18 March 2013


My day and night have been spanking and they have been stonking. These are two terms used by my colleagues the English to describe very pleasant and good things. I like both words and their application. The word stonking is not made up. It is in the Oxford dictionary. It is defined as:

"used to emphasize something impressive, exciting or very large".

I first associate spanking as a form of naughty playful slapping. I think that most of us would. I now however also perceive it in a different way. I have adopted both terms from the English with whom I work. 

Spanking and stonking. 

I have claimed them as my own.

Sydney. Steak and Kidney. The Harbour Town. Here I am. You little ripper. I am feeling comfortable and relaxed and Happy. Deliriously so. Despite the overnight flight from Singapore - on Qantas - I am bouncing around the place.

It is Bewdiful!

I am reminded every time that I come back to Sydney how lovely this city is. It is stunning. I look out of my hotel window and down onto the Sydney Harbour Bridge. To the right of this is the Sydney Opera House. Both these structures are illuminated. They are also iconic. And the harbour - Sydney harbor – it is the greatest body of water in the world 

The view from my hotel window is screaming Sydney.

Here is a picture of my view:

There are ferries gliding across the water. I can see them now going from Circular Quay to Balmain - and beyond. Walking back from my office this afternoon I saw a sign pointing east to Woolloomooloo. That's eight 'o's and three 'l's! Then I saw a sign pointing the way west to Parramatta. These are magnificent Australian and Sydney place names. I was so happy to see the signs that I said them out loud. I am saying them out loud now as I am writing them down. 



There is some debate regarding the origin or meaning of the name Woolloomooloo. It is aboriginal of course - as is Parramatta. Woolloomooloo is possibly derived from the Koori word Wallamullah. This translates to the 'place of plenty'.  

Parramatta means 'the place where eels lie down'.

I have been yacking away to people all day. To perfect strangers - from the moment I landed. We Australians just talk to each other without any hang ups or agenda and most often without scruple. It is so different to Singapore. From the line in Immigration at the airport this morning to the crowded lifts in my Sydney office this afternoon people just start chatting. 

"Owzitgoin mate?

"Yeah good owzitgoin yourself?" 

"Beautiful day huh?" 

"Yeah but its gonna rain on the weekend" 

"No worries. We need the rain" 

And on and on it goes. It is relaxed and natural and pleasant conversation. 

I said "Gidday" to an American couple in the hotel lift earlier. They told me that they were here on holiday. On vacation in the American language. I asked them if they were enjoying themselves and they told me they were. The female of the couple told me in her Texan drawl how friendly she thought we Australians were. I agreed and I told her with no small amount of pride that this is what we do. We be friendly and we talk. 

It is so nice to be here.

It really is.

The most impressive, exciting and very large part of today though was this evening. Tonight. I spent time with some of my very old mates and it was quality time. That is Quality with a capital 'Q". We talked and laughed and we shared. We all have them I think - old mates. Good and precious ones. Really good ones. They are that very small circle of people you have known for decades - since you were fourteen or fifteen years of age. Our collective memories are indelible. They are many and significant experiences shared across impressionable ages. They are bonding moments that still make you laugh until your stomachs hurt whenever you talk about them and remember them. 

Even Now. 

Thirty years later.

My old mates and I did that this evening. We did a lot of recollection and reflection and do-you-remembers. We talked about others in our circle of old mates. We mostly reminisced and rolled around the floor laughing. There was much mirth. 

It was hysterical.

A lot of the stories involved our common mate Berty who lives in the US. I was updating the others on how he is going and we told funny Berty stories. We remembered one of his Aunt's on his mum's side was a Private Investigator and he did some work for her one Summer. Surveillance work. We were all very impressed with that at the time. We also remembered Bert's mum Shirley getting us jobs parking cars at the netball on Thursday nights. We used one torch in each hand to guide cars in between gum trees at the Jells Park netball courts. We helped them park. In this job we also got to watch heaps of girls play netball and were paid for it. In cash. 

We were living the dream.

My mates and I also recalled with great fondness the Reynolds Melbourne Cup Day barbecues. They were a classic. Bert's dad Brian was an accountant with his own Practice and every Melbourne Cup day he would host a big barbecue around the pool at the family home. All his clients and relatives were invited. I went every year from when I was about fifteen and Bert, me and his elder brother Shayne would grab heaps of beers that were being chilled in ice in the bathtubs in the house. 

It was open slather.

We also remembered that one year a different aunt of Bert's turned up at the Melbourne Cup Day barbecue with a guy we were told who had just been released from prison. We were reliably informed that he had robbed a bank. We remembered looking at him with a bit of awe and fear and we made whispered references to him as "the Bank Robber". He ended up marrying the Aunt and he came back every year to the Melbourne Cup Day barbecue. We think we remember that the Bank Robber and the aunt later won a very big lottery prize and then they lost it all when they were defrauded by an ex and aging Famous-Footballer turned Television-Personality turned Investment-Adviser. He was a very bad Investment Adviser as it turned out.  

Berty's aunts were all a bit crazy but they were colourful and they were highly entertaining. 

Life is theater sometimes. Theater is life. 

Reminiscing with my mates about all this tonight this has been wonderful. 

Yes my first day back in Sydney has been excellent. 

It has been spanking. 

I am seeing another old mate tomorrow and then I fly down to Melbourne to see my family on Wednesday. 

It just gets better and better. 

It is stonking.

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