You could say I have some links to the country, e.g. married an Australian, have a number of close friends who hail from that little continent down under and stole the Australian term “Whinging Pome“ as the theme for two books and lots of published articles. Ironically, I had no desire to visit Australia until the age of about forty-five and in between wives.
I had this delusionary idea of going to Australia to find my first love, Dorrel Morton, an Aussie who I had met when we were both five years old, residing in Livingstone, Zambia. We had a two-year fling eyeing each other up and holding hands at picnics by the side of the Victoria Falls. So to Australia I went.
I never checked the weather and was surprised to be greeted in July by a wet and cold Sydney on arrival. I quickly went out and bought a windcheater, as my dad used to call it, an outdoor jacket with a zip fastener. It is still in my wardrobe, worn only for three days, but has a dam kangaroo emblazoned on it.
Dorrel picked me up the next night from her mum’s house. We had not met for about forty years. We sped off in her flashy Porsche to a restaurant overlooking the Sydney harbour and bridge. Whilst enjoying the food, the setting, and discussions on our lives post the age of seven; there was no real common ground. She was a teetotaler, wasn’t into music, hardly traveled, would only dance at weddings, and was very involved with the Salvation Army. Both her parents were high-ranking participants. I spent the rest of my months stay in Australia traveling from city to city, meeting loads of fun Australians, having a ball, and partying. That is what the Aussies do well.
I also dived in the barrier reef, flew in a rebuilt tiger moth, zip-lined over the forests, and went biking on a Harley. So from a country I had no desire to visit for most of my life, a decade later whilst staying in a short let apartment in Colombo I get a call from the receptionist who tells me my neighbor is complaining about how noisy I am.
Once a drummer always a drummer, I was just whacking my congas.
After getting some intel on the complainer, I’m told she is from Australia. I pop round that evening with a bottle of Aussie wine and the rest, as they say, is history. Jezzabel and I got married and I’m staying with wife number four.
Subsequently, we have revisited Australia on a number of occasions, made loads more friends, and still drink Australian wine. However, I would never want to live there.