I DIDN’T realise how much I stereotype people till I moved to Australia. Not being able to place someone’s class or region by their accent, and add that ingredient to the great pudding of presumption, throws me.
From an early age in England I could distinguish between lower middle, middle middle and upper middle (and whether you were putting it on), which home county you were from, what your dad did for a living and how you held your fork, just from your voice.
Over here I can sometimes tell if you’re from Adelaide and that’s it.
‘Welcome’ by Lynette Wallworth is a video installation at Melbourne’s Immigration Museum, depicting life-size groups of people of varying nationalities and walks of life (including Oxfam workers and Pies supporters), alternately looking welcoming and threatening.
Without an audience I find myself laughing and grinning like a loon at all the clips of people cracking up and embracing. I’m not taking the hostile ones personally, so I’m not that bothered (although it is disturbing when the women scoop up their children and glare at you), but it’s interesting seeing a gang of Asian teenagers, say, go from ne’er-do-wells to goofy geeks in my perception in a matter of seconds.
Keeper? Yes. I’m going to smile warmly at everyone tomorrow and see if they smile back. They better, or they’ll see what a face-like-a-smacked-arse looks like.