I’ve been back in the Australia homeland for a month or so, and impressed with the old place – especially the ditching of the loathsome Tony Abbott as prime minister, although his “self-made all-round genius” successor Malcolm Turnbull may not be a massive improvement.
People are generally nice – polite and considerate – more than in the dirty old Anglo-Celtic capitals of the northern hemisphere, Donald Rumsfeld’s “Old Europe”. The locals, of course, do an exercise in mouth-wrinkling and sotto voce scoffing when I offer this opinion.
On a Melbourne suburban train, when another middle-aged lady and I were the first passengers into a well-populated carriage, two teenage school students in uniform rose immediately from their seats and moved aside for us. Could have knocked me down with a feather. The only young person who ever gave up a seat for me in Dublin was a young Travelller boy, some years ago. The privileged sprogs of the south county Dublin bourgeoisie lounge around comfortably, with their schoolbags providing an insurmountable obstacle course.
In Sydney, on a crowded late-afternoon bus, an elderly gentleman asked the father of a toddler, as they settled in their seats, if it would be okay to offer the little boy lollies [sweets]. “Thank you, but no, too much sugar and he gets hyper,” the father declined with a smile. You don’t see such exchanges on the 46A in Dublin or the no 29 in London.
Getting lost in Melbourne, a couple of girls walking their dogs fished out their mobile phones and Googled my destination – not a bother.
And most remarkably of all, when I was wandering lonely as a cloud along a central Melbourne railway station, looking for the airport bus, a rail employee actually approached me and asked if I needed help!! He nearly had to pick me up off the floor. Read more…