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Monday, January 06, 2003
Adelaide and Melbourne

I spent a few days in my favourite Australian city: Adelaide. The Art Gallery was as enchanting as ever. There are no blockbuster paintings (although there is an impressionist work by Lucien Pissarro) but there were some interesting links to two of the books I have been reading.

Firstly, I have been reading Virginia Woolf's enigmatic novel Mrs Dalloway. I shall be blogging about this work in more detail, later. However, in the Adelaide Gallery, there are two pictures by Virginia Woolf's sister - Vanessa Bell. They provide an intriguing view of interwar scenes. The novel is set in June, 1923.

There are also two pictures by the Australian-English artist Charles Conder. Like you, Mrs T., I had never heard of him. But another book I have just finished, Barry Humphries's My Life as Me proved very relevant: Humphries writes about his acquiring copies of Conder's work, many years ago, before the artist was so celebrated.

I should be including Barry Humphries among my list of influences. I shall certainly be blogging about his writing. He is one of the best-informed of all modern commentators. As Dame Edna Everage, he astounds with his perspicacity. Would it be too much to hope that he could do more serious political interviewing? His depth of knowledge and teasing style would be ideally suited to exposing political cant. He is wasted as a 'character actor' in Ally McBeal. Absurdly, he gets a credit in the show as Dame Edna, not as Barry Humphries.

Barry Humphries comes originally from Melbourne and his creation, Dame Edna, from the suburb: Moonee Ponds. I have to smile every time my train to and from Essendon passes through Moonee Ponds station. Unlikely as it may seem, Moonee Ponds is a real place. The local council has even honoured its most famous son (daughter), by calling one of its streets 'Everage Street'. However, it isn't the most inspiring street in the world...

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