My Say

May 21st 2006

Life can be tough but even the most pessimistic must own that it has its consolations. Who among us does not sleep easier knowing we can count on Shannon Noll playing our fundraiser should some dire misfortune ever befall us? There is surely not a corporate magnate, sporting supremo or government functionary that does not have Noll’s number on speed dial. Shannon is the straight, wooden flagpole up which the standard of Australian supremacy is hoisted every time we avail ourselves of the opportunity to reshape tragedy, calamity or sheer quotidian slog into a panegyric for the Aussie spirit. Why, surely if the battle for the Dardanelles was to take place in the modern context, those iconic Anzacs would be clambering out of muddy trenches each with a wispy goatee clinging to their bottom lip!

The crisis of belief that wracks our empty society has its consequence in the lost sheep seeking guidance at our shopping centres and fast food outlets. Where once stretched boundless paddocks of verdant feed, now paved avenues and dead end courts deliver the disoriented only to 7-day hardware stores. Who better a shepherd to lead these confused herds back to the rich pastures of meaning than Shannon? Who better to fence them in once they regain the manorial estates than our beneficent government?

And so Shannon was there in Beaconsfield to help us understand the quintessentially Australian qualities on display during the gold mine rescue. Overwrought balladry and slow motion television footage remain the best way of explicating all world events, irrespective of complexity. Cannot the Semitic peoples understand that widely broadcast slo-mo footage of severed limbs and suicide bombs cut to Shannon’s heartrending version of 'What About Me’ would solve their problems overnight?

It’s also about time we started exporting our mateship technique of underground rescue to some of the hopelessly inferior races overpopulating far off lands. When Iranian peasants scrape with their bare hands at the rubble of their former villages in the aftermath of an earthquake, it is a profound lack of mateship that ensures so few of their brethren are rescued. Deluged Asians had only themselves to blame when thousands of their compatriots perished in the angry waters sent to punish them for worshipping the wrong gods. Quite obviously, they weren’t mates.

But is it just mateship that makes us the greatest country to ever have drawn an arbitrary border around a geographical feature in order to keep the less fortunate out? Patently not. We are also very rich, and therefore quite clearly more deserving of access to the bounteous wealth that God set up for our disbursement. As that renowned Hillsong patron Peter Costello says, Rupert Murdoch is a great Australian - presumably because he has devoted his life to the single-minded pursuit of wealth. Notwithstanding that the venerable industrialist is actually an American, he is doubtless welcome back to our golden shores any time he has a positive election message to cipher through his patriotic media outlets.

Vivan Solon and Cornelia Rau, on the other hand, may have hidden behind the veneer of Australian citizenship, but were exactly the kind of mentally ill, untrustworthy foreigners that this country can do without. David Hicks too is clearly not the type of person we want darkening the good name of the word 'Australian’. Strangely our government remains ambivalent about his endeavours to secure the British citizenship that would have this evil terrorist off our hands for good.

None of this matters back in Beaconsfield, Tasmania where a resolutely simple citizenry enjoys the last patronising back slaps of the Australian media before it settles back into the standard anonymous country town life of insularity, small-mindedness and bigotry. The Aussie Spirit is surely abroad in this benighted town, though an intellectual pulse is perhaps a little harder to discern. How, though, can this be proved? It is time to at last dispense with discredited techniques of divining intelligence. Who needs Phrenology and the IQ test when we can simply divide the world into those who understand that the pronoun 'you’ has both a singular and a plural function, and those who prefer the word 'youse’?

How much easier if we had schooled our miners in a language makes clear the difference between the formal and the familiar, the singular and the plural. Amas - you love; amatis – 'youse’ love. Latin, with its rigorous quest for certainty, would have made a fine idiom for the boys to address the milling throngs at Beaconsfield Hall. With 14 spare days in which to study, might not a copy of Wheelock’s Latin have been forced down that communication pipe in preparation for their million dollar special with Tracy Grimshaw? Conjugating tricky verbs at will; declining nouns and adjectives with Ciceronian facility, the heroic diggers could have deified the Animus Australis while youse all watched on, only marginally less comprehending than if they’d been speaking English.

Previous My Say entries

August 30th 2005
April 22nd 2004
November 11th 2003
November 3rd 2002
October 9th 2002
September 4th 2002