TWO weeks after I’d escaped London to become a scuba diving instructor, I met a bloke from the West (Sydney that is, not West London yet!) One year later we’re married, another year Bella’s in toe and a couple more years later, we’re all in London. Where else to settle but Shepherd’s Bush, where my family seems to inhabit one half, Australians the other. And of course, we discover the Walkabout.
Today, Sunday 6 October, it took quite some explaining to find a baby-sitter. “No, Lawza is not a raving alcoholic – just because he’s going to the pub at 9am on Sunday. I just happen to be running a half-marathon (my last ever) whilst he goes to the Walkie – in his case really for the last time.”
Finally, I step in, medal around my neck, race number on my vest. Fellow English women, it seems to be the perfect pulling outfit for Aussie blokes. Later Lawza agrees: “we like our women active!”
Still high on endorphins, desperate to join in on Gangnam Style, I discover I have literally entered the Pub With No Beer. I find Lawza and rapidly figure out he must be the one who’s drunk them dry.
Everyone’s dancing, sure most are pretty drunk but even the bloke with the girl’s beanie on his bits makes me smile. Going in there, I’ve probably broken the ‘no parents’ unwritten rule but it’s always given us our good honest Aussie fun, seeing end of the night drunk hugs rather than fights. And anyway, we’ve always loved our ‘whose going home with who’ guessing game. Just beware people! Two years on, you might also find yourself married with a baby.
The Walkie was also somewhere for Lawza when he felt the shock of his first London winter combined with Christmas without his family. It’s on one of those drizzly nights that he met a guy from Melbourne, VB in hand, supporting the team competing against his, Tooheys New in hand. Sadly, he made the cardinal sin of letting Mr Melbourne become his best mate who of course left us – with the kettle and Lonely Planet he couldn’t fit into his suitcase.
And Bella and I already miss watching all the Aussies and Kiwis swaying by on Sundays in fairy outfits or neon skirts. Some translation was required when she overheard Lawza tell me the men in massive nappies were also coming back from church.
As our Walkabout closes, the Bush swaps its loud sharing flats for loft conversions; drunken Antipodeans for parents with FTs. My question is whether some of the young guys in over-sized nappies have now become the new parents at our school gates.