hands.

Monday, 3 July 2017

To Newtown for coffee

Because I needed to buy coffee I decided earlier than usual this morning to walk to Newtown, and I went out the back of the building and up through Victoria Park. On King Street there was a man walking toward me wearing a black beanie with "Uni Pro" embroidered on the band. I went across Missenden Road and bought coffee at the Campos cafe then when I came out I walked down King Street, passing a restaurant offering diners outside butter chicken burgers. I went into the cafe next door to the cinema and sat down at a table at the back on the padded bench facing the room.

Opposite me sitting at a table were two elderly Anglo women and a man with brown skin. I ordered a flat white and later asked for a menu because I thought it might be interesting to try the food they served there. While I was reading posts on social media two young men sat down at the table next to me and immediately whipped out their smartphones. They started talking after a while and one said "Why did you have to remind me, man?" Later the other one would ask me if he could use the sugar that was on my table. I ordered a Caesar salad.

When I had finished eating I went out and turned back the way I had come. I had bought my coffee and had had lunch so there was nothing else to do and I could go home. Outside the cinema a woman was walking with two children, one of whom was gamboling on the footpath. "Is it starting?" he asked the woman, who I assumed was his mother. The three of them went into the cinema and I kept walking. I gave the change in my pocket to the beggar outside the supermarket. There is always a beggar there although it's not always the same person. Further up the road I passed a renovated building that two women walked out of. There was a vertical banner placed at the entrance, which was emblazoned with the word "Canteen". "Cancer's different in a young person's world," read the banner.

Down at the university I went into the Wentworth Building and used the ATM then went to the toilet. When I had come back to City Road I saw five cement mixers parked along the street. Inside the university grounds on the road at the back of the science building were five more cement mixers. The construction site where they are putting up a new building was very noisy. In Victoria Park as I approached Broadway I could hear a woman walking behind me because her shoes were noisy. I didn't turn around and imagined they were boots. She was talking in a Slavic language on her telephone.

I went down Broadway and turned left into Mountain Street, then walked up to Wattle Street by cutting through the petrol station. A petrol tanker was unloading fuel into underground tanks. It had the word "Toll" painted on the side. Across the street from Wentworth Park a City Ranger was booking the owner of a blue VW hatchback that was parked there. A crow was chasing another crow further up, near the railway viaduct. They crashed into the branches of a tree growing near the railway overpass as I walked along. I walked behind the Fish Market and as I crossed Miller Street into Saunders Street it started to rain lightly. I walked up the hill and was soon home.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Another busy day

After I did the laundry and the grocery shopping this morning I left home and headed across Pyrmont Bridge eastward. On the bridge there was a woman taking a photo of her small son with her smartphone. "Mummy!" said the boy as I walked past, looking resentful. Soon afterward I saw a man walking two grey Afghan hounds on leashes. On Market Street there was a woman in a short skirt walking west and talking into her phone. "Yeah, let me come back," she said into the phone as I went past her.

I turned left into Pitt Street Mall and crossed King Street, heading right up the hill. At Castlereagh Street I turned left and walked along to Martin Place, where I turned right. The buses on Elizabeth Street roared past the pedestrians waiting at the lights. The street kitchen that had been moved away from the building site at the top of Martin Place had been moved across the plaza and was now set up right outside the Reserve Bank building. "We need homes not evictions," read a large banner strung up above the tables. Two people were sitting on chairs behind the tables. There were numerous tents set up on the ground closer to Macquarie Street. A young man sat next to one of the tents in the sun.

At Macquarie Street I crossed the road at the lights and walked into the hospital grounds. "No running or jogging on hospital grounds," read the sign on the fence next to the gate. Inside, there was a trio of jazz musicians playing their instruments. "Are you busking?" I asked one of the musicians. "No," he said. "Just doing it for fun?" I pressed. "No," he said. "Cafe." I heard them start up a well-known old song as I headed down into The Domain. At the gallery I went inside and bought a postcard then left, heading down the hill toward East Sydney. I crossed William Street into Yurong Street then turned up the hill toward Hyde Park.

Inside the park there were a lot of servicemen and -women in their dress uniforms, as well as similarly dressed police. Many had medals pinned to their chests. There were chairs set up in front of the War Memorial and a truck with "Emergency Catering Unit" written on the side. A line of people led away from the truck. I turned toward Liverpool Street and hopped over the wall onto the pavement, then walked down toward Darling Harbour. The street was closed to traffic between Castlereagh Street and George Street because of construction work being done for the new light rail line. A man and a woman stood on the corner of George Street. "Oh, is that what it's for?" said the woman. "Yeah, same thing as they did on the Gold Coast?" stated the man in response.

At Dixon Street I turned left and walked down toward Haymarket. I crossed the train tracks and entered Market City and went up the escalators to the second floor, where I joined a line of people waiting to get into yum cha.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

A busy day

At about 11.15am I ventured out to get to a meeting with a friend in Newtown because we had organised some time before to have lunch together today. I went out my building's back door and down past Channel Ten to Miller Street. At the lights were two men, one wearing a sleeveless fleeced top and the other, who was shorter than the first man, a leather jacket. My coat was buttoned up against the cold. They crossed when the light turned green and walked ahead of me, and before I stopped to cross the road outside the Fish Market I saw them kiss each other as they walked along.

When I got to the parking lot behind the restaurant area I could see the two men walking along Pyrmont Bridge Road toward Glebe and I followed, catching up with them where they stood waiting for the signal to change. We all crossed the road and went up Wattle Street past the racetrack and into Wentworth Park. They were moving faster than me so they arrived at the traffic lights first and by the time I got to the roadway they had already crossed into Bay Street, and I lost track of them.

I headed up to Broadway and crossed at the lights, going into Victoria Park and up along City Road. There was a woman on King Street walking a dog on a leash and she had headphones on and was singing to rap music. On Missenden Road a man on a motorcycle pulled up at the traffic lights. His helmet had "Batman" painted on the back in cartoon letters. I got to the pub and bought a beer, sitting down to wait at a table. I had arrived quite early and so I chatted with my friend on Facebook Messenger, then scrolled slowly through my Twitter feed, reading the posts there.

When my friend arrived she bought me another beer and we went out to the beer garden with our drinks. She smoked a cigarette while we talked and after a while we finished our drinks and headed out to a Thai restaurant. We ate our food and drank beer, then when we had finished we headed down King Street toward the train station. My friend's house is located behind the station and when we got there we went inside and greeted her two dogs.

My friend made coffee for us and we talked sitting on sofas in the living room with the heater on. When it was almost 4.30pm I said goodbye and headed out, walking up King Street. I stopped at a bus stop planning to get public transport part of the way home because another friend had messaged me asking if I could give her a lift from the shopping centre. I got on the bus with my Opal card and looked at the people, who were mostly young. At Broadway I got off the bus and walked down Mountain Street, then into Wattle Street, heading home.

At home I sent some more messages and then got into the car and drove down to the shopping centre. I parked the car and went up to K-Mart, where I took a seat near the entrance. There was a sudden commotion when a security guard with the shopping centre chased a teenager, catching her and walking her by the arms away from the store. A number of people were looking at what was happening and talking to each other. My friend came out and we went to a different store. I saw the security guard standing outside a shuttered restaurant talking with the girl he had caught. While I waited in the passageway they kept talking while the girl sat on a chair. Two of her friends stood nearby.

We left the shopping centre and headed to Ikea, where I parked the car. Inside, we went straight to the restaurant and ordered some fish and greens. A man with "Hilfiger" on his sweatshirt was carrying a tray full of food, heading for an empty table with his companions. After eating my friend and I went downstairs to the homewares section. I saw a woman wearing a padded jacket with a military-fatigue pattern and the word "Whatever" printed on it. There was a pink candle wrapped in plastic that had an embossed floral design and "Full God" printed on the label. I took my friend home then headed back to my place with the BBC on the radio because the ABC channels just had sport coverage.

Friday, 30 June 2017

Winter morning's walk

This morning I went out earlier than usual and met with the office workers on Harris Street going out for their mid-morning coffees. "It's, like, if you woke up a bit earlier could you leave a bit earlier?" said a woman to her female companion as they walked down the street, passing me on the footpath. I headed down to Darling Harbour and walked southeast toward Chinatown. I passed a woman in a white T-shirt sitting on the wooden seats facing the CBD skyline. She was eating and with her left hand she shooed away a seagull.

I went up the stairs to the pedestrian walkway that feeds into Bathurst Street and walked up the hill into the city. I crossed Elizabeth Street into Hyde Park. At the War Memorial there was something going on. There were men in uniform standing around and someone had set up plastic chairs on the steps leading inside the building. A camera faced the people sitting on these seats and there were people standing near it. A reflective screen had been set up that was tethered to the fence set up around a construction site. I walked around behind the people standing there along the width of the pool and headed up toward East Sydney. I asked a woman standing under the trees who wore fluoro clothes what was going on. "Filming a TV show," she said. A man on a bicycle rode toward me on the path. He turned his head to survey the scene I had just left then started cursing as he rode through the park.

On Oxford Street there were two men in suits with briefcases slung from their shoulders who were bidding each other farewell. The one heading to the CBD said, "Just five minutes later on today, ok?" I turned down into Burton Street and took a photo of the establishment I had been inside the evening before, then turned down Crown Street heading north. I stopped at a cafe on Stanley Street and used the toilet, then paid for a cup of coffee. I sat down at a table before taking my change and the waitress brought it over to me. There was a young man sitting at a table with an older woman and he had "Cronulla" printed on his green sweatshirt.

I left the cafe after finishing my coffee and went down Riley Street to William Street and turned left, back toward the CBD's towers. A young man wearing a bright blue hoodie crossed the street against the lights. At the park I could see the skeleton of the residential tower construction site on Bathurst Street through the trees. Crossing Elizabeth Street a man in a suit with a yarmulke on his head was talking on the phone.

At George Street I hesitated before crossing to the other side, and a man in fluoro gear with a hard hat on his head indicated that I should proceed. I stopped in the middle of the road next to the construction site and talked to him for a few minutes about the new light rail project, then I went to a Japanese restaurant nearby and ordered a plate of sushi and a bottle of beer. After paying for my meal I went back into Darling Harbour and walked northwest with the sun shining in my eyes. Two middle aged women were walking in the crowd and one said to the other in an American accent, "Do you want to see the tall ship?" "Yeah," the other woman, who was also American, answered. "It's just down here at the lighthouse," the first woman continued.

Leaving the entertainment precinct I went up to Harris Street, heading home. Two men were walking on the footpath. One of them had shorts on and bright green trainers. He said to his companion, "It was all, like, dirty with streaks all over it."

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Taking coins to the bank

This morning I got up early as usual and decided to bag all the silver coins I had collected over the past five or so years. The coins were in tins and jars in my sideboard as well as in drop-in bowls on top of it. I put the bagged coins in grey singlet bags for easier transportation, and when I drove the car down to the electronics store to drop off my faulty PC for repair I took two of the singlet bags with me to put into my bank account. I found that at the bank branch in the Broadway Shopping Centre they have an automatic coin counting machine. The two bags of coins came to just over $200.

After I had returned home from that errand I decided eventually to go and find some lunch, so I took another of the grey singlet bags with me when I left home. I also carried a flat, black plastic bag with my external drive in it, to take to the retailer so that they could back up my PC's data. I went there the quick way past the Fish Market but I still had to juggle the singlet bag from hand to hand because it was soon cutting into my fingers. Sometimes I cradled it on my bent arm. At other times I held it like a sack. I made it to the shopping centre without dropping the heavy thing and found that it contained over $100 worth of coins.

When I had finished up there I headed up across Broadway into Victoria Park. Outside Sydney University on the bus shelter on City Road there was an advertising poster showing a young woman holding out a bowl full of ice cream in the direction of the viewer. "Start saying yes," said the Colgate poster. I passed by St Paul's and into Newtown, heading down King Street toward Enmore. A man wearing a fluoro-yellow-and-blue shirt with the word "Rescom" on it walked past me in the opposite direction. At the bridge over the railway tracks was a poster saying "Snap me" and showing a picture of the Snapchat logo. I made it to the Egyptian place and had a mixed meat plate and a bottle of beer.

After lunch I headed home the way I had come. There was a fire truck on Enmore Road facing in the direction I was walking. A firie stood on the pavement talking to a woman who stood in the door of a shop. Another fire truck pulled up on the opposite side of the road and a firie wearing sunglasses got out and started to walk toward his colleague. Pasted to the fence near the railway cutting were three Greens' posters, with the middle one saying "The system is rigged". The shingle outside the Coopers Hotel said "Taco Tuesday".

A large black dog walked down the footpath toward me. After it had gone past a woman wearing a blue top sitting on the ground looked at me and said "The dog!" "Sorry?" I said to her. "It's so intelligent," she said to me. "It looked behind to see where the master was." As I crossed one of the narrow side streets there was a huge line of school children, all aged about 10, standing on the footpath. I went past the hardware store with its piles of boxes containing heaters of different kinds stacked in front of the doors.

Across the other side of Missenden Road there was a sign outside an eatery saying "Nutella Pizza". I had seen the same sign at this restaurant before. I walked down past the university. There was a smiling woman standing at the kerb waiting for the traffic lights to change while talking on her phone. She held two paper shopping bags with "Peter Alexander" printed on them in grey letters. At the traffic lights at Bay Street a young man walked across against the signal. He had a rucksack on his back with "96" printed on it in red and he carried a skateboard with red wheels.

At Railway Square there was a magazine sitting on the footpath near where a rough sleeper was staying with the words "Postcard perfection" printed on the cover. The cover image showed a sandstone cliff with the sea visible at the bottom. At the top of the cliff stood houses and apartment buildings. I went down George Street and turned left into Hay Street at Haymarket, then right into Dixon Street. At Liverpool Street I crossed into Darling Harbour on the pedestrian bridge and walked up toward Pyrmont with the sun shining in my eyes. At Union Square a chugger turned to me as I walked along and said "Hi sir, how are you today?"

On Harris Street there were people coming out of the offices and walking along the street. One man was saying to his companion "Which way did I go?" as he looked down the street. I got to my street and there was a middle aged woman standing in front of the metering machine for the street parking. She turned to me as I walked along and said "That's quite expensive isn't it?" "Oh well," I said, in a way to suggest that I had more to say but would restrain myself. "It's better than a ticket," she said. "At least you got one," I said. "Yep," she answered. I entered the building and came upstairs to my apartment in the elevator.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Up the Cross

This morning I went out early at around 10.30am and stopped at the dry cleaner's to drop off a knitted throw rug that mum made and that she used to use but which has just been sitting on the floor in my apartment since I brought it home with the other things from the nursing home. After getting my docket I headed down to Darling Harbour and went up the stairs to the walkway that goes to Bathurst Street.

On Castlereagh Street I stopped in at a branch of my bank and asked about whether there was a branch with an automatic change counting machine in the vicinity as I had a lot of silver coins at home I wanted to convert into cash and deposit into my bank account. The tellers told me that I could go to the Haymarket branch to do this.

After leaving the bank I headed across Hyde Park and up Oxford Street, turning left at the courthouse to go down Darlinghurst Road in the direction of Kings Cross. When I arrived at my destination I carried on down the street in search of a place to have lunch. I went into Macleay Street and headed along to Potts Point, looking in at all the eateries I saw, but there was nothing suitable. There were low-cost places and high-end places but nothing in-between. When I got down to Challis Avenue I crossed Macleay Street at the lights and headed back in the direction I had come from.

I passed William Street crossing at the lights and headed back into Darlinghurst on Victoria Street. Not far down the road I stopped to look at a printed menu that was sitting on a table on the footpath and saw some things I felt like eating, so I went into the restaurant, which was called Bloody Mary's. I used the toilet before sitting down then ordered a Caesar salad with chicken and a Coors beer. After eating I paid and left, heading back toward Oxford Street.

Outside the hospital there were people smoking cigarettes on the footpath. One man had a green fluoro beanie on his head. When I got to the intersection I crossed both streets and headed back to Taylors Square, then turned left at the Courthouse Hotel and then right into Campbell Street. I passed the Pup N Pussy pet shop (see photo) and then turned left into Crown Street. When I got to Foveaux Street I turned right down the hill. As I crossed a side street a man in a white car honked his horn at me as he drew up close to the intersection. I headed down to Central Station and into Eddy Avenue under the train tracks.

A man pushing a shopping trolley that he was leaning on with his whole body followed me down the pavement under the colonnade talking non-stop but I didn't understand what he was saying and thought him deranged. I crossed Pitt Street and passed by a kebab shop called Five Star, which made me remember that the kebab shops in Kings Cross and at Taylors Square had the same name although the signage and wall menus in each were of different designs. I crossed George Street and saw a man in a dark suit wearing black and white two-tone shoes walking up the street.

I turned into Ultimo Road and stopped at the branch of my bank on the corner of Thomas Street. A man came up to me and asked what I needed. I told him I wanted at some point to use the change counting machine and he passed me to a female staffer who was also there. She explained how the machine worked. I left the store and headed up Dixon Street, crossing the foot bridge at Liverpool Street into Darling Harbour. A woman sitting on a low wall had a label around her neck that read "Happiness and its causes". Further up past the motorway a man came up to me and pointed to a group of about ten young people. He said they were the Year 12 geography class and asked if I would take his picture with them. I asked him how to use the phone he held and he showed me where to press. I took the picture and handed the phone back to him then headed up to Pyrmont.

In Union Square the beggar who had asked me for change when I had started out on my walk was still sitting under his tree. I gave him the coins that I had in my pocket and went home. I had been gone for almost four hours.

Monday, 19 June 2017

A walk to Darlinghurst

This morning I went down into Darling Harbour as usual. Underneath the Western Distributor two trucks were moving, one forward heading in the direction of Haymarket and the other reversing at the same time in the same direction behind it. I headed up the stairs that lead to Bathurst Street and passed by the office building that supports the pedestrian walkway. It leads to a bridge that passes by one of the western exits of the Cross City Tunnel.

At the lights at the bottom of the stairs a number of people waited for the walk signal. When the signal turned green a portly man in late middle age with short orange hair walked toward me. Further up Bathurst Street there was a pair of brown underpants discarded on the pavement, and a few steps further along there was a black T-shirt that had been treated in the same way. Up near Elizabeth Street I saw a huge crowd of people walking in a group down the street on the opposite side. When I got to Elizabeth Street I saw that they had crossed from Hyde Park. There were men in Army fatigues and Navy fatigues as well as people wearing hard hats. Another group of people was still in the park. I even saw a man in Navy fatigues wearing a hard hat.

In the park a crowd of people were walking down the stairs out of the War Memorial. A man with a pink lollipop sign was facing them, standing on the path. I headed up to College Street and crossed at the lights, then walked up Oxford Street. I crossed to the southern side of Oxford Street further up and headed for the kebab shop at Taylors Square. I ordered my food and when it was ready I sat down to eat it at a table at the back of the restaurant under a television set which had half of its display occupied by a crazy tartan of horizontal and vertical lines. A cooking show was on and the waitress stood half facing the front door with her head on the side, watching the screen. She then removed some hot pides from the oven located at the back of the shop.

When I had finished eating I headed down Bourke Street and turned right into Campbell Street, then left into Crown Street. A woman was standing at the door of a donut shop talking to a man standing on the footpath. "I feel like a steak," I heard her say to him. I continued along Crown Street until I got to Foveaux Street. A pub near the corner advertised "proper sandwiches" on its facade. I turned down the hill toward Central Station.

As the hill flattened out I passed by a restaurant with a sign in its window spelling out "Greek Street Food" in neon letters. Next door to it was a sushi train restaurant. The Greek place had long communal tables and all of the spaces appeared to be occupied by diners. There were crowds of people waiting to cross Elizabeth Street, on the other side of which a busker sat on the pavement behind two prone dogs; I had seen the same busker from time to time near Market City in Haymarket. I walked under the train tracks through the tunnel and along Eddy Avenue to Pitt Street, where I turned left. I crossed Lee Street with a crowd of people and then walked west along Broadway to the shopping centre.

I turned right into Bay Street and headed north down to the park. There was a huge group of schoolchildren in the park that moved en-masse toward Wentworth Park Road and crossed at the traffic lights. I headed home, picking up a cup of coffee on the way. It hadn't rained although I had carried my umbrella with me and I was glad to get inside and sit down.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Egyptian for lunch again

This morning I set off shortly after 11am on my walk, which took me through Darling Harbour as usual. On Broadway near Central Station there was a young woman wearing a blue denim jacket with "1966", "666" and "Bad Acid" printed in red and white ink on the back. She was walking along arm-in-arm with another woman, who wore a tan coat. Down near Wattle Street next to UTS a young man wearing a black top and brown shorts walked along with a surfboard in a silver coloured carry bag hanging from his right shoulder. The light changed to green just as I arrived and I walked straight across to the traffic island.

Up near the shopping centre there was a woman standing in the stream of pedestrian traffic holding a computer monitor in her hands. Her eyes were closed as she stood immobile on the pavement. At Victoria Park I was the only person entering along the footpath and I headed up toward the university. In Newtown at Missenden Road the traffic light again changed to green just as I arrived and I went straight across. I headed down to Enmore and went into the Egyptian restaurant, ordering my food and taking a stool at the counter facing the kitchen.

I also ordered a Camperdown Pale Ale, which was sweet and rich in taste. The food was as good as the time before and when I finished eating I spoke briefly with the staffer who came to take away the empty plates. She had dreadlocks and wore grey jeans. I left the restaurant and headed north. At the corner of Enmore Road and King Street I looked up at the dark clouds coming in from the southeast. The wind was chilly here at the square and I hurried on along King Street. Up at the corner of Carillon Avenue and City Road there were three young men waiting for the lights behind me, and they were talking about international plane travel. When we had all crossed the road they turned into St Paul's College and I carried on down the street toward the park.

I decided to go into the city to buy some socks, so I headed back along Broadway and across Quay Street into George Street where the trackwork is going on. Young women stood outside the massage parlours offering leaflets to passers-by. I walked past the pawnbrokers with the steady flow of foot traffic. At Liverpool Street I looked east and could see the buildings that flank Hyde Park glowing brightly in the sunshine. I got to the department store and went up in the lift to the menswear section, found some suitable socks and paid. On the way out I took a phone call so I went down on the escalators. I was still talking on the phone on Pyrmont Bridge. At the pub there was a live band playing music for patrons who sat at tables and at the counter with their drinks. I got home soon after; I had been gone for almost four-and-a-half hours.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Walking home at dusk

Today a friend and I went up to Newtown for lunch and we had some Thai food. After leaving the restaurant we walked south on King Street and I saw a young woman with pink hair wearing a white long sleeved shirt and a rainbow coloured bow tie. My friend and I stopped at Parliament, a cafe near Alice Street where there's an old 70s Ducati 750 stuffed into the fireplace and a church pew for customers to sit on. After leaving the cafe my friend caught a cab and I walked back up toward the pub next to the railway station, because I had to use the loo.

In the pub after answering the call of nature I walked back out into the bar area. It was close to 4.30pm by this time and the room was full of young people. They sat on stools and gathered on their feet around the bar that ran the length of the room toward the street windows. I dodged my way through the press of people, heading for the door and out on the street I walked north, back toward home.

In Victoria Park the lights were already on. I could see two taxis parked at the kerb near the university with their vacancy lights illuminated. The drivers were standing on the footpath talking animatedly and I guessed that they knew each other and had arranged to meet there. Near Broadway I saw a candy coloured police car moving sedately down toward the traffic lights. I went across Broadway into Bay Street and walked down to Wentworth Park. In the park there were still parents supervising their children on the play equipment next to the path. A group of young people walked toward me on the path. Near the viaduct over Wattle Street I saw the train heading eastward, its windows shining in the darkness. There were three vehicles parked on the footpath under the viaduct. People had set up tables and benches for the homeless people who live in the park and they were standing behind the tables serving food to them.

A woman carrying a smartphone in her hands came up to me and asked what was happening. "They're giving food to the homeless people," I said to her as we stood on the footpath next to the traffic. "There are homeless people living under the arches. Lots of them." A group of people walked in my direction on the footpath and I could see that several of them wore T-shirts printed with the name of a well known Sydney seafood restaurant. I guessed they were Fish Market employees leaving work for the day.

At the back of the Fish Market it was dark and I saw a young woman on a scooter and a man jogging on the pavement. The shipping containers in the parking lot with the fish nets piled on top of them stood in front of the motorway pylons, on top of which the concrete roadway sat. It was getting dark. In Miller Street I heard the rail car sound its bell and looking down into the cutting I saw the train pulling up at the station, its lights shining in the gloom. I entered Harris Street with its bars and pubs and was soon home.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Getting a pair of shoes fixed

Today I left home at around midday to go for my walk and it was still quite cold, the sky overcast and nacreous with lighter and darker bands of cloud visible toward the horizon. I went down under the Pyrmont Bridge onto the promenade and there were quite a few people about despite the uncomfortable weather. A man in his 50s wearing shorts and a white singlet jogged briskly along in my direction and passed me. He was wearing a sun visor although it wasn't sunny. There are always a few joggers around in the area because there's no automobile traffic to contend with and today was no exception.

A group of Chinese men in dark coats was gathered around the war memorial at Liverpool Street, each of them holding up a smartphone taking pictures of Dixon Street and its flanking buildings. Up at the corner of Quay Street and Broadway a man with bare feet stood holding a red-coloured slushie facing the heavy foot traffic. He was talking incessantly at noone in particular but I didn't catch what he was saying. Behind him, in the shelter provided by the Rendezvous Hotel, another rough sleeper sat on a pile of blankets with suitcases positioned on the pavement about him.

In the shopping centre I made my way up to the Mister Minit counter and showed the staffer the shoes I had brought from home in a grey plastic singlet bag. The liners had slipped but were glued in place, making walking uncomfortable. He took me around to the side of the stall where some items were hanging on display and picked a new pair of liners in a plastic bag off the hook. He then ripped the existing liners out of my brown shoes with his hands and inserted the new ones. I paid and left, heading upstairs to the salad bar. After eating I made my way out of the building to the street.

A man wearing fluoro work clothes and a hard hat was walking ahead of me smoking a cigarette. Behind him walked a woman in a dark coat carrying two Aldi shopping bags and a teal coloured bucket. I made my way across Wentworth Park. Dozens of small children were climbing on the climbing frame beside the footpath. A completely bald man wearing blue shorts and a blue T-shirt was making slow kicks and punches in the air as he stood next to the permanent training equipment to one side of the park. In Miller Street a young man wearing an orange fluoro singlet was pushing a trolley supporting a large couch covered in a dark blue padded blanket. I bought a coffee and came home; I had been gone just over two hours.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

To Enmore for lunch

It was fine out so I planned a longer walk than normal but my route took me down to Darling Harbour as usual. Outside the Pyrmont Bridge Hotel at the traffic lights a glossy dark pigeon walked between my feet to peck at something on the pavement. Later, near UTS where the construction hoarding is installed, a woman came up to me and touched me on the arm, asking if I could help her. "What's wrong?" I asked. "Oh don't ask," she said, rolling here eyes and turning down the corners of her mouth, before requesting two dollars from me. I was so surprised by her neat appearance and the incongruence contained in the question that I took out my wallet and gave her five dollars. She thanked me profusely as I started back down the hill toward Wattle Street.

When I got to Newtown there was a young man walking down the pavement with a young woman beside him. He wore white sneakers with high ankles and carried a pair of black leather shoes in his right hand. I thought about eating lunch in the Taiwanese vegan place up near Moore Theological College but decided to wait until I got to Enmore, which had been my intended destination. Once there I looked at some restaurant menus posted up in windows. I was walking along when I turned back and entered a place on Enmore Road named Cairo. I ate a huge meal of delicious Egyptian food and had a bottle of beer brewed in Brookvale, a suburb in northern Sydney.

After eating I complimented the staffer behind the front counter and headed back up toward Newtown. I saw a police van, a police car and two ambulances parked in King Street outside the railway station. The police car and one of the ambulances had their lights flashing. As I walked past on the other side of the road I saw two ambos wheel someone up to the front ambulance on a stretcher.

A young woman with short green hair and leotards printed with upside-down Christian crosses lit up a cigarette in the square. I headed back up the road. As I passed St Paul's College I had a look at the development approval certificate posted on the font fence. It said they were building more accommodation on the site. As I passed the driveway leading to the worksite, a woman dessed in fluoro gear was holding up a truck with her outstretched hand, and let me pass by on the footpath.

In Victoria Park I asked a workman standing near a crane what they were doing to the pond and he said he didn't know. "Just fixing it up." I continued down toward Broadway. Stopped at the traffic lights on City Road was a large removalist's truck with DAJIN written on the side along with the Chinese characters for "big money". I walked back along Broadway, retracing my steps, and turned into Quay Street. In Darling Harbour the sun was in my eyes except when I passed under the Western Distributor. The sun reflected off the water played on the underside of the concrete motorway.

I stopped at the pharmacist to pick up some medicine I had ordered the day before. Outside the shop in the mall near the entrance to the supermarket a slim man with white hair wearing a suit was typing on his smartphone with two thumbs; the device had a bright orange case. I stopped at a Vietnamese restaurant on Harris Street and bought a flat white before returning home. I had been gone for just over three hours.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Back to sunny skies

For the first time in many days I went outside today without an umbrella because of the blue skies. My route took me as usual down into Darling Harbour. There was a four-year-old boy chasing an ibis around one of the planter parapets shouting "Shoo, shoo, shoo!" and pointing at the unfortunate bird with an outstretched finger. Children in the Darling Harbour quarter frequently chase birds. Mainly pigeons but seagulls and ibis as well, so I wasn't surprised except that the little chap was so absorbed in his task and was so vocal.

In the Broadway Shopping Centre there was a group of people standing round some floodlights and one of them held a mounted camera attached to a flash. I had seen the same sort of two-handed gizmo earlier, when I started my walk, outside an office building on Harris Street. In that case the cameraman was standing opposite a dapper-looking, shortish man with a beard who was posing in front of the venerable brickwork of the building and adjusting his coat with one hand in order to make the best impression possible. In the shopping centre I didn't work out which of the group was going to be in front of the camera because I walked past quickly, heading for the moving walkway so I could get to the second floor where the food court is.

The wind outside was quite chilly even though the sun was out so I buttoned up my coat when I got out of the building before heading down Bay Street to Wentworth Park. I picked up a cup of coffee at a cafe in John Street Square when I got back to Pyrmont before returning home to my computer. Later, I went out again to get to my scheduled appointment with the dietitian. We talked and she gave me more pointers about what to eat and when. This was my final Medicare-sponsored dietitian appointment for this year. I will be able to use the service again next year. For the moment though I'll have to find a battery for the scales that are currently sitting unused in the bathroom.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Baffled by bookshops

The other day I came across an article in the New Yorker on my Facebook timeline about a photographer of the American subculture named Nan Goldin. It was a great read. There was something so redolent with significance for me in the figure of Goldin and in her history, which takes in what is for me a great but under-observed era: the 1980s. I wanted to know more so when I was out walking today I dropped by Gleebooks and asked if they had any books by Goldin. They didn't and I left empty handed. I thought about browsing and even ventured past the desk into the body of the shop, but the idea of bringing home any more physical books made me feel dizzy with anxiety.

I left the bookshop and decided to buy what I wanted online.

The Kindle was a revelation and although I was late to get one - I bought it only a couple of years ago - it has quickly become second nature to reach out when I get into bed to pick it up from where it sits always on the bedside table. I do think the bookmarks function is poorly designed but apart from that it has been a wonderful addition to my life. I can buy hundreds of books without worrying about storage. I have numerous bookcases in three rooms and the idea of adding to the collection makes me feel slightly ill, as if I were simply burdening myself with something unpleasant, like an unwanted friendship.

Normally I get all my book recommendations, furthermore, from the internet. I have found many unusual books this way, things that would never be stocked in bookshops. I once worked as a publishing company sales rep, so I know how the business works; all bookshops in the metropolitan area get stocked with the same mainstream titles. Unusual and hard-to-locate things are completely overlooked. I know that many people like the heft and feel of the physical product, but such things mean nothing to me. For me it's all in the quality of the writing or the ideas. Books are intellectual property, just like journalism and music, and in that space the rein of electrons has had irreversible effects on businesses. The convenience of buying on the Kindle based on recommendations from social media simply cannot be matched by bricks-and-mortar bookshops.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Crisis in opinion poll industry

Now that the UK general election has played itself out we're seeing a lot of people aim criticism at the media for getting it so wrong. Rupert Murdoch is reported to have stormed out of a meeting when the exit polls came through because he had used his newspapers to campaign strongly for the Conservatives but they had done relatively poorly in the election itself. An oracular Jeremy Corbyn of the Labour Party was heard promising to lead ... despite the fact that he had failed to get the numbers in the House of Commons.

But Corbyn did surprisingly well and a lot of people in the UK media industry will now be asking themselves why the polls were so out-of-whack. When Theresa May, the PM, called the election a few weeks ago her party was well ahead in the polls. But the same thing happened last year in Australia when PM Malcolm Turnbull called the election that turned out to almost deliver a hung Parliament. Despite the fact that when he called the election opinion polls put his party well ahead, the final result was so close it took a week before a winner could be named. Then there's the Trump phenomenon in the US. Opinion polls all the way up until the election were calling it for the Democrats. There seems to be a crisis in the opinion polling industry. Why do they always seem to get it so wrong these days?

What is certain is that the recriminations in the aftermath of the UK election will go on for some time. Heads have already started rolling, with May's two top advisers falling on their swords and quitting. It remains to be seen whether May herself can last in the top job. As for the red tops, it is doubtful whether they will stop trying to back winners in elections in the UK. Murdoch and his ilk are too used to wielding power to stop so easily. But quietly, on the side, they might start putting less faith in opinion polls. 

Saturday, 10 June 2017

ABC's Guthrie not keen on the limelight

Writing as usual for The Guardian, Amanda Meade interprets in print an interview the ABC's managing director Michelle Guthrie did with Jane Hutcheon, who runs the broadcaster's One Plus One program.

As Meade notes it's the first time Guthrie has appeared in the media in such a candid fashion and many people will take an interest in it. Meade highlights the way Guthrie seeks to distance herself from her past, especially those troubling (for some) years with Sky TV, a company owned by Rupert Murdoch. She also says she's not used to being notorious, and that she finds publicity that focuses on her person unsettling.

But being MD of the ABC is a very public role, so Guthrie is going to have to get used to attracting a bit of attention, especially since the media is so highly politicised in Australia. Polarisation occurs from the top down too, with politicians such as conservative Peter Dutton publicly complaining that they think the ABC is too left wing. Then there's the IPA and their friends in the Murdoch press always on the lookout for weak spots in the public broadcaster's armour that can be exploited for private reasons.

Perhaps Guthrie is not suited to the job. Her predecessor, Mark Scott, came from a media background too - he was an executive with Fairfax Media - and he was very visible in the community, running a Twitter account that was highly subscribed. It sounds callous to put it that way but you have to consider that the ABC sits at the centre of the public sphere in Australia, in fact it plays a unique role. You could say that it is a linchpin in the traffic of public messages of all kinds, from culture to science and from politics to the environment. In many ways it functions too to maintain a critical level of contact between the polarised halves of the community, as you see for example when shows such as Q and A gain attention. People who identify with both the left and the right side of politics can both participate in ABC-mediated discussions in a way that other platforms cannot enable. There is no mechanism in many countries that performs this role.

We can only hope that Guthrie comes to enjoy the public elements of her job. It might be a difficult ride for her if she cannot come to grips with being talked about in the media and by people in the community, many of whom have very strongly-held views about the viability of the public broadcaster.

Friday, 9 June 2017

A hung Parliament doesn't have to mean poor government

Here's an unflattering photo of the British PM from the Guardian website. The media are already on the hunt since the results of the UK general election came in today revealing a big swing to Labour and a reduced contingent of MPs for the Conservatives. PM Theresa May will form a government with the assistance of the Democratic Unionists Party, a Northern Irish mob of social conservatives, but I don't think anyone knows how they will actually lean on most issues.

After she had been to see the Queen to ask for permission to form government, May looked unstable as she fronted the media outside 10 Downing Street. She took no questions. The red tops who backed her have started the recriminations and the way ahead is looking uncertain but operating a minority government does not mean you are going to do a bad job, as the Australian experience demonstrates. In 2010 the PM, Julia Gillard, formed a government with the help of one Greens MP and three independents and her government was fantastically productive, passing bill after bill in the Parliament until 2013 when she was replaced by her party by her predecessor, the man she herself had deposed.

The right wing media was on the attack throughout Gillard's tenure in the top job but the country continued to be governed - and governed well, according to many - despite strong opposition to her leadership in the public sphere. Many people have already started attacking May online but we know from Gillard's time in power that government is entirely possible when the ruling party holds a minority position in Parliament.