Thursday, February 23, 2006

Cultural Cringe

I read in the Sydney Morning Herald online today that a new Tourism Australia campaign is expected to unleash torrents of cultural cringe. The ad will appear internationally as below except in Malaysia and Singapore where it will ask only 'Where are you?'.

I don't like the ad but it's nothing worse than the Tourism Australia ones that already run here in the UK. And it's not just tourism ads that portray the remarkably unhilarious stereotype. Australia is used to sell everything from shampoo to car insurance.

I could forget about the ads except that people keep telling me I don't sound Australian. What they really mean is "you don't sound like the people on the 'Sheila's wheels' adverts". It even came up when I first met the boss of the language company I am doing the tutoring work for, 'You know, your accent really isn't that bad. The only thing that gives it away is that you say "I guess" instead of "I suppose". Can you do an English accent by the way?'.

Hmm... I have started using 'suppose' but I would never put on an English accent to teach. If I did I guess it would be 'I s'pose' anyway.

Sunday, February 19, 2006


We did dim sum as usual today but changed to a restaurant in Chinatown proper. It was cheaper, more crowded and nobody was smoking. That gave it three advantages over the other place.

As usual there was complaining about London. Each of us have experienced a transition lately. We no longer expect things to work. We now expect things to go wrong and get surprised when they don't.

That paralleled something else that I have been thinking about this week. When I meet people for the first time I expect them to be crazy and then get surprised if I find nothing more than mild eccentricities.

Is that part of growing up? Or is it just the circles I move in? Meanwhile here is another picture of flowers. If anyone wants a sequel once they have started to rot then please let me know.

I am the guy who pulled the trigger and shot my friend

We all know that guns don't kill people, people kill people.

By extrapolation of logic, a gun didn't shoot Harry, a Vice-President shot Harry.

I mean a similar kind of accident could have happened had they been hunting with knives. Heck, I'm sure that a VP on a hunting expedition could maim someone with any kind of object if they really wanted... I mean, if they were really clumsy enough.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Situation Vacant

Sunday dim sum has become a tradition for three of us that have recently moved from Hong Kong.

It's the only time that I eat out so it's quite a special occasion.

This meant that I wasn't impressed last weekend when two men on an adjacent table both lit up cigarettes.

It's not like I haven't been used to people smoking in restaurants. But strong air conditioning in Hong Kong does something towards dissipating the smoke. Besides, people in Hong Kong people don't usually linger in restaurants before or after eating.

Feeling indignant, I went up to our waiter and asked if we could change table. He was quite annoyed and said that it might take twenty minutes for another table to become available.

I decided to change tack and become obnoxious. I walked back to our table and asked the smokers if they were on their last cigarettes. They said yes so we stayed put.

Thankfully, parliament has passed legislation this week to ban smoking in all enclosed public spaces. But this has stirred up another of my pet hates.

I am so tired of hearing the complaint that Britain is becoming a nanny state.

Look at yourselves Britons! You spit, urinate and vomit all over the streets. You eat fast-food meals and consume alcohol on public transport. You greet customers with 'What you want?'.

What this country needs is the return of Mary Poppins. Preferably with a big stick. And their own 'Be a good host!' campaign.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


Happy Valentine's Day everyone.

Like Christmas and New Year, Valentine's Day in the UK is big. I'm sensing a trend. On the radio they were even calling last weekend 'Valentine's Weekend'. People say that it's about trying to feel cheerful in Winter. The weather is now getting better so I'm watching to see if the celebrations get smaller.

Thanks to a few people who bugged me to blog. After starting a second job I got a third and then got a bit distracted.