Tuesday, 6 February 2007

The Mundane and the Maddening

Melbourne seems to be a city that has developed rather than being aggressively "re-developed", the one major exception being the South Bank complex, where I was informed by a promotional board that the amazing project I now stood on (a row of anonymous wine bars) formerly housed countless abattoirs, factories and brothels. For shame! Who would not prefer the venal excitement of the latter to the banality of the former?? Probably most people, and that is cause for a large sigh. But even here there is a sign of hope as a large chimney that looms over the city is covered in protesting grafitti. Imagine such a thing in central London.

Perhaps the main thing I enjoy is the lack of converted urban apartments or office spaces. Those corporatist, vacuous, and ghostly structures that are currently purging inner-city London of "undesirables" and raping the historicity of central Manchester.

There is some kind of 'exciting project' being proposed in St Kilda but I received several leaflets against it this weekend, which is at least a sign that where such ghastliness exists it is being actively resisted, rather than gulibly swallowed down with an unhealthy dose of provincialism. Perhaps my first impressions will be proved wrong, but at first glance it appears that there exists here a type of civic pride which does not involve petty, unquestioning submission to the dark forces of property fiends. Manchester Evening News take note.

I have been asked to give more details of the day to day mundanities of my trip and so here we are; It is very hot some days, though very temperate on others. Apparently Melbourne is the only place in Australia to experience four seasons in one day, as the locals never tire of telling you. This is a slight exaggeration but four seasons in one week seems entirely possible. It is apparently getting extremely hot next week but for now it's a satisfying twenty-six degrees.

As well as my restrictions of working I found out that my tax rate is significantly higher than that of Australians. The Howard government, which seems so keen on laissez-faire apparently doesn't extend this to UK visas, where protectionism rules the day. Just another reason to despise this racist junta (the word multicultural was recently removed from the Immigration Departments' name and replaced with citizenship, thus the emphasis changes from accommodation to integration). They have already provoked me to writing an angry letter to the newspaper after describing Aboriginal history as "rubbish". Shira had forgotten how terrible and embarrassing it was but it's at least a relief from the Butskellism of home.

And now my coffee maker whistles so...

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