SNOB

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Hi, my name’s Ben and I am a Snob. I’ve probably always known that and being brought up in a very middle-class environment in the UK it’s almost a requirement. Saying that I also hold pretty liberal views (not the right-wing liberal party views of Australia) and try to understand both sides of an argument before taking a position but after last weekend I am seriously going to have to reassess my snobby value set.

The family and I have just spent one of those near perfect weekends that all parents and kids hope for. Thanks to the other, we had the opportunity to go to the Gold Coast (Queensland, Australia) and enjoy VIP access at the V8 race (think souped-up road cars) and whilst there visit some of the theme parks littered around this area of Australia.

When I knew we were going my snob alert went into def-con 1. I’m meant to be the cultured, well-read, inner city suburbanite who looks witheringly down at these activities but the Kids were keen and I’d never been so I thought what the-hey. The Gold Coast is one huge beach and holiday play ground. Us middle-class types tend to talk of it with derision much preferring some gee-gi little beach house with swanky cafes and pointless knick-knack boutiques. The problem was, I really liked it. Sure we stayed in a very well-appointed apartment, but the beach was gorgeous, the vibe was friendly and in our area of the beach we had some very nice eateries. Snob assumption number 1 obliterated.

My other big snobby opinion was about the V8 race. In Australia this is perceived as a very working class sport enjoyed by blokes in singlets, long goatee beards and with names like Brett and Baz. The reality is that it is a working class sport, verging on a religion for some, but it is bloody exciting. The speed, smell and roar of these highly engineered machines bombing it around a very tight city circuit was thrilling. I couldn’t believe how much I enjoyed it. The irony is that I don’t really enjoy driving myself and will do most things to avoid having to do it. This however was ripper. Top fun and another snobby assumption debunked.

The Theme parks were just as I expected. They are the same as any you would find in the States or Europe. They were well run, clean and not to busy with a good range of rides. I’ve always loved a good roller-coaster and the kids had a ball so no snobbery here.

There is one other area of my life where I have had to readdress my snobbery. Friends from southern England will howl in derision but since living in Oz I rather like Rugby League. For the uninitiated, in England you either like league or Rugby Union not both. It’s based on a north/south divide and rarely do you cross the line. When I came here I was very much in the union camp and held my nose very high in the air with regard to league but their has been a slow creep from vague interest to mutual respect to genuine pleasure in the game. I’ve brushed away 40 years of inbuilt geographic snobbery and looked at the game anew to see it for what it is – fast, athletic, aggressive and non-stop. I wouldn’t say I was a devotee but I now follow a team with good interest and will happily go to a game with honest excitement.

Some people, mostly my English friends, will say I’ve gone native and turned my back on our much-loved prejudices but when you have lived somewhere, other than your country of birth, for a while you start to see things for what they are and not what you think they might be. The reason V8, Rugby League and the Gold Coast are so popular is that they are great fun. No, they are not sophisticated and witty, but what they are is good honest entertainment with no airs and graces and I for one am a big fan.

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