Today both Jo and I took a day in the loo to have ourselves a long weekend.
Days in the loo (properly known as time in lieu) is this Australian concept (or to put it another way, a concept I was not familiar with back in my Israeli days) where to compensate you for working extra time or for working on a weekend you get some time off in return.
Which sort of explains why you don't get it in Israel: If the hi-tech companies would implement these policies, half their manpower would be on leave half of the time. It doesn't comply with their slave driving policies.
Not that in Australia you're not a slave for your company, it's just that the scale is much more tranquil (unless you actually let the company take advantage of you, some thing you definitely do see my current company having a go at all too often).
Anyway, we took a day in the loo, and to conclude this cultural weekend that we are having we thought we would go and watch the new Pissaro exhibition at the NGV (National Gallery of Victoria).
Now, if you woke me up in the middle of the night and asked me who the fuck Pissaro is, I would tell you that he plays for Bayern Munich (I think; my football knowledge is way out of date - you're out of touch with real sports in Australia).
But it turns out that one of the famous French impressionists, or at least one of the famous ones according to the museum because the museum wants you to come and pay to watch the guy's exhibition, is this Pissaro. The 1st World War book I've recently read, Guns of August, helped me learn a lot about Europe's history during Pissaro's life, so I was all to ready to fall for the museum's set trap.
And thus we went to see Pissaro's work. Not that I think it was foolish; we rather enjoyed it. The NGV is no Louvre or The British Museum, but if you ask me it's better. Sure, it's not as grand, and you can't just walk in and stumble upon the Mona Lisa or the original Venus and the famous Rosetta, and I think they're pretty low on Michaelangelos; but if you ask me, the museum I like the most in Paris was not the Louvre, which ranks down the bottom, but rather the Rodden museum (excuse spelling): small, friendly, with a fucking smashing presentation.
And that's where the NGV is good: It's friendly and the presentation is superb. For a start, the signs are in English, unlike the Louvre where it's all in French even though the majority of its visitors do not speak Flench. And the size is much digestible, as opposed to the British Museum in particular that is so immense and so deprived of sensible order that there is no way you can tackle it in the one day a regular run of the mill tourist would allow for what is, after al, a rather boring museum.
And I won't even mention the fact that the NGV is full of Australians, which are much friedlier than the average French. No insults to the French - their country is lovely and overall significantly more interesting than the land of Oz - but my experience shows that as friendly as the French can be, one is more likely to encounter a smile on the face of a total stranger in Australia. Here, smiles and jokes are everywhere: Even when you cross the road at the last minute leaving Jo behind on the way to the museum (she's always on the careful side when crossing, while I'm much more suicidal) you get a couple asking you with beaming smiles how come you leave your lovely woman behind (I explained that she's British and I'm not, and their immediate answer was "oh, so you look the other way").
We learnt a few things at the exhibition, too. Like the fact Pissaro French who had to leave his house and most of his paintings behind in the 1870 war in which the Germans annihilated the French (leaving them asking for more and leaving the French looking for revenge and in search of the elusive Alzas Lorraine- and the rest is history). Pissaro was of Jewish origins but he was an atheist who married "out of religion" (i.e., married a Christian). How much of an idiot can one be.
The bottom line of this exhibition is that it really makes me proud to live in a place that can get this fine art to me, present it in a way that would make an ignorant fuck such as myself appreciate it (there was a free tour taking place at the time we got there), and allow me to do so in a wonderful atmosphere while surrounded by nice and cheerful people.
Made me sing the Marseillaise (not that I know how it goes; I only know the beginning from The Beatles "All You Need Is Love"). But five notes can be enough.