As some of you already know, because Terry and I never really grew up and left our student days behind us, the absolute highlight of our day is the 1.45pm broadcast of Neighbours. Don’t judge us until you’ve tried it and you, too, find yourself lying awake at night troubled by such questions as “Who will buy number 26?” and “How does Carmella do that thing with her mouth?”

Anyway, like the Famous Five before it, it recently came to my attention that there is many a life lesson to be learned from Australian soap operas, so,, just in case you’re unfortunate enough to be at work while it’s on, here they are:

  1. One doctor is more than enough to cater to the medical needs of an entire community.
  2. Most suburban Australian homes have an unlimited amount of bedrooms, so even although from the outside they look like they have four bedrooms max, they will comfortably accommodate two, sometimes three families.
  3. This is lucky, because most of them actually DO contain two or three families.
  4. Still only one doctor, though!
  5. If you ever decide to talk about someone behind their back, they will almost always turn out to have been standing just behind the open door, listening.
  6. When you walk into a house, it is absolutely fine to just leave the front door wide open, by the way. Nothing bad will happen because of this.
  7. No, the real threat comes from fire, plane crashes and minor explosions, so watch out for those.
  8. Lucky you’ve got that doctor on hand, eh?
  9. In every suburban street, at least two people will be suffering from memory loss at any given time.
  10. Often, this is due to a brain tumour.
  11. Don’t worry about brain tumours, though: they are rarely fatal, and the operation to remove them will leave you with only one small sticking plaster on the side of your head.
  12. Oh, and memory loss, obviously.
  13. Your brain tumour will be removed by the same doctor who delivered your baby, amputated your leg (which you lost in the last major explosion) and treated your head cold.
  14. Not the same doctor who prescribed you the drugs you ended up getting addicted to that time, though: that was just a fake doctor.
  15. Your new neighbour will always have a dark secret.
  16. You will find out what this secret is by listening at the open door of their house one day.
  17. If the new neighbours have twins, the dark secret is that one of them is evil.
  18. All sets of twins are governed by this good/evil rule.
  19. This makes life really, really difficult, because identical twins are SO alike that not even their parents can tell them apart. Seriously.
  20. So if a twin ever stars doing Bad Stuff (and a twin will, trust me), you should work on the assumption that it is the OTHER twin who is actually responsible.
  21. But listen at their open door anyway, to be sure of this.
  22. When your children decide to leave the quiet, yet intensely interesting, neighbourhood in which you live, you will never see them again, ever.
  23. Not even if you get a brain tumour, have to have something amputated, have another child, re-marry, or die.
  24. All of these things are likely to happen to you, so again, it’s a good job you’ve got that doctor on hand.
  25. Don’t worry, though, because most children don’t move out of the neighbourhood: they just move into one of the houses next door. (See rule 2: unlimited bedrooms)
  26. If they don’t do this, and actually do chose to leave the area altogether, don’t worry: give it a few weeks and you will soon have a bunch of totally new children living with you, that you just took in out of the kindness of your heart.
  27. Most suburban families are happy to take relative strangers into their homes, even if there are lots of them, plus animals.
  28. Speaking of animals, though, don’t worry too much about these either, because if you DO decide to get an animal – a sheep, say – you will hardly ever have to see it.
  29. This is also true of babies and small children, interestingly enough.
  30. Sometimes your child will go away for some reason (school trip/ visit to brother or sister who moved out of state / kidnapped by evil twin, etc) and return with a completely different face.
  31. Say nothing about this: and be aware that it may happen again at any time.
  32. Kidnapping can happen to anyone, and often does.
  33. The kidnapped person is always returned safely to their family (although sometimes with a different face), so if the kidnapped person is you, try to chill.
  34. All kidnapped persons are taken to a caravan in the bush.
  35. Although this experience is traumatic, you will get over it pretty quickly – like, within a day or two.
  36. This is true of all major traumas, even plane crashes and explosions.
  37. If someone is missing, presumed dead, they won’t be.
  38. They will always turn up again years later, so if the missing person was your husband or wife, and you remarried in the meantime, that’s going to be awkward, huh?
  39. Although not really, because the missing person will undoubtedly have suffered memory loss – or you will have.
  40. And most people marry four or five times in their lives anyway, so like plane crashes and brain tumours, it’s no biggie.
  41. All of the major dramas of your life will be played out in a coffee shop.
  42. Don’t bother to order coffee/food, though, because if you do, you will always have to leave seconds after it arrives.
  43. Normally to go to the hospital, which everyone in your street will have reason to visit at least once every week.
  44. So it’s a good idea to get to know that friendly neighbourhood doctor!

If there are any I’ve missed (and I’m sure there are), feel free to add them…

  1. I never realised I missed out on so much not watching Neighbours…….. Still, I think I'll continue not to watch it, even thought it's filmed in the city I live in.

  2. See 37 is why I'm still convinced Dee will come back at some point.

    There are only two songs in Neighbours world too, the 'fairy tale dream come true' one, and 'when will you fall for me'.

  3. Gemma – I am also convinced Dee will return, probably on the day Toadie and Steph get married, because another thing I forgot to mention in the list is that all weddings are filled with drama, and sometimes even death 🙂

  4. Dee will definitely return at some point! I don't recall either of the Alessi twins being evil – are they the exception that proves the rule?
    And I love the point about children returning with a different face! But that happens to adults sometimes too. And not just in Australian soaps.

  5. Hmm, a good point, Fi… Caroline did sleep with her sister's husband, but that's not even on the same scale of evil as Cam/Rob/whichever one it was bringing down an entire plane in bid to kill his father. I'm guessing they are indeed the exception that proves the rule.

    I can't wait for Dee to come back. That storyline's going to rock.

  6. Fun Fact: Neighbours is apparently more popular in Britain than in Australia, where it's filmed.

    I'm told that this is why it wasn't canned many years ago!

  7. Aww.. this brings back memories. My mum used to watch the lunchtime Neighbours when she was pregnant with me, and then I watched it every day when I came home from school. I wanted to live there because the weather was always so beautiful. Oh, and because as a small child I was in love with Billy Kennedy…
    I haven't seen it in years though, I worry I wouldn't be able to catch up. Are Harold and Lou still there?

  8. Do they have this in the States? Because I want to watch right now!

    And also this one "If you ever decide to talk about someone behind their back, they will almost always turn out to have been standing just behind the open door, listening" happens to me ALL. THE. TIME.

  9. I used to watch neighbours up until I went to uni, I loved it. It never rained there which was a bit weird too. Now i have no idea who anyone is there anymore

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