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The Perils of Migration
by Gwen Boswell

I inwardly smile at some of the questions and behaviours of new migrants now, but when I think back to when I first arrived in Australia, I was just the same, rather vulnerable to say the least. Alas, migration can make you act and feel like a bit of twit on occasions. In my particular case, arriving from England, there was not even the added confusion associated with being unable to speaka the language.

One of the first things that struck me when we arrived was the way some of the ex-pats we met only wanted to point out the terrors of living here. So much so, that I was beginning to think my family had travelled 12,000 miles not for the sought after changed lifestyle, but to die from a very painful and probably slow death. The choices were endless for us, as we could be bitten by spiders, various snakes and be completely, or even half-eaten by a shark. Should our luck prevail and we manage to avoid the foregoing, there was always good old skin cancer to look forward to. Ay up, welcome to Australia.

Some of my first encounters with the Antipodean’s florae and fauna were certainly a source of amusement to others. Consider firstly, that I am city born and bred and most of the fresh food that I came into contact with in the old country, arrived in neat little packages from Sainsburys. I did actually know that some of it grew in fields or somewhere else where there was dirt and as I am not completely stupid, I also knew you needed water somewhere in the process.

Such urban ignorance backfired on me the day we moved into our new Aussie home. I ran in from the garden in a state of terror, screaming to my husband that there was something large and horrible at the back of the garden, under the green things. I said he would need to arm himself with a garden fork or something before venturing into the undergrowth to protect his family from the beast. (‘Always room for a bit of drama, thankyou).

Anyway, you can now move well back from the edge of your seat, as this particular drama is a fizzler. Oh yes, my husband certainly needed a garden fork for the thing in the garden, but only because it was a pumpkin. Hilarious I know, a grown woman running away from a pumpkin, but I had never given a thought to where pumpkin came from, or even that people actually eat it. In Birmingham, pumpkin just appeared in the shops every October for nasty faces to be cut out of them, to scare - was it witches away, or children to death – can’t quite remember?

Nowadays, as I am a seasoned ex-pat myself, I take on my early tormentor with gusto. (Who?). I invite the grotesque Cucurbita Pepo into my kitchen and when he is sitting unsuspecting on my bench top, I pounce on him from behind and cut him into pieces. Revenge is truly sweet, especially when sugar is added to the enemy and it’s made into a pie.