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Published: July 29th 2010
Some things in the world are simply uncomprehensible... War. Famine. Genocide. Inequality. Poverty. Rafa Benítez. The fact that I am still single... Add Aussie Rules Football to the list. It's the most confusing game known to man - a confounding baffling and brilliant puzzle which is utterly beyond my (perhaps limited) cranial capacity!
Sitting amounst 80,000 excitable Australians in the impressive Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG)
, all engrossed in Victoria's main sporting obsession, I am completely bewildered by what is clearly a very exciting fast moving game... But with absolutely no understanding of what the hell is actually unfolding before me...
It is however still ace!
And one thing that you can rely on the Aussie's to have in common with us is their love of beer, which seems to be as integral a part of the game as the fortunes of the fans respective clubs, all of whom have Club Anthems which seem inspired by 1920s Methodists or toe-tapping World War I British trench singers...
Being somewhat of a light-weight and drinking very little these days (for the most part), I duck out of the occassional round and instead go for a latte
... And manage to essentially
get away with it for the most part, except for some gentle mocking from Dave's Sheffield accent, which I am pleased to say has not diminished one bit after over 3 years in Australia and still, bizarrely, gets more and more Yorkshire the more he drinks!
And so, with only two weeks in Australia, split between Sydney
, two cities which share a long standing, usually friendly yet sometimes heated rivalry, I am fortunate enough to stay with friends in both cities, enjoying some bably needed creature comforts (home cooking, power shower etc) and benefit from a bit of local knowledge from my exemplary hosts to whom I am hugely grateful.
Melbourne, the third most livable city in the world if you read anything into the Economist's annual survey (Sydney is ranked 7th, London at 39th) lives up to it's reputation as an edgy, arty, bohemian city with great bars and cafes, teeming with a great multicultural, alternative crowd which gives the place a real buzz - although making a comment such as "well, I actually quite liked Coldplay's last album"
would probably alienate yourself from them faster than proclaiming Sydney to be the greatest city on
However, in terms of the immediate "wow" factor, Sydney wins hands down... The harbour has perhaps the most aesthetically pleasing city scape I have ever seen, with modern skyscrappers rising over the beautiful botanical gardens and the sublimely designed Opera House set against the ink blue pacific ocean, all lying in a surprisingly compact city centrepiece overlooked by the imposing, steely Sydney Harbour Bridge
Two very different cities no doubt but both very impressive, I merely scratch the surface really given my limited timescales but I can see why migrating proves so tempting to so many back home!
Finally, after watching Inception
on my last night in Sydney, a mind-bendingly brilliant film about infiltrating peoples dreams and trying to plant an idea through manipulation of the various levels of the subconscious, I barely sleep before an early morning rise and fond farewells, leaving for the airport in a blurry eyed and disorientated fog...
Questioning my own reality I conclude that we must all still be asleep...
Because only from the deepest recesses of the of the subconscious and warped dream-like imagination could a game quite as baffling, surreal and discombobulating as Aussie Rules Football
be conceived... This country has essentially confused me enough to convince me that life must indeed be one giant hallucination!
Thanks Australia. Thanks a lot.
As DiCaprio says, "Downwards is the only way forwards..."
In my case, that's New Zealand
... If it's really there.
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