I’ve been in Melbourne for three months. Am I fully assimilated? Pfft, hardly. I can’t imagine a haitch ever passing my lips intentionally and sometimes I have no idea what Australians around me are saying. I just nod and smile. But I have found it surprisingly straightforward, slipping into a new life. Melbourne, it turns out, is a very easy city in which to live.
Being a recent arrival, naturally I still find everything a bit weird and wonderful. And because I know that you value my insightful observations and social commentary highly, I will share some of my thoughts on life here in Melbourneo. Enjoy.
Would I look weird if I started wearing one of those cork hats? Because I can really appreciate the logic in them now. Australian flies are persistent. They do laps around your skull as you walk down the street, and no amount of awkward arm flailing deters them. Just when you think you’ve lost the bastard, you stop at the street lights and bingo, he’s back, uncomfortably close to your nostrils. Does this fly actually just want to burrow into my head, I wonder, as I attempt to not look bothered that I’m feeling like a walking pile of fly-attracting shit. If I just resisted, would he buzz straight into my ear and make a cosy home in the soft tissue of my brain? And so on. I’ve yet to find an answer to any of these pressing matters.
But not just any old TV movies. TV movies about real Australians. Aussie semi-celebs, I guess. I don’t know what’s up, but when I first moved here two networks were head to head in an epic TV movie battle. The contenders? INXS vs Schapelle Corby, the latter of whom will probably mean little to anyone outside of Aus or NZ. But trust me, her story is juicy. Both were scheduled to air on the same night. What to do? How to choose?? I went with Schapelle, because I do love a good drug-smuggler scandal. Plus, points for being topical as this was timed to screen just before her release from Bali jail. If I’m honest I only watched the first 15 minutes and it was SO, SO BAD. But in a hilarious way. So, to sum up, Australian TV is fairly abysmal but I probably needed to spend less time in front of the box anyway, so it’s all good.
Right, so I am super pasty basically all of the time. And I guess I’m okay with that (I’m not really, I have lately become dangerously fond of spray tans). But considering I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy what’s been essentially three summers in a row, I’m still an annoyingly unexciting shade of freckly off-white. And this is probably the most tanned I’ve been all my life. I look at myself in the mirror and think, ‘yeah, not bad. Go forth, bronzed one’. And then I step outside. There are lots of people of Mediterranean descent here in Melbourne, who, at their palest, will always be seven shades darker than me. I give up.
How boring is it to talk about the weather? Let’s find out. I thought Toronto got pretty steamy. I recall a day a couple of years ago when it reached 51 degrees (with the all-important humidex, that is. Humidex sounds so nerdy, I love it). That was … interesting. But I have to say Melbourne’s recent record-breaking four-day spell of 40+ degree temps was a whole new, terrifying experience. At first it was a novelty. By day three I was set up five inches from the fan, with a bag of frozen peas on each foot and splashing myself from my glass of iced water every 2.5 minutes. Day four, by which point my blood had reached boiling point, saw me cab it over to Sandra’s where I camped out on the couch in her living room — the only room in the house that had AC — in order to get some sleep for a job interview the next day. That night came the ‘cool change’, a phenomenon I remember my sister telling me about when she lived over here, and which I always thought sounded pretty hilarious and typically colloquial. Now, I’m the cool change’s number-one fan. I felt it literally drop ten degrees in about half an hour, and that was the best half-hour of my life, no lie.