Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Gangster City

I had lots of fun last week in Melbourne which I always think of as Gangster City. Why gangsters? Because Melbourne has a very colourful recent history of gangster violence which is depicted in a TV series that I am totally hooked on...Underbelly. And the film Animal Kingdom doesn't add to my impression of Melbourne being a city of love and roses either.

So as much as I adore Melbourne as a city...fabulous market...beautiful kerbside cafes and restaurants...historic trams..I always feel like I should be packing a pistol, ready to draw at any minute. And if you are wearing a smart suit, have greased-back hair and talk with a slightly European accent, I will either rush up to you and ask for your autograph, or run in the opposite direction begging you to leave my knee caps alone.

Russell House teashop horribly unjustified preconceptions aside, I had a fabulous time. As always, the highlight was hanging out with new and old friends. Bronwyn and I had a very peaceful and productive time in the Russell House Teashop, brewing up a plan for world domination. Russell House is the oldest residential house in the Melbourne CBD. I nearly had my aforementioned knees bitten by the resident pekinese dog, but enjoying proper tea (made with tea leaves) in a cafe that felt like it was still living in the 1950s made up for it. To make things even better...we were only charged 30 cents!

Titanic exhibition
The other major thing I did on this trip was to go to the Titanic exhibition at the Melbourne Museum with my midwifery mate, Pam. To be honest, I was a tad disappointed with it. The exhibition was very crowded and we were herded through it very quickly. The artefacts mostly consisted of nails and china which did not carry much human interest for me. My biggest complaint is that I felt the exhibition lightly brushed over the story. I would have liked a lot more information about why the ship sank, the ineptitudes of the people involved and the ensuing investigation. And I think there should be more discussion about the 'rights and wrongs' of removing artefacts from the dive site.

All that aside, I loved the replication of the staircase, as well as the personal stories that were told. The most poignant artefact was a steward's jacket that got me thinking about the staff of the Titanic who had little or no chance of surviving. The other very powerful thing that happens is that everyone going through the exhibition is given a name of a passenger. At the end of the exhibition you are able to see if the person survived. I was a third class, 18 year old Irish girl travelling to New York to become a nun (I can't remember her name) and Pam was a first class, 50 year old woman. Suffice to say, Pam survived the trip...I didn't.

I know this is very "Hollywood", but for me the film Titanic remains the most powerful experience that got me thinking about what the people must have felt and suffered. However, what the exhibition has left me asking is...why after all these years are we still so fascinated by the Titanic story? Any ideas?


Anita Hamilton said...

I was born in Melbourne and lived there 0-3, 10-22, so I suppose I have gangster blood! When we meet you might want to be be careful what you say to me Sarah, you might be swimmin' wiv the fishies.

Where is that amazing cafe and what world domination are you planning this time :D
Cheers, Anita

Sarah Stewart said...

Thanks for the comments Anita...prefer the fishes to ending up in a cement mixer LOL

The cafe is on the corner of Trobe and Kings streets. As for world domination...we're planning a project, looking at how we can develop a funding model for online, open courses.