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You’ve said your own story is far more sordid than Paul’s ...

I was 30 when I arrived, but my time in London was like a second youth. I drank more those four years than in the rest of my life put together, mainly just because it’s the culture of the place. Almost all of our socialising was at the pub and, even when it wasn’t, we’d always end up there. I once got drunk one Saturday night at home and went on eBay – I woke up in the morning the proud owner of a campervan called Rudi.

What did you expect of London?

Probably that I was going to experience the same London I had as a tourist. One of the things that surprised me the most was the massive gap between rich and poor in London, which we’re certainly not used to in Australia. When you fall on the wrong side of the equation, London can be a pretty tough place, and this is something that Page Three tries to look at.

Did you ever have second thoughts?

Yes, for the first six months or so I thought London was the worst place on earth. We arrived in winter and we were unemployed, broke and out of our comfort zones.

What three things sum up London? The weather, the pubs and the overwhelming feeling you’re at the centre of the world. Is there a lack of cultural awareness in Australia?

Yes and no – you only need listen to our politicians to know introspection isn’t always big on our agenda. We’re an optimistic and materialistic country and that doesn’t lend itself to self-reflection. Also, Aussies don’t like to come across as ‘up themselves’, so we’re never going to be like France, where philosophical discussions make prime time TV. But beneath that, you only need listen to the lyrics of some of the best Aussie pub-rock anthems to know that there is some real soul searching going on.

How do you feel about UK tabloids?

One of the issues in Page Three is how the British media builds up someone, who doesn’t do anything, into a celebrity. I don’t lie awake worrying about that, but it is kind of sad. Like all sensationalist media, the tabloids are about heroes and villains. If you become one of their villains, you’d better watch out … However, the phone hacking was as low as it gets.

 

Page Three: A Very London Story is available as an ebook from Amazon, iBooks, smashwords.com and online retailers now

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'I thought London was the worst place on earth': Aussie author Ralph Grayden on London living and new book Page Three
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