Pri­vate lives and space in­vaders

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - Home - - FRONT PAGE - Robyn.willis@news.com.au

As Aus­tralians, we love our space. When I’ve trav­elled over­seas, I’ve never had any trou­ble spot­ting my fel­low coun­try­men and women, even be­fore they have opened their mouths, be­cause they’re the ones that will spread them­selves all over the place, whether they’re at a cafe or at the air­port gate wait­ing to board a flight.

So in­grained is it in our life­style that we’re of­ten not even aware that we’re do­ing it. A friend re­lo­cated to Spain for work a while ago, tak­ing her whole fam­ily with her. While she has Span­ish her­itage, she was born and raised here. But like many first gen­er­a­tion mi­grant chil­dren, she has al­ways iden­ti­fied strongly with her fam­ily ties.

How­ever, six months into her new life in Europe, she was find­ing liv­ing in a small apart­ment — among other small apart­ments — a bit of a squeeze. Sud­denly, the need for space was real — and she felt very Aus­tralian.

With Syd­ney’s den­sity lev­els on the rise, we’re all going to have to work out bet­ter ways of deal­ing with space and pri­vacy is­sues in both our pub­lic and pri­vate spa­ces.

For us, it’s as sim­ple as get­ting used to hav­ing neigh­bours af­ter the house next door has been empty for a cou­ple of years. In­stead of blindly wan­der­ing into our TV room from the bath­room in the morn­ing look­ing for the shoes I kicked off the night be­fore, I now have to check the cur­tains are drawn lest it’s a case of too much in­for­ma­tion.

The same goes for our kitchen door, which faces di­rectly on to the new deck the neigh­bours in­stalled. While a new fence has cre­ated a phys­i­cal bound­ary, fur­ther screen­ing might be the go if we’re going to en­joy a morn­ing cup of tea on our lit­tle deck with­out hav­ing to get changed out of our py­ja­mas.

Be­cause get­ting dressed for the sake of neigh­bours would be unAus­tralian.

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