So, Perth was good.
I flew out last Thursday, just before lunch, traveling with the sun and against the clock to land in Perth just after lunch. A pleasant flight. I had a couple of over wing exit seats to myself, a fully powered iPad and a free, open bar. Even so, I managed to restrict myself to one glass of wine. I wanted to hit the gym at the Duxton Hotel when I got there. I find when traveling across time zones that blocking out a couple of hours to do some sort of exercise at the other end, even if it's just having a long walk, helps me settle in. The Duxton has one of my favorite hotel gyms in the country, however, so I headed down there to smash out some cardio.
Two hours later I figured I had earned myself a decent feed and drink, and I hit the hotel bar looking for new best friends. Quite a few of the other writers were already in town, but a lot of them were heading off to the opening-night address. Since this was to be delivered by Germaine Greer I'd already decided to give it a big swerve. A wise decision, as it turned out. Even one of her fans later described to me as a meandering, unfocussed, disappointing and sort of worn out rant. Something about how you could not be a feminist unless you are a socialist. My eyelids are getting heavy just thinking about it.
Instead I made my way to the Greenhouse, one of my favorite little restaurant bars in Perth, and had me a rather decent fish burger with a broccolini salad and two glasses of Pewsley Vale riesling. I had the phone with me, so although I was dining alone, I was chatting with 17,000 friends on twitter. I wrapped up dinner with time enough to get out to the University for the opening night party, but the exercise, the alcohol and the time zone difference had caught up with me by then, so I piked and headed back to the hotel.
There I made the acquaintance, after a fashion, of the residents of room 307. I never met them face-to-face, and wish I had, because they had the loudest longest hotel sex it has ever been my pleasure to vicariously encounter. Four fucking days it went on, with nary a care in the world for what the other guests might think. It seemed every time I left the hotel and every time I came back, these two were at it.
Reminded me of my share house days, it did. Even to the point of me perching outside the door with a drink in hand, encouraging passersby to enjoy the show along with me.
Had my first panels the next day, the first of which was at 11 o'clock in the morning. I had thought I was on late in the afternoon, but that's what I get for not really checking my schedule. A quick gym sesh, a bowl of muesli in my room, and I caught the bus out to the campus of UWA, where the festival proper was underway.
The last couple of times I've been in Perth, the panels and lectures and workshops and so on were all held next door in some kind of arts precinct. It was a very pleasant arrangement, allowing your hard-working writer to shamble from bar to stage and back again without breaking a sweat. The campus is beautiful in Perth, and shuttle buses traveled continually between there and the hotel, but it did give the festival a sort of diffuse atmosphere.
Normally at these things you'll spy at least a dozen people you know hanging around the hotel bar or foyer enjoying a drink and a chat, and for me that's the charm of the festival. Writing is a lonesome business and these get-togethers are the only opportunity we have to… well, get together. As the week went on the population of the bar steadily increased, at least at night, but it was only on the last night, Sunday, that it felt like a true festival bar–where anything could go wrong.
(And did, the next morning, when Matt our shuttle driver, failed to materialize. Probably a good thing, given the reports of his condition late the previous evening.)
Anyway, the panels were all good. I particularly enjoyed talking about blogging with Marieke Hardy and Paul French, and, strangely enough, talking bromance with Nick Earls and a local travel writer Stephen Scourfield. The latter session was particularly enjoyable, because none of us really had a clue, but Nick and I at least had a few drinks on board. We threw down a few more afterwards, and I went out with some local tweetenvolk who knew of a bar having its 1st birthday party out in the burbs. Free food and alcohol. I say again. Free food and alcohol.
(Yes, I know, writers festivals all about free food and alcohol, but it seems somehow more exciting when you find it for yourself where you never thought to look).
One upside of not having the hotel overrun with drunken colleagues was being able to get some work done. I took the iPad, of course, and borrowed Anna's bluetooth keyboard. Using the pad in portrait mode, propped up on a powered stand, I found this a more than adequate arrangement for getting a bit of writing done. In fact, possibly because you can only have one app open and occupying the screen at any one time, I found it a restful and strangely productive time.
I'm back to the screen farm and the dictation software now, of course. And my short Pomodoro break is now pretty much over. So I better get back to it. But not without saying a quick thank you to monster yuppie for clueing me in to a very cheap and sneaky way of scoring a business class flight home early on Monday morning.
Early enough to help Anna with the final preparation for her election speech. A speech, for which Jane can take a lot of credit, that helped her win the school captaincy the following day.