Five months in Australia, two jobs and now two flats.
I am moving from Lavender Bay, an extremely beautiful, if rather quiet area of Sydney from my delightful Colombian flatmates, to Manly beach a short ferry ride away. It’s been an interesting time with the Colombians. The flat has become the unofficial embassia de Colombia with most mornings spent negotiating through a sea of bodies asleep on my floor. Before you start picturing a bevy of bikini clad bodies akin to Shakira let me stop you. It’s more exhausted Colombian men fresh from working in the local burrito shop who have passed out from too much joie de vivre. If a Colombian arrives in Sydney, they come straight to our flat. My flatmate is a head chef at a pub as well as offering unofficial consular advice to his compatriots. He insists I need to eat more, so we never starve. We also have a lovely view of the Harbour Bridge from the balcony.
I have been speaking Spanish most nights, as his friends do not understand Northern Irish English terribly well. I cannot blame them. I have been surprised and delighted at how 11 year old schoolboy Spanish has withstood several dinner parties and untold visitors. But alas, all good things come to an end. I am moving to Manly with a friend I used to work with. The flat itself may have had a Granny as chief interior designer, I am looking out for a carriage clock, but can’t find one on the mantle piece. But the rent is good, the people I will be living with are great and it has a balcony view over the sea. What more could you want. I can see the surfers when I wake up over my avo and toast.
Sydney has been an interesting experience. I certainly have found it a lot harder than anticipated. Whilst we both speak the same language, there are many differences culturally. I have relatively good French and Spanish, but am lost with the local lingo at times. “Yeh mate, I got in a blue in the game, got a spray and got myself hooked.” Apparently this friend got into an altercation in a game, got shouted at and then got substituted. You learn every day. Also the body is a temple in Sydney. I never worried how I looked in my life, until here. People treat chocolate like nuclear waste, and an avocado is treated as an indulgence. Directness is also a surprise. “How the hell do you play rugby mate?” A polite injection from an account director today at my new job. He was referring to my body. I was trying to think of something witty about my brain being a more potent weapon, but he had a fair point, as those of you who have seen me play rugby can attest. God wanted me to be a ballroom dancer or a jockey, not playing rugby.
Like an Australian seeking slim bits of sun in London, I seek theatre here. I went and booked Tennessee Williams at the Sydney Theatre Company, unfortunately it was cancelled due to a member of the cast getting sick. Then I went to As You Like It at the Opera House, Tamara from Home and Away was a very solid Celia. I was as surprised as you are. The set was fairly basic, with a green sheet hanging from the lights to depict the Forest of Arden, I’ve seen better at the Trinity Fresher Coop.
I have also started training with the local Aussie Rules team, the North Shore Bombers. They liked what they saw in my first session, and I got numerous high fives, back slaps and good on yas. I aim to eek out a spot in the lower grades, where I can showcase my fading skills to the two men and their dogs. I have retired from the Ocean Swimming Race series when I found out an 85 year old man beat me. My halycon days on the RBAI water polo team have faded.
Slowly, but surely Sydney is growing on me.