Friday, January 26, 2007

Strayaday

What happened? When did Australia Day become National Bloody Barbecue Day? It used to be a non-entity of a holiday and an excuse for a long weekend and that was that.

When I was a kid, I did like Australia Day. That was when Adam was a lad, in the days before compo claims and public liability wankery, when Adelaide used to have a Birdman Rally. The Birdman Rally was ace. It even used to be televised. A mob of wallies would build things with wings and take a flying leap off the end of Glenelg jetty. The person who went the furthest got a prize. The most creative bit of crap with wings got a prize. It was hilarious. There were heaps of entries and there was always some dickhead who'd just dress up as a duck or Mr Percival and jump into the water. There were people who went to huge amounts of trouble to make dragons out of beer cans and string that used to break apart in mid-air or as soon as they hit the water. There were even serious entrants who built mini hang-gliders that were designed for distance rather than amusement value. It was arseloads of fun. I loved the Birdman Rally when I was a little tacker.

Apparently, they still have Birdman Rallies in Moomba and other places, but not here. Some bloody killjoy made jetty jumping illegal because people kept breaking their necks. Pfft. That not only destroyed the Birdman Rally, it buggered up the Greek blessing of the waters as well. Now all the Greek lads have to walk gently down the ramp, taking care not to slip on the squishy bits, step cautiously into the water and wait for the cross to be tossed in. Dull, dull, dull and duller.

But, as so often happens, I digress. We were talking about Strayaday. For a good 15 years after the Birdman Rally was shot in the head by the number crunchers, Australia Day was sort of like Labour Day: a good excuse for a day off in the Land of the Long Weekend.

Then a few years ago, things started to turn weird. We were no longer the Land of the Long Weekend. We became Straya. Spontaneous barbecues started to break out all over the country. Sam Kekovitch started banging on about stuff that was "unAustralian". Strayan flags erupted from people's shoulders like huge, silly wings. Newspapers felt obliged to run front-page photos of people wrapped The Flag without the least sense of irony. This morning's Traumatiser had a perfect example. There was a girl in bathers, there was a flag, there was water. That just symbolises Straya, doesn't it? The poor bloody photographer was probably forced to take a meat pie with him as a prop, just in case The Flag wasn't quite Strayan enough.

I can't pinpoint when this happened. When did this bizarre display of patriotism break out? Was it at the same time as we all turned into McDonald's barge-arses and forgot how to cook? Was it when pub meals went super-size and you got chips with everything but had to pay extra for salad or veg? Or was about the time our lovely Federal Government decided refugees were evil, dirty people who would try to drown their children just so they could worm their way into our great country? Is that when all this blasted national pride hit? Just when we had the least reason to be proud of ourselves? Whatever the case, it seems to have taken over Anzac Day as well. Every good little Strayan has to go on pilgrimmage to Gallipoli or walk the Kokoda Track. They bang on about doing for The Diggers and remembering their sacrifice, but it's doing nothing but cheapening their memory.

I don't feel that much national pride, to tell you the truth. Yes, this is my home and I love the land where I was born, but there are far too many days when I'm ashamed to be Australian. That would be when I hear another story about our Government sticking its head in the sand and refusing to sign the Kyoto Protocol. Or when I think of poor bloody David Hicks and all the other Guantanamo Bay inmates sitting there, slowly going mad in solitary confinement and orange jumpsuits. And any time I see John Howard's smarmy, self-satisfied little face, purporting to represent me when he says the "War on Terror" is a good fight.

Australia is the beach at the end of my street. That's the Australia I love and I'm proud of. On this, our national day, I would like to give all of those other things, all of those Strayan things, a hearty Fuck You and wish that they might choke on their patriotic lamb chops.

In fact, why don't we just move the whole damned celebration to the 4th of July and be done with it, y'all? Bring back the Birdman Rally and maybe we'll talk.

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27 Comments:

At 8:29 pm, January 26, 2007, Blogger MadameBoffin said...

actually like the flags and the bbq's and all the rest of it. I like the fact that people are taking more pride in Australia, being Australian and actually showing it.

When I was little people complained all the time about how we didn't take pride in Australia, how Australia Day was such a piss-poor joke of a holiday because no one did anything. Now it's the opposite.

I think this recent push of Australiana is a reaction to all the divisiveness that's been such a hallmark of recent years. So, rather than focussing on what separates us, people are uniting behind what's the same: we're all Australians.

I guess it's very Australian to be unpatriotic - we've always been understated as a nation and I like that. But don't mistake Australian flag waving and bbq challenges as smarmy patriotism - it's just a celebration. Nothing wrong with that :) (well, in my opinion anyway)

 
At 9:22 pm, January 26, 2007, Anonymous ashleigh said...

My what a grumpy cynic you are!

I wholeheartedly agree!

Thank you - and bring back the birdman rally AND the milk-carton regatta!!!

 
At 9:59 pm, January 26, 2007, Blogger meva said...

I really am glad that I was born in Australia. I love its physical beauty. I love the blueness of our skies and the sandy grainyness of our deserts. I love the way the sunlight filters through the gum trees. I love the wattle and the wildnerness, the rivers, the surf and the fragrance of our air.

But I hate the way that we treat the original Australians. I hate the way we treat those who desperately need our hospitality and instead get our scorn. I hate the way that disadvantage is promoted as being morally repugnant. I hate the way the social order in our country is being manipulated to celebrate greed and selfishness and aggression.

I feel a bit lost in todays Australia. And that leaves me with very little to celebrate.

 
At 10:20 pm, January 26, 2007, Blogger TimT said...

Yeah, but Sam Kekovich was bloody funny. Not so much now, I saw him on the telly just then waving a flag or a greasy sausage or something equally patriotic on 'Today Tonight' and felt slightly queasy.

 
At 11:09 pm, January 26, 2007, Anonymous ThirdCat said...

Yes, it is a pity about the Birdman Rally, but at least Jane Reilly is still around.

And yes, all this flag-waving is a bit, well, tiring. I tried to stay inside until it was all over, but still managed to bump into five picnics all with huge flags.

 
At 11:38 am, January 27, 2007, Anonymous MikeFitz said...

National Bloody BBQ Day cannot be a bad thing. The Fitzies had a major Aussie Day pool party/BBQ. It was a day to celebrate. Piccies are up.

 
At 1:46 pm, January 27, 2007, Blogger ilse said...

I have my reservations about Straya day to tell the truth.

I think the "we're all Australians" catch-cry can hide an addition: "We're all Australians (except for those Muslim terrorists, the Lebbos, fucking Asians and faggots.)"

I get the feeling there are a lot of people who tack those sort of additions onto days like this.

At work on Thursday I had the pleasure of listening to my boss and a few of the others start to bang on about "The Mufti". They were so exaggeratedly ill-informed of the situation it turned my stomach.

 
At 4:28 pm, January 27, 2007, Blogger redcap said...

Boff, but that's what made Australia Day special! It was all about the half-arsedness that made this country great. Bring back half-arsedness, I say.

Ashleigh, you've seen my birth certificate, haven't you? Grumpy and Cynic are my middle names.

Meva, I couldn't agree more. We've just turned into another fast food nation.

Tim, yeah, Sam was quite funny to start with, but then it got a bit old. Sequels never work. Just ask the people who made The Matrix. Oh, and turning on Today Tonight is bound to make you feel queasy at the best of times.

Thirdcat, five? Good lord. I don't own an Australian flag. Where does one even buy such a thing?

Mike, if we called it Barbecue Day and dumped all the flaginess and "I am, you are, we are Orstrayeeyun" crap, I wouldn't mind. Nothing wrong with a barbie. I'm very fond of pigs in blankets.

Ilse, you've got to feel a bit sorry for the Mufti, don't you? He's always got something utterly stupid to say, so everytime he opens his mouth, people pounce on him. It's like shooting fish in a barrel. Please, someone get the man some media training before he gives the rednecks anything else to whine about!

 
At 9:24 am, January 28, 2007, Blogger Scorpy said...

Yep... I hate straya day too! What does it celebrate? If we have to have a holiday they should move it the end of the year when we don't have that many. The Aussie flag should be on a pole not worn as a bikini or drapped around some yobbo's shoulders like a drunken super hero. I'm very patriotic but don't want to share that patriotism with people that A: Have never been in the defence force, B: Use it as a drinking holiday C: Think they are Aussie by drapping a flag over themselves and espousing their aussiness for one day or D: Sportspeople who get gongs for playing sport...~grumble~ ~grumble~

 
At 1:54 pm, January 28, 2007, Blogger redcap said...

Well, Scorpy, I can't join the club. I've never been in the defence forces. Bloke was a reservist in the uni regiment though and now he works for the military industrial complex. Does that count?

 
At 4:38 pm, January 28, 2007, Blogger Original Mel said...

The fucking fireworks! I got stuck at work for an extra 45 minutes on Friday night because of all the bogans between me and my train going "oohhhhhhh, aaahhhhh" at the same fireworks I saw 3 weeks ago on new years eve.

 
At 9:21 pm, January 28, 2007, Anonymous China said...

Ah, carn, whats wrong with burning a little of the national emblem on the outdoor griller-----are you unpatriotic or sumthin--add in a few lambs kidneys a cupla sweatbreads and ya have a gourmet meal--and my dog loves the fireworks-----bring back cracker night

 
At 11:01 pm, January 28, 2007, Blogger redcap said...

O Mel, you'd think they'd never seen a firework, wouldn't you? When someone dishes up Lord of the Rings fireworks complete with dragons and mushroom clouds, maybe I'll do some oohing and aahhing too.

China, like I said, nothing wrong with a barbie. But if you're throwing bits of offal on the grill plate instead of sausages, I think you need to sit down and take a long hard look at yourself. C'mon - offal?! That's just unAustralian.

 
At 1:57 pm, January 29, 2007, Blogger Dot said...

i like Australia day because it always meant hanging around the house doing nothing and listening to the 'hottest 100' in the background.

i dislike the fact that recently, more than ever, people are modeling their expressions of patriotism on how American's express it ie, heaps of flag waving and shallow sentiment.

(great post!)

 
At 5:00 pm, January 29, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh dear, Redcap, I hate to say it but I disagree with you here.
I don't think Strayans are getting more patriotic - I think they're just revelling in yet another opportunity to get pissed (to be added to Dec 24, 25, 26 and 31).
The idea there's hundreds of people out there just waving those flags - well, I reckon that might just be a result of too many photographers not giving a flying Strayan lamb chop about getting imaginative pics for their papers.
Bloody media.
:-P

 
At 8:05 pm, January 29, 2007, Blogger redcap said...

Dot, thanks! That's my beef exactly - the whole shallow patriotism stars-and-stripes-for-ever, paint yourself green and gold and you must be a good Aussie crap.

Anon, bugger the media indeed. But you know as well as I do how bloody suggestible people are. Look at the Sydney Big Day Out. There were tossers dragging flags around just because they were told not to. And all that brawlstink at Semaphore on Strayaday started because some loser was wearing a flag. C'mon, people, being a yobbo is not a super power and an Australian flag cape doesn't mean you can fly. /rant

 
At 9:39 pm, January 29, 2007, Blogger Ms Smack said...

excellent post. I loved every bit of it even if i dont agree with some of it.

:) enjoy your pending trip.

 
At 9:42 pm, January 29, 2007, Blogger redcap said...

Ah, Ms Smack, that's what makes us all special and yooneek. We can agree to disagree ;)

 
At 9:09 am, January 30, 2007, Blogger susanna said...

i agree with all of it. call me curmudgeonly, but i don't get patriotism - we don't choose what plot of earth we're born on. it's not all that hard to simply 'be' from a country, and it's nothing to be proud of either. at times it's actually something to be ashamed of.

that said, i feel lucky to live here rather than some other places i could name (including that smoghole london). and i've always thought we were a relaxed, generous, fair lot.

but with this recent explosion of flag waving, there seems to have been a corresponding contraction of the notion that we actually have a lot to be sorry about on oz day. self-reflection and protest is very un-australian these days, isn't it?

 
At 10:26 am, January 30, 2007, Blogger killerrabbit said...

Redcap this excellent post - you should save gems like these for paid publications. Or letters to the editor lol.

I agree with your comments - all these unstryalanism puts my teeth on edge. Its great to be proud of Australia but as we still have a UK head of state and no Bill of Rights there isn't really much we can base our identity around. Unless of course you happen to be an original Australian. And then Australia day is invasion day and there is no way you could celebrate that.

 
At 12:31 pm, January 30, 2007, Blogger Steph said...

I love this country and i wouldn't live anywhere else, but i really hate a lot of what we proport to 'stand for'.
Plus, having many Aboriginal relatives on my fathers side, i can't quite get into the spirit of celebrating, what they refer to as "Invasion Day"

 
At 8:22 pm, January 30, 2007, Blogger redcap said...

Susanna, you can join my grumpy cynic club ;)

KR, thanks :) No-one is willing to pay me for rants, though. Stories about sheets and ottomans, yes. Rants, sadly not.

Steph, I'm not real keen on what "we" stand for either. But then I don't have much to do with people who would want to count themselves in that definition of "we". Who the hell is that "we" anyway? Is it made up entirely of redneck talkback callers, John Howard, Tony Abbott and Janet Albrechtson all in some sort of eternal circle jerk?

 
At 11:14 pm, January 30, 2007, Blogger nick cetacean said...

Oh, jeez, I used to love the Birdman rally, dreamt of going in it.

The other stupid thing which (briefly) occupied a young Adelaide boy's dreams was the race in the (that damn body of water like a river leading into Glenelg -- Wagoona? Pontoona?) of boats made of milk cartons...

For 5 minutes on year, we started saving milk cartoons. Only came up 7000 short...

 
At 12:14 am, January 31, 2007, Blogger redcap said...

Nick, ah, the Milk Carton Regatta on the Patawalonga. That was the Birdman Rally for people afraid of jumping off jetties. It was also the event for people who didn't mind being accompanied by a miasma of sour milk. I think they cancelled it when the Pat got so polluted it started dissolving the milk cartons on contact.

 
At 2:54 am, February 24, 2007, Anonymous Gutter Monkey said...

The Melbourne Birdman Rally is on in a little over two weeks.
I'm an entrant. Wish me luck! :)

 
At 11:43 am, April 17, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

mate ur a fkn idiot, you got a problem with the name taevah, and my sisters name tennille, at least spell the fucking name right, you got that much crap on your pathetic blog site-shows how much of a loser you actually are, ever thought of getting off your fat ass and getting out the house once in a while, u might realise there are better things to do than complain about every fkn thing you can think of, its people like u that are a waste of space...get a fkn life mate

 
At 8:38 pm, June 22, 2007, Blogger River said...

I,too,call Australia home and I also love this land that I was NOT born into. I was born in Germany, in Hamburg to be precise. Yup, I'm a hamburger.

 

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