On our last night in Australia, it was cold and miserable, and drizzle drifted on the breeze. We walked down to the harbour for a last view of the bridge and the opera house. The crazy shells of the opera house were spectacular to see, and it seemed impossible to imagine that it hadn’t always been there. It was also impossible to imagine that in its early years the opera house had been beset with difficulties, running vastly over budget and schedule, and with its architect Jørn Utzon hounded out of Australia by political interference. He never saw his completed masterpiece.
By the morning, a ferocious downpour was battering Sydney. Our bus to the airport almost crashed, and our take-off was delayed by a couple of hours. On the way to Australia, the journey had gone quickly. On the way home it dragged on and on. To stave off boredom, I accepted every offer of alcohol the cabin crew made, and soon discovered how much more effective drinking is at high altitude. By the time we landed in the sticky heat of Bangkok at midnight, I was already getting the hangover. It had passed by the time we got back to London the next morning.