Lewie West at the Cirque de Demain
Canberran Lewie West performs at the Cirque de Demain, Paris. Photo: Laurent Bugnet
Canberra born-and-raised circus performer Lewie West (patriotically, his mother Sally West gave birth to him at home in Canberra on Australia Day 1988 - our bicentenary) has just won a gold medal at a famous tournament in Paris.
In a previous column we reported in great detail (including some detail his proud mother gave us about her boy's outstanding new buttock muscles) his brilliant success in the elite, invitation-only tournament at the Cirque de Demain in Paris in a huge tent containing 6000 souls. The Brisbane-based young man specialises in feats of strength and contortion while dangling from straps.
We return to his story now not only because if he'd won an Olympic gold medal at something more orthodox this proud and parochial paper would have published a million words about him by now (instead of the trifling 500 Gang-Gang could spare at the time) but also because we have just received some super pictures of him giving his medal-winning exhibition to the 6000 gobsmacked Parisians.
A Royal Bluebell, the ACT's floral emblem. Photo: Gary Schafer
He will be performing with Brisbane's ensemble circus Circa in Canberra next month.
State of baby names range from the botanical to fishy
The new lights at Manuka Oval. Photo: Ben Wrigley
Inspired by one Canberra couple's naming of their new baby Bluebelle (after the Royal Bluebell, our Territory's floral emblem) we're asking for fitting names to give babies to mark Canberra's centenary year. Now here's another kind of naming idea.
Reader Kenneth Truelsen advises that ''My daughter, Aisha Caitlyn Truelsen, shares her birthday with Canberra on 12 March 2013. She's six and turns seven on 12 March. She's been aware for a while that her initials are the same as the territory in which we live and she is quite chuffed about seeing ACT all over the place. And no, it was not planned, but just happened that way.''
Now there's an example to you, readers. If your 2013 baby is already going to be blessed with a surname that begins with a T you could easily contrive the evocative initials ACT for him or her. You could, using botanical first names for a girl with a T surname (like, say, Trumper, the great cricketer) call her, musically, tinklingly, Acacia Corymbia Trumper.
Meanwhile, following another reader's suggestion of lovely names, like Melliodora, taken from scientific names for Canberra trees and creatures, fishing guru Bryan Pratt tell us that one of his fishing friends has called his daughter Makaira Indica. This is the eerily musical-sounding of Makaira indica, the Black Marlin.
Oval shines spotlight on our fair city
How splendid Manuka Oval, and the eucalyptus-upholstered hills beyond, looked to the bewitched nation during Wednesday's coverage of the day-night match! The watching nation must have thought Canberra looked, in spite of age-old prejudices to the contrary, like a real city populated by real Australians.
And a city with an oval decorated with enviably 21st-century and pretty floodlights. Here are one or two snippets about the lights that we had no room for in Wednesday's report of our interview with one of the lights' designers, Ian Smith of Cox Architecture in Kingston.
It was Smith's ambition to create floodlights that were ''sculptural, elegant and slender'' and, yes, the pylons are strikingly willowy. How was this slenderness achieved when, usually, floodlighting pylons at big sporting venues (like those at the Canberra Stadium, for example) are as fat as lighthouses?
What makes old-fashioned pylons so plump, Smith explained, is that they have arrangements of stairs and ladders in them for maintenance chaps to ascend. These, like the ascension arrangements in an old lighthouse, take up a lot of space. Stairs have to go around and around. But the pylons at Manuka contain a simple contraption that works like a lift. Smith told me what it's called and said the words sound ''politically incorrect'' and I agree with him and won't use them here lest some uncouth readers snigger. Up to two men can sit on it and it whisks them straight up through the tight tube of the pylon. And the contraption may in any case only be used once a year because most maintenance of the 47-metre floodlights can be done from a cherry picker.
The finished arrangements of lights atop the pylons we are all (save some elite NIMBYs and curmudgeons) taking into our hearts are reminding us of lacrosse sticks or of snow shoes. But one of several designs prepared and considered would have triggered a very different association. Martin showed me a design that he said had become called around the Cox office ''the dunny brush'' and sure enough, looked at in profile, that suggested floodlight was reminiscent of that famous household implement. Most Canberrans would have found the idea of Manuka's ''dunny brushes'' endearing and that fond name would have passed into folklore, but of course for those burghers of Manuka and Forrest and other salubrious suburbs who were always going to hate the floodlights whatever their shape, a horizon festooned with giant lavatory brushes would have added insult to injury.