Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What snow? It's summer in Sydney

Much excitement in that I have a new nephew born in the middle of the UK night. One of the upsides of being the other side of the world is that you get this kind of news first – downside there are limited number of people in the UK who would welcome a call from me in the dark and extremely chilly small hours to discuss the good news. However the Australian accountant, with whom I was trying to make sense of my tax return when a text message and photo arrived, showed a touching enthusiasm for the new arrival – however this may reflect a certain amount of relief on his part that I had stopped rustling through piles of files trying to track down the required paperwork.

It seems somewhat heartless to be sitting typing away in glorious sunshine whilst everyone in the UK is shivering morosely – there is obviously a strain of puritan guilt ethic that makes me feel vaguely uneasy about being warm. I have been typing up my maternal grandmother’s notebook of jottings about her life and have come across a reference to an uncle building the children a snow house while on leave during the First World War – big enough for all four of them to sit inside and to eat their meals – so heavy snow was obviously a feature of life in Scotland then as well as now. Sadly the 18 year old Uncle George died on his return to France, and as Granny writes “and we children really mourned him.” The other portion of her wartime memories that I found very moving was her comment on the unveiling of the school memorial tablet when she would have been about 8. “When our school memorial tablet was unveiled, our very severe, and we thought, cruel and heartless headmaster wept openly before the school. His eldest son, newly qualified as a doctor, had been killed in action and was commemorated with others on our plaque. It terrified us to see him so moved.”

On a more cheerful note, January is the Australian August, school holidays, sunshine and every family worth its salt on holiday. As a result driving in Sydney is a joy and the papers move into ‘summer’ season. One of the lead stories last week in the Sydney Morning Herald was the result of an American survey that showed men who did more housework could expect more sex. The topic aroused much excitement and interest but I particularly liked the correspondent (male needless to say) who wrote in saying;

“It’s a trick, Mate. Don’t fall for it.”

I personally feel the findings probably have something to do with the fact that one is likely to feel more kindly about one’s partner (and indeed teenage children or any other house partners) if you are not seething with rage over the fact that no one else seems to know where brush, mop, bin liners or wet towels live – hint on last one, not end of bed.

Another great story in the SMH today – featuring an 11% rise in gun theft, fuelled in part by owners keeping guns in unsafe locations eg under the pillow or in unlocked cars, though the one that made me laugh was the man who had hidden his rifle down an unused mine shaft in a box marked “F*** off – Steve’s gun” written on it – and it still got pinched.

Holiday season also unfortunately means carnage on the major roads. The Australians have a slightly unnerving habit of announcing road fatalities in the manner of a score card eg. New South Wales 22 fatalities, Victoria 14, South Australia down 6 on last month.

I have just been for my annual skin check up – for obvious reasons melanoma is a major issue in Australia and people are very conscious of the need to keep an eye on lumps, bumps and freckles. I was amused by my British hairdresser who has just had friends from the UK over for Christmas and who on their first day organized a spray on tan for the whole party – she apparently made them all line up in the back garden and sold it to them on the grounds that she didn’t want any pale visitors looking fat in her Christmas photos. On a more serious note, she thought if they looked reasonably brown it would stop them scorching themselves in the sun in an effort to get a tan. As the weather in Sydney was absolutely awful over Christmas perhaps it was just as well she invested in the spray on job.

No comments:

Post a Comment