Saturday, April 27, 2013

Walking round sunny Sydney with a Leica M2

Sydney University modern architecture
I am trying to stick to my rule of only ever taking one camera out with me. Today it was the Leica M2 with 50mm Summicron lens, to finish off the last five or six exposures on a roll of Ektachrome E100G. However, I also took my new digital Olympus E-PM1, which I also tried to use with the Summicron ( but this proved useless as on a digital it becomes effectively a 90mm lens, good only for portraits and 'tele' shots).
It was a beautifully sunny autumn day in Newtown and I had  to wait a couple of hours while my Brompton was getting an upgrade at Cheeky Transport (smaller crank to ease the gears and a new saddle). I wandered down to Victoria Park and took a few pictures of the views and of the architecture (see above). I will process and publish these pics tomorrow. Sydney feels so nice on days like this - after the bleak weather of a Yorkshire winter it feels like a permanent  holiday here. And is it the sunny weather that makes everyone here seem more attractive, stylish and laid back or is it more like that anyway? I took the opportunity while in Newtown to re-visit some of my old haunts - coffee and a croissant at Campos coffee followed by a visit to Vinnies op shop (tried on a few shirts - no sale) ... and popped in to Gould's huge second hand book emporium. Nice to see it still going. And as usual it turned up an interesting tome on my pet subject, China - a diary written by the Russian Tass correspondent describing the time he spent in Yanan between 1943 and 1945. The book gives a remarkably candid view of Mao, and the author does not hold back in describing Mao as a scheming, power-mad tyrant, even in those days before he came to power. He compares the nationalist/feudalistic so-called Marxism as practised by Mao very unfavourably with the democratic and 'informed' Marxism of Russia. The author basically says that Mao used Marxism as just a cover for his own power grab, and that the CCP was useless during the war years, even having secret links with the Japanese command in Nanking. (Makes a mockery of all those anti-Japanese war movies they constantly show in China). As a Russian the author is very sceptical of the real intentions of the CCP and says that Mao and the other leaders were blinkered and xenophobic - secretly despising and resenting the Soviet Union, but he notes that they were surprised and troubled by the sheer ability of the USSR Red Army in invading Manchuria in 1945. All in all, Mao is portrayed as a cold-blooded manipulator whose only real interest was in gaining power at any cost and in maintaining total control over all Chinese - basically a modern day 'Red' emperor. I should have bought the bloody book instead of speed reading it while standing between the bookshelves - but it was $15 and I got the gist of it from reading just a couple of chapters.
I had a $7 Thai lunch across the road and then picked up my bike with new gears and saddle (at a cost of $160 though) and made the long drive back to Seven Hills in the white Honda. It's such a long way and I just hate driving - even listening to some exquisite Debussy couldn't make it bearable.

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