The Perils Of Emigration

Emigration has perils attached to it. I know because I have done the deed twice.

First time I emigrated I was unconscious for most of the day. The only time I was awake I was either drinking or moving my bowels. It wasn’t the fact that I was moving from the USA to Canada that caused this – I was only a month old at the time.

The first peril showed up while I was at grade school. As I was officially a landed emigrant – a small foreigner, many teachers decided that I had to be taught the Canadian way of life. Singing ” O Canada ” and ” God Save the Queen ” was fine, and I liked to play football and ice skate…but I refused to eat as Canadians do.

Oh I ate anything put in front of me, even if it was prepared by a school cook with a grudge against humanity – it was just that the method of knife-and-fork use and table manners as taught to me by my mother differed from those practised by the school teachers. They piled every bit of food on the back of the their forks, balanced it above the plate, and swooped on it like magpies. At home we cut up the food, transferred the fork to the right hand, and ate with that. I had no end of arguments with the lunch room teacher about it, but I knew who was the real commander of my life and I remained true to home manners.

My second migration was from Canada to Australia, and undertaken when I was able to deal with a lot more social pressure. That came in many ways, good and bad. I was decried for not playing cricket or AFL football…but got a place on a school baseball team by virtue of just turning up. No-one invited me to go curling or to play ice hockey in the Western Australia of the 1960’s…

I could enter the university, but the Commonwealth wasn’t going to subsidise anything. No matter – fees were 1/5 of what they would have been in Canada and 1/10 of American prices. My family paid up happily.

I learned to drive a car here on the left side of the road and it has always been totally natural to me.

I graduated, married, worked, and procreated here and it all worked out very well – but the peril of emigration that considered me a foreigner and therefore suspect has never entirely gone away. It never will while an accent remains. And I now play upon it for effect.

And next post will show you how you can do it as well…

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