Wednesday, February 07, 2007
A very unpolitical overview of a very political moment
It's pretty safe bet that the David Hicks rally yesterday at Parliament House was organised by Sydney people to fit in with their bus schedule. Whoever worked out the proceedings had absolutely no idea of Canberra dynamics.
The rally was advertised for 11am. It didn't get underway until close to 11.30, which stressed out a lot of locals who had nipped out from work for an hour and wanted to be supportive and useful.
It was sadly underpopulated, and for the same reason: most people in Canberra work, and if the rally had started at 12 or 12.30, they would have at least doubled their numbers, for lunchtime, anyway. Very few office workers want to stand in the sun for more than an hour and then march to the American embassy.
My other criticism lies along the same lines: they had a vibrant, well-spoken line-up of speakers, all important in their own way, including politicians Andrew Bartlett, Natasha Stott-Despoja and Kate Lundy; then they 'took a musical break' without mentioning what was coming up after it. So all the office workers thought that their usefulness had come to an end and started wandering back to work... Suddenly an organiser cut jumped on stage and cut off the music. 'Hang on!' he pleaded into the mike. 'We have Mamdouh Habib, to speak next, please don't leave.' As the crowd murmured and drew in closer again (but considerably fewer than before), he made the executive decision to shunt Habib up a notch, and got him up on stage, leaving the music until later. If they'd mentioned earlier that they had this choice morsel up their sleeves, they would have kept the crowd.
BUT. It was bright, colourful, small and powerful. All the speakers said great things, especially Habib. There was a broad cross-section of people, including alert but not alarmed guards strategically placed around the site.
I was there with my red parasol, looking a bit more glam than I usually do for these occasions, as I was lunching with a prominent artist afterwards to discuss hand-printing her next artist's book. I ran into the charming Loadeddog, who took my photo and promised to expose me to the world. Heh.
There was also a rather nice vehicle inspector, who had been told to do the rounds and check the protestors' cars, which I thought was a very underhand gesture on the part of the authorities. I parked my painted car in a charmingly bad spot, and noticed this fellow hovering nearby. I was in a cheeky mood, and sporting a bit of cleavage*, so I asked him sweetly if it was ok if I just parked there for a little while. He replied with a grin that he didn't give a damn where I parked, it wasn't his concern. He was just there to inspect the ve-hic-les (he said it that way, too).
So I sauntered over to the rally under my red parasol, confident that the only thing wrong with my car was the tatty paint job (did I ever mention that the paints I used at the end of last year weren't the nice stable ones Byrd had advised I use, and we spent our summer driving along as the paint peeled off in little chips? Now we look even more random and chaotic, like bits of the dead sea scrolls. I quite like it).
As I walked back, an hour later (I stayed for Habib), I could see from a distance that there was something on my windscreen. My first reaction was guilt -- maybe it IS illegal to have a tatty paint job! Bastard! I had myself worked up into a nice righteous frenzy, then I noticed that the note was hand-written:
Oh! How nice! As I got in my car another car drove past slowly and stopped, and a woman got out and said 'did I get the right person?' It was Hil, from Spirits Dancing, an arts (puppetry)-centred blog I like to dip my toe into occasionally (but should read more regularly!). Another Canberra blogger connection! I love those moments. Thanks, Hil, for the note -- and the minor heart-attack.
POSTSCRIPT: I didn't realise until today that this is Hil's puppet, presumably with Hil standing at the bottom of the pole holding it. You can see what the puppet does with his days here. Brownie points, Hil!
I'll leave this with perhaps my favorite photo of the rally:
but there are others at flickr.
* I have had a very radically short haircut, mown around the edges and very short on top. For some reason this makes me want to wear makeup and girly clothes. Not all the time, but more than before. I love the feel of my hair, especially when riding my bike, but I get a shock when I look in the mirror. I guess I'll get used to it.