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The Book of the Howlings of Ming, Seeker After Arcane and Esoteric Truths
Melbourne: Been in Melbourne just over a week now. I like it. It’s… 
25th-Dec-2005 09:23 am
Been in Melbourne just over a week now. I like it. It’s a lot smaller than Sydney and less exotic but while the latter struck me as a nice place to visit but not to live, Melbourne seems like a much more liveable place. Climate’s pleasantly warm and a lot less humid than, say, Malaysia. Prone to rapid changes though. One thing that was initially bugging me but took me a while to realise what it was: it suddenly struck me that the population was overwhelmingly white or oriental. Unlike, say, KL or London, darker faces were surprisingly rare. Almost like Hong Kong, with the white/oriental balance reversed!

As my sister’s been working, I’ve been dragging my parents all over central Melbourne. There’s a very good, pretty cheap, integrated public transport system, not that we’ve needed it that much as the centre is a bit like Amsterdam, you can walk pretty much everywhere. Highlights thus far include:

The Shrine of Remembrance, built for the First World War. Interestingly, the adjunct for Australia’s military operations since World War II lists both Malaya and Malaysia – that’d be the Emergency and the Confrontation with Indonesia – but also “Thai-Malay 1960-66”. Really not sure what that might be other than perhaps involvement in counterinsurgency operations near the Thai border? Also finally learned who Monash was (Monash University advertises aggressively in KL) – seems he was Australia’s most famous and successful General from the Great War, apparently mainly because he was one of the few on any side to realise that technology had changed the nature of warfare, probably because he came from an engineering background. One of these days, I’m going to end up somewhere with no military/martial attractions and I am going to be *so* screwed…

The Immigration Museum. Surprisingly open and honest about Australia’s past White Australia policies. One of the devices used to cover up its racial objectives was a dictation test for prospective immigrants, which could be delivered in any one of several European languages and multiple tests could be set until the candidate failed one! It was apparently also used on “undesirable” white immigrants too. Apparently some Czech dissident in the 20s or 30s knew too many languages and kept passing until they finally managed to nail him with a Gaelic test…

Healesville wildlife refuge – a short drive to the North-East of Melbourne, my sister drove us there on the weekend. Had lots of fun wandering around gawking at kangaroos, wallabies, koalas etc, even got to scratch a wombat on its stomach!

Anyway, had a most enjoyable, relaxed Christmas Day so far. Since Australian TV showed no signs of putting a Bond movie on, we played Goldeneye instead. Have a marker for a “major” Christmas present from my sister on account of my being a bit crap at suggesting what I might want. Reminds me of the grief Heather gave me around my Birthday...

Off tomorrow to Sydney for a few days before coming back to Melbourne for New Year. Already had a phone call from Ursula. Be superb to see her again. Heh. Seems paradoxically like only yesterday we were on our MBA courses and yet also a lifetime ago.

Other news:
I have a job offer, from that US telecoms analysis firm. Still much to iron out – current version of the offer is couched in US terms (essentially, I’d be UK [actually, non-US] employee number 1) – and there’s work to do turn it into something suitable for the UK. So far so good from first discussions though. Even the US 15 days holiday versus 25 for UK and contributory pension schemes were agreed to without argument. Makes me wonder what else I could have pushed for… Another small world thing – turns out the guy there knew of Renaissance and ended up speaking to the head of the London office of the strategy group offshoot about me. Turns out Bob was very positive – guess it never hurts to leave a good impression…

Also been told I should be getting another offer from the US business/tech consulting firm once I get back to the UK, according to the agent. Seems they’ve decided not to bother with the contract to permanent thing and simply start me as a full-time employee. Quite amused by this one. First encountered the agency back in 2000, when I was leaving Renaissance. I took a different job offer instead but he’s been in touch every year or so but nothing quite worked out. This time, his colleague said he’d recommended me. Flattered he still remembers me after all this time!

And, on top of that, first night in KL, I got a call at 2.30am local time from an agent I hadn’t heard from in years about a job at Ofcom. Seems they now want to see me the Monday after I get back.

So, seems like things are looking up on the jobs front. Rather amused that Kate has already stated intention to visit if I take up first offer and I do end up working in the US for a bit as has been discussed. Never mind I have made it clear that there is no guarantee I’d actually end up anywhere interesting...
25th-Dec-2005 10:41 am (UTC)
talking about military attractions-can you send me a list of all the miltary attractions in London so that I can go look at all of them...other than the obvious places like the Imperial War Museum...

and hope you enjoy the rest of your holiday :)
25th-Dec-2005 10:36 pm (UTC)
there's the Army museum. which wasn't bad. Last time I went it had a Redcoats exhibit, where me and juleskicks kept confusing the guards by being twenty-something girls who were going 'ooo, I didn't know *that* about the battle of so-and-so.' 'Okay, that is so the connection with *insert history fact here*.' Obviously they are not prepared for such things.
26th-Dec-2005 09:10 am (UTC)
I would like to point out that no one can truly be prepared for you :P
30th-Dec-2005 06:13 am (UTC)
Heh. Wonder what any staff would have made of Kate, Simon and myself in the English Civil War, modern and other sections we have been known to re-enact or have some other interest in!
30th-Dec-2005 06:12 am (UTC)
Back from Sydney. I'll second Heather's nomination of the National Army Museum and add the following:

RAF and Battle of Britain Museums in Hendon. Lots of Spitfires!
HMS Belfast, by Tower Bridge.
The Imperial War Museum also has a large collection of aircraft up at Duxford. Also on the same site is the USAF Museum which includes a genuine B-52!

I also have a little booklet back in London with various regimental museums which I'll dig up when I get back.

On my list of places I can't believe I still have not been to:

The Tank Museum at Bovingdon (Dorset, I believe)
The Fleet Air Arm Museum at Yeovilton (Somerset?)
25th-Dec-2005 10:33 pm (UTC)
If they offer you anywhere in the mid-west - specifically Kansas or Oklahoma - DON'T GO.
30th-Dec-2005 06:15 am (UTC)
OTOH, the mid-west, along with Alaska and Texas, are probably the only major regions of the US I've not been to yet!

You sound like you're speaking from bitter personal experience?
30th-Dec-2005 10:04 pm (UTC)
Parents spent four years there in the 70s, it was backwards then, and it hasn't changed since then...
30th-Dec-2005 10:13 pm (UTC)
Sounds like some parts of New South Wales and Victoria I've passed through recently. And these are the guys who refere to Queenslanders as hicks and to Queensland as the "Texas of Australia"!
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