on a spring night
was a raucous crowd in the Brushtail Café on Sunday afternoon.
As we waited for the Olympic extravaganza to wind up in a blaze of pyrotechnics
and Avgas, one last contest was being decided by the judges -- the Individual
Women's Freestyle Wealth Redistribution Handicap.
smart money had been on Rupert Murdoch's new woman, China's Wendy Deng,
who was expected to outclass even Australia's Rose Handcock/Porteous
but in a surprise decision the gold went to a virtual unknown -- the
American Anna Nicole Smith.
crowd in the café went wild with delight. The feisty twenty-seven
year old stripper and Playboy model had walked away with a fortune
after marrying an 89-year old Texas oil billionaire who died a few months
later. She beat Rose to the gold by landing $450 million following a
four-year legal battle with the billionaire's family.
was a classy performance. Although both contestants got high marks for
redistribution through legal fees, the judges had clearly awarded Anna
an almost maximum score for presentation and age disparity. Rose outstripped
her in outrageous front, but it wasn't enough to get her over the line
first and she had to be content with silver.
the wash-up Wendy Deng limped in with bronze -- the judges apparently
taking the view that her effort, while impressively ambitious, was,
as yet, "unrealised" -- although the commentators said she
was a talent to keep your eye on.
was a fittingly symbolic end to the Qantas Games. The jazz band broke
into the offical Sydney 2000 anthem, 'I Still Call Australia Home'.
If there was a medal for stealing a march on the official sponsors,
the national carrier would win it by a country mile.
late afternoon many of the patrons were tired and emotional. There was
an unfortunate punch-up among the Quadrant mob after John McDonald
did his celebrated impression of Brian Kennedy, the flamboyantly Irish
director of the National Gallery. Paddy McGuinness managed to smooth
things over and led the the group in a wild attack on everyone else,
after which they were all thrown out. The remaining patrons agreed that
the gallery's new director of Australian Art should be either Ric Birch
or Reg Mombassa.
dusk fell, Joadja cajolled me into a stroll down to Mrs Macquaries Point
to see the fireworks. It was a cool and clear Sydney night and the crowd
was immensely amiable. I got into a spot of controversy with the security
guards when I climbed a big Moreton Bay fig to get a better view of
the Harbour Bridge, but Joadja half persuaded them it was my "traditional
right as a possum" and they wandered off when the fireworks began.
the fireworks were spectacular. The pyrotechnics people have it down
to a fine art now. Every year you think it's the biggest and best ever,
and every year they add something new.
at the concert in The Domain, searchlights and laser beams swept the
sky and a hint of mary jane hung in the air. The Quadrant mob
had turned up and they were berating a bunch of bewildered kids, claiming
the closing ceremony was another sinister attack on the prime minister
by the arts elite.
chanteuse in dreadlocks strutted the stage, pumping out the sort of
eclectic mush that passes for rock 'n roll these days, while the crowd
waited for Savage Garden.
just had to come", said Jo, as we strolled back up towards Werrong
Lane when it was all over. "I keep getting this feeling that we
may never see times like these again; you have to savour these moments
while you can."
in Whispers from the mean streets
-- Best of 2000