Features

Stranger in a Strange Land?

Justin Simpson’s ‘Letter from Australia’

I KEEP MEETING Poms in Sydney. They, or we, are everywhere, cleverly disguised as Aussies; some with strong native accents after many years here; but others with only tentative links to ‘godzone’ and still with obvious ties to Blighty. A new friend has just gone back to Liverpool for a few weeks after living here for ten years: his mates in Scouserland will tell him he sounds ‘strine’ but when he returns here many will ask him where in the UK he’s from. Another – from Canterbury – six years here and still returns every year; a young Glaswegian who works at my local café here is returning for her 30th birthday in January but only for a few weeks (brrr!); and yet another to his motherland of Portugal.

Imagine my delight in introducing a Portuguese friend I met in Sydney who had come to visit me in Brighton’s Whistler territory from Londinium: get your head around that geographical pot pourri . . . and that’s before he opens his mouth! Then there’s his countrywoman living in deepest darkest Hove for years: her English is still dodgy but Hove is definitely her local de residencia!

Finally, I must mention my Sheffield-born ex-colleague from London who visits me from Auckland to discuss his treasured Blades over Aussie beers!

Of course, there are Aussies all over the world at any given time . . . one with a broad Aussie accent started telling me about his brother in Bristol, so I had to ask him if he meant the western UK port or some obscure local settlement unknown to my newly-arrived Pommie ears! Two long-time drinking buddies were telling me about their experiences of driving around Iceland with a big map on their camper van wall; and even a died-in-the-wool Aussie mate confessed his Scottish roots and desire for the Aussies to lose the forthcoming Ashes series.

Such are the strange paths weaved by the smallness of this planet – no?

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