Sunday, 11 September 2011

Haunted pub Hero of Waterloo

Just got in this evening from the past days at the 5th IPEd Conference - Australia's Institute of Professional Editors - held at one of the Darling Harbour convention venues in Sydney. Over a hundred editors were there from around the nation, a motley bunch; freelance and in-house; academic and other. Accredited, unaccredited, disinherited and just plain disreputable, or worse... too respectable. My unedited highlights were the Thursday night escorted walk at The Rocks which included the suitably haunted cellar of the 1841 pub The Hero of Waterloo: licensee Ivan told spooky tales which may - who knows? - even be true... a piano-playing poltergeist.

On Friday after the day's sober activity I went AWOL to see and hear the musical Mary Poppins on the stage of the Capitol Theatre in Campbell Street, near my Chinatown digs. Could it live up to the 1960s movie? The Julie Andrews & Dick Van Dyke show. Well, damned good. That's the heart of a mini-review of this current Richard Eyre direction of the Disney classic from P L Travers' book. The full house loved it, and although the audience contained a scattering of children, the show was by no means aimed at just a youthful audience. My seat was only half a dozen rows from the stage so I wasn't lost up in the gods. The leads Verity Hunt-Ballard as Mary P. and Matt Lee as Bert were totally up to the task, while the Banks parents as performed by Marina Prior and Philip Quast were no disappointment. Quast even achieved an uncanny resemblance to David Tomlinson's movie dad. The juvenile roles in the stage production rotate among five Janes and five Michaels. Them's the rules. The show goes until almost 11pm nightly. My task now, of course, is to sell to our little singing group at home the notion of the aerial wire work. The Poppins woman, for instance, sails off for her final departure above the heads of the audience from stage to dress circle and ceiling, no mean feat in the delightfully period Capitol Theatre. And Bert, similarly wired, "walks" up one side of the stage, upside down across the top and down the other side, without missing a beat. There are new songs and some other new material such as the return of Nurse Andrews, Nanny from Hell, and her splendid comeuppance. The entire cast manages the lively song Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious complete with choreographed and convincing hand-signing.

Yesterday, Saturday, was nostalgia day. I tripped on the Manly Ferry with pleasant company and walked much of the way to Shelly Beach and, as it happened, past my first school back in... ahh... 1944. Earlier in the day we called again at the Hero pub. I quaffed a Guinness served by an authentic Dubliner (we talked about Roddy Doyle's books which he knew). Then a look inside the historic Garrison Anglican Church, a stroll down through the Argyle Street Cut (convict hand-hewn tunnel) and the weekend street market at The Rocks.

Have to admit I enjoyed getting back into my own car after being collected at Adelaide Airport by the polite driver of the little shuttle bus. It was sent to meet the flight, and then to take (two of) us to pick up our vehicles garaged for the duration at Richmond Road, in premises formerly a well-known bedding warehouse. I think the cars get tucked in at night. Mine certainly looked smug. I drove the longer route down the Yorke Peninsula through Arthurton, and enjoyed the sunset over Spencer Gulf as viewed from the road south of Maitland. Chinatown eat your heart out.

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