The Pommy with a Jobby in Melbourne

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April 9th 2010
Published: April 17th 2010
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Wow. All of this writing about the places I’ve been, the people I’ve met, the things I've done and not one word about what I do from Monday to Friday seven-and-a-half hours every day; Correction: make that twelve hours of my day if I count the haphazard Melbourne Transport “system”. Yes. I’m talking work.

Data monkey

Data-entry! For a university! But not any old data monkey lark mind - I locate then input research publications online and since my previous job roles have been variants of finding research; writing about research; building services for this research; I've been described as an asset. My only concern (read: not much of one) is that I’m away from a ‘proper’ job and not actually developing many skills; sure there's definite ‘experience’ but nothing on the personal development side of things. I'm worrying too much - I should be grateful because despite suffering long periods of staring at a screen it's seriously piss-easy work.

My first day at my new job and I’m brought into a room where people are sat on chairs in a circle. In the middle of the floor lies a large piece of paper with the following words written on it:

How might we engage better with:

Each other
Our manager
Wider university

Now, I thought I had escaped staff-development arse such as this - being a a lowly data gimp and a casual no-less but also because it's my first bloody day! Clearly not. I gave my best shot of fluffy organisation speak anyway, somewhere along the lines of 'put a sign up to the university from the train station' - I got lost on my first day. Petty, I know.

Anyway, I’m typing stuff up and sort of pissing about too (look at this!) and the only thing to distract me is the swaggering posterior of a young student who works there part-time. Seriously, I think it’s the highlight of my day when she seductively pushes a trolley-full of books past my desk. Hips, arse, hips arse, hips arse, legs. She's a bit aloof as all good-looking women have a right to be but I'm also fixed - nay chained - to a computer screen so it's a bit difficult to talk to the loveliness that keeps hovering past me.


Anyway, the money is pretty good
My crummy tramMy crummy tramMy crummy tram

on Elizabeth Street and Lonsdale Street
- I know that it’s definitely much better than working my bollocks off, listening to a silly bollocks talking bollocks, for bollocks pay - in a (yes, you guessed it ) a bar - that’s bollocks.

I think I’ll have enough money saved for my big old return home which will begin before my Visa runs out. It'll be a trip via the People's Republic of Iran (hello president Ahmadinejad!), Armenia, Azerbaijan and other barely heard-of trans-Caucasian countries then through Turkey a hop over the Bosporus into Europe and up through the Balkans and eventually the UK.

The only serious down-side is the travelling on the creaking public transport system here.

Tram fare - Two hour daily $3.80 - daily $6.80.
Train fair - $12.80 return

In my negotiations for the job I managed to obtain permission whereby I didn't have to work with the team at the campus outside Melbourne but could work at a campus in Melbourne instead. I agreed to come in when I was needed - about once a week or so - but if I'm honest it’s an absolute pain. Victoria’s second biggest city and despite being on the Phillip Bay
My crummy tram 2My crummy tram 2My crummy tram 2

on Elizabeth Street and Lonsdale Street
- is Bogan central and dull. Moreover my journey is now tram down Sydney Road and then a second tram across to Southern Cross Station and then the V Line train (an hour journey). Victoria’s trains (called V Line of all things! Yeh up-yours too sunshine!) only run hourly, so if I’m late at all for whatever reason - I’m late by an hour. But first I have to get that train ticket from the ticket counter. You can imagine the queue at 7.45 in the morning. Why-oh-why they can’t manufacture a flipping ticket machine like the rest of the civilised world I do not know.

Anyway, the return journey from this dull campus often takes me two hours to get home. Oh, and if the train is running late and they often are - they don’t even bother to announce it any more. “Ladies and gentlemen, just to let you know that our next stop will be Lorna. Our next stop will be Lorna.” I hate Lorna.

I used to like the trams - I still do in a way, I’ve never lived in a city where they existed before. Croydon doesn’t count either; having to rely on them too get to work means I now have a love-hate relationship with them. There are nine different types of trams in Melbourne - form the swish, modern and spacious to the cramped, rickety and old - guess which one I have to get? They’re slower than buses; lacking in space and rather noisy; but they are at least efficient and on time (but not in the evening rush hour). Passengers are required to pump their Metcard into a machine but as there doesn’t seem to be any conductors or ticket inspectors around - who’s to force you? I suspect quite a few people see it makes financial sense not to pay and risk it until a gang of inspectors jump on and charge the 200 dollar fine. interestingly, these corpulent lazy green-shirted uglies have the power of arrest here - the power of arrest indeed! They'd get a karate chop if they try that with me. Which is why I often pay.

Quit complaining! Why don’t I cycle to work I hear you ask? Well I did a trial run and it took me about an hour and twenty minutes - it’s far and I would need to buy winter clothing for the trip - and besides it’s not my bicycle. Boo-hoo.

Despite all of my moaning, the trams compel the different strata of society to mix: on my route there are students, Greek Aussies, Indians, Asians, white collar, blue collar, oh and more Indians and Asians. However, there’s just way too many people talking on their mobile phones - and not normal people either. The kind who talk about you as if you're not there as happened in my case, “the guy who’s sleeping in front of me”; the kind who are loud; smug; love the sound of their own voice and/or existence. I want to punch them HARD in the face. Once, some poor guy was weeping for the entirety of my journey on a packed (as usual) tram: “I don’t wanna go to Coburg! I hate Yarra Trains!.... I don’t like the trams!” Poor guy, I know EXACTLY how he felt.

Work peeps

Enough of the trains. How am I doing with the Aussies at work? Wwwwwwell, pretty good so far; I’ve not had any major dramas, so to speak. At the Melbourne campus I’m not part of anyone’s team so I keep to myself as those around me are busy doing their “library things”. I’ve therefore had difficulty in remembering everyone else’s names - mainly because I was introduced to EVERYONE at the beginning and haven’t met them again since. For some reason they remember me as I’m reminded by Unknown Person X cheerily saying “hello J___n” and me smiling back blankly! I do know 'George' though - a young lad from Enfield, who was studying here but then, took a year off and wasn’t kicked out of the country! We sometimes take breaks together but that’s about it; strange how the English/British don’t really congregate together in Oz but we’ll see when the World Cup starts in June.

Back in the dull campus outside Melbourne it’s a different matter as I’m part of a team that does similar data work. My boss is pleasant and nice and who despite being nearly retirement age still has an English accent. She left her native Kingsbury with her family way back when she was 16 years old. Yes, Kingsbury - which I know well having grown up in the area and she was born in Honeypot Lane of all places - my first job was in the now government buildings. How’s that for coincidences? Her ‘Anglo’ Aussie accent seems to draw notice by others in the team - I'm not sure if it's resented or not. Hers is one of three in OZ - according to Bill Bryson - cultivated, used by about 10 percent of people and sounding very like British English; broad, a working-class accent used by a similar number of people (notably Paul Hogan); and general, an accent falling between the two and used by the great mass of people.

Anyway, the rest of the group is middle aged Aussie women - all perfectly fine - but there’s no sexiness there. The deputy of lovely Englishwoman and who we all go to with problems is a typically gobby Aussie woman - short on eloquence but full of good cheer. I don’t 'get' her and she doesn’t 'get' me - especially because of the low-brow “pommie” this and “pommie”” that. The vast majority of Aussies I’ve met are respectful of their colonial and cultural masters. 😉

Anyway, that's what working is like here at the moment. If you’ve any questions email me them - it'll save me from the monotony!

What I'm reading:
An Area of Darkness by V S Naipaul, (1964) (this bit on India - it's a bit different to Melbourne)

"I had seen the starved child defecating at the roadside while the mangy dog waited to eat the excrement. I had seen the physique of the people of Andhra, which had suggested the possibility of an evolution downward, wasted body to wasted body. Nature mocking herself, capable of remission. Compassion and pity did not answer; they were refinements of hope. Fear was what I felt. Contempt was what I had to fight against; to give way to that was to abandon what the self I had known. Perhaps in the end it was fatigue that overcame me. For abruptly, in the midst of hysteria there occurred periods of calm, in which I found that I had grown to separate myself from what I saw." p. 48


17th April 2010

I thought your post was quite funny, so there is not much to Melbourne then? how long have you been there?
18th April 2010

hi I've been here in Melbourne since end of January and you'll see from my other posts on Melbourne that there is 'much' to the city. Cultural side of the city - a post is to come.

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