On the national civic* day – 26th of January – we had become accustomed in the past few years to being bombarded by ambitious politicians, academics, and advertisers for their various purposes. In many cases this was driven by lust for power and money. At least when the CWA and local kindergarten were involved.
Then there was a spate of excoriating those with European background for not being Australian enough. Or for being British. Every sin and misery for the past two hundred -odd years was seeded home to the Dreadful British and compensation demanded. Compensation, guilt, and obeisance. If you couldn’t manage the guilt and obeisance, at least cough up the money…the lawyers had sent in their bill.
Arrived late? Not British? Never had a hand in oppressing anyone? No matter. As long as you had money they’d let you on the tumbril.
This year it seemed to be different. Very few ambitious local councillors fronted the television cameras weeping. Few calls for the scrapping of the day emerged, and those that were repeated came from the established disestablishment. Most people seemed set to do their citizenship ceremonies, watch the fireworks, get drunk and sunburned, and let it go at that.
My local hobby club even garnered an award from the city of Bayswater for not being as dangerous as they might have been. I shall share in the honours as long as there is cake and coffee involved.
* The national military day is later in the year and it will have it’s own set of special detractors – though oddly enough there will be many of the same names bitching about the past then as do now.
The only problem is choosing where to be exiled from. It’s not as silly as it sounds.
If you are going to be exiled from somewhere, it is far better to be barred from the more horrible parts of the earth. I would hesitate to use the term ” shithole ” as this has negative political connotations, but I think we can all recognise ” troubled land ” as a pretty good description of a lot of places. And that is the basis upon which I intend to proceed.
Governing an entire nation is difficult – doing so in exile even more so as hardly anyone ever listens to you. Unless you are Charles Degaulle and have the British army behind you ( pushing you away from themselves…) the business is hardly even worth pursuing. So I intend to start my crazed lust for world power on a much more modest basis; I intend to become the government in exile for a suburb.
Not a local one, I hasten to add. Local suburbs are far too easy to get to and people who learn about my assumption of power may come looking for me to actually do something for them. The last thing I want is a line of supplicants at the door.
I shall become the ruler of some other suburb or shire located on the other side of the country. In view of the recent catastrophes I will be careful to choose somewhere that is sparsely populated and reasonably fireproof. Somewhere with no natural resources, attractive coastline, or prominent tourist attractions will be perfect as it will require the least governance.
Currently I am looking at maps of the Adelaide area. Being banned from Adelaide is sounding more attractive year by year.
One that reflects the fact that we have stopped being a country that takes its instructions and orders from Great Britain and now takes them from someone else. The main problem will be to decide who this currently is.
The United States has less influence here than heretofore. The careful work of the Soviet Union in propaganda from 1945 to 1989 and China in industrial seduction from 1973 to now has weaned us away from much of the companionship we once had.
Europe has emigrated since the 40’s, of course, but done so wisely – leaving the poorer relations back home in the mud and stepping out to cleaner ground here. The descendents of those early migrants go visit the various Old Countries whenever the dollar peaks and the Euro descends, but they keep a tight clutch on their Australian passports as they do so. They ain’t dumb.
South Asia would like to come to visit, and then stay, and largely do… It is rare to see them pulling up Australian stakes to go back to any part of the subcontinent, islands, or archipelagos unless they have been naughty or unwise whilst here. For the most part they are content to live peaceably, knowing what life there was compared to life here.
Ditto South and Central America, though I am not sure about this. I see the occasional migrants who work hard and do very well. Did we have a common border with them we might see very different characters present themselves for emigration…but the Pacific Ocean is wider than the Rio Grande and no-one has yet swum the entire thing. Perhaps it will come if Greta Thunberg cannot hitch a boat ride to Sydney…
To deal with the flag again, I think we will just have to go with the design featured in the heading image. I researched the composition of the Australian population and the flags of the constituent migrants as well as the local indigenous people and combined the symbols of their various faiths, political parties, families, and diseases and got a shade of grey. The shape of the new flag is still under debate, but the design bureau suggested a light portion for night and a dark one for day would look well. See what you fancy.
4. Driver’s license.
6. University fees.
11. New clothing.
12. Medical expenses.
14. Job applications.
15. Relocation expenses.
Welcome to the world of adulting, teenage justice warrior. You may not have time to march in front of the state legislature/parliament house/television cameras/iphones of your friends for some time as you are now required to show up and do something worth getting paid for. Hint: keep your receipts and pay slips as you’ll need them to pay your taxes. If you do not wish to pay taxes remember that there is always the Al Capone Option. They have closed Alcatraz but Leavenworth is still going…
You may note that I have left out marriage and babies from the list. You’ll learn about them when you grow up.
There is slightly complex sequence of behaviour required to board an American warship in harbour. This involves proceeding up the gangway but not stepping aboard until you have saluted the quarterdeck flag and the person controlling the ship’s end of the gangway. You ask permission to board and do not step on until it is given. The rank of the person at the entry point is not relevant…if they are the authorised controller of this entry they represent the captain of the ship who has final say on who boards.
If you are doing this at sea the formalities are truncated, and if you are swinging aboard on a rope while firing a pistol at the crew you hardly have to pause at all…
Similar formalities probably attend entry to ereryone else’s ships, and army and air force bases…in the case of some you are issued security clearances after documents are inspected and these clearances are retrieved as you leave. Mind you, the army tank museum has a policy that if you can carry it out, it’s yours…
I should like to see the establishment of similar rituals in civilian life with regard to who comes in and why. Too often we open the door to relatives and in-laws without a bye-your-leave and they never buy and they just don’t leave…for hours at a time…I am not sure whether there is actually a quarterdeck in the average family home…perhaps the lounge room…but maybe we could do as Japanese homemakers do and deliberately incorporate a family altar or place of beauty in the front room, and the visitors could salute this as a promise that they will behave.
In return, I would be willing to accord them all courtesies…while having them closely escorted by armed Marines.
And don’t you forget it, Grandad. Don’t try that old business about having seen it all before just because you did actually see it all before. If I didn’t think of it after watching YouTube, it doesn’t count.
And don’t try rolling your eyes at me, old man. None of that senior sarcasm or you’ll be sent to your room with no supper. Wait? What do you mean it’s your food? Just because you’ve paid for it and cooked it and served it at your own table doesn’t mean you have a right to enjoy it if I disapprove. There are principles involved and the main one is I am young and right and you are old and wrong. And I am the judge of it all…I’ve got the internet.
And in a few years I’ll be able to vote and drink beer and smoke cigarettes and get the dole and post angry memes on social media whenever I want to. I got rights.
I can’t decide which to go for. They both have advantages and drawbacks. Consider the case of being ethical first:
- You appear good in the eyes of the world.
- You appear good in your own eyes.
- You need not fear exposure by reporters looking to fill a 5-minute slot on television.
- People will point to you as you pass in the street.
- You may be offered money to endorse ethical goods and services.
Okay – that’s the good side of ethical. Now the bad side:
- The eyes of the world are often crossed, myopic, or ridden with cataracts. They see what they want to see. They wanted to see Hitler in the 1930’s – shall they look at you now…?
- My eyes are myopic, crossed, and cataract -ridden. If i see myself as good, how can I be certain it is not just bad eyesight?
- You may not want to be the subject of a media side-swipe, but then again you may wish to be a media star no matter how you get there. It’s easier to be one with a pistol than a bag of hot towels.
- People pointing at you can be achieved by may means. Goodness, badness, and horrid taste in clothing. The first two are changeable matters – the last is permanent.
- You may be offered more money to endorse disgusting things and awful practices. The cash looks the same except there is more of it and you often don’t have to tell the tax office. If the tax office offer you money to endorse them, do not draw up the contract in blood. I’ve seen cult movies…
Now we move on to being ethnic. Frowned upon at the start of the 20th century, it became all the rage in the 1970’s and 1980’s. In truth, there was a lot of rage in the 30’s and 40’s but you had to be the right ethnicity to find out about it. The good side first:
- If you are genuinely of a certain ethnicity, you can wear interesting clothes and speak in mysterious languages.
- You get to be the interesting person at the party that everyone wants to talk to.
- You get to eat spicy food.
- People defer to your perceived ethnicity and you get to feel quite special.
- You can always find someone from your same tribe to lend you money or to hide you from the police.
Now the awkward bits:
- The clothing that your ethnicity demands makes you stand out – even when you wish to blend in. It often comes from a place that has different raw materials and climate and wearing it here and now is either hot and sticky or cold and miserable. Finally, it might just look ugly and make you feel silly.
- If you are the interesting person, the drunks will cluster about you and try to make themselves look big by arguing with you. You will never be right, because they will always be drunk.
- The spicy food you get to eat often contains the parts of animals or plants that more sensible societies bury in a sinkhole. If you want to maintain your ethnic ticket you have to choke it down.
- People do not defer to your ethnicity – they make a show of it based on what they saw on television. Their measured comment on racial questions is just one drink away from asking you whether you like fried chicken and watermelon. ( I do, as it happens…)
- The person from your tribe who lends you money and hides you knows exactly how much interest you owe them on that loan and where to find you. They also know the phone number for the police.
So there it is. I am still undecided as to which course to pursue. Advice written on a small slip of paper and stuck in a crack in the wall would be appreciated.