Friday, 18 July 2008

Waiting for God....oh...*

I had intended to go up Sydney Tower today and get some aerial shots of crowds following the pope's progress as he "officially" arrived in Sydney (He's been here since Sunday). Unfortunately, there was a wait of at least an hour and a half to get to the top. Lots of young Catholics had the same idea! So, I wandered through Hyde Park, looking for some photo ops, and ended up right at the fence opposite St Mary's Cathedral. The crowd was one deep, so I then decided I would call this post "I did but see him passing by..." and wait with the faithful, as a faithful Sydney blogger, to witness his arrival. After all, there really was only one event in Sydney today.

Here's a pic I took of myself. Waiting.

Here's a pic of the excited (?) crowd.
And here's a pic of the cathedral, with Apollo seeming to be pointing towards it. The side door we were facing is under that middle tower:
It wasn't too long before the masses started to realise that in a triumph of unfortunate planning, il papa was going to arrive in the dark. Maybe it should have happened an hour earlier? Had someone forgotten that it's dark at about 5pm in Sydney in winter? Mutterings began about whether mobile phone cameras would be up to the job of snapping the pontiff as he drove slowly past in the Popemobile. I busied myself trying out various settings on the camera, taking and deleting pics furiously as I tried to decide which setting might cope with both darkness and a slow-moving vehicle. I phoned home to ask someone to turn on the TV and check where he was.

A ripple of laughter went around the crowd (which was getting a bit antsy) as one wag commented that this probably wasn't the popemobile.
Then the helicopters overhead increased in number (about 5) and proximity, one even coming quite low. And a group of cars whizzed past at high speed at the end of the road. I THINK the blurry streak of light you can possibly see behind the telegraph pole was perhaps the popemobile. Or part of his entourage. Someone said it was anyway, so I clicked off a snap.
We waited for the motorcade to round the corner, do a loop around the cathedral and come past us. A group of "official" pilgrims stood on the cathedral steps facing us and waited - at least people around me said they were the official pilgrims' greeting party.

Then a big burly cop with lots of stars on his shoulders came past and said "That's it folks, he's not coming round this way!" Some people thought he was joking and started to laugh. But big burly cops with lots of stars on their shoulders don't joke about these things.

The crowd was left to disperse.

As I was standing right near the merchandising tent, I had to go past the entrance to leave the park. There was a huge queue of people waiting to get inside. It was crammed full so they were only letting a few in at a time. I spoke to a couple at the head of the queue. I asked if they were seeking solace in retail therapy, and it appeared they were...

Moral: Next time, look more closely at the official route map.

* with apologies to Samuel Beckett


  1. Oh Sally, this is SO funny. Great pics, fabulous commentary and no Pope! I've been watching coverage of his arrival on television - television here in Menton, that is. Tell you what, come back here and you can see him on the television!

    Lovely to see your wonderful smile again. Sorry you didn't see the Pope. I saw the Pope before when he came to Hobart. I'm sure he waved at ME! ....?

  2. If the crowd was feeling excited, you, by comparison look ecstatic !
    I remember my Mum telling us to smile at the camera.
    You have obviously had an equally caring mother !!

  3. There's a grumpy pic too - well i call it grumpy - just middle-aged mouth-corner droop!

  4. Hi Sally - really amusing... Read in the news : the Pope "launches stinging attack on pop culture and consumerism" - juxtaposed by all the Pope XVI merchandising...Enjoyed your collage the other day!

  5. I am glad you got to see what you went to see. I just wonder if it was worth it?

  6. Yeah, sam, and you ought to see the number of pilgrims stuffing their faces at maccas! (yes, I have pics!)

  7. Sally, I know your problem. If you were in Hyde Park, you were several thousand miles away. No wonder you had trouble with the pictures.

  8. Great chronology of the event. I particularly enjoyed the photo of you!

  9. il y avait foule pour essayer de le voir. c'est pas évident.

    there were crowd to try to see it. it is not clear.

  10. Nathalie in Avignon18 July, 2008 03:56

    Sally thanks for the great story. Jilly said everything I wanted to say, except better.
    I feel a bit responsible for your ordeal, having requested more photos of the event. Sorry you had to go through this... but you made me laugh!

  11. Sally, thanks for taking us along on this adventure! Ditto Jilly, and cracking up at Ham. You are a trooper.
    The dear boys from yesterday were wonderful! Thanks for that, too.
    Seattle Daily Photo

  12. Sally, I heard that the Pope was mixing with the crowd incognito yesterday.

    Apparently he was disguised as a cop, but had lots of stars on his shoulders.


    Sunshine Coast Daily - Australia

  13. ah sally - you left a comment on my Hyde blog about your post earlier today but I forgot for a while (well was busy actually) - then I saw this post on another sydney blog which reminded me to pop back here. Seems it wasn't only the pilgrims stuffing their faces!

  14. I shouldn't laugh. That's why I left early. I knew it would be dark by the time he came back and I didn't want to get caught up in the crowds. Are you going to watch the Stations of the Cross today? I'm staying for the first one (through a thrid floor window above the crowd) then getting out again once they all move off to the Domain. That'll be it for me, not going anywhwere near town, Randwick etc over the weekend. I'm all pilgrimmed out.

  15. Good story, Sally. I do like the image of all the excited folk waiting. Very Oz! I would have to be the least establishment religo that I know. Count me out for this one. I am only interested in the variety of people mooching around. I gather this is probably your angle, too.

  16. Jilly: You must be one of the supposed 2 billion people watching. Though personally, I think those sort of figures are overblown. He hasn’t been getting ratings in Australia so far (not sure about yesterday). After all most people are at work! Maybe the timing in the dark is to satisfy global TV audiences?

    m.benaut: I am assured that passion and ecstacy are part of the package deal.

    Sam: thanks

    Ham: oh, so it’s not just my moral compass that is wonky?

    Kate: thanks

    Olivier: No, noone got to see very much at all!

    Nathalie: no need to feel any responsibility. I have this free pass to Sydney Tower and was always intending to go there. It wasn’t hard to deviate

    Kim: Yes, those boys really captured my heart.

    Bitingmidge: lol

    Ackworth: lol again.

    Ann: The crowds weren’t too bad for me (I walked back to Surry Hills and had a car, but it was a wise move vis a vis public transport. I don’t think I can be botherd with the stations. Starts at 3, and again finishes at 6. But no movement – people are being allocated a spot and made to stay put apparently. Much will be in darkness. And no, NOWHERE near Randwick.

    I have decided it must all def be timed for international TV – “showcasing Sydney”.

    Julie: they were the least excitd crowd I’ve ever known! (as you can gather), but I guess piety brings a lot of patience and stillness to one?

  17. Kind of like one person with a sore neck looking up, causing everyone around them to look up :)

  18. I am asuming then that you missed out on his autograph?

  19. Thanks for the pics & commentary Sally for us in this part of the world. I would have been there waiting (waiting and more waiting) for some pope photos if i was there. Maybe next time will time it with visit to my family there.

    Ming (

  20. I am aware to have different opinion about *this* pope and I respect, oc ourse, different opinions but my moral is: next time (in order to bXVI), I'll stay at home.

  21. You have great spirit, you made lemonade out of lemons!
    Funny post and nice photos too.

  22. Good story! That crowd most definitely does NOT look excited. They look quite bored in fact...

  23. Good onya for having the patience and good attitude to try to capture the event for all of us who are missing it.

  24. That is such a great photo of you Sally!
    I had a good giggle at the stories and the photos - I can't believe that you actually stayed there all that time.