Something truly, awfully, horrifically terrible happened today. Something beyond anything I ever imagined could happen to me. Something that foreshadows the time of darkness and despair.
Today’s tale is not about how, for two consecutive days, the NDF got lost on public transport and took stupidly long routes to get home. This tale is not about how we walked for two long hours on Sunday morning round and round and up and down and over and under and across and around and back and forth trying to find our practice route to work and getting lost on streets that weren’t even within the range of the map we’d copied down. This isn’t about not being able to find our way to church and turning up late (again), or not finding a single face we recognise; this isn’t about blisters from shoes that don’t fit and hours of upsettingly disoriented trudging through a foreign city, bewildered and lost. This tale isn’t even about a first day of work that was confusing and intimidating and wearing and disheartening and not at all what we’d hoped for it to be.
Those are just details of life, unfortunate details about being new to This Land – but the terrible truth I stumbled across this evening is not one of those which will get better with time or experience. This, unfortunately, is my story.
…I snuggle down in the NDF’s pocket, happy she is walking so fast with such confidence after a good second day at work. The cold wind bites my nose and I duck down into her pocket to keep myself warm. My tail gets an awful shock of cold and I squeak – I thought I was safe in this warm pocket! – but realise it’s not such a bad thing when I discover that the cold comes to me in the form of a shiny dollar. The NDF and I can get a tiny piece of chocolate to celebrate the not-awful second day of work! Everything is right with the world! She tells me she needs to save her money but I beg and beg and tell her that she definitely deserves to celebrate after such a long few days. Besides, what’s half a dollar between friends? It’s just a tiny piece of yummy chocolate. She eventually concedes (it does not really take that much persuasion) and we jump into the newsagent’s next to the station, hunting down the chocolate. Big bars, medium bars… we trot quickly past those, we’re not that ignorant about the exchange rate. Normal sized bars – nope, still too expensive, but that’s okay, a dollar’s not worth that much, I guess. Tiny bars, tiny bars, aha! But here. Here my world stops turning. My vision fades. My tail twitches. I refuse to believe what I am seeing but the NDF is telling me sadly that it is true. It is true.
I cannot even buy a Freddo with a dollar.
Every dinosaur growing up in the UK knows that the Freddo is the universally accepted benchmark for economic downturn. But this? This isn’t just a downturn. This is a big black hole of Australian immorality and I have never been more willing to accept the criminal history of This Land until now.
Freddos in all their glory were ten pence, in the beautiful days of buying ten for a pound and claiming it as lunch among your schoolfriends (not that I was big enough to do that… but I dreamed a chocolatey dream of Freddos, good and true); it wasn’t too much of a stretch to see them climb to 12 pence because, hey, we’re getting older, we’ve got a tiny bit more money anyway. That’s cool Cadbury’s, we’ll still keep buying. Fifteen pence? Well, I guess, I’m quite fond of them, why the heck not. Twenty? Um… I suppose… if you really need the money, Cadbury’s…
But a dollar nineteen is too far. TOO. FAR.
(that’s, like, 72p, ish. Do you feel my pain, Britons? Do you? THERE IS PAIN)
So to make up for this torment, if you’re as emotionally exhausted by the end of this post as I am, here’s a picture of me chilling with the pals Rbaby gave me as a surprise leaving gift. She’s good at surprises.
I hope whatever comes after this is less traumatic.