My youngest daughter and I were walking down Macleay Street in Sydney the other night, looking for the restaurant where we were to meet my brother, when a couple came out of a bar, arm in arm. As they strolled along beside us, they began a high-volume conversation, which I couldn't help suspecting was being conducted for our benefit.
'Do you remember the shop where that lovely trans-gender girl used to sell frocks, down there on the left?' began the male of the couple.
'She's still there,' replied the woman, who, her voice revealed, was also a man. 'I bought a lovely chiffon skirt by Dior from her just the other day.'
'Oooh, have you got Dior couture in your wardrobe? I've only got vintage Dior.'
'My dear, if you want vintage, you should see my Balenciaga jacket: it's practically seamless - just a single piece of fabric; what a cutter!'
We tried to ignore this megaphone interchange, concentrating instead on the building numbers, searching for the one my brother had given us.
'There it is,' I cried, when I finally spotted it. The woman of the couple glanced over at the establishment I'd pointed out.
'Do you remember when that place used to be fashionable?' she asked and looked straight at me. Her expression suggested she'd trodden in something very unpleasant.
'I am so sick of being surrounded by mono-genders', she said, with a toss of her pony tail and then the two of them sauntered off into the night.
Languages - The other day I noticed a passage, copied out from George Kennan's *Memoirs 1925-1950* a while back. Kennan writes of beginning to learn Russian during his...
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