Wholly unremarkable

One of the things that took us by surprise when we arrived in Australia was how unremarkable our tale seemed to be to others.

Compared to our arrival in Denmark as new migrants, which was greeted with interest and more than a little puzzlement, our arrival in Australia was largely treated with, well disinterest.

For a while it troubled us. Here’s how the conversation would go:

Me: Hi, we’re new to the area.

Stranger: Right. Where’d you come from.

Me: Well, originally from London but we had ten years in Denmark.

Stranger: Right.

Whereas in Denmark it would go more like:

Me: Hi, we’re new to the area.

Stranger: Oh, but you’re not Danish.

Me: No, English.

Stranger: So you’re married to a Dane then?

Me: No, my wife’s English too.

Stranger: So what are you doing in Denmark?

Me: I came for work but for the adventure too.

Stranger: But why?… (and so on)

The American author and public speaker Seth Godin might have something to say about all this. He published a book a few years ago called ‘Purple Cow’. In it, he talks about how to make your business stand out from the crowd. To do so, he argues, you need to be remarkable in it’s literal sense — worthy of remark.

To illustrate his point, he explains that when you are out for a drive in the country, you might comment the first time you see a cow, but once they become fairly ubiquitous, you stop commenting on them and eventually stop noticing them. However, if you were to see a purple cow, you’d probably find that remarkable and say something about it.

So, while new migrants to Denmark are a matter of some curiosity, new arrivals in Australia are as common as grains of sand in a desert, or cows in the country.

Our story might be remarkable to us, but to everyone else it’s just the wallpaper of Australia.  Nearly, everybody’s from somewhere else, so it’s just not worth talking about.


8 thoughts on “Wholly unremarkable

  1. Which doesn’t make it uninteresting! It’s still a major upheaval to immigrate and I find it astounding that people aren’t interested (in either the process or the back story).


    • I think it lacks rarity value. Migration stories are ten a penny here, so to some extent it feels vain to keep banging on about it, especially when you think how hard it was for the settlers of previous generations. I suppose as a writer, I’m used to curiosity and it always catches me off guard when I encounter an absence of it.


  2. To me you are remarkable, forget about what they say, they have no idea what you accomplished before, during and after the move. But we know how you juggled your life and managed to come out the other side, literally, the other side of the world. Hugs


    • Aah, thanks Amanda. It’s funny, but it’s such a big thing to us personally, but such a small story against the others in the country. Still it’ll be a big part of our family history for others to pass along, eh?


  3. Trish says:

    That’s possibly more true of Canberra than anywhere else. If you’d moved to somewhere like Bendigo or Mount Gambier (random, regional) you would’ve raised a few more eyebrows.


    • Probably. We had a funny encounter in Queensland not long after we arrived when someone asked where we’d moved from and, when we said Denmark, he said: “Jeez, that’s a long drive.” It turned out he thought we meant the town of Denmark, in WA. Now when asked, we say: “Denmark. The country.”

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s