The final straw came one grey day in May this year. A gorgeous british bull dog that my doggy agency used to care for, posted a twitter video of himself, learning to surf, on a sunblasted Australian beach. His owner and he looked gorgeous and so much healthier and leaner than when I last saw them over a year ago. Smiles 3 foot wide, splashing about in the surf, the dog was a natural and cleraly loving every second! As I headed into Chelsea (wearing my fleece in May!), in the usual heavy traffic, a full 18 months since I last wore a bikini, had a BBQ or entertained with bare feet, i began to wonder what was stopping me from moving too.
I whittled it down to a few things: Missing my Family. Missing my Friends. Scariness of starting again. And of course, having watched 'Neighbours' as a kid, I was also concerned about Australian arrested development at 1970 in relation to fashion, entertainment and shops. Sorry Australia, but it's true. And spiders. Seriously BIG spiders. But that's nothing that Skype, an open mind, retro dress sense, cheap air fares and a bit of hypnosis can't fix, right?
Brits who make the move apparently complain that the TV is awful, and they soon discover why. No one watches it because they are too busy living! You're more likely to be at the local BBQ on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday night having actual real human contact as opposed to scrolling through TV channels searching for entertainment. I barely watch TV, but am hampered from going out as much as I would like by funds... and it's rarely outdoor weather here which means entertainment is rarely that cheap!
Australia is pretty backward compared to London in some ways. Fashion, music, art, literature, developments in technology, music... it all happens here. We Londoners are on a quest to find something, ever evolving, while Australia relaxes in the sunshine, unconcerned by their unsophisticated ways. They may not be the centre of the action, but being in London, for most ordinary people, isn't either. It's an illusion that we all cling to. We suffer information overload. We are like helpless junkies craving the next advancement, the newest fad. We blinker ourselves to the reality. As poverty in this country spirals out of control, we kid ourselves that we are living with privileges on the cutting edge of culture, and that helps us put up with the stress and awful traffic, inflated prices and miserable weather. Attendance at churches among young London people has started to increase exponentially as a confused young adult population flock to Alpha courses in search of happiness. Anti-depressant prescriptions are sky high. Everywhere around us people are numbing themselves. The majority of us know we will never be able to afford our own home and will never be able to stop working. Retirement isn't being provided for and a scary future lies ahead, it's no wonder we don't' want to think about it.
Even for the British haves, it's not a picnic in London. The rich unsmiling housewives who have eons of time to kill getting blow drys and wondering who their husbands are being kept busy by. With homes in London and the country, more hired help than most of us have had hot dinners, they need not lift so much as a finger; but apart from a few fun loving exceptions, they don't seem happy either. Status anxiety is rife. Desperately building a perfect image, material one up manship, determined to be admired, the anonymous rich are occupied, vigilantly thwarting perceived threats to their status and money and looking for someone to blame for their unhappiness. Status anxiety is, I'm told, less prevalent in countries where the weather promotes being outdoors and getting a vitamin D sunshine boost. Hardly surprising. Grey, cold London is isolating most of the year.
As for me, I work really hard, and I rent a nice ground floor of a house in a beautiful place, but I'm wondering if these things will matter when I'm 84 and living in the gutter as I will be unable to have saved up any money for a home at this rate. Will I look back and think 'thank goodness I spent my life busting a gut to pay my bills in London'? Or will I think 'wow you are an idiot who wasted life on the treadmill?'. My job doesn't create anything, there is no end product. That's why I love to write when I can. I guess it's leaving some trace that I existed behind. Though I enjoy looking after animals, I loathe the commuting, the weather, and the stress of London. I run to keep the stress away, and my knees are starting to complain. Moving to the countryside is something I've been aiming for since I can remember; I've always loved the outdoors, and even remember being appalled by the concrete jungle that is central London, as a young child.
Australia (forgive the ridiculous obviousness of this statement) is hot! YES Sunshine makes us happy. Alcohol dependency, prescription drug use, mental health problems, are all far more concentrated the higher above the equator you go. Northern European countries that get the least light have highest problem levels, while the sunny equator sees a very small occurrence comparatively. It seems we humans, like flowers, need sun light to grow.
When I consider things I love doing, they are all outdoors. These include, in no particular order, being with animals and riding horses, surfing, reading, hanging out with friends, gardening, cooking and writing. And so Australia is calling me and my dogs. Gonzo already has a life jacket, dusty and unused in the shed. My work visa application is on my desk. Would my friends and family understand?