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Limiting my contact with Australian bugbears

Date

Heckler

HECKLER

<em>Illustration: Simon Letch</em>

Illustration: Simon Letch

AFTER moving to the US six weeks ago, the list of things I miss about Australia would fill this entire newspaper. Far easier then, to talk about the things I don't miss.

Spider webs in public toilets. Using a public toilet in Australia comes with many perils, but for me the most intimidating is the giant network of spider webs on the roof, every one populated by a family of killers waiting for the ideal moment to drop on my head. And then I recall the killers that prefer to lurk under the toilet seat and … Here, not a single web. The joy.

Con-Tact. That plastic substance that teachers insist should cover every school book. With Con-Tact perfection beyond my cack-handed abilities, my approach was just to slap it on, bubbles, wrinkles and all. Until one of my children ran into The Fiendish Teacher with a policy of returning all books he considered badly covered. Here, I started two children in the new school year at the end of August and have not received a single request for a book to be covered. Bliss.

The word ''ranga''. Thanks for that Chris Lilley. With our Celtic heritage firmly displayed on our heads we got thoroughly sick of hearing that word. I'm sure America has many equally irritating terms to describe redheads, but at least ''ranga'' won't be one of them.

Vegemite sandwiches. The kids might miss eating them, but as a card-carrying vegemite loather (I know, it's un-Australian, sorry) I'm glad to have stopped making them. Schools here have cafeterias that serve full meals at lunch and it's not all pizza and chips. The kids are joyfully surfing the menus and I'm even more joyfully retiring my Vegemite knife.

Hanging socks on the washing line. Call me lazy, but there's nothing I hate more than pegging out what feels like hundreds of tiny socks on the line, only to have the rain begin so that I have to rush out and take them all down again. Americans are wedded to their tumble dryers, to the point that the lease for our rental property actually states that we are not permitted to hang washing outside. I'll have to admit that this conflicts with my green credentials to the point where I will probably have a sneaky clotheshorse parked outside my back door. However, I intend to follow it to the letter where socks are concerned.

Petty? Oh yes, every one. But you've got to laugh, because in the unlikely event that the Herald gave me an entire edition to fill with the things I miss about Australia, I could certainly make you cry.

Shona Snowden

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