About living in Sydney...
Having just passed my 4 year anniversary of living in Australia, I thought it very timely to write about the things they don't tell you in the glossy brochures. Or at the fancy work expos for working down under. Or that you don't find out from other friends living here.
Australia is a fantastic place to live. I love Sydney. Every day I am reminded of how lucky I am to be here, passing the glorious Opera House on my daily commute, the sun reflecting off the harbour, with the famous green and gold ferries bringing in commuters to the city.
But you know me well enough now to realise I can also find something to gripe about. Find the cloud in the silver lining. And here are my top gripes. At least for this month.
1. Having to do your personal tax return every year. By law. And for the last couple of years, still getting a hefty tax bill. Despite paying (what you think is the right levels of tax) each month direct from your employer. How do you work that one out? Medicare levies. Surcharges. Blah blah blah. Stop. It is not going to change anything. But I can still complain about it.
2. Despite a country renowned for its weather, and love of the outdoors, there a surprisingly few (very few) beer gardens. How disappointing is that? Mr Sunshine comes out on another glorious summers day, and you want to have a refreshing cold pint of beer, al fresco. I still look back very fondly on such sunny days, sat out the back of Dicey's bar in Dublin, having a few ice cold Magners. Instead, you are stuck indoors, the sounds of pokies ringing in your ear, and being blasted by sub zero temperature air conditioner units. Or so it feels.
3. Football. Oh god. Now you have got me started. You have to either give up your love of the beautiful game, or resign yourself to very late nights, And/or very early mornings. And going to work bleary eyed after a mid week feature, yet again putting the scousers to the sword. Ok, ok, less so in recent years. But now we have the Special One, teamed up again with the Special Juan. And the good times are coming back. I can just feel it.
4. They call "rugby" football. And also, some other game, played by men in vests and shorts that were fashionable in the 1980s, in Melbourne, gets called football. It is very confusing. The world game is football. The one actually played with your feet. The one with the egg, the niche sport, is played with the hands. And is rugby. Or Aussie Rules. Or League. Strewth. I can't keep up.
5. It rains. It rains a lot. More than London. Here is an actual fact. Well, if you can believe what you read on Wikipedia. I didn't get time to get to the State Library to check the official records from the Bureau of Meteorology. The annual rainfall in Sydney through 2015 was 1337mm. This compared to London of 594mm. There should be a salary supplement just to buy umbrellas as they seem to blow inside out so often in the gales that whip through Sydney CBD. And woe betide if you don't wear the right footwear to work, or you will be sitting with wet feet all day.
6. People are always "looking after you". Despite making it to adulthood in one piece, it seems you can't be trusted to look after yourself in Sydney. So people are employed to do it for you. Take a trip to the football as an example. You and your mates want a beer? Let's hope there are not more than four of you. Otherwise you will need a chaperone to go and actually buy the drinks. The thing is, you can only buy four drinks at once. So no buying in rounds. This is to protect you from getting drunk. Yes, just like when you were back in school, and the teachers were looking out for you. Sydney is so kind to continue this service well into adulthood. Even if the bar person can see your 5, or 6, or 7 other mates. Right besides you. Oh no no no. Far too dangerous. You have to get one of your other mates to stand at the side of you, get their own money out, and buy any beers that exceed your quota. I kid you not. This has actually happened.
7. Whilst I am on drink, as it's a good subject, Sydney seems to be regressing in to a nanny state. Lots has been written about Sydney lock out laws, and how they are having a negative affect on the city's nighttime vibrancy, so I won't touch on that. But, just try and order a whisky past a certain time. Neat you say? You want your whisky neat? Oh no. We can't be having you behaving like a lout. You are likely to get drunk and punch the nearest person if you do that. A much better idea would be to spoil your 16 year old Lagavulin single malt with a dash of cola. And not just any old cola, but roller cola. Surely. There's a good boy.
8. Bouncers. All of this is if you can even get past the bouncers, who are a different breed in Sydney. On a night out, you will be stopped and asked, "have you been drinking tonight?". How do you answer that ludicrous question? With a straight face? "Oh no, we have all just come out tonight, round all these busy, noisy pubs, drinking water. It seemed the most fun thing to do." What you actually do is quickly, mentally make a decision on what is the "right" number of drinks to have had by 10pm. Apparently "four" is the wrong answer. As I have found out to my detriment. Things reached the nadir when one pal was asked to leave 3 pubs in one night, for being inebriated. Funny thing was, he looked markedly sober compared to some of the other people in the pub. But, we were in an Irish bar I suppose. Imagine the ignominy of being asked to leave an Irish bar for being drunk.
9. This last one is not a gripe. It's a labor of love. Burgers, and the analysis of. Yes. There really is a spreadsheet. It all started as a Burger Off, with colleagues. A bit of fun, with fellow burger loving friends. Until Sydney took over, and burger loving became very hip and fashionable. So typical of Sydney. Now, there are probably as many places selling all varieties of burgers, as there are Facebook groups extolling the virtues of each. Something I saw last week just captured the zeitgeist perfectly. Ladies and gentlemen, I leave you with the Pokeman burger. I am out of words.