TRUE OPINION: As a proud Scotsman, Australia contains too much of the bad parts of Britain, reflects Gary Johnston.
A few years ago, I was commissioned by a newspaper in Scotland to write a piece or two about tennis player Andy Murray’s attempt to wrest the Australian Open title away from Novak Djokovic.
Murray was magnificent. Skilful, sulky, dexterous and dogged, he personified all the various elements of the Scottish psyche, marauding past numerous lesser lights all the way to a grand final showdown with the Serbian supremo himself.
Where, in the style of a characteristically Caledonian contender, Andy was absolutely battered.
Imagine the spectacle. The Scottish diaspora, in full force, terrorising the denizens of Melbourne Park with their tartan, glottal stops, Braveheart face paint and – the very embodiment of the subjugated Scot – a chip, proudly displayed on both shoulders.
Most weren’t Scottish at all, but Australian. Third generation, some of them.
‘My forebears were Scottish’, one of them told me.
(Forebears, I thought. Impressive. That’s one more than Goldilocks.)
These were plastic jocks. Cardboard cut-out Celts. The sort of people who’d do anything for Scotland, except actually live there.
The point is however, they felt as if they belonged. Andy Murray’s exploits – and in some ways his eventual demise – gave them something to hold on to, something to rejoice in, to share, because that’s what patriotism is, a theoretical, some would say nebulous, feeling of kinship, as authentic as a deep-fried mars bar and just about as palatable.
Like most Australians, these were immigrants who found enough relevance, real or imaged, in their heritage to justify a propensity for the stereotype. It’s normal; every immigrant does the same, preserve the old traditions, connect with the past, there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with it, but it does beg the question: why are some émigrés more acceptable than others?
Furthermore, for a country with a multi-cultural infrastructure, why does Australia have such a mono-cultural outlook?
It wouldn’t be so bad if the culture of choice wasn’t such a feeble, contaminated and disgraced one.
But it is. Oh, it is.
It’s an English culture, an English history. A horrible, inept, corrupt culture.
In the magnificent words of Renton in the movie ‘Trainspotting’ – ‘Some people hate the English. I don’t. They’re just wankers. We, on the other hand, are colonised by wankers. We can’t even find a decent culture to be colonised by’.
It was true then. It’s true now.
Take, for example, the 26th January. Take it and throw it far away. Apart from the obvious reasons why it shouldn’t be celebrated, what justification is there for celebrating it at all?
It’s the day – and even that’s historically debatable – when a bunch of petty criminals arrived on these shores. Hardly a reason to put out the bunting and flags is it?
Embarrassing, is what is. Never mind what occurred after the crooks, con artists, thieves, vagabonds and pisspots got to work – and here I’m talking about the soldiers, the marines of the first fleet, the perfectly-named Rum Corps, who differed from the actual criminals in name only – the establishment of a primeval prison is barely worth remembering, never mind honouring.
A cousin of mine was once sent to Glasgow’s notorious Barlinnie Jail for a ‘holiday’ but I don’t remember the family having a party. We closed the curtains and laid low for a while.
If anyone asked where he was, we said he was doing missionary work in Manchester.
But then, it’s not like it’s the only crap thing England gave Australia that the establishment considers venerable and admirable.
Off the top of my head, there’s the monarchy, Christianity, racism, alcoholism, syphilis, cricket, meat pies and Ben Elton.
I’m sure there’s more and I’m equally certain we’d all be better off without any of them.
Oh, and Tony Abbott, I forgot about him.
You should too.
If you try hard enough, it might work.