I have flown into Brisbane eight to ten times in the past. I have always enjoyed the approach flight line with a sweep over the ocean and views of a mini-Manhattanesque cluster of tall rise buildings in the business district beside the serpentine river that unites rather than divides the city. Two million approximately live there and about to become two million and two. Because this time it was not for a visit but we were arriving at the start of a new phase in our lives. I was moving to become the Director of QIMR (Queensland Institute of Medical Research) and Mary was with me for the adventure.
The flight from Europe had been long but as pleasant as ever (I like long flights). I watched and enjoyed Social Network, The Special Relationship (about Tony Blair and Bill Clinton) and a Mark Knofler/Simple Minds concert, listened to Handel’s Firework Concerto William Walton’s music composed for the coronation of George VI, and some great jazz singing by a Canadian artiste (Jensen was the only name I retained), read some of Sebastian Faulk’s book-A week in December, had two good meals and slept deeply on both the leg into Singapore and from Singapore to Brisbane. All in all a good day’s flight.
But as we swooped into Brisbane the real questions arose again; how would this be as a home? How would it be for work? How would it be for the work-life balance? I am accustomed to establishing new home feelings and had just come from a bi-location phase with both Dublin and Heidelberg being ‘home’. But it takes time and subtle harmonies for a location to feel like home. Would Brisbane provide that environment.?
I have had great luck with my work environments, one better and warmer than the next – always great colleagues and good work challenges. Would that carry through in QIMR? Would the role of running a large (700+) Institute be a good as I imagined it? Would I be up to it?
And the hardest part is putting those two components together and getting the right balance; all work and no play makes frank a simultaneous success and failure. I have not tried the reverse but expect it would be even worse. Dublin had worked out well because I got involved and integrated into attending various sport events. I was a frequent attendee at plays and concerts. Would the same happen in Brisbane?
So lots of questions as we exited the plane. And then a new one; would there be an Ellis Island like problem with the visa? But no – we were swept through without a pause, a custom inspector’s dog caused a moment of concern when he detected the smell of an apple that had been discarded. And all our baggage arrived and the room in our temporary residence was available. No worries!
Sitting now on the 37th floor balcony, overlooking the river, on Saturday morning after a Flat White from the coffee shop below, the omens look good. The settling in phase to Brisbane and to QIMR have started well. The people are friendly and the weather is the only topic of concern. There have been apocalyptic rain showers but it is cooler than previous years –that part is welcome. Some local friends have invited us for dinner and the only real challenge so far is decide whether and when to wear shorts. “Tus maith, leath na h’oibre” is the Irish for a good start is half the battle (although interestingly the Irish version focuses on half the work and not the battle). I feel it has been a “Tus maith”.
The time to get internet set up meant that there was a delay in loading this blog. In between Brisbane has made the world headlines with floods……but that is a different story and for another day.