Saturday, September 4, 2004

After a year away …

On arrival in the UK, the coins seemed a ridiculous collection of little sizes and shapes. Now, $2 coins seem tiny and a handful of 20 and 50 cent pieces weigh far too much.

Initially UK banknotes seemed quaintly huge and papery, now our highly advanced plastic money looks even more like something produced for a game of Monopoly.

It took a long time to get used to the damp-cold of South East England, now the incredibly dry and still cold of a Canberra winter is positively shocking.

After the light, riverbed melody of (relentlessly polite) “Southerner” UK English, the full-bodied raucous-vowelled warble of Australian English sounds as welcome and familiar as magpie song.

After a year of saying, “oh, yes - that sounds lovely, thanks” it’s quite refreshing to be able to answer a polite invitation with a drawled “yeah, OK then” without being seen as faintly rude.

After several years away now, Canberra seems to have grown a crop of swanky cocktail driven watering holes.

Arriving jet-lagged and proceeding almost directly to a cocktail-themed house party provided a strangely cosy feeling: dancing in a parquet-floored sunroom with a crowd of lawyers, consultants, political staffers, arts administrators, public servants, and graduate students it felt remarkably like any one of the parties from my last years at uni. A real Canberra homecoming.

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