At last count my possessions and I have travelled the Hume highway no fewer than seven times from Melbourne to Sydney or back in pursuit of gainful employ over the last 20 years. So I am eminently qualified to deliver the verdict on the Sydney versus Melbourne debate.
Except I am not going to do that. Because I don’t give a floating turd on Bondi Beach for this insane and inane interstate rivalry. Listen very carefully, I will say this only once: There is no rivalry. It is a fictional construct of ego-driven, delusional Sydneysiders desperate to distract themselves from the horror of living in such a foul-smelling and unfriendly city.
It fills me with sorrow every time I hear a Sweatysider regurgitating some trivial platitude as to why they feverishly believe Sydney is superior to Melbourne. Dolts, every last one of them. If these poor northern yokels would shut their traps for one moment and used their much neglected brains, they’d realise that dissing Melbourne for whatever spurious reason du jour makes Sydney worse, not better.
Alas, Stinkysiders are too shallow to realise that continually dumping on their self-imposed rival is a fundamentally flawed strategy. Would Muhammed Ali be half the legend if, instead of vanquishing world heavyweight champion George Foreman in 1974’s Rumble in the Jungle, he’d beaten world’s heaviest short-chef George Columbaris?
Sportspeople know this truth to be self-evident, and they’re not rocket scientists — except Russian welterweight boxer Gregor Slivovitz who actually is a rocket scientist. Dumping on rivals diminishes both the dumpee and the dumper. Furthermore it makes the dumper look like a petty, supercilious malcontent munching on a fistful of sour grapes. A lot like a Sydney person, when you think about it.
The dominant deplorable trait of those who haunt that seething sweatpit north of the border is their fixation on the superficial. They are too busy with careers and climbing ladders in the maddening pursuit of becoming someone other than who they are to actually enjoy life. Nothing like 14 hours a day, six days a week in some malodorous, claustrophobic cubicle, wilting despondently under fluorescent soul-suckers to make you glad to be alive. No doubt Slipperysiders console themselves with important-looking business cards and by striving to push bigger buttons in the lift in years to come. And I always thought Hell was down.
If Steamysiders could get past their perception addiction, they might realise the error of their ways. But no! Ask a Smelly-dweller why they love their city, and they’ll gush ad nauseum “We’ve got a Harbour! And a Bridge! Beaches with waves! An Opera House!”.
Only, you can’t swim in the first because it’s full of sharks and is only marginally cleaner than the Ganges. You can’t cross the second because there’s always a traffic jam to get on and off and a crash in the middle. So you spend forever getting to the third one only to find it packed with racist yobbos and drunken British backpackers (is that a tautology?). And as for the fourth… really?! It’s opera. Who gives a shit.
These ‘things’ are Sydney’s crowning glories, apparently. A house, a bridge, a beach and a large body of fetid water. Not a thriving multinational food culture or a nightlife that never quits. Not world-class sporting events in a city whose primary football code attracts 80,000 to a mid-season game, not 8,000 unemployed plumbers. Not a vitality and soul that makes just being in the city exhilarating. No, because that’s Melbourne.
Melbourne’s appeal is its atmosphere, its vitality, its hunger for life and its multicultural bounty. To understand you must immerse in it.
Sydney’s appeal is that of a postcard. Actually, send me one next time you’re there. One of my table legs is a bit short.