Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A Few of Your Favorite Things: An Australian Sweep

I thought for a while about what my best thing of 2007 was. Naturally, given the focus of John's series here, my thoughts turned first to movies. Not books, because most of the books I read this year haven't been of this year but of years further back, and many of them way further back. But movies, yes, OK. Heading for the top spot was this one, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's The Lives of Others, when it dawned on me that, if I'm honest, my really best cultural experience of 2007 wasn't actually a movie, it was a game.

From the 2nd to the 5th of January this year I was at the Sydney Cricket Ground watching the final Test of the five-game series played between England and Australia for the Ashes. Australia had won the first four Tests and were heading for a probable 5-0 whitewash. Two of the all-time greats of the game, Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath, were making their last appearances, having both announced their retirement from international cricket at the end of the series. A 5-0 scoreline between these two countries hadn't happened in over 80 years. Australia is my team. So the SCG was the place to be; it was the place to be for me.

On the final day, after Australia had won, there was a real party at the ground, and that was good to be there for, too. Later, in the early evening, I am with friends at a seafood restaurant in Sydney, The Boathouse, and Luke, who is as happy about the outcome as I am, explains to us that he goes to the Sydney Test every year. It starts the day after New Year's day; five days later - max - it's over. "It's the highlight of the year," Luke says. "At the beginning of January. From there it's downhill."

My best cultural experience this year was over by January 5th. That's OK. I've been happy about it all year.

--Norman Geras


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