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Things I still don’t get about Australia – No. 36

Why does Australia have so many short women? I’m not talking about little people or whatever’s this year’s politically correct term for dwarfs. I’m just talking about normal women who are, well, shortarses. Everyone knows about Kylie Minogue and that when she was the Green Fairy in Moulin Rouge they didn’t need much in the way of special effects apart from a slightly larger than standard bottle of absinthe for her to stand next to, and of course it’s no surprise that sister Dannii isn’t much taller. Sticking with the soap actresses/singers just because they’re well known we have the only marginally taller Natalie Imbruglia at 5’3″, and closer to home my beloved Mrs Exile is… well, taller than Kylie (but probably so’s at least one of the cats). Let’s just say that she’s in the same vicinity as Natalie Imbruglia and that a ½ is involved.

Okay, four women isn’t a huge sample, and obviously you can point to the 5’10” Nicole Kidman and all the amazonian girls who tend to fill the spots on the netball teams, some of whom are taller than me by a few inches, as well as the vast number who are kind of average height. But then I can add a couple of our friends who are also in the 5′ and change area and just walking around town you see loads more.* Queueing in for the supermarket checkout a couple of hours ago we were behind someone who was probably a couple of inches shorter than Mrs Exile, and she wasn’t the first we’d seen. And I don’t mean not the first today, I mean not the first in the supermarket. It makes me wonder if Australia’s decision to go metric back whenever was driven by people thinking 160cm sounds better. Personally I don’t care and will remain a lifelong supporter of the view that wonderful things come in small packages, and not just because I hate sleeping on the sofa but because I really don’t give a rip. I just find it curious, that’s all.

And, via the aforementioned and beloved Mrs Exile, Things I Still Don’t Get About Australia 36½ is why the hell, when Australia seems to have plenty of ladies at both ends of the 5 foot something range, women’s jeans are so hard to find in anything other than a regular leg?


* Small change. Bwahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Shit, I may be in trouble for that.

Things I still don’t get about Australia – No. 35

Is panel beating a dying trade here? Is it getting hard to get car bodywork done? Or is it just expected that the average Ocker will do a Heath Robinson job on his driveway, nod appreciatively at his work and go “She’ll be right” as he wanders off to find another beer? I didn’t think so but I think I must be mistaken given the picture on a roll of tape I bought today.

Declaration: I bought it to repair a chair.

Things I still don’t get about Australia – No. 34

I’m repeating myself a little here because way back in the mists of 2009, no fewer than 30 things I still didn’t get about Australia ago, I brought up the confusing topic of utes.

Yes, I know it’s the vehicle that Australia has given to the world and that there’s a certain pride in that, but I don’t get the point of utes. Or I should say many utes. I understand working utes, no problems there. It makes perfect sense for builders, electricians, plumbers, chippies and other trades to have a ute, especially because they’re so customizable if you get a tray body one rather than what the rest of the world calls a pick up. Similarly I can see the sense of 4 wheel drive versions for vehicles that get used on farms or building sites a lot, and also as recreational 4×4 vehicles.
What remains a mystery is the coupé style ute, which as far as I can see is a combination of sports car, saloon/sedan and the workhorse ute… but not actually as good as any of them. The ground clearance is too low to be much use on rougher sites let alone off road, and surely most tradies wouldn’t want to risk that nice paintwork by chucking tools and materials in the back, even with a liner. And because it’s a ute you’ve compromised the interior even if you get an extra cab or double cab version for the extra a normal number of seats. It’s surely not going to be as aerodynamic as a proper sports coupé, so unless someone corrects me on that it seems compromised as a sports car. You do get a shitload of cargo capacity of course, but you get a shitload of room in a regular wagon too and often there’s a ute and wagon version of the same car. So why buy, say, a Falcon ute rather than the wagon? And above all else, why do the most popular colours seem to be those of fruit?

Click for linky with bigger pic

As both my regular readers (hi Mum) will be aware I am slowly going more native as I spend time among the Upside Down People, and while I still don’t get the point of sports utilities I kind of get the appeal. I can’t explain what it is and I wouldn’t buy one myself – probably wouldn’t – and can’t imagine what on Earth I’d do with it if I did, but there is something about utes which is speaking ever more loudly to my inner ten year old. But there’s always someone who’s prepared to take a harmless fascination to another (still harmless) level, and these people can be found at ute musters, one of which is the Deni Ute Muster held this weekend. And then there are the people whose love of utes is so strong that even that’s not enough, and they have to take things even further still.

AN Australian Antarctic crew is hosting its own ute muster this weekend, despite having just two vehicles which fit the category.
Chris Wilkinson, a mechanic at Mawson Station, said the event would coincide with the Deniliquin Ute muster, and NRL and AFL grand finals this weekend.
He said the station had only two vehicles which could reasonably be called utes.
“We have two over-snow mobiles which have trays on them, so they sort of come into the ute category, I suppose,” he told ABC Radio today.
“The other vehicle is a light truck – not really a ute – but we’re going to call it a ute for our sake.
“We’re going to have a prize for the best Antarctic ute, tradie’s ute, feral ute and chick’s ute.”

At least four prize categories and only two utes, neither of which is really a ute. I guess there’s loving utes and then there’s really loving utes, and Aussies just love their utes. So much so, in fact, that Toyota’s latest advert centres on it.

Light hearted dig or subtle piss take? I’m not sure but it’s a nice looking ute, eh?

Things I still don’t get about Australia – No 33

Been a while since I’ve done one of these, but it’s going to be brief. It’s the Queen’s Birthday weekend, which I know because Wills and Kate got their fissogs in the papers againwatching a flypast from Buck House, said flypast being for the Trooping of the Colour, Mrs Queen’s official birthday. Hooray, and happy official birthday, etc etc. But what I don’t get about Australia, or at least Victoria, is why we still get the Monday as a public holiday while back in the old country you’re expected to wave a flag if you must but be at your fucking desk at 9 sharp as usual. Not that I’m complaining but I do wonder.

Things I still don’t get about Australia – No 32

An observation inspired by Nannyknowsbest, who notes that some councils are going to start rationing bin bags.

I see that some of Nanny’s insubordinate and disobedient councils are ignoring Uncle Eric Pickles’s recent request to resume weekly waste collection, and are instead implementing plans to ration bin bag collections to around 50-100 sacks per household per year.

It seems that around 180 or our “respected” local councils are looking into this plan, already being enforced in Broxbourne.

In Broxbourne families get one bag a week for general waste, a bag a fortnight for plastic bottles, a box for recycling and a green wheelie bin every two weeks for food and green waste.

I may have mentioned this before (oh, alright, I definitely have mentioned it) but refuse collection is a bit better here than where I used to live in the UK. We have a rubbish bin and a recycling bin like we did there but we basically chuck in absolutely anything and everything with a recycling symbol on it wit no sorting needed on our part. As long as you clean any food off it, in it goes. And unlike our old place in Blighty both bins are emptied weekly, and we don’t get dragged from our beds by armed bin men in the middle of the night and taken off for re-education if we stick the bins out the previous night. Well, another big difference was made clear to me this week. One of our neighbours a few doors down put his bins out and one of them was so full the lid wasn’t shut by at least 8 inches. Did the driver of the collection vehicle complain? Did he leave a fixed penalty notice on the bin? Did he empty some out so the lid shut? Did he refuse to take the refuse? As far as I can tell the answer is no to all of them, though I didn’t see the collection take place. I went out and our full bin with the closed lid was still waiting to be emptied, as was the one down the road with the lid open at nearly 45˚. I came back and all the bins in the road were empty.

So what is it about Australian councils, all of whom are committed believers in warble gloaming and the rest of the doom laden planet death tripe trope, that they can make recycling both easy and not at the expense of normal garbage disposal? What is it about British councils that not only does this seem beyond them but they’re now talking about rationing the fucking bin bags?

I have two suggestions. First, the EU. And secondly I suspect the councils here may actually give a shit about the place not looking like it’s inhabited only by tramps.

Things I still don’t get about Australia – No. 31

Australians, like many Brits, seem to enjoy having a dig at their national airline despite Dustin Hoffman’s famous autistic character’s declaration that they never crash. I’ve flown both Qantas and BA a couple of times each, and I do agree that one of those carriers deserves all the abuse it gets. But here anything that happens to a Qantas plane, any mid flight incident that is not 100% routine, is reported as if the airline is run by idiots and flies planes which crewed by incompetents and held together with string. Seriously, it’s fast approaching the point that one of the reading lights not working in row 32 will be reported as “Qantas – latest embarrassment for troubled airline”, and from my experience of flying with them that’s just not bloody fair. The reporting of yesterday’s A380 incident in Singapore is a typical example:

In fairness to the Herald Sun they do at least mention this:

And that should be kept in mind, because if the engine blew up in a taxi you wouldn’t first question whether the cab company was in some way at fault but immediately start wondering about the make and model of car itself. Qantas didn’t build the plane, Airbus did. Qantas didn’t make the engine, Roll-Royce did. Qantas may have stuffed up something while maintaining it but it’s far too early for the inevitable investigation to do more than consider it a line of inquiry, and you can be damned sure they’ll be considering Airbus and Rolls as well, especially if this is not an isolated incident with that engine type.

Yet I’m not sure the Aussie media see it that way, and it wouldn’t surprise me that if a Qantas flight in the next few days runs out of Pinot Gris or has a spelling mistake in the in flight magazine it would be reported as “Latest Qantas shame”.

Things I still don’t get about Australia – No. 30

Sports. It’s come up before in this occasional series about life here in the Off World Colonies but I do wonder how Australia came to take sport so seriously, and in particular Aussie Rules, the ‘game they gave the world’ (even though the world never took it out of the box and might even have taken it back to the shop if it wouldn’t have caused hurt feelings). This weekend saw the AFL Grand Final which, improbably given how high the scores can get, resulted in a 68 all draw and a replay next Saturday, which in turn dominated news programs on Saturday evening ahead of a light aircraft crashing between Melbourne and Geelong, a woman dying after somehow launching her car into the roof of someone’s house and the Victorian police covertly investigating phone records of journalists and politicians. The main political news at the weekend was that Prime Minster Julia Gillard said she hoped the football final wouldn’t result a draw because Australia had already had one this year with the election, and then – ho, ho – it was a draw after all.

And that was the news this weekend, September the ….. Jesus Christ, everybody. I know being a Pom my opinion doesn’t count for much, but it’s just bloody sport. It’s a really watchable game and over the last several years I’ve got into it so that Saturday afternoon footy is as much a part of my weekend as it is for millions born and bred here. You’ve got me, okay? It is a bloody good game.

But for all that it’s still just a bloody game. Get a grip, will you.








But not there. Jesus Christ!

Things I still don’t get about Australia – No. 29

No Haagen-Dazs ice cream, which must be devastating news to a lot of women thinking of moving here. There’s Haag ice cream, which seems good enough to me but for some watching Brigitte Jones probably wouldn’t be the same.

Things I still don’t get about Australia – No. 28

The election was a bloody fortnight ago and not only is it still unclear who won, which is fair enough when what we do know for certain is that there was no clear winner, but they haven’t even finished counting all the votes yet.

Click to biggerise

What the fuck’s taking so long? I realise that the preference voting system is more complex than FPTP and I realise every vote has to be counted and also includes ones where people voted from abroad or out of state or weren’t on the roll but claimed they were eligible, and I realise that there’s close to a full turnout because the sods threaten fines for anyone who doesn’t go. But come on, two bloody weeks? Britain manages in a couple of days, and they’ve got to count probably twice as many votes. Maybe there’s something I’m not aware of but it just seems like we should at least know the primary votes by now.

Things I still don’t get about Australia – No. 27

Having just touched on petrol stations, I don’t get why petrol prices here go up and down over the course of a week regardless of what oil prices are like. It’s expensive to buy at the weekend and cheaper in the middle of the week. Hmmm. Maybe what I’m actually asking is why it happens here but not in the UK.

Things I still don’t get about Australia – no 26.

Hair loss adverts. Non bloody stop hair loss adverts. If it’s not this lot it’s other bunch who’ve got Shane Warne talking about looking like a new cricket ball (and acting more wooden than his favourite bat) or shampoo companies wittering on about their new hair retention formula. “Feel the confidence?” Oh, go fuck yourselves with a steel comb. Are Aussie men that vain about a bald spot? Or is TV advertising cheap enough here that these companies can bombard us with ads all the time?

Fuck off, the lot of yous.

Things I still don’t get about Australia – No. 25

Because of being a bit busy lately and a touch of blogging fatigue I’m afraid that the milestone of Post No. 1000 is another one of these. And currently the thing I’m still not getting about Australia is the Eurovision Song Contest. Yes, really the Eurovision Song Contest.

This afternoon SBS devoted two and a half hours to it, though I’m sure it felt like much longer, and they do this every year. Okay, granted this is SBS and the fact that it followed news in Russian and Turkish tells you that it’s a channel which likes to be pretty international, but for Christ’s sakes it’s the Eurovision. Being thousands of miles away from what should have long ago been renamed the Eurovision Mong Contest ought to be one of the bonuses of living in Oz. Oh well, at least in this AFL mad land I can avoid the bloody soccer World Cup fever, can’t I?

MELBOURNE soccer fans will be able to watch World Cup matches at Birrarung Marr after traditional screenings at Federation Square were cancelled due to public safety concerns.

Minister for Sport and Recreation James Merlino said fans can converge on the nearby outdoor site to watch the Socceroos take on the world next month.

Oh for fuck’s sake.

Things I still don’t get about Australia – No. 24

The deep and abiding love of beetroot. Actually I do kind of get this because I’m pretty keen on beetroot myself, but I’d probably never have thought of putting some in a hamburger much less inventing special jars specifically for storing beetroot. And beetroot pizzas? Never in a bazillion years would I have thought of that. Not so much odd as just surprising, and not remotely a criticism because the weirdest beetroot serving idea I’ve ever heard of is beetroot fucking ice cream. And the madman responsible for that is a Brit.

Things I still don’t get about Australia – No. 23

Insulation. Like I said in the last post I can’t understand why a country where everyone seems to own at least one Esky, which is basically a well insulated box for beer and barbecue food, doesn’t build houses that are insulated so as to keep out the winter cold and the summer heat alike.

Things I still don’t get about Australia – no. 22.

I suppose you thought Manchester was a large city in north west England that in its time has produced everything from overpaid footballers to some excellent music (occasionally written and performed by annoying wankers). Not here it ain’t. In Australia it means bed linen. And maybe towels too, I’m a little unclear if that’s at all official. But certainly bed linen. Now I sort of get that since in its day Manchester was a great producer of all kids of textiles, so I imagine that the name has kind of stuck here. But why has bed linen been given the name of a place associated with making that kind of stuff and not other things? Why not call anything ceramic ‘Stoke’ or something? In defence of the Aussies Mrs Exile said ‘Axminster carpet’ is a slightly sarcastic tone but coming up with another example doesn’t explain anything, so for now it’s stays on the list of things that I still find slightly bewildering even after a few years here.