Sunday, February 25, 2007

I hate it when the seniors get feisty...

Hmmmm... Sometimes it pays not to underestimate the people around you.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Song #19

Graham's 32 Songs - #19 "Song So Uncertain" by Fred Smith.

"So many of us gathered that December afternoon
To hear the final tune of the laureate buffoon

Ceremony over with, Louise had said her piece

We poured into the Street, drank our heads off till the morning"

Sometimes it is only with the hindsight provided by the distance of time that we are able to truly identify just how much any single individual managed to influence our outlook on, and approach to, the world.

When I first worked with David Branson, a Canberra-based director, actor, musician, producer, poet and creative force of nature, I found him difficult to deal with. His energy was undeniable and his manic approach to everything was infectious, but the truth of the matter was that I found the chaotic whirlwind of creativity, madness and excess which surrounded him to be remarkably intimidating.

Incredibly charismatic and bombastic, David was constantly working on a multitude of projects. Conversations with him were kaleidoscopic in nature and would often leave me feeling equal parts confused, amused and astounded. His energy was rarely focused on anything other than creating his latest piece of theatre, his latest song or his newest poem and he would approach all tasks with a passionate mania which I struggled to comprehend, let alone deal with.

In response to his unique approach to life, I often found myself criticising the fact that David rarely devoted his energies to just a single project. I would comment that he spread himself too thin and that I felt some of his projects suffered as a result. Yet despite these criticisms, I often surprised myself when I realised how eager I was to work with David.

Over a number of years we worked together on a range of projects and I always thoroughly enjoyed myself. In hindsight I now wonder if my being intimidated by the energy which surrounded David was merely a reaction to a fear that I would be unable to match his passion for the arts.

In retrospect, I now realise that David Branson was one of the most amazing individuals that I have ever had the pleasure of working with and I deeply regret the fact that I was unable to recognize it at the time. I have met no other individual who has possessed a comparable love of theatre, music and art. David's inability to focus on any one project wasn't a failing, on his part, as I first suspected, to organise and manage his life, but was instead an indication of his need and desire to continually create and explore every field of art he encountered. He lived the arts, he breathed it and was, in truth, the purest personification of it that I have ever met.

When I first heard that David had been killed in a car accident I felt an immense sense of loss, not just for myself, nor just for David's family and friends, but for the arts as a whole. At the risk of sounding cliched, I knew that his death marked the end of an era and that it was a blow from which the Canberra arts scene, and all of us who worked within it, would struggle to recover from.

It is only since I began working at the level of the arts that I now find myself at that I have truly begun to appreciate the effect that meeting and working with David has had on my life. David's passion for life and the arts was influential and has had a noticeable effect on the way in which I now approach the arts and, perhaps most importantly, the way I identify artists I wish to work with.

Fred Smith, another Canberra creative force of immense talent, wrote "Song So Uncertain" as a tribute to David Branson and then slipped it onto the end of his CD "Independence Park". I didn't even know that it existed and so was shocked and, I'm not ashamed to say, moved to tears when I first heard it.

David Branson loved and was loved by an enormous number of people. There were literally thousands of people at his funeral service (myself included) and I have no doubt that all of them would describe him as one of the most remarkable individuals that they have ever met. It is almost four years since David died, but it is fair to say that he is still sorely missed by many.

"Song So Uncertain" is Fred Smith's beautiful and fitting way by which to remember David's life and my inclusion of it in this list is my way of paying tribute to the effect that knowing and working with David has had on mine.

"Naked as his namesake of Michelangelo
The fiddler and his bow, ran the whole damn show

We were drawn to him like refugees from Generation X

The poetry and sex, nudity and fireworks

So I took this job trying to make words rhyme

Get it right half the time though my song be so uncertain"

Sunday, September 04, 2005

A little bit psycho...

Professionally the last few weeks have been some of the most difficult that I've ever experienced.

After arriving back in Melbourne from the tour of "Two Brothers", I immediately immersed myself in the bump in of "Hitchcock Blonde", MTC's latest production.

Walking into a bump in without having been involved in any of the pre-production process isn't the easiest of things to do and, in this instance, was made infinitely more difficult by the fact that it quite a few people didn't see any need to achieve a lot of the things which would normally be done prior to the bump in done. It appears that the phrase "Graham will be back on Monday, so he can handle it then" was used quite a bit in the week leading up to my return.

As a result the last two weeks have been the epitome of hectic, with me racking up around 80 hours work in each week. Despite having been back for a fortnight, I have only just unpacked my suitcases.

Hopefully this week will be a touch more subdued, although I wouldn't bet on it...

Monday, August 22, 2005


After six and a bit weeks on the road, I have finally arrived back in Melbourne. Good cafes, broadband internet, my own bed and, most importantly, Sharn.

Sharn and I just had brekky together and then she went off to bed (she's currently working nights). Now, just to emphasize the bizarre nature of both of our schedules, I'm off to another MTC bump in and won't be finished until 3am... Could someone please remind me again why it is that I want to work in the arts?

Now that I'm back at home and not having to struggle with dial-up modems and timed local calls (thanks very much Mr. Hotel Manager sir) there'll be a bit more action on this blog... Maybe...

Check in soon for my thoughts on sunny Wollongong...

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Congratulating friends...

I'm constantly amazed by just how talented and incredible some of closest friends are. It's heartening to know that when the cynic in me starts to despair at the general mediocrity of the world I need only look to my friends for a reaffirmation of my faith in humanity.

For a while now I've been meaning to point you all towards some of the things that my friends have been up to and as this seems as good a time as any -

Firstly I want to offer up a huge "congrats" to Sharon, whom I do not hesitate to describe one of my nearest and dearest even though she is based in Adelaide and we've spent a sum total of about two days in each other's company during the last three years. For the last year Sharon and her husband have been trying ever trick in the book to get pregnant. Well now it's happened, so it's time for "congrats" all round and a dance of joy in my hotel room (arms in the air, wave 'em around like I just don't care).

The second lot of congrats goes to one of my college buddies (and fellow Fitzroy-ite) Harry Saddler, who apart from authoring the impressive online serial "Instant Life Substitute" has also just had his very first book "We Both Know: 10 stories about relationships" published by Ginninderra Press. It's fantastic news which should put the rest of us who aspire to have our names on book spines to shame...

The final thing that I want to leave with you today is the admission that I must have been living with my head up my arse fo the last few months. How else can I explain the fact that I missed the fact that Suzy now has a blog? It seems that Suzy is determined to swim to the moon which is, without a doubt, the most ambitious goal ever set by one of my friends. Despite certain apparent impracticalities (namely there not being water or air in space), I have no doubt that she'll be successful... Good luck Suzy, but you better send me a postcard once you get there or I'll be miffed...

Friday, August 12, 2005

Song #18

As Jared has been doing his damnedest to put me to shame, I figured it was about time for me to once again take up the "32 Songs" Challenge.

The decision to do this entry now was influenced more than a little by my recent visit to Newcastle.

Graham's 32 Songs - #18
"Even When I'm Sleeping" By Leonardo's Bride.

"don't be confused by my apparent lack of ceremony, my mind is clear.
i may be low or miles high off in the distance,
i want you near.

i love you

even when i'm sleeping.

when i close my eyes you're everywhere"

In 1989 the city of Stockton (located just outside of Newcastle) was rocked by the rape and murder of a 14 year old school girl named Leigh Leigh. It would be an understatement to say that the incident devastated the community. Senseless and horrifying, the murder of Leigh Leigh, and subsequent trial, remains one of Australia's most memorable murder cases.

Struggling to find a way in which to respond to the incident, Newcastle's Freewheels Theatre Company commissioned one of Australia's most prominent playwrights, Nick Enright, to pen a play which addressed the tragedy. The result was "A Property Of The Clan" a heart-rendering and confronting examination of how a community deals with tragedy, the nature of friendship and the line between morality and loyalty. As a play it was extremely well received and Enright later revised and re-released it under the title "Blackrock." It was under this title that the script was transformed into a movie in 1997.

A year before the release of the movie, in late 1996, one of Canberra's amateur theatre companies, Free Rain, decided to perform "A Property Of The Clan" and I was engaged as the production's lighting and sound designer.

Early in the production process the directorial team and I identified the need for a very special song. One of the play's most prominent characters is a young girl who was a friend of the girl who is murdered. Throughout a number of scenes this character visits her friend's grave and plays, on a portable cassette player, her friend's favourite song. After some discussion, a consensus was reached that the most appropriate song for this scene was the beautiful ballad "Even When I'm Sleeping".

As luck would have it, Leonardo's Bride were playing a gig in Canberra on the weekend after this consensus was reached and so it was decided that as Nickos, Adam (son of the director) and I were intending on attending the gig we should attempt to find out what we'd need to do to secure the rights.

The gig was incredible! Abby Dobson and Dean Manning were amazing and held the audience in the palm of their hand for well over two hours.

At the end of the gig (thanks mostly to the fact that Nick and I were friendly with the bar owner) we managed to wrangle our way backstage and were able to explain to Dean the manner in which we wanted to utilize his song. At the time I was struck by how human and unpretentious both he and Abby Dobson were. This was a real eye-opener for me. Up until this point I'd always had an extremely romanticized image of professional musicians, but here were two of Australia's best just hanging out and chatting with us.

After a bit of explanation Dean announced that the use of the song sounded like a great idea, but he wanted to see a copy of the script first. Adam arranged for a script to be sent and within a few weeks we received a letter which authorized the use of the song and stated that Dean was incredibly touched that we wanted to use it in the context of the play.

As it turned out, we weren't the only ones who thought that "Even When I'm Sleeping" was the most appropriate choice for that scene of the play. A year later when "Blackrock" was released I discovered that the movie's sound designer agreed with us. At a number of moments during the movie (especially during the funeral) "Even When I'm Sleeping" can be heard playing softly in the background.

It's a beautiful song which never fails to tug at my heart-strings, but it also serves the purpose of reminding me that musos are just ordinary people with extraordinary talents...

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Let's talk about... Newcastle.

Due to the almost never-ending computer debacle that I've experienced over the last month, I've been less than thorough when it came to relating tales of the tour that I am currently undertaking. It is my hope to remedy that now with a brief reflection upon my time spent in Newcastle.

For those of you with a limited knowledge of Australia, Newcastle is a coastal town located about two hours drive north of Sydney. It is, in parts, a picturesque city, but one which lives under the shadow of recent hardship.

In 1999 the Newcastle Steelworks closed. It is the single event which has most determined the modern make-up of the city. Up until 1999, Newcastle was a steel-works town and B.H.P was one of the city's biggest employers. With the closing of the steelworks, 4000 people lost their jobs and Newcastle experienced a near fatal blow to its soul.

The evidence of this injury to the cities economy and psyche is everywhere. Many of the shopfronts on Hunter Street (Newcastle's main thoroughfare) have been abandoned and there seems to be an overabundance of pawnbrokers and 2nd-hand retailers. In addition, to the casual observer, Newcastle also boasts an extraordinary high number (by Australian standards) of homeless and destitute individuals.

Now all of that might make the city sound incredibly dire, but Newcastle also seems to be well on the road to recovery, a fact which has probably been heavily influenced by its proximity to Sydney and its plethora of beautiful beaches.

Walking down the main street of Newcastle was a fascinating experience. Midway between the hotel and the theatre I passed a series of shopfronts which, at first glance, appeared to have been converted into squats. The floors were covered in excess building materials, empty pizza boxes blocked the doorways and there was an inordinately high number of brown couches located within. On closer examination, however, it soon became apparent that these shopfronts weren't just squats. Why? Because the walls were covered with interesting art, all of which was for sale.

I'm still not entirely sure what to make of these squats/art galleries, but they certainly added an unexpected element of colour to the main street.

In addition to this propensity for squatters to become artists (or have I got it wrong? Should that read "artists to become squatters"?), Newcastle also appears to have a vibrant music culture (I found the number of live music venues to be incredibly encouraging) and a healthy cafe culture (albeit confined to a single strip of Darby street). The pumpkin and sage gnocci that I ate in the "Three Monkeys" cafe would easily rate as one of the most enjoyable meals I've ever experienced.

The most negative aspect of the city was, unfortunately, the venue we performed in. Whilst beautiful to look at, the theatre was suffering from some serious internal politics issues. As a result of certain personality clashes (within their own crew), the majority of the people working for the theatre really didn't want to be there and had no real interest in making our experience easy or enjoyable. This made for an extremely difficult bump in and, as that accounted for four of the seven days I was in Newcastle, greatly coloured my experience of the city. Which is a shame, as I got the impression (when I was anywhere but the venue) that the rest of the residents of Newcastle were extraordinarily lovely and interesting people.

All-in-all my experience of Newcastle was one of contrasts. There were some aspects which I found extremely appealing and others which left me wanting catch the first plane out of town. In the end, however, I was left with the feeling that, despite it not being a town in which I could picture myself settling, I wouldn't mind visiting again.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Cruising for friends...

As I now have a new computer I thought that it might be time to try a few additional online practices that I have normally avoided like the plague...

One of those practices is online chatting, which I'll now be engaging in thanks to a little program entitled Trillian.

Now I need to stress that it's been years since I've done anything like this, so I'm a little out of touch about how it all works. I do, however, know that I now have an ICQ number and that if I publish it here then some of you will be able to contact me.

So here goes nothing - 238734532

Hopefully that means that the next time I log in I'll be greeted by a flood of messages along the lines of "Hello! Welcome to the future...." If, however, there is something else I'm meant to do, then I'd greatly appreciate any advice/help you all might be able to offer.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Back online v3.01

So yesterday the ongoing operetta of my faulty new computer saga reached a crescendo. Here's a brief dramatisation of my day -

[phone rings]

Graham: Hello?

Friendly Computer Repair-man: Hello Mr. Henstock. It's the friendly neighborhood computer repair man here. I just wanted to let you know that we can't get the part for your laptop, so you'll have to wait until September 1st to get it back.

Graham: WHAT? That's totally unacceptable...

Friendly Computer Repair-man: Well... You could try calling Toshiba and seeing if they can find an alternative...

[two hours of phonecalls, several CDs of hold music and thousands of dollars worth of dental damage done by grinding teeth, later...]

Toshiba "Customer Relations Girl": Yes sir, I agree it's unacceptable. I'm happy to authorize a replacement computer for you, but as you purchased it from David Jones in Canberra you will need to arrange for them to take delivery.

[another phone call and some more hold music later]

David Jones "Sydney store computer dude": Well sir, according to our policy you're meant to take it back to the place of purchase, but as I can sense the irritation in your voice I'm sure we can come to an arrangement... I'll just need to confirm with Toshiba that the replacement is authorized, so if you could just give them a call and arrange for them to send you a letter and then... What's that sir? You've got the direct number for Toshiba's "Customer Relations Girl"? Oh, and I should call her and sort out the paperwork? Ummm... I guess I can do that...

[phone rings 15 minutes later]

David Jones "Sydney store computer dude": I've just had a chat to Toshiba and they've authorized the exchange, so if you could just bring the computer in here and... Oh... What's that? Oh, of course you can call me back...

[another phone call made by me... this time to the direct line]

Toshiba "Customer Relations Girl": Please calm down sir... I agree that you shouldn't have to be doing so much running around... Yes... Okay then... I'll arrange for a courier to pick-up the computer from the repair shop and deliver it to David Jones... Anything to make you stop calling me...

[phone rings 15 minutes later]

David Jones "Sydney store computer dude": Mr. Henstock, I've just received a call from Toshiba and they've authorized me to just give you a new computer... Apparently they've arranged for a courier to pick up the old one...What did you say to them? They don't normally do that...

So the upshot of my hours spent engaging in lengthy phone conversations whilst practicing my best "threatening tones (tm)" is that this morning I was given a whole new computer and so am now back online and able to sort through the mountain of email which is awaiting...

Let's hope that this time I'm here to stay...

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Time to become a luddite...

I hate technology.

No seriously, I hate it. With a passion.

Within days of getting my shiny new Toshiba laptop home it started playing up. An annoying event at the best of times, but when you're on tour it just becomes that much worse.

After some calling around I finally located an authorized Toshiba repair place which was at least vaguely near the theatre and checked my new purchase in for it's 100m check-up.

Apparently the motherboard is faulty... Oh... And the CD/DVD drive too... Don't worry sir, we'll have the parts in about a week and a half... Oh... What's that? You're only in Sydney for two weeks? Oh, we should be able to have it fixed by then... Yes sir, I'm well aware that means that we'll have spent more time fixing your computer than you have actually had it in your possession... Sorry about that, but this should fix the problem and you should have no hassles after that... Unless, of course, the motherboard isn't actually the problem...

I hate technology!

Maybe it's time for me to buy a luddite computer...

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Unfinished Stories.

I know it's been over a month since I promised you a second tale of my recent encounters with Australia's societal underbelly, but never let it be said that I don't fulfill my promises... Eventually...

Before you read on, I must confess that, when compared to my first tale, this next account may appear somewhat anticlimactic and banal, but decidedly more sinister.

Two days prior to the King Lear bump-in, Kerry (my boss), Spencer (one of MTC's mechs) and I (the writer of this blog) were making an early evening delivery of gear to the CUB Malthouse (the venue into which we were putting "King Lear") when we had an extremely sinister encounter.

It was about 6pm on a Friday evening and we were driving the company's 4-ton truck through the inner-city suburb of South Melbourne when we noticed that something strange was happening on the side of the road.

As we passed a parked car, the situation became more apparent. A young man who looked to be in his early twenties was lying on the road behind a parked car. He appeared to be convulsing uncontrollably.

Naturally we assumed that he was in the midst of an epileptic fit and so stopped the truck. As we went to his assistance, however, something strange happened - He looked at us, stood up and signaled that we should leave. As we were obviously still quite concerned, we continued to approach him whilst saying things like "Are you okay?" and "Do you want us to call you an ambulance?"

He kept assuring us that he was okay, but as we got a little closer we all noticed something that made the encounter much more sinister. Hiding behind the car, crouched in the shadows, was another young man (also in his early twenties) who seemed quite alarmed that we'd spotted him. He emerged from his hiding place and gestured towards his friend, "He's okay. He was just playing a joke on me." To describe this second individual as "dodgy-looking" or "rough" would require a gross understatement.

If we'd thought that the situation was mostly apparent before, it had now taken a turn into the abundantly clear and disturbing.

As Kerry, Spencer and I left the area, we discussed the situation and discovered that we had all come to the same conclusion. It seemed, to us, that the first individual was faking his fit so that the second individual could jump anybody who stopped to assist. Unfortunately (or, perhaps, fortunately) they hadn't considered the possibility that three blokes in a truck might be the ones to stop.

This encounter shook me up for quite a number of days afterward. Not just because of the apparent sinister intent, but because it occurred at 6pm, on a street that I frequent on a regular basis and, most of all, because I know that if, in the future, I see anybody having a fit again I might be tempted not to stop.

People who prey on other people's good nature deserve their own special corner of hell...

I can hear Naomi Klein screaming from here...

Which means that she has probably just read this article...

Seriously though, the Spider Jerusalem approach of retreating to a mountain and surrounding yourself with razor-wire and "Trespassers will be eviscerated" signs whilst you type out daily dispatches from the wilderness is starting to sound a whole lot more appealing.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Back online!

At last!

Two unintentional hiatuses in two months... Coincidence? Or just plain unforgivable? Either way, this time I'm back for the duration.

Since my last major post, I have been blindsided by work and computer troubles.

Four weeks ago I started the bump-in for MTC's "Gangster-chic" version of "King Lear" (which just, by the way, happens to be my favourite Shakespearean play). As my boss was on two weeks leave, it fell to me to get the beastie up and running. "King Lear" is, without a doubt, MTC's biggest show of the year, so it should come as no surprise that I clocked up more than 150 hours worth of work during the two week bump-in. It almost killed me, but I have to confess that the achievement of making it rain on-stage for thirty minutes of the play was remarkably satisfying... Thirty minutes of a storm with actual storm-like rain on stage? Now there's something you don't see in every theatre show.

Understandably, my focus during the "Lear" bump-in was work and sleep. As a result, my online presence became next to nothing.

Two days after "Lear" opened, I was on a plane to Sydney to collect "Two Brothers" from the Opera House. As I write this, I am currently sitting in my hotel room in sunny Newcastle, "Two Brothers" has already opened here and I am enjoying what is only my second day off in about a month. After Sydney and before this stint in Newcastle, "Two Brothers" did a two week run in Canberra. Which was a heap of fun, very tiring and mostly involved me trying to catch up with everybody and anybody who might have cared to see me.

With such an insane schedule, all thoughts of blogging were pushed from my mind.

To further complicate matters, my laptop decided, whilst I was in Canberra, that it was ready to go to the great electronics junk-heap in the sky. As a result, I am now the proud owner of a brand new lap-top and have only managed to get back online as of today.

But back online I am and I've certainly got a lot of things I want to tell you. So stay tuned for a lot more from the world of Graham over the next few days...

Unless, of course, another hiatus decides to hit. In which case, you can expect another post like this one in about a month's time...

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Thinking of my friends...

Despite the fact that my television is showing me images of double-decker buses blown to pieces, and speculating that there may be a massive loss of life, I find that my thoughts are only of my friends.

Cynan, Suzy and Sam, I hope you're all okay and far away from the news...

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Rubbing society's underbelly...

In way of explanation of a number of the points listed in my recent post, and just in the interest of relating a few of the interesting things I've witnessed, I'd like now to tell you about some of my recent encounters with the darker side of Australian society.

About five weeks ago, at the very start of the "missing month", MTC sent me to Sydney for a week to do the bump-in of "Two Brothers". All-in-all, the trip went remarkably smoothly, although it did get off to a relatively surreal start.

Due to a desire to "cost-cut", as well as a decidedly sadistic bent, MTC determined that the best way for me to get to Sydney would be via a 6am flight on a Sunday. This meant that I was out of bed at 4.30am and standing on the street, waiting for a taxi, by 5am.

When my taxi arrived I was surprised to discover that it was a Maxi-taxi, a van which can seat up to 11 passengers. This was just the luck of the draw, but definitely constituted "overkill" when you consider that there was only my two bags, my half closed eyes and my tired body needing to get to the airport.

The friendly taxi driver assisted me in getting my bags into the back seat and then suggested that I should sit up front with him.

We'd barely gone one hundred meters down the road when he turned to me and asked a question that I certainly wasn't expecting at 5.10am on a Sunday morning - "Excuse me mate, but do you know what marijuana looks like?"

Acutely aware of my stunned expression, the fact that there are cameras installed in taxis, my reputation and the laws of entrapment, I cautiously responded - "Why?"

"Well mate," he exclaimed, "it's like this - My last customer, as he was getting out the cab, said "excuse me buddy, but it looks like someone's left their bag here" and handed me this bag."

My driver then pulled a smallish black backpack out from beneath his seat.

"Now I don't know which of tonight's fares left it there," he assured me, "but when I opened it up, to check if there was any identification so I could return it, I found this."

My taxi-driver then, with one eye on the road and one on the bag which now sat between us, opened the back-pack and pulled out a large plastic bag which was filled with marijuana. Now when I say large, I mean large. The plastic bag would have been at least 30cm x 20cm x 10cm and was almost bursting from the amount of dope which was inside.

As the airport loomed closer, visions of Schapelle Corby filled my mind.

"So I've reported to my HQ that I've found a small black backpack, but I haven't told them what's in it. Do you think that the owner might call looking for it?" He asked me.

"No mate, I really don't think they'll call. In fact, I suspect that someone is currently at home crying about the fact that they won't be making that call..."

"Well what should I do with it?" He asks and I almost flinch with the realisation that I could potentially get dragged into this.

"Ah... Sorry mate, I really can't help you with that one..." I reply.

"Do you want it?" He asks. "You could just have it for free... That way I wouldn't have to worry about it."

Now I've got to admit that I know people who smoke marijuana and who would have given me their first born child if I had said "yes", but as the departure lounge was just around the corner, and the day's newspapers were adorned with pictures of a certain blonde eyed beautician, I politely declined his offer.

"Oh well... Them's the breaks..." He exclaimed and shoved the bag of dope back into the back-pack.

After shaking my head at the surreal nature of the encounter, and checking my bags to make sure that the taxi driver had put the marijuana back into the right one, I boarded a flight to Sydney and touched down just before 8am. From there I took my second taxi for the day, straight to my accommodation in the centre of Sydney's Kings Cross district.

For those of you who do not reside in Australia, King's Cross is Australia's equivalent of Sodom and Gomorrah. Strip clubs, hookers, smack addicts and violent police are just a few of the things which have made King's Cross a tourist destination... And, apparently, an appropriate location for accommodating touring theatre technicians.

The delightful nature of King's Cross was immediately brought home as I stepped out of my taxi just down the street from my hotel. My being loaded up with two bags, a lap-top, a plans tube and a backpack, didn't discourage the stripclub spruikers from insisting, at 8.30am on a Sunday morning, that I should "Come inside and check out the best tits in Australia." For the second time in three hours I politely declined an offer to indulge in decadence.

The next week of living in the heart of King's Cross exposed me to a range of sights and sounds which were educational, to say the least, but nothing matched the surreal feel of that first day.

Since then, however, I have had another close encounter with the underbelly of Australia's society, one which was decidedly more sinister, but as I am a sucker for the "cliff-hanger" (only because I know it pisses Tript off) and because I have run out of time today in which to blog, you'll have to wait until next time to hear that installment.