Thursday, June 6, 2013

My Sydney trip: Part II (The best bit)

So...on with the rest of my Sydney visit then. No more messing about! Mark Forsyth's show Around the World in 80 Etymologies was an enjoyable etymological jaunt from England to Sydney, with a brief stop in Melbourne to consider the glory that is Batmania. Much to my delight, of course.  

For those who don't know, Melbourne was once briefly known as Batmania, after one of its founding fathers, John Batman. The settlement was eventually named after William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne, some poncey English bloke who'd never even visited the place.  

The mention of Batmania was my favourite part of the event. I would share some other snippets with you except that my fatigue and migraine had severely diminished my brain's capacity to retain any information. 

Oh, I just remembered (go, brain!) that when asked to nominate his favourite etymological connection, Mark mentioned that 'shit' and 'science' have a common word ancestor. Don't tell that to the climate change deniers, OK? Don't ask me to explain it either. 

After we'd been around the world in 80 etymologies, I nipped downstairs and nabbed a spot  right at the front of the book signing queue. *fist pump* I had Mark sign The Etymlogicon  "To Jayne from Batmania...". Naturally. 

At around this point Miss Jane (fellow Melburnian and word-nerd blogger at Six Degrees of Sir Thomas Urquhart, who was also in Sydney for the Writers' Festival) tweeted me and invited me to come for a drink with Mark after the book signing. She's a friend of Mark's you see. *gulp* I was going to decline since I was already thrilled to have my book signed and because I had started to entertain the idea of catching an earlier flight home on account of feeling quite rubbish, but in the end, I thought, "Ah, what the hell. You've been to work feeling worse than this dozens of times! Harden up! To the bar!" 

So, off I went to hang out with Jane and her mother, Mark and a few other friends, fans and associates. We whiled away a few pleasant hours sitting in a nearby waterfront bar, sipping on champagne as the sun set (and developing a raging face full of rosacea if you were me. Mental note: No. More. Champagne. Again. Ever.)  

I didn't have much of a chance to chat to Mark, but I didn't mind because I probably would have been rendered completely dull merely from being in his presence -  or my pounding head would have actually exploded from the awesomeness of it all. He was apologetic about not having had a chance to talk to me, which is rather lovely, isn't it?  

I did have a chance to chat with an older Irish gentlemen in our party. As a tall ship sailed past us, he told me he once used to work at sea. I commented that it must have been a hard life, but he said it wasn't and told me that he once saw the captain have a poop overboard. 

I only realised later - as in half an hour ago, by accident when I was looking at the Sydney Writer's Festival site - that he is Dermot Healy. The festival guide introduces him thus:
Described by Roddy Doyle as Ireland's greatest writer, the poet, novelist and playwright Dermot Healy is an unconventional and original storyteller and a master of character.
Oopsie.  I'm a philistine. 

Oh, by the way, Mark has another book in the works. Hurrah! 

I headed back to Circular Quay a little before 6.00 to get a train to the airport. I was just in time to see the kick-off of the Vivid Festival, Sydney's festival of light, music and ideas, which lit up the Opera House and buildings around the Quay. It was very pretty, but I didn't linger. I was desperate to get home to bed. 

I slept long and well that night. 

4 comments:

Andrew said...

It is good that you did not know the Irish bloke and so you acted very naturally with him, and so therefore have given him grist for the mill of his future works. Jayne in some guise, may appear in his future works.

Deidre said...

Wow. Sounds like a great day, besides the feeling shit thing (seriously that's not fun).

piggywhistles said...

Sounds as if you had a fantastic time -especially having drinks with Mark.

missjane said...

It was lovely to meet you in person, although the drinks became rather larger than anyone expected, I think! Sorry to hear about the rosacea.

I'm glad you got to chat to Dermot; he was an interesting soul.

The shit/science link is in The Etymologicon; I think you can see it here.