Wednesday, April 25, 2007

And the band murdered Waltzing Matilda

I feel gypped. I may have no right to feel gypped, but I do. And while to err may well be human, to whinge about the cock-ups is even more bloody human.

I walked to my local Anzac Day dawn service this morning. The sun rose in a chill, grey sky, showing about 500 people standing around a clock crowned with a stone angel. It started to drizzle as we waited. Twenty-five minutes late, a piper struck up a lament, leading in the marchers from the nearby RSL Club. Between the piper and the old soldiers were the members of the historical re-enactment regiment. For some reason, they wear what appear to be 19th century British Army uniforms that come complete with natty little white helmets and navy jackets and a captain with an Amish-style moustacheless beard. At least they did better this year in the marching stakes, because they all managed to turn the same way at the same time.

The young man with the crew cut who was leading the service could have been a Salvation Army officer or a military chaplain, but he didn't introduce himself, so I haven't a clue. He invited everyone to look at their programs and sing "the first hymn" while Kylie struck up a tune on the Hammond Home Organ. Sadly, all we could hear was the chaplain's reedy tenor because someone had neglected to hand out said programs.

Next the piper had a go at Black Bear, which everyone knows is useless without drums. He hit enough bum notes to put my teeth on edge. Kylie had a crack at Abide With Me, which luckily most people did seem to know without the aid of the apocryphal cheat sheets.

The wreaths were laid, the Lord's Prayer was muttered and the national anthem (first verse only) was droned. The historical fellows fired off a 21-gun salute that startled half the audience and all of the dogs and sent every pigeon within cooee into the air.

But the worst was yet to come.

The Last Post.

One of the historical blokes stepped away from his fellows and took out his bugle and I realised with a sinking heart that it was the same guy who had "played" last year. I hoped he had spent every waking hour practicing and was about to do himself and his country proud.

But no. He still sounded like a retarded four-year-old blowing through a crushed toilet roll.

If anything, it was even worse than last year. At the moment when I should have been solemnly contemplating the fallen, the Anzac spirit, mateship and the futility of war, I found myself biting my lips and trying not to laugh aloud. I think I may have cracked a rib with the effort.

When the service drew to a merciful close, about half the people clapped, which I thought was rather inappropriate. Do you clap at a funeral? But perhaps it was an indication of what people really think of Anzac Day now - that it's a way of being wrapped in the flag and entertained while feeling virtuous for getting up early. Or perhaps they were just relieved to be getting away from the disgraceful bugler, the off-key piper and Kylie and her organ.

I stomped home along the seafront, feeling cheated of my moment of solemnity and thinking that I might as well have stayed in bed. I kept pace with an Air Force officer striding down the other side of the road and vowed to choose another service next year. I wouldn't have minded anything else, but there is no excuse for slaughtering The Last Post.

But at least my attendance at the dawn service was carbon neutral. Self-satisfied eco-halo for me. Well, it was until I got home and fired up the toaster. Apparently you can have carbon neutral weddings, carbon neutral festivals and carbon neutral presidential campaigns these days, but no-one seems to have any hints on making carbon neutral toast and Vegemite.

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31 Comments:

At 10:53 pm, April 25, 2007, Blogger hazelblackberry said...

As a matter of fact, I often like my toast with a bit of extra carbon.

I had plans to attend the dawn service this year and didn't set an alarm as I'm generally awake by about 4am (even on weekends, dammmit) and dozing in and out after that. So this morning I woke at 8.30. Good one.

 
At 9:27 am, April 26, 2007, Blogger The Man at the Pub said...

Sounds a bit lame, but at least you had Kylie to entertain. I didn't know she could play an instrument!

My most memorable Last Post was one I played myself, on my blues harp, in the dawn shadow of Mt. Kosciusko.

 
At 12:51 pm, April 26, 2007, Blogger kiki said...

i have never been to a dawn service. my grandfather never wanted us to go, he never even went.

instead, he and the surviving compatriats of the ships he served on would meet at some RSL and reflect personally, which i think is much better than these big wanky dawn services

 
At 1:20 pm, April 26, 2007, Blogger redcap said...

hazelblackberry, I'm rather wishing I'd slept in...

TMatP, ooh, I'm impressed you play the blues harp!

kiki, I'm leaning your way. This is the third year I've gone and it may well be the last. I saw a picture in the paper this morning of some guys at Gallipoli wearing T-shirts that said something like, "Fanatics - Anzac Day, Gallipoli 2007" and it just made me feel dirty. Is that a bandwagon I can hear rattling by?

 
At 4:44 pm, April 26, 2007, Blogger actonb said...

I'm actually wondering how long it's going to be until the question "Did you go to the Dawn Service" becomes an accusation along the same lines as "Do you love Australia? Kiss the flag!"
The tours to Gallipoli are just an excuse for a piss-up - I've had friends go and be absolutely horrified...
Having said that, I have relatives serving overseas, and the need for solemn respect and commemoration (NOT celebration) of their sacrifice is important. Pity the message gets lost...

(Says the one who stayed in bed)

 
At 8:27 pm, April 26, 2007, Blogger Rosanna said...

Tehe.

And another tehe, because I'm still laughing.

He still sounded like a retarded four-year-old blowing through a crushed toilet roll.

HA.

 
At 8:29 pm, April 26, 2007, Blogger Rosanna said...

PS: Bloody dawn services. Everyone jumps on board for the whole day, rattling on about patriotism and self sacrifice and blah blah (not that I don't agree, but honestly - do you think they EVER talk about it the whole rest of the day?)

Today on Nova, Dave Hughes said "Well, I know yesterday was Anzac Day and everyone was so Australian but today is NOT Anzac Day, so we're back to slagging people off"*


*Probably the least articulate blog comment ever.

 
At 8:59 pm, April 26, 2007, Blogger redcap said...

Ha! Rosanna, I think you and I could possibly be New Best Friends. I'm visiting your blog right now! :)

 
At 9:36 pm, April 26, 2007, Blogger redcap said...

Oh, and ActonB, yes - you're right. Kiss the flag, wear the damned flag, tattoo it on your head and why don't YOU know the second verse of the national anthem? (Err, because NO-ONE DOES?)

This patriotism thing really is worrying me. I try to claim some ininitessimally tiny measure of understanding of what remembrance is about (not what war is about - I wouldn't go there) because I've recorded a few old diggers' stories. And I've closed my notebook, put my pen away and left their houses or their RSL Clubs and then cried into my sleeve in my car at the stories they've told me because they have been heartbreaking, but no-one who wasn't there has a hope of really getting it.

But this kiss-the-flag crap is really starting to shit me.

Anzac Day is NOT just piss-up day for people who haven't been to war or served in the armed forces. It's not just go-to-Gallipoli-because-that's-where-you-go-on-pilgrimage day.

It shouldn't be cheapened and it should't be commercialised. And yes, I do blame John Howard, with his bloody wrapped-in-the-flag attitude. How dare he hijack their memory and our history for his own self-serving purposes?

/rant

 
At 9:46 pm, April 26, 2007, Blogger Lonie Polony said...

I can't go to ANZAC services, I get too sad thinking about all the boys (and girls) who died and keep dying, and I don't want people to think I'm some affected drama queen.

 
At 10:06 pm, April 26, 2007, Blogger Rosanna said...

New best friends? Yahoo. I love fellow Harry Potter fans. I've been trying desperately to will July to hurry up. But time always slows down for those who are excited.

You visited my blog on the worst fortnight of Rosanna-blogging ever. I apologise, on behalf of my blog and myself, for the dismal crap that I produced in the last fourteen days.

I blame university.

x

 
At 10:09 pm, April 26, 2007, Blogger Rosanna said...

PS: I forgot the mention that the name of this blog post is awesome.

That's all.

 
At 10:29 pm, April 26, 2007, Blogger redcap said...

Lonie, it's OK to be upset at dawn services. You're allowed.

Rosanna, I've so been willing July to hurry up! That, or a copy of the final HP to just fall out of the sky and onto my doorstep. (Naturally, I'd share it with other HP tragics. After I'd read it...) But fear not - my posting has been more slightly dismal lately. We can compare Deathly Hallows notes in a coupla months, yeah? ;)

 
At 10:30 pm, April 26, 2007, Blogger Rosanna said...

Absolutely! Absolutely. Absolutely.

Votes on who carks it?

 
At 10:54 pm, April 26, 2007, Blogger redcap said...

Oooh deary. Hard choice. Tossing up between Ron and Hagrid. Or perhaps both? Harry has lost Sirius and Dumbledore so far, so either of those two would make sense. Gotta toughen the lad up. I think the 'shippers (no, I'm not one of them!) would blow a gasket if Hermione were to be put to the wand...

So, in short, I have no idea. One of my mates continues to think that Dumbledore is actually evil, is not dead and will come back to do battle with Harry, but I won't hear of it! No!

 
At 12:01 pm, April 27, 2007, Blogger Steph said...

I think I just cracked a rib laughing till i almost peed reading that.

Too funny. I know, I know, it shouldn't be, but the way you described it all, it sounded like an episode of Benny Hill.......minus the half nekkid chicks.

 
At 5:03 pm, April 27, 2007, Blogger PetStarr said...

If your toast had too much carbon, you've got the toaster turned up too high.

 
At 5:49 pm, April 27, 2007, Blogger londongirl said...

No excuse at all. Perhaps if he goes on a training programme now, he might be half decent by next year?

 
At 9:13 pm, April 27, 2007, Anonymous Clyde said...

Oh no---Redcap just killed Hagrid
The world will end

 
At 9:35 pm, April 27, 2007, Blogger Lonie Polony said...

No, I reckon it's gonna be Voldemort and Neville who die. And how tragic is this? Mr. Lonie's buying me the book for my birthday. My 29th birthday.

 
At 10:33 pm, April 28, 2007, Blogger Rosanna said...

I don't want it to be Ron, or Hagrid. And I don't want Dumbledore to be evil, so tell your friend to shut up, mmkay?

I'm rooting for the death of bloody Snape. I'm sick of that slime ball. I think Neville shall make it through (possibly with toad in hand). McGonagall dies and I shall die. Slightly in love with the twins. Percy can be sacrificed. Ginny can stay.

I like the house elves, too.

 
At 2:44 pm, April 29, 2007, Blogger redcap said...

Steph, There were probably half-nekkid chicks in crash helmets and knee-pads somewhere, just waiting for the Benny Hill music to start up so they could chase him just as his pants fell down around his ankles.

Pet, everyone's toaster goes psycho occasionally. Mine is inhabited by the soul of a departed madman, as per Douglas Adams.

LG, I vote we just replace the incompetent twat with a tape.

Clyde, I didn't mean to kill Hagrid! It just makes sense, is all.

Lonie, Voldemort makes sense, but killing Neville would sort of be like shooting fish in a barrel. I'd like to see Neville come into his own and revenge his parents. Oh, and I'm older than you, so I guess that makes me a few years more tragic ;)

Rosanna, in my pal's theory, Dumbledore ain't dead and Snape is actually a hero. I think she just has a crush on Alan Rickman, though. I'd rather that no-one died but Voldemort, the entire Malfoy clan and Bellatrix LeStrange, but I suppose realistically, someone on the light side of the Force has to get knocked off. I hope it's not Mrs Weasley, though. She's mumsy and I like her.

 
At 5:42 pm, April 30, 2007, Blogger Ariel said...

This is actually a comment on your sidebar (the what you're reading bit). I, too, have a pile of other reading to do that is keeping me from the new JTH, which I hear (from the people I know who've read it) is brilliant. I'll be interested to know what you think, as a fellow devotee.

 
At 8:40 pm, May 01, 2007, Blogger redcap said...

Ariel, all hail JTH :) What's your favourite? I love The Last Magician.

 
At 7:11 pm, May 02, 2007, Blogger Ariel said...

Me too! It's the first one I read (as required reading for my Uni SA course - the only thing I got out of my half-a-degree. Almost.) I've read it about six times and just about every time, I've discovered something new in it. It's my no. 1 favourite book.

 
At 7:36 pm, May 02, 2007, Blogger redcap said...

The first one I read was Borderline, so it was probably a bit of a miracle that I read any more, really ;)

 
At 9:05 pm, May 02, 2007, Blogger Ariel said...

I don't remember disliking Borderline. I think The Ivory Swing was my least favourite.

 
At 9:10 pm, May 02, 2007, Blogger redcap said...

I didn't dislike Borderline - it was just a bit difficult, you know? Very PoMo. The whole concept of an unreliable narrator in the form of a piano tuner who may or may not have been imaginary, a la Jorge Luis Borges, sort of did my head at the time. Not that I don't like Borges, of course. Oh, and while I didn't actually mind The Ivory Swing, I can see why it would be your least favourite.

 
At 10:38 pm, May 02, 2007, Anonymous Clyde said...

Oh, so that's OK then----a powerful pubication kills off Hagrid and they didn't mean to do it----tell it to the very large corpse-----
4 films and no more Fluffy and you have to take Hagrid--just makes it unwatchable
Next you will make bacon out of Babe

 
At 9:15 am, May 03, 2007, Blogger redcap said...

Clyde, mmm, bacon...

 
At 9:30 am, June 13, 2007, Blogger coffeesnob said...

none of that tawdriness in melbourne. the service dignified and ceremonial. and freezing cold, of course.

pooh-pooh on the carbon. who wants to live like a unabomber or an african peasant? burn that energy.

 

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