Brisbane and the work/house thing

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October 21st 2009
Published: October 21st 2009
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What’s Going On

Brisbane seems to have a festival going on every week. And the good thing is it’s usually free. Since I’ve been here there has been the broad-ranging cultural Brisbane Festival, the 150th Brisbane City Anniversary, Brisbane Writer’s Festival and this weekend starts the Valley Fiesta. I managed to be around when the most spectacular festival of all climaxed occurred: the RiverFire spectacle, basically a massive fireworks display on the Brisbane River.

I reckon a couple of hundred thousand people were camped up and having picnics along the river that night waiting for the massive show to begin. And boy what a fireworks display...probably one of the biggest I’ve ever seen with fireworks off barges in the river, off Story Bridge, even off the skyscrapers in the CBD. The river’s reflection complimenting all of the above and then the piece de resistance of a fighter jet flying overhead with ear piercing suddenness to show off its jet fire...I happened to be with a few people from the hostel, who’d basically been drinking since 3pm and were in a bit of a state by the time the fireworks started at 9pm. It ended up being a mixed night because Ashley (the odd-ball English girl with the personality disorder of a teenager on a drip of coca cola) was just plain irritating with her non sequiturs, inane questions, and statements like, ‘ooh I like your hair’ etcetera.

Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing

However, Chris Isaak was playing a free concert after the fireworks and I’ve been a fan of his Wicked Game’ song for a while I thought it was a great opportunity to finally see him live. I wasn’t that bothered about going alone but Ashley had other plans, her friend had bailed on her and she’d designated me her plan b for the night. Fortunately I had a strong belief in the innate wisdom of Dave from The Flight of the Conchords (season 2, episode 9):

Women like 3 things: Men in kilts, Southern Comfort, and Chris Isaak’s 'Wicked Game'."

Well Chris was pretty darn good that night, because of Ashley’s queuing up at an ATM only to find that she didn’t have any money meant we missed the beginning of his set. When we finally crossed over the Goodwill Bridge to the Riverside Stage he was somewhere in the crowd playing. He put on a very tight performance and was surprisingly witty with banter in between songs. Ashley hadn’t heard of the man before but was forced to enjoy it sat on the grass getting cold.

Sexual Feeling

I'd heard some great gossip about this chick. She'd apparently had to get treated for herpes at the sex clinic where she duly bumped into her generous ‘donor’. When I was at the hostel sex seemed to be everywhere....everybody was at it... and Ashley had seemed to have done it with almost every half-decent looking male there. I’d had an inkling I was on her hit list of shame but luckily I was allergic to nincompoops.

I simply couldn’t figure it out though, how do you get it on with people whilst staying in shared dormitories? Well, let’s just say, if you haven’t got a job and you spend your days sitting about watching DVDs and your evenings drinking goon, you have a small window of opportunity. Otherwise, people become shameless and have sex in the room regardless of whether you are there or recalled by my shocked room-mate from Taiwan who had disturbed his conjoined roomies. Even Tracey had two of her room mates openly having loud sex in a dorm of 6! It’s stuff like this that deserves a text box in the Lonely Planet guidebooks.

Trouble Man

Don’t worry I was making friends other than with nutty English folk. I even went to a house party one evening with an Estonian guy (astonished I knew anything about the bloody place), Scottish Dave, drunken-cleaner English Dave, Tracy from Tyrone and my 8 percent ales from the Orkney Islands. The house was located down an intimate tree-lined street and it was lovely; wood floors and walls (almost Scandinavian in feel) and a terrific balcony overlooking the garden which led down to the Brisbane River. I was instantly envious of the life the former backpackers had created for themselves. I managed to be an absolute idiot however and along with others climbed up on the roof whilst a little bit tipsy, it was a great view though, I could even see the Castlemaine XXXX brewery.

Speaking of which, I spent a gorgeous sunny day with Tracy and Scottish Dave where we visited Mount Coo-tha with terrific views overlooking the city. We then took the River Cat catamaran service down the Brisbane to a place called the Breakfast Creek Hotel (known as the Brekkie Creek) - a stately historic pub which has now expanded into a massive pissoir. Awesome, I even had a glass of Castlemaine XXXX straight from the barrel.

You're All I Need to Get By

Thankfully the recruitment agency Randstad finally got me back to work with one phone call. It was data entry and only for two days but I was being paid by the hour so I took it I walked out of the hostel the following morning in my shirt and trousers and instantly felt like ‘somebody’ again. I strode purposely in the blazing from the West End along the Victoria Bridge over the Brisbane River and to the CBD office block. Shocking as this sounds for someone meant to be escaping the world of work through travel... that day I actually enjoyed being at work and in the city and having lunch. I made friends with the other temp there, an Aussie guy from Rocky who had been ‘temping’ for four months already. He brought me back a great lunch from a Japanese place that cost about nine dollars and we talked about his time in the UK, (he’d lived in Acton - literally down the road from me in Ealing) and how he was saving up for big trip around the Americas snowboarding. I enjoyed my time there, people didn’t treat me like a leper or anything and I enjoyed listening to the banter of the office. The following week I was given another day of temp work, this time the glamorous work of stuffing envelopes for Brisbane Council. However, what I thought was a full day of work only turned into a morning, and thank fuck for that because I was close to chucking myself out the window after two hours of it.

Luckily, I would never have any more stuffing of envelopes because all that emailing to universities came good. One day I received an email from one asking me if I was still looking for temp work. I replied instantly and got another email saying he would call me the next day, which he duly did and explained what they were after. He then asked me if I could come into the university to meet and discuss what they were after, two hours later and I was on campus and back in a library office talking about my old job role. Fucking result.They wanted someone for a few months doing data entry for their repository (essentially the same job I did back home but for three times the salary) and it would last until Christmas - exactly what I was after. I of course accepted the job offer and they just needed a few days to sort out setting me up with a computer account, pay roll and all that other stuff, hopefully I could start on the following Monday...and I did!

Ain't No Mountain High Enough

To be sure, good things certainly come to those who wait and I had the rest of the week to get the hell out of that hostel and into my own gaff. Good fortune hit again, after looking online, getting two views at rooms I turned up at Mount Gravatt at 7.30pm. I had no idea where I was but it didn’t matter really, as soon as I walked into the bungalow I was received by about 3 young Aussie students who showed me around the place and into the gym in the basement (oh yes). Then we got talking and they were instantly very friendly and wanted someone as soon as possible. Moreover they were studying at my work place and uni was about a 45 minutes’ walk away. There was no point pissing about, I had work the next day and so I decided to move in the next day.

Stacy and Adam then very kindly offered to drive me back to the hostel and on the way we were just chatting about our lives and our fucked-up families. Hehe. Aussies are naturally very open and chatty. When I got back to the hostel and my dorm room I realised that not only did I have my first day of real work the following day but I also had to check out that very pack all my shit from a room I’d been living in for 2 weeks. Man. After packing up most of my stuff into little neat piles of transportable stuff I remembered that Stacy had offered me the room there and then and to help me move all my shit. I had a change of heart and wanted to get out of the place there and then, I called up Stacey and asked if they could come pick me up to which she readily and cheerily agreed.

Upon entering my new room I noticed that the guys had given me bed linen and also made my bed for me...a sweet touch.

If I Could Build My Whole World Around You

The next morning I walked onto campus and was led into the basement of the library where everyone seemed to be working in an open plan office type deal. I was introduced to what seemed about 20 people - the whole team, comfortable in the knowledge that I was never going remember anyone’s names apart from my bosses’. I was given briefings by my immediate boss, an American woman with eccentric tics of communicating. Then I was taken upstairs to the cafe for their nice little mid-morning half-an-hour break - a combined 15 minutes from the morning and afternoon. The rest of the time has been fine, I was lent a bicycle by Stephanie and so I started cycling into work through the wooded bush...even though the bike is buggered and there are hills that remind me of one thing...San Francisco.

I guess you could say I’d settled in Brisbane and put down my backpack....for the time being.

Book I’m reading: Bill Bryson’s A Walk In
Mount Coo-ThaMount Coo-ThaMount Coo-Tha

Scottish Dave, Tracy and Me
The Woods
New Australian word or slang (Strine) I’ve learnt: ‘leg spreader’ - aka sparkling wine

Additional photos below
Photos: 16, Displayed: 16


16th November 2009

loving that adam and stacy pic

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