Saturday, December 17, 2011

Answering the most asked question of the year

Like the embrace of a familiar friend, it's become a bit of a tradition to get along to Darren Hanlon's Christmas concert each year, to sing old songs and wonder at the way he never seems to age.

This year, despite being basically same as last year's concert in terms of content, was a whole new experience spatially. The venue, rather than an old sandstone church in a graveyard in Newtown, was a bandroom at a pub in Northcote, and the friends I stood next to were not the old gang, but the new. We even talked maths. That would never have happened previously!

But the night took on a poignant note for me when Darren and his sidekick Steph did a cover of Paul Kelly's 1985 classic From St Kilda to Kings Cross. While listening to them sing about exchanging all the land and all the water of Sydney harbour for one sweet promenade (the St Kilda esplanade), I realised I have a strong affection for both cities now.

It is easily the question I have been asked most this year (second only to, "Why did you move to Melbourne?"): Which city is better? And I'm constantly disappointing people by explaining it's like choosing between two very different children whose quirks are equally endearing.

I don't think I can echo Paul Kelly's words with integrity - I do actually love the Sydney coastline more than the St Kilda esplanade. But there is something about Melbourne being the underdog which makes you want to go along with Kelly and root for the "beach needing reconstruction" over the sparkling harbour.

So here's the original film clip from the 80s. I put it here with love in my heart for both cities, and a new appreciation for its sentiment.

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