When I started writing these blogs I thought they would be to tell the tales of my travels and adventures, but instead it has seemingly turned into an automotive journal. If there is one thing that I am apparently going to take away from Australia; it’s a thoroughly developed knowledge of automobiles.
Back in Darwin, Dave and I sold our beloved Land Rover Daisy (who you are all acquainted with by now one way or another), before going our separate ways to do his farming and my gardening. However, it wasn’t long before Dave was sending me pictures of ghosts of Daisy’s past and present that he was seeing around Perth, and I swear I was catching glimpses of her out of the corner of my eye 3000km away in Melbourne, and not just at full moon. Realising that this wasn’t healthy, I came to the conclusion that maybe I should move on. Perhaps a new car would help me get over Daisy… I think that’s a theory people generally apply to situations like this.
Taking my own advice, I invested in an $800, 1993 Diahatsu Charade. The number plate reads ‘B0Y’, there’s no power steering, it’s creaky, has a choke to start it, and if it lasts for 6 months it’ll be a miracle… but I think I’ll grow to love it despite all the faults and scratches, because that’s what (car) love is: unconditional. Although, if the engine fails within the first month, which I think it might, there might be some issues.
I hit Melbourne midwinter, and it felt glorious. After the arid temperatures of Northern Territory the weather in Victoria was brilliantly cool, the drizzle refreshing, the howling wind bracing. Actually, it was exactly like being back in Lancashire. I soon bought a Michelin Man style coat, jumpers and jeans (things I did not think I would ever be wearing in Australia) and set out into the city: a place where there are no sheep in fields, just a lot of traffic and streets to negotiate. Naturally I got extremely lost on my first expedition into the CBD, when I got overwhelmed in the Central Station, panicked, and sat down and ate a banana before I was calm enough to begin again.
Nevertheless, everyone needs to believe the hype: Melbourne is brilliant. The best thing about it being, whereas in Paris or London I always felt out of place, in Melbourne: no-one gives a shoot… and it’s amazing. I could wear my jeans tucked into my stripey socks, and a tea cosy for a hat, and not one person would look at me twice. A theory which is tried and tested by the by; I went to work dressed in exactly that, and… nothing. Brilliant. There’s coffee, healthy food, unhealthy food, street art, live music, libraries, performances and theatre around every corner. It’s impossible to be bored. I had my mind blown by an exhibition based on Oscar Wilde’s The Nightingale and The Rose, where the artist had brought his words to life through sculpture and a 15 minute cinematic poem which left me speechless. It was so good it made me want to go back to university so I could write about it.
Don’t worry, as ever nothing was all sunshine and rainbows (but 99.9% was), and there was the incident of that one roommate (because there’s always one who disturbs the harmony of the room, literally in this case). Loud and persistent snorers have a certain look to them; they walk in and you can almost always say to yourself “they’re a snorer”. So when this bloke walked into room 104, we all knew we were in for a rough night, and luckily for me he chose the top bunk above my hard-earned and fought for bottom spot. Sure enough he was asleep by 7pm (even earlier than me?!), and the whole room was reverberating with his snores. Being adults we all dealt with this in a mature manner… Nick threatened to duct tape his mouth shut, Amy was going to throw small soft pancakes whilst Lisa actually threw jelly beans, Sasha steadfastly tried to read but didn’t get past the first sentence before having to start over again with each snort, and the unfriendly Russian guy in the corner strode over and hit him.
Unfortunately he was unshakeable and we endured 14 hours of musical snores. There’s nothing I find more annoying than loud snorers keeping me awake at night, so intermittently I’d kick the bottom of his bed to try to make him turn over (he didn’t). Eventually at about 3am he woke up, shouted something incomprehensible in Eastern European at me (it definitely wasn’t polite), to which all I could think to reply was: “…stop. snoring.” I wish I’d been wittier, I might as well have added ‘please’ and a; ‘if you don’t mind terribly’. Whether he understood or not, he got a message and loudly climbed out of bed (he was a big guy) and disappeared out the door. Lying there reflecting on his sudden angry departure, it slowly began to dawn on me how much he resembled those Albanian crime bosses you see on television… And as your mind likes to do in the early hours, it began constructing elaborate scenarios, and I lay there haunted by images of him going to get his Mafia mates. He didn’t of course (obviously, because I don’t think I’d still have fingers to type this), and he returned to his bed and snoring all too soon. I resisted kicking his bed again because I didn’t want to tempt fate. Thankfully he checked out after the longest three nights of room 104’s lives.
Unfortunate roommates aside, I’m starting my job as a gardener for the next six months in a few days time, and I can’t wait… Especially because I’ll have my own snorer-free bedroom. In Mr Purple (Daisy’s successor), I’ll be heading out of the city and back into the wilderness and peace and quiet: home. I would love to say that I was moving from Melbourne to Sherburn because everyone likes a good rhyme. Moving from Melbourne to Dunkeld doesn’t quite have the same ring to it…
Perhaps I could say instead that from Melbourne I’m moving Western?
Huh, Melbourne does rhyme with something.