Monday, 7 July 2008

Tradition, innit

I've been feeling slightly ashamed of my constant moaning and griping on this blog. For the record I do appreciate that what I have here is not a real problem, as problems go. (And, sshh, I am secretly loving the adventure of being here and the challenge of being a fish out of water.) Never was that more obvious than during a visit to the wonderful Immigration Museum last Saturday morning. 

This was such a treat. I took the train - alone! No wriggly Boy wanting to run up and down the carriage, no chatterbox Girl wanting to read out every piece of advertising or graffiti, no one to pacify with crackers and satsuma, no one demanding a reading of The Gruffalo "with all the voices, Mummy". (And speaking of The Gruffalo, check out Vulpes Libris today for a great interview with The Queen of Picture Books, Julia Donaldson.)

The sun shone on me all down Flinders Street and I felt electric with the promise of three solid hours to delve into something fascinating by myself. I think I must have taken down, in my own made-up short-hand, almost every word in that place. I inched round with my moleskin, feeling wonderfully insignificant in the scheme of this country's immigration history. They even had a 17-metre replica ship, featuring a cabin from the 1840s and one from the 1950s, with accompanying sound-track. I thought of our own 24-hour journey here - how dreadful I'd proclaimed it to be, with The Boy (who is built like the proverbial shit-house) sitting on my lap 90% of the way, and no sleep in the company of hundreds of slumberers, and your basic gelatinous mess in place of food. All that seems pretty weak compared to journeys past: the stench of sweat and urine in the cramped sleeping berths, the outbreaks of several killer diseases and the small fact that it took about four months to get here!

In one section there was a short film about a woman whose family had brought with them a huge loom that they'd made from scraps of wood in a displaced persons camp in Germany just after WWII. They'd arrived in Australia in 1950, and had kept up the tradition of weaving their national costumes. They said the loom had "eased the pain of displacement". Well, I ain't got a loom and can just about sew on a button but I know I'll feel less displaced when our belongings get here (especially my books). As for keeping up the traditions of my home land...

- I am keeping us well-stocked in Marmite.
- I am maintaining a slightly bonkers/shy/stuttering/blustering approach towards these smiling, uninhibited Australians I keep meeting.
- I hardly ever wear my coat, even though it's winter here: "Winter?? This is NOTHING!" *shiver*
- Today, I actually said "Rather!" in agreement with someone.

So, not so much a loom but a loon.

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Anonymous said...

Is that what they say? Ra...ther!! I say! Sounds like Billy Bunter!

jem x

Gondal-girl said...

Go on, cross over to the vegemite darkside....

have always wanted to go to that museum, but don't get down to Melb much....