Living in a Stolen ‘fish and Chips’ Land
“I can not wait to pick you up from the airport”, I informed excitedly my cousin. She was flying all the way from Manchester with her nine years old daughter.
“I’ve heard you will have an election going on again,” She laughed to my mobile: “I can not wait to have a meaningful discussion with your ‘Fish and Chips’ lady
I sighed bitterly: “I am sure she will not miss an opportunity to make a splash in our WA again but she will loose this time big time, she was accused of taking money from the American gun lobby to promote easing the gun laws here so they can sell more guns in Australia.”
“Well she could come to visit our Manchester, just yesterday there was shooting just two streets from us, Sophia said she still remembers visiting your neighbors who had open front doors to get fresh breeze in. Here we have bars on the doors and windows so sad really.”
Suddenly I heard: “Hi aunty, can we go to see kangaroos again?” I smiled into the mobile and said: “Of course my beautiful, we will have a ball and eucalyptus trees on our street bloom again, you will love it.”
I closed the mobile and thought about Sophia. Her father was a Turk so she has had a beautiful Middle Eastern appearance that was not very popular in her school right now. My cousin complained she was bullied a lot but she kept it to herself. She even asked her father once who was a well known doctor in the local hospital if he was a terrorist. He took it as a joke and replied: “Well every day I work hard to save lives so I leave it up to you to decide, you are one smart cookie you know me whole your life.”
“So why the kids at school hate you so much papa?” She asked seriously and both parents just hugged her and let the question hang in the air just like the early morning fog full of pollution and industrial waste residues that enveloped the city.
“It never ends, hey the prejudice, do you remember your father and my father how they fought it to the end?”
My cousin once mentioned in our phone conversation.
They were twins, our fathers, who had to flee the Ukraine fearing the death and prosecution. My father managed to reach Australia and found work there. He was saving money to bring his wife and me over to Australia. Ukraine was a part of the communist Russia back then. When I have finally met my father again I was grown up and my mum long time dead. I have married an Australian man, settled in his beautiful land and managed to take care of my ailing father until his end.
My father’s brother who was not married found a local girl to marry in Manchester and they opened ‘Fish and Chips’ shop there. Those two brothers never met again but once they both passed away I started to search for my family in England and found my cousin there. Both without siblings we found a sister in each other and promised to visit each other every second year until the end.
The last time my cousin and her daughter visited me, while Mustafa had to stay behind to continue his work in their understaffed hospital, it was May too. I have been helping in my local branch of the Greens door knocking and on the day of the election joined the volunteers to handle the pamphlets. My cousin and Sophie mingled around the crowd listening to the visiting politicians who made the last appearances.
I was packing up my station when Sophia rushed to me: “Hey auntie there is a lady talking who looks just like my mum and she has owned the ‘Fish and Chips’ shop too, imagine?”
She dragged me to the crowd of people who was listening to the high pitched red haired lady shouting about the One Nation and the protection of our white land.
People came and shook her hand and Sophia was pulling me to shake her hand too.
“We have a ‘Fish and Chips’ shop too,” Sophia screamed excitedly while I was shaking the hand of this angry looking lady who seized up Sophia suspiciously: “Where do you come from little one?
“She is here for a visit from Manchester?” I spoke instead of Sophia in my Eastern European accent.
“I don’t talk to people with foreign accents, sorry,” She turned to leave without shaking my hand when my cousin came to my rescue: “She is my cousin and she is every bit an Australian living here for twenty-five years, having three university degrees and winning ‘the teacher of the year award’.”
“I can see you are an Australian,” Pauline Hanson shook warmly both hands of my surprised cousin: “We need more people like you in our party, speaking the right way and looking the right way, please come with me, I sign you in, there is a free lunch for you in our booth.”
Sophia pulled her mother’s hands from Pauline’s tight grip and pulled her away with me tailing on leaving the surprised Pauline standing there: “I can’t understand, please explain.” She shouted after us but we quickly disappeared in a thinning crowd.
“She looks like a wicked with from OZ,” Sophia explained seriously.
“I thought you mentioned she looked like your mum,” I laughed trying to break the seriousness of the moment while pulling her mum’s red curls.
That night when I was putting the little Sophia in the bed she asked me to tell her a story.
“Tell me a story about the wicked witch of OZ,” she begged: “The one who stole our ‘Fish and Chips’ shop.”
‘Once upon a time in a far away corner of the Queensland there was a very angry lady who was selling fish and chips in her tiny grubby shop whole her life.
She wanted to be glamorous like those models in the ‘Women’s weekly’ magazines she was selling in her shop.
She was never smart enough at school and neither good at sport. She was not even blonde blue eyed beautiful just a red head freckled plain Jane with thick ankles and stocky figure. Just the right look for her deep frying, gossiping and swearing acts that passing by big white truck drivers loved in her so much.
“You will be a politician one day Pauline,” they laughed when she complained about dirty Abos and cheating Chinks and Muslim terrorists who will never dare to visit her shop because she will shoot them all.
Look at my sign she said proudly: “‘The Nation’s number One Fish and Chips.’ I want back my father’s time when Abos had to come in by back doors and they were handed just crumbs. Or even better my grandfather’s time when you could shoot them on the first sight.”
‘Truckies’ laughed loudly while she handed them greasy old newspapers filled with chips and she loved their attention so she continued even louder: “Why can we buy any guns we like? Come on, we have a right to shoot anyone who does not look like us and send them back where they come from, don’t we?”
One ‘trucky’ pulled his whiskers and winked at Pauline: “Well Aboriginals lived here for forty thousands years before we turned up but you can send them to the moon if you like, Pauline you can do it, fry them with your chips instead of fish, what do you think?”
He was laughing at her instead of with her but she never got it, so she just asked: “I don’t understand, please explain.”
“He is just pulling your leg Pauline, he was a professor before joining us, you see, he just thinks he is smarter than us, hey Johnny.” They left her shop noisily but the last of them stopped and said: “Go girl, close this hole and go get them all, One Nation and Fish and Chips redhead chick, oi oi oi, truckies will support you, shoot them all and bring us their money yeh?”
And that is what she did, well closing the shop looked too wasteful to her so she sold it to Chinks. You hear it right, she sold her shop to the Asian family. She hated the idea but she loved their money. “I am sure you stole this cash you pay me and when I am next prime minister I get it back for free I am telling you.”
The father bowed to her and said: “My family settled in this town two hundreds years ago at the time of the first gold rush, my son is a famous scientist in Canberra he told us to move there but I like my town. You passed our eatery every day Ms Hanson, but my grand sons love Aussie fish and chips, you refused to serve them so now I can.”