In a new ancient land
It’s 1983 and I am having to speak English all of the time but that’s good, because now I can! Three years earlier I had packed my bags, plus one wooden box filled with records, and moved to Australia. I did this all by myself, I left my mother and my younger brother in Switzerland, promising, that I would do all I could to ensure them a visa to migrate as well. They would join me five years later. I remember my English teacher in Switzerland telling me, that once you dreamt in another language you had mastered it. It actually only took me about three months to have my first English language dream, I was amazed! Mind you, I still couldn’t understand a bloody thing. I think it was more a case of culture shock, rather than me being a language genius. Besides, when I got off the plane in Melbourne, I first thought that I had travelled to the wrong country. As far as I could work out, no one spoke any recognisable English here! Australian lingo was a long shot from the nice Oxford style English they tried to teach me in the evening school back in Switzerland.
One of my first jobs was as a delivery driver for a French bakery, the place was run by an erratic, always hung-over French man who simply gave me the job, because I wasn’t an aussie. Suited me just fine plus, I learned to drive a small truck on the wrong side of the road in a big new city. What could possibly go wrong! Besides managing to have a small crash on my first day, all went well! In fact I really loved the job, I was out for most of the day driving around and taking in my new world. And then there was the car radio, I discovered a small public station, that was obviously the cities lefty voice. It not only helped me to hone my language skill, I also received an education in humanitarian issues. And if it wasn’t for 3CR I may have never have heard of Ivor Cutler, the great Scottish poet. I had been a reggae fan for a number of years but there was one sound I had never heard of before; contemporary Koori music. A mixture of reggae, rock and protest music all held together with the ancient sound of a didgeridoo! This was a real eye and ear opener for me.
Melbourne had a great live music scene and I was fortunate enough to live only 5 staggers and 3 rolls from a wonderful music venue, run mostly by Maori bikies. It was here that I discovered my soundtrack for most of the early 1980’s. I saw this band a couple of times and loved their energy, commitment and passion. No Fixed Address are now considered an iconic Australian band and this song is bonafide Aboriginal anthem.
No Fixed Address ‘We have survived’