THROUGH no fault of my own I found myself in Adelaide after the Indian Pacific followed the tracks into the sleepy capital, taking me with it. With a couple of hours to kill, a few of us joined a city bus tour.
The tour began normally enough. ''Welcome to Adelaide etc; great to have you aboard yada yada; prettiest city in the world blah blah blah.'' All the normal, if slightly jingoistic, stuff. But it wasn't long before our driver, let's call him Alan, let fly.
''If we can just get through this one roundabout, we'll come to … no, we have to wait for this jerk driving the Volvo. Adelaide drivers are the worst in the world. They can't handle roundabouts and the bloody government won't cut down any trees to fix the traffic flow. It's typical bloody Adelaide, unfortunately.''
We stiffened in our seats, like you did when your teacher got angry at school, suddenly transfixed by Alan's unusual commentary. As bus tours go, this was shaping up as a ripper. He continued: ''Adelaide's traffic lights are set up to maximise petrol consumption and tax. We all just exist to generate money for the government. We used to have lovely trams along here. Getting rid of them was really stupid and these deciduous trees they planted cause flooding every time it rains. Typical bloody Adelaide, unfortunately.''
Passengers swapped nervous smiles as Alan shifted seamlessly between lavish praise and withering invective. It became clear he loved his city and was annoyed by governments buggering it all up.
''They take years to do anything and when they do they stuff it up. Bluestone is the only building material worth using and landfill rubbish is stupid. Now, over to the left you can see one of our beautiful churches but don't get married there - the council fees are a rip-off. They had to move the cross because the ladies kept reversing into it.''
This was too much for one passenger. ''Just ladies, was it? No men? Or Asians? Or other minorities?'' she asked.
Alan seemed to sense he had gone too far and waded back into his description of the city of churches, pointing out a few places of worship where the crosses were still standing. ''This street has lovely terraces. It used to have a different name. It was better back then. The nomenclature of the streets these days is stupid. Nearly as stupid as the traffic laws,'' he added as he gave another driver the finger. ''Oh, and don't look over there - that's the sleaze street.'' Cameras clicked furiously.
Along the way, we learnt about the unnecessary renovation of Adelaide Oval, the bogans' invasion of Rundle Mall, and the obscene wealth among the leafier streets of East Adelaide. As the bus passed Colonel Light's lookout we were less than shocked to learn that Alan was upset with the $30 million spent on the polar bear enclosure at the zoo.
''The parklands to our right are home to the Clipsal 500, which is the greatest event in Australia,'' said Alan, as we headed back to the train. We held our collective breath for the sting in the tail but were disappointed. Despite the tame ending we would all recommend the Typical Bloody Adelaide Unfortunately Tour.
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