Archive for March, 2010

Robin Williams calls us bogans and Ruddy hits back!

March 31, 2010

You're looking pretty bogan yourself there Robin!

Robin Williams has poked fun at Aussies on the Dave Letterman Show in the US, calling us ‘English rednecks’. Ruddy, the Aussie Prime Minister, took offence and hit back saying that perhaps Williams should go to Alabama and learn about rednecks before he calls us one.

Personally, I think his skit was funny – you can watch it below. Obviously he’s just taking the piss and it was meant in a light-hearted manner, not for people to get offended. His Aussie accent is pretty good too!

He calls us a pack of pommy bogans, but to be honest, poms are often bogan in the first place! Although I do remember when I first told my parents I was moving to the UK, my mum remarked, “Great! You’ll learn the true art of conversation!” Obviously she didn’t believe I could pick up ‘the art of conversation’ from good ol’ Perth from my mates whose speech involves a slang or shortened word in each sentence.

When I was a teenager, my parents were forever on my back, correcting my grammar and telling me to ‘speak properly’. They are from old Rhodesia, where people spoke ‘proper’ English – it was more posh than England most of the time, it seems!

I remember when my mum’s best friend met my boyfriend for the first time. She said he was the first Australian she’d met with proper manners!

So, is Robin Williams right? Are we just a bunch of bogans who can’t speak properly and run around with a ball in a g-string? Or should he have some more respect about for sunny nation?

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What makes Australia such a good brand?

March 29, 2010

Are we Aussies such wonderful people that companies use our country to market themselves as a top brand? Just think of Fosters and the ad ‘get some Australian in ya.’ Obviously ‘getting some Australian in ya’ must be appealing to some people as this beer brand chooses to market themselves as an Aussie brand. Not that anyone in Australia actually drinks the stuff!

There are other brands such as Australian Bodycare that uses our nation’s name in their title, which must be because many people have positive connotations when they think of Oz. I certainly can’t help but  wonder what people would think if there was a beer slogan such as ‘get some British in ya’. Although, brands such as MaxFactor do pride themselves on their British heritage, so perhaps it does work.

Among Australia’s top brands are Billabong and Ugg – both names which evoke Australian thoughts. Billabong is, of course, the name for an Aussie swamp and Ugg boots were first worn by Aussie sheep farmers in the 1920s and then surfers in the 60s and 70s. Even the Qantas logo has a picture of a kangaroo on it.

So what makes Australia so appealing? Maybe it’s because when I think of home I dream of the beach, sunshine and laid back people. Why do you think?

Kangaroo cruelty by Tourism Australia

March 26, 2010

Australia has the most bizarre ways of advertising itself. Well, I should say Tourism Australia does. First it was ‘Where the bloody hell are ya’ campaign that shot Lara Bingle to fame and now they have pulled an even stranger stunt – they have locked up a kangaroo in a cage on a busy street in Los Angeles, in an attempt to lure people to our land.

One Australian was so shocked at the display that she filmed it and posted it on YouTube. It’s had loads of hits and Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has condemned the campaign, saying that we Aussies are very attached to our kangaroos, seeing as one graces our coat of arms and that a lot of us grew up watching Skippy on the TV.

I have to agree with Ruddy (for once). It seems like a disgusting act of cruelty all in the name of advertising. However, Tourism Australia has said that it’s not cruel as the kangaroo is being looked after by a professional trainer and that it was being treated well, only having to be locked up for four hours at a time.

Four hours to me still seems like four hours to long. This is a wild animal we are talking about, not a hamster. Tourism Australia’s managing director, Andrew McEvoy has said that America Humane – the US equivalent of the RSPCA in Oz – has seen the video and said that the kanga isn’t in distress. I’ll let you have a look and decide…

Is Australia a racist nation?

March 25, 2010

Is Australia racist? Reports this week have emerged showing that 100 Victorian police officers have been caught circulating a racist email. The email reportedly shows a black person being tortured.

Earlier this month the Victorian police chief admitted some officers were racist. Is this something that is common throughout Australia though?

I know that in the UK they certainly seem to be much more politically correct than in Australia. Over here you will often see black newsreaders and Indian presenters on TV, but in Australia it often seems to be Caucasian people reading the news. But does this reflect the population? I don’t think so, as there are certainly a lot of Asian people in Australia but the only time I’ve seen an Asian newsreader is on SBS.

People in the UK also seem to be a lot more sensitive to racism than in Australia. For example, I wasn’t even aware that the word ‘paki’ was a racist term until I came here. However, my British friend told me that someone had once called her that name and she couldn’t even say it out loud to me, she finds it so offensive.

Australia is a multicultural country. It seems ironic that there are racist people there when most of us only arrived in the country 250 odd years ago. We’re from all different kinds of backgrounds, so what’s the point of insulting someone because of where they’re from? And especially racism towards Aboriginal people – they were there first! I don’t understand it.

I, myself, was born in the UK to Zimbabwean parents. I was raised in Australia but had a Scottish grandfather and an Afrikaans grandmother. I’m sure many of us come from backgrounds as diverse as mine.

Domestic violence – why does no one talk about it?

March 23, 2010

I heard a scary statistic yesterday. In the UK, more people aged between 16 and 44 die or become disabled from domestic violence than from cancer or traffic accidents. This is really shocking to me.

On average two people a week are killed by their partners or former partners and one incident is reported to police every minute. In fact, one in four women will suffer from domestic violence at some point in their lives.

Thankfully, I am one of the lucky ones and have never had a partner be violent towards me. I know of those who have had it happen to them though. One of my colleagues in my teens once came in to work with a huge black eye. It was so bad she had to have stitches in her brow and the blood vessels in her eye had burst.

At first she said that she had just fallen down the stairs but in the end it turned out that her boyfriend had hit her so hard in the shower that she had been knocked out. Everyone at work was furious and was trying to persuade her to leave him. To my dismay, she didn’t. She had very low self-esteem.

But it’s not only women with low self-esteem who suffer. A friend of mine who is brimming with confidence was also harmed by an ex-boyfriend. He broke into her house and dragged her across the floor by her hair. He then threatened to kill her and put her in the basement where her dad would come home to find her. Thankfully, the neighbours heard the commotion and called the police.

When I was working as a journalist in Australia, I did a piece on domestic violence and visited women in a shelter. I wasn’t allowed to reveal where the shelter was, in case some of the men found out and hunted a woman down. Imagine living your life in fear like that?

I’m not sure how we are to fix the worldwide problem of domestic violence. All I know is that we need to spread awareness about it and make sure that people suffering get help and shelter from those who are violent towards them.

Crazy weather in Australia but it’s calm in London…that makes a change

March 22, 2010

Outside my dad's work in Subiaco

Came into work this morning to be greeted by an array of status updates on Facebook from people claiming that their houses were caving in and their cars were being swept away by floods. No, this isn’t some crazy weather in Indonesia, it was happening in my home town of Perth, Western Australia.

My partner’s brother came online and said that his car had been severely damaged by hail stones the size of golf balls. His front windscreen had been smashed and a lot of the panelling bent. Even my mum came online and posted a video of the weather demolishing our garden. Thankfully our house didn’t flood but my dad’s workplace did because of a blocked drain. (You can view the video of my house in the attachment).

A Facebook group called ‘I Survived the Great Storm of Perth 22/3/2010’ already has more than 18,000 members, which I’ve got to say is pretty funny. Talk about melodramatic!! But then again, it’s probably the event of the year there. (Sorry, I’m sure I’m going to offend some people with that one.)

It’s the first day of spring here in London, and as I came to work this morning the sun was shining brightly and the birds were chirping. Although still chilly, it was a far cry from the storm they were experiencing in Perth. For once I was on the sunny side of the world. And it feels good!

Do you think voting should be compulsory?

March 19, 2010

How's this for some voting propaganda!

Do you think compulsory voting should be allowed? With the UK election looming, many people are talking about how important it is to cast a vote. Being a UK citizen, I feel that I might even vote in my first ever British election, but I am enjoying the fact that it is not compulsory for me to do so.

Australia is only one of 19 countries that enforce compulsory voting. Other countries include South American countries such as Peru, Ecuador, Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil, as well as other nations such as Singapore and Turkey. But do you think this is right?

UK politicians have complained in the past about the declining number of voters, even though the population is growing. Other politicians think that voters should have to pass a test before they are allowed to vote. A university professor, Gordon Graham, has said that people should be educated if they want to cast a ‘proper’ vote.

But who says the people will make the right choice in electing a party? Hitler was voted in by the public and look where that got them.

Personally, I don’t think people should be forced to vote. It can hardly be called a democracy when you are forced into making a decision. Of course, people will say that you can always donkey vote but I’m sure there are a lot of Aussies who don’t know anything about politics and who just tick any box.

I want to vote in the British election because I feel strongly about a certain party, but the word is out that with the way things are going there might be a hung parliament anyway.

I look forward to seeing how things turn out!

A funny video my boyfriend made pretending to be British!

March 17, 2010

Last summer in Regent’s Park

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1CfKh8cQ6o 

Planning a trip to Spain – it’s only a couple of hours away after all

March 17, 2010

San Sebastian - one of the places we hope to visit!

My boyfriend and I have been planning a trip around Spain recently, as we hope to go in the summer.

That’s one of the best things about living in the UK – so many other countries are right on your doorstep. If you want to go to Paris for the weekend, it’s only a two hour train ride away.

Where I’m from in Perth, Western Australia, if you drove for two hours you’d still be in the same state, let alone the same country! Perth is the most isolated capital city in the world and I think that if I was to move back there I would certainly feel its isolation more than I did before.

So I think it’ll take us about two hours to fly to Spain, and then we were planning what we’d do when we got there. We’re going to hire a campervan and travel around the country.

First I was think ‘gosh, we’re going to be driving for ages’ but once I calculated all the places I wanted to see, it works out to only be 21 hours driving over a nine day trip. This is because Spain is actually quite small! In fact, Spain is only just under 500,000sqm, whereas Western Australia is more than double that.

To drive from Barcelona to Madrid will only take us six hours, which is great! We’re hoping to travel up the coast from Barcelona, across the Pyrenees and then through the Basque country, before heading down to Madrid and back to Barcelona again.

Hopefully we’ll catch a lot of sunshine along the way – I’m really looking forward to getting my vitamin D fix once again!

UK women out there: Ugg Boots are actually slippers

March 16, 2010

No, this is not attractive

What is it with the UK’s obsession with Ugg Boots?

I know I should probably be proud that an item of Australian clothing has turned into such a popular fashion accessory over here, but I still cringe every time I see a woman walking down the street in this furry friend.

A mate of mine strolled past the Ugg Boot store in central London the other day and there was a long line coming out of the shop and continuing down the street. She snapped a photo of it and posted it online with the appropriate caption of ‘WTF?!’ I’d have to agree with her. Never in my life have I felt the urge to queue for such a ‘fashion’ piece. Obviously, this mate was an Aussie.

The other day I was shocked when my colleague, and friend, turned up for work in Ugg Boots. To use a British term, she looked a bit ‘chavy’. (Sorry! I know you’ll probably read this!) But for me, I do not picture Ugg Boots as an appropriate item of clothing to sport to work.

In fact, like many Australians, I do not think it is appropriate to wear a sheep slipper on your foot outside of the home. I remember feeling like a right bum any time I used to wear the shoe across the road to the shops when I lived in Oz.

So why is the item so popular over here? Well, as I’ve been told, and as I know, they are very comfortable shoes. But for me, walking around naked is comfortable but I don’t do that outside of the home. The Ugg Boot has also been seen on celebrities such as Katie Price, and this seems to have launched the obsession. Why anyone would want to look like Katie Price, I don’t know!

Sure, the shoe might be comfortable and might be a fashion piece, but is it really practical? Has anyone realized how much it rains in England? Combine an Ugg Boot with a muddy puddle and you get a wet and stinky mess. Gross.

So British women out there, please heed this piece of advice: unless you want to continue to look like a drongo, stop wearing Ugg Boots outside of the house. If you think this is how we do it in Australia, you’d be wrong. Instead, where them as slippers in the home, where no one can see you.