Monday, 2 June 2008

Crazy Slipper Lady Strikes Again

I think I'm starting to believe that we really, truly, definitely live in Australia. Trust me to be fashionably late to this particular party - I usually suffer from arriving places intolerably early, but on this I seem to be a bit slow.

And as it dawns on me, so too has the fact that it is difficult. It is. Oh god yes, it's difficult. For so long I have tried to cover that up, because I didn't want my deepest fears to affect the children's experience, but now that the initial excitement has died down a little and normal life must resume, I find myself feeling vulnerable and frustrated and quite pathetic because I know that I must set about making friends if I'm to live happily in Melbourne, and that terrifies me.

Every day I watch The Girl skip into her new nursery - a tiny, smiling English dot amongst these robust Australians - and I wonder how she does it. 

"Hello, I'm Madeleine. Can I play with you?"

I've heard her say it a hundred times. I've watched as other children have turned their backs on her (sometimes), or nodded and smiled and let her in (more often). I've watched her and cried behind my sunglasses at how brave she is, and then I've walked briskly home as other mums stand around chatting or walk in pairs to coffee shops and look like they've known each other a million years and are probably wondering: who is that weird Pom with the nervous twitches and why on earth is she wearing Ugg boots?

It's not as if people round here are not friendly. They are a whole new world of friendly for this Londoner. Our neighbours on one side invited us to a bbq after knowing us approximately 45 seconds. On the other side, they are so friendly I think The Australian and I have slightly fallen in love with them, in an unhealthy way that I suspect we'll never talk about. But friendly is not friends. Friendly can lure you into a sense of believing that friendship is just around the corner, but that is not necessarily so. Soon we will not be the new, interesting Poms. We'll just be the Poms. Oh, god.

At the park today, the little girl who has become obsessed with my footwear came to say hello.

"You're wearing your slippers again," she said. I nodded. She went on. "I saw your husband or whatever yesterday and I asked him if you were wearing them, and he said you were." I confirmed that he was my "whatever". "But why are you?" she said.

"They're stuck on with glue," I replied.

"No they're not! You're lying."

"It's true. I can't get them off."

"Ok, let me try to pull them."

So there I was, wobbling on one leg while a very determined 6-year-old tugged and heaved my right Ugg boot, and her mother starting shouting from the other side of the park so that anyone who had not noticed these strange goings-on were now alerted: "What are you doing? Put that poor woman's leg down !!"

Now, if that's not a way to make friends, I don't know what is.

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Sx said...

Lol! I have this mental image of you as the pied piper of Melbourne, playing a flute and skipping along in your Uggs with hundreds of mesmorised children following you...

With the grown up variety of friends i find alcohol a much better lubricant than nursery drop off - but maybe that's just Poms for ya!


Mum'sTheWord said...

I do seem to be a hit with the children - I think they are slightly fascinated by my accent, as well as my odd choice of shoes. This will wear off, naturally. I'd better enjoy being that interesting Crazy Slipper Lady while I can.

ireneintheworld said...

good to see you back in the blogging world. i've just spent a lovely half-hour, i think, catching up. get thee to a hen party - that's where you'll meet mates! x

Claire said...

That has just made me snort all over my desk...
i'm supposed to be working on very serious business.