Kinda Canada, Eh?

I once lived in Canada – for about 17-18 years. Then I moved to Australia and have racked up another 50+ years here – with time out for a working holiday in England. Thus I have the basic qualifications to be horribly wrong about three countries. I make the best use of whatever false insights I have made over the years.

Note: I also lived in the USA for a couple of years as a youth and a student. So I can be an instant expert about the place, too. If I am dreadfully wrong, it can be no worse than most of the overseas posts and news reports you read anyway.

All this leads me to a question; how long does one have to actually be in a country to be able to make a rational judgment on and useful report of it. How long does one need to form real memories – as opposed to the ones the glimpses airports and freeways give. How far down the biological and social chain does one need to go to reach the real experience? And is it worth going there?

Well, if your entire experience of, say, Canada was an arrival at Vancouver airport, transfer to a cruise ship and up the coast…then a quick trip to a ski resort and back to the airport…you might be forgiven for a really distorted view of the country. It might have been a pleasant holiday – in between two horrendous airplane flights – but you’d have no idea of summer in the fire season or winter on the prairies or the smell of hockey skates drying in an enclosed space. The same could be said for the tourist who comes to Australia  – though most of the North American visitors spend more time here than we do there. It’s the Asian tourists who do a quick round of casinos, beaches, and wildlife parks and then scatter back to their homes. Possibly with a glazed look in their eyes.

Does anyone ever take home a real view of a real place?

The Heatless Wave Gripping Australia

Here in Australia we are tortured and mocked every day by North Americans and Europeans with their news reports about heat waves. As we sit shivering over a meagre fire or try to stave off freezing by wrapping several dogs around us, they bask in the sunshine that is rightly ours and then have the temerity to complain about it.

Even the cartoonists and comics are on the game of complaining about heat. In some cases it is reasonably decent – over 38º C and a comfortable operating temperature. One could go around without a jumper and not feel the chill. In other instances it sounds like they are just bleating for the sake of hearing themselves. 35º for a week? In our summer we dream of this sort of comfort.

Well, it is almost August and the trough of winter is nearly gone. Soon it will be spring and we can all sit laughing at the hay fever sufferers as the Wattle Bomb detonates. And those of us who depend upon warm, dry weather to do airbrushing and painting can start our seasonal binge. I can hardly wait.

Evidence Of Collusion

The BGA wishes to call for submissions from concerned Australians that can be used to allude that Scott Morrison colluded with the Royal Ruritanian State Security Service ( RRSSS ) to influence Saturday’s election.

We are particularly interested in any packets of letters sealed in wax that may have been couriered between Canberra and Strackenz in the period leading up to the polls. Pencil sketches of hooded riders galloping along dark roads in the dead of night will be particularly useful.

We have selected Red Green to act as Special Investigator as soon as he finishes his Lodge meeting. While Mr. Green is not an Australian citizen, we feel that his name alone should be sufficient qualification to put him in good standing with at least two of the disappointed political parties – the Greens and the Socialist Alliance.

During the period of this investigation we will be issuing calls for writs of impeachment, impearment, and …in honour of Queensland…impineapplement. As well, we will be including macadamias and the chief produce of Kingaroy in the mix.

Think of it as a fruits and nuts campaign.

An Australian Brag

If you were born in Australia you have been subject to The Brag all your life. If you emigrated here you picked it up as soon as your feet touched the ground. Either way, it has become so engrained that you would be hard pressed to notice it.

The Brag? Well, it really involves a lot of Sub-Brags. We’ve just had this year’s April 25th Brag. We’ll have more Brags whenever the cricket starts up again and all through the football season. If a local cinema actor is nominated for an award…indeed if anyone is recognised with some sort of gong, we’ll add another Brag.

And we are just about to have a federal election – Federal parliament will be replacing its House and Senate members in the next month or so. And it is time for the Election Brag. And I’m proud to be able to enunciate it:

The Federal Election will be honest.

The individual members of both houses that contest the seats, their advisers, and their party organisers may have consciences that could be used to scrub pots…their parties may be collections of bigots, zealots, and ne’er do wells – they may have devious money-grubbing  schemes…but…

The Federal Election will be honest.

No stuffed ballot boxes, no stand over militias, no bought votes, no midnight disappearances. No seizures of power. No bribing of judges. No tanks, armoured cars, or riot police. No burning buses. No dead people.

Instead, we’ll get a huge ballot paper, a tiny pencil, and a funny little cardboard booth to figure it all out in. Our choice will be complex to make and be tabulated in a complex fashion – but it will be done cleanly. Some electorates will declare quickly and there’ll always be one at the end that takes jolly weeks. If some mistake happens that results in the loss of a ballot box, there will be a by-election for that seat and it will all clank through again.

We’ll all get a vote and our vote will count. We’re the luckiest damn country in the world for this – because we can buy barbecued sausages and lemon slices and scones to eat while we are waiting to vote. And smarmy Facebook memes that suggest our vote is worthless are a damned insult us and to something this country does very right.

 

Visiting The Old Country From The New Country

How many migrants to and from Europe, Canada, the USA, Australia, and New Zealand have had this experience:

They’ve migrated and worked and saved and succeeded in the new country but always hold a dear memory of the old land. This homesickness has been acute in the first couple of years but worn off somewhat after that – what with new careers, families, and homes. But it starts again at about 15 years and they decide to go back and see the old place.

They plan to make a big trip and see everywhere they used to live – and possibly everyone they used to know. The get on the plane or ship and float on water or air to the old home country. And are horrified to find that it is not there.

Oh, the dirt is still there, and in the case of a lot of places it has crawled halfway up the buildings…but the society and people and nation has so changed from what it was that they are strangers in a wasteland. Worse – if there has been a war go through the place – or a spate of developers – even the buildings they knew do not exist.

Their old friends are dead, or older, and do not have the last 15 years of shared memories to talk over. Only the past – and that can be as dead as the dust. They run out of conversation in 5 minutes. Even if the old language is the same, the speakers are not talking to them.

This is the thought that I took back to the UK when I visited in 1995 – from having once lived in the place in 1973. It was just that way, though there were plenty of tourist activities in which to immerse myself. Would I get any benefit from another visit? Yes, if my current interests could be pursued – the UK is a nice place.

Canada or the USA for me? After 52 years? There’s a big question. An expensive one to answer, too – especially with the fear that seeing my youth gone would age me more. I can do that right now at local prices and wearing comfortable clothes.

The National Day – Part Two – Independence Day Or Dependence Day?

Remember I mentioned that most national days commemorate someone declaring themselves to be independent from someone else? And determined to govern their lives on their own terms?

Unfortunately for Australia, the events of 26 January, 1778 were rather in reverse. The local people were free before the fleet rocked up but not after. Think of it in terms of a D-Day landing but instead of the British, Americans, and Canadians storming ashore it would be the Wehrmacht. Possibly with better air cover…

Well, 230+ years have rolled away since then and there have been other amphibious assaults to thrill and entertain the citizens. Not all of them successful, but that doesn’t stop the national desire to march and cheer. But that idea of thinking that nationhood came in boats full of convicts under musket guard is starting to be a bit suss. And it begs the question that is answered everywhere else by a definite set of criteria; when exactly did Australia become independent from the guards with muskets?

You’ll be pleased and horrified to learn that it was on the 1st of January 1900. Pleased because it happened without bloodshed, and horrified that no-one now wants to have it as the national day. Why?

Because it is on one of the New Year’s days. The one that is recognised by most of he population, but is already surrounded with boozy celebration and hangovers. Hardly anyone has the energy to be patriotic after a night on the tiles. So the day is shifted to 26 January, by which time livers have uncurled.  No-one wants to have to be sober and proud next morning when there is avocado dip in their hair. ( Presuming that it is avocado dip…)

And now the indigenes are unhappy and the immigrants are unhappy and the cheap journalists and cheaper council politicians make a fortune of money and publicity out of stoking that emotion.

What to do? Well, first of all recognise exactly what the truth is about the current day. And decide what a national day really should be. And then unravel the story so that everyone can read it. In the phrase beloved of all bureaucrats: ” Bring us into line with other nations “.

Tomorrow? The new days planned for Australia.

 

The National Day – Part One – Cooking Up Trouble

I have been googling like mad this morning  – looking at national days that are celebrated in many nations. So far I’ve hit up Mexico, Russia, Denmark, Croatia, and a few others. The results are all out there for you to see so wiki it up yourselves.

Most of the national days are related to the establishment of…wait for it…a nation. An actual nation – with a declaration of independence from everyone else. They often fozzle about with it in a poetical manner  – some have a cry of independence or a mob assault upon a royal prison or some such. Others just get the wisest people they can in one place and state their piece. In any event, you can date your regard for whichever current nation to this starting point when they declare independence from someone or something.

Here in Australia we characterise January 26th as a national day, but it devolves from the first landing of a colonising fleet with a governor – Arthur Phillip –  in what is now New South Wales. Probably with the dear old Union jack and file of marines, with jolly tars pulling the boats up upon the beach. Refer to your historical paintings and see if I’m right.

The local indigenous people at the time could do little to hinder it, and have not had much luck hindering his successors – though now they have writs instead of wooden spears and can throw them further. But they do keep asking for the national day to be shifted from that landing day – seeing it as an insult to themselves.

Their protests draw counter protests from people who are not indigenous and who do not want to be forced to change their ways on the basis of this protest. There are more than two sides to the thing and all the sides have lawyers and publicists.

Now I am going to take sides…read my next post to see which one…