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Posts Tagged ‘west australian’

It’s been a while since I posted on here – almost a year, in fact.

Stopping writing was a conscious decision, albeit one that I didn’t announce. When I got back from China, I decided to really make a go of living in Perth. I didn’t think my whinging about the place on here was helping me settle, so I stopped – simple as that.

I started to try getting more involved in my community. I tried to organise more social events. I made friends with my neighbours. I started volunteering. I missed my online rants but got my writing fix at work and writing comedy reviews.

I was busier – but still something was missing.

A trip to Melbourne to celebrate my birthday in October made the decision for me. I simply felt drawn to the place.

Sitting in a laneway cafe (yes, it’s a cliché , but they are cool), I considered the reasons why.

Some were understandable, and disappointingly predictable:

There are people in the streets of the CBD at night, and they are not all homeless.
It looks a bit like Europe, at least in the centre – there are old buildings, lots of them, and trams.
It’s the cultural capital of Australia, and has an amazing comedy festival.
There’s a wider choice of restaurants than in Perth, and they don’t tend to shut their kitchens at 9pm.

But my other reasons, well…no rational person would move to the other side of Australia for them:

It rains, and gets properly cold.
You mostly have to cycle on the road, rather than on nice, safe, segregated paths – especially if you’re heading to the CBD.
There’s a choice of daily newspapers.
In most restaurants, you don’t have to queue at a till to pay your bill like you are in a school canteen – they’ll let you pay at your table.
It has Aldi, with its twice-weekly special buys, a huge haberdashery shop right in the centre, and it’s fairly safe to assume that if H&M is ever going to open in Australia, it will be in the Bourke Street Mall.

Of course, there’s more to these reasons than meets the eye.

The weather would allow my wardrobe to be more varied (I miss boots and opaque tights, goddammit!). This, when combined with the cultural nature of the city, would mean that on bad fashion days (which I have frequently) I am more likely to get away with pretending I am just being quirky and eclectic in my clothing choices. I’d also get to use the jackets that have been in storage since we brought them from Bristol to Perth.

The relative lack of cycle lanes is countered by the massive number of people who actually use bikes for transport, rather than recreation – and despite the constant risk of doorings, the sheer quantity of people on two wheels makes on-road riding relatively safe. And perhaps because car drivers are used to sharing the road with bikes, they seem to drive less like maniacs than those in Perth.

While I would always choose The Age over the Herald Sun, at least there is a choice. In Perth – at least in terms of actual physical newspapers – there is only The West Australian.

As for the restaurants and the shops, well, I just miss the UK.

So the decision was made to move. My husband knew he would have to find a job first – his job is very specialised, and he doesn’t have a lot of choice in terms of employers. We thought it would take a while, so didn’t get too excited. But within a few weeks he found a job – so the move was on.

His new employers wanted him to start work four weeks later. A plan was hastily formulated to minimise the stress of moving yet again. He would move to Melbourne at the end of January to take up his new position. I would stay in Perth, earning as much as possible and wrapping our old life up, until the beginning of June, when we would fly to Europe for a month’s holiday. I’d find a job in Melbourne when we got back.

And so here we are, in April. Just a couple of months to go until I find out if I really want to be in Melbourne – or just don’t want to be in Perth.

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So I’ve finally made it in Perth. After 14 months of desperately trying to fit in, to find my place in the city scene, I’m in. And how do I know this? Because a picture of me has been published in the social pages of the West Australian.

There I am, on page 8 of the Style section, the Out and About page, grinning like a crazy woman. Oh, and look – there I am again, this time from the back, seated at a low table, enjoying a chat with a local newspaper editor.

The event was a Christmas party thrown by Perth PR firm PPR. It’s widely regarded as one of the hottest tickets in town. Invitation only, and always spectacular.

Problem is, it’s always fancy dress, and I hate fancy dress. I haven’t donned a costume for party purposes since I was a child, apart from one wholly unconvincing attempt to emulate the woman from The Matrix at a sci-fi house party in Preston. As it basically involved wearing black and carrying a raygun, it wasn’t too stressful.

This year’s PPR theme was Arabian nights. I set off for the fancy dress shop with a heavy heart at the thought of having to wear a costume, only slightly lightened by the prospect of being part of the in crowd for a night. A green and gold vision in polyester was hurriedly selected, largely because a) it went with the green jewel I wear in my navel and b) it was the only outfit that even remotely fitted me and didn’t make me look too much like an extra from an Arabian-themed porn movie.

I’d just about come round to the idea of dressing up when I realised, on collecting the outfit from the store the night before the party, that the harem pants I thought I’d hired were in fact just pants – black knickers, with a rectangle of green fabric hanging in front, and another behind. One slightly crazed phone call to the shop to check that they hadn’t accidentally given me the wrong costume (‘It says pants on the receipt! In Australia that means trousers! Not pants!’) I managed to salvage the situation and my modesty with a pair of black footless tights. As the outfit required a bare stomach, there was already going to be plenty of flesh on show. I need a reputation in this town, but hooker wasn’t the one I was aiming for.

The day of the party, I ate nothing but salad and drank nothing but water, so conscious was I of getting my stomach out in front of a roomful of strangers. If I’m going to look stupid I might as well look thin and stupid, I thought.

After a taxi ride during which I threatened to fire my friend and workmate Hayley if we arrived to find we were the only ones in costume, we arrived at the venue to be greeted by (real) camels and a glass of champagne – and fortunately for Hayley, more sheikhs than you could shake a stick at. We were just tucking in to some middle eastern delicacies when the photographer from the West approached. As we hid our name badges for the shot (it might have been a party but it was also a networking opportunity) I quickly reminded Hayley that I do not have the photogenic gene and therefore she shouldn’t get her hopes up about appearing in Out and About, even although she is one of the prettiest people I know.

But a few days later, there we were on page 8. I felt a bit guilty. I’d found it ridiculously easy to get Australian residency, and now I’d made it into the social pages without trying. There are people in this town who have made it their life’s work to get into Out and About. You see them at opening nights, pouting as hard as they can as the photographer walks past. I’ve honestly never bothered, and in fact recall my amazement on opening the West when I first arrived and realising that they still carried pictures of people at parties. They did the same thing in some of the papers I worked in – but that was rural Scotland, 20 years ago. Perth was a big modern city, wasn’t it?

Still, the reaction from colleagues reading the paper over morning tea was amusing, and the low resolution of newspaper pics means I don’t actually look that bad. And now that all of Perth has seen my stomach encased in green and gold, there’s probably nothing left for me to be embarrassed about. Ever.

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