After finally gaining entrance to the apartment, we set out with Littlemave and the Tinymaves for the first conference session of the day – a flashmob at the Opera House. We were running late, so caught a train down to the harbour (and I released The Secret Hide-Out by John Peterson on the platform), and met the other Bookcrossers at a Starbucks in Circular Quay (where I discovered the amazing cooling properties of a strawberry “frapaccino”).
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Once we were all gathered and suitably refreshed, we were given our instructions for the flashmob. First step was to disperse, so that we didn’t all approach the Opera House in one big group – the key to a successful flashmob is for it to appear spontaneous.
A few gratuitous tourist shots as we walked along the harbour:
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When we reached the Opera House, fushmush (the pronunciation of whose name had been cause for much debate the night before, and I still can’t remember which way she preferred!) was sitting on the steps – nothing unusual about that, as so were a lot of other tourists. But then, as if by magic, people started walking up to her, handing her a book (I gave her The Shining City by Stevan Eldred-Grigg), and then sitting down on a step below her, so that a line was forming down the steps:
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By the time I joined the line, it was getting long enough to start attracting attention from passing tourists, and one man even started taking photos of us (we were imagining the conversation when he got home and showed his holiday photos to his friends: “And this is Sydney, where people sit in lines…”). Once everyone was in the line, fushmush started passing the books she’d been given back down the line, one at a time. As each book reached the end of the line, the person at the end would put down the book where they’d been sitting, and then walk off, so that a line of books was left behind on the steps.
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We were supposed to then disperse, but the temptation to hang around and watch what happened to the books was too great, and before we knew it we’d congregated together again:
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Meanwhile, the books were attracting quite a lot of attention, and we watched with glee as people stopped to look at the books (which by now were fluttering dramatically in the strong wind that had suddenly come up). It was great fun watching people’s reactions as they read the “free book” notes on the front of the books – some quickly grabbed up several books, others sat down to read one on the spot, and others were more furtive, checking to see who was watching before they snatched one up.
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Eventually, we left the books to their fate, and a group of us adjourned to a nearby hotel for lunch.
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In the park beside the hotel were a couple of statues: a war memorial (where I left The Rescuers Down Under), and a statue of a woman with two children. The children had outstretched arms, so it wasn’t long before they acquired a few books:
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There was a general concensus that with such scarey eyes, the smaller child must be possessed by the devil
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so I picked out a horror book (Clive Barker’s Weaveworld) from my bag to add to the growing collection, tucking it in the crook of the woman’s arm:
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However, the child turned out not to be as evil as a man who walked past later as we were sitting there. He saw the books decorating the statue, looked angry, stomped over and pulled one down and threw it onto the ground, then stomped off again. I thought at first that maybe he’d been offended by the books “littering” the statue, but it seems odd that he’d only remove one, in that case, and that he’d throw it on the ground and not in a rubbish bin. Anyway, I took his photo in revenge 🙂
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So, Mr Grumpy Man, your picture is now on the internet as a warning to all Bookcrossers not to release books near you!
After lunch, it was back to Littlemave’s apartment, to drop off one of the Tinymaves, who was getting sick of bookcrossing, and to pick up a new supply of books for release, and then we were back out for the next event, the release frenzy.