Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Three Lucys

Lucy and the Concrete Croc
Ive stopped working for money again, after my fifth locum at the Royal Darwin Hospital. Once again it was challenging work made more interesting by the large indigenous population in the Northern Territory – they have a fascinating and ancient history, culture and languages, but as in many other places in the world, invasion by colonising powers has left many of them reeling and suffering at the bottom of the heap. I find Australian aborigines impenetrable – they often seem indifferent to the concerns we have for their health, and as hard as I try I don’t think I have ever managed to make any sort of emotional connection with a single one of them: they’re too absorbed in their own culture and family and world of dreaming to be bothered with me and mine. I think disinterest in much of western culture and values makes sense so I see in Australian aborigines a deeper wisdom at work, and I can’t help admiring them for it, but as I said, I really do find them impenetrable. The tragedy is how awfully western culture has degraded their proud traditions.
The Northern Territory is sometimes regarded as “Redneck” because theres a tradition of barramundi fishing, hunting and beer drinking, but theres more to it than that, quite apart from the indigenous art and culture. I went with a friend from work to a play about dementia and family secrets one night and on another we went to a stand-up Comedy performance by Australian Judith Lucy :according to one reviewer: ‘‘Lucy’s blend of venom and cheery condescension… is a joy to behold.’ A couple of years ago she went on a Spiritual Journey that was made into a funny but also insightful TV series, and she wrote a book about it called “Drink, Smoke, Pass Out”
Speaking of Lucy, my sister, another Lucy came to stay and ended up doing all the cooking and cleaning and washing for me. We went to Katherine for a week, 3 hours by car south from Darwin where there is a small regional hospital that needed Specialist back-up, and on another weekend, back in Darwin we did the Jumping crocodile cruise. We also visited Litchfield Park and had a swim at the Florence Falls. There were great markets to visit on the weekends and we went to the Museum and Art Gallery. It was very hot during the day and as the Dry Season was ending it started to become humid as well. 

And this is a rather weak seque I know but from Darwin I am returning to the home of another Lucy, the famous hominid discovered in Ethiopia that had a small brain but walked upright. These 3 million year old fossil bones are kept in the National Museum in Addis Ababa, but what you get to see in a pokey downstairs display case are replicas. I really had been looking forward to seeing the real thing. 
In my Sydney Hotel room, sorting out what to take to Ethiopia

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