Sentimental Journey

We all know the song ” Sentimental Journey “. It’s very good – music and lyrics are spot-on. But they raise a question for the listener; what do you do if there is no such thing as a sentimental journey that you can go on?

Migrants and refugees who moved from dreadful places or people know this feeling. They ran like buggery to get away from whatever it was back there and going back there is generally not an option – it’d be the poorhouse or the jail house at best. The only sentiments that they could reasonably expect to experience would be fear and regret.

People who have come from easier circumstances might be able to return to a former location and feel a bit better. If they came from a place that is conservative, well-off, and untroubled by war or invasion, they might be able to enjoy a vestige of their former culture. If time has erased this and substituted something else, the sentiment would be loss and sadness. It’s a risky business – the wise traveller makes a study of Google Earth to see what the old neighbourhood has become. Smoking holes or multiple McDonald’s are a warning sign.

The same caution that you exercise toward the place should also be extended to the people. You don’t need Google Earth to prepare. Go to a mirror and look at yourself. If what you see is grey and saggy or red and swollen, expect to find that the rest of your high school graduating class will look the same. You may have to see yourself, but decide whether you have to see them as well.

One sentiment that you can encourage in a journey is  longing for adventure and new experiences. To do this all you have to do is avoid the old haunts – the new ones may be awful, but they will be a novel pain. If you survive it you can file it under the ” Goode Olde Dayes ” and stay home next time.

Note: it is perfectly alright to not feel any sentiment toward any place at all. It is far better so to do than to generate a false attachment to some imagined location.

 

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The Oslo Lunch – Part Three

How long is lunch hour? If you are a child at school it is often an hour – if you are adult in retail trade it is often half that. If you are in a situation with inadequate staff, it can be 20 minutes or less – depending upon how willing you are to be chivvied back out to work.

Those people who get no lunch break at all are free to sneer now – but then they are also free to consider why they have no lunch, whether that is a pleasant thing, and what they might do to remedy the situation.

Now that I’m retired, I am always pleased to be able to take some time to eat in the middle of the day, and can do so about 20% of the time. The other 80% of days are ones in which I am flat-out travelling or working at a hobby and eating takes a back seat. In addition, there is the problem of eating alone when out…few places that you care to eat at care to have a single person eating at them.

At least the problem of lunch hour is solved – most cafes and bars will chivvy you out as fast as they possibly can to make way for more money to come in the door. You are lucky to get 20 minutes undisturbed and 30+ is unheard of. You will be ” attended ” until you either spend more or rack off. But I do not blame the owners of the cafes – they are in business  for a limited period of time before the next owner.

Time on the road can be a foodies dream or nightmare. I find that truckstops are fine if you are a truckie – they expect you and cater for your needs. The rest of the travelling population can be considered a nuisance and ignored. This is blazingly obvious in some of the roadhouses and service stations on the  road across the Nullarbor. It is wise to carry your own food and water – much as you might have had to do in the 1860’s – because you may be bloody invisible to the staff at the truck stops.

One place that nearly always can be depended upon for calories is a country pub. If you are prepared to restrict your desires to pies, sausage rolls, pasties, and chips you can eat. You can nearly always get a cold beer to go with it – the pub with no beer is a song. Occasionally there will be someone trying to make a gourmet paradise out of the pub and you might get a salad and a steak.

Ideal lunch? You’d be surprised how good things can be in some of the Asian cafes that spring up in small shopping centres. Not the big chain ones – the Mum and Dad ventures that can do simple curries, rice dishes, and stirfries. The prices are often a pleasant surprise as well.

 

They Do It Better In…

Generally we’re told that they do it better in wherever the speaker has been that you haven’t. If they are from an Old Country, the streets there were quieter, the people were smarter, and the bacon was crisper. It doesn’t matter which old country – just as long as the speaker isn’t there any more and they can’t extradite him.

The wise emigrant is a little cannier these days before beginning the brag. Once upon a time the local Australian listener was unlikely to have ever been in Lodz or Barcelona or Poughkeepsie and every place overseas could potentially be talked up as Faeryland. Nowadays cheap air travel may well have sent our locals through the very place that is being extolled and they have seen the fact that the streets were quieter because of the parked army tanks on the corners – or that the locals are smarter because the eugenic police have weeded out all the rest. And it is hard to brag about the bacon in Mecca…

To be fair, there are certainly places that do things better than here in Australia. We might learn from them sometimes…but we need to have all the facts about the supposed wonderland, and not just selected examples of glowing results at the end. We need to see the whole economic, cultural, and political picture before declaring it a paradise.

As a person who has not been shelled, gassed, taxed, mugged, or evicted recently – who can vote and read freely – who can afford food, water, shelter, clothing, medicine, and transport – well, I am pretty well satisfied with the portion of Australia I live in. If I cannot visit 500-year-old churches I shall not grieve – the attitudes and practices of the worshippers in those churches may also be 500 years old. If I am denied cobblestone streets and cramped cities I will make do with my own quarter acre of space and sunshine. And I need no political bragging at all – my own parliaments are as open to me as I need them to be. Without army tanks on the street corners.

 

 

The Dishes

Doing the dishes seems to have been the underlying theme through most of my life.

It was one of the first of the ” chores ” that was assigned to me as a kid – in exchange, I suppose, for my weekly allowance. This was never stinted, I might add, and I was as free to spend or save it as my understanding might dictate. But the dishes were always there.

They are still here. Two or three times daily there is a fill up of the basins – detergent in one and fresh in the other, and the results of four people cooking and eating are dealt with. I do not include the cat as a person – I am able to distinguish species – but the cat dishes get done as well.

In truth I should not complain.

a. If I am doing dishes it is because we have eaten. We had enough money to buy food, a stove to cook it on, and plates to bear it. Being fed is better than being hungry, even if you work afterwards as well as before.

b. We have dishes that can stand cleaning. The people who eat off paper plates or flimsy plastic dishes do themselves, the food, and the environment no good.

c. If it was really that onerous a task, we could buy a dishwashing machine. But we’ve never used one that was satisfactory and the addition of another complexity to life is unappetizing. Just scrub and wipe dry.

All this having been said, it is a pleasure sometimes to take a meal elsewhere – a hotel or restaurant – where the staff may pester for tips or to move you on, but they cannot compel you to the soapy water torture. It makes holiday eating a pleasure.

Visiting The Old Country From The New Country

How many migrants to and from Europe, Canada, the USA, Australia, and New Zealand have had this experience:

They’ve migrated and worked and saved and succeeded in the new country but always hold a dear memory of the old land. This homesickness has been acute in the first couple of years but worn off somewhat after that – what with new careers, families, and homes. But it starts again at about 15 years and they decide to go back and see the old place.

They plan to make a big trip and see everywhere they used to live – and possibly everyone they used to know. The get on the plane or ship and float on water or air to the old home country. And are horrified to find that it is not there.

Oh, the dirt is still there, and in the case of a lot of places it has crawled halfway up the buildings…but the society and people and nation has so changed from what it was that they are strangers in a wasteland. Worse – if there has been a war go through the place – or a spate of developers – even the buildings they knew do not exist.

Their old friends are dead, or older, and do not have the last 15 years of shared memories to talk over. Only the past – and that can be as dead as the dust. They run out of conversation in 5 minutes. Even if the old language is the same, the speakers are not talking to them.

This is the thought that I took back to the UK when I visited in 1995 – from having once lived in the place in 1973. It was just that way, though there were plenty of tourist activities in which to immerse myself. Would I get any benefit from another visit? Yes, if my current interests could be pursued – the UK is a nice place.

Canada or the USA for me? After 52 years? There’s a big question. An expensive one to answer, too – especially with the fear that seeing my youth gone would age me more. I can do that right now at local prices and wearing comfortable clothes.

The Backstabbers Guild Guide To Visiting

Visiting during the holiday period is a tradition with many people. So are torpedo attacks if your family grew up in the Kreigsmarine. What the Guild wants to do is to make sure that if you are going to visit, your victim will go to the bottom in the swiftest manner:

a. Do not call ahead, but make sure that you have as many co-visitors with you as possible. Dress well, and warmly, and carry what look like expensive presents*. It is harder to turn a large group of people away than a small one, as the Germans found out on D-Day.

b. When you gain access to the premises – also known as breaching the walls – be hearty. Be loud. Be exuberant. This is a perfect cloak for someone in the crowd of visitors to rifle through to presents under the tree. A package slitter is a good thing to carry.

c. Make sure that your host is aware that you are thirsty and hungry. And not for just a cup of tea and a biscuit. This is the holidays. Unless they are prepared to put out a complete dinner with turkey, nuts, and crackers, they will appear to be Scrooge. It is a nice touch to carry a small crippled child who can call out ” God bless us one and all ” as you go through the refrigerator and pantry.

d. When it comes time to exchange gifts, have your gift assessor examine the goods closely before you let go of yours. Portable x-ray machines can sort out the difference between socks and Rolex watches.

e. Be ” Genuine “. Nothing beats genuine. Jesse James was one of the most genuine people you could ever meet.

f. Remember that it is the thought that counts, unless you are having the sort of thoughts that Harvey Weinstein used to have. Then only DNA evidence will stand up in court.

g. Be kind to the little children. Be civil to the slightly older ones. By the time they are 14 you can be downright rude. It will fit their frame of mind perfectly.

h. Good visitors curtail their stay before they become a nuisance. Now think – whose column are you reading? Is a Backstabbers Guild Of Australia member going to leave before all the food is gone and the bathroom drains are clogged? Of course not. When you visit  you VISIT…

Some people can stay visited for years.

*  Which you may bear away to your next port of call.

 

 

 

No Knives In The Heart Of The Empire…

It would appear that there is no possibility of carrying a knife in London – or possibly in any other part of the UK. They are so worried that the citizens will stab each other that they are removing all possibility of it.

Of course, this will be somewhat of  partial measure, as we have discovered – by careful scientific experiments – that it is possible to stab people with other things. The local criminals here in Western Australia seem to carry a great many screwdrivers and I daresay there are any number of sharp combs and other implements to hand nearly everywhere one goes. I favour my heavy brass-bound walking stick when dressed for an evening, and my Gerber folder when taping up wires and lighting rigs out in the photo world. At home, of course the good old butcher’s knife and the Swedish feather are always to hand. The swivel gun, mortar, rifled musket,and crossbow have all been sold off or given to other people so they do not figure in the equation. One hardly needs them in our suburb.

And that brings a question to mind of what sort of people are in the UK – to require such stringency. It cannot be a case of race – we have every variety of human in our street and we never stab each other. We do not run each other over in motor cars to promote religious belief, either, though I can count the adherents of 6 separate faiths in the street and can guess at a couple more. There is something to be said for living in the colonies…

I’m glad did my UK travelling some decades ago – when it was safe to walk the streets. I now quite prefer Singapore or Japan…where it is safe to walk the streets. Perhaps the British should think of importing more Singaporeans or Japanese to their island to improve the stock…