This time of year makes me a bit reflective, sad often, as well. For one reason or another, I have remembered how I left Australia nearly 11 years ago. I left because I was running away. I emigrated and I wasn't sure where I was going. Everywhere else was glamourous - especially London, New York and Paris. So that's where I was headed to find my new home.

There are many reason why I chose to live in London. And on some level I chose London because I wanted to go (back) to the Imperial seat. I knew that if I lived in London, it would erase any of my foreignness in Australia. I might never be considered a dinky-di Aussie but I could go one better than that, I could become English.

I remember how I intended to lose my cultural heritage. I knew that english people wouldn't be able to read me as anything but Australian. They would be shocked to learn that Australians could be Jews as well so I figured I could lose the whole cultural baggage very easily. But wierdly, (or not) I ended up sharing a house with 3 girls, 2 of whom were Jewish, also somewhat estranged from their community. I felt familiar with them, an affinity, that I just didn't have with 'ordinary' english people. I still feel more comfortable with people who do not comfortably form part of dominant culture - people excluded by class, ethnicity, sexuality...

I remember also being aware, pleased, that I would lose my tan in London. I would become pasty and white. I had hoped I would become that blue-white alabaster skin that real english women have. I was ambivalent about my tanning skin. It was great in one way. There are a lot of media images of beautiful tanned bodies, but there are also a lot of images of purity and beauty around whiteness and I never had that kind of skin. There are also many images of that ultimate signifier of white beauty - blonde hair.

Australia is a 'blonde culture'. Many people (lads as well) dye their hair to achieve that sun-kissed look. It's ok to have a tan, if you're blonde, but if you're dark, you should have pale, anglo-celtic skin. If you don't, you get the questions: where are you from? [you're not from here are you?] Are you a Greek? or Italian? [which was also code, you're hairy, dark and ugly]. In Australia, when I grew up, (and it might be still true now) Greek and Italian kids were known as wogs. Anglo-celtic kids are skips (after 'Skippy' the bush kangaroo). You don't have to be a linguist to recognise the significance of names. Disregarding the offensiveness quotient for just a moment, one name is 'in' or 'of the country' and the other is definitely 'out'. A wog, in Australia, is also the name for a flu or cold bug.

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