"But we don't eat Vegemite in sandwiches!"
This is always NewMan's response to this song lyric from and it always makes me smile
Well, I'll find out for myself soon enough. In less than 24 hours I will touch down in Australia on The Other Side of The World.
If you'll allow it, I'll indulge in elaborating on why my imminent arrival in Australia for the very first time, ever, is a kind of a big deal to me.
One word. Neighbours.
I bloody loved Neighbours growing up.
No I'm not joking. I am deadly serious. What did you expect me to say? "Well, I studied the plight of the Aboriginal people as a school project and felt so moved that I've always wanted to go there to explore their history further, " or "I just love the accent," or "I want to research my family history to see if any of my distant relatives were shipped over there as a convict," Of course not, though two of these are subjects that now fascinate me in my adult life and I am looking forward to learning more about the history of the country from Australian people, places and other sources.
Instead true to Freud, one consistently repeating event in my childhood has influenced my current way of thinking and specifically my anticipation at the prospect of landing in Oz. When I was growing up from a young, single figure age until after I should have known better my daily life featured and to a certain extent revolved around Neighbours. I raced home from after school activities to be sat on the sofa in my lounge in front of a small remote-less colour TV which every day at 5.30pm waiting for . Everyday, for years and years.
At the risk of over-emphasising an already embarrassing story about myself let me explain that I was the generation who watched Scott marry Charlene, I sobbed with Des when he lost Daphne and to this day I still call an electric gas spark hob igniter a "Granny Helen" after the formidable Helen Daniels.
Not only did I become infatuated with the story lines and character plots, I became obsessed with all things Australian. I picked up the accent and vocabulary ("Rak off, Bouncer!"), I envied their modern houses, I desperately wished our school uniform was that horrible plaid material dresses they wore at Erinsborough High, and I craved living in a warmer climate, somewhere where everyone had pools in their back gardens, sorry, backyards.
Of course, 10, 15 years later the lust has long worn off and I've moved on to (and again away from) harder hitting shows like Eastenders. But I would be lying if I said that making my first trip to Australia isn't a big deal and that Neighbours has nothing to do with it.
It's also fair to say that my boyfriend of nearly two years being from Australia is also a contributing factor to the rising sense of anticipation. I will of course be meeting his mother for the first time (a very big deal!) and sharing in their family Christmas. These stand up as "big deal" events on their own and it just so happens that Australia is the backdrop.
As the Vegemite sandwich comment proves, NewMan has offered a different insight to his home land and I am as much looking forward to visiting his childhood haunts, going to "servo"s and "bottle-o"s, having Vegemite on toast , seeing the infamous Big Banana and the Big Pineapple on our road trips as I am excited about visiting some of the key sights: Sydney Harbour Bridge, Bondi Beach and of course Ramsay Street.
Again, no, I'm not joking. Rumour has it Karl Kennedy is still living on the street...
Frances M. Thompson
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