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Sunday, January 19, 2003
Standards of dress etc.

While packing for my Australian trip, I debated what sort of clothing to take. Renowned for my sartorial elegance at home, I did not want to lower my standards for my visit down under. At the same time, I was also concerned that my designer clothes would suffer from being transported here, despite the care they would get before and during the journey.

I therefore decided to bring old, casual clothes and I'm very glad that I did: the Australians do not figure greatly among the world's best-dressed. Had I brought the elegant part of my wardrobe, I would have caused a great deal of embarrassment. It is insensitive to draw attention to people's shortcomings and, ever anxious to be the perfect tourist, I wear my scruffy clothes with pride. The doormen sometimes look down their noses at me but I take comfort in my 'When in Rome...' attitude.

This brings me to one of the best things about Australia: tipping is not universal, neither is it expected. There is none of this 'ten or twelve and a half percent virtually mandatory surcharge' in restaurants. One may leave a much smaller amount: a dollar or two or nothing at all, and this is standard. Apparently wages, while not massive, are above subsistence level. Australia has a lot to teach us, I think.

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