News of my credentials as a true-blue, kiwi-mocking Aussie must have travelled the globe, because when I landed in London last year, I found myself on the news. Now before you start making assumptions, no I didn't try to take in a boogie-board full of Schapelle's secret stash.
No, I was on the news defending our Great Land.
Why me, you ask? Well you all know of my credentials, but aside from those, all I can guess is it must have been one of those rare occasions when ex Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, was actually in Australia - visiting from his back-packing tour of Europe or something - so they checked which Aussies were in town, saw Jason Donovan, Sir Les, Peter Andre and Dannii Minogue and figured I was the best of a bad bunch.
But the reason why I was asked to defend our beautiful home, GBS (Girt By Sea) is interesting. As it turned out, the English had taken particular exception to an advertisement put out by the Australian Sports Commission. The story was making front-page news in the tabloid press over there (whose motto, incidentally, seems to be "Small Words, Big Type, Bigger Boobs"). And suddenly I was an expert. Yes, it turns out that all it takes to be an expert is convenience by being at the right place at the right time..
Now if you haven't seen the advert I'm talking about, it was a viral email starring a boasting Brit that was meant to arouse anger and passion in Aussies. If you can't be bothered looking it up on YouTube, it stars an actor with a less convincing British accent than yours truly, taunting Australia about our Olympic Gold Medal count. Why the ad agency couldn't find an actual geezer for the ad, I don't know. Surely they could have just popped down to Bondi beach and asked every 2nd person there.
Anyway, I found myself on TV in the UK. Camera in my face, lights burning my eyes and being asked "Would it work?"
"Well, maybe." (Oh yeah, They were really getting their money's worth with my outrageous opinions). Maybe - I feared I was going to get splinters if I sat on the fence any longer.
I reckon most Australians would confess that in certain areas we've always seen ourselves as superior to the Brits - weather and dentistry are a couple that spring immediately to mind. But sporting prowess is the one that trumps them all. Sometimes I really suspect we'd be happy to come second last in the medal count in the Olympics, as long as Great Britain came in last. (Well, actually, 3rd last because there is always New Zealand too!)
In most countries, the Olympic motto is Citius, Attius, Fontius. But in Australia it is Citius, Attius, Fontius Beatius, Pommius, Bastardius.
As much as they Olympics should be about celebrating the spirit of taking part and striving for excellence, it genuinely did a) surprise us and b) burns us up that the bloody Brits beat us.
Remember when it happened? It basically knocked all the other news off the front page. Suddenly no-one cared about terrorism. Forget 'beat the bombs', it was all about 'being beaten by the Poms'.
And beaten we were. Every mathematician in the country was pulled off important research to prove that we won more medals 'per capita' than Great Britain. Then we decided that although the British total was higher than ours, some of these medals were won by the Welsh and the Scots so they don't count.
Hell, if they could all compete as Great Britain, we should be allowed to combine with other countries too ... maybe the United States of Australia or Chinalia. We just couldn't admit that the British had beaten us fair and square.
'So where does this rivalry come from?' I was asked.
Well, my theory is that we resent the British because they think we're convicts, and they resent us because someone stole a loaf of bread in cold, wet, plague riddled London and they were sent to Summer Bay. The other reason we like to play this game is simply that sporting rivalries are mostly harmless and fun. That's what's worth remembering. It's the bloody Olympics. It's not a matter of life or death.
OK, let's talk briefly about something that REALLY matters - the Ashes! Supporting the Australian Cricket team used to be rewarding. Used to be - thank you England!!!! Now it's getting harder and harder to support the team who can't even spell the word 'VICTORY' at the moment.
Enough of that. And if we're going to talk sport, a long overdue reform is making the Melbourne Cup - the horse race that truly does stop a nation - a public holiday for the whole country. No-one can argue that there isn't something really special about the Melbourne Cup. If nothing else, it's the only time usually rational people set their alarms early on a day off, then spend hours fighting traffic just to sit in a car park getting pissed. It's like going to the movies but, instead of going inside the cinema, spending the entire time sculling coke and snorting lines of Wizz Fizz (a sweet for you non-Aussies) at the candy bar.
The current situation in places outside Melbourne is that people get to stop work for the duration of the race. So if the whole day isn't declared a public holiday, like it is in Melbourne, at the very least they should have the decency to make the race longer. Forget 5 minutes, get the horses to run a marathon. That way, the rest of Australia would get a couple of hours off. Hey make it like an F1 race Bathurst or even better, like The Amazing Race.
Ohhhhhh - sport!!!!!