Footy fever

HawksNow that I’m Australian, I have to do Australian things. And that means going to the footy.

AFL is as much a part of life in Melbourne as trams and hipster baristas. If you meet someone new, you can be pretty sure they will ask you who you barrack for (note: never support, always barrack for) early in the conversation. If you don’t have a team you’re considered a bit odd.

So I got myself a team pretty sharpish: Hawthorn FC. Contrary to popular belief, this wasn’t because they win a lot. Nor was it because I find their brown and gold strip particularly attractive (I much prefer Port Adelaide’s black and teal ensemble). No, it was a practical decision. The Silver Fox had sworn allegiance to Hawthorn more than 20 years ago when he saw them play on his first visit to Oz. While he would argue that I am not inclined to follow his advice on much else, he knows his football, so I decided it would be simplest to tell people that I, too, barrack for the Hawks. Continue reading

What’s in a name?

As a British migrant raised on Neighbours, I didn’t anticipate many language issues in Australia. Sure, there would be Aussie slang to deal with and I would have to learn to drop the final two letters from programme, but I reckoned there would be no struggles with pronunciation. Everyone speaks English, right?

Right – except an increasing number of those English speakers have come from somewhere else, and brought with them a fantastic array of names. Prior to my move here, my only real experience of Asian names was the branch of my extended family with the surname Ng. The trouble was, no-one ever said it out loud, so I grew up having no idea how it was pronounced. In the end I learned from US alternative band They Might Be Giants. Continue reading

Moving to Oz? Six things you need to know about Australian supermarkets

Coles - one of the big two supermarket chainsI love supermarkets. Well, ethically, I’m not so keen on their dominance of the marketplace and their ability to put small traders out of business in a flash, but from a sociological point of view, I find them fascinating.

On trips abroad I love wandering round the local hypermarché or supermercado to get an idea of how the natives like to live. And had I known that when I arrived in Perth almost five years ago, the big supermarkets were forced by law to shut at 6pm (a situation thankfully now changed) I might never have got on the plane. It proved to be a very accurate indicator of what living in Perth would be like.

I thought Australian supermarkets would be much the same as British ones, and they are. But as a new migrant, there are still a few things you need to know about shopping at Woolworths or Coles. Continue reading

Tweet memories

Nick HeywardMy husband likes to believe he was my first love, but that’s not strictly true. Many years before the Silver Fox and I met, my heart was taken by another: Nick Heyward.

Nick – if you are not an aficionado of 80s pop as I am – was the singer in Haircut One Hundred. They had a few UK hits in 1981 and 1982 before Nick was chucked out of the band. I was devastated for a while, but it wasn’t long before I grew up a bit and became obsessed with boys with quiffs from Glasgow. Continue reading

Why you shouldn’t always listen to your teacher

I grew up in a small town in the west of Scotland. It had its charms, but with hindsight I sometimes think the best thing about it was the view away from it. The people were (mostly) honest, hard-working types but it was a tough place to grow up. If you reached 50 without having had a heart attack, you were doing well. And let’s just say you could tell by the smiles of the locals that one of the town’s major exports was sugar.

So when I told Mrs Weston, my guidance teacher at school – the one supposed to, er, guide you away from a career in dealing heroin towards something that might actually be useful to society – that I wanted to be a journalist she gave me a disappointed look that indicated she didn’t have the leaflet for that one. Continue reading