SYDNEY, PUT ON SOME CLOTHES!
We Sydney-siders are in denial.
We’re proud of our outdoor way of life – all warm and sub-tropical. We like to think we live at the beach, in the pool, on the verandah, around the barbecue.
If a city wore clothes, Sydney would be in shorts and a T-shirt. Or a summer dress with sandals.
Melbourne? She’s all layers: overcoats, scarves, gloves and beanies.
But guess what? Mid-winter in the Harbour City is absolutely freezing. The minimum temperature is a single figure; the westerly winds are fresh and biting and I can’t help but wonder about my fellow Sydney-siders.
Why are so many of them under-dressed?
Coming out of the supermarket the other day, bracing myself against the wind, a large shapeless figure in black walked towards me. It was an older woman in a knee-length coat with a knitted woollen scarf wrapped several times around her neck. Ours was a brief encounter – she was leaving, I was arriving – yet she saw in me a fellow traveller. Another sensible woman. An enlightened one.
I was also wearing a buttoned-up coat, long enough to cover my bottom, and a scarf wound several times around my neck. (A friend told me recently he attributes his immunity to winter colds and flu to his constant wearing of scarves.)
The woman addressed me briefly as we passed each other. “Australians!” she said in an Italian accent, “They no wear warm clothes. Is cold today. They no wear proper things.”
“I know!” I said, in complete agreement. “Exactly!” I loved her immediately.
It’s something I’ve been on about for a while. At the radio station recently, young women came to work in summery tops and ballet flats. Ballet flats! No socks, no distance between the sole of a bare foot and the icy cold, sometimes wet, concrete pavement. What are they thinking?
Have they not yet learned to appreciate the simple joy of warm feet and sensible shoes?
I love the carefree confidence a pair of comfortable, rubber-soled, water-resistant shoes can give. It’s sad but true that one of my greatest pleasures is walking in the rain while staying warm and dry.
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