Archives for category: north/south

Loving my London break: in last couple of days I’ve been to one of the most important exhibitions ever, the Royal Academy retrospective of Ai Wei Wei’s work, which combines ancient Chinese craft work, such as joinery, metal work and hand carved marble with powerful political comment, making works that are both beautiful and angry.


I’ve also satisfied a long held wish to see Simon Russell Beale on the stage, in a thoughtful funny play about the creation of the Theatre Royal Haymarket, in which we watched it:

Tonight, did the full red carpet trip for European premiere of Quentin Tarantino ‘s Hateful Eight at Leicester Square Odeon, followed by Q&A with man himself and cast. Operatically bloody and magnificent. 



A day on Jamie’s boat, an 1879 Dutch sailing barge, with dad, Kate, Jamie’s partner, Cathy, and dogs Spanner and Frankie.imageimageimageimageimage

Walking through Mayfair on a warm afternoon. I was here in 68. image

matisse at Tate Modern imageimage

Lunch with Leah.  imageimage

The drivers seat on the DLR.imageimage

Flynn’s parkour palace down at old East India docks, a part of London that feels like Brazil, but has a tiny pocket of community on Trinity Buoy Wharf.  imageimageimageimage

I moved out of London in 1993, first on an experimental basis, to do an MA in Creative Writing at Lancaster University, then permanently, a year later,  to take up a position at the university of Central Lancashire. So I’ve been a visitor to my home town for the past 21 years. But until moving to Australia in 2011, such visits to family and friend were pretty regular, only a few hours drive or train journey.

Now it’s an annual event and I’m finding that place has usurped chronology in my personal story-telling. Having been struck by the Indigenous emphasis on land not time as the main unifying narrative, a recent trip to London has illustrated how this works for me.  Every bus journey takes me through a jumble of pasts: that supermarket was the swimming pool where I learned to swim; I kissed a boy there, broke my heart here; saw Hendrix there; got drunk, got sober, worked, organised, lived, here, there, then.

None of my memories of Australia are more than two and half years old; London is scored through four decades.

Watching cop shows on the ABC here, I know from the colour of the house bricks exactly where the body is buried; can still tell north from south London accents (and loved it when the recorded announcement at Waterloo, in contrast to the usual posh advice to mind the gap, told us the next platform was dahn the escalators). This knowledge carries a poignancy, as it’s quite redundant in a new country. Who cares?

Then, walking through Regent’s Park with a friend one summer evening last week, describing the loss of this personal history, she laughed and said ‘how liberating’ and I realised she was right. I see people living in mausoleums to their own histories, defined by what they’ve been, not what they are. (And I am not immune to this – with 5 boxes of memorabilia in transit as I write.) I need to go home at least once a year to be with people who know me in the way only family and ancient friends can know you (my father recalled a childhood scene at the (long gone) Primrose Hill swings where my oppressed little sister surrendered her place to me& waited her turn –  only to be grandly informed  that ‘we don’t do turns any more’ ).

But it’s rather marvellous to come back to somewhere that tastes of the future.


Travelling back from visit to Leeds met uni and my old dentist (cheaper to fly round the world than get it done in Oz), time to reflect on trip home…. In past fortnight, I’ve arrived in LHR, met by sister and niece, where I’m staying, visited my dad and my brother, & spent time in Leeds, inc. visit to old house (now much loved by 3 phd students but still waiting patiently for me to come back) and old friends. V odd sense that it is completely normal to be lounging on Kate’s sofa, or having tea with dad, so much so I’m surprised to find Australian currency in my wallet. Feel as if I have multiple parallel lives, in Bathurst, London, Leeds and California. Makes me bit dizzy sometimes.
Then flat out all last week at huge ICA conference at the Hilton metropole, Edgware road, not the most salubrious showcase for my home town. Presented two papers (one co authored), chaired a session and ran around seeking stimulus. Best session was philosophy of communication panel on a new term to me, the precariat, a category of the disenfranchised or de-institutionalised. Multiple part time workers for e.g. Ron Arnett made case for strengthening institutions in hard times, tho they all seem to be unravelling. I raised issue of planetary ethics and public relations’ responsibility for global culture. Literature bangs on about duty to stakeholders but who is not a stakeholder in globalised economy. Culturally too, P R has contributed to and benefitted from consumerism, maybe it’s time to acknowledge its part in the larger crisis? Not sure other pr academics v taken by this but got invite to submit to v prestigious ethics journal so will keep raising these issues. Suspect this is my theme for next few years…….
England whiz zing past my window, very lush, with so many shades of green unavailable to the primary frequencies of Australian light. Miss the sky though and its been colder in UK summer than NSW winter it seems.
Next challenge is prepping for Barcelona conference July 1-4, which shd be fun as both Leah and Kate coming with. Yay. Then final round of family visits, and back to Oz for a fortnight before setting off again to Chicago conference of Jungian scholars. Either in a very productive cycle or completely insane…..