my education continues

The girls were champions on the fifteen hour flight over, although I noticed as the sun rose over the Pacific that Julia had cut a new tooth. She screamed her head off in customs and immigration until a kind official lady took pity on us and sent us through a back door, skipping at least forty minutes of queuing. Thank you for ever, kind official lady.

Sydney is as beautiful and imponderable as ever. I woke before dawn and listened to cicadas, currawongs, crows, kookaburras and rosellas singing in the trees outside. What would my life have been like if I had never left? What would it be like if we came back? LP Hartley said “The past is a foreign country;” for expats this is the literal truth, and the longer you stay away, the more foreign your homeland becomes.

Last night was, unexpectedly, a delight. My mother and father came to dinner, so the girls feasted with both parents and all four grandparents. I quaffed champagne and was reminded, again, that it is a grave mistake to underestimate my mother. I confessed that I’d only just learned that Dad’s old rocking chair was a classic of mid-century design and that all their teak furniture, which I despised because it wasn’t ornate Victorian, was chosen with excellent taste.

Mum said: “What I really wanted was one of those fantastic project homes – you know the ones -”

Richard: “Pettit and Sevitt.”

“Exactly,” said Mum. “I loved those.”

“Well of course,” said Richard, “they were absolutely wonderful houses.”

For USonians, the parallel is with the gorgeous Eichlers. Let the record show that my mother has always been awesome, and that in the years when I thought otherwise I was an idiot.

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