Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Seeking The Earliest Roots of Aussie Society

Writer and philosophical smartypants George Santayana once wrote in his little humdinger of a page turner The Life of Reason that "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." 

Now, Georgy Boy was in part referring to wars and the darker side of life, and the aphorism was meant as a rebuke, but it also goes a long way to explaining why The Magpie keeps returning to Poseurs' Bar every night. 

But on heftier matters, if you're all Orstryah Dayed out, you'd better regather your strength just in case a sterling suggestion from a certain Mr David South is officially acted upon. You see, our Dave is of the opinion that one of the very earliest episodes of white history in Australia should not only be remembered but celebrated. Hard. And reenacted. Again and again.

But the difference here is that Dave seems to advocating that rather than being `condemned' to repeat the past, we should, in this safe modern world, be `condom-ed' to repeat it.

So what's new about that, The Magpie hears you yawn as you indelicately scratch yourself?

Well, read for yourself this revealing missive from Mr South. 

Greetings Dear Magpie,

    In this day and age when we in Australia are under constant attack from American Cultural Imperialism there is one truly Australian festival that is yet to be exploited and just begs to be put on the Australian cultural calendar.  It has it's origins in the earliest days of Australian settlement.  I refer to the 6th Feb of course, actually Wed 6th Feb 1788 and into the early morning of Thu 7th at Sydney Cove.  The incident is recorded in David Hill's Book "1788 The Brutal Truth of the First Fleet" page 154 and 155.  It deals with the bringing ashore of the women convicts.  I believe that this event should be re-enacted each year at every sea and lake side community.  As Capt Watkin Tench recorded,

 `While they were on board ship, the two sexes had been kept most rigorously apart; but when they landed their separation became impracticable, and would have been perhaps, wrong.  Licentiousness was the unavoidable consequence, and their old habits of depravity were beginning to recur.  What was to be attempted?  To prevent their intercourse was impossible.'

    The name of the festival might be The Coming Ashore Festival.  The prudes and wowsers can stay home and the rest of us can do licentiousness stuff and indulge in depravity by the sea shore.  Sponsorship from the Townsville City Council on such a fun event that we can all join in might just undo a bit of the water bills debacle.

Dave South 

PS My wife has other ideas on this matter.

Do tell.

Hmmm, resisting all the other highly inappropriate puns that spring forth but shall never sully this pristine electronic page, The `Pie thinks you have been reading too much and not getting out enough, Dave. The type of celebrations you advocate would seem to be pretty par for the course down on The Strand and the Via Vomitorium  nightclub scene just about any night of the week.

And let's face it, just as Cole Porter so genteely pointed out, everybody's doin' it, the `it' being the populate-or-perish polka. It seems ingrained in the psych of this land, as suggested the following image which greeted the newly arrived First Fu ..Fleeters - clearly indicative of what was to become our national political and business ethics.

Forget the Boxing Kangaroo, The Rooting Roos would be an apt new local government, state and/or national flag, should we ever have need of one. It would send a clear message, both actual and metaphorical, about our hedonistic, materialistic and jingoistic life-style so many of us lust after.

It would serve as a clear and constant reminder of what process was underway on our behalf if, like the Queen's Standard when she is in residence, this flag was flown at all Towsville Council meetings, in George Street, Brisbane when parliament is sitting and - naturally - in Canberra to remind us that Labor and the independents have reached a `workable' model for coalition government.

And in war, such a standard carried into battle would chillingly spell out what was in store for our enemies.

Of course, this newly sanctioned celebration of Ozdom would cause some changes to other traditions. The standard idiotic chant of `Ozzie, Ozzie, Ozzie, Oi, Oi,Oi' would become a more fevered `Ozzie, Ozzie, Ozzie, Ow, Ow, Ow'.

And so we could ingrain our youngsters with the nature of the annual commemorative romp, some nursery rhymes would change.

`Old Mother Hubbard,
Down in the cellar,
Legs in the air,
She's found a new fella'.

There would undoubtedly be boofademics and acadils galore examining other parts of our established culture, maybe offering deconstructed interpretations of lines like `Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong', suggesting a coded message that earlier generations embraced the alternative lifestyle. The Magpie expects this would come as a bit of a surprise to Banjo Patterson. But then, as Mongrel the Barrister so charmingly puts it, a bloke's got to be a bit suss if he adopts the name `Banjo', an instrument well known to require hard plucking and fast fingerwork, hur, hur, hur.

But then, one must remember that Mongrel couldn't pull a root even if he was a landscape gardener.

On which note, The Magpie is away to Poseurs' Bar, to perhaps convince some be-bubbled lass of the ... err ,,, mounting evidence of her patriotic duty to her country.



  1. Ah Dear Magpie indeed I do not get out much these days, but once upon a time I did. Flinders St as it is now did not exist. Well I remember the cabarets at the Dally and the Allen and the Sunday session at the Seaview. To lose your hearing we went to the Golden Disc at Louth's Hotel and to potentially sustain a serious injury the Manderin Club / Stiletto's in Flinders St was the place to go. It was good then. You could find trouble if you wanted it (and I didn't) and there was not so much that you could not avoid it.