Sydney. Day off.
Woke up to find that a slight eye irritation I€™d been noticing over the past day or so had now turned into an alarmingly swollen event. My right eye looked like I hadn€™t slept for a month and the left one looked like it had ideas of following suit. When you€™re on the road it€™s almost amusing that the first emotion that accompanies any kind of ailment or illness is the sheer inconvenience of it. I knew I had to go and see a doctor but in a foreign city on the other side of the world, it€™s often far easier said than done.
With the aid of our extremely helpful local promotor rep, I did manage to find a trusted doctor by the middle of the day and he was both reassuring and helpful. He€™s certain that the mad swelling is due to some sort of allergic trigger which, being the least dramatic option, was what I€™d hoped he€™d say. A couple of prescriptions later and I was out the door feeling calmer, though my customary resemblance to Quasimodo might be slightly more pronounced for the next little while.
The whole experience had left me a little traumatised, so the phone call that I received shortly afterwards could not have been better timed. My hope that there might be room at the crew hotel had become a reality and so, I was informed, I was free to move there forthwith. Never was I happier to check into a normal hotel - that€™s it for me and casinos for the foreseeable future. I€™m not sure what the opposite of 'adding insult to injury' would be ('adding compliment to healing'?), but the fact that I even have a view of the Opera House from my new accommodation would certainly fit the phrase.
By way of convalescence, I took myself for a walk through the Botanic Gardens, along the Finger Wharf at Woolloomooloo (top name) and back to the Art Gallery of New South Wales where I stopped for a mooch around the Aboriginal works. On past the Opera House and to Circular Quay, which is my new €˜hood. In a fit of spontaneity I even went to see a movie. I haven€™t seen a film at the cinema in forever and, if nothing else, I thought it would prevent me from checking out my swollen eye every five minutes to see if the drugs were working yet.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader 3D was the next movie playing, so I wandered on in. I loved the C.S.Lewis books as a kid and the Dawn Treader had been a real favourite, after The Magician€™s Nephew. Of course the movie version had been blanded into standard young-adult action-movie sentimentality, and through adult eyes the original plot probably wouldn€™t stand up to a great deal of scrutiny, but in the moment I was glad to sit and get lost in it. I even got to keep the 3D glasses which would still be large enough to conserve my dignity if my eye swelled to three times its current size.
I rounded out the evening with a bite to eat at a place in The Rocks overlooking the harbour. Sitting on the little wooden balcony out the back, I had my supper and settled into finishing my current book (Henry James€™ Washington Square). The place was all but empty when I got up to leave I passed a table of five or six people, one of whom said €œWillie!€ Yet again, in a city of four million or more, I manage to pick the same place to eat as a posse from our touring party. I joined them for a nightcap and we strolled back through Circular Quay. Sydney harbour at night is one of the great urban beauty spots. The bridge, the Opera House illuminated, the ferries coming & going, a calm, balmy evening, it€™s pretty special.