Differences

I should really write some posts. I’d like to do one about sheep shearing, another about Young and one about missing England. I’d also like to write about the differences between England and Australia. So I am. Because it’s the easiest and I’m on my phone. Here we go.

quick note
Between writing the “England and Australia” and “so I am” I noticed the sky looked nice outside so I went for a walk. I was an hour.

Looked outside and the sky was so pink, I’ve only ever really seen it once in England where just before sunset the whole sky turns pink, not just the clouds. So I walked to the top of a hill overlooking a plain and watched the sun set. One of those moments where you just wished everybody you know; friends, family, could all sit with you and see what you’re seeing.

It was around 8 o’clock, 25C about and humid. Which seems pretty unusual in central New South Wales. The grass was dry as tinder though, everything always is. Suddenly all the hairs on my arm stood up and then I walked into the most beautiful lightning storm. Stood there for an hour in singlet and shorts just being juiced by Mosquitos. The thunder though… it’s still thundering as I write this. Incredible. I came out here because I didn’t know what I want to study at uni.

I want to study thunder.

There are noises that cause fear; dogs barking, shotguns when sleeping in the middle of nowhere, Scottish accents and men screaming. But there is no noise that scares the animal part of the psyche like thunder. Not distant thunder. Not thunder where you count the seconds and see how many miles away it is. Thunder that’s like a peal of bells when you’re in the steeple or the first time you fit a sub in the boot. The noise just gets into your rib cage and shakes you, thunder that you feel in every atom of your body. I’ve only heard it once before, while acting at Tolethorpe (used with skill by a cracking actor called Richard Byron White just before he made a villainous entrance). I love that noise. It rocks… My world. Ever since I’ve arrived here I feel that Australia’s been putting on a show, just for me.

The storm’s passed, differences between England and Australia.

They call a vest a singlet.

Cool boxes are eskis and if you walk to the shop to buy some milk then you’ll need to bring it.

Oh and the milk’s not great, there’s no grass around here so grazing becomes impossible so as I understand it the milk is essentially imported a ridiculous distance… And subsequently tastes funky.

Same situation with cheese but quarantine and imports (which Australians have a real hard on for, delicate ecosystem and all) means that there are pretty much no foreign cheeses. Just coon and tasty.

Chocolate tastes worse as well but it has an agent in it to prevent melting that affects the taste, however Cadburys seem to have a much vaster range in Australia, peppermint, pineapple, mousse. All sorts. The rocky road is my favourite. Just to give an idea of how much more chocolate they have, there must be seven to nine types of freddo frog…. And I just love freddo frog.

The lamb tastes better, Australians do BBQ lamb a lot, cliché or not, but when it tastes that good.

Woolworth’s lives! But it’s nothing like the Woolworth’s I remember stealing pick n mix from.

The supermarkets are Woolworth’s, Coles and IGA as opposed to Tesco or Tesco.

Everything is twice the price it a should be. And then a bit.

The speed and distances are all in km so trying to drive is a nightmare because as soon as I realise I’m doing 60 in the middle of town I slow down.

Though some place names retain the mile from days of good old colonial rule, seven mile each being my favourite.

It’s colder in England, a lot colder. (Oh really Joe?!)

If you want something back in Australia it’s a boomerang. “Excuse me Steve can I borrow your lighter?” “Of course Barry but it’s a boomerang”.

The space. If you leave a city chances are you’ll find yourself with no evidence of civilisation. There is so much more here untouched than touched.
Explaining this will be a little garbled but essentially no people live here. Coming from rural England to rural Australia (and where I am in Australia is apparently far from as isolated as Oz gets) the difference is startling. The majority of time in Australia there is nothing to show evidence of mankind. Once you get off a main highway there’s just land… As far as you can see. For the Australians I assume they just think it’s normal, or they just stay in their towns. But imagine a continent that can fit something like 20 England’s within it’s borders, with what half the population of England? *all figures are guessed at
I’ve never been anywhere in England where humanity had not soiled, even right out in the fen the turbines, road noise, gates fences barns churches all fight the land for attention. Here in Australia it has just been left.

The space changes cities as well and perceptions of what urban means. Sydney is the largest city and is essentially a sprawling town. Compared to London it’s maybe Grantham… On a Wednesday morning. I’m saying it’s tiny. I’ve been to state Capitol cities in Australia that have no buildings bigger than 5 stories. No tower blocks or terraced houses as the space just demolishes the need to build tall or close. Likewise all the houses are bungalows outside of the cities, and inside the cities pretty much. Just because why would you need a second floor when you can extend the house 30 yards back?

A pickup truck is a ute.

Tradesmen are tradies.

Bikers are bikies, they’re fucking scary.

Firemen are firies.

Nutri grain is a cereal.

Promite is better than marmite.

Chavs are named bogans over here. I’ve met a few, of both. Not much difference. Pulling a blocky is driving round the block over and over again playing dub step, which is still a ‘thing’ here.

The houses are all in blocks, roads are in straight lines with roundabouts every 10 metres in town. Think Milton Keynes.

Bull bars (or roo bars) are legal just because of the volume of kangas on the road waiting to dive in front of you.

Kangaroo meat is dirt cheap, think cat food cheap. It’s lean and chewy, quite nice.

Chickens are genuinely chooks, just called chooks, hilarious.

Beet root in burgers is a taste sensation I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

You can take off your thong on a beach, because that’s the word for flip flips.

Pants are trousers, if you think about underpants it does make sense.

Cunt. I’ve heard that word maybe 700 times in 19 years in England. In one month I’ve probably tripled it. Australia’s favourite expression: from ” you pommie cunt” all the way to “that mcflurry was a right cunt” and everything in between.

The mcdonalds are all branded as mcafés and serve quite good coffee (applied for a job as a spotty mcstaffer so I have to be on my knees in front of Ronald) EXCELLENT COFFEE

Every door has fly screens.

The flies will always get in.
There are flies everywhere.

They can still sign for payments in shops instead of using a pin, useless for those of us without a constant signature.

Every time something bites you that you can’t see, the thought that you may die alone, planting tomatoes, flashes through your head.

Australian gardening is really an exercise in futility; why bother? It’s too dry, try watering sand.

Black widows will always be scarier than false widows or whatever the hell it is that’s invaded English vines recently.

They genuinely say g’day instead of hello. I can’t yet do this as it just come out as a stilted “good day” and I sound like an idiot.

If you want to know how someone is whilst saying hello then you say “how you going?” Sometimes I think this is just for saying hello and not meant as a question as some people seem surprised when I say that I’m very well thanks for asking.

They have no real tv or radio output, home and away discounted on grounds of it being just really godawful. So they watch BBC, mostly Luther and Doctor Who.

Australians seem to love Dr Who… But like really love him. I got caught in a mob of men in fezzes (fez, fez’s?) celebrating the Dr’s 50th at least a month before the episode came out. Girls in tardis dresses, the works.

It’s so damn hot I can’t sleep.

A short car drive is anything less than 2 hours.

Handguns are legal and the police are packing. Not as much CCTV in the cities or towns though which is nicer than I thought it’d be. Didn’t realise how conscious I was of being filmed in public until I was no longer filmed in public.

Australia has a real shoplifting problem. Getting your bag checked by security as you leave a supermarket is standard procedure. Though the first time it happened to me I did kick off but It is a strange thing to ask if you think about it
“Can I look in your bag?”.

To check cars have paid tolls on the highway, UV gantries have been set up that bathe the whole car in a soothing purple glow as you drive under.

Spider’s webs are so much thicker. Think rope. Making them harder to break but a lot easier to pull of your face should you walk through one.

They have adverts on manhole covers.

A duvet is a doona.

Council workers are rather more excitingly titled rangers.

The houses in the countryside all have old American style post boxes with the flaps on in front of their verandas, posties fly down the pavement on little mopeds filling each with letters, Australian letters.

Average wage is around $20 an hour. Making the ludicrous cost of living slightly less ludicrous but essentially still slightly ludicrous.

Double decker trains like Amsterdam but the tram service just isn’t as good.

The people are twice if not seven times as friendly than their English equivalents. Before a map is even pulled out someone will be on google maps for you. They smile and laugh and genuinely take joy in talking, the lost art of conversation is to be found in Australia.

ALCOHOL

The differences here require a new blog let alone a new post let alone a hastily added footnote on this one let alone it’s 3 in the morning or that all my noodles are stale.

Imagine going out in good old Bourne, England, you’ve made it to the jubilee but…

– the doors are locked, lock ins after 11 and sometimes 10

– you wait til 12 but then it simply closes

– you go to the late bar but that is also closed, unless at one of a few clubs in MAJOR cities no after 12 licences granted

So you give up and decide to head out Saturday night, starting early simply to get in.

– there are no shots after ten

You ask your mate behind the bar to get you one anyway, but because he’s behind a bar he’s had to do a 10 hour, $100 dollar course on morally responsible alcohol retailing.
It was $119. I can only use it for this state, even then I can’t use it on Kings Cross or other areas designated as alcohol problem zones.

– no doubles at all

– no promotions on drinks

– no lovely alcopops

– no pints, only “schooners”

– cider is for girls, so not much of that

– the beer is marketed on its coldness simply because it’s watery and weak…. And $5 a bottle

– show the least THE LEAST sign of being tipsy and you will be thrown out. Every time

For some reason you don’t have a great time at the pub, so it’s a stay in night.
Go out to buy some drink.

– no alcohol at the petrol station, when you ask where it is the man behind the counter seems genuinely horrified

– none in the supermarket

– and none in the corner shop

You end up having to go to a “bottleshop”, a caged box usually adjoining a supermarket where, and only there, one can buy alcoholic beverages. For a small fortune. The only thing that seems reasonably priced is wine in a sack. Y’know the wine that comes in the little foil bag…. Oh dear oh dear.

– this is not wine

– it is goon

Goon cannot be purchased before 4 in the afternoon. It contains fish and egg (at least it’s dinner as well). It is the cheapest drink in Australia by a long long chalk and you can only buy a gallon of it, setting you back $9.

The first time I drunk it I had to do all the bedding in my hostel to apologise, the second time I lost my passport (genuinely lost this time, found by a beautiful Canberra street cleaner the next day) the third time I can’t remember but it was pretty bad.

Goon is the backpacker emblem of Australia. It is a foul and horrible drink born out of the insane restrictions placed on all other alcohol. I will never drink it again.

– they do however hand out few snacks and water in some bars though, to “subdue intoxication”

ALCOHOL END

Australians do genuinely do listen to men at work: land down under. A fair bit.

If it wasn’t for club biscuits then the mighty Aussie Tim-Tam would rule the roost.

Cookie is just a synonym for biscuit.

Phone credit runs out if not used. As mine has done.

If it is a place in England; it lives in Australia also. I’ve been to Kettering, where I was born… Give or take 20,00 miles. I’ve seen the caves of Hastings, the bicycles in Cambridge. I’ve even been to Speaker’s corner at Hyde park. All in Australia. There is one place I want to visit more than any desert of rainforest or even ancient wreck dive. It’s a small village in the outback. It’s called Peterborough.

Those are all the differences I can think of at stupid o’clock. True true….. differences should well be substituted for vague observations and hastily compiled assumptions. But yeah I’m falling asleep as I type this and there will probably be some heinous spelling mistakes.

P.S. If I think of any more differences or come across any thing that strikes me as weird I’ll write it down below this. Much love.

YES. The P plates! New drivers have to wear P plates, for 3 years. In a another unexpected display of Aussie’s love of rules. The plates reduce the speed at which they can drive, means they can’t get any points at all and bars them from driving V8s

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2 thoughts on “Differences

  1. Hi Joe …. greetings from France. We really enjoy reading your posts, you are
    naturally gifted. Keep up the good “work” and have fun…..Love Mark, Katie, Max and Sam xx

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