Nearly two years ago, the Silver Fox and I handed the keys to our Perth apartment to a letting agency and flew to the UK. The last remnants of our life there were stuffed into suitcases and holdalls and stored at a friend’s house, ready for us to collect on the return trip. After three weeks in Europe we returned to this hemisphere and, following a quick stopover in Perth to pick up the stored bags, I landed in my new home city.
Despite having spent most of the previous three years complaining that I really needed to live in Melbourne, I still found the actual move quite hard. I knew I didn’t want to be in Perth any more, but I was giving up a fantastic job, lovely home and good friends for a city I knew only as a visitor.
The first few months were hard, but it wasn’t long before everything fell into place. I got a job. We made friends. And gradually we started becoming, well, more Melburnian. I started to cycle every day, joined various retro-style dance classes and dressed in more black than ever. The Silver Fox’s beard got bigger and his jeans got skinnier. If only we liked coffee, you’d assume we had lived here all our lives.
If Bristol is my British spiritual home, Melbourne is certainly my Australian one. I honestly can’t imagine living anywhere else. As I’d hoped, it’s very, very different to Perth (at least in the inner suburbs). It is so different that sometimes I forget I’m in Australia. On a summer evening, down by the Yarra or in an inner north bar, it is easy to imagine that you are in one of Europe’s great cities (the intermittent rain adds an authentic touch). But think about it for more than a few seconds, and it becomes clear that the city has a personality all of its own. It might not feel like Australia to this incomer, but it definitely feels like Melbourne.
Very soon I will pledge my allegiance to Australia at a citizenship ceremony. But just as I am a Scot first, and a Brit second, I will be a Melburnian above everything else.