Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Australian Connection

Even though I work at a huge firm, in a big tower, in the middle of London, surrounded by loads of British people, I have been fortunate enough to have always worked with a small group of other Australian girls. I cannot stress enough how much this has made my living in London a shed-load easier - in fact, I think without that Aussie connection, I would have been on a plane home long ago - boyfriend or no.

I think the British are generally more emotionally distant than Australians, in that they hold themselves a little aloof from people they don't know intimately. Also, most English girls just don't get the typically Oz sense of humour. I was expecting, perhaps naively, a nation of Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French-alikes (incidentally, if you haven't seen their Lord of the Rings piss-take, go to YouTube right now). Instead I got a nation of fashion-obsessed hyper-groomers, with a brittle sort of paranoid humour which isn't actually funny (see: Liz Hurley). They just don't seem to share the down-to-earth qualities that unite us Aussie girls.

Although...I can see how they would find us a bit overwhelming and uncouth at times. Like when we hold burping competitions at the meeting table after lunch.

Conversely, the blokes here seem to have been honing their comedic skills since learning to talk. Some of the blokes I work with are so funny that I often wonder why they aren't playing a regular gig to a paying audience, instead of wasting their talents on a bunch of Aussies gathered around the drinks machine. My boyfriend is also quite funny, but only for me (which I love).

However, when I tire of those witty British thespians, there is something so - easy - about sitting around at lunch shooting the breeze with my fellow Oz-landers. A single recollection will have us all in tears of laughter (Crazy John! The Reject Shop! Hey Hey It's Saturday!), or collectively drooling with nostalgia over long-forgotten treats (remember Summer Rolls? And spearmint Choc Wedges at the pool? The tang of Chicken Twisties and chlorine!). Our backgrounds are surprisingly similar, despite the fact that we hail from different corners of that vast continent - Canberra, Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne at last count.

Oh, how far I have travelled to realise my inherent Australian-ness.

1 comment:

susanna said...

i hear you!!! i'm so glad another aussie girl has said it. at times when i was in london i found british women to be emotionally distant, brittle, shallow and humourless (relatives and ones with whom i'm friends are obviously the exception - i'm using broad brush strokes here)...and i've yet to find one who likes a good opinionated stoush about politics or music, or one who calls herself a feminist, or who doesn't give a damn what others think of her.

the same can't be said of english men, who, by and large, are a lot more accessible and pretty bloody funny!

when i lived in london it was a small group of aussie expat girls who kept me sane with their humour, their down-to-earthness, their warmth. i remember sitting in an 'indie' pub surrounded by uptight scenesters groomed within an inch of their lives, when 'what's my scene?' by the hoodoo gurus came on the jukebox. we squawked along to it at the top of our lungs, then fell about laughing. that piece of daggy aussie pub rock was just so welcome - would it have been as welcome had i been in melbourne? i doubt it. but my companions had a sense of irreverence that i recognised and appreciated.

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