Sampling the life I never had

I’m off to England for the summer. Their summer, that is. During Australia’s winter.

Let me give you a little bit of a background as to why this is such a big thing for me. My family migrated from England to Australia  over 40 years ago. And in that time I have been back once. Once! And briefly at that! And that was twenty-seven years ago. I think it’s safe to say I don’t really know a lot about the country of my birth and childhood. I listen to a heap of UK bands. I’ve watched MANY UK shows, everything from New Tricks and Downton Abbey to the oh-so-wonderful shows such as Scott and Bailey, Broadchurch and Last Tango in Halifax. But firsthand, I’ve only old memories, like a book I once read.

Aust-Eur mapSo I’m packing my bags and covering the vast distance from Melbourne to London, going back for a decent visit.

I want to sample the life I never had. Leastways, that’s how I’ve come to think of it. Over the years, I’ve often wondered what my life would have been like had my family not uprooted us — family of five, me the second youngest and with no real idea — and whisked us all to the other side of the planet.

What would the ‘other me’ have been like? The one that never left? OK, only I might be interested in the answer to that, but it has bugged me for years. There are three things I want to do in the UK, because I’m pretty sure the other me would have done something like them…

1. I want to immerse myself in writing in the UK. The other me would have been into writing — my love of writing predates my trek to this enormous country weighing down the other side of the planet. Probably from the time my teacher at junior school read The Hobbit to us at the start of school everyday. Marvellous, that was.

Heron LP2. I want to immerse myself in UK music. The other me would most certainly have been into UK music in a big way (punk and new wave, no doubt). Before we migrated, I thrashed to death After the Goldrush and Abbey Road as soon as they came out. And an especially wonderful record by a band few remember anymore called Heron. I’m talking, like, when I was nine or 10.

3. I want to live in London. The other me would have lived in London, of this I’m sure! My family migrated to one of Australia’s smaller cities, Geelong. As soon as I could, I moved to the more cosmopolitan Melbourne.

So, come UK summer, I will relocate to London (and explore beyond, as much as I can afford to), where I will hopefully meet the kind of people that might have been my friends, had I never left. And walk the streets and visit the kinds of places I might have frequented…

In the meantime, it feels appropriate to finish up this blog post by telling you a little bit about where I am right now. The life I do have.

I’ll do it in pictures. Why not! My hope is to give you many more picaroonies from the other side of the planet, when I at last set out in May.

Here’s the front of my house. A 1932 (erh, I think) Californian bungalow. These houses are very popular in Australia and affectionately referred to as cal-bungs. Mine (mine and Gina’s really, my wife) is behind that big tree, a gleditsia triacanthos – isn’t it great that I actually know its botanical name? My daughter spent much of her childhood in that tree.

Front of my house (comp)

Here’s the back of my house. Just what you always wanted to see. Now you can. The picture includes the staunch defender of the house — Sparks the Incredible.

Back, with Sparks (comp)

Here’s the incredible canine house alarm in action.

And while I’m about it — what the hell — here’s where I work (doing social work stuff). At the top of town.

St Andrew's Square

Actually, the building I’m in is slightly to the right, diagonally behind those palm trees…

St As Place1

Here’s the old tram stop from which I used to catch trams into the main part of town. The stop is still there, but now we have brand-spanking new tram stops more akin to railway station platforms, smack bang in the middle of the road, where some cars and bikes forget to stop.

Tram shelter

And here’s a snap of my favourite building in Melb. Not far down the road from where I work. I couldn’t resist chucking it into this post. It’s quite something, isn’t it?

Manchester Unity Building

OK. I’d better sign off before I drive you mad with more random pictures (and dog barking videos) from my life.

I will be back to keep you posted about my UK writing and music plans as they progress. (Excitement everybody!)

2 thoughts on “Sampling the life I never had

  1. Hi Steve

    I really enjoyed reading your blog posts! You’ve given us the who, what, why, where and when with eloquence and heart. Looking forward to hearing much more as your adventure unfolds.

    Your friend and neighbour,
    Chris

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