Thursday, August 01, 2002

I’ve not updated this for ages. I’ve just checked when I last blogged and it was nearly 3 weeks ago. Very slack indeed. Sorry. I’ve written so much in my head but can not seem to find the motivation to write it down. I don’t know why I’m like that. A friend suggested I should carry around a Dictaphone to record thoughts etc. but I have enough in my bag as it is and to add another bulky item would be the end of me.

So much has happened. Too much to pick through in this entry so I’ll encapsulate a little of the last fortnight here and maybe add other stuff later.

Centre stage I suppose are the Commonwealth Games which arrived in Manchester last week. It has been a blast! I love what the Games have done to Manchester – the city is alive and buzzing and the streets are full of people carrying AtoZ’s and looking perplexed. Can’t tell you how many folk I’ve directed through the labyrinth that is Manchester’s wonderful city centre.

Ian and I have been to the Athletics twice now – on Saturday morning and again on Tuesday night. We got a great tan on Saturday after the sun broke through the grey covering and then drenched as the heavens opened in response on Tuesday afternoon. It was brilliant to be right in the centre of what we knew was a point on the planet millions of people where watching. Some fantastic highlights and the odd tussle as Ian and I got behind our countrymen who, of course, come from different countries!

At the same time it seems when events like this come along I find myself feeling a kind of homesickness that is unique to me here and now. The same thing happened during the Sydney Olympics when I had only been living in London a few months and I was totally unprepared for what I felt. If you have never watched a major event like this from a country other than your own you may not understand but those of you who have will know the frustration an event like this can thrown you into. Without making this one huge whinge about the BBC’s coverage [which is exceptional I have to say] it is an experience I will be happy to see end.

I suppose I’m homesick most of the time in one way or another but it seems to hum along in the background of my life unnoticed. I have settled here really well and I love living in England. I love the people, the place, the culture and the million tiny details that amount to a completely different existence to the life I had in Australia. It is an amazing experience that I know many would love to have had, so I will try to highlight the positives while expressing my recent frustration.

Just before the Games began Ian and I watched a ‘Lonely Planet’ program on Sydney. The camera panned over the locals enjoying a meal cooked on the outdoor barbies by the beach, the sun was shining in that huge Australian sky and I suddenly felt a huge pang and longing for my homeland that took me completely by surprise. I can’t excuse it away or try and make it seem less real that it was. The veracity is I love my country and the lifestyle it affords and there are days when I miss it acutely.

I knew, before I even left Melbourne two and a half years ago, that I could not live away from Australia for too long. I am who I am because of where and how I grew up. I love Australia, I love the people, I love the feel of the sun on my skin, I love being able to drive to the beach in any season and stand before that amazing expanse of water and be infused with a sense of location and space that it brings my soul to order. There is nothing else like that for me and there are times when I find myself physically longing it.

When the Games began in Manchester I noticed there were more Australians around than usual which added somewhat to my pining. Also, we live just past the athlete’s village and a few times I got off the bus so I could walk past it in the hope that by being that close to other Australians it was assauge my angst. Sadly it only made me feel further away and more far removed. We then watched started watching the Games on telly via the BBC. Wonderful coverage but as any Australian in the UK or any Brit in Australia will know – it is bloody frustrating to try to find out how your athletes are doing when the coverage focuses on its own for the most part. I can’t complain cause I am a visitor here and I have to expect that the people watching here only want to know how their athletes are doing – but nevertheless, I find it hard and I need to say so. Without taking away from anything British at all I simply have to express how I feel.

This has been the added difficulty I suppose for the underlying yearning for home that I live quite happily with seems to rise to the fore and I find I get cynical and bitter and, well, angry. In my eyes I feel my feelings are justified for I feel like I’m trying to get a glimpse of something I believe will make me feel less sad but it is like trying to watch an entire event through a small hole in a fence that is just beyond my reach, even when I am standing on tip toes. That hole in the fence is made even more unattainable when my beautiful English husband and I are both struggling to see through it at the same time as we jostle between BBC1 and BBC2 in an attempt to see our own countrymen run and swim for their, and our, respective countries. I really will be glad when this is all over.

People around me understand my feelings and for this I am eternally grateful. The jibes are playful and respectful and people expect me to be proud of my country and be a little arrogant in the process. There is much to be said for spending time living abroad in a culture not your own – most of it is brilliant, eye-opening and an extraordinary privilege. But there are certain threads in the fabric of my life right now I’d rather unpick and discard. However I think I’ll leave them there for now for I know in time the pattern they will make will be more beautiful, rich and fulfilling than I can see from the vantage point of today.

C x

Listening to: ‘Amplified Heart’, Everything But The Girl / 'Torch the Moon', The Whitlams
Reading: 'About a Boy', Nick Hornby


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