Having an Australian Aunt staying with us has proved quite a challenge in the entertainment stakes. We’ve tried as best we can to think of English things to do and experience – things which she would not have back home.
We took her to a village tea-shop and sampled scones with clotted cream and jam, we visited garden centers and flower shows (I hate them, but needs must), and we’ve gone for walks in the woods and enjoyed picnics by the river.
“This is not like the bush” she said in her distinctive loud accent which can be heard for miles around, “back home our picnics consist of a bonfire by the billabong with a good chunk of meat roasting; not triangular cucumber sandwiches and tea. I should have brought the amber nectar!” Other picnickers looked in our direction and smiled coyly.
Whilst I agree with her last sentiment, I hasten to explain that we are trying to re-create English type things to do … not an Australian barbie in the outback.
A friend of ours is a member of an operatic society and they put on their version of The Mikado by Gilbert and Sullivan at the local village hall. So we decide to go and support her, and also as a night out for Aunt Gertrude.
When we arrived at the venue Auntie said “It isn’t the Sydney Opera House, is it cobber?”
“No it isn’t Auntie,” I replied through gritted teeth, “it is a small village hall with a maximum capacity of 100 people; and a production by a small amateur troupe!”
Surprisingly, she enjoyed the amateur production.
The next day we took her to a car boot sale. This is a British tradition whereby people fill the boot of their cars with unwanted knickknacks and go to an open field where they sell their goods to other people. A bit like a yard sale or a garage sale but in cars.
I stayed in my car listening to the radio whilst they went out bargain hunting. After an hour they returned and Auntie was excited having bought a genuine “Shakespeare toilet roll holder”. It was made of brass, looked old and cost her £5.
“Look at this dunny roll paper holder …” she said with glee, “belonged to the great bard himself too, sport!”
I explained as politely as possible that the modern commercial toilet paper with perforations originated in the 19th century, with a patent for roll-based dispensers being made in 1883. So it’s unlikely it belonged to Shakespeare.
“But it has his initials on it, cobber!” she insisted.
The letters WS were rather scratched and damaged and looked more like WC rather that the poet’s initials. I said nothing so as not to deflate her bubble. She said she’ll put it proudly in her toilet back home.
That evening, to celebrate, she suggested we go out to somewhere expensive. Never mind the cost; she will pay. So we went to the local garage and filled the car tank with fuel.
I then took the family to a Greek restaurant; which we all enjoyed.