The National Day

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.

However.

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.

I Intend To Form A Government In Exile

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.

1. Sex 2. Drugs 3. Rock And Roll

4. Driver’s license.

5. Diploma.

6. University  fees.

7. Textbooks.

8.  Accommodation.

9. Food.

10. Laundry.

11. New clothing.

12. Medical expenses.

13. Degree.

14. Job applications.

15. Relocation expenses.

16. Taxes.

17. Housing.

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.

 

Ethical or Ethnic?

I can’t decide which to go for. They both have advantages and drawbacks. Consider the case of being ethical first:

  1. You appear good in the eyes of the world.
  2. You appear good in your own eyes.
  3. You need not fear exposure by reporters looking to fill a 5-minute slot on television.
  4. People will point to you as you pass in the street.
  5. You may be offered money to endorse  ethical goods and services.

Okay – that’s the good side of ethical. Now the bad side:

  1. 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…?
  2. 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?
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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:

  1. If you are genuinely of a certain ethnicity, you can wear interesting clothes and speak in mysterious languages.
  2. You get to be the interesting person at the party that everyone wants to talk to.
  3. You get to eat spicy food.
  4. People defer to your perceived ethnicity and you get to feel quite special.
  5. You can always find someone from your same tribe to lend you money or to hide you from the police.

Now the awkward bits:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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…)
  5. 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.

The Local Holiday – Part Three

Review yesterday’s reflections on why people travel for their holidays before we go on.  And then consider why staying at home may meet all your needs.

a.  You wanted a change of scenery. There are new sights to see within a mile of your easy chair. You can go to them on a bus or train ( for free if you’re old enough ). You can walk to them in some cases. I’ll bet few of the readers have been to all four corners of their respective towns. Who knows what sights are to be seen there – I rode a local bus through what I thought would be familiar suburbs and found that the town has changed into a new place. And I was not riding some death-bus full of grinning bandits into unknown peril, at $ 10,000 a go.

b. You wanted a change of weather – this really amounts to wanting cool when it is hot and warmth when it is cold. Or dry when it is raining. Got news for you – Cool comes out of air conditioners – if you have one, use it. If you don’t, go to a mall that does.

Same thing when it is cold. Sit in front of the fire or go to a warm café. Libraries are warm and quiet and they have free entertainment for all ages. They also have seats and let you sit there reading all day if you wish.

Weather will eventually change anyway – in Melbourne, four times per day. Just be patient.

c. You wanted new food and drink. Oh, please…there are more restaurants in your town than ever you have eaten at. And more bars, pubs, taverns, etc. for exotic drinks. You cannot eat or drink more than a certain amount in any one day and all you have to do is go into a new joint and sample their menu. Most Australian cities have more ethnic variety in their eateries than any of the countries that they emulate. Where exactly is Generia , anyway? Their cuisine seems familiar, if bland.

d. New people? Go to a new pub, club, mall, church or temple, and look around. Go clean, friendly, and polite and you’ll meet people you want to meet. Every newspaper and radio station advertises groups looking for new members every day.

e. Duty Free? Really? Is it really a good idea to pay $ 10,000 in holiday money to come back with a giant half-price bottle of Johnny Walker? You could go to the local Dan Murphy and whack down $ 100 and come away with all the whiskey you can handle. A queasy liver at 1/100th of the cost.

f. Relaxation? If your idea of relaxation is sitting on a beach getting skin cancer, you can do that at Cottesloe or Swanbourne. If you want to break your arm surfing, Margaret River is just three hours away. If you want shows and movies, there are plenty going on every day right here at home.

If relaxation for you is sitting in a café, there are a number of districts here that want your dollar.

g. Peace and quiet. This is the best news of all. You can get this in your lounge room for just a few dollars. Here’s what you do:

  1. Clean the house. Not a major campaign – just a day’s tidying. Sets the scene.
  2. Get in a week’s worth of ready-to-cook meals or a handful of local restaurant menus.
  3. Get a carton of beer or cola or whatever. Or a few bottles of the local vin ordinaire.
  4. Get an armload of new books from the library or book shop.
  5. Put on your holiday clothes – loose ones.
  6. Unplug the land line phone.
  7. Put the mobile phone under two pillows.
  8. Turn on the air conditioner and make yourself comfortable.
  9. Watch TV, read, practice your hobby, write letters or postcards, sit and think, nap, or eat and drink. All week, if you wish. Go to bed as early or late as you please.

Amazing how good it feels, isn’t it? And you are not dependent upon airport transfers, bell hops, tour guides, airline schedules, or any other travel hazard. You will not be stranded anywhere, as your bed is a room away. You are near your medical base. You can ring out for food if desired and ring friends to invite them to share it. You can binge watch on telly. You can be as vacant as you wish.

You can write internet weblog columns undisturbed.

 

Holiday At Home – Part Two – In the Mood

Having established in our minds that forking over $ 10,000-$20,000 to go somewhere might be a bad idea, we are left to think up some way in which we can get the holiday experience without the holiday expense.

The first thing to get straight is what you really want from a holiday. This’ll differ with different people but here’s some of the things we look for:

  1. A change of scenery. Some place different from the neighbourhood. It need not be good or interesting scenery as long as it is new. This explains why people go to some of the world’s pest holes and regard it as fun.
  2. A change of weather. If you just cannot face another fortnight of heat, cold, rain, or anything else that your local met department serves up, you get on your camel and ride to where someone else is uncomfortable. I must admit that this has occurred to me in the middle of oppressive seasons.
  3. A change of food and drink. Whatever you normally eat and drink, you do rather fancy something exotic. Of course you’ll probably reel back in horror as it plops on your plate and demand home cooking, but the restaurants are used to this. They just take it back to the kitchen and fry it; you’ll eat it later.
  4. A change of people. You always think that you’ll encounter wonderful wizened old people who will impart the secrets of life to you – or a romantic partner – or cheerful peasants. Boy, have we got news for you. The wizened crones are 17 but have been standing close to a nuclear waste dump, the romantic partner wants to steal your passport, and the cheerful peasants are high on goat shit. You left home and flew Economy 17 hours straight to get this…
  5. Duty Free.
  6. Relaxation.
  7. Peace and quiet.

All these things are good things, seen in themselves. We look at travel brochures and imagine that they are in the photos – in fact, the images we really see are in our own minds. They may be totally false views, but as they are pictures that we show ourselves…how could we be wrong? We trust us, even if we shouldn’t.

In reality, we could achieve nearly all we want in the holiday trip with a little readjustment of our minds and some clever use of local resources. We need not lock ourselves in the bathroom – we can go on trips – but sometimes we need not go as far as all that.

Read tomorrow and see how far.

Planning For The New Year’s Resolutions

No good cobbling these things together at the last moment…people see through that in an instant. Far better to sit and sensibly plan promises that you intend to break as soon as the hangover eases up. The new decade will be a good opportunity to clear the old cobwebs of questionable behaviour and establish new and worse habits. I fully intend to:

a. Avoid passive-aggresive behaviour. It never works. Pick one and go with that.

b. Eat more greens and fruit. I have a cocktail book with an entire section of fruit drinks. I should be legless about 80% of the time but there’ll be no danger of scurvy.

c. Be positive. Mind you, I’m not sure whether that means I should be given doses of antibiotic or just settle down to be more bloody-minded about things.

d. Save more money. This is an easy resolution to keep as I do not save anything at all now. 5 cents saved would see this done. I shall go mug someone for 5 cents.

e. Broaden my mind. Everyone says this is desirable but no-one knows why. And the proposed formulae for doing it differ widely. One says travel, one says study, one says mingle with the mob. I am going to canvas more opinions until I find someone who wants me to eat and drink to excess.

f. Exercise more. This seems a good idea until you find out that the exercise involves turning off your mind for hours at a time just to burn calories. I plan to take fewer calories in and to make the most of the ones that are in there already. If this sounds like work, that is precisely what it is…work to accomplish things while exercising.

g. Be more mindful but carefree and seriously joyful at the same time. Now this is just getting to sound like bullshit. A few more lines of it and I’ll have my memes for the year. Should be able to sell a book of them, if I make it sound scientific and mysterious at the same time. I need a vaguely biblical name to sell it, but.