Saturday, 8 March 2014

Australia and Footy

I love Australia.

I couldn’t be more Aussie if I were riding a kangaroo down the street, eating a vegemite sandwich, drinking a VB, and staring at a picture of Mitch Johnson – all while dressed as Alf Stewart from Home and Away.

I’m Aussie as. Could not be Aussier if.  But at the risk of sounding like an un-Australian mongrel, there is not a term I hate more in our vernacular than ‘un-Australian’.

Now to some of you, that will automatically label me as a tie-dyed t-shirt wearing, dole-bludging, chardonnay sipping, tree-hugging, flag-burning, feminazi, lezbollah, latte leftie member of the inner city elite, who doesn’t know what it’s like for silent majority of LABs (Little Aussie Battlers) who live on, or a short bicycle ride from Struggle Street.

And I must confess, they’re right. I don’t know what it’s like. J

The only people who truly know what it’s like to be a battler are millionaire TV people.  They know battlers because they employ many of them as butlers.

But to me, the term un-Australian is the cane toad of our language and it continues to spread.  At this rate, next year we won’t celebrate Australia Day, we’ll have un-Australia Day. Politicians and talk-back radio hosts will crown the un-Australian of the Year while a choir sings the anthem “Advance Australia Un-Fair” and then chant “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie Noi, Noi, Noi!” Of course, all of this will be faithfully reported in the unAustralian newspaper.

Incidentally, that movie “Australia” by Baz Luhrman, can’t be Australian. If it was, it would have been made by a bloke called Bazza Luhrman and called “Straya”.

But, again, I digress.

So what is it about the dreaded label that I find so offensive?  Well, for starters, it’s so insular.  Why, in this amazing international community we are all a part of, do we feel the need to define ourselves so narrowly?  What’s next?  Un-Victorian? Un-Rooty-Hillian?  I mean, how small do we want to go?

“Excuse me, it says here that you’ve lived in this city for over 20 years, and yet, you’ve never killed someone in a really bizarre fashion.  How un-Alice Springian”.

Or “G’day mate.  I see you have three kids and none of them have mullets. How very un-Townsvillian”.

Or even “You mean you’ve never smoked, got drunk, got fat, taken drugs, taken money from a bookie, or shagged around?  That’s very un-Shane Warnian”.

Which leads me to my second problem: what we choose to label un-Australian.  After all, when we locked children in the desert detention centres there was barely an un-Oz whisper to be heard, but when petrol hit $1.55, people in the street were chanting, “Petrol has hit $1.55.  That is so un-Australian.  The only way I can calm down is by drinking this $4 bottle of water and eating this $10 banana.”

I guess I just don’t understand how we decide what is Australian and what is not.   Surely by its very definition, it is Aussie to do whatever Aussies do.  “What’s that, love?  You went to Bali and you didn’t smuggle drugs? That is so un-Australian”.

I think it shows a real lack of clear identity that we constantly define ourselves by what we aren’t.  When I fill in a form that asks for my sex, I write ‘female’ I don’t write ‘un-male’.

It seems to me that as a nation, we’re afraid to admit that Australians are just like everyone else. We’re good, bad, smart, stupid, brave, cowardly, grumpy, dozey, sneezy and Doc. (OK, you got me. I ran out of ideas at the end). Instead, we seem to think that if something is worthy of praise, it is immediately Australian, and conversely, if it’s bad, it’s un-Australian.  For example, when Russell Crowe won his Academy Award, he was a top Aussie, but when he threw the phone, he was suddenly from New Zealand.  Better still, I remember when Australians were actually proud to say that Mel Gibson was a countryman. (Although, let’s face it, he’s a drunk and a racist. What could be more Australian than that?)

And, sadly, calling someone un-Australian seems to be a trait that is, well, Australian.  After all, you don’t particularly hear about people being described as ‘un-Swiss’, ‘un-Greenlandish’ or even ‘un-Iraqi’.

I mean, are the people of Kyrgyzstan currently having a national debate on un-Kyrgyzstani behavior? And what exactly would that consist of, other than not being particularly landlocked and using too many vowels in the spelling of place names?

Are people who walk into a bar, but aren’t amusing accused of being un-Irish?  Are those who are really good at cricket labelled un-English?  And what if a back-packer to this country gets a job? Will that make them an un-New Zealander?

Ah yes, taking the puss out of Kiwis.  Now that is truly Australian.

I was talking football (Aussie Rules) with my neighbor this morning. Yes, the start of the season is almost on us.
To some people, me included, September is a happy time. Spring has sprung, the flowers are blooming, the weather is improving and so are people’s moods.  Well, everyone’s that is, except his. He hates September.
He said that he’s had 35 Septembers in his life and has hated every single one, without exception.  In fact, he wasn’t sure if ‘hate’ was a strong enough word.
You know how some hotels don’t have a thirteenth floor due to superstition? (Although who are they kidding?  Floor fourteen knows what it really is.)  If he designed calendars, there would be no September.

Clearly this would piss off a lot of Virgos – their birthdays of course, but it would certainly make his life more pleasant.  If he could, he would go to bed on the 31st August and not wake up until the 1st of October.  

So why does he want to go all Rip Van Winkle on September, I hear you ask?  What could possibly make him hate a single month so much? Yeah – you guessed it – footy finals!

We’re not implying that he doesn’t love his football team. He does. They are, in fact, his greatest passion.  Most people’s blood have red and white blood cells. His have blue as well.

So folk, there lies the rub. In all his 35 years he has never seen the doggies play in a grand final, let alone win one.  For some clubs, September is a time of hopes and dreams (go Hawthorn), for the Bulldogs, it’s a time for disappointments and planning end-of-season trips.  He says, he doesn’t know what he did in a previous life to deserve this, but he assumes he must have driven a truck full of black cats under a row of ladders and then crashed it into a mirror factory.

For those of you who don’t follow football, and I am reliably informed that there are one or two of you, the Western Bulldogs only ever played in two Grand Finals:  they won one in 1954 (years before he was born) and lost one (years before he was born).

Just pause and think about that for a moment.  The last time his club won a flag was in 1954. 1954.  To put this into perspective, if he had been around then and missed the game, he wouldn’t have been able to catch the replay because AUSTRALIA DIDN’T HAVE TELEVISION!!!

When his team won the flag, the average price of a car was $1,200.  These days, that’s about what it costs to fill up a car’s tank.

He says, he’s heard some people talk about the pain of seeing their team lose on Grand Final Day, he would just like to see his team on the ground on Grand Final Day.

Oh well, Eamon …  there’s always this September, or next, or ………

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