Posted by: Nick Ward | 3 October, 2011

Stories from 26K: Ralph

In 1988 Colin and I moved to Brisbane, driven by my naive desire to become Buck Rogers.

I had been offered a place as a PhD student in the Space Engineering Group at The University of Queensland, and a mutual friend had nominated Ralph as the person to call on our arrival.

Ralph had put us up for a couple of days as we found our feet, but we also became the most brilliant of friends.

Well, Ralph had less staying power for a life in Brisbane than I did, and within a couple of months he moved to London, driven by an EU passport and a desire to be a trolley dolly.

We stayed in touch, Ralphy came out pretty regularly to visit his folks and sister and the friends he’d left behind, and we always caught up when he did.

Flying didn’t work out, as it so happened, due to a height issue. Who knew you had to be able to evacuate a plane without knocking yourself out in the doorway in the process? Undeterred, Ralph built a new life in the UK, fell back on his occupational therapy training from Uni to pay the bills, and met a guy called David.

There soon started a migration from one city to another. David wasn’t a fan of the cold, which can be an issue in ol’ Blighty. First it was back to Brisbane, then after investigating Melbourne was a move to Sydney. Nothing quite met expectations, so they bought warmer gloves and headed back to London.

The boys had quite a few very happy years there, having a wonderful place in Stockwell, before the rat race became too much and they sold up and headed to Brighton, and it was there that they finally settled for good.

Those who have been to Brighton will understand their love affair with the place. Cosmopolitan, groovy, gay, but not crushingly big in the way London can be, it’s got a lot going for it.

No, Ralph never did become a trolley dolly, but his life remains inextricably intertwined with travel. He’s married to a Brit (yes, they took the plunge in a ‘Civil Partnership’ a couple of years ago, something we Aussies can’t do – yet) but his family is in Australia. And living in Brighton, the biggest international air hub in the world only a short train ride away, he and David can pack bags and head wherever pretty much whenever. And, they do.

Now, Brighton is a favourite, and regular, destination. In fact, I visited there with my friend Mel on this last trip, to find the temperature 10 degrees warmer than Sydney or Melbourne – and believe me, that’s a first. Ralph seems, and sounds, more English now than many who were born there, and a visit to the boys rounds out any trip to England. Brighton reminds me a lot of Melbourne… but that, dear reader, was another blog.

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