Sydney Ã¤r fullt av smÃ¥ radhus som har balkonger med vackra jÃ¤rngaller. Det sÃ¤gs att de pÃ¥minner om New Orleans, men inte vet jag, fÃ¶r mig pÃ¥minner de om Sydney. I bÃ¥de det som kallas Inner West och Inner East Ã¤r det radhus gata upp och gata ned.
Surry Hills, den ”innerstadsfÃ¶rort” dÃ¤r jag bott stÃ¶rre delen av vistelsen, Ã¤r inget undantag. En gÃ¥ng i tiden var detta slum, ett av de fattigaste och elÃ¤ndigaste omrÃ¥dena i Sydnay â€“ att det lokala rugbylaget kallas fÃ¶r rabbits anspelar pÃ¥ detta â€“ men nu har det genomgÃ¥tt en remarkabel gentrifieringsprocess. OmrÃ¥dets huvudgata Crown Street Ã¤r full av trendiga restauranger, kafÃ©er och butiker och de en gÃ¥ng ruckliga smÃ¥ husen Ã¤r prydligt upprustade â€“ och kostar en fÃ¶rmÃ¶genhet. (Boende i Sydney Ã¤r nÃ¤stan overkligt dyrt.)
FÃ¶r att tÃ¤nka mig hur det en gÃ¥ng var lÃ¤ser jag Ruth Parks klassiker The Harp in the South, om en fattig irlÃ¤ndsk familj dÃ¤r pÃ¥ kullarna. Betydligt mer upplyftande lÃ¤sning Ã¤n man skulle kunna tro fÃ¶r en bok som innehÃ¥ller fattigdom, alkoholiserade fÃ¤der, ond brÃ¥d dÃ¶d och fÃ¶rsvunna barn. Och med en beskrivning av omrÃ¥det som bÃ¥de liknar och stÃ¥r i skarp kontrast till det jag ser nÃ¤r jag traskar runt pÃ¥ gatorna:
In the squalid, mazy streets of sandstone double-decker houses, each with its little balcony edged with rusty iron lace, and its door opening to the street, or four square feet of ’front’, every second name is an Irish one. â€¦
This was the place where the Darcys lived â€“ Plymouth Street, Surry Hills, Sydney, in an unlucky house which the landlord had renumbered from Thirteen to Twelve-and-a-half. It was the oldest in Plymouth Street, a cranky brown house, with a blistered green door, and a step worn into dimples and hollows that collected the rain in little pools in which Roie and Dolour, when little, had always expected to find frogs.
There were many houses like Number Twelwe-and-a-half, smelling of leaking gas, and rats, and mouldering wallpaper which has soaked up the odours of a thousand meals. The stairs were very dark and steep, and built on a slant as though the architect were drunk, so that from the top of the landing you couldn’t see the bottom. On the top of the landing hung a little globe, very high up, so that the tenants could not steal it. It was as small as a star and as yellow as a lemon.
Downstairs there was a dark bedroom without windows or skylight, a kitchen with broken floor, and a scullery with one window overlooking the flagged yard, where drunken garbage can stood with its lid over one ear. Upstairs were three cramped attic bedrooms. â€¦ In the other attic rooms, which Mumma let, furnished, for seven and sixpence a week each, lived Mr Diamond and Miss Sheily.