06 — Blogging Sydney’s Olympic Year 2000

Entries complete, unabridged, and sometimes embarrassing!

Links may or may not work… They go to webarchive.org, and then it depends on them what is there still. YouTubes, of course, have been added later.

Diary for September 2000

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Sunday, September 3 2000: 12 days to the Olympics

They say Moore Park will be finished before the Olympics, but they are finding it difficult as there are not enough graders available to do the job. Meantime Belmore Park, near Central Station, is now carpeted–not with bright flowers, or fresh green grass, but with daggy green carpet! Very tasteful. There was a bomb scare at Kirrawee Railway Station south of the city last week; apparently emergency personnel were misdirected to Canterbury Station (some distance away and on quite another line) due to a “pronunciation problem”! However, Central Station refurbishment has been completed–well almost.

Extra police on the streets and quite a few foreign visitors are already apparent in the city. The athletes, of course, have started moving into the Olympic Village.

Today was Yum Cha again–for the unitiated this is Cantonese for “drink tea” and is essentially an endless supply of delicacies (steamed buns, dumplings, chicken feet, etc) washed down by tea. One can if one chooses have a 24 course breakfast–or more. There were ten people today–PK, Ian Smith, J***s, Rhodesia D, ABC Andrew, Clive, a guy from Houston Texas, a lesbian Olympic volunteer official from NZ (a friend of Rhodesia D), Bruce from the Albury, and me. Rabbit sent his hugs to all but was otherwise engaged today. Sad news is that John Wilkinson, who was there last time, an old friend of M, is critically ill in hospital: M has just gone to visit him.

Good news (9.30 pm): John Wilkinson is much better than he was yesterday.

Monday, 4 September

On August 28 I mentioned having “aches and pains” and I’ve just got the results of my neck X-ray; it is indeed “old car accidents”. A few bones are quite strange, and the doc said if I’d come in after a recent accident he’d have me in a neck brace. [Unknown to me, my neck had been broken at some time!] Also as I suspected I have arthritis. Ah the pains of age! Mind you I shouldn’t complain–there’s not too much wrong with me that the spring weather won’t help, and some exercise. Actually I should get back into the qigong–it’s gentle regime (at least in the version I was learning last year) should be just right. At least it’s nice to know the pains have a cause.

Tuesday, September 5

Irony: a student who speaks the purest Beijing Mandarin (having come from China only 2.5 years ago) reports that he was penalised in an oral Mandarin assessment because he had a “Cantonese accent”. He cannot speak Cantonese! It is a bit like telling Queen Elizabeth II that she sounds too much like someone from North Carolina (no offence meant to the good folks of NC)!

Irony 2: a student came to see me this afternoon distressed because a friend had just told him he (the friend) was gay. Feeling that two revelations would be too many for one day I conducted myself impartially, but did ask if his friend was the same person as he was last week. Nonetheless I could see the dilemma: was there an agenda in the confession? I advised the student to stay cool, to stay a friend, wait and see, and deal with anything embarrassing [should it arise–I am not punning ;-)] with tact. There was no homophobia involved I am pleased to report.

Delightful day really. πŸ™‚ …

Ten days to go to IT–and Moore Park was swept by westerly winds into giant dust clouds. Nonetheless grass is magically appearing–grass, not carpet!

Wednesday, September 6: nine days before all hell breaks loose!

I ran into an old friend today, the poet/film-maker/performer/dancer/historian Richard Allen. Is there no end to the guy’s talents? And good-looking too. It’s just not fair! Anyway, I suppose I had better send you to Richard’s site. Just make sure you come back here now! AND SIGN THAT GUESTBOOK! (Special rates apply to those who take a solemn oath never to sign The Rabbit’s. hehehe…) Seriously, check out The Rabbit’s guestbook–it’s weird!!

Friday 8 September–only 7 days!!!!

Yes. Moore Park may well be finished in time. I have never seen grass appear so quickly!

Met an interesting young man tonight (b. 1979), a Scientologist–a group I have normally little respect for. However, for him it has clearly had meaning. Sometimes one needs to put aside prejudice and listen: not that I am likely to take up Scientology, but he was a sweet boy and I enjoyed our talk. Also met up with the usual suspects–Ian Smith, J***s (who doesn’t mind being James), and PK. James was quite taken with the story of the red wig, Rabbit.

Quite an emotional day today for some–unexpectedly perhaps for one! Turned out well though–another cycle closing? But not completely–maybe just a new chapter starting. Cliched and cryptic–but my original version was too pointed. πŸ˜‰ Revision can be a great blessing.

Saturday 9 September

Down in Chinatown where I do some tuition each Saturday, quite close to the Darling Harbour Olympic venues: the buzz is definitely in the air now, and team members visible on the streets. Chinese Moon Festival is coming up too; I am looking forward to our mid-month Yum Cha at the Golden Harbour 10am Sunday September 17. Why not join us? See Ninglun and his friends live and more or less in the flesh. πŸ˜‰ The Dowager Empress of Hong Kong will be there to give out titles and maybe mooncake.

Reading David Malouf’s new short story collection Dream Stuff at the moment. The stories are elegant, restrained, resonant: deservedly felt to be Australia’s premier writer. Lined up next is The Romantics by Pankaj Mistra, which The Rabbit lent me yesterday. I am looking forward to it.

I wore my dark suit to school on Friday, merely to show I had one; I usually dress less formally. I hadn’t realised it was so long since I had worn it, for in the pocket was a page from a Wollongong newspaper for August 1996. I had put it there when I attended my cousin’s funeral: and thereby hangs an Olympic tale. My cousin won a gold medal at the 1972 Olympics, and the excitement in the family you can only imagine. She had often stayed with us in Sydney for various reasons, and indeed I can say I coached her: in English for the School Certificate! She was a lovely person, much missed; sadly I saw less of her in the last few years of her life, but that involved my circumstances and those of my immediate family rather than her.

Sunday September 10: 5 days to go.

Sunday afternoon at the Beauchamp and the Albury. PK, became a little distant as time went on, testimony to the difficulty he is having right now.

Tom from Houston Texas was there and told this wonderful if offensive joke: What do you have if you have a room full of people from Arkansas? Ans: a full set of teeth.

Rhodesia D. joined us and he and I talked on the theme of exile, which he feels quite deeply. Ian Smith was also there, sparkling as ever. Ian has yet to issue the imperial summons to M; perhaps tonight? We speculated as to the effect of the public Yum Cha announcement above–minimal I suspect, but it is nice to speculate that all these strangers might turn up.

Good dinner at Una’s in Darlinghurst with Rhodesia D. M and I used to go here often; it has grown, but the food is just as good as ten years ago. We the went to D’s place where I ran through my website and a few points about chat and ICQ. I’m a computer guru already! :-0

I also ran into Cameron, a man I had known at the Britannia Hotel (the first gay bar I ventured into –in 1985!). He was a psychotherapist in those days. I literally had not seen him since about 1988. Since 1991 he has been living in Queensland, currently on an island, and he is no longer a psychotherapist.

Mr R is approaching 600 hits! This has to stop. Hmmmm! (plots….)

Monday morning, September 11–4 days to go! Tomorrow is Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival.

If you are interested in a snapshot of Australia right now, check outThe Economist for April 9 2000. Well worth following up.

On a more serious note πŸ˜‰ I am pleased to report that my main page scored an equal number of hits (32) to The Rabbit’s between yesterday afternoon and this morning, 9 am Olympic Daylight Saving Time. That’s good, my friends, but we now have to up the rate a bit more. The humiliation of having that site having DOUBLE my hits (as was the case recently) must never be allowed to recur. No, really do visit both sites: just don’t sign his guestbook, that’s all I ask. SIGN MINE INSTEAD! πŸ˜‰ I mean, here I am doing all that HTML stuff–obviously you should reward me by signing my book! From here on I’ll stop whingeing, but remember I’m still watching…and plotting…

Tuesday, September 12 — 3 days to go!

The Torch is in Sydney and has been spotted by The Rabbit (see his webpage); in fact it passes through his area again today. It passes by here on Thursday at about 9.30 am. Just as well it wasn’t today! Around 9 am a police car (on a high speed pursuit?) crashed into a power pole on the corner of Elizabeth and Cleveland Streets, just where the Torch turns. Pretty spectacular; the pole somehow must have broken the water mains, so there was a fountain about four storeys tall as well. Police cars everywhere, disrupted traffic, Channel 7 crew!

Moore Park is almost finished! Quite amazingly, all the mountains of earth have gone, the turf almost covers the park, trees have appeared, and the footbridge across the Eastern Distributor seems almost ready for business!

Wednesday September 13

Two days to go!!! Spare a thought for ABC Andrew, an engineer with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, who from Friday begins fourteen 14-hour days, all so you folks out there in the world can see the Olympics on TV. And yes, that crashed police car yesterday was on the news last night; it had been chasing a stolen car.

Thanks Delenio for signing my guest book, and for the good taste you show in liking my Multicultural Pages πŸ˜‰ And for saying (on ICQ) the latest gallery addition was “not too bad”. Rather good, I would have thought. πŸ˜‰ I wonder if you can buy a car with one of those washers thrown in!

Thursday September 14: the Torch goes through my neighbourhood.

8 am: Yes, in one and a half hours the Torch goes by! Meantime I’ll leave you with an irrelevant quote–encouragement to The Rabbit, myself and all other online diarists πŸ˜‰ ; Looking back, I imagine I was always writing. Twaddle it was too. But better to write twaddle, or anything, anything, than nothing at all. –Katherine Mansfield

9.50 am: Well, I saw it at last! The torchbearer had very nice legs. πŸ˜‰

It was amazing how a crowd materialised so quickly. Half an hour back hardly any unusual activity could be seen, but then suddenly people appeared everywhere. On the balcony of the Surry Club Hotel there was a champagne breakfast. And yes, the torch was accompanied by lots of fine specimens of manhood on Harleys! Not sure I saw the one The Rabbit’s page mentions though. πŸ˜‰

A nice sight was the Mother Theresa nuns (various nationalities, but mostly Indian–there is a convent of them near here) all waving their Australian flags.

4.00 pm: The weather has been so glorious I have neglected my reading, but I am enjoying The Romantics by Pankaj Mishra, which The Rabbit lent me. It began slowly but becomes quite absorbing; the characterisation is subtle, the writing good, and the politics and cultural background fascinating. (Follow that link above for more about him and his work, and a rather scathing review: a bit too scathing I suspect at the moment.)

I went down to sit on the green carpet (yechhh!) in Belmore Park near Central Railway, hoping to imbibe the Olympic spirit. And did πŸ™‚ As I said, it has been as good as Sydney gets–good enough for some wonderful shirtless sights for a poor old codger like me to (dare I say) perve on–in the nicest possible way of course–a pure aesthetic experience.

10.00 pm: Laser lights, fireworks, and the news here absolutely dominated by the upcoming Olympics and today’s events. In passing, the Australian dollar sliding below 55 US cents for the first time ever! Good for all those Olympic visitors of course. On PBS (USA) news on the other hand the only mention of the Olympics tonight was the arrest of an official from Uzbekistan for importation of human growth hormone, and that story was quite sympathetic to the official who, it is claimed, needed the drug for a medical condition and had in fact been hospitalised when his drug was seized last week!

Halfway through The Romantics which is triggering some odd associations. I certainly see something of myself when young in the narrator’s (Samar’s) combination of awkwardness and (alleged?) intellect. Second, reflecting on the novel’s presentation of many Indias, or visions of India, I think of how profoundly MP has been affected by the place; I also think of myself studying Indian History at University and how such arcane knowledge attracted me. Also, what India did we learn about? Part of my obscure motivation for studying this subject was a friendship that ran from age 13 to 15, then by correspondence for a few more years as the Indian friend went to St Paul’s School in London. Ashok was one of my closest friends, and though I could not and did not articulate it at the time, there was a very real erotic feel to that friendship on my side at least. I recognise that now, felt it then.

Friday, September 15

On reflection I suspect my having the (unacknowledged) hots for Ashok (see 14 September) was a development of a strange attraction I had about age 10 for Sabu the Elephant Boy (a child star of the 30s and 40s whose picture I saw in an old Boys’ Own Annual)! My fantasy life at ten did involve Biggles, Sabu and Robin Hood–but never all at once. It also included a rather alarming taste for bondage, something I have never explored further! Ah the mystery of childhood’s erotic or semi-erotic fantasies–especially perhaps those of gay childhood. Adults of course should not (cannot?) intervene in them–a clear case, in my view, against paedophilia. I was spared that, but on the other hand much hypocrisy and ignorance surrounds the themes of childhood and early adolescent sexuality. I am no expert–I raise it merely for consideration and would be quite interested in seeing your views in my guestbook, within the bounds of acceptibility–which I can of course control with my delete button.

The importance of thinking about all this is that somewhere there lie the seeds of many difficulties some gay boys and men encounter–such matters as depression or gay suicide for example, or poor self-esteem. Could it be argued that in our conditioning or social beliefs is a systematic form of “child abuse” so far as the growing gay person is concerned?

Oh yes–the Olympics start today. Grey in Sydney at the moment, whereas yesterday was perfect.

4.30 pm: Juan Antonio has influence: the weather now appears ideal for the Opening!

8.45 pm: The Parade of Nations is on now. I would love to have been cynical about the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games, but (after an iffy start) it was MAGNIFICENT! The image of the small girl and the songman is a powerful symbol of reconciliation, and I am proud to see it sent around the world. πŸ™‚

Saturday, September 16

GO THORPIE!!!! Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi OI!!!!! That 4X100 relay was sheer magic.

More on the Opening Ceremony–yes that torch thing did get stuck apparently! However, wasn’t that “underwater” lighting spectacular! And the waterfall! Yes–they did lay the politics of reconciliation on a bit thick, but it needs to be addressed and the Olympics was a powerful symbolic time: so too for the two Koreas and East Timor–moving moments both. However, I think the image of the girl and the songman remains the most powerful image for me.

I was tutoring in Chinatown today. One student, an 18-year-old from Mainland China, came in clutching tickets to the Olympic Table Tennis where his team will undoubtedly do well! He too admired the message of reconciliation in the Opening Ceremony, and was touched not only by that and the two Koreas being united, but also felt the fact China and Taiwan could play together in the Olympics sent a good message to the world and to the people and the politicians.

And my site passed the 2000 today! A minor matter but pleasing. In August this diary averaged seven hits a day; this month to date it has passed the total for August, averaging seventeen hits a day! Mind you that other site I declared “war” on a week ago has averaged twenty-four hits a day so far this month, so don’t get complacent my friends!

I was really pleased when The Rabbit told me he appreciated the last few diary entries–thanks Rabbit! πŸ™‚

Sunday, September 17

Another glorious Olympic day in Sydney. The shirtless cuties are about again. πŸ™‚

Having announced today’s Yum Cha (Chinese brunch) would be held at the Golden Harbour at 10 am, I turned up expecting crowds, and indeed quite a lot of foreigners were about. Presumably the restaurant owners read these pages (who doesn’t?) so we were delayed twenty minutes while the staff cleaned up, went out for extra provisions, and put tables in the street to cope with the overflow. At last we were ushered to our select table, and the Dowager Empress enthroned herself beside Clive, with PK on Clive’s right, Rhodesia D and James on my left. People were too shy to identify themselves, but as the restaurant filled with people I could but be impressed by the drawing power of these humble pages. As was fitting all these people pretended they did not know us, respectful of our privacy. A very pleasant meal. It is unfortunate, however, that some rituals associated with the NSW Department of Education prevented some honoured guests from attending; their apologies were duly given and accepted.

Monday, September 18

Today began with the scent of bushfires in the air; there have been some in the lower Blue Mountains. It has continued summery, and now (4.30 pm) must be pushing near 30C. Even I have been shirtless some of the day, but not outside as my skin has suffered from too long in the sun, as is true of many older Australians. Nor would I call myself a cutie: in fact the sight of me shirtless could frighten overseas visitors, so out of sheer patriotism I spare them the experience.

I have just finished The Romantics and find it a better novel than does the reviewer I have linked to above (Thursday 14 September). Since I once had a relative in the country named “Miss West” I did not really take the name to be allegorical, and I somehow doubt it is. There is much in the novel that echoes what M has had to say about his extended stay in India earlier this year; indeed many of the places mentioned are places M stayed. I did find the main “love interest”, Catherine, a rather shadowy figure, but that may be deliberate as Samar (the central character) does not really understand her, but rather invests her with his own romantic longings, just as she in turn has done with Anand. The sense of youthful uncertainty and vulnerability is well captured. It is a good novel; perhaps not as great as A Passage to India by E M Forster (one of my all-time favourites), but actually more authentic in its representation of India, it seems to me: not that I can speak firsthand. Forster was of course an outsider, though a very perceptive one, and in his own day a very subversive one. (An outsider too in that Forster was gay.)

The Olympics continue, and what with that and this early summer weather, our HSC students must be finding it fiendishly difficult to settle to study.

A dilemma tonight: of course I will be cheering for Ian Thorpe, but probably watching that extraordinarily beautiful Dutchman. πŸ˜‰

9.50 pm: Sorry Ian!!! I’ll never look at a Dutchman again!

Our friend in the hospitality business has despaired of the Japanese-Italian number and has started here–which looks interesting at least. If it looks as if there’s nothing there, scroll down and hit the “Xerts has landed” bit.

Tuesday, September 19: International Day of Peace

Quite a good haul from the local Library yesterday. First as a browsing book, Cult TV by Jon E Lewis and Penny Stempel: does anyone other than me remember The Adventures of Sir Lancelot, who rescued “kidnapped queens” in towers on a daily basis? Second, a clutch of mystery stories: an interesting genre these days. Can a male American of apparently Indian extraction, K J A Wishnia, write feminist PI tales? There is one for the more puritanical politically correct to grapple with, particularly when the PI is Hispanic and an environmentalist with a baby! The answer is, “Yes he can–and rather well.” Don’t let me put you off: Soft Money (Dutton, 1999) is actually worth the effort.

Lest we get too blase about the positive need for a balanced “political correctness” in this world (see also the Politics section of my General Interest Page) I found this in another Library borrowing, The Play Goes On, a memoir by Neil Simon (Simon and Schuster 1999), speaking of the background to Biloxi Blues:

“Having grown up in the safe confines of Washington Heights in upper Manhattan, I never noticed the word ‘bigotry’ used, not even the act of bigotry, certainly not in the ugly way we’ve come to know it the last few decades…At least until I came face to face with it when I was thrown together with a kind of people I never knew existed before I hit the Army…

“The ‘colored boys’ were separated and the word ‘nigger’ was still quite popular in this region [Mississippi]. At eighteen, some boys hardly shaved, and the smoother your skin was, the more likely you’d be called ‘faggot’ with an invitation to come into the latrine and ‘have some of this’. I was so naive that the more my eyes were opened to a world I barely knew existed, the more my mouth was closed for fear of getting my teeth knocked out behind the barracks by an angry cook who hated anyone who could spell a word with more than five letters in it.”

Yes, I know you can’t legislate morality, and I know this sort of thing still goes on, and not only in Mississippi. But at least the so-called “politically correct” have, for all their excesses, brought into our society codes and practices that make clear this sort of thing is just not OK: that has to be an advance. Treasure it.

To continue with Neil Simon:

“It was this story I wanted to tell in Biloxi Blues, not to open the minds of audiences in the 1980s, who knew it only too well, but to make the generation of eighteen-year-olds aware that we must always be on guard.”

7.30 pm: Peter the Dutchman did rather well tonight: I could gaze on him with a free conscience, but I promise to avert my eyes whenever he is up against Ian Thorpe.

Wednesday, September 20

Bit of a rush today, so I’ll just leave you with an inspiring quote from Shakespeare’s As You Like It, Act III Scene iii:

Audrey: I am not a slut, though I thank the gods I am foul.
Touchstone: Well, praised be the gods for thy foulness. Sluttishness may come hereafter.

12.45 pm: Back from tutoring in Chinatown. Great relay race last night, eh! Go Ian!!!

I have been fascinated by the mathematical calculations of gayness on Another Site recently; less fascinated by the God-Satan thing which I find clever but a touch puerile: sorry. Nonetheless, to get serious for a moment–I do believe, as you know if you’ve followed this diary, that all of us are on a continuum between “gay” and “straight”. One is gay if one’s spiritual and physical home tends to be with one’s own gender. This is true of me, therefore I am gay. But I would hate to think that is how people define me. There are far more important things about me than that. The answer to the question “What sort of person is Ninglun?” is not “Gay”. Nor is it “short” or “grey-haired”. I am me, not a stereotype.

That being gay in our society may produce anxiety I am well aware: I have been too closely touched by all that to deny it. It does raise inner conflicts that can scream for resolution, in my case for years: too long in that unresolved mode is not good for the psyche. Too glib a resolution is not good either. So my heart goes out to those in the process of confronting their reality, or their demons–much more interesting than that God-Satan stuff.

To get less serious for a moment, I have decided to calculate my friends’ degrees of gayness–somewhat tongue in cheek, and referring only to people who should not be offended. Ian Smith, let us say, scores 100%. PK–90%, Rhodesia D 95%; James 80%; Miss Lucy–unmeasurable; Simon H 25%; myself–75-80%. All of the above as worthwhile members of the human race–100%.

Thursday, September 21

Whatever the merits of the God-Satan controversy on Another Site, it has obviously been good for business. Another Site has averaged 33 hits a day over the past seven days, compared with 26.5 the previous week, and 20 the week before that! This Diary, despite its obvious excellence ;-), had a daily average of 20.5 this week, 16 the week before, and 13.5 the week before that. Now I could change this by hitting refresh a few times each day–not that I would suggest Another Site is doing that! Or I could put a really cute picture up and say it was me–but unfortunately Another Site has the advantage that their really cute picture really is them. There are some footnotes to yesterday’s calculations in my guestbook, I should add. You are allowed to read them on condition you sign the guestbook, and then return to this page without using your browser’s go back button. Use the link to do that–it adds another hit! hehehe!

I forgot to mention that the author (and editor) of Another Site, whatever his other percentage, is definitely in the “worthwhile members of the human race–100%” category. πŸ™‚ His copy editor is not a bad bloke either. πŸ˜‰

A bit of excitement in my street: this morning a young gentleman of Middle Eastern appearance (looking rather dazed when I saw him) drove his car through the window of the local cheap barber shop. Despite the draught the barber resumed haircuts shortly afterwards.

For a BIG birthday a few years back JM, an old friend, gave me one of his treasures: he was moving to smaller accommodation and was divesting himself. The present, a carved Chinese wooden screen (smallish), had been bought years ago in London. He was not sure of its age, and neither M nor his friends were sure about it either. I was intrigued today when Master F., a very well-informed young Chinese gentleman, told me he suspected it was no later than the Ming Dynasty–or a very clever replica. So maybe 300 years old? Wow!

Friday, September 22

An interesting day really, even if I am a little tipsy right now (9.15 pm), having had a few ales with PK, Ian Smith, Clive, and several others including Fox, the young man I referred to on September 8. Rhodesia D was also there but otherwise engaged. πŸ˜‰

I am still coming to terms with a few things Master F. told me yesterday; amazing as they were I cannot publicise them here: maybe one day. Suffice to say I was somewhat awestruck! M and he rattled away to each other in Mandarin: God knows what M said to him! πŸ˜‰

Simon H., Mr 25% ;-), is coming to the next Yum Cha. I am really hoping he and The Rabbit might meet! Simon is one of my oldest friends; I have known him one way or another since 1971! Space (and privacy) forbids a full recount of our history, but his friendship is precious, and it will be great to see him.

Delenio asked for a percentage rating for himself. I told him whatever he said would be acceptable. “A percentage” was his reply; fair enough, I thought. (See September 20.)

Saturday. September 23.

Again as usual I was tutoring in Chinatown today. On the way back at 4.30 pm I never saw such crowds in that part of Sydney: the whole precint from Darling Harbour, through Paddy’s Market, Chinatown, Belmore Park and Central Station was packed. I saw members of the Japanese track and field team, the Radio Beijing Cheering Squad (!), and people, people, people. The carpet in Belmore Park was virtually invisible, as a capacity crowd (some shirtless ;-P) cheered on the Australian Men’s Medley Relay Team to Silver (USA gold, Germany bronze) on the big screen set up in the park. Swimmers look good on a giant screen. I shouldn’t be surprised if the crowds passing through Central were record-setting themselves today.

PK had some time ago a lovely idea–to have a “Gifting Tree” this Advent/Christmas season through which gifts may be given to people living with HIV-AIDS. With the help of Rhodesia D, PK worked out a proposal and had a fine logo designed. And there it stayed for some time; but last Wednesday it began to move in earnest, as South Sydney Council and the Luncheon Club/Larder (an AIDS support service some of our friends are involved in) have taken to the idea. It really looks set to happen. PK is very excited about it–it couldn’t have happened at a better time for him. πŸ™‚

Sunday, September 24: Ninglun goes to an Olympic Event

11.00 am: Just back from shopping and then watching the Women’s Marathon from Anzac Parade near Sydney High School. At that point an Australian was in the front bunch, about tenth; the Japanese were doing well and were well supported. As one might expect Kenya and Ethiopia were well in evidence. Eleven helicopters buzzing overhead made it easy to see when the race was approaching. They are so tiny, these Marathon runners!

Following the numbers of visitors who read this site last time πŸ˜‰ I here announce that the Dowager Empress of Hong Kong requests your attendance at the next Royal Yum Cha at the Silver Spring Restaurant at 10 am next Sunday, October 1.

8.00 pm: The Japanese competitor won.

Monday, September 25

What a pain the new tax system is; I have spent the morning doing fiddly little invoices for bits of money that I get from tuition and renting my garage.

Been relaxing mostly, except for my tuition, but work looms and I must get down to some more this week: updating my school records, tutoring the Little Buddha tomorrow, the two Chinese on Wednesday, and Saturday two more Chinese–then school next week. For certain friends the HSC looms even more threateningly. Stay cool guys/girls, but you should all be doing some systematic revision or practice, as I know some of you are. Oh dear, the teacher in me is taking over πŸ˜‰

What a night in Track and Field! Cathy Freeman’s race was as heart-stopping as Ian Thorpe’s great performances earlier in the games.

That Cuban in the Men’s 400m was good too–and rather attractive!

It’s ironic, and sad, that when I went downstairs a few minutes after the Women’s 5000 Metres the first thing I saw was one of our local petty thieves going from parked car to parked car with a torch, looking in to see what might be stolen. She, for it was a she, and her boyfriend were about 15 maybe–they come as young as 10–and seem to be part of a regular business; you often see them at it. And I’m afraid to say–they are inevitably Aboriginal. Here in Surry Hills anyway.

So there was a bit of a contrast. Anyone who knows me (or even knows this site) knows I’m 100% for reconciliation, and furthest from my mind is to say that Aboriginal people are more likely to be thieves than any other people under circumstances I can only guess about. At the same time it’s fair to say that right here in Surry Hills (and nearby areas) there are services for and run by Aboriginal people, heaps of them: it is tragic to see the crime (and drunkenness/drugs) cycle still sucking young ones in. And it is a feature of life for us inner-city residents, and a hazard for shop-owners.

I (part-Aboriginal myself remember) don’t have a panacea for this; but the Cathy Freemans of this world can’t but do good. And my delightful friend Kristina, and others I’ve met. And the phenomenon probably has more with being an underclass, rather than Aboriginality as such.

Wednesday, September 27

You may notice I have not mentioned the weather lately: today is cool and very wet, not the best for the Olympics but very good for the garden and for the hastily planted grass in Moore Park!

The Men’s Diving was a visual feast as usual. Remember the lovely Greg Louganis? Although he did not win, I found Australian diver Robert Newbery particularly attractive, particularly in the chest area but elsewhere as well–and not a bad diver at all either πŸ˜‰

Rare event: a young Korean gentleman (not here for the Olympics) earnestly desired Ninglun’s body last night. Must be something in the water πŸ˜‰
1.20 pm: Just back from Chinatown and the weather is now perfect. πŸ™‚

Thursday, September 28: Birthday of Kong Fu-Tze (Confucius) and Holy Night of Ragaib (thanks Atakan).

Different entry today: some items of news. First check the progress of Johnny Wu’s semi-autobiographical movie Twisted. Well worth a visit. Second, the weirdest gay hate crime has recently occurred in the US. Guy named Gay did it. Read all about it courtesy of Planet Out.

Wet start to the Olympics again this morning, and it does seem more set in: yesterday on the other hand turned out brilliantly!

As it has this afternoon at 3.30 pm! Meantime the Tibetan monks have gone back home πŸ˜‰ and the image on this page is in honour of the Olympics.

Nicholas Jose has a new novel, The Red Thread, to be launched next Thursday, October 5. He’s a good Australian writer and a long-time friend of X, all the way back to China.

Friday, September 29

Pity the poor Olympic athletes as at 3.00 pm the temperature outside was 94F (35C)!

Finished Lisa Appignanesi Sanctuary (Bantam, 2000), a detective story with a New Yorker female central character, a cartoonist named Leo, but set in England; involves much about Freud and therapy, and about transgenic crops. Quite interesting, but the denouement I thought clumsy and too predictable. And why did one Australian character call women “Sheilas” (sic)? No modern Aussie male does that, none that I know anyway!

Also read Talking to the Dead by Helen Dunmore (Penguin, 1997), which I found a touch tedious and earnest I must say.

Saturday, September 30

It is quite early as I write, as after yesterday’s hot weather I rose very early this morning–5.30am in fact. It is cooler and promises to be a very nice day. There being several hours before I go down to Chinatown to do my tutoring, I decided to visit here.

I have been reading yet another Library borrowing, Denis Altman’s The Comfort of Men, Minerva 1995, but first published in 1993. Altman is well known as a pioneering Australian writer on gay politics. This was his first novel, and I recall at the time it was felt an oddity; in a sense he may as well have written an autobiography–as a novel it is competent but hardly brilliant. It has one fictional conceit at least, reinventing recent Australian history to allow the development of an Independence Party in Tasmania which led, in the world of this novel, to an independent country of Tasmania in 1971. That aside, the politics and history of the thirty years the novel deals with are represented pretty much as Altman experienced them. Altman was obviously motivated partly by the struggle for gay rights in Tasmania, and constructs his Tasmanian Independents from the various reactionaries who opposed gay rights in that state. Curiously, the Tasmanian Independence Party and its followers bear more than a passing resemblance to Pauline Hanson’s One Nation (now a sick joke of backstabbing and conflicting vanities) — and that three years before One Nation emerged.

Altman and I are the same age, and while not riveted by The Comfort of Men as a novel, I am totally absorbed in the experiences it recounts; Tasmania is very like Sutherland where I grew up in the 1950s–in fact this is why my brother lives there! Then the novel moves to Melbourne and Sydney. In the background are many events I recall. Of course Altman and I are very different: I was a conservative, even right-wing, young man, very much centred on Church and my immediate and extended family–for reasons I won’t go into here. I did not come out until well into the 1980s, although I remember reading Altman’s polemical work in the late 70s and early 80s. Yet the novel is one of those “books that understand me”. There is so much in it that I relate to, and any younger person wanting to know what it was like for people of my generation (born in the 1940s) could do worse than read The Comfort of Men.

It is also a book of mature reflection. Altman’s political interests are clear in the novel; he is after all a university lecturer in Politics. However the novel goes beyond that, and it is fair to say it indicates a reassessment on Altman’s part on the place and nature of politics. It also shows a much more tentative person than one might imagine.

There is much wisdom in The Comfort of Men. For example: “I had begun to understand something of the importance of friendship for gay men, and how it might fill the void which I feared in my life as I grew older. With Gerald, I had built a relationship over ten years which was as central and as reliable as that with a blood relative; my very exasperation with him was possible only because of the depth of our commitment to each other. As I grew older I formed other relationships of this sort, constructed a kind of family of other exiles from traditional home life, in which friends and former lovers became a new sort of extended family…” (p. 242)

Diary for October 2000

Sunday October 1

Well, what a Yum Cha! Frankly, I was not feeling well this morning, but Yum Cha soon changed that. A record attendance on this last day of the Olympic Games. Seventeen people–so I won’t list them all, but one Indonesian Olympic visitor, the regulars (PK, James, Ian Smith, Rhodesia D, Bruce, Clive) plus Simon H (a friend and ex-student of mine, whose friendship now goes back over 20 years), Tim K (a person I met about 14 years ago) whose personal odyssey is fascinating, and most pleasing of all Mr R and Delenio. A lovely way to spend Sunday morning.

The day went on and I went with the flow. After Simon, The Rabbit and Delenio had gone, I followed Ian to the Beauchamp and then the Albury–the Marathon went past us hardly noticed!–and it was a slightly drunken afternoon but one essentially of good fellowship. The drink was really incidental to the kind of friendship that Denis Altman talks of in his novel. Surprise: Ian knew Denis Altman way back when I was in the closet known as Wollongong! (Or it was to me a closet!)

****

And the Olympics Closing Ceremony is in progress as I write. Soon the sound of fireworks will fill the night here and I will go out to look. What a time to be young, Mitch and Hilbert, and all my younger friends. What memories to keep! I have such a mixture of feelings, I who was a bit of an Olympics cynic. But it has gone so well. If you are overseas reading this, you just would not believe how good it has been to be in Sydney in the Year 2000–despite, well, the Australian dollar…etc. But bugger all that, as we say in Australia, without the rudeness that might seem to suggest. This has been a good time for the human spirit. I hear now in the background the sounds of indigenous Australia; I scan the list of volunteers and see in that multicultural Australia in action–the Zhangs, the Xus, the Smiths, the Xuerebs…all one! I am a proud Australian at this moment, totally unashamed of this emotion. Wishing my father were here, my mother…my cousin who won gold at Munich and now gone from this life…No more words..

The best Games ever? Yes, maybe it really is so.

Never thought Ninglun would say all that! πŸ˜‰

Yes I know there will be a hangover in the morning, but….

I’m on a high–why not? See you all later. πŸ™‚

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