Each year, over 25,000 tonnes of litter are indiscriminately tossed in NSW (from NSW EPA website). I find this extraordinary in a country that I’m always saying is proud of itself. Seriously, when people talk about litter in Europe and how bad it is, I always say “It’s unusual for people to litter in Oz because we love the country so much.” This must hark back to the ‘Keep Australia Beautiful’ campaign of my youth and the follow-up ‘Do The Right Thing.’ Whatever the reason, it seems that litter is as big a problem here as it is in Europe.
The reason I’m writing about rubbish is because tonight we had dinner with the woman responsible for the whole Tosser thing. She has the cross party backing of the state government/opposition to change the thinking of the entire state and make the population proud of how little like the scruffy countries it can really be…but more about her later.
Today was my Karen day.
Bob and Mirinda, on the way to Castle Towers and an unsuccessful visit to the Medicare office there, dropped me off at Round Corner so I could have a coffee at Gloria Jeans before boarding the bus for the QVB. At a loss for change, I’d asked Bob if he had some and he loaned me his Opal Card. This is a lot like our Oyster Card and is loaded up with money so you can get on and off transport all over Sydney without having to buy a ticket.
At first Bob was a bit reticent about loaning his card to me because of it’s specialness. It’s a senior card and he was concerned I’d be upset about being relegated to the ranks of ‘pensioner.’ To be honest, I was a bit in two minds about it. Part of me kind of hoped the bus driver would take one look at the card, a second at me and then laugh at the idea that I could be even close to old enough to have a seniors card. Bob said the bus driver wouldn’t even look at me let alone the card.
As it turned out, the Opal reader on the bus wasn’t working so me and the many other passengers, were given a free ride into Sydney. Everyone was delighted. So much more so when we were entertained all the way in by a couple of uni students telling us all how brilliant they’d be at job interviews. I’m sure they didn’t mean to include everyone on the bus in their conversation…but they did.
And Bob was right, the driver didn’t even give me a passing glance. He was far more interested in listening to La Boheme then The New World Symphony, to take any notice of me.
Loud music drowning out conversation aside, I arrived unscathed in the Sydney CBD and walked up to the QVB where Karen was waiting patiently for me. It was at about this time that I received an email from her asking where the bus came in and where we should meet. I thought it easier to answer her in person.
We then retired to the nearby cafe (the one where Queen Vic sits outside) for a catch-up and a coffee – green sludge for Karen, obviously. Actually, I discovered today that Karen gets violently ill at the smell of fresh coffee (she swears my instant was never any problem). I only mention this because she’s the second person in a month to tell me this, the first being a reader at Talking Newspaper. Most peculiar. I’m waiting for the third.
After refreshment, we headed down to the Maritime Museum, somewhere I’ve never been before which Karen was very surprised at. I’d noticed posters advertising an exhibition presently on about the rescue at Pompeii following the eruption of Vesuvius that preserved everything so perfectly for us future generations. It looked interesting because it’s not something I knew about – the ‘rescue’ obviously. It was bizarre because only last week, while in Naples, I was at the site of the Roman navy port where the navy would have sailed from.
And the exhibition was excellent (though it didn’t say anything about how much the superstitious Romans hated going to sea) following the eruption and rescue attempt from the Pliny (Older and Younger) eye witness accounts of the time. They have managed to borrow some remarkable objects, a few of which I’ve seen in the Archaeological Museum in Naples. The thing is though that objects are so much more evocative when seen in some sort of context rather than lying around in general display cases. Whoever came up with the rescue concept is very clever. It works a treat.
After wandering through the exhibition, Karen humoured me with another wander, this time all over HMAS Vampire, the last of the ‘big destroyers’ built at Cockatoo Island. She is a Daring Class destroyer built between 1952 and 1956 and served for 27 years sailing around 808,000 nautical miles. She is also now permanently moored alongside the museum similarly to the way the Belfast is in London.
And what a perfect day to be visiting an old warship. No clouds or rain today.
Actually, the Vampire is one of a number of other ships open for inspection, including a submarine. Unfortunately a small coastal cruiser, normally also open, was closed. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed the Vampire and it was enough. Maybe next time I’m in Sydney…
We then had a very late lunch. Or, rather, I had a very late lunch while Karen had mineral water. I had calamari and a beer which was just about perfect. We then headed back to Karen’s flat to see Nigel…who wasn’t there. He’d been called into work.
We sat and chatted until he returned when we sat and chatted some more, this time with rather than about him.
Finally, as 6:30 rolled around, they walked me across the road to the Light Rail stop where I boarded a carriage for Dulwich Hill. I was going to meet Mirinda at Dulwich Hill and it’s purely a delightful coincidence that the Light Rail line terminates there.
The last time we visited Sharon, Judd and all the little Juddlings, they were planning an extension, the same as we were. I was really looking forward to seeing theirs. I’m glad to say, it is superb. Talk about a house transformation. I now know how people feel who walk into our house having seeing it before the extension.
The design is one big open space with a very high ceiling and wooden floors. I really loved it…especially Judd’s super fire rated window on one side. I think he was trying to compete with our stained glass window. If so, he failed.
We then sat down to dinner and long and delightfully involved conversations about Judd’s new job (advising the Greens) and Sharon’s world changing efforts at litter control (Tosser).
Luka was home but, sensibly left us to discuss boring adult stuff while he sat in the lounge listening and laughing at something (or someone) while wearing his headphones. Though he did wait long enough for a history lesson on how the Polish were such a great help in defeating the Germans during the Battle of Britain. Naomi and Joel were at rehearsals but returned while we were still there so we could tease Judd in front of ALL of his children.
Naomi, it seems, has inherited her mother’s voice. Like any proud parent, Sharon reckons Naomi’s could be better given the evidence shortly after her birth. It’s not often a newborn can scream a full octave above high C and maintain it while any glass around them shatters into fragments.
After a bit of cajoling, Naomi played us a CD track of the band she plays in at school singing about the teenage angst of Saturdays and Vegemite. I wish I’d asked her to send me a copy. It reminded me a lot of the Cranberries, in particular Zombie. I told her she should have a listen. I was quite surprised she hadn’t heard of them. (Annoyingly, when I thought to look I had some Cranberries on my phone I could have played for her but I was back at Dural by them – sorry Gnome!)
Joel is at the Con at the moment, studying and playing clarinet and piano (not at the same time) and writing music. I think he’d like to eventually write for films. A very talented young man and such a world away from Baby Yuck Yuck.
We spent a lovely night talking, drinking (teasing Judd) and hearing all about Sharon’s amazing work for the Universal Relief of Litter. She told a very funny story which I can’t help but include.
Apparently they have had very few complaints about the use of the term ‘tosser’ in their campaign, one of which was of particular interest. Someone wrote, complaining that they were maligning masturbation by claiming it was a bad thing to do. I thought this was absolutely hilarious and the sort of thing I’d do. Presumably it was from a pedantic ex-Catholic.
After a long night, we headed back to Dural though thankfully (almost) empty streets, arriving at 1am. It was a big and thoroughly enjoyable day. It was probably not so enjoyable for poor Judd who I subjected to a lecture about the development and adoption of the screw propeller.