Thursday, August 11, 2011
I've had real trouble sleeping this week, maybe it's the riots, or the weird summer/windy autumn weather. Long story short tonight I'm lying here shattered contemplating what I miss about home.
I'm not about to write screeds about how I'm homesick and life is crap. It's not. Life is great. But no matter how much I enjoy London and the European travel, at the end of the day there's a lot that London-life just can't compete with.
Yes I miss L&P. Yes I miss pies (Jimmy's of course), I miss a good chocolate milkshake and only having to drive 10 minutes to get to work. 9Driving! I miss driving!) But most of the material things that only New Zealand can provide have actually found their way to London. If you haven't been here before you'll probably be surprised to know that some of the best coffee shops in London are run by kiwis - who knew our coffee was so good? I certainly didn't, despite being a barista for seven years.
But it's definitely not hard to decide what I miss most. It's the people. Cue the anecdote:
Whilst in the midst of duvet tousling and pillow rearranging as sleep evaded me, I suddenly remembered I'd forgotten to call the Inland Revenue to change my address.
Calling the IRD is a chore most people loathe to undertake. ('Would you mind holding for between 20 and 30 minutes?' Sure...why not...)
But tonight I skipped down the stairs to grab the phone and dial IRD's number with optimism.
After 10 minutes holding I was rewarded with the voice of a true born and bred kiwi. Now I live with all New Zealanders, but for some reason it feels so much more significant when the kiwi accent is being funnelled all the way from the homeland.
That voice and the words it spoke got me started on my "I miss New Zealand" buzz.
The way that IRD agent chatted with me about life and how I was "bearing up" in London is indicative of the uniqueness of New Zealanders. As per the good manners my mother taught me I always say please, thank you and enquire how people are at the beginning of a conversation.
These manners are received with confusion in many a London situation, and when people realise you're being friendly it can go either way; delight and surprise, or and angry scowl as though they think you're trying to teach them a nasty lesson.
I watched a lady in the street drop a magazine today, I ran after her, picked it up and handed it back to her informing her she'd dropped it. She stared at me for about three seconds with a look that said she assumed I was going to demand her handbag, before she realised I was actually doing her a good turn.
Kiwis are polite and friendly first, angry and suspicious second. I know I'm verging on vast and unfair stereotyping, but the comfort of being around New Zealander's day in, day out is what I miss most. People that would help you if you fell, smile and ask how you are, and crack a joke with a stranger as they wait for a free teller in Westpac.
Oh, and I miss the beach. A wild and windy beach without another soul for maybe one kilometre. But that's another blog post.