If January was spent working like a dog to get the first draft of my novel done and losing weight because I was so stressed I stopped eating, February by contrast was about overintoxication, catching up with friends and meeting all kinds of new and interesting people. With the novel in the post to my agent, I got on the plane to Sydney for a week of hedonism. First stop was lunch with my old uni friend K in Kingsford. I was surprised by how much coming back to the area around UNSW felt like coming home, having lived for two years in Randwick in an art deco apartment. An old, white-haired man named Neville lived downstairs. Neville had Xmas cards stuck on his door, Christian platitudes on little pieces of paper on his walls, and a habit of accosting one beside the recycling bins and talking at great speed. He was, however, as sharp as a tack and picked up straightaway that he had to talk clearly because I was deaf. Which meant that I had to listen to most of his rambling, most of which centred around the necessity of recycling, with which I was in complete agreeance and which, therefore, was redundant.
I digress. Lunch with K was in one of the plethora of Asian restaurants lining Anzac Parade and I had an excellent laksa and good conversation, then proceeded to the Rupert Bunny exhibition. I loved the abundant femininity of his early work, overflowing with women with flowers in their hair, lavish frocks with lace and bows and sumptuous fair skin, and of course anything to do with Paris makes me swoon. His work had such an enviable air of wealth, indolence and indulgence which you could never find in the 21st century. Later, his style became Modernist, with the flat planes and colours of the Fauves. Although it was technically very good it didn’t move me in the same way. Before I left I reacquainted myself, as I always do, with the paintings in my favourite room of 19thC Australian art: the stunning blue skies of Tom Roberts’ Fire’s On (Laptsone Tunnel), Elioth Gruner’s Spring Frost, donated to the gallery by my great-grandfather, and Sydney Long’s romantic paintings.
I dined with the lovely I., with whom I’d lived in the art deco apartment with H. She was the perfect flatmate and we never fought once while we were living together, and it’s always just so lovely to catch up with her again. We had a posh dinner in the city and I put on a black and red wrap dress with my red heels, but it was bucketing with rain so I looked like a drowned rat when I arrived rather than the sophisticated young lady who had stepped out the door, which was most unfortunate.
I decamped from the Eastern to the Western suburbs for a night, staying with E. and, the next morning watched So You Think You Can Dance? until 2 in the afternoon. I am subsequently addicted to this program and blame E. for my conversion to trash. Then it was lunch with B. and second cousin D. in Danks Street, which was not far from where B. and I had lived in Surry Hills. It was full of wankers but there was a very pretty Parisian café which I frequented the next day, and sat on a brocade couch beneath chandeliers, watched the people on the verandah outside and read my book.
I also caught up with people from my Masters writing course whom I hadn’t seen in about eight years. That was wonderful, especially spending an afternoon with S., who had moved to Malabar and showed me around the area and the work she’d been doing with Indigenous people there. Before we went to the airport we picked up her little girl from day care. She’d had her face painted and I asked if she had this done every day.
‘Yes,’ she said shyly.
‘Well! I should come along!’ I exclaimed. She looked at bit unsure about that, but later asked her mum if I could come to the beach. Mum replied that unfortunately we were off to the airport. She was an adorable kid.
Back in Bris Vegas there were lots of new people to meet, courtesy of my friend J1. who has been very good at getting me out and about since I’ve been here. There were drinks with various people, including P. and J2., by the river. The former was exposed to my dancing proclivities, which emerge after the consumption of too many cocktails and, to my delight, I found he could masterfully swing a woman about the dance floor. I also accidentally stepped on the foot of a man behind me with my red stilettos and was horrified to find him hobbling in pain for a good few minutes. I hovered anxiously until he burst into a smile; he was teasing and I’d been my usual gullible self.
There was also a V-Day promo on that night, and P. wandered from girl to girl, handing out skewers crammed with marshmallows and strawberries and drizzled in chocolate.
‘Uhm,’ I said when he handed me one, ‘I can only eat the strawberries.’ I was allergic to the gluten in the marshmallows.
He returned with a skewer of strawberries and chocolate.
‘Uhm,’ I said again, ‘I can’t actually eat the chocolate.’ I was allergic to the dairy in the chocolate.
He returned with a skewer of halved strawberries. The strawberries were delicious and I was, by this stage, utterly charmed.
The following week I went out again and met a boy who danced jive, a girl who was decoding the DNA of the liver (or it may have been the kidneys) and another girl who worked with creeks. We contemplated a cosmopolitan sitting unclaimed on the table before us, bought by one of the boys in a round of drinks. Not being able to resist anything pink, I naturally had to drink it.
There have also been various attempts to watch Breakfast at Tiffany’s with N. and J1., aborted first by a downpour and then by a defective DVD, so attempt #3 is in the pipeline. These lovely ladies also came to dinner last night with their Plus Ones and I didn’t even have much of a hangover today, which was good as these have been proving most disruptive to my writing schedule. I did, however, have a virus from Sister which turned out to be almost as bad.
And now March is almost upon us, and I have only a month to get another draft done, and yet my calendar is still booked every week, which can only mean one thing: guilt. Well, it will have to be mastered.