I was originally going to do a big journal debunking the myth that we are all tough, bush-dwelling croc-wrestlers in a land of nature's deadliest murderbeasts, but I hope that's not news to anyone reading these journals...
Actually, the toughest thing to convey to people about this country - and this was mentioned by a British expatriate/tourist (not sure which) on BBC's website recently - is how soul-crushingly boring we are.
It's really something you need to live here to experience. It has its advantages; Australians are actually extremely professional. We get shit done, mate. But you wouldn't believe that, would you? It's almost as if fun is illegal here, sometimes - if you're not into V8 utes and football/rugby, your hobby is probably illegal.
Don't come here if you like fireworks, BB/airsoft guns, or riding bicycles without a helmet if you don't like paying exorbitant fines.
There's a tyrannical, zealously officious streak in this country, and I find it amusing how wrong foreigners get us. It might be that whole "convict" thing (hint: America was a convict colony too), but people seem to think we're all inebriate fun-lovers who want to chuck a sicky, kick back with a Fosters (ugh) and laugh at our hilariously inappropriate comedians all day.
The reason why I mention this is that I see all kinds of amusing, cool things online that people from other nations do in semi-professional contexts that simply wouldn't happen here. For one thing, you don't even get to place special requests on pizza delivery orders - which are extremely expensive here. So asking for "a cool drawing" on the box will get you absolutely nowhere. They won't do it, even if they were to deign to let you make a special request. So forget the cool Zoidberg art or "murdering that motherfucker with bacon." Geez, as if company policy would let them write "motherfucker" on a customer's pizza box.
Oh, and forget "if the pizza is 15 minutes late, you get it free!" No, none of that. You pay ze price on ze bill. Period. File a complaint with customer service if it's late.
Seriously. The guy you talk with and order your food from might be great conversation, honest and so on - I absolutely love most of my community, and it's great just to chat with the husband and wife I get my lunch from - but they won't do anything interesting or out of the ordinary. It just goes against some unspoken, strict, specific code of appropriateness that apparently we were all sworn to at birth.
Steve Hughes, one of the aforementioned irreverent comedians (and a fearsomely intelligent man), covers this topic quite well. It's one of his main gripes - because there is that dichotomy. There is this culture of mateship, toughness and rough-hewn humor; it's just countered by an almost psychotic level of bureaucracy; a stuffy, frumpy "correctness" that rivals a Mormon grammar convention.
In India, you can hang out of a train, doing 100 an hour. In Australia, you get a move-on notice if you're hanging out at the train station. Waiting for a train.
So, when you do encounter humour here, it does tend to be quite irreverent and yet subtle, under-spoken. Self-deprecating. An expertly crafted wordplay or witticism, lashing out at this stifling culture of propriety and authority. Or, sometimes, you encounter disturbingly elegant and detailed drawings of a horse with a massive erect penis on the side of some bloke's earthmover goin' down the freeway.
You know what? Just don't come here. We're all fucking mental.
6 years ago
31 Jan 2013 17:30 CET