Posted by: seasonaire | January 30, 2013

Meanwhile in Perth

I have been back in Perth for nearly 3 weeks now, enough time to experience Australia Day, essentially the 4th of July for Aussies, but with more booze and more beach. The fireworks seem the main event on Australia Day, and people drive to the foreshore, jump on a boat or go to a convenient hilltop to see them, so far so 4th July. The prequel to the firework display is drinking as much as possible without being caught, drinking in public is banned in Australia, and the beaches and parks are often policed (by the fun police), meaning that offenders will usually have their drinks confiscated. So everyone heads to the beach with a huge Esky (ice box) full of beer, and tries to drink inconspicuously, growing bolder in proportion to their current blood alcohol level. This increased blood alcohol also has a direct effect on the amount of people yelling at people from their (usually overcrowded) vehicles, meaning the experience of being one of the few carless people on this giant landmass, becomes even less pleasant than usual.

This is one of the main reasons that in my brain patriotism and dickish behaviour are inextricably linked. National days usually seem to involve huge quantities of alcohol, this is not a problem as long as it is only celebrated once a year. Britain has no coherent national day, so tends to co-opt St Patrick’s Day and any other convenient day in which drinking is thought to be the main tradition. Again, this is fine as it tends to only occur a few times a year, and is not a public holiday. The main problem I have with British patriotism, is that it is usually linked to the Royal Family (weddings, jubilees and the like), who I couldn’t give a toss about, but will happily take the extra public holiday offered, and that both the Union Jack and the St George’s Cross have thuggish undertones. The England flag has associations with football hooliganism, and racism, while the Union Jack also has undertones of extremist groups such at the National Front.

While Aussies and Americans seem to have few uncomfortable feelings about their flags, despite brutalities committed by both countries in the past, the British flag or flags are not something to which I feel fully associated. On balance, I think I will continue to help other nationalities celebrate their national days as long as it involves beer (probably resulting in some dickish behaviour).


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