No sign of any teaching coming from School so might as well go for a walk around Castle Howard. A quiet, beautiful walk.

Quiet, well until an international meeting.

Walking along a path and we came across a clearly confused couple looking a tad bit lost. As we approached the chap spoke, spoke in the deepest of Australian accents.

Excuse me Mate, but we are trying to find the CASTLE”

Apparently they were on a driving holiday around the UK and had seen Castle Howard on the map and thought, let’s visit one of those King Arthur kinda places….. They had been walking around the Estate for ages and hadn’t found the old stone castle yet. Sadly I had to disappoint them.

‘See that big old house, that’s the castle”

After a few choice Australian words ##@##*#ocks, they asked if

I knew of a proper castle round here…”

A few minutes later they had directions to three more castle like castles.

That was my third ever conversation with someone from Australia. All have been completely random affairs. The second chat was in Switzerland. We were walking in Interlaken when a family approached us and asked.

Do you speak English, we heard you (me) singing Yellow Submarine”

Wow was I that loud…. Having confirmed the English thing, the conversation went very south of the equator.

Do you know if there is a shop here that sells Swiss Cuckoo Clocks, the kids want to see some and we can’t find a phrase for that in our German helpful holiday phrase book..

No I suspect it’s not a common phrase. Maybe it should be, maybe the first one the phrase book should tell you. Just like the phrase book Aliens like ET or Thanos need when they visit Earth. The first phrase being a translation of ‘take me to your leader’. Currently in the UK an alien would need to use the phrase ‘take me to your useless numpty’. Anyway the bizarre Australian conversation went even further south when we confirmed that we had just been in a shop looking at a shed load of those wonderful clocks. Once again Australians left with helpful directions.

My first Australian conversation was just as odd. I had just left Warwick University to finally earn my keep. I was working at a computer installation and I had drawn the short straw – I was covering the night shift. Well after midnight, Reception put through a call from Sydney. I took the call and happily said

‘Hello Sydney’

– whoever Sydney was. At the other end of the line was an equally happy lady with an Australian accent. Opps. I apologised.

‘Sorry, I thought the call was from someone called Sydney, not actually from Sydney…’

No problems, I am from Sydney, but I am also called Sidney”

I found out that she hadn’t been named after the city but after the actor Sidney Poitier. Apparently her parents were huge fans and had hoped for a strapping Aussie Rules playing boy who would also be an actor just like their hero. Apparently a short, ginger haired girl who was in love with George Michael didn’t quite suit the Sidney Poitier name.

I’m actually looking forward to my next Australian conversation. They are always so bizarre.

50 thoughts on “Sydney calling

  1. When I was in Florence, Italy in college my friends and I met some nice Aussies and one of them started -drunkenly- quoting Finding Nemo. It still makes me laugh. I’m glad your experiences are just as fun.


  2. Castles? Julia used to live in Hadleigh, a pleasant Suffolk town. People were always asking for the castle, and were confused/frustrated/annoyed to find that Hadleigh Castle, as painted by Constable, was in Hadleigh in Essex. Tricky things, castles . . .


  3. I’m smiling and wondering why you were singing yellow submarine. There had to be a reason that song came to your mind…. also, Sydney from Sydney makes me smile. Thanks for sharing. 🙂


  4. Hi Gary. Long time to visit. Will explain later. For now, your post has remined me of an encounter I had with a man from the USSR back in the early 70s, when times should have been so different from today. I hope jou will forgive its length:

    a conversation (that might never have taken place)

    once while walking here to there
    i chanced to stop and rest awhile
    upon a bench i’d never seen before

    and as i sat
    many different kinds of folk
    i watched pass by

    till sat upon the bench near me
    a man who said he’d crossed the sea
    to see what life was really like
    in our great land of canada
    where’d he’d heard the streets were paved with gold

    i pitied him for traveling all this way
    just to find our streets were like his own
    then why he asked were we more rich than he
    to which i turned my pockets inside-out
    and watched one lonely coin fall to the ground

    who tells such stories he demanded
    i said i did not know
    but stories such as his abound
    whenever the world is not at peace

    his world he said was not at peace
    but filled with men who loved to hate
    men who called to own the world
    and it all like them
    so they could rule the world

    i said i too in such a world did live
    but since my world was called democracy
    and his a soviet socialist state
    my people protested louder
    and so they thought they were
    more free than his
    though really the truth was only
    a matter of degree

    where will it end he agitatedly asked
    concerned about his child
    whose picture he extracted
    from a pocket of his shirt
    i looked upon the smiling face
    of a girl so sweet and young
    her eyes still flashed the innocence
    that life would soon corrupt

    i pondered then if i should lie
    and say a better world would come one day
    and this young girl could live
    free from fear and undisturbed
    by events beyond her ability to control

    he looked at me
    and saw within my eyes
    the fear i had
    his child and maybe mine
    might someday each other face
    across a war-torn battlefield
    with rifles in their hands
    and hatred in their hearts

    he gripped my hand to show that if
    this ever came to pass
    he understood the cause would never be
    such men as we

    and we sat there holding hands
    that bridged the gulf
    at least for now
    between two worlds so very far apart
    and yet so near

    and each in silence thought about
    the things we both did dread:
    and in my mind raged insurrection
    and nuclear war too terrible to describe
    while in his mind did unbreathable air
    and widespread natural disaster
    rid the world of millions
    upon millions of its inhabitants

    until were left the chosen few

    then did we leave
    and walk both east and west

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Was he really Russian? He had a heavy accent. Beyond that I have no proof. Maybe he was an acid hallucination, lol. But I have never forgotten meeting him. But I never even learned his name.
        (I had very few hallucibations while using LSD. I cannot imagine hallucinating a whole conversation with a stranger!)


      2. No problem. This was after the cold war thing, and before the ccrackdown on Western civilization. I still think he was genuine. He seemed genuine.


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