Wednesday, March 15, 2006

It's Heeeeeeere!

Yes, the Paranoia Games have begun!

Choppers are circling the CBD, more police than you have ever seen in one place are patrolling the city [or stood around in packs looking slightly embarrassed], and there is that weird hush about public spaces that you get when there's just a hint of unease about... along with an irritability at the sheer numbers of people on the streets. Melbourne is usually a pretty laid back city, with its inhabitants having a carefree and welcoming attitude, but the anticipation of transport chaos as people make their way to and from work is almost certain to shorten a fuse or two.

There were one or two at the Ticketbastard® Office in Federation Square too, as people turned up to collect their tickets with apparently neither reference number or credit card for the online tickets they'd bought. D'oh! I got mine, of course, because I was both organised and retrospectively smug.

The sense of anticipatory dread was the same around the time of Manchester 2002, although that was a lot closer to 9/11 of course, the potential that some group of lunatics could be tempted to try to make some spectacular statement for their cause, using some means of explosives or gunfire.

It is nice to see so many different nations mingling together about the city though, and there is also a sense of anticipation, excitement and joy around, with people chatting, laughing and giving each other a helping hand. There are a lot of accents, a lot of national flags and logos on tracksuits, bags and assorted sports/casualwear, and so much so that I keep finding myself stopping and staring at them, trying to suss out where someone is from.

As an aside, I think I've been here long enough now to say I think I'm pretty acclimatised, as I can now pick out the Kiwis amongst the Aussies without resorting to asking them to say "fish and chips", which NZ-ers pronounce as "f'sh 'nd ch'ps" to the amused delight of the obviously far superior [sic] Aussies.

Actually, I loved Viggo Mortensen's quote from Peter Jackson [Lord of the Rings & King Kong director], that there really was no need for him to visit "The West Island" i.e. Australia, as opposed to NZ's North Island and South Island. Geddit? Many Aussies seem to generally regard their nearest relatives over the Tasman as a bunch of sheep-shagging inbreds and that they are like some sort of mere Antipodean colony, a runty cousin; so that was a nice rejoinder by the beardy one.

Viggo was on Rove Live to promote A History of Violence, which has inexplicably only just been released here, several months after its US and UK release. Rove is one of the few shining lights in an otherwise pretty dire and sensationalist TV output Down Under, a subject to which I will no doubt return to as Autumn unfolds into winter and rugged-up nights in become more frequent.

I've also started to see store logos and my first reaction is "O, they've got them here too!" before realising that they've only got Officeworks, for instance, here in Australia. Perhaps I can now call Australia home? Perhaps brand recognition is the o-so-modern requirement for accepting a place as your home in this globalised age...

So where was I? Ah yes, the Games. I'm off to Claud's workplace shortly, to watch the opening ceremony from the 30-oddth floor of her building, which they've kindly opened up to friens and family as it overlooks the River and [with a squint and a serious crane of the neck, so I'm told] the MCG, where the majority of the action will be taking place. They're providing a big screen, a ton of food, and plenty of gratis booze. Always nice to have a freebie, of course, though I'll have to take it a bit easy if I'm to make it safely to the Telstra Dome for the Rugby tomorrow at 10.30.

And just while I remember, I'll leave this with a quote from a couple of Canadians [not Athletes, by the look of them] that I overheard on the street today. They're clearly a couple of people who are not totally enamoured with this city, and I was dying to stalk... erm, follow them to find out what they meant, but ultimately quite liked the mysterious aspect of what they said, or didn't say:

Woman 1 : Gah! Again! If I stay in this country any longer, I think I'll become completely stupid!

Woman 2: Yup, there is something abood 'ett, isn't there?


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Wednesday, 15 March, 2006  

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