As we all know snap decisions and first impressions are something we are taught to avoid and treat with caution. I believe these are felt to be high risk strategies likely to play into prejudice and preconception.
I must also admit that particular piece of advice is one I have always been very keen to ignore.
I hope I am bright and balanced enough not to believe any stereotypical view on a nation, its peoples or indeed much else. However, they can and have provided a useful shorthand on occasions.
I have certainly learned to trust my first impressions. Although they can and have been wrong, as I have grown older the instances in which this has been the case has continued to reduce.
So, it is with some trepidation and self-censorship that I make some very quick judgements about Australia based on little more than 24 hours. Indeed, as I say that, it’s obvious that any belief these would be insightful or accurate are specious. However, they were so counter intuitive and strong that they were worth recording.
It appeared (at least in the early 1990’s) that if it were not for Australian students it would have been impossible to get a drink in any bar in Earls Court or the West End of London. However, I’m ashamed to say these superficial views are so far from the experience I have had in recent months. My first 48 hours in Australia have been refreshing, charming and deeply reassuring about the human condition.
So often, the Australian persona we have in mind can be brash, outspoken and rather unworldly-wise. Nothing could be further from the truth and I find myself in a country where I feel very much at home.
So far, the limited number of people I have met have been honest, direct, friendly and with a real interest to engage in conversation. Parents appear to have an unusually refreshing belief that they have at least some passing responsibility for their children.
Who knows what the next few days have in store, but I think the UK could certainly learn (or perhaps re-familiarise themselves) some basic manners, class and charm from their Australian cousins.