Sweet Sydney cont…

Having walked across the most wonderful bridge in the world, over the most wonderful harbour, I wandered down to the Rocks to re-acquaint myself with The Observer.

When I left Baker’s, a few of us ended up having a few (read lots of) beers in The Observer. I remember it vividly because there was a jukebox which had Mott the Hoople on it. I said how much I liked All the Young Dudes so it was played over and over. After about the fifth time, the barman told us to stop playing the same song. My mind is blank after that so I have no idea what happened next. Suffice to say, I’ll never forget the song.

This was about 20 years ago so one would expect some changes. Where we sat that night is now a wall full of fruit machines. The jukebox has been replaced with flat screen TVs showing music videos. They have a large variety of very tasty beers and they also serve pints as well as schooners. The main thing the place has lost is the atmosphere. It used to be a pretty good pub – noisy, crowded, well-used. It now appears to be something for the tourists. Hey ho, these things happen.

I had a pint of way too cold summer ale then wandered down to Circular Quay. I had decided to take a ferry to Manly, seeing as it was a glorious day and since I used to do this a lot when I lived in Manly.

As I sat on the ferry, I was reminded of how commuters would all line up along the side of the ferry as it came alongside the Quay and leap off before it was tied up. It used to be mayhem, a reckless race for the train or the office. It is very similar to the sort of shortcuts we used to make with the slam door trains in England.

Sadly this bravado has been rendered impossible. Health and Safety has raised its ugly mug and put barriers in place, as usual. It could prove the end of evolution as we know it if we’re not careful. How can a species survive if there isn’t some sort of rate of attrition; an effective cull of those not fit? One thing I was VERY glad to see, however, was the deck hands in their polo neck shirts and shorts and no sign of those pathetic little floatation devices they are forced to wear on the Thames. At least the Sydney staff can look capable and tough.

The journey was a delight. While the day was quite hot, the almost constant breeze afforded by sitting along the side of the ferry, eased the temperature enough. I sat and watched the tourists ‘ooh-in’ and ‘ah-ing’ as we passed the many sights. I loved the familiarity of it all as well as the beauty which, hopefully, will never change.

At Manly, 30 minutes later, I had time to pop across the traffic lights to the beginning of the Corso and grab a maple/macadamia ice-cream from the parlour I just knew would still be there, before hopping back onto the same ferry for the trip back.

The ferry at Manly Wharf waiting to leave

Back at Circular Quay, I slowly wandered up to Wynyard, passing a massive Starbucks on the way, realising with some annoyance, that I was slap dab in the middle of rush hour. To be fair, rush hour in Sydney is not quite as crowded as in London – the footpaths are wider for a start – but even so, I felt I shouldn’t be there.

I had a bit of time before my bus ride back so I bought a Starbucks and sat in the park watching the never ending queues for buses and remembering when I was caught in them every day.

From where I sat, I had a splendid view of the AWA radio tower. I remember Old Bill telling me he worked on it when it was the highest thing on the Sydney skyline. He told me about 35 years ago and the Qantas building was far higher already; not to mention the Australia Square building. Now the poor old tower is hidden away. But from the right spot, in the right light, it still stands like a beacon of history.

The AWA Tower, York Street, Sydney

I eventually joined a queue, tutted at the tourists who didn’t know where they were going and didn’t have the correct change for the journey anyway, hopped on the bus and was back at Round Corner an hour later.

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My wife was somewhat confused over my comment yesterday regarding round and square corners so I feel I should explain myself. I was thinking of wheels, which are round, and curves in roads which are also round. Corners, of course, are generally square and NOT round. So, when I said the roundness of corners is generally assumed, I was completely wrong and should have said the squareness is assumed.

Actually, I was just trying to be clever and fell on my nose. So, I’m just going to forget it and move on. Of course I could change history and delete all mentions of it but I feel it’s good to have some balance in my life.

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