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Saturday, August 6, 2016

Conned again?

 

Having left behind my Lederhosen and button accordion and swapped my socks-and-sandals for a pair of thongs, I arrived in Australia on the 6th of August 1965.

Was it a good deal? Well, it wasn't as funny as all that and it wasn't as wonderful as in this Youtube clip but after more than fifty years I have no regrets.

Not that anyone ever emigrates because of the success they've enjoyed at home. No one ever says, "Well, I have a happy home life, I'm rich and I have many friends - so I'm off." The only reason anyone has for going to live in another country is because they've cocked everything up in their own.

Being just nineteen years old, my opportunities for cocking things up had been rather limited by the time I left; in fact, my only - and certainly biggest - cock-up until then had been that I allowed myself to be born to parents who were so dirt-poor that they packed me off to work as soon as I had reached the minimum school-leaving age of fourteen.

If I had become what I was intended to be, I would probably have been desperate, because I would have had regrets. You know, like you work in an office and you say, "One day I will go to see the world." Instead, I went to see the world and I said, "Maybe one day I will be obliged to work in an office."

Some people see and some people don't see; much the same way they hear music or they hear noise, they only use their vision so as not to bump into trees or fall into a ditch. My vision was more than that and it led me to emigrate to Australia.

Mind you, it took many years to lose the immigrant mentality, to lose the sense that you're a guest in somebody else's country and have to work extra hard to earn your place.

But even though I grew up speaking German and thinking in German and dreaming in German, and then had this sudden shift to English, I think it's no longer doing funny things with my brain as I now feel being an Australian as much as I felt being a German all those years ago.

For the full story, click here.