There are two reasons why I decided today to add to a blog that I have not touched for three months.
- I read an article by Michael Palin in Vanity Fair about effective diary-writing skills and he said that it is not important to be interesting, it’s just important that you write regularly. Kind of goes against the whole ‘quality not quantity’ argument, but I’m a big fan of Mr Palin’s work so it inspired me to once again put pen to paper. Or fingertips to keypad. Not quite so whimsical and romantic.
- I received an email from my old boss at Freehills, the lovely Andrew, encouraging me to continue on, and who knows? Andrew is not my boss anymore but I like to think that I was always quite the obedient subordinate, so maybe some deep lurking sense of duty remains…
Plus, a lot has happened in the past three months and some of it actually is interesting (if I do say so myself) so here it is…
I just re-read my last blog post – yikes. Someone was suffering a little but of the winter blues. Some of you may have read that as a kind of sweet, innocent way of venting about some of the things I find less than enjoyable about living here, but don’t be fooled. At that time the mercury hadn’t broken zero for a week and I was actually going a little bit insane.
Following that cyber-vent our pipes in our house froze and we lost the ability to use our shower and washing machine. I also got water stuck in my ears from trying to wash my hair in the bath – how medieval. Although I assure you I had a bath at least once a day, not once a week or month or whatever they used to do. Ironically the whole pipe freezing thing and ensuing battles with rental agent and plumbers made me so stressed out that all I wanted to do was relax in a hot bath… Grrr.
Not to worry, Christmas rolled around and things started to look up.
Carlie joined us for Christmas day and, yes, it was a white Christmas. We had a lovely time Skyping family and opening presents. We even tried to make a snowman in the front yard – and failed miserably, although we all had fun regressing and having snowball fights and pushing each other over in the snow. Okay, nobody pushed Ryan over. And Carlie and I did not push each other over. Actually now that I think about it, Ryan, the 6’4” 104 kg bully pushed us both over… Boys will be boys.
Christmas day and night was spent with the other International orphans here at the club and was so lovely. Kids everywhere, way too much food, way to much wine, Carlie regaling us with stories from the land of Pfizer such as how Viagra actually works in a biological sense – a great day had by all.
We finished the Christmas break off with a trip to Prague, then Edinburgh.
Prague was like a fairytale city and well worth the visit. I did, however, question the wisdom of going somewhere even colder than Wigan. And it was bloody cold! Minus 10ºC, in fact. The kind of cold that makes you double-over in shock when you first walk out the door. But it was worth the trip, and the cold.
Then onto the partying aspect of our little trip in Edinburgh. We caught up with Carlie and her friends, as well as the usual contingent on other Aussies on the European/UK drinking trail – we actually ran into some of our cohorts from Oktoberfest! But again, a great time was had by all and the zero temperature felt positively balmy compared to what we had experience in Prague so that was a bonus too.
When we arrived home from our trips, the snow had completely melted and it hasn’t re-appeared since. We also arrived home to a single sweet potato laying in our driveway. I had forgotten that we left it in the snow during our ill-fated snowman attempt of Christmas day and when the snow melted it was like our own little produce-based welcoming committee in the driveway.
In January we basically made the most of the last of pre-season and the associated free weekends. We took a trip up to the Lake District (one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen), and another trip to Dublin, which we also enjoyed. I had to laugh when we were at Manchester Airport grabbing some dinner before our flight to Dublin, and our waiter says: “So are you off on holidays?”, “Yep, off to Dublin” I answered. Then he gives us a knowing smile, “Oh, holidays or home?”. Wink, wink. Irish? Really? Mixing us up with the Kiwis I can understand, but Irish?
Before we knew it, February had rolled around and so had the start of the season. We’re now 6 rounds in and the boys are unbeaten – 5 wins and 1 draw. That doesn’t count the World Club Challenge, of course, in which the boys went down to St George, but as we didn’t win I have decided that WCC doesn’t really matter. As opposed to the year Ryan played with Melbourne and did win, in which case it is of course a vitally important fixture on the rugby league international calendar.
I actually went to see Ryan play last night in Huddersfield. The beauty of being here is that an away game does not necessarily mean a plane trip, as it always does in Melbourne, so I have been able to get to all of Ryan’s games so far (thank goodness for the invention of the GPS). Last night for the first time I sat amongst the Wigan supporters and holy moly! Actually, there wasn’t much holy about it. I sat in from of this boy who could not have been more than 11 years old and he swore so loudly, so consistently and so profusely that he would have put Gordon Ramsay, any wharfie and any actor in any Quentin Tarantino film to shame. In actual fact, I agreed with his rather colourful views on the refereeing, but I do feel the young lad would do well to expand his vocabulary somewhat. That said, the Wigan supporters are amazing. There is the banner that hangs in the stadium during home games that says “My wife told me it was Wigan rugby or her. I’m really going to miss her.” That about sums it up. They are so passionate, so parochial and man, do they have some high expectations. Still, it is a very old and prestigious club so you can see why passions run high. I met one of the neighbours in our street and he has been going to Wigan games for over 50 years. Can you imagine? Coming from Melbourne Storm, the teenager of Australian rugby league, it’s kind of hard to get your head around.
February was an interesting month on the work front too. I had an attack of guilty conscience for being lazy so I got a job. Then I had an attack of guilty conscience for demanding so many holidays from my new employer so I quit said job after two weeks. Then I felt guilty for accepting the job in the first place and mucking everyone around. Now I feel guilty for being lazy again. Ah, familiar territory. Better the devil you know, I guess. In my defence (and I am aware I am only defending myself against myself at this point), the whole reason we moved here was so that we could see a bit more of the world and have some new experiences, so I really just need to make my peace with it. I’m hoping that will happen any day now.
Probably my favourite thing that I have done in the last couple of months (apart from cheer on my beloved, of course) was a little trip to New York that I took last week. My lovely cousin Hayley was over in Washington DC for a conference and had the brilliant idea of tacking on a week of travel after her conference to hand out in New York and invited me to tag along. I accepted, of course, and we had the most wonderful time. New York is far more affordable from London! And only 6 hours too, which is pretty great. Couple that with the US versus AUS dollar at the moment and it would have practically been a crime not to go.
For me, the highlights were the shows that we saw. We saw How to succeed in business without really trying, starring Harry Potter. Oops, I mean Daniel Radcliffe. He was so good. I may have fallen a little bit in love just for that night. We also saw a great off-Broadway show called Newsical: the Musical (think Saturday Night Live the Musical), and La Cage Aux Folles, a show I have been desperate to see every since the powers that be at Phoenix Theatre Company made me dress up in silver sequinned bra and undies and a cap with an orange fountain of feathers coming out and sing “We are what we are”. Side note: I now realise that song is about transvestites. I wonder if anyone that saw that cabaret show ever believed I was a transvestite? I was only fourteen and had very small boobs, so you never know. At any rate, I adored La Cage Aux Folles and think it might have officially taken its place as my third favourite show of all time after Chicago and West Side Story. We were fortunate enough to see it with Harvey Fierstein, who has this amazing smoky voice and who wrote the show in the first place, so that was a treat.
For me, New York City lived up to the hype, which I think is rare, in this exceedingly hyper day-and-age. As a friend pointed out to me, it is a very surreal place to visit because I felt like I knew it so well, even though I had only been there once before in 1996. I found myself making vague navigational decisions in trying to get to Madison Square Garden based solely on a Friends episode I once saw.
In humming New York, New York to myself in the lead up to the trip and during, I was reminded of a visit to London late last year. Ryan, Carlie and I had decided to check out the Christmas markets, and in the spirit of Christmas, Carlie had decided to try some roasted chestnuts. She takes once bite, spits it out and says “Yuck! Why do people sing about those? They’re awful!” I’m pleased to report that unlike chestnuts roasting on an open fire, I think New York, New York definitely lives up to its song-worthy status.
As an aside, I actually don’t think we were eating the chestnuts properly. I think you’re supposed to peel them or something. Us poor Aussie kids, we don’t know how to build snowmen, we don’t know how to eat chestnuts. A white Christmas really should come with some kind of instruction manual, methinks.
Anyway, I am back on British soil now and am eagerly awaiting the barrage of visitors that commences with Annie in early-April and continues pretty solidly until July. Many trips planned, lots of fun to be had – many Wigan orientations to conduct. I am very much looking forward to the next few months – I promise not to let three of them go by before doing this again.