Trip Start Jun 01, 2006
124Trip End Ongoing
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Well, who would have thought it? I am now the proud owner of not one but two whole jobs, and have just finished my eighth straight day at work... not me, that's who wouldn't have thought it. It's another five days until I get a day off, and I certainly wouldn't have thought that.
I have added a bar job to my schedule, and now am the newest Casual Bartender at the best pub in Fremantle (I won't name it, because I'm going to have a go about my boss in a few paragraphs). It's a very nice place, chosen after painstaking evenings of hard work researching the four big Fremantle drinking holes. Many times we had to return to venues after forgetting slight details, such as staff uniform or the entire evening.
My career as a Brick Paver seems to be going from strength to strength, unlike my body which is deteriorating from ache to ache.
But anyway, all is well, life is wonderful, and we can only apologise for the rather sporadic approach we've had to Travelpod updates since arriving, as they say, down under. You, the Travelpod Several, are very important to us, so we promise that even when we aren't actually travelling from place to place we will still harangue you with gossip, innuendo, observation, anecdotes and broad, poorly researched racial stereotypes.
And so I thought I'd talk about..... Aborigines. I'm aware (and so should you be!) that I've only been here two weeks, and therefore my observations are merely observations.
I'd heard a bit about Aborigines before arriving in Australia... There were a couple of them in Crocodile Dundee II for starters. And Vinny knew a thing or two.
I'd spoken to a few Ozzie types about it on my travels, and it always comes across as a strong negative. Anglican Australians complaining that Aborigines spend all their time robbing, drinking and being bums, and get paid to do so by the government in return for having stolen their land (although this was us).
There's definitely something bad going on. The only aborigines I have seen thus far have been either drunk, fighting, partaking in aggravated begging or a combo of all of the above. Again, I've only been here two weeks. And I've learnt a lot about the 'situation' from many different people. The most important thing is that Aborigine populations and social integration or successful social segregation (not in a bad way I am given to understand) vary greatly throughout the country, so for now this meandering is Perth area-specific.
There's a strange duality on the streets of Fremantle. Example; the other day I was walking to work, and glanced at one of the many Aboriginal Art Shops in the town. This is basically a souvenir shop, run by Anglicans (I figure that this is the best word for non-Aborigine several generation Australians, but as I'm making this shit up as I go I may be wrong), and selling traditional handcrafts and didgeridoos. Outside the shop was a fight between what appeared to be a family of Aborigines, screaming, pushing, hitting each other, and throwing coke bottles at each other's heads. They all, even the kids, appeared to be pretty pissed. With the Aborigine Tribal Lore sign above their heads it made for a rather quaint picture postcard moment.
We've seen a fight almost every night in Fremantle, and these have almost all been between groups of Anglican Aussies. Once it was a couple of Russians. We've also seen four or five fights during the day, and these have all been among Aborigines. It's all very confusing and hard to get one's head around.
There is also a tolerance that the Anglicans display towards anti-social behaviour from Aborigines. Fighting in the street is ignored. Screaming and ranting and begging is tolerated. In the pub the other night, some woman came in and started begging at the tables. I pointed her out to my supervisor (now I'm a casual bartender I behave like one) and suggested he might want to kick her out. He said no, she'd leave soon anyway, it was best not to have a go because she was Aborigine and would 'cry racism'. Baffling. I was brought up proper - a bum's a bum, regardless of ethnicity.
After lunch today, I was walking round the front of this house we're paving, and an old woman was walking past. "Is that your truck?" she asked. "Yes Darlin'", I replied, (this is how Brickie Mike talks - as if everyone I speak to is about to offer me a cup of tea. Pointless really, because they seldom ever do. Bartender Mike speaks differently - as if everyone I speak to is about to offer to sleep with me. Pointless really... etc) "Best close your windows", the old dear continued brightly, "the filthy Abbo's'll get in"
Anyway, it's all very complicated, and I've probably (I certainly hope) been seeing the unpleasant bit of an otherwise pretty happy and amicable co-habitation. Time shall certainly tell.
I'm not having a go at Australia, which is great... it's just strange when I think that the biggest difference between our two fair nations may actually be that they could use a little more political correctness.
And we could use a little less...
Things I've Learned This Week:
- Showing off about killing a Red Back Spider with a brick doesn't get you much respect from anyone.
- Vinny is scared of Cotton Wool, Polystyrene and Candy Floss.
- The traditional design in brick paving is known as the Herring Bone, and is used for its simplicity and structural integrity.
- Australian males say 'ay' or 'hay' or 'hey' after almost every sentence.
- The Queen's Face is on the coins and the 5 Dollar note, but not on any of the stuff that's actually worth having.
- I have around 35 Irish relatives living here in Perth, none of whom I have ever met. I hope to address this on Sunday.