Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Dear Adelaide, wo

Dear Adelaide,
after spending eight days with you, I can now confidently say Billy Joel did not have you in mind when he wrote those immortal words "don't go changing to try and please me..."
Nothing, in fact, has changed in that quaint little city for years; but unlike that Noo Yawker with a penchant for ebony, ivory and Christie Brinkley, I am decidedly pleased about that.
There are the four terrace ambassadors of the points of the compass, there are the old stone cottages with their prickly brush fences, there are the gnarly trees wearing leaves of burnt orange and pale yellow as autumnal coats...coats so bloody necessary for all living things in this city at a time of year when the temperature plummets faster than the sun at about 3pm each day.
And there is the delicious coffee, the Italian wood oven bread and the oakiest red wines that carry the same labels as the ones I drink at home, further north and in more tropical climes; but ones that seem to taste better when the chill in the air is blowing at you straight off the Antarctic.
There are the gorgeous old pubs on every street corner, the Pale Ales flowing from their taps, the wide open streets - even in the city, and the pasties and iced coffee from my memory.
There's that landmark, and that college I used to travel past on the bus every day...and that fountain in Victoria Square, and that funny little shop with the red awning. God! That awning is still the same as it was 15 years ago!
Funny though, it all seems smaller. Perhaps because a severe bout of holiday eating has made me bigger. Much bigger.
Yes, and there is the Woglish* spoken by the Italian and Greek-descended peeps...Dom and Con and Mario talking in that expressive, Alpha Male brogue about their cousins, their Monaros and this chick called Tina they met at some neon-lit club last Thursday.
(* No offence intended)
And they are still wearing gold chains, white t-shirts that deserve a spot on the Napi-San ads, jeans and Adidas jackets. Nothing changes.
Here, thank god, is football. No, not soccer, although that would have been a nice segue from the Wog* boys I was just talking about. (* Seriously)
No, I mean AFL...Australian Rules, a game so great they named it Australian, not like some wimpy "league". Haha.
But here in Adelaide, of course, is family. That hasn't changed and that's why it's so nice to go back.

In other news, and writing the word "segue" has caused me to pause, reflect and ruminate on another strangely spelled word: "whoa".
You know this one, right? It's very Wayne's Worldy..."Whoa Garth, is that Heather Locklear?" or indeed, Keanu Reeves from Bill and Ted's, simply "Whoa..."
My point is this: phonetics goes out the window with these words, and many others in this strange little language we call English.
Look at "segue" and expect to say "seg", or even "seg-yew". Show me an accent on the e if you want me to craft an "ay" sound with my mouth; tell me it's French or Spanish to justify this weird pronounciation!
Look at "whoa" and expect to say "wo-a". I can sort of see where you are going here, with a whoa as in boat. But there ain't no helpful guiding consonant after your whoa to give me any freaking idea about what the hell is going on. So in future, please just limit your whoas to "wo". That's the sound we make, that's the sound you are implying, that's all you need!

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