Pottering With Harry Potter

Last night, Harry Potter was in town with the full backing of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. What a spectacle it was too! The Goblet of Fire saw the death of school boy Cedric Diggory in a competition and the rebirth of the Dark Lord. The ASO gave me a tinge of pride – how lucky we are to have a world-class orchestra at our doorstep – whilst Harry Porter made me cringe at the darkness of his world. Isn’t JK Rowling a scary author to young kids? A fascinating world she creates, yet frighteningly dark with the evil, muted but omnipresent. I remember how wide eyed my sons were when they watched her first movie. Last night’s was as fascinating. The Durmstrang ship which resembles a Spanish galleon with two masts sinks into the lake to sail back to Durmstrang. “Oh no!” the older woman next to me cried out. “Did they all drown?” When the music stopped, I told her that was how the ship sails. She must think I am a nutter. No, I didn’t write the story.

The Goblet of Fire in Adelaide

As I potter around the garden with Harry Potter in my mind, I feel so privileged to live in Adelaide. It is enchanting for us to have Potter come to our town. What an extravaganza! It would take a mere twenty four minutes for me to drive westwards to The Adelaide Entertainment Center from home, but to save on car park fees and to reduce our combined carbon print, I picked up four passengers from two other suburbs. The journey took almost twice as long, not so much from the small detour but social niceties and friendly camaraderie require a small investment of time. Harry Potter played to an almost full house, I shall use Trump’s imaginative way of describing the size of crowds. Last night’s audience was the biggest ever, close to 4,000. Spring is in the air and there’s a spring in my step again. Winter isn’t good for my old bones anymore. Take a deep breath and suck in the clean air tainted only with the scent of gum leaves. Look outside my front windows and enjoy the view of a private reserve that is being carefully nurtured by the council. A park is known as a reserve here, maybe because it’s a patch of green reserved for posterity. Or, is it a plan to reserve it for the native flora and fauna? Aussies are seriously protective of their trees. Harry Potter may be a defiant nemesis of Lord Voldemort, but he’s no match against native trees. A niece who is an ardent fan of Harry Potter, missed last night’s show because of one native tree. She flew to Melbourne instead to lend support to a crowd of predominantly native people in a street protest to save one aboriginal tree. I did not know trees belong to different races of people.

The Mrs and I moved from Sydney in 1986, and made Adelaide our home. It was love at first sight, I mean with Adelaide. I love the quaint Federation style houses here with their ubiquitous rose gardens. A well maintained garden hints at a lifestyle that is balanced; people have the luxury of time and energy to enjoy tending to their garden, to literally smell the roses. Yesterday, The Weekend Australian’s front page trumpeted that Adelaide’s secrets are revealed. They took 33 years longer to discover her secrets. Why? Hasn’t it been so obvious? The vastly more relaxed lifestyle, the still pristine environment packed with clean fresh air and unspoilt sea water that money can’t buy in the majority of cities in the world, and the convenience of traveling from A to B without feeling we are wasting precious life being gridlocked. Adelaide has 1.3 million people. I reckon that’s the size of a perfect city. Big enough to support every modern facility that you want to enjoy (including a world class orchestra and art galleries to fill your spare time), and small enough to avoid the traffic jams, high crime rates, unaffordable accommodation, rowdy crowds and long impatient queues, and the air and sound pollution of big cities. Adelaide has had its adversities, at times caused by her adversaries. We had the State Bank fiasco, a collapse that almost made South Australia the rust belt of Australia. We had the Grand Prix stolen by Victoria, the international event replaced by a more parochial one, the Adelaide 500. Closures of car makers Mitsubishi and Holden did not cripple Adelaide, they merely forced the workers to relearn new skills. Mining, defence and agriculture (wine industry) are the new pillars of the state. The carrot to arrest the brain drain from Adelaide is to attract and retain tertiary students. Those from overseas are now eligible to extend their visas and find employment after their graduation. Let’s hope the expected influx of new overseas migrants and a net gain in interstate migration will not affect our lifestyle adversely. I still want to be able to dine in a fine restaurant in the Barossa Valley or be at a favourite McLaren Vale winery by 7pm straight after work on a Friday evening.

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