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Galloping about Greenwich and Abba Adventures

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June 7- Kerry

Up and at ‘em early today. Down the road to Piccadilly Circus where we had the place to ourselves and it was so quiet.

We walked along Regent Street to Waterloo Place and down onto The Mall. Followed this along to Buckingham Palace and was impressed by the Victoria Monument but less by the palace. What you can see is big and grey with big black and gold gates. Mmm…

The best bit was it was so quiet- there was hardly anyone else around- a dozen at the most. We did a lap around the palace- ‘tis big- and saw Wellington’s monument and gate at Hyde Park Corner. Once around we went through St James’ Park to the Horse Guards’ ground. The park is lovely and we had a bit of a chat with a nice, chummy guy about the birds.

Went to have a look through Westminster Abbey but it was shut (hope to go back) so went up the road to the Portrait Gallery instead. After this we went to the tourist info and had a huge Pizza Pig-out before sprinting back to the hostel for a cat nap (all hail the restorative powers of pizza- editor).

A couple of hours later we were up and at ‘em again although our body clocks still not caught up and we headed off to the British Museum. Lots of Greek and Roman- too many and we had overload. A few highlights include the Rosetta Stone, Egyptian mummies and the Sutton Hoo, an ancient burial ship from East Anglia, which was very cool. Next stop was the Easy Everything internet shop to catch up with everyone at home.

June 8 (a Friday)- Kerry

A few domestic chores in the morning (No, I didn’t paint the roof of our hostel- Editor) and we set off about ten. Interestingly, the fire alarm went off in the hostel earlier so we grabbed our valuable and went down stairs only to find it was a false alarm. Thank God- I was still in my PJ’s with no undies as they were all in the wash- not a good look in the middle of London (less so in Dubai-Editor).

Hoped on a ferry at Westminster Pier for a trip to Greenwich and the flood barriers. The bar maid was late (Tardy, not deceased- Editor), the driver come guide was informative and funny, the sights were interesting. The bridges good, the Millennium Dome ugly, the flood barriers strange.

Stopped off at Greenwich and hopped straight about the Cutty Sark for a look- interesting. Up the street to a pub for lunch and a beer/shandy and a rest. Then up the hill to Greenwich Park. Didn’t go to the observatory- too expensive and queue too long so we missed out standing astride the Meridian Line.

Up the hill found the 2,500-year-old Roman remains- disappointing to say the least. Further up the way we saw our first squirrel- fleetingly as it was chased up a tree by a dog. Back down the hill past the Queens House and Naval College- more impressive old buildings before going under the Thames through the Greenwich foot-tunnel which was cool. Popped up the other side and caught the DLR back to the city- goodbye Greenwich, we ‘joyed you.

Emerged out from the underground by chance at the Monument, built to commemorate the Great Fires of London- interesting tit bit: if the monument was laid on its side to the east its top would be in Pudding Lane where the fire was supposed to have started in the Royal Bakers Kitchen (who’d have thought so much destruction could be connected with a pudding? – Editor).

Walked home past St. Paul’s- very impressive- hope to go back and have a look inside.

On our very long walk back we decided to go via Leicester Square to get cheap tickets to see the Graduate. As it turns out we couldn’t see it that night so we got tickets for Mamma Mia instead. It rocked me, give me (sic- Editor) that feeling, rolled me…

 

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DK Lillee, the Jumbo Prince, and that Young Mum at the Checkout

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This boy bought some fried chicken. YOU WON’T BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENED NEXT!

Share if you wear shoes!

Ten ways Internet cat videos are making you a zombie!

We know social media can be a torrent of infantile noise. But I recently found a quiet raindrop in the form of a story.

The author was at a supermarket checkout, harassed by shopping and kids. Suburban drudgery. The English poet Philip Larkin might’ve been right in “Dockery and Son”

Life is first boredom, then fear.
Whether or not we use it, it goes

An elderly woman saw her frustration, and offered support before saying, “You know what? I loved being a mother, and enjoyed every minute.”

Enjoyed every minute? Really? Utter rubbish, the writer barked. Dwelling upon her experiences, she knew, of course, that parenting could be dreadful. Excruciating. But, in those reflective moments after the kids were asleep, she loved having parented.

Is this the defining distillation of adulthood? That life becomes gratifying only in retrospect. That we find our satisfaction in the past tense, in having transacted, having accomplished? For kids life is mostly present tense, as it should be. But moving from present to past is hard.

I remind myself to splash about in the moment.

*

My first SANFL game. I was at a friend’s when Dad picked me up late morning, and we went to the 1976 Grand Final at Footy Park between hot fancy Port and Sturt. The attendance was 66,897, but anecdotally, closer to eighty.

I was among the hundreds sitting on the grass, between the fence and the boundary. It was three and four deep, and arguably like sticking your kids on the roof of the XY Falcon while you drove interstate. But it wasn’t frightening; it was a Match Day Experience.

Sturt ruckman Rick Davies hypnotised me. The Jumbo Prince. He defeated Port and his performance yielded statistics that, forty years on, in this era of high disposals, are astonishing

21 kicks, 21 handballs, 15 marks and 21 hitouts.

At the siren, I scampered onto the ground, and patted Davies, a gigantic double-blue fridge. It was an IMAX moment alongside the coat-hanger-as-antennae B&W footage of my childhood.

The afternoon gave me much: league football, a big event, and the irresistible rush of crowds. In taking me from our little home, it painted a vivid vista of possibility.

Thanks, Dad.

*

On a searing Singaporean day, we watched the 2014 AFL Grand Final, and our seven year-old Alex is now on the Hawks. The Crows have plummeted to number two, and are mostly forgotten like all those number two songs on Countdown when Abba’s “Fernando” was top of the pops for fourteen weeks.

Do you remember, in the latter epoch of its reign when Molly decided to not show the whole video clip because the entire country was ill of its Eurovision-inspired confectionary and communicable melodies? “Fernando” had, in a Sunday night televisual sense, finally faced its Waterloo.

If Tex’s Crows are good enough they’ll give him some moments, and win him back. While Hawthorn keeps winning flags, Alex might never return. Happy with the Happy Team, he could be an Abba fan forever.

As a young fella, the boys’ cousin Dylan changed the team he supported three times in three seasons, until with wardrobe space, cash and patience running out, his mum threatened that she’d never buy him another footy jumper. He’s finally a loyal supporter. Mums have this power. And now he has the Power.

*

We’re at the scoreboard end. Like an Arctic ice floe, there’s foam eskies everywhere. I doubt any sunscreen was applied. Those droopy white hats, worn by Arthur Dunger on the Paul Hogan Show, flopped all about on that sloping hill.

My first Adelaide Oval experience was with Dad at an Ashes Test. It was Australia Day, 1975, after the first day washout. Our captain, Ian Chappell, was caught behind for a third-ball duck. His brother scraped to five. But feisty swinging from Jenner, Walker, Lillee and Mallett got us to three hundred, just shy of stumps.

It was nearly six, and the ground announcer confirmed the English openers Amiss and Lloyd would face two overs.

The first from DK Lillee.

The second from JR Thompson.

A pyroclastic flow of noise instantly buried the outer and the ancient grandstands named for Sir Edwin Smith and George Giffen. I was happily pulverised, and it was apocalyptic and baptismal.

With only eight deliveries each, Chappell unleashed both. Lillee, with his Hellenistic menace, and then Thompson’s Wild West gun slinging. Majesty and volatility, both presenting as terror.

The crowd commotion was now medieval village riot, the Rolling Stones in Hyde Park, and a rapidly unhinging Neapolitan wedding.

How could this not shape a small country boy? Thanks for this too, Dad.

That the batsmen survived mattered little. The next day Lillee took a wicket with the morning’s third ball, as he and Thompson seized seven victims. England was done.

*

These were my introductions to widescreen sport. How could I have had better? I can’t wait to offer Alex and Max this gift; this tormenting, ageless, rewarding gift.

It’s time for them to catch some moments of their own.

DK