Date: December 2011
December 12, 2011. 1:30am at Taree railway station, I
boarded the XPT train to Sydney. I thought at that ridiculous hour
no one would be on the damn thing. Wrong! Before I could get to my allocated
seat, I had to pick my way through and over lots of sleeping bodies curled
up on the seats including mine! And to make it more difficult, all the
train's interior lights had been turned off. "Is that your seat?" a young
woman with a small child from the other side of the aisle asked. Her husband
was sleeping on MY seat! "Hey, Goldilocks!" I felt like saying, but the
woman woke him and, after lots of muttering and grumbling, he went back
to sleeping on the floor at his wife's feet. It occurred to me later that
I could have asked him to stay where he was but... well... I figured maybe
that wasn't such a good idea after all.
Anyway, the trip was not pleasant. It was black as pitch outside so
I couldn't see anything through the windows, and I had two heavy snorers
nearby, which meant I couldn't nap even if I tried - which I did. AND...
the undercarriage had a squeaky spring.
A few days prior to booking my train trip, a Taree surgeon checked out
a lesion in my oral cavity (the thing you and I commonly refer to as the
mouth) which, following a biopsy, had been declared non-cancerous. But
he was suspicious, and refused to be the surgeon for its removal. Instead,
he referred me to a head and neck specialist in Sydney who happened to
have an early appointment opportunity. It was all a bit of a rush but I
decided to take advantage of it, and use my time in Sydney as an excuse
to take a bunch of photos of the old town. I had 7 hours between arrival
time and the appointment with the doc.
When daylight appeared about 2 hours out of Sydney, the train's windows
were being spattered with rain. Charming. Rain continued to fall all the
way. And when I arrived at 7am at Central Railway, you guessed it, it was
peeing down. I bought a one-day multi-pass on all Sydney's public transport
which cost only $2.50 (pensioner concession). Definitely the way to get
around! Then I took a train to Circular Quay where I figured I'd do the
obligatory pics of the Bridge and Opera House. But the rain kept falling
and it was miserable. I hung around for some hours, wondering what to do,
but found a couple of opportunities to get some pics UNLIKE you normally
see on postcards and brochures of the Harbor City. I also grabbed a coffee,
and egg and sausage McMuffin at McDonalds. I haven't been to Maccas for
umpteen years, so the coffee was a bit of a challenge. I couldn't get the
bloody lid off! Then I realized you were supposed to drink the coffee with
the lid on, through the little hole in the top. Roite. Bloody country yokels.
At about mid morning-ish, the weather cleared a little. It was still
cloudy and sprinkling a bit, but I decided to take a walk along the covered
walkway to the Opera House. That was fortuitous because it provided an
opportunity for some interesting pics prior to most lunchtime eateries
and other businesses being open. There were also only a few workers/pedestrians
about. Wet conditions and no sun meant I had to look for alternative photo
opportunities... anything that might be vaguely interesting. Luckily, I
did find a few.
I headed back to Circular Quay and got a few shots of the local buildings,
including the AMP inwardly curved skyscraper that I photographed back in
the '60s when the Opera House was still under construction. The weather
had cleared a little more by this time, so I figured I'd take a ferry over
to Kirribilli for some shots looking back at the city skyline. That's when
I met Captain Jimmy Cook II, a lovely bloke with whom I chatted for quite
a while about things Cookish, Endeavourish and ahoy there matey-ish, etc.
"You can't take photos of me unless they appear on Twitter," he said, but
I explained that I was a good friend of the original Captain. "Oh, well
that's different, then." "He was very tall you know... 6' 3", I said. "No
he wasn't, that's a fallacy. He was only 5' 4"." "No, he was well over
6 foot. I've seen his cabin and it has a very high ceiling. Have you ever
been on board the Endeavour? The replica?" Well, he hadn't, so I had him
against the ropes. Hehe. But he let me take a couple of pics, anyway, and
I told him about Red Bubble and also about Aussie Odyssey.
Sydneysiders are very friendly. Earlier, a lady approached me and said
g'day. She noted I had a camera around my neck. "Don't worry about the
rain," she said with a smile, "at least you won't get any shadows." Then
she gave me a little flyer. "You might like to read about the future according
to the Bible." Oops! A religious nut! "But the Bible is all about the past,"
I argued as I handed the flyer back to her. "The future hasn't happened
yet." She wasn't prepared to waste time with a cynic so she toddled off
into the drizzle and wished me a nice day.
As I waited on Circular Quay station for a train to Newtown, a bloke
wandered up to me and asked if I was a tourist... noting my red Buckeyes
Ohio State University long-sleeve shirt and camera around my neck. "Not
really, mate. I'm from Taree but I lived in Sydney before that." We got
to chatting and he told me about his work with computer art. His train
arrived and he wanted to travel with me to continue our chat but it wasn't
headed to Newtown where I needed to go. Pity really because he's been living
in Papua New Guinea for the past 20 years and I'm sure he had some fascinating
tales to tell.
I'd forgotten how many steps there are at Newtown station... with NO
escalator! By the time I got to the top, my legs were like jelly but I
had to walk all the way to the Medical Center, maybe a mile or so. I arrived
at a pub and stopped for a beer cos I was about 45 minutes early for the
doc appointment. Got a window seat and watched a Chubb Armored Truck arrive
just outside for a cash delivery to the pub... uniformed guys with guns
on their hips. I was tempted to whip out the camera for a few pics but
then thought no, no, no - not a good idea, Gary. The guys were giving me
supicious glances as it was! And the last thing I needed was to be sprawled
face down on the floor with 3 guns pointed at me.
And the main reason I went to Sydney? Well, the doc was a most pleasant
man but he didn't like what he saw when he took a peek into my "oral cavity".
He said the original samples taken in Taree were too small to get a reliable
biopsy result. He's convinced the lesion is malignant, so he took a few
more larger samples for another biopsy. I got a needle in the tongue (ouch!)
as well as a camera probe thingy up my nose to check my throat internals.
All seems clear in that area, but he said if the second biopsy proves to
be negative, he won't believe it. Hehe. He said the operation to remove
the lesion to the fullest extent will also include checking (and possibly
removing) lymph glands in my neck for signs of cancer. It's a serious operation
(or series thereof) which will keep me in a Sydney hospital for 10 to 12
days. Oh well... go with the flow, I say. And I'm not gonna worry about
My ex-neighbor turned up to meet me at the Medical Center and we went
back to the pub for a drink - his treat. I had a terrible time trying to
talk because there was a bandage thing in my mouth and my tongue and lips
were still numb. Nonetheless, I managed to throw a glass of white wine
down the screech without too much effort. Hehe. Lots of practice. Then
I decided to catch a cab rather than a bus to Central station in order
not to miss my train back to Taree. Good thing I did because the driver
was most interesting and even invited me to take his photo!
here for the photo album.
← Older posts
Newer posts →
Return to Home Page