Back in the Day

Old Mar 16th 2023, 4:22 pm
  #211  
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Default Re: Back in the Day

Originally Posted by JDWoowoo50
Australia was like this in the '70s. A sensible attitude to work, pub lunches on Fridays. in a Sydney bank branch where I did project work in 1978, everybody downed tools at 4.15 PM (the public hours for all banks back then were 10 AM - 3 PM, Monday to Friday) and off we went to the pub for a few ales and to watch reruns of a great 1960s Canadian TV series, Wayne And Shutter, which then had an almost cult status with Australians. .

Then there were the other perks. Public holidays left, right and center. Best of all, four weeks of fully paid annual leave (vacation), with extra leave loading pay.

It's probably fair to say almost everywhere in the Western world was, excepting maybe the USA, where work was regarded with a fierce puritanical ethic, and 1960s Canada when I was young and wage-slavery for ridiculously low wages was the norm, at least in New Brunswick where those Murdoch family clones, the Irvings, dominated the employment market.

When I lived and worked in France in 1966, many small businesses in the south closed down after lunch for a few hours. Everything reopened in the late afternoon. Most businesses then stayed open til about 8 PM when everybody seemed to go out to eat and drink and then went home.

Going by the insane business environments my younger friends say they have to work in nowadays, I reckon we were so much better off back then...
I did summer work for an American company in London back in the 70s, the tea lady coming by in the mornings and the afternoons drove the American managers crazy.

On the other hand, managing a company in Colombia having both American an Brit Expats, both were astonished at how low the productivity of office staff were as the number of public holidays, daily time taken for social chats, and office romances- for some office and field work we found it less expensive and more productive to fly in workers from
Peru or Mexico.
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Old Mar 16th 2023, 5:45 pm
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Default Re: Back in the Day

Originally Posted by JDWoowoo50

When I lived and worked in France in 1966, many small businesses in the south closed down after lunch for a few hours. Everything reopened in the late afternoon. Most businesses then stayed open til about 8 PM when everybody seemed to go out to eat and drink and then went home.
It is still the same in central Italy. Shops and businesses open at 8am and close at 1pm. They reopen at 4pm and clodse around 7pm. Most close on a Saturday afternoon. Only a few big shops and offices work through lunch and they are often short staffed.
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Old Mar 17th 2023, 3:03 am
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Default Re: Back in the Day

Gordon, in the late '70s I did a year's project work for one of the banks (I won't name it, only say it was the big bank named after the state in which it did the most business) to install the first computer system in the branches. That saga is worth a book - we had to face no end of resistance we had from the old managers who were elitist and a law unto themselves, also the branch accountants with their typical abacus. Our days could be challenging.

Most consultants couldn't deal with all the angst and left, but I stuck it out for 14 months. I had resigned as a staff writer with a daily newspaper after disagreeing with its editorial politics and the "slant" dictated at the whim of the Machiavellian owner, the onewho hadn't yet abandoned Australia to live overseas and was even then obsessively neurotic about influencing all state and federal politicians. I wasn't sure of my future career direction, or even if I had any career left at all. The bank project set me up financially, gave me a future direction (I later went into media marketing and prospered until the mid-'80s when the bottom fell out of media) and many useful contacts. So I stuck it out, and a good thing it was for me that I did so.

In those days the larger bank branches had tea ladies, matronly women of imposing dimensions and all "of a certain age", impeccably dressed and made up like drag queens in King's Cross, who mid morning and mid afternoon would wheel out carts with hot water urns, cups and saucers (yes, the good old days!), tea bags, instant coffee (International Roast, the very best at that time), and platters of the famed Aussie icon, Arnott's biscuits, to sustain if not exactly nourish the troops at our desks.
This was an established traditional service in Australia at that time, the bank paid the ladies' salaries and we all contributed a small amount every week for the little extras provided by these mother-figures. Some would bake lovely things at home which they sold to us for as little as 8 cents per item. On birthdays and for company celebrations they were happy to organize for cakes, Lamingtons (remember those?) and other home-baked goodies. One liked a tipple and on special occasions we often found generous dollops of Bodega sparkling wine in our tea cups. Wonderful times, they were.

In one branch a "stoush" (an Aussie term now lost in the mists of the past) was on for young and old (as many would have said then), between the young bank trainees and the older, more senior clerks who insisted they had a "traditional" first grab at the better Arnott's biscuits left over from managers' meetings. We grunts made do with plain biscuits while management (and their favored mates) had what was then called "lurks and perks", like better coffee, cream biscuits and every now and then, oh, heaven! chocolate cake, usually reserved for visiting mandarins.

Events boiled over one day after a long morning meeting of managers. When the execs finally went out to lunch word got round that a a few platters of leftover chocolate and cream biscuits was there for the taking. A mass stampede ensured to the meeting room, where of course the younger bods grabbed all the best items on offer. The oldies of course protested and there were incidents of pushing and shoving and harsh words spoken. The seniors all took offense at seeing the posher biscuits taken from them and finally, at the instigation of a particularly nasty auditor - an annoying wowser born in England, a Pommie much given to Lord Of The Manor attitudes, who we called "The Toe Cutter" - they staged a one hour "pens down, no phone calls taken" work strike in protest. A few of us noted the absence from all this by the organizer, the aforementioned Old Pom who was clever enough to not take part.

Word of all this soon got to top management, memos flew round the office, and the next day we were called in to a meeting (this during the uual morning tea break time, so punishment for us) and formally advised "a stop work" had never happened in living memory in any Australian bank (this was wrong, but never mind), and our morning and afternoon tea breaks were suspended for one month.

There was further uproar. The office union rep, a smarmy milk toast named Potts, was called in but as usual did nothing. One or two office Bolshies muttered about transfers to other branches (neither did), anonymous notes and obscene cartoons circulated. Old Toe Cutter found a bag of dog droppings on his desk with a note reading "for your morning tea" and took sick leave that day, another first for him. Two weeks or so later someone even wrote (anonymously) a letter to the city's leading daily newspaper about it, which instigated a Gestapo investigation by top level managers to find out who the culprit was. (In my defense I will say it wasn't me, I did find out confidence who its author was but also sworn to silence, which I prefer to maintain to this day.)

Otherwise, nobody died, nothing fell over. We felt sorry for the tea ladies and pleaded with our managers to rescind the ban. Promises of better behavior were made and duly noted and the next day, our two tea ladies were back at their posts. For my assistance to their good cause I got two hefty slugs of Bodega sparkling.

I reckon our productivity in the '70s and '80s was as good for its place and time as it is today, without the at times sadistic coercion and bullying associated with those horrible hellholes, the so-called Customer Service Centers (= call centers) which to me evoke scenes from Dante's Inferno.

Philat98 wrote - "It is still the same in central Italy. Shops and businesses open at 8am and close at 1pm. They reopen at 4pm and clodse around 7pm. Most close on a Saturday afternoon. Only a few big shops and offices work through lunch and they are often short staffed.

This may be antiquity talking in me, but I for one harken back to those fine old European work customs and traditions. There is far too much of the American call center mentality and the troops at their posts attitude in the Oz workplace. With the onset of climate change and higher temperatures, we should strive to be be more like the southern Europeans and adopt th midday siesta and extend shopping hours to later in the day. As I've already written, if this happens then nobody will die and nothing will fall over. Will this ever happen? No, not likely - but it's a pleasant thought.

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Old Mar 17th 2023, 6:26 pm
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I have a fond memory of getting pulled over for speeding along the Thames Embankment, back in the day, in 1963. A youngish copper in the old Bobby-uniform strolled back to us, poked his head through the driver's window and enquired with the utmost deference, "Is this our car, sir?" I didn't quite know how to react to such a question! Fortunately, it was our car. At least, it belonged to the absent boyfriend of the girl I was with (he was off in Europe somewhere, silly man), and that was close enough. We were sent on our way with a gentle reminder of how naughty it was to exceed the posted speed-limit, and we drove off wetting ourselves with the effort to stifle the giggles.

The next time I got stopped for speeding was nearly twenty years later, here in Cayman. The young local copper was taken aback when I showed him the car's papers. "This says Linda Barlow!" He said sharply. "Yes, that’s my wife", I said. "It's her car". Stammering with embarrassment the poor fellow begged me to stay within the limit and hastened away. I wondered, what was that all about? "Oh, that must have been Timothy Whatsit", Linda said when I reported the incident. "A lovely boy; he always wanted to join the Police."

Till the day she died, she remained on hugging terms with just about all of her former students (Cayman Islands High School 1978-81). From time to time we benefited in one way or another from her reputation as a teacher who cared. At her Memorial Service in 2019, 14 of her old pupils turned up in a group; I really don't know if the policeman was among them.
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Old Mar 24th 2023, 2:00 am
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In the early '60s, we "colonials" in London weren't paid much, and anyway we were always saving our pennies for our travels the next summer. There was plenty of cheap accommodation in the Earl's Court area, and that became the HQ of us all, from whichever colony we called home. I was in a house with five others - three bedrooms, with three beds in one, two in another, and a single bed in the third. We rotated our sleeping quarters every week. There were no locks on the doors, but part of our arrangement was that the one-bed room was always to be available to whichever of us "got lucky" first, any evening. That worked well enough - as long as the tenant of the week didn't forget the caveat. My friend Bob did forget it once, while I happened to be enjoying squatters' rights. That was not as funny then as it seems today! I heard Bob thundering down the stairs to the room, so unexpectedly (it had never happened before) that I just lost my presence of mind, and panicked. I leapt out of wherever I was and launched my naked body at the door, hitting it at the exact same moment as he did from the other side. Hugely, hugely embarrassing! It took me a good four or five minutes to regain my equilibrium.
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Old Mar 24th 2023, 10:55 am
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Default Re: Back in the Day

Originally Posted by Gordon Barlow
I have a fond memory of getting pulled over for speeding along the Thames Embankment, back in the day, in 1963. A youngish copper in the old Bobby-uniform strolled back to us, poked his head through the driver's window and enquired with the utmost deference, "Is this our car, sir?" I didn't quite know how to react to such a question! Fortunately, it was our car. At least, it belonged to the absent boyfriend of the girl I was with (he was off in Europe somewhere, silly man), and that was close enough. We were sent on our way with a gentle reminder of how naughty it was to exceed the posted speed-limit, and we drove off wetting ourselves with the effort to stifle the giggles.

The next time I got stopped for speeding was nearly twenty years later, here in Cayman. The young local copper was taken aback when I showed him the car's papers. "This says Linda Barlow!" He said sharply. "Yes, that’s my wife", I said. "It's her car". Stammering with embarrassment the poor fellow begged me to stay within the limit and hastened away. I wondered, what was that all about? "Oh, that must have been Timothy Whatsit", Linda said when I reported the incident. "A lovely boy; he always wanted to join the Police."

Till the day she died, she remained on hugging terms with just about all of her former students (Cayman Islands High School 1978-81). From time to time we benefited in one way or another from her reputation as a teacher who cared. At her Memorial Service in 2019, 14 of her old pupils turned up in a group; I really don't know if the policeman was among them.
Gordon, this morning I was on the plane sitting next to a retired lady (in her late 50s) who lives in Cayman, and was a teacher there .
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Old Mar 29th 2023, 4:25 am
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When we bought this house in 1997, Linda hired next door's Jamaican gardener to look after our garden as well. He said his name was Clemmings, but Linda - expecting a first-name - mis-heard it as "Clement". It was years before we discovered the error, and by then it was too late to change anything. So our grandchildren have always called him "Mr Clement", and so has Ross, although there's only a few years between them. None of our friends know it's not his real name.

Linda was a teacher at the High School for the first three years we were in Cayman - 1978-81 - and she was mostly called "Miss Linda". Not always: there's no hard and fast rule for expats. In her later years, our garbage men called her "Mummy". She ran cold drinks out to them every week, and "Mummy" was an affectionate title. I am "Daddy" these days, to young strangers: that's an age-respect thing, not affection! Before I got so old, the Island's female cashiers called me "beebee", which is the equivalent of "sweetheart" in some Caribbean islands. I'm usually "Mr Gordon", except to my Filipina cleaners, to whom I am "Sir Gordon"! One of our next-door neighbours is a real Sir, but his cleaner calls him "Mr John". I call her "Miss Marcie". I don't know why, except that she frightens me a bit...
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Old Apr 5th 2023, 8:58 pm
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It was the spring of 1965, at the end of two weeks' driving through the USSR, Poland and East Germany. It was 11.30 p.m., our visas would expire at midnight, and the East German border guards were refusing to let us cross into US-occupied West Berlin at "Checkpoint Charlie". With the brashness of youth, and some experience of evading one or two minor border formalities behind The Iron Curtain, I set out to change their minds. My smattering of German had served us well in similar negotiations. A smattering is sometimes much better than fluency; with a smattering, you aren't expected to understand everything.

Except returning from East to West on day-visits, it was illegal to enter West Berlin except from West Germany. (West Berlin was an enclave in East Germany, with access restricted to three long autobahn corridors from West Germany.) Pitching up close to midnight was a gamble, pure and simple. Well, maybe not pure, in the usual meaning of the word...

We were told to drive around to some authorised exit-point, cross into West Germany, and enter West Berlin on the autobahn. That was the law. But... the nearest exit was forty miles away, and I didn't have enough petrol to reach it. And no currency-exchange was open so late at night anyway, and no service station either. I explained all this, and they explained the impossibility of granting my request. By now, we were within ten minutes of being stuck in East Germany illegally and subject to arrest I took a deep breath, and played the only card I had left. I held out my crossed wrists, as if ready to receive the handcuffs. Linda was behind me, but she had been following the argument as best she could, and in another few seconds she would join the pantomime at high volume. The guards could see that as well as I could. Fortunately, they panicked. Our passports were stamped immediately, and we were hastily pushed back into our car.

The crossing at that time was a sort of obstacle course of brick walls and sharp corners, with signs in German and English warning us to drive v-e-r-y slowly, in low gear. We made it to the American checkpoint with two or three minutes to spare - to be greeted with outraged suspicion, and a flat-out refusal to let us in. Sigh...

Look. It's way too good a story to exhaust in just this one post, so I'll defer the ending for a few days, if you don't mind.
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Old Apr 9th 2023, 10:20 pm
  #219  
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Default Re: Back in the Day

Well, that's enough of a break! ...to be greeted with outraged suspicion, and a flat refusal to let us in...

That was a bit of a deflater! And sunglasses at night on soldiers waving loaded rifles never indicate a warm welcome. "Hey, buddy, you can’t enter here! You have to go round to the autobahn!" I shrugged, and let the situation speak for itself. How come they let you through? You can't cross here! It’s forbidden! You hear me? Jesus! This is crazy!

Then the passports, stamped by the East German people... "Holy crap! I can't believe This!" For a few moments, they seriously considered sending us back. But that would only make things worse. A bit like the East German guards, in practical terms these American soldiers' options were limited to one - letting us go about our business in West Berlin. And, probably, hoping somebody along the line would notice the anomaly and haul us in for illegal entry.

It was a Cold War first, we gathered. Maybe it was unique. Certainly, nobody has ever believed my story. "They could have shot you as you drove through", the sergeant said grudgingly. Well, maybe. But they (the East Germans) were pleasant enough fellows, just doing their job. Maybe, too, they felt a secret thrill in ignoring the rules and using their initiative for once. That occasionally happens in dictatorships.

The Berlin Wall lasted for another full generation. I'’d like to have watched it being torn down, and I’d like to have a small piece of the hut at Checkpoint Charlie, for old times' sake. I'm told the hut has been moved to a nearby museum now, where there are photos of the old obstacle course. One photo has a little white Beetle driving the course. The photo was taken in daylight, so I know it's not my car. All the same... You know?
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Old Apr 16th 2023, 3:36 am
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I get a lot of pleasure, reminiscing about Linda's and my "Big Adventure" back in the 60s. They were our "salad days, when I was green in judgment", in Shakespeare's words. We tried hard to extend them indefinitely, but failed. In some parallel universe we succeeded, but not this one. My BE posts report most of the successes, but it's only fair to visit the occasional defeats as well. One of them was that we never got to the Greek island of Rhodes. We had an opportunity, but I chickened out.

At a village on the south coast of Turkey, there was a man with a boat - and some decently thick planks - who offered to take us and the car across the ten miles or so for about forty dollars. The ridiculous illegality of the challenge was seriously tempting. Could I sweet-talk the Greek officials into letting us enter, assuming my little dictionary could supply me with the right words? Would the forty dollars include bribes? Would we ever be able to get to the Greek mainland, via other ferries and other islands? Mmmm. Not easily.

Maybe we could leave the car in the village and go across by ourselves for a couple of days. But that would bring a new risk. Forty dollars was a huge amount of money for those villagers, and if the young foreigners could afford to pay that, maybe they could afford to pay handsomely to buy their car back when they returned. It wouldn't have been fair to them to put such temptation in their way. (In some parts of Turkey, private cars were virtually unknown, to the extent that allcars were called "taxis".) I was green in judgment, yes, but not that green!

In the end, common sense won out. We turned away and wended our way north to Istanbul and onward into the Soviet Empire. There were other challenges, and one hurtful failure to charm or bluster our illegal way through a border. That was disappointing, too; but you can't win them all. Sometimes, you just have to turn back.
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Old Apr 20th 2023, 2:52 am
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A thousand visits to this thread since Morpeth's note a month or so ago. It's good to know that my posts are being enjoyed - if indeed they are being enjoyed - so I'll do one more, while waiting for someone else to join us with a "back in the day" reminiscence. It's on the same sub-topic as my last one: sometimes, you just have to turn back.

A few weeks before meeting Linda down in Greece, I was driving south in my Beetle with a South African chap I'd met at the Oktoberfest in Munich. Somewhere in Yugoslavia our road suddenly ended at a river. Damn and blast! The nearest bridge was an hour away, back the way we'd just come. And, the road ended here. My map hadn't actually promised a bridge, and it was a dirt road in the middle of nowhere, but I felt cheated all the same. Fortunately, there was a ferry. What luck!

Ah, but... It wasn't actually a vehicle ferry as such, but one of those cable-pontoon things for pedestrians and animals. The villagers enthusiastically produced two planks ten or twelve feet long, and laid them from the ground up to the level of the deck. It was not a steep gradient, and I reckoned I could make it up to the deck, so I started to drive slowly up the planks. Now... Those who have driven Beetles will know that they have virtually no weight in the front (the engine is in the rear), and are therefore very sensitive there. I felt the planks sag, and knew immediately that they might not take the weight of the whole car. I rolled back onto the solid ground and asked for thicker planks, but there were none to be had. Hmmm. Perhaps I could take a run at the boards and get on deck before they cracked. "What do you reckon, Paul?" "Well-ll, it's your car", Paul said. So, reluctantly, and to the villagers' great disappointment, we retraced our tracks to the bridge. I wasn't at all happy - but, you know... sometimes, you do just have to turn back.

A couple of days later, still in Yugoslavia, we almost slipped off the side of a hill on another dirt road, with occasional patches of ice. Paul jumped up and down on the back bumper to give me just enough traction to get past the patch. On my own, I might well have come to grief. What was that about being green in judgment?!
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Old Apr 25th 2023, 6:08 pm
  #222  
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Default Re: Back in the Day

Originally Posted by JDWoowoo50
... I reckon our productivity in the '70s and '80s was as good for its place and time as it is today, without the at times sadistic coercion and bullying associated with those horrible hellholes, the so-called Customer Service Centers (= call centers) which to me evoke scenes from Dante's Inferno.

Philat98 wrote - "It is still the same in central Italy. Shops and businesses open at 8am and close at 1pm. They reopen at 4pm and closed around 7pm. Most close on a Saturday afternoon. Only a few big shops and offices work through lunch and they are often short staffed.

This may be antiquity talking in me, but I for one harken back to those fine old European work customs and traditions. There is far too much of the American call center mentality and the troops at their posts attitude in the Oz workplace. With the onset of climate change and higher temperatures, we should strive to be be more like the southern Europeans and adopt th midday siesta and extend shopping hours to later in the day. As I've already written, if this happens then nobody will die and nothing will fall over. Will this ever happen? No, not likely - but it's a pleasant thought.
JD. Your little essay (#213; the few lines above are just an extract) about office-life in England back in the day, deserves a response. It evokes the daily grind perfectly. I've read it three times now - more, parts of it! - and am surprised and disappointed there has been no comment on it from other BE members.

I worked for three months for one of the big accountancy firms in the City of London in the winter of 1963/4. (I had signed up for six months, arranged before I left Australia, but my Dad was dying and I flew back to give Mum some support.) I have several memories of my time around the office coffee machine - the only foreigner among the young English crew. Nothing as fascinating as JD has reported in #213, but interesting, all the same. One day the topic was how brave we Australians were to give up our jobs with no guarantee of getting them back when we got home. Embarrassed by the fervour of the compliment, I said "It's no big deal. You could do the same sort of thing." "No. no we couldn't, Gordon. We'd lose all our pension-rights."

I hadn't thought of that - or maybe I just didn't know it. Either we didn't have that rule in Australia, or I didn't know about it. Back at my flat that evening we colonials marvelled that a bunch of 23-year-olds were so worried about their old-age pensions.

And of course a whole lot of things can happen between one's youth and retirement. I saw an interview once on English TV with an old woman who said, "My husband always looked forward to his retirement, living in a 70-foot yacht with a 17-year-old companion. Hah. Poor old chap. He's stuck with a 17-foot boat and a 70-year-old for company!"
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Old Apr 26th 2023, 6:26 am
  #223  
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Default Re: Back in the Day

Having just read through most of this thread, I now need a second G&T. The ideal boat (or jamu?) for a tired brain!

Lots to read, to enjoy, to comment on here. It's a lively thread.

Now for some serious thinking. What to post to keep things moving along?

Three thoughts come to mind. As I sip my G&T. Actually, not my second, it's my third.

Cuss-words. If they are banned, so be it. there are usually better ways to say the same thing.

Woke. A terrible word. As I see it, a new spelling for another word, with 'o' replacing 'a'. See my line about cuss-words above. Ha...

Memories can be bittersweet. As the decades fly past we tend to gorget the bad moments and focus on the good times. A lot of this may well come from the reserve instilled into us as children by our families. It can also be so easy to just bury all the unhappy times and hope they go away by themselves.

Aussies and pensions. Hm. A good but in many waysan odd place in many ways, Oz. A vastly different world in so many ways from what it was when I "migrated" in 1976. In your time here, Gordon, it must have been like living in Troglodyte times. Everything was so insular then. Some of it still is, but now I find naivety and an unwillingness to "rock the boat" are the most damaging factors in the decline of so many good things here. "She'll be right, mate" as used to be said, this still lives on in country towns.

Australians are mostly good and decent people on the whole,a bit naive about many things, and uber-obsessive about what they see as important. Like buying a house, moving up to a bigger house, geting an investment property, the luxury retirement home in Queensland, with the back yard pool and the golf club in the next street. There you have 99% of all conversations, which is why I usually decline invitations to weekend barbecues with the floods of 'rosy'' and 'spakling' and the nonstop nattering ad nauseam about The House The House The House the House.

Oh, and don't get me started on drinking in the local pubs (where the men mostly talk about sports or their boring jobs).

Then the big holiday escape to Phuket or in Bali - it seems a majority herel thinks they are part of Australia, sort of tropical extensions to the Golf Coast in Queensland, only cheaper to fly to and visit. Last year when the Covid restrictions were finally loosened and we poor locked-in 'burbies were finally able to get out and about and do human being stuff again, my next door neighbors (your typical aspirational pair) were over for coffee in our garden. Said she, "I almost died when I couldn't go out... then all the house inspections got cancelled for two years and I just about had a nervous breakdown!". Her hobby is perusing the weekend real estate newspaper sections for open-house inspections. She once boasted they had done 22 in a two-day period. Talk about a wasted life.

In our otherwise pleasant Victorian country town nobody would dare talk about art or culture, for fear of being branded with hot bitumen and cockatoo feathers as "a bloody intellectual". My idea of a good time out is a glass or two of Winn's Coonawarra 2015 cabernet sauvignon in the welcome shade of our two Japanese maples at home. Heavenly bliss, this. Also the wine.

As for pensions, the same couple have a 16 year old daughter. The apple of Mum's eye - the rest of us see her as a self-centered and rather stupid spoiled brat who dedicates her entire 17-year old life to using everyone to her advantage, but that's not the basis of my yarn, so let's let it go. She had a casual job in a local food shop but lost it, as it turned out she was spending more time yap-yapping to her friends on her mobile phone than serving customers. So she was let go. Came home crying her eyes out. Said to her parents, "I'm not able to save anything for my first house!" This at all of 17... The story is that her folks will give her the deposit for a small unit (= apartment, condominium) as her Sweet 21 gift.

As my SO says, I really should try to be less mopey and more positive about things. For one thing we are rid of "Scomo" as Our Glorious Leader, altho' the incumbent is now showing signs of being almost as bad as his predecessor. Politics aside, most things here are good, and on the whole I'm almost) convinced there are indeed gods looking after us in the universe.

Things have certainly changed. Here in rural la-la land, I'm from a "proper" background (meaning for the most part I'm the right color and I don't talk funny, even if most locals are too polite to say it), so I'm generally considered as "one of the right people". Someone actually told me this in the local shopping mall. My partner is Malaysian Chinese and as the saying goes, "a little suss", but has a uni degree and works in an essential profession, so we pass the local muster Our Muslim neighbors, truly wonderful people, have it a little more difficult at times, but attitudes to them are slowly changing. Ditto our Hindu neighbors up the road who have settled in after two years, they have a medical clinic (she) and an Asian cafe (she) so their places in the community are assured. But it takes time. "You'll be a local when you've been here twenty-five years," our shire councillor says. By that time I'll be a hundred years old, I reminded him, and well past caring.

But it's all good fun. Making a joke of more serious things can often save the day and dodge a "serious" conversation, which people often try to avoid. It isn't so much that they don't understand issues, as they prefer to bury them (along with their heads) in the old gold digings around the town. Little by little, serious issues are starting to be dragged out and discussed. Like the prices of electricity and gas, which at the way these are going we may all soon be cooking our lunches and dinners with solar heat.

Such is the Real World in 21st century Australia. Life in a gilded cage. For all the less-than-positives, I wouldn't live anywhere else. Which says it for me.
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Old May 1st 2023, 6:09 am
  #224  
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Default Re: Back in the Day

Originally Posted by JDWoowoo50
... A good but in many ways an odd place in many ways, Oz. A vastly different world in so many ways from what it was when I "migrated" in 1976. In your time here, Gordon, it must have been like living in Troglodyte times. Everything was so insular then. Some of it still is, but now I find naivety and an unwillingness to "rock the boat" are the most damaging factors in the decline of so many good things here. "She'll be right, mate" as used to be said, this still lives on in country towns.
JD, It's impossible for me to judge exactly how troglodytic the times were, when I grew up in Queensland, which was more conservative than the southern states. Here's a snippet for you... Every year, Dad drove our family down to what is now called The Gold Coast, where Mum's parents owned a cheap fibro house that we lived in for a few weeks. After an overnight stop in Toowoomba with Dad's parents, we drove on to the coast via Brisbane. Every time, Dad pulled up at the same pub on the road for a break. There were always twenty or thirty cars parked outside, all with women and children. Every once in a while, a man would come out to his car with a five-ounce glass of beer for the wife; it was a men-only pub. Nothing for the kids; the mothers knew they always had to bring drinks for their kids.

My Mum was city-bred, but she knew the routine, and never grumbled. While we were driving, she would roll a cigarette for Dad, light it, and hand it over to him. She wasn't a smoker herself. It was a man's world. And our Dad wasn't even a real bushie. He'd been brought up in Sydney and Toowoomba by solid middle-class parents, and was only out in the bush because the parents had bought him and his brother the property (we called it a "station") to keep the two young tearaways away from the Big City Lights. Well, it did that all right. Marriage and children domesticated Dad, and the brother went off and joined the Army (and never came back). That was just the way it was.
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Old May 6th 2023, 3:06 pm
  #225  
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Default Re: Back in the Day

Originally Posted by scrubbedexpat143
...Things have certainly changed. My partner is Malaysian Chinese and as the saying goes, "a little suss", but has a uni degree and works in an essential profession, so we pass the local muster Our Muslim neighbors, truly wonderful people, have it a little more difficult at times, but attitudes to them are slowly changing. Ditto our Hindu neighbors up the road who have settled in after two years, they have a medical clinic (she) and an Asian cafe (she) so their places in the community are assured. ... I wouldn't live anywhere else. Which says it for me.
(The QUOTE is merely a selection from your last post. I didn't want to copy-paste the whole thing.)

Our attitude towards foreigners has been forged by our extensive travels when we were younger, and our comfort in the company of foreigners comes naturally to us. I live on a small island with a population of 70,000, two-thirds of which are from about a hundred countries, speaking about a hundred languages besides English. The most exotic I ever met was a Mongolian who served us at one of the hotels up on the Beach where a friend and I used to have breakfast. And most of our native-locals are mixed-blood, which obviates the prospect of racism and colour-prejudice. What a boon it has been to our son, to grow up in such a place. Linda and I came for three years, and it had such a wonderfully varied populace that we stayed. Like you, I wouldn't live anywhere else.

I wonder where your Hindu neighbours originated. One of my brothers spent time in Malaysia, and married an Indian-Malaysian (or is it Malaysian-Indian?) there before bringing her back to Oz where they now live. Australian cousins have married a variety of nationalities - something that happened only rarely back in the day!


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