Sunday, October 17, 2010

We had no double-decker buses in Deniliquin

Cate took this rather special photo of a Squirrel in Regents Park.

Australians have a strange affinity for England and we really are quite fond of the country and most of the English people.

We have an English heritage and indeed the colony was started by a bunch of convicts send from the shores of Blighty a couple of hundred years or so ago. Mostly for the heinous crimes of stealing a slice of toast or half a marshmallow.  

The English have never really forgiven us for this - particularly as after the early struggles in the wide brown land we became a fabulous country with gorgeous people, magnificent beaches and the best beer in the world. In fact for the last 50 years or so the English, and the Irish and the Scots and even the odd Welshman – have been leaving the UK in droves to spend their days basking in the sun and drinking cold beer. 

We love to beat the English at cricket. This particular pleasure was denied us in the last Ashes series and I rather think may escape us again in the next series staring in November. Nothing – and I mean nothing – makes an Australian as unhappy as being beaten by the English in cricket.  It could be a long summer and - I fear - Mr Ponting’s last as Australian Captain. No one can lose as many series as he has and survive.

To balance all this bounty we have without doubt the most magnificent collection of fearsome and venomous creatures on the planet. We have snakes that can kill you with their thoughts, spiders the size of Kelpies and the mighty Irukandji jellyfish, which – for its size – would be unbeatable as the most dangerous creature on the planet. (Well – some Republicans excepted).

The British Queen is also our Queen. Fortunately she does not visit very often and plays no part in the governance (if that term could be applied loosely) of the country. She is content to stay in Buckingham Palace dealing with the daily scandals and catastrophes that have beset that miserable family for some considerable time.  The Queen really did get the short straw with her hapless brood and their assorted spouses and one can only hope that the next generation will do better – but I fear not. There is a long history of eccentricity in the British Royalty.

Every few years the Queen rouses herself, shakes off the Corgis and embarks on a grand tour of her colonies – which are few and far between these days. She graces our shores with her shimmering magnificence and hordes of people simper and bow and scrape and curtsey in front of her and her barking mad husband. They are really quite harmless and while most Australians would rather have a Republic we really we do not care that much. The problem with a Republic is that the President will be elected by the people and we all know where that can lead. Better the loonies you know.

Charles is more dangerous and we are hoping that he the will be devoured by one of his plants so that we can get his son William – who looks quite dim and harmless and will faithfully perform the duties of a Monarch which include opening things, meeting people, having garden parties and appearing on the covers of magazines. Of course there will be the occasional scandal and photos of him having his toes sucked by a Hooker in the Dorchester but this will not affect his capacity to rule.

The first book I ever remember seeing was a picture book about England. I had this in Deniliquin in South-Western NSW in about 1950. I can remember pictures of London buses, Oxford Street, Tower Bridge, the Thames and other iconic sights. To a very small boy who lived in a tiny country town it looked like a very strange place a very long way away. 

In the 60s and 70s and it was the dream of an enormous number of young Australians to go to England – and they did in droves. I was always seeing people off, first on big ships like the Oriana and later in the first real passenger jets - Boeing 707s. I did not get there for my first trip until about 1980 – for work - and then wandered about staring at all the sights that were so familiar from books, movies and TV. I visited London at least twice year every year for the next 10 years or so and loved every trip. It still feels so familiar and last week I really had fun hopping about all those places I have visited before. (I avoided the West End nightclub which was the scene of a rather unfortunate and expensive episode in about 1982).

To be continued……


  1. I really am glued to this. I adore England and would go back in an heartbeat, if I could. Can't wait to read more!

  2. angiv: Here it is

    SK Waller: I agree. I have quite fallen for London all over again - and they speak English!