As if by magic, I am at the other end of the world. In London, I get into a capsule and watch Mrs Harris Goes to Paris, I briefly change capsules and watch Curb Your Enthusiasm and with little sense of movement, save for some fairground ride turbulence, I am in Sydney.
To travel so far should seem more seismic. It is only when you see pigeons with mohicans or the beautiful trunks of trees that ripple like splendid bark candles that you know you are not home anymore. It is a frightful and necessary reminder that this is a small and unusual planet, rippling with life that has many haircuts, beaks and struggles.
I am on the penultimate leg of the Horizons tour with Brian Cox (Professor, not Succession). An arena tour is not enough to fill a day and I feel guilt at failing to achieve nothing more than talking to 8,000 people a night. My mind is noisy and not suited to meditation – that is too close to procrastination. I try to fill my days with galleries, museums, park walks and observation of the behaviour of more mohican pigeons.
I visit the Sydney Jewish Museum. The first thing of note is the security. While most museums can be waltzed into with an occasional bag check, the doors here are two-tiered. One slides open and closes behind you, before the next door opens, creating the necessary pause should the visitor appear to be a threat. Once through you are face to face with a security guard who checks on you in a friendly manner. This reminds you of all the Jewish venues and schools that feel it necessary to have security.
Once inside, the museum is a bright and welcoming place even though the light is often illuminating some of the most grotesque actions of human beings against other human beings. On the top floor is
an exhibition on human rights, focusing on attitudes to indigenous people, Down’s syndrome, LGBT and far more.
It is a powerful and personal series of stories condemning the othering of those who are “not as us”, whatever “not as us” really means. With the rise in populism and fascism such exhibitions are as necessary as they ever were.