Brisbane: the soft city?

Posted: January 31, 2013 in Uncategorized
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Every six months or so when I remember the existence of Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Sunscreen’, I listen to it and smile at the lyrics: ‘Live in New York City once but leave before it makes you hard; live in Northern Carolina once but leave before i makes you soft’.  I’ve lived in neither New York City nor Northern Carolina.  But I have lived in London and I have lived in Devon.  I’ve also visited a number of other places most of which I’ve been able, at least loosely, to place into one of these two categories.  Brisbane, however, has me stumped! 

Before coming here, I might have assumed that a city which does not threaten to instil ice in your heart and hatred in your eyes would be a blessing.  But somehow this city manages to evade all a city’s usual rudeness, pollution and cynicism and yet has replaced in with a sort of indescriminate void. 

I’ve been challenged a number of times over the past weeks to offer my opinion of my new temporary home.  Try though I have to spare the feelings of these rather friendly individuals, and indeed maintain at least a sheen of credibility in the ‘decent sociable human being’ ranks, I’m afraid I’ve invariably answered with phrases such as ‘it’s a bit soft’; ‘it’s lacking something’ and on one particularly downtrodden day, ‘I just look around and think…really?!!’.  I hear myself saying these things and generally attempt some form of back-peddle, offering either placatory anecdotes such as ‘but one woman did smile at me yesterday’ or else aim to even the scoreboard by insulting my own country, ‘If only England didn’t have such god awful rain’ (not even true). 

But most remarkably, most people at least partially agree with my somewhat underwhelming assessment of this city, adding such things as ‘yeah, it doesn’t look that great does it’ and ‘yeah, you need to get away from here quite often’.

Now, I say ‘you need to get away sometimes’ about my town of Dartmouth in the UK – an infinitely smaller (three-streets-big smaller) and, in my opinion, infinitely more beautiful and charismatic place.  I can cope with the insularity, occasional gossip-mongering and limited entertainment options because it means I get to live by the beautiful River Dart, a short country-lane walk away from the beach ad surrounded by luscious green countryside and woodlands.  Most importantly, it’s crammed with charismatic people waving and shouting greetings across the road and welcoming you with a pint in the pub. That’s why I ‘sacrifice’ to live in a place you ‘need to get away from now and then’.  What on earth possesses people to do the same for Brisbane.


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