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Tuesday, 23 November 2010

In Australia again

Over the Tasman Sea
Returning from crisp spring Dunedin, overcast, blowy and wet we headed north west for our return to Australia. Somewhere in the middle of the Tasman Sea I transformed - like Harry Enfield's Kevin turning to a teen at the stroke of midnight - to a whingeing pom. Of course I didn't realise it for several hours; not until well after an overly hot Pacific Blue had descended far too slowly through three layers of increasingly glutinous cloud....
"Are we there yet? Just how long before this plane actually lands? I'm sure someone announced we'd be arriving at 5.15pm and - look - it's already 5.45 and they haven't even turned on the seat-belt sign." Getting off the Skytrain at Central Station again, we'd hauled our baggage up ten steps into X-Base Brisbane. Phew. "Aren't you allowed to be disabled if you're using a hostel? What a hassle." After we'd dumped our bags in a fourth floor room=bed - as opposed to a proper bedroom -  a sloping wall echoing with the roar of ventilator fans, we went for a cold beer in one of the city's pedestrian malls, and found they cost A$8.60 a pint.
"This is f***king ridiculous."
And realised what we'd become.
"Wow! We've made it. After going round bright eyed and bushy tailed exclaiming at the wonderfulness of everything, we've started grumbling. We've become WPs."
We sat down for a smoke, Up comes a young man, thin as a stick, clipped guttural voice.
"Could you spare a dollar?"
"Us? Spare you a dollar? You're joking. Here, have a cigarette. "
"Why are the beers so expensive?"
"Happy Hour's between six and seven. A$3 a glass."
Back at the hostel the old lift with the open concertina doors and wooden outer sliding door that took a strong arm to open, was reluctant to move. We climbed to floor 4 where "some idiot's left the outer door open." In our room the noise of the ventilator fans seemed louder than when we'd checked in, but we'd had pleasant couple of beers for A$5.50 a pint in the hostel's bar, and so laid down to read for a bit. Above us a ceiling light shone through a slow revolving fan.
"It's better than a prison cell" I said
"No. A cell would have a lav" said Lin.
"Mm, yes, but we'd be locked in"
We read amid the noise until agreeing to darkness.
After an hour I said "There's no way I can sleep."
"Go down. Ask for another room."
In my long white djellaba I headed downstairs. Again no lift. I got a few glances from fellow guests at the desk. The man at the counter sighed.
"Yes. Well. OK. Try second floor."
I recalled this was the floor that had no hot water last time we stayed
"But it may be quieter."
I departed upstairs again with a new plastic key for room 214. I'd asked about getting the lift going. "Sorry, I've tried everything."
On floor two I was assailed by the same roar of ventilators but the room was a little larger, the loo closer even if its neon lights were flickering on and off.
I climbed back to Lin
"Let's go. the lift's not working so it might be better to get our bags down two floors."
But noise still prevented sleep.
"I'm going on the balcony for a bit." said Lin. I followed and noticed there was no-one in the TV lounge. "Quick. I've an idea" said Lin "Go back to our room. Get the bedclothes and we'll put the sofas together and sleep in here."
But for the sound of revelry spilling from pub below the room was quiet. In a trice we were bedded down, to be woken an hour later by the man from the desk
"People may want to watch the TV. I can't let you sleep here."
Back we went to 214, read some more, then tried to sleep.I found solace trying to list my favourite books, then when that didn't work I began recalling some of the places we'd made love not on a bed.
When we woke dawn was seeping through the well in the centre of the building, competing with the stuttering neon. Checking out, Lin asked the friendly girl at the desk "How do people manage to sleep here?"
"They stay in the bar 'til late."
People held doors open for us as we managed our baggage from the lift - working again - and from the ground floor to Edward Street. At Central Station one of the staff smiled like a Botticelli angel as she opened a barrier gate to our platform
"Have a happy journey you two." I turned as we passed through and smiled back and saw her smile quicken again. No customer service manual covers such detail. Only niceness. In an instant, as swiftly as I'd changed before, the whingeing pom was gone. I muttered to Lin, nudging her inconveniently
"Let's have an argument."
In another couple of hours we were at 21000 feet heading for Cairns, QUANTAS cooled nursing flat whites and a free snack.
*** ***
Wow! A  three-year study of cyclist safety from Monash University reported in the local press says 'Nearly nine out of 10 accidents involving cyclists and cars in Australia are the fault of the motorist.'
Drivers were at fault in 87 per cent of incidents with cyclists and most did not realise they had behaved in a reckless or unsafe manner, according to the Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC) and The Amy Gillett Foundation
** ** **
From an email of John's:
Just finished our fifth and final workshop here in Qld. Excellent evaluations with councillors recommending more programs - always a nice outcome
Fifth and final in Queensland
...and now its on to Sydney and Launceston with a stay in Melbourne and with John and Annie at Bendigo before flying home.
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From yesterday's Ano Korakiana website our new local council comprises:
Όμως, με βάση τον ισχύοντα εκλογικό νόμο, τελικά εκλέγονται οι: 
3.ΒΙΤΟΥΛΑΔΙΤΟΥ ΕΙΡΗΝΗ ΤΟΥ ΣΕΒΑΣΤΙΑΝΟΥ: 16 ψήφοι (από τον συνδυασμό “Κέρκυρα να ζεις’’ του Γ. Τρεπεκλή)
(από το συνδυασμό “ΣΥΜΠΑΡΑΤΑΞΗ ΕΥΘΥΝΗΣ’’ του Αλ. Αυλωνίτης)
(από το συνδυασμό “ΛΑΪΚΗ ΣΥΣΠΕΙΡΩΣΗ ΚΕΡΚΥΡΑΣ’’ του Χαρ. Χαραλάμπους), οι οποίοι θα αποτελέσουν το νέο ΤΟΠΙΚΟ ΣΥΜΒΟΥΛΙΟ…

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