Pom de Terre I

Posted: April 23, 2013 in Pom de Terre
Tags: , ,

To say this has been one of the busier weeks of my life would be somewhat of an understatement. I’ve moved. We’ve moved. Jane and I, and Molly, our remaining dog. Shifted. Relocated. Swapped hemispheres. Exchanged a beautiful suburb of Newcastle upon Tyne, England, for Shoalwater, an equally beautiful suburb of Perth, Western Australia.

They’re different of course. One green, tinged white with late spring snow, cold, harsh, built up, dense, city edge, lively, redbrick, old, familiar. The other, tall, evergreen, eucalyptus, coastal scrub, beaches, post colonial, hot, open, young, relaxed – yet also, and somehow not quite unexpectedly, equally familiar.

The differences though, are, as you might expect, stark. We awake here not to blackbirds and hedge sparrows, but to parrots of various hues. Huge pelicans glide gracious, effortless, almost pterodactyl like across a Simpson’s sky. 28Signs warn of snakes and other dangerous creatures whilst the eye is drawn to pods of dolphins playing in the long sweeping curve of Shoalwater Bay – its calm waters protected by an archipelago of Australian understatement, Bird Island, Seal Island, Shagg Rock, Penguin Island.

The starkness is heard long before it is seen. The English dawn chorus replaced by a veritable amusement arcade of noise. Hoops, hollers, and squawks interspersed with long looping cries that start low and accelerate to a high pitched screech – others, the same, but this time in reverse. Another unseen creature provides an almost deafening staccato ‘zing zing kapow’ that could have been the inspiration for Space Invaders or Asteroids.

Amongst the electronica, only the craw of the ever ubiquitous crow provides an anchor to an English ear bound within the flora and fauna of this antipodean paradise. Totally different, yet somehow the same? Of course, what provides the bulk of familiarity in this most incongruous of settings are the continents two legged residents, Australians.

They’re brilliant. Or so it would seem.

It’s not that they are in any way English or British – far from it, they are definitely, definitively, Australian. Yet somehow I can’t help but feel I’ve met them all before?

Perhaps it’s the language, which is English, well, almost – again, different, but the same. That said, I get the impression that I could be Swiss, rather than British – or German, or Angolan, or Ecuadorean, or Canadian – Martian, even – and I’d feel exactly this way.

In the week we have been here we have opened bank accounts, purchased a used car, applied for Medicare, bought sim-cards, eaten in cafes, swam, canoed, sailed, driven on roads – slowly, and on the left – and watched an Aussie Rules footie match. In all his time only one person has been rude to us – an estate agent who presumed Jane’s dreadlocks to associate her with whatever stereotype she’d been burdened with, rather than that of a university professor.

Big deal. One eejit amongst a sea of welcome. All others have fallen over themselves to offer help and advice, or add instantaneous personal detail: “Wife’s a Pom. Came over when she was eleven. Never looked at another woman in fifty seven years. Still talks like a bloody Pom?” It’s been like this since our arrival; passing through Immigration Control, the Officer smiled broadly as she handed back our passports, “Three years, eh? Welcome home, then!

Was that really just one short week ago?

On Saturday we went to Mandurah to see the guitarist John Butler, not just a great act, but an activist and supporter of aboriginal rights. A timely reminder that even in the midst of paradise we have echoes of how, as a species, we got to where we are. It is a past that needs to be dealt with. It was good to see that some, like John, were doing exactly that.

Yesterday, I thought I’d heard a blackbird? A memory? A glitch in the matrix? Perhaps, though unlike Neo, I’m in no hurry to take the Red pill. Blue’ll do me. By tomorrow morning, amidst the hoops, hollers and squawks, my flipflops, shades, and warm beers will have successfully transposed to thongs, sunnies, and cold’uns. Order restored, the matrix secure, different, but exactly the same.

It’ll be hard to avoid going native, though I’m told that some Poms persevere. Me? Well, what can I say? It’s a wonderful country, exactly the same, but completely, utterly, totally, fabulously, different. A place where, in stead of our home, we’re very grateful to be.


Yeah mate, sure mate, no worries.

Anvil Springstien.

Link to next: Pom De Terre II
  1. Hello petal, so glad to hear you made it safely. It’s still bloody freezing here please keep us up to speed with your doings and send us some sun. S. x

    • Will do, Stevie. Bit hard to find the time to put pen to paper just now. It’ll settle soon though. Molly gets out of Doggie Alcatraz in just under three weeks, but no doubt she’ll be covered in tattoos by then and will be able to hot wire cars!

      Hey, you’re the very first person to comment on the new site! X

  2. Jason says:

    Glad you made it safe fella. Look forward to reading more!

  3. Andy Clark says:

    Blow the froth off a Tooheys or two for all of us still shivering back in Ncle. It sounds amazing there!

  4. It’s going to be ending of mine day, except before ending I am reading this impressive piece of writing to improve my experience.

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