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Oz Musings: How’s It Going?

Peter Clarkson tells of Aussie greetings - then takes a pop at the mighty Mozart.

To read more about Peter’s new life in Australia please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/oz_musings/

Every morning it’s the same thing. I arrive at work and am constantly asked “How’s it going?” How, exactly is WHAT going? T

his is one of the many formal greetings in OZ that will take the first time visitor by surprise. “How you doing?” is another. The main thing to remember when faced with such in depth personal grilling is that the person who is asking this question in all probability does not CARE! The fact is that over here the standard greetings we use in London, such as “Morning old chap!” and “Good day to you old bean!” have evolved into a standard greeting, much in the same way that the above English greetings gradually are evolving into “Hi”, “alright!” and “Would you mind moving your fat arses down the carriage!”

It is this evolution of the language that makes arriving for work seem more friendly as everyone sounds concerned about my health, well being and if the mysterious ‘it’ is still going smoothly. However don’t be tempted to start to tell how your life is going. You may be taken for a bit of a weirdo. Like a mad old man on the bus mumbling to himself. Australians will smile and slowly try and back away as you inform them that life could be better, you hate your flat and the dog has rabies. No the best resolution when faced with such impersonal questioning is just to respond with a positive, everything in my life is dandy thank you, “great!” and maybe follow up with “yours?” before walking away not even listening to the answer.

In the real world, Emma and Duncan have won a flat. Well that’s what it feels like when the estate agent phones to say it’s yours. They are moving into a flat just down the road from us. Across Barkly street off the main road. That is only five minutes walk away from us. If there was a pub in between it would be half an hour away but hey! They were extremely lucky with the flat,. We were off viewing places on Saturday and one in particular stood out. Emma applied for the place immediately but as there were approximately 50 to 60 other people looking round the same place she wisely decided to continue searching.

So we had a cultural weekend, on Friday we went to the Melbourne arts centre to watch “The Magic Flute”. The production was fantastic. The sets were spectacular and the singing, was strong from the central cast. There is however one small problem with the whole show. The ending!

Now people may not know the story of the Magic Flute so I will do a quick run through for you:

Bloke wandering in enchanted forest gets attacked. Luckily three buxom valkrie type chicks turn up and save him. Then he gets given a quest to save a princess, daughter of queen of forest no less, from a mad bloke who runs a cult. Comedy sidekick steps in to provide laughs at this point;. Oh he also gets a magic flute, though no real instructions as to what he can use it for. He falls in love with princess and when he finds out she cannot leave the cult, brainwashed presumably but head of cult is not really a bad guy, he decides to join the cult himself. Honourable mention goes to a black dude who gets a real bum rap. He gets whipped and imprisoned mainly because of his colour, he eventually tries to rape said princess. Main bloke has to pass some initiation tests to get into the cult and uses magic powers of flute to protect him and princess, who joins in the test for some unknown reason. They pass the test and are to be accepted into the cult, they are now allowed to be married.

Now the big twist; the black dude has gone to get the Princess’s mother and the three buxom warrior chicks. They enter the cult headquarters armed to the teeth and get ready to kick some operatic ass.

Suddenly the wedding party are all singing about the sun coming out, I am thinking this would be a good point to reign opera asswhup all over the place, and then they bow and bugger off.

Where is all the action, murder, mayhem and carnage? There is none, no they just disappear when the sun comes up. That’s it! At no point did anyone mention that the forest queen and cohorts were all vampires. This is the operatic equivalent to “..and then they woke up, the end” And this is Mozart! No wonder my school teachers wouldn’t let me use that ending. It’s been done before. Now you may think I am being harsh but let’s face it, it’s one of the most famous operas in the world. The tickets were hugely expensive, and all for an ending I could have written at school. Tarantino would not have let this opportunity get loose. People would have had body parts missing and there would have been crimson rivers across the stage.

Just a quick note for Kenneth Brannagh, when you get to this moment in your new shiny film have some kind of special effect to show a horrible end to the queen of the darkness. Make it absolutely certain that her and her vampiric cohorts are doomed. Just for me, please.

On a plus side the Saints beat Collingwood by 88 points, the biggest victory of their year and we are back on top of the league.


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