I realise this post is largely an exercise in stereotyping, but as such, it’s going to be a good one. One of the things I love about Australians is our willingness to get the hell out of our own country and infiltrate everyone else’s.
Last year I went on a trip to Lake Orta, which is one of the smaller, more secluded lakes in Northern Italy. It took us two days to drive down from London, then once we were in the vicinity of the tiny town, it took us another two hours just to find the hotel that ended up being situated on the edge of a cliff face, which our TomTom recognised more as certain death instead of accommodation.
As soon as we got to the reception desk feeling as triumphant as Amerigo Vespucci, we heard two voices behind us:
“Fancy a walk down to get some gela-tay?”
“Yeah, reckon that sounds like a good idea.”
Half the population of Oonadatta had found their way here as well. Awesome!
Australians have the deserved reputation of making the effort to escape from our back yard which is commendable and understandable when you visit places like Western Queensland. So why are a few of us (but enough to still create a stereotype), so closed off to actually immersing ourselves in a new culture once we make the effort to site on a plane for 24 hours?
No where is this better illustrated than by looking at Australians in the UK. No I’m wrong; no where is this better illustrated than by looking at Australians in the UK when the Ashes is on.
Provoking the British has become something of a national sport for us, and it takes on a life of itself when you’re an Aussie in the motherland. For some reason, we get on the defensive from the start and even the biggest bookworm tries to develop arguments as to why sport is such an important life institution, other than “because we’re good at it…”
National pride is one thing, but hanging out with your Aussie possie at a Walkabout Bar every night, talking about why aussie rules is just plain better than football (soccer if you’re fresh off the boat) is hardly experiencing what it’s like to live in the UK.
I went to a comedy club in Soho awhile ago, where there was one heckler all night with nasal accents that couldn’t be misplaced as anything other than Australian. Granted, he was so inebriated that he probably thought that he was in Finland, but none the less he was flying our flag against the Poms for all he was worth.
His heckles were all about why Australia was better than the UK, and his basic argument was, if you want to be able to catch a ball in life, you needed to have been brought up in the Southern Hemisphere. After listening to him for three seconds though, I’m pretty sure every Brit in the room would have been coordinated enough to throw their beer glass at him and would have connected with a direct hit.
The point to my whole rant here is that if you’re one of the few whose only achievement in life is being an Aussie and you can’t utter a sentence that doesn’t contain the words “cricket” or “Bondi”, then fine, everyone is happy for you. Just remember why it is that you left the great brown land in the first place though before telling other people what’s wrong with their country, because the rest of us who sound like you end up having to justify over and over again why we actually like living here.