Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Pom In Oz, Part 1

This list will come in handy if the following apply to you:
1. You are emigrating to Australia, esp. Melbourne.
2. You are the sort of person who quite often leaves the house and then panics that you've forgotten to put your trousers on.

OK, so here's Part 1 of the things I've learned (the hard way) in the year we've been living here.

1. When you ask for a loaf of bread in the bakery and they say "Sandwich or toast?", say "toast" - this is not because "toast" is necessarily better, it is just better than standing there muttering, "Err, not sure, hmm, err, is there a difference? You decide!" A firm and confident "TOAST" will see you through. Don't let them see your weakness - if you hesitate, before you know it you'll have bought 6 berry scones and an apple turnover just to prove you know what you're doing.
2. Ugg boots = slippers. I know, I know, they are seriously outdoor-looking slippers and it's perfectly acceptable to wear them in the UK (it's even acceptable to wear fake ones in Kilburn) but over here people will either assume: (a) you are middle-aged mutton trying to emulate teenage lamb, (b) you are crazy. For me, it's ok - they already think I'm crazy.
3. People are friendly. Just like in Ramsey Street. Be prepared. They will invite you over, they will ask questions about you, they will share information about themselves - it's what they do. Try not to be alarmed. Rest assured that it is fine to carry on as your normal curmudgeonly self - they expect it, you're a Pom.
4. Books are frighteningly dear. At first you may think this will curb your spending, but it will not (esp not if you live near a Readings). It would therefore come in very handy if you could buy fewer shoes - you could always use this as the excuse for why you're wearing your Uggs outside again.
5. Essential items for children's parties (there WILL be complaints if you don't serve these): fairy bread (white bread, buttered and sprinkled with 100s and 1000s); party pies (hot little pies with meat inside) SERVE WITH KETCHUP, but don't call it ketchup, call it SAUCE; sausage rolls (serve with sauce); bright orange frankfurter things that burst out of their skin (serve with sauce); neon drinks.
6. Everyone here thinks everyone there is fat. There will be plenty of comments about 'The Heathrow Kilos' etc, ie. anyone who goes to the UK comes back a lard-arse. It is VERY hard to argue with this when you are known for staying inside a lot writing, while they are all out kicking a "footie" or doing some completely normal-to-them weekend activity like water-skiing or plain old jumping for joy (but don't be fooled, they are only doing this because there is nothing good on telly...surely - more of which will be discussed in Part 2).

Watch out for Part 2!

Disclaimer: I love Melbourne. Honest.

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Andrew said...

I am going stark raving bonkers here with the television. It's exaccerbated by it being on nearly ALL DAY, I'll admit, but what I would give for the UK freeview box selection. I could then never ever watch Australian TV again.

And books are expensive, aren't they? You get so used to Amazon serving them up for about $14 a pop that the $22.95 comes as a rude shock.

Fionnuala Kearney said...

The Heathrow Kilos LOL - Makes you think though...are we all fat?! Fx

CarolineG said...

Brill post, Emily!

As you live with a computer whizz, couldn't you get him to rig up something involving a laptop, a telly, some coat hangers and a few Heath Robinson like extras so you can watch BBC iPlayer?

Luisa said...

I love this post! It is briliant.

And I qualify for (2), not (1), so maybe half the points could apply to me? ;)

Anyway. Great post!

Anonymous said...

Ah Em, really funny, and surprisingly informative too.

Who would have known it about the Ugg boots?! Surely they get terribly sweaty feet wearing them indoors?

Emily Gale said...

Andrew, you will note that I am still struggling with the whole dollar thing, anyway - eg. I was recently given a $50 book token. I was so excited I almost pee'd meself because I was seeing £50 worth of UK books...when I went shopping I remembered that $50 = one latest release fiction, and change for a coffee (um, and a muffin, ok and a refill).

Caroline, he's usually worth his weight in geek-gold but on this he has failed me.

Luisa, you could come and live here and we could go round in our boots together - me in Uggs, you in DMs :)

Char, I don't know about all the other Melbournians but I have no central heating and it's brrrr here in winter.

Ross said...

1. That bread thing must be a Melbourne quirk. Here, I get 'thick slice, or thin slice?'. The trick is to say, 'unsliced', this not only shows that you are an experienced and worldly bread-buyer, but also that you refuse to give in to their fascist, pre-deterministic approach to bread. Also, the bread stays fresher longer and as it gets older, you can cut really thick slices to make french toast. Which is delicious with bacon and maple syrup...

2. There is a crazy fashion amongst some young girls where they wear ugg boots and miniskirts so short you can see where their legs end. Not sure about the thinking on this one (if there is any) - "my feet are warm, but my legs are exposed to the elements. Awesome!"

4. Books are ridiculously expensive. Someone once told me it's because there's a luxury tax on them. This shows our government's embarrassing attitude towards books (and I guess learning in general). On the flip side, booze is cheaper here.

6. The fat thing is completely wrong. Australians are the fattest people in the world:,23599,23893557-36398,00.html

We like to think we are sporty, however this mainly consists of watching sport, talking about sport and buying the merchandise of our chosen sporting team rather than playing sport. Do not be fooled.

Emily Gale said...

I can't possibly ask for unsliced - you have clearly never seen me wield a bread-knife. And you KNOW how I feel about syrup on bacon. I will eat that the day you agree to eat roast beef smothered in strawberry yoghurt.

Also, I can assure you that I do not wear my Uggs with short skirts. That sounds like a Queensland fashion - I remember my first trip there, seeing men wearing tiny shorts with huge thick woolly jumpers, and complaining about being cold (when it was 26 degrees).

About the sport - believe me, round my way folk are playing sport A LOT. I am considered extremely lazy. The nursery has even organised a social event with the theme SPORT. You have to dress as a sporting hero. I'm thinking of going as a snooker player.

Ross said...

Ooh - go as an darts player with a pint in one hand and a fag in the other!

Geraldine Ryan said...

Emily Fat-Belly! (Remember the darts players on Alas Griff and Jones. Fat Belly and Even Fatter Belly? Brilliant!

Emily I love your blog. Can't wait for Part Two!

simmone said...

ha ha my husband will like this because he is a pom...yes the TV is dire ... yes the bread thing is weird ...yes yes yes to the heathrow injection. i went up a size and never came back down. i think this is because i thought flapjacks were some kind of healthfood. And quorn. (eek! quorn!!)

Emily Gale said...

Geri and Ross - darts player is officially on the list. I already have half the costume (beer belly) but must work on my aim.

Simmone - I'm so sorry about Quorn, and flapjacks. On behalf of my people I apologise. But here there are Twisties! How can anyone stay thin where there are Twisties??