Maybe this is sort of an obvious question to someone who’s spent a lot of time here — but do the English think of Australians in London (and, by extension, of New Zealanders, although yes, I do know they’re not exactly the same thing) in more or less the same way that New Yorkers think of Californians? You know, as not quite serious enough to be taken seriously, kind of like big rangy teenagers with open mouths and wide eyes (and, of course, with those perfect buff-teenager-forever bodies we all wish we had), all wide-eyed and nature-loving, clannish and content, frustrating because they won’t acknowledge or apparently even notice our contempt, the objects of our pity-envy in massive proportions?
I can get away with asking questions like this, you know, because I’m a California-born New Yorker. So I’ve lived on both sides of the stereotype.
The ways of Australians are sort of a mystery to me, in London and everywhere else — I’ve had relatively little sustained contact with them, and all I’ve managed to learn about them so far in London is that they have their places — for some reason they’re all around Earl’s Court (this has been explained to me, and I’ve seen evidence that it’s true, but I don’t understand why), plus of course they’re in the Crumpler shop in the West End and various other locations.
What prompts this post is seeing an apparent New Zealander today in a cafe (pulling espressos, natch) wearing a T-shirt reading “PAKEHAS KNOW HOW TO PARTY” (a word which, obviously, I ran and Googled) — and seeing him get a compliment on it by a woman who was perfectly nice but had an accent and hairstyle that virtually shouted out “I’m not from around here.”