See this post for a brief description of my 500 People challenge.
This has been the second week of the Sydney Film Festival, at one session of which I found myself seated next to the chap from encounter Nº 14 in my last post in this series (link here). We took up our conversation where we’d left off. But there were more new encounters, most of them fleeting.
1. Saturday night 13 November, in a rare nighttime outing, we had another pleasant conversation with another Sydney Film Festival-goer. She and her partner had choctops, the first time in many months she said, and regretted it instantly. We had one film in common – Quo Vadis, Aida?, which we all loved – but in general they had been a lot less lucky than we had in their choice of movies.
2–4. Thursday, I was in our local pool with Ruby. A swimming class was in full swing in the other half of the small pool. A little girl came from the class to play in our area with a woman who was clearly her grandmother. There were only four of us in this part of the pool. I said, by way of an invitation to chat, ‘It’s hard work, but we seem to be managing.’ She accepted the invitation with something equally inane. But the little girl seized the opportunity: she told me her name (A–), her age (four and a half), her pets’ names, where her mother was (at home), and quite a lot more. Her best line was, “I’ve just been in the swimming class, and now I can swim.’ Her grandmother, sensing that Ruby was feeling sidelined, eventually broke into the conversation. We agreed that A– liked to chat, and that it was a good thing there were no skeletons in the family closet. A little later the Emerging Artist joined us, and our two groups reconnected when the other grandmother called the EA by name: they knew each other from a long way back, and it’s true you can’t take the EA anywhere without somebody knowing her (I’m thinking of museums in Manhattan and Istanbul, for example). Anyhow, the third encounter in this batch was with A–’s grandfather, who had been walking around the perimeter of the pool. When I got out, he was supervising A– in the shallow pool. I tried the same opening that had worked so well with his wife, ‘Hard work but we seem to be managing.’ He looked at me as if I was slightly daft and slightly annoying – but I’m including him anyhow.
5. During the same swim on Thursday, when the swimming class was over, a lane of the small pool was roped off and a woman who used a wheel chair was helped into that lane by two other women. With great difficulty, they helped her walk the length of the pool, and then to float and kick. They spoke in what I took to be Vietnamese, and the woman who was being helped – perhaps she’d had a stroke – made quite a lot of nonverbal noise, as well as speaking very softly to her companions. Ruby was fascinated. I was reminded of Andy Jackson’s poem ‘The Change Room’ as I tried to answer her questions. The best I could manage was to make eye contact with the woman: she gave me and Ruby the V sign, and managed a smile.
Running total is 252. I’ve passed the halfway mark.
You are doing well!
Did a Swansea Channel walk yesterday as a Covid masked man – it was the first such event organised by two locals with some assistance from the Lake Macquarie City Council – sample bags to us all – 50 people. Seven people spoke at different points along the Channel walk – work, childhood memories, family connections, etc. One woman to whom I spoke told me she was from Washington – I presumed Washington State and happily placed visits and family members either sides of the border – WA and BC/Alberta. No, she told me when she could get a word in – the other Washington (she’d not mentioned DC)! One of the organisers and presenters has only lived here two years – struggled over a local place name – the indicator that though with an Australian accent she was otherwise a “foreigner”! Had lived a decade in Perth, in Tasmania, in Melbourne and grown up and later lived a lengthy period in Sydney. Well spoken and with the keen interest of all newcomers in the history and other features of a new location.
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What was the place name, Jim? I was surprised to hear an ABC presenter refer to Key-amma recently. Australian place name pronunciations aren’t always obvious.
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Actually it wasn’t a First Nations’ name – it was Scone (as in throne) – maybe she was half-expecting it to be the Scottish pronunciation – or the one we eat with strawberry jam and clotted cream!? She hesitated over it – but got it “right”! People reassured her! The ABC? The Northern Terror Tory!
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There’s always Ken Behrens
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