Continuous Improvement, and other failures

It used to be that you needed a tuxedo to get into where Sydney was happening.

Not anymore. Now you need a high-vis vest, a hard hat and steel capped work boots. If you’re a bloke you’ll need tanned legs and a couple of days growth. If you’re a sheila you’ll need to be Irish and have a STOP/SLOW sign and a walkie-talkie.

Sydney is a building site. Look up, down or sideways and you’ll get hit with a spanner.


More scaffolding! No wait… that’s the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

We walk to work – crying – and it starts at the first intersection. The hideous tick-tack-Mirvac boxes being piled on top of each other where the old Harold Park Paceway used to be. Back in the day the excited babble of race calls used to float on Wednesday or Saturday nights. You could wander down the hill and hear the thud of hooves and horse whinnies. Beasts in our neighbourhood.

You could also see, on the sparse crowds, fashions and sideburns not seen since the ‘seventies. They were hip before it was hop and never knew or cared.

All gone now. One bedroom apartments start at $400+.

On we walk past St James tennis courts where we once played every Sunday afternoon with friends. Young blokes hired the other court and smoked joints and drank long necks. Welcome to Glebe. An old lady who lived in a shoe, or one of the nearby houses, collected our court hire through the cyclone wire. We had our own key to the court padlock. Sometimes we’d sleep overnight in the clubrooms, just for an adventure.

For months now the courts have been closed behind scaffolding while they ‘improve’ everything. High-vis Irish women STOP the occasional car or SLOW it down. (Note to self*: I wonder if there’s Irish walkie-talkie porn?) Bob-cats rip up the courts. Maybe it will be better. Maybe it won’t.

Around the corner the Dr Foley Rest Park in Glebe Point Road is behind fencing. Graders rip up the grass. Blokes (high-vis, tanned legs, unshaved, hard hats, steel capped boots: tick) lean on shovels and talk about the weekend. So they should.

The ‘ambulatory’ toilet block, completed about six months ago, is back behind fencing too. As is the just completed playground. According to the signs an ambulatory toilet is a toilet for people on crutches. Really? Maybe the playground was so much fun they had to build a playground-injured toilet. Maybe that was too much fun too so they’ve fenced the whole lot off again.

Turning into Cowper Street and Ausgrid trucks line up, lights flashing, beeps beeping. Ticks stand around drinking coffee from The Wedge cafe. They’re going to take down the poles, or put them up, or improve them.

Onward. In Wattle Street cranes lift pre-form concrete blocks for new student accommodation where a garage used to be. In Mary Anne Street by Sydney TAFE the footpath is being replaced. In Thomas Street it was replaced a fortnight ago: then it was dug up. A black tar scar strides down the middle now and people stumble on it.

UTS is scaffold. Central Park is scaffold. Frank Gehry and Quay Apartments are scaffold. Every pub and sandwich shop from here to Barangaroo is full of blinding high-vis vests. Improvements are being jackhammered into every old racetrack and brewery and tennis court and park they can find.

Bony Abbott thinks there are too many trees in Tasmania (I wish one would fall on him in a forest) but I think there is too much improvement in Sydney. Then again, Sydney always did like to be shiny. That’s all its got, really.

The weather’s good but climate change is improving that.

* I’ve just checked. They say if you can think of something it’s already on the internet. I’m so far ahead of that trope or meme or whatever it is. I couldn’t find any Irish walkie-talkie porn.


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