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The View From The White Rabbit Gallery including Everton v United

Except we didn’t go home then. I waited for the others to catch up on the Pyrmont Bridge, namely so I could soak in the late night views. It was 3am and whilst I was ready for sleep, the others weren’t quite finished. Luckily for them there was a 24 hour bar on the way home, the imaginatively titled Pyrmont Bridge Hotel.

By then I had sobered up and some of the sights I were to behold were more nightmare inducing than Labyrinth. Of sloshed Irishmen bumping into girls purposefully to apologise and then buy them drinks. Of 3am girls on the pull and grabbing anything they could. Unfortunately this worked the other way as one man (who I was surprised could actually identify humans properly) came over and tried to talk to the girls. Only, no-one had a clue what he was saying meaning we’d just nod at his every slurred statement. This was beginning to get excruciatingly painful and Erin the Canadian clearly wasn’t wanting to remain as her and Elodie made their exits. I should have gone then but couldn’t resist coverage of the J-League on the TVs.

Having arrived back at 5, I somehow left bed to wash, get dressed for toast and out by 11. I’ll probably regret that later yet I have plans afoot. Specifically to visit the White Rabbit Gallery and research a Halloween costume.

I’m still struggling to find my way around town and take the long route to the gallery which is just past Central Station and the redevelopment which will be known as Central Park. The gallery is of contemporary Chinese art and is, thankfully, not that expansive. There is a ‘calm’ pile of rubble depicting our misconceptions of the crisis in the Middle East. Landscapes of abstract lines to portray static from electronic signals or a bleak landscape. One even looks like braille but is in fact a series of unconnected, nonsensical punched dots.

The more stunning pieces include one of a silver bleeding torso with the head of Mickey Mouse. As I approach I’m instructed to remain behind the white line away from the blood (water). He looks too informal to work here so he may be the artist’s representative, he’s certainly not Chinese. My favourite piece is a series of painted views from a window. They’re stacked in columns with the ground floor at the bottom going up each floor to the top giving a sense of perspective. The artist notes that they wanted to show each inhabitant’s individual view from their window yet proves their separate lives interlock.

The afternoon is warming up nicely as I head back to Glebe. As it’s Saturday I again pop into the market yet at least this time I nearly buy something. It was a grey t-shirt with the design of a skeleton with a red heart. I would have purchased it if it wasn’t a size too big for me, would have been great for Halloween too. There’s enough time for a quick food shop in Coles and as Jamie’s mince has gone off I replace it.

It’s still too early for dinner so I pop up Glebe Point Road to the bay. The park is in glorious form as couples walk in the late afternoon sunshine, young families play games and one extended family have a huge gathering. I try to sit and read my book but at 4.30 the heat is still enough to burn. Instead I take a walk and spot a game of cricket so lounge under a tree and watch. It looks like a youth match as friends of players taunt and congratulate in equal measure but makes for good entertainment as loose deliveries are swatted for six.

Dinner time and one I’ve been looking forward to as I finally involve some vegetables. My pasta and bolognese sauce are going along nicely so I decide to put my garlic bread in. The oven is about the size of a microwave so space is limited though someone has made sure only one tray is used for their dinner. There’s clearly space for two so I open the oven and try to remove the unused shelve to place my garlic bread. Shortly after this I hear: ‘Oi. What are you doing? My dinner is in there’. I argue that there’s room for two shelves and am informed that it’s not going to happen as that’ll mean their dinner takes twice as long. I’m not up for an argument so remove myself as dignified as possible. Inside I’m seething at this person’s selfishness and could easily have argued that it is a communal oven yet think better of it.

I’ve tried to make plans to watch the football with a friend from a previous hostel yet these go awry. Instead I make my own mind up and head into town. Halloween has clearly arrived early in Sydney as I walk my route from Glebe along Pyrmont Bridge and onto George St. In the half an hour it takes I pass zombies, witches and girls who simply cannot apply make-up properly. You could argue that Halloween arrived last week judging by United’s horrorshow in the ‘match that shall not be mentioned’. A midweek League Cup win helped but real redemption begins tonight against Everton.

My bar of choice this evening is Cheers on George St. While they don’t know my name the atmosphere is genial amongst shirts of United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool, even a light blue Sydney FC shirt can be spotted in the downstairs bar. United kick off at 10pm with pre-match coverage of the Chelsea v Arsenal match already begun on smaller screens. This is the joy of watching football abroad; overseas rights mean that matches, such as this midday kick-off, can be screened as the demand is certainly there. Though tonight seats are available close to kick-off, the ex-pat and tourist population will always be present in numbers.

Upstairs there is a smaller bar and pool tables where couples are split, bizarrely the boys play pool while the girls watch the match. Attention quickly switches as both sides create early chances with efforts from Coleman and Park both spurned. United begin to take control and a well worked move frees Evra to deliver a dangerous cross to which Hernandez converts from close range. I seize the opportunity to nip to the toilet and return to find my spot taken. Thankfully a schooner is relatively cheap at $5, though they also serve pints I opt for the smaller option while I still can.

The lad who’s taken my place apologises and scooches up. I quickly discover that Amaar is a Liverpool fan and that, while he doesn’t hate either team, he just wants to see a good game. United see out the half meaning eyes turn to watch the Chelsea v Arsenal game kick off. With both games on different screens several heads pop into view with many switching between both. This is what it must be like to work on Soccer Saturday, only without the brilliant presenting of Jeff Stelling. Two Chelsea fans stand in my view which means I have to crane my head to see the action from the widescreen tv ahead. It quickly becomes apparent that of the screens showing the Chelsea game, one is a few seconds behind the other which makes for amusing viewing when chances come and comically go.

Of course, I still watch United even if the Chelsea game seems more exciting. The red contingent becomes notably nervy yet downstairs you can hear but not see the single Everton fan as he vents his annoyance at misplaced passes. United seem to be losing their way too as Cleverley exits the pitch to an innocuous looking injury. While still not creating enough for the killer second goal, United withstand late pressure of long shots and penalty appeals. At this point a City fan seizes his chance and arrives hoping for an Everton equaliser. Short, greying and bespectacled, he parades the Champions League badge on his shirt but is left disappointed as United cut the gap at the top. It’s edging towards midnight and the bar still maintains it’s level of bonhomie so I remain, and anyway, Halloween can wait as the Chelsea match is still on.

#17 in our series of Half Day Ahead Treats is a Chomp. Yes, I am aware it looks like a chunkier version of the British chocolate bar with the only other difference being the addition of a layer of wafer

The BEST holidays

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