In keeping with my increasing pitiful attempts to write a travel blog while barely setting foot outside my home (and in a desperate attempt to persuade a certain Finnish gentleman that I have more than one string to my bow) I present this entry which basically revolves around a lunch date.
Out of the blue a colleague of mine who has been noticeable by her absence from work in recent times reached out to me to see if I would like to abandon my employers for a few hours and join her for lunch. Little did she know I would cheerfully abandon my employers to root through a rubbish skip.
As can be detected from the nickname I've given her my colleague does not hail from these parts. Indeed no, the Persian Princess comes from a far off, mysterious land steeped in history. A land barely known to those of us in this country, a land rich in ancient tradition with a culture very different to our own. I am referring, of course, to Sweden. The nation that Finns and Norwegians hold up as an example of the truism "you can't choose your neighbours". Sweden's principal exports are tennis players, peace activists, war materials, a power metal band I'm rather fond of and the Persian Princess. Sweden is (according to her) a well run, socially equal country with excellent services, good education and bright hopes for the future. All of which goes some way towards explaining why it also has one of the highest suicide rates in Europe.
Once a mutually inconvenient meeting place had been agreed upon we were on our way. The Persian Princess ate up the miles in a gleaming SUV that would probably have a heart attack if you drove it on wet grass and I being the eco-friendly, biodegradable character that I am hopped on the light rail. I realise that some people might object to the self description in the previous sentence but I think we can all agree that there are few people more biodegraded than my own good self.
I like traveling on the light rail, if you squint a little and tilt your head you can look out the window and not realise you're passing through one of the most heavily urbanised parts of the country. Trees fringe the route, there are parks and large concrete gutters doing their best to impersonate the natural watercourses they once were. Our destination was the Tramsheds in Glebe which I have mentioned in this blog before.
Back in the mists of time when Sydney had mere "trams" rather than the more socially acceptable "light rail" there was a tendency to store them in the most visually pleasing places available. Apparently the authorities felt that harbour views, lush trees and idyllic settings could only be improved upon by adding spectacularly ugly tram garages. We eventually knocked down the main one (we built Sydney Opera House on the site) but when the time came to demolish the one at Glebe it was decided that something so historically and architecturally significant should be kept if only to ensure that nobody ever built anything like it ever again.
After many years of neglect developers came along, chased out the mice, spiders and derelicts, restored the building and built what is essentially a food court on the site. It must be admitted that it is an interesting brick clad food court. Tramsheds may be intrinsically ugly but they're still probably a cut above the average food court. Here among the exposed brick, randomly displayed tram carriages, and throngs of mask wearing people nervously skirting the edges of social distancing requirements I met the Persian Princess for lunch.
She looked well and I said so. She thanked me. I also said she looked a little like Jacqueline Pearce. She said "who?". I reflected on the age gap between us and gave up on cultural references. We dined at a little French cafe which refused to serve us crepes so I had that most French of meals, a bacon and egg roll. We caught each other up on what was going on in our lives. Nothing in my case and far too much to mention in hers.
Once we had disposed of topics like action films, birthday presents, racist science fiction authors from the 1920s and whether it was too cold for gelato we came to the real purpose for her desire to meet me. Glancing from side to side she lowered her voice and asked if I knew where she could procure an artificial arm. I wondered briefly if she was planning an impromptu amputation. She reassured me that she was actually hoping to go to fancy dress party as Imperator Furiosa from Mad Max. Sadly I couldn't help with the artificial arm although I did offer her a two for one deal on glass eyes.
With that out of the way there was little else to do except return to our respective homes. I did promise that if she gave me a little warning I could procure as many prosthetics as she liked. She took that under advisement and didn't exactly specify a time for us to meet again.