To talk of many things: Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax– Of cabbages–and kings
Yesterday’s post about queues grew out of a conversation I had with one of my youngsters. It is interesting how often we are influenced by a past, of which we have we have little or no personal knowledge. I have therefore decided to share a little more about my experiences settling into another culture.
On my first trip to Australia. I had the touching experience of being welcomed by relatives, to whom I was a total stranger. I had been met with great hospitality. Back in England, I came to understand that Australians are also generally very open to visiting people they don’t know. Out of the blue, we would be contacted by a friend of a friend of a friend, who had wanted to stay with us in the UK. An Australian friend has since explained that this willingnesss to visit strangers and to accept strangers into their homes, had stemmed from the era when getting anywhere could take weeks. People would readily open their abodes to people, who were travelling around this vast (much of it is still sparsely populated) country.
Australians in common with many from warmer climes tend to flee the UK in droves once the leaves start turning brown. In truth many people struggle with a UK Winter. On the flip side, Australians have often stared at me in disbelief, when I recount that on my first visit here, I had willingly traversed The Outback in the Summer heat. AS A GENERAL RULE, DON’T DO IT!!
Caution as they use a bit of salty language.
Australians visiting the UK
While still living in the UK, I had begun learning to adapt to Australian culture. I would listen as Australians who had stayed with us, had tried to wrap their head around the things which had puzzled or confused them. Things like why do we put plastic bowls in our sinks? I really don’t know the answer but I still do it. I have had to try to explain things to my offspring- things like why we sing at football matches. I might not like football in general (don’t get me started about my struggles to understand Aussie Rules football.) but I have nonetheless attended one UK football match and one Australian Rules football match. During my solitary football/soccer experience watching Portsmouth(Pompey) go up the first division, I had witnessed people climbing poles and a pitch invasion. I also still remember Millwall (warning contains some strong language).(It is probably different now-no apparently not! I just checked You Tube.) Australian Rules football games are usually very family frendly.
‘You’ll never walk alone’ can still reduce me to tears.
To this day, if I see somebody stick their arm out at a bus stop, I think “Ah British.” This is another one of my British foibles. As I explain to people, if you don’t stick your arm out in the UK, the bus will just sail by, as we have something called request stops.(see video) Mindblowingly buses would not infrequently speed by, even if your arm was stuck out resolutely. I remember the story of this wonderful bus driver, who had decided to skip stopping to pick up passengers completely, in his determination to keep to his schedule.
It is so interesting to learn how other nations perceive us. I once went to a talk given by a very famous Australian woman, who had mentioned her frustration with our British love of meetings, whereas she had wanted to just to get on and do things. Australians also bemoan our whinging (complaining), although I have to say I listened to a fair amount of whinging from Aussies, who had struggled with some of our British customs, while they were visiting the UK. For my part I have always been mystified by the general lack of overflows on Australian sinks and locks on toilet and bathroom doors. My parents had found this particularly challenging when they had come for a visit. My father said he had felt he needed to adopt the habit of singing while he was in the bathroom. We did eventually install locks ourselves in later years.
One of my youngsters loves Harry Potter. Suddenly I had been asked about treacle tart. I said I felt I had failed as a mother. Had I really never introduced my children, to the rare delicacy, that is treacle tart? Pork pies (a very British indulgence) are one of my guilty pleasures. You can easily buy pork pies here, if you know where to look. Every now and again, I suddenly get a desperate longing for a pork pie. It (the pork pie) often doesn’t even make it home, as it is usually an urge I have to satisfy right there and then. My children had also found UK driving really fast. I don’t know whether that’s British or just my family. I have always tried to explain my cultural differences (or as they consider them “idiosyncracies”) I think that is how we teach people to be more open and accepting of each other. There are some brilliant videos on You Tube, which we will sit and watch together occasionally, to help demonstrate some of my more British issues. (There is often a bit of negotiation involved, although I sometimes feel I get a raw deal, frequently having to watch a full half hour of videos in exchange for one of my five minute “gems”.(Please see below). I’ll watch your videos, if you watch mine.
Honestly I think I have experienced all of these issues at one point or another.