Saturday, 15 November 2008

Brisbane in summer (a rant).

Brisbane is, for all intents and purposes, my hometown. I was not born here (Dublin), I did not spend the bulk of my formative years here (Redcliffe, just to the north of Brisbane), but I have lived here for a huge chunk of my life to's home.

I love Brisbane. It's clean, safe and becoming more cosmopolitan with every passing year. It contains all the goods and services we spoiled, indolent ones in the developed world take for granted. It's still home to a wide variety of native flora and fauna, even in built-up inner-city areas (proof of this: I live seven minutes out of the CBD & a brush-tailed possum lives in our bathroom closet and, as I typed 'closet', a scrub-turkey walked in the front door).

Brisbane has one of the best winters in the known universe. The nights rarely drop below 7°C/45°F and the days, mild, crisp and blue, are usually 20-22°C/68-72°F. It's a treat, and I love it.

But every year, at around the same time, my fondness and affection for my hometown begin to dwindle. It starts in early November with the falling of the jacaranda flowers & the shrill morning tinnitus of the cicada...and does not end until April, when the first cool zephyrs lick towards the sea.


Now, Brisbane does not have the hottest summers on Earth; far from it. Nor is it the most humid place, though you don't think that when you're marinating in it. But it's well and truly fucking hot enough, thanks, especially when the sweat leaking out of your body does not dry because the air is just as cloying & moist.

In short, I hate Brisbane in summer.

A typical summer morning starts beautifully, if you are able to tune out the fucking cicadas. It's mild, the air is sweet...then about 10 minutes later it's 35°C with 99% humidity and you're bathing in the sweaty soup of your own filth. That's what summer is like here...walking through a big bowl of unpalatable soup.

The strangest thing is, people here LOVE summer. In the middle of a god-perfect July day when the air is so fresh it's as if the world is newborn and the sky is a crisp candy shell blue, people moan about the fact they can't wait till summer comes. And when it does come, they get annoyed when it rains! I find myself wanting to commit acts of violence.

This is another thing I detest about summer. It serves to highlight and reinforce all my petty little 365-days-a-year Brisbane-loathings:

Brisbane is never finished. Just when you think the skyline looks good and should be left as is, up goes another crop of misshapen, ugly buildings and the sky is full of cranes.

Brisbane's roads are in a constant state of 'works' and alleged transformation, but the traffic gets no better (Exhibit A: Coronation Drive). And even if it did get better, Brisbane drivers think they'll get home a lot faster if they don't let you merge.

Show a tourist around Brisbane and if you don't take 'em to Lone Pine, Southbank, Mount Coot-tha or the Valley, you'll spend all your time in foodcourts. Brisbane is a land of foodcourts. Give it two days with a tourist and I guarantee you'll be looking for stuff to do out of town.

Thousands of Brisbane people do not know how to use an escalator. On any given day at peak hour you'll see a horde of people alight from trains at Central/R Street/B Street etc. Many will hit the escalators, stop and keep to the left, allowing those who are in a hurry (or aren't not lazy bastids) to walk up the escalator steps on the right hand side. But there's always a cerebellum-shy goofball who stops, blocking the path of dozens (including one bitchy 39-year-old guy of Irish ancestry who is cussing murderously under his breath).

It's even worse in malls and shopping centres. Glazed-eyed eejit-brains with tiny gleams of drool collecting at the corners of their mouths, transfixed by all the purty Xmas decorations. I want to scream at them. But I don't. The Anglo parts of me (even though they're northern) just won't allow it. I merely wait for them to reach the top and quietly curse their corpulent hides as they waddle off to the foodcourt.

I get the train to work every day. It's usually pretty full. As in most cities, humans are frightened of each other, so they bridle at the thought of having some stranger sit beside them. This makes it very curious then that, once all the seats are full, people cram like Tokyoites into the vestibule, leaving the aisles empty. It usually takes a verbal plea (either from the conductor on PA or a passenger in the throes of asphyxia) to get people to filter into the aisle.

This is a Brisbane phenomenon. I was in Sydney & Melbourne in June and this singular stupidity did not occur on either city's conveyances. Actually, the day after arriving home from Melbourne with a bronchial infection as souvenir, I got on an unevenly cramped/spacious train and was moved to set aside propriety & reserve, saying, "Could we please have some people move into the aisle? It's really cramped." No reaction, save for startled stares. Fed up, I followed almost instantly with the loud declaration, "I have a virulent cold." Never have I seen 'em move so fast.

Most council buses in Brisbane are now, thankfully, air-conditioned. However, there seems to be a large cross-section of people in this city who, when on an older bus with no a/c in mid-summer like to pretend it's air-conditioned by keeping all of the fucking windows closed. I've seen people pass out on buses in Brisbane all because some toolkit didn't want their hair getting mussed up. Open the goddamn windows, people!

Yes, I know...I'm moaning. But you'll notice that I did subtitle this blog post 'a rant'. We need to purge every now and again, and I can think of no better audience than my tiny readership.

As I've been writing I've heard a few phantom adenoidal voices of Brisbanites saying 'If y'don't fuckin' loik it, why doncha fuck off down South then?'

Two reasons really. When all is said and vented, I do love Brisbane...even some of the summer bits. Frangipani & poinciana in bloom, the cricket season, the anticipation of a belting thunderstorm, girls with less clothes's all lovely.

The second reason? Statements like 'If you don't like it, move' are false dilemma fallacies and as such borne of complete fucking ignorance.

I'm off to the mall, where in air-conditioned comfort I can hang with the madding crowd, listening to the strains of 'Walking in a Winter Wonderland' as the Season of Rabid Commerce begins.

See you in the foodcourt.