Most of the Australians I met on my recent holiday were brilliant people; friendly, welcoming, great company and most possessed a very British style sense of humour.

However, there was one element of my Australian experience that was slightly irritating; the tendency for people to ask questions. For example, if you ever purchased goods in a shop using a card, you were immediately greeted with ‘Credit or savings ?’

Another fine example was the following exchange one early morning at Brisbane airport where I attempted the seemingly simply task of purchasing four hot drinks as we waited for a short flight to Hamilton Island.

‘Good morning - Aaaahhh yaaah gaawwnn ?’

‘Good morning. Well, we’re going to Hamilton Island for three days. It should be fantastic.’

‘Naah - I said ‘How are you going ?’

‘We’re flying - how do you think we’re getting there - kayaking ? Plus, we’re in an airport. That’s a rather obvious clue.’

‘No worries. What can I git yer ?’

‘A tea, a coffee and two hot chocolates, please.’

‘What sort of tea ?

‘Err - what have you got ?’

‘Green Tea, Liptons Tea, Earl Grey, Camomile Tea, English Breakfast, Iced Tea, Ass…’

‘English Breakfast would be great. Thanks.’

‘What size tea ?’

What sizes are there ?

‘Small, regular, large.’

‘OK - small please. Thanks.’

‘What else did you want ?’

A coffee and two hot chocolates, please.’

‘What sort of coffee ?’

‘What have you got ?’

‘Flat white, latte, mocha, frapp…’

‘Oh Latte, please.’

‘What size latte ?’

‘Small, please.’

‘What else did you say again ?’

‘Just two hot chocolates please, Two small hot chocolates, please. That’s all thanks.’

‘Do you want sprinkles ?’

Now this question threw me a little. I looked back towards where the family were sitting at Gate 3. I saw much tapping of fingers, much looking at watches and much feigning of dying of thirst.

Inevitably, Norma was busy doing what she does best whenever she is located in an airport - busy reviewing the shopping facilities ready to conquer the world with her very own, embryonic ‘Worldwide airport shopping and duty free outlets’ blog.

Worse, one of the people who had requested a hot chocolate was also doing what she does best whenever she is located in an airport terminal

  • busy reviewing the toilet facilities ready to conquer the world with her very own ‘People who have visited the toilets at Brisbane airport (domestic terminal just outside gate 7)’ group on Facebook.

Now I had to think quickly, very quickly. People behind me were sighing and saying ‘Ah, mate, just get a bloody move on , will ya ?’ in a very un-British way.

I gestured frantically to Norman Junior III, sprinkling fictious sprinkles over a fictitious hot chocolate drink and raising my thumb up, smiling then turning my thumb down, frowning.

He looked rather quizzically and mouthed ‘She’s in the shop’. I re-doubled my efforts and repeated my sprkinkling gestures.

He looked rather quizzically and mouthed ‘She’s in the toilet.’

I gave up my charades, ignored the laughter behind me and turned back to the assistant.

‘Yes please. Sprinkles on both.’

‘Marshmallows ?’

‘Sorry ?’

‘Marshmallows ? Do you want marshallows on the hot chocolates ?’

By now, I was feeling I was the victim of some cruel joke and an Aussie version of Jeremy Beadle was going to jump out clutching a microphone. Either that or I was taking part in the Two Ronnies’ legendary ‘Fork Candles’ sketch.

This endless interrogation was getting ridiculous but I resumed my mime act and frantically tried to get a response from Norman Junior III.

I decided to re-enact the famous scene from Ghostbusters where Marshmallow man strides all over the New York skyscrapers but he just looked quizzically and mouthed ‘Can I have a muffin ?’

‘Yes please. Marshmallows on both hot chocolates.’

‘Is that all, mate ?’


‘Would you like me to go over your order ?’

‘Well, no - I’d rather you got on and dispensed the drinks as my flight will be boarding soon’ but I contented myself with ‘Yes, please.’

‘So, you want small latte, small English Breakfast, two small hot chocolates with sprinkles and marshmallows ?’

‘Yes, yes - that’s correct. Thanks.’

‘Can I get anything else for you today ?’

‘No thanks. That’s all.’

‘And how are you going to be paying today ?’

I briefly about offering plastic but quickly find $20 to avoid the inevitable ‘Cheque or savings’ interrogation.

Finally, the torture is over. I wait in the line for five minutes and the drinks are finally served. I grab the drinks and am looking around for a plastic stirrer.

‘Are you the guy who asked for ‘Small’ ?’

‘Err, yes.’

‘Didn’t you realise we don’t do ‘Small’ any more - since July 25th, in fact ?’

‘Err, no - I just ordered four hot drinks.’

‘Yeah, well Eileen should have told ya. It’s Regular or Large now. Only. No Small any more.’

By now, I’d had enough. I decided to turn the tables.

‘Have you got a tray, please ?’

‘Listen, I’ve given you four Regulars but I’ve only charged you for four Smalls.’

‘Oh - that really is most kind. How can I ever thank you enough ?’

‘Full sized tray or cardboard holder ?’