culture shock – traffic

No matter what traffic jams we experience here, nothing is as bad as Dublin on a bad day or London on any day. Dreadful traffic here constitutes a ten minute delay. Anything worse is headline news on TV that night. Most of the time at weekends we don’t even bother switching on the car stereo as we are hardly in the car long enough on any journey to bother.

Australians do love their cars, though. I admitted the other day to not having washed our car for over four months: I was confronted with a wall of incomprehension by colleagues who religiously valet their cars every weekend, usually driving to the local car wash where they pay to have somebody else do it while they have a real coffee while they wait (see Food and Wine above).

Personalised number plates are ubiquitous. People of every age soup up their normal suburban hatchbacks and saloons: under-car purple neon lighting, blacked-out windows, huge decals, “sports” exhausts (meaning specially designed to be noisy) adorn the vehicles of forty-something blokes who should know better. There is no age limit to burning people off at traffic lights or doing spectacular U-turns on dual carriageways. It is a nation of boy racers (and that’s only the sheilas).

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