1. Australians like "spruiking"
[nothing to do with Ricky Ponting this time]
To speak in public, usually at length and using overly elaborate language, to promote a product or a service.
(Verb) Slang, applied mostly to salespeople, marketeers and such.
There are a few Arthur Daley-type blokes who stand outside their stores in the centre of Melbourne, equipped with a little P.A. and a microphone, giving it all their patter in order to persuade you to buy their tawdry goods...
2. ...which may include, "Manchester"
Manchester is the word they use for linen, cotton goods and the like.
It's a bit weird to see shops that just say "Manchester" on them, wi' nowt else, luv.
According to the esteemed Macquarie Dictionary [the Aussie equivalent of Oxford Dictionary], Manchester [adjective] is also:
"pertaining to a type of indie dance music coming about in the late 1980s and originating in Manchester, England. Also, Madchester."
I can't help it, but that's what I've been feeling the last few days.
The people are lovely, the weather's ace, the whole place is fantastic and I've been made soooo welcome, but I still find myself wistfully longing for a place of familiarity, of safety, of refuge.
I just don't have anywhere to got that is mine, to run to, to hide, to relax. Not properly. That sense of familiarity is missing here, although I know that will come, in time. It's actually worse because Claud is from here, and it is and always will be her home despite her 6 years in the UK, so we can't share in a mutual homesickness, and never will do. And that makes me sad.
4. And we're disappointed that we haven't been asked to pass the Commonwealth Games baton on to the Aussies [or even carry it through Hurstbridge, which is due to happen next Sunday] from dear ol' Manchester on March 15th The city is expecting a hundred thousand visitors or so, and there are predictions that the city will grind to a halt under the weight of 'em.
There are some dissenters, mainly due to the word "commonwealth" and the bitter taste that causes for pro-republican Aussies. Just like Manchester did, they're shipping out their homesless too, although apparently they're going to re-house them in suburban hotels for the duration of the games.
The biggest fuss, however, seems to be that, due to crowding and safety issues during the Games, Melburnians now won't be able to meet "under the clocks" at Flinders Street Station, breaking a Melburnian tradition that seems to have been in place for aeons.
5. Had a birthday last Friday. Thank you for the emails, texts, and calls I got to wish me a happy gmpfnnfnffth birthday.
6. We're due to meet some more Mancs soon. We celebrated the birthday of another Ian, husband of Sharia, a couple of weeks back, and had a nice leisurely Sunday lunch with them. Some of their friends have other friends who are from Manchester, and apparently "like meeting other Mancunians". I know the feeling, guys...
7. We're also catching up with Anna & Kev from the UK again soon. Saw 'em a couple of weeks ago, in their plush band spankin' new house in Narre Warren, about 35km south-east of the CBD.
We persuaded them that Melbourne was the place to come if they wanted to live overseas, and after some initial reluctance to commit [the homesickness thing again], they're now loving it. Although they're stopping short of saying they're here forever [a psychological trick that makes it easier to live somewhere that isn't your original home], they'll be away from Northampton/Newcastle for a long time, I'm sure. And it's great to have some English people to relax with...
8. We took the very exciting opportunity to visit Fountain Lakes Shopping Centre, just up the road from their new home. For those of you who know your beeswax, this is, of course, the spiritual home of Kath and Kim. For the excited Brits, watch out for it on BBC Two soon... no need to endure Living TV! Hurray!
Embarrassingly, when I said I couldn't find the website, Claud told me that it's actually called Fountaingate. And I've been merrily telling people that I'd been to Fountain Lakes. No wonder they were looking at me funny.
Even more exciting is the fact that Claudine actually saw that great hunk o' spunk, Kel, walking towards Flinders Street the other day too... sadly, I was out shopping for a copy of the Mental Health Act, so I missed out... I did once see that Greek actress from Home and Away [wearing a pink velour tracksuit - eek], but still not spotted Kylie. But hey, watch this space, I'll keep my eyes peeled... exclusion orders allowing, naturally.
9. Lincolnshire... Fair Dinkum?
Apparently the phrase "Fair Dinkum" [adjective], which, staggeringly, is used pretty frequently, originates from the backwaters of England [just kidding, Ruthie]
2. Also, fair dink, fair dinks. (an assertion of truth or genuineness): It's true, mate, fair dinkum. [from British dialect North Lincolnshire, from dinkum hard work]
10. We're going "Grape Grazing" this weekend, just up the road in the Yarra Valley. There are lots of wineries [vineyards] here, and Grape Grazing is a kind of up-market version of the British pub crawl [sigh... homesick again!]. How cool is that? There maaaay be some advantages to living here, then...