17 May 2012

Lost & Found, Seen & Heard

let's see if I can write a blog post after a full, eventful day and actually post it tonight, not run out of steam, or flaff around adding pictures, or looking up references instead of just saying what I think (and maybe adding references later).

I got to the two talks I'd planned to attend today at Sydney Writers' Festival, and afterwards went to Kinokuniya to comb through the sale tables. Everything took a little longer than I expected - except for walking from home to Ashfield station. I was worried about running late, so walked very briskly, and got there in plenty of time to creak slowly up the stairs from street to concourse, buy my ticket, and descend carefully down the stairs from concourse to platform. (I was having a good knee day, but still need to be careful, cos of cartilage damage from many previous knee injuries, and weak muscles/loose ligaments that could let my kneecap/s dislocate again. exercise is good! particularly if it strengthens my medial quadriceps)

The playground in the park down the hill from Fort Street and up the hill from Hickson Road

On my way from Circular Quay to Hickson Road I saw a woman peering uncertainly at the lanes and streets of The Rocks and at her phone, so I asked if she was looking for the writers' festival - turned out she was, so I showed her the steep cobbled laneway down to the park across the road (and up another steep road) from the venue.

Being in the vicinity of Sydney Theatre and Sydney Dance performance spaces and rehearsal studios meant there were lots of actors and dancers around, so I enjoyed a bit of star-spotting, as well as looking for friends and acquaintances. Saw actress Sacha Horler striding past, talking on her mobile; said a "hello" in passing to friend (and former landlord) writer & editor Jonathan Shaw, who was dashing off to a talk; saw actor Dan Wyllie strolling by, chatting to friend; and stopped and said a brief hello to composer & musician Charlie Chan.

The queues for most of the talks at the SWF were massive - a wonderful turnout - and the first talk I went to, Dr Anita Heiss talking about her memoir Am I Black Enough For You?, was at capacity before I even joined the queue outside Wharf 4/5 (admittedly that was only 15 minutes before the start time). so I posted on Facebook about it being 'sold out' (it was free, no bookings) and toddled over to the Viewing Lounge in Wharf 2/3, a big barn of a place with deck chairs set out facing a large screen on which one sold out talk in each timeslot could be shown. the deck chairs were all full too by the time I got there, but I made myself comfy on the floor in a vantage point from where I could see the screen, and the audio was nice and clear, and the conversation between Anne Summers and Anita - about identity, Australian culture, Aboriginality and family - was so lovely, interesting, funny, and moving that I felt just as present as if I'd been in the room with them (but somewhere up the back - the video feed showed us a wide shot with Anne and Anita as small figures seen over the audience).

I did some tweeting and FB posting during the talk, and realised that my train/bus ticket wasn't in my jeans pocket any more - it must've fallen out when I first pulled my phone out to post about the talk being full, the other side of Wharf 4/5. I didn't want to spend the time then going back to look for it, cos there wasn't much time before the next talk, and that might well be full by the time I reached that queue if I didn't get a wriggle on.

but I wanted to see Anita, have her autograph my copy of Am I Black Enough For You? (which I was halfway through, and greatly enjoying & learning lots from) so I scooted over to where the wonderful indie bookshop Gleebooks had set up for the duration, with books by all the writers appearing at the Festival. While in the autographs queue I got chatting with the woman in front of me, who hadn't read any of Anita's books, and was a bit doubtful about reading chick lit, so I enthused to this woman about the Mr Right books and the Dreaming books, and the way Anita combines social/political awareness with humour, relationships, and aspects of life that most women could relate to, and she ended up buying Manhattan Dreaming and Paris Dreaming - yay!
and I did get to give Anita a hug - two hugs, in fact - one for her, and one for Kerry Reed-Gilbert, who was one of the deadly writers who Anita would be joining at a Sydney Writers' Festival event in Wollongong tonight.

somewhere in there I bought Thai-riffic by Oliver Phommavan, who will be part of On Western Sydney, which I'm going to on (checks calendar) Saturday, and Flyaway by Lucy Christopher, who will be talking about Her Dark Materials on Sunday. Doubt that I'll manage to read all of both of them, but you never know...

Then I nipped back to Wharf 4/5 to join the queue for Not Funny, Strange, with authors Chris Flynn (A Tiger in Eden), P.A. O’Reilly (The Fine Colour of Rust) and Charlotte Wood (Animal People) talking to Angela Meyer about using wry humour. Guess what? It was already full. So back to the Viewing Lounge, where this time I scored a deck chair. the panel conversation, and the extracts read by the authors, were funny, and did make us laugh.

Then I left the Festival to catch a bus to another marvellous bookshop, Kinokuniya, which had a sale - not store-wide, but including wide range of non-fiction, and fiction from various genres, in formats including prose novels, graphic novels and picture books. On the way out of the Festival I retraced my steps and lo & behold, there was my train/bus ticket, lying where it had fallen from my pocket, unnoticed by the hundreds of people who'd walked past. Yay!
I'd been so restrained at the Festival (but then again, I am going back a few more times and will most likely visit the Gleebooks shop again); not so restrained at Kinokuniya - but such bargains! Fifteen books for about $85. W00T!
I've long had the habit of gloating over my purchases, whether books, clothes, DVDs, or other nifty finds, by spreading them out over furniture or on the floor so I can revel in their wonderfulness. in recent years, I've also taken a photo to post on Facebook, twitter, and/or my blog.

Before going to Kinokuniya I'd fortified myself with a meal of hot chips, and it was as I was leaving the cafe where I'd eaten that I realised I didn't have my jacket with me. Even though it is a lovely jacket, and one that I've had since the late 1970s (it doesn't do up across my middle now, but I'd reached my adult height by the age of 10, so it still fits in other ways), I didn't go back to the cafe to look for it, as I wasn't sure when I'd last had it - on the bus? at the Festival? So tomorrow I'll be checking with Lost Property at the Festival and at the cafe, and ringing the bus depot to see if anyone has handed it in. Dear jacket, I hope to see you again soon.

So that was Day One of the Festival for me (it actually started several days ago, with events in the Blue Mountains that I'd thought about going to, but hearing it had snowed in the mountains on the weekend put a damper on my enthusiasm for that idea).

Lost two things, recovered one (so far); heard some great talks; hugged some lovely friends; bought some books...

Tomorrow I hope to meet up with a few more friends, hear some more talks, maybe buy another book or two (only from Gleebooks, though - no more extra bookshops!), and hopefully retrieve my jacket.

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