Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Warts and all?


I like plain speaking doctors, it is always useful to be clear about what the issue is, and after all what’s wrong with the odd word like ‘Fat’ when bandied about between friends?

I’ve had a fair bit of medical plain speaking in my time, mostly it has to be said, during periods when I was very fat, pregnancy rather than cream cake related, I hasten to add.   There was the young obstetrician in London who answered my query about whether inducing the baby that had taken up what seemed like permanent roost in my womb, would end with a second caesarean scar.  Having already gained what the obstertrician in Hong Kong referred to as the ‘Mark of Zorro’ across my stomach with baby no.1, I was anxious to avoid the same fate with baby no. 3.  He looked up casually from his notes, and remarked that in his experience women of my age were a bit like old bangers, once you cranked them up and started them they just ran and ran.  I should point out here I was 34 at the time, admittedly not spring lamb status but had never really considered myself in the old banger  or mutton category.

There seems to be something about my insides that brings out the worst in male doctors.  There was the radiologist who was searching for a lost IUD, (don’t ask, I don’t know why these things happen to me), who remarked with satisfaction when he found it, “One good tug and they’ll get that out” before realising the word ‘tug’ should never be used with regard to someone’s innards, unless you are addressing some kind of fowl.  Turkey or no turkey, I laughed, and in fact we parted best of friends, overcome by such giggles that we reeled out into the waiting room together in the grip of the type of hysteria that can have hardly reassured the legions of pregnant women waiting for their own ultrasounds.

My latest problem is not with the charming doctor who conducted my recent skin check, but with the terminology he employed to describe my blemishes.  When a woman gets to a certain age, and yes, we are now talking old banger status, she does not expect to be told the lumps and bumps that add character to her face are actually ‘age warts’.  Plain speaking is all very well but whilst the dewy complexion vanished like the proverbial dawn some years ago, I don’t want to think of myself as akin to Gerda the frog with ‘age warts’ dotted across my face.  If the medical profession can bend the rules and call wrinkles, laughter lines, why has no one rebranded beastly ‘age warts’.  How much better if I could emerge having had a few ‘You Go Girl marks’ or “Glamour bumps’ pointed out, ‘Age warts’ are benign and generally appear after the age of 40 so there is no reason why they have to be branded with words that strike repulsion into the female heart – though I did discover during a quick google check that they did in fact used to be called ‘Senile Warts’ so I suppose I can’t really complain about ‘Age warts’ too much but as for that other classic sign of aging, the hairs on my chinny chin chin,, don’t start me on that one or I really will be tugging some unfortunate doctor’s giblets out.


Age Warts - Pah! Like these Kookaburras I laugh in the face of them.


Saturday, June 1, 2013

Vivid - The Light Fantastic


Circular Quay in Sydney, is the hub of the city, the spot where the ferries come in, ending a ferry trip that must be one of the most spectacular in the world with the Harbour Bridge to one side, Opera House to the other, with a view that makes it hard to know which way to aim your camera for the average tourist.

On a normal night, the lights around the harbour twinkle and glitter very satisfactorily, with people spilling out of the Opera House or standing with a drink on the Terraces beneath it, whilst strollers promenade round Circular Quay and the quayside restaurant outdoor tables fill up with diners.   

‘Vivid’ the Sydney Festival of Light, Music and Ideas, that is now into it’s 5th year, lifts the spectacular rating of the city at night to ‘Completely Out of This World’.  As soon as darkness falls, the sails of the Opera House become a playpen for colour and pattern, the curves of the sails a projection screen for lyrical imaginings around the theme of ‘Play’.  I say lyrical, even though it is more appropriate descriptor for music, because somehow it just seems the right word to describe the blending and weaving of light with shapes and patterns appearing and disintegrating like themes in a symphony.




Sydney’s landmark Customs House building that dates back to 1845, is hidden behind an elevated train line and a motorway – raising an interesting question about the thinking of those who designed that particular transport solution.  ‘Vivid’ transforms the classical symmetry of the Georgian fa├žade into a laughing, jiving house of fun, with the pared back architectural lines of the building blurring in a psychedelic, mind bending screen, complete with a King Kong inspired gorilla swinging through the action. 



The Museum of Contemporary Art building always reminds me of an industrial factory head office in my own personal version of 1984.  From the Opera House, gazing across Circular Quay towards the MCA building, the patterns of light build in blocks and cascade down whilst targeted lines create cats cradles across the building.  It all seemed pretty impressive as a view, but once we had wandered our way round the Quay past the individual light sculptures and it is hard not to be astonished by the variety and creativity of the light artists, the highlight of ‘Vivid’ for me, was standing in front of the MCA, and watching the building climb and crumble in patterns of light, whilst behind us the choreographed music played.   The combination of two sensory experiences was just outstanding.



‘Vivid’ is on until June 10th, and the lights and the show go on from 6p.m. every night, so should you be in Sydney, get yourself down there and trip the light fantastic.