Football, Meatpies, Kangaroos and What?

I launched myself at Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister last night. I was so enthusiastic with my hand shake and my gushing “I’M SO GLAD THAT YOU’RE HERE!” that poor Bob Carr didn’t quite know what to do with his newest devotee. He appeared to almost recoil with my fanatical and spirited greeting.

Frightened, it would be fair to say he looked frightened.

After a couple of quick sentences he made a hasty retreat muttering something about being glad to hear our thoughts and taking them on board. I was left grinning like a crazy women at the back of Bob’s head.

It would be easy to blame my fervent greeting on the woeful display of early appetizers and the abundant supply of white wine. But I think it was more than that. We had a special guest from Australia last night, a real live Australian who spoke about Australian things. And in one quick speech he carefully touched on all the things Australians abroad like to hear. We know you’re here, we’re learning about this place and we’re trying to grow more business. A connection has been formed.  And of course the usual patriotic confirmation of what we’ve been thinking for years, that there truly is no place like home.

It’s a question I love to ask people. What makes you identify with being Australian? I’ve asked the children again this morning and I know I’ll do it again before the year is out. Their answers fascinate me as they change. I really love to hear the answer from new immigrants, it’s all about optimism and new lives being started. If you haven’t been to a citizenship ceremony, please go, I defy you not to cry as you watch someone with a huge grin on their face and a tear in their eye complete a leap of faith.

If I ask the question of any other middle class Aussie of my age the answer will be invariably littered with references to sport, beach, Anzac and weirdly, Olympic memories. Last night a friend talked of his Dad taking him to rugby, someone else talked of heading “down the coast”.

Earlier in the day a twitter conversation had taken me back to a commerical that played on high rotation in Australia in the 80’s I remember hearing my Dad sing it around the house. Football, meat pies, kangaroos and Holden Cars. Can you remember it? Is there anything that could be any more Australian in 1981?

Can you hear that sound? That’s the sound of South Africa saying “Hang on, I’ve heard that tune before?”

Oh wait. Uh Oh. That’s not how it goes at all! 1974. America.

Hmmm, anyone else know this tune?

Suddenly it doesn’t feel so quintessentially Australian anymore. 🙂

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