Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tales of Two Cities

Just to let you all know that I will be coming home soon. This weekend. I have a contract starting in Canberra on Monday 25th so I will be home Friday night. Woo Hoo!! Saturday I am out to Gundaroo to watch my youngest play football. He is goal-keeping; so as his mentor I will be helping out. Looking forward to it. Back to the incessant chatter and questioning of very young men. Really missed it. Really.

Perth. Canberra. Two cities; and their satellites. Interesting. It has taken a while but I have some more observations to expand on. I have been doing a lot of work for a client whose office is in a city east of Perth, called Midland. If you catch a train which I mostly do, or drive, to Midland you do not notice any break in suburbia. No thinning of the human enterprise. For all intent and purpose they are one. But Midlanders say “Are you going to Perth?” They do not say “Are you going to the city”, like I do. There is certainly a difference. It’s like Canberra and Queanbeyan but without a state border. Canberra has insulated itself from Queanbeyan physically with defence installations, an airport and other mercantile activities, whereas Midland feels pretty much like another part of Perth, but the difference is there. Just like Canberra and Queanbeyan.

Perth and Western Australia are very much rooted in the earth. The whole state economy is based on what it can achieve from the soil or dig out of it. It influences how the people behave and think. It's very physical. Intellectual and cultural pursuits are in evidence but they are dominated by the all pervading physicality of the state which influences politics and thought. Canberra and the ACT on the other hand are very much dominated by the mind. It is a centre of politics and policy, education and bureaucracy. The physical pursuits are dominated by the intellect, thought, organisation and the "right" way to satisfy the human condition.

There are some interesting characters here too:
"Good morning Sir", I say in welcome to the fellow selling newspapers from a trolley outside Perth Underground station.

"Good morning Sir", he replies with more meaning than I am ever able to construct. He is a fine fellow, a simple fellow, and it's a highlight of my day to pick up a copy of the West Australian from him. We chat for a few minutes about football, fishing, the weekend, yesterday, next week, the weather, the joy of sleeping in; anything. I have toyed with the idea of asking him his name and one day I will, but for now we share the same name and are on an equal footing.

I have achieved an appreciation of AFL football having lived here for some months now. I am actually beginning to understand the game and talk intelligibly about it. There is some beauty to the game but it isn't the "beautiful game". My uncle-in-law, who I board with, has a deep and abiding love of the sport and travels every weekend to see his local team play. He works hard in the yard and around the house on Saturday and Sunday mornings so that he can indulge himself in the afternoons watching his sport, having a beer and telling the teams through the TV how the game should be played. He also grows tomatoes with an ease that astounds me. I have a great love of tomatoes and look forward to the day when I can indulge what little green thumb I have to grow superb tomatoes. I have learnt a few things, that's for sure. I can't wait for spring in Canberra so I can get stuck into a new season of growing.