The day James made a grown man cry

12 Sep

From a London flat to an apartment in Sydney via various hotels, honeymoon resorts and temporary accommodation, we have done a fair amount of moving in the last few weeks. Today, however, should be the last of it – for a while at least – as we became proud residents of a unit in Rose Bay and finally have a place we can call home.

It is a huge relief to be out of the hotel room and not living out of a suitcase, which has been a common theme for the last month!

The defence service arranged for us to borrow a furniture pack, so we are now kitted out with a bed, sofas, a TV, fridge, washing machine and all the other bits and pieces we need and don’t yet have.

The colour scheme is pretty monochrome and beige so we’re looking forward to injecting some colour into the place – roll on the sea freight arriving. I never thought I’d say I’d be glad to see those rugs and pictures again after lugging them up three flights of stairs in London.

To celebrate we went and had a coffee at (one of) the local coffee shops round the corner. It was sat in the sun, outside the ‘Art of Coffee’, with us passing the phone between us to sort out the broadband installation, that I got chatting to Gianni.

Originally from Italy, he has lived here for over forty years and used to run a local gelateria in the area. His daughter is an opera singer and judging from the number of times he stopped to greet someone, there aren’t many people he doesn’t know in the neighbourhood. His chair at the coffee shop pretty much has his name on it.

Once off the phone, James started talking about Italy and after a few  words in Italian, the tears just started to pour (from Gianni that is) and whether this was some indication of what he thought of James’ Italian we’ll never know, but we like to think he just grew a bit nostalgic.

He kept hugging James and stroking his face and it all got quite emotional. As he continued to sob and pat James as if he was a long lost son we all grew a little bit teary. At this point, if we had been in England, there would probably have been some awkward, embarrassing moment where we would have pretended nothing had ever happened but here, nobody seemed to think it was odd.

When we left, he shook our hands, told us he was always sat outside there and started to cry again.

Gianni is just one of the people who struck up conversation with us today. First, there was Gary at ‘Oscar’s’ coffee shop, who now calls James ‘Captain’, there was Sue at the flower shop where we bought ourselves a housewarming plant (!), and then the man who owns one of the local grocery shops, who told us in no uncertain terms not to shop there again as he is ‘too expensive’.

Welcome to Rose Bay… I think we’ll soon feel at home!


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