Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Melbourne Sojourn: Brisbane

This is the first post in a short series about my trip to Melbourne last week to attend a conference, Television and the National, hosted by La Trobe University at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI).

Before getting into the conference proper, I feel the need to talk a bit about what was going on in Brisbane last week too. Then I'll finish off with some things I did in Melbourne, which are not about the conference.

I left for Melbourne last Tuesday morning the 18th of November. Leaving on Tuesday meant that I could go and see Laura's paper which she delivered on Monday evening: 'Warming the imagination with scenes of the past': Time Travel romances about Jane Austen.

It's always a thrill to see someone you know from outside of academe talking about the research they do within academe. You get to see them in full, passionate scholar mode talking about something they really know and care about. I am not especially knowledgeable about the works of Jane Austen, I could only marvel at Laura's command of a whole range of literature, to which she casually referred throughout her presentation. Where I could get some purchase, if you will, was in her discussion of all the time travel fan-fiction that has proliferated around Austen and her works. I enjoyed Laura's identification of this sub-genre of Austen-derived fiction and I appreciated that while some of the novels she discussed are obviously fairly untenable, she takes seriously the phenomenon--and those who participate in it--as an expression of a broader cultural moment.

While I went off to Melbourne, I hoped that Laura would enjoy her first visit to Brisbane. At the beginning of her paper she had mentioned being attacked by a goose at the St Lucia campus of UQ (perhaps it was this one), but who was to know that would be the least of her worries as storms hit Brisbane causing widespread flooding and destruction? On the Sunday before I left for Melbourne a storm had ripped through the suburbs uncomfortably close to me:

On the Friday morning I was away, I was listening to news that reported the suburb I lived in was under water. I got a bit worried, especially when I heard about Ithaca Creek spilling its banks and cars floating down the streets:

I made a call to the property manager and left a message asking for reassurance that I still had a home, but then I had to take a deep breath, accept I could do nothing, and go and give my paper.

Thankfully, miraculously, the only evidence of the storm I could see around my home when I returned was a tree branch on the ground and some mud where the water had flowed through underneath the house. Everything inside was warm and dry.

The view from the bridge I walk across on a daily basis to catch the bus and go shopping tells a more dramatic story:

My street is just on the other side of the right bank there, so you can see why I was worried from afar given the water seems to have come up over the ravine.


Mark Lawrence said...

Hi Kirsty, I'm glad that your home was safe and dry to return to. That is so important in ways that we often only think about when that is threatened!

My parents live in the northern suburbs, and their suburb was badly hit (I've seen a photo of tree damage to their local police station) but thankfully their home was spared.

They initially thought they'd only lost a grevillea tree and had some garden mess from the eucalyptus up the road that had been blown over, but they've since found out the retaining wall they share with a neighbour has shifted an inch with the wind and waterlogged earth! And a fence post is leaning precariously outward...

They are on the high side of the retaining wall. It's holding strongly, but it does need reinforcing...

BTW, it is a pity that we couldn't catch up while you were in Melbourne. And I want that recipe for the sesame coated chicken and green tea noodles – please blog it!

Kirsty said...

I'm glad your parents are safe Mark. They must not live too far from me.

I really do wish I had been more organised about the whole Melbourne trip. I'm hanging my head in shame about my ineptitude when in comes to organising myself in other cities. I'm sorry I missed meeting up with you (and other Sars folk) too.

As for the sesame coated chicken, well I think it must sound far more exotic that it is. I got the recipe from Taste.com.au after entering chicken and bok choy as search ingredients. I basically cut up a chicken breast into strips and rolled them straight in sesame seeds (there was a note that said kids could do this bit) and then I pan fried them. The recipe asked for mushroom noodles but alas ; ) I only had organic green tea noodles which I just cooked as per the packet instructions. For the bok choy I strayed from the recipe and went for a Maggie and Simon preparation where I toasted some sea salt in a wok, before adding oil and garlic, then I threw in the bok choy and finally some stock. I added the cooked noodles to the bok choy and then flavoured the lot with a bit of sesame oil. I served the chicken atop the noodles and bok choy. Voila! And dee-lish.

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