Travelling tittle-tattle, tall tales and shameless name-dropping by Jon ‘Don’t Call Me’ Norman

About Me

Monday, 29 January 2007

Last night of the Poms

If there's one thing an Aussie loves more than anything else. It's telling you how damn good his country is. Not a day goes by without someone grabbing you by the shoulder in the street to say 'Excuse me mate, Australia is the greatest country on earth!'

Please note the absence of a question mark at the end of that sentence. Bruce is not asking, he's telling. And he doesn't care if you're a native. He'll feel he has to say it at least five times a day. Aussies feel unpatriotic if they average anything less.

Woe-betide anyone who even stutters in response. You learn pretty quickly that the standard reply is to nod vigourously, mention how beautiful the weather is and then get outta there.

Anything other than this and you'll be loudly put in your place. "Why do ya wanna live there for?" "It's full of immigrants, the weather's lousy and you suck at cricket." Is the usual verbal battering ram that will hit you if you dare deviate from the lesson given in the paragraph above.

You don't get Jehovas Witnesses over here. In their place are these equally annoying bastards. There you are in your house, attempting the first ever frontwards moonwalk, when the doorbell goes. Your spidey sense is going wild as you crazy-legs your way towards the door and sure enough as you backflip up to turn the latch you're faced with two angelic asses holding a tourism brochure for Alice Springs, Uluru or the Barrier Reef.

Me: Oh, shit
Brett: Duuuuuu-uuuuuuuuude. How's it going?
Me: It was going fine thanks
Brett: That's great! We are passing through your neighbourhood spreading the word
Sheila: Are you aware of the ultimate truth?
Me: *sigh*
Brett: It won't come as a surprise to you to know that Australia is the greatest country on earth!
Sheila: That's right, Brett. Australia really is the greatest country on earth!
Brett: Would you care to agree with us?
Me: (nodding vigourously) The weather sure is lovely! (SLAM)

Only once have I bothered to take one of these Aussie propaganda Nazi's to task. Yes, I'd had a few. I pointed out that the day they stop trying to forcefeed us this garbage will probably be the moment that yes, this is the greatest country in the world to live in, as long as you're white, male and comfortable with casual racism.

But it's this seemingly inexhaustible desire to get everyone else to agree that show them up. If they truly do live in the greatest place in the world then why feel the need to go about it? Just get on with it. That's what we do in London. Arf arf.

Put simply (because this is the only way I know how) they do not register on the political stage, neither in the world of music, arts & fashion.

More importantly they haven't taken part in enough wars for them to be in the slightest bit interesting historically.

So, why persist?

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Oh, that's why. Sod the theatre.

The one time I did try and convince an Aussie that they were wrong about their country was late in the evening at a club in the heart of Sydney. The bloke had obviously been chomping on a pill or two and therefore didn't even try and pretend he cared less what I thought. I think he walked off halfway through my 'not enough wars' line. Which was probably a good thing.

The reason we were out was because we were saying goodbye to good friends. It was a night Danny coined 'The last night of the Poms.' And which I thought to myself 'that would make a great heading for my next 'blog.

After six weeks of travel, incorporating 22 days of cricket, five cities, scores of beautiful women, too many planes, thousands of beers, plenty of back slapping, great laughs and memories to last a lifetime it was the final farewell to the Barmy Army boys I'd befriended along the way.

Photobucket

After a day spent relaxing on Shelly beach, the night started in a manner much like every other. With Mark walking into something, tripping over or doing something that made us all take the piss.

On the ferry over from Manly to the city centre, he thought he'd managed to delete every single of his holiday snaps on his camera. As he sunk back into his chair I took the camera from him and took three pictures of his reaction to record the moment, initially, disbelief, which was quickly followed by the realization of what he'd done and then ecstasy as I found them for him. Here's the final installment.

Photobucket

After a few quick drinking games at a bar overlooking Sydney Harbour, we ended up in a club in town called 'The Chinese Laundry' where it played the dirtiest hardest electro house I'd had the pleasure to hear in quite a while. And while Martin and I danced away the others stayed upstairs drinking themselves into the necessary state to be able to withstand the 'music'.

They obviously needed a few but eventually they did find the way to the dancefloor and we all mucked around til 4am before staggering home.

Photobucket

It was a great end to the tour although the feeling was a bittersweet one as we were gutted that for some the holiday had come to an end.

Briefly, here are a couple of photographs of the lads who have made my tour so memorable.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Name: Mark
Nickname: Queer as Folk
Age: 33
Lives: Stuttgart, Germany (formerly from Salford, Manchester)
Supports: United
Looks like: Either a gay Howard or Jason from Take That
Best memory from tour: Every single time we walked back from the cricket (after watching England get hammered) Mark would dream up a scenario for the following day where we'd not only rescue the situation we'd force a victory. It never happened but it was great to see the optimist in him working its magic.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Name: Danny
Nickname: Perky
Age: 29
Lives: Romford, Essex
Supports: Millwall
Looks like: The girls he pulls
Best memory from tour: Danny gingerly limping into our Brisbane dorm after spending the night with a particularly rampant 19 year old. This 'blog isn't the place to let you know what she did to him.

Photobucket

Name: Nathan
Age: 25
Lives: Lincoln
Supports: Chelsea
Looks like: Alistair Cook
Best memory from tour: The youngest member of our entourage but perhaps the most widely traveled. I'll never forget us two trying to reassure each other it was perfectly respectable to pay to go on the Neighbours Tour.

Photobucket

Name: Joe
Nickname: Queer as Folk
Age: 33
Lives: Manchester
Supports: Blackburn
Looks like: Also looks like either a queer Howard or Jason from Take That
Best memory from tour: Joe is the type of guy that never stops talking, cracking 'jokes' and making fun of Mark (we think he's secretly in love with him). The Melbourne Test was the most depressing cricket of all time. It was so bad it actually struck Joe dumb for hours on end. It was the only positive to come from the match.

Plus a whole host of other characters and top lads who I'll hopefully keep in contact with.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

And some I won't.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

And so our Ashes 06/07 tour had come to an end. As I write this Mark and Joe are back in Europe Danny is traveling alone around the top of Australia and Nathan is buying his plane ticket home.

I've had the time of my life in Australia. Despite the cricket I've been as happy as I can remember. And in no small part it's thanks to these lads that I've enjoyed it so. So, thanks lads, and I'll see you all, as will my old skool mates, at some point in the not too distant future back in London.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Geoffrey Boycott!

No comments: